The Big Issue: “How Can I Develop my Relationship with Jesus?” (John MacDiarmid)

Notes on “The Big Issue” 20 September 2011

“How Can I Develop my relationship with God?

As we consider the matter of developing a relationship with Jesus, we start by considering that in order to have a relationship with someone, you have to know them. You have to have personally met them and been introduced to them.
And so the first prerequisite to developing a relationship with Jesus is to know Him personally, to have been born again, to have received the Holy Spirit. Once that is in place, we can begin to develop our relationship with Him.
We need to note that there is a big difference between knowing about someone, and knowing them ourselves. I may know every piece of information available about Barack Obama – but if I have never met him for myself, then I can not claim to have a relationship with him.

The Priority of Developing Our relationship with God

John 3 v 16: ”For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Here Jesus tells us that he came to give us eternal life, that the greatest possible possession is eternal life, and that this can be ours. The question then arises : what is eternal life? Fortunately Jesus himself answers it.
John 17 v 2-3; ”For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”
The definition is clear. Eternal life is about knowing God. The greatest possession that any of us can have is knowing God – a relationship with the King of the universe.
Paul picks up this them in his letter to the Philippians:
“What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.”
For Paul, the greatest thing imaginable, his greatest possession and his greatest joy was His relationship with Jesus, and his greatest desire was to know Him more dearly.

Some Examples
 Abraham
 Isaiah 41 “Abraham my friend”. God refers to Abraham as his friend – what an amazing claim!
 Genesis 18 As Abraham pleads to God’s judgement against Sodom and Gomorrah to be suspended he reveals the depth of his relationship with God.
 Moses
 Exodus 23 v 11
 Numbers 12 v 8
Here we see that God met and spoke to Moses face to face – also that Joshua, the man who would eventually lead the people into the promised land was caught up in this as well.
 Jesus
 Matthew 14 v 13
 Mark 1 v 35
There is a constant pattern in Jesus life that he draws aside to spend time with His heavenly Father.
 Mary (sister of Lazarus)
 Luke 10 v 38-41
In this famous story, Mary is commended for sitting at Jesus’ fee to learn from Him, taking time out from the busyness of daily life.
 The Psalmists
 Psalm 16 v 7-8,11
 Psalm 73 v 23-26
In these Psalms, as in many others, David and Asaph spell out the special-ness of their own relationship with God.

Developing Our Relationship with Jesus

 Unique relationship with each person
We need to preface our comments with the thought that everyone has a unique relationship with Jesus which will never be duplicated – just like the uniqueness of every type of relationship. This makes being prescriptive a risky business. Nevertheless there are principles that govern this subject which we can learn from.
 Time
Like every relationship, time is a key. Relationships are only formed through time together. If something is really important to us we will give it time – lots of it!
 Attitude
We need to come to God with an attitude of submission, or reverence and or boldness remembering that we are His children . If we come with arrogance and pride, we cannot expect our times with God to be blessed.
 Beware the opposition!
As with every Christian activity we have a faithful adversary who will do everything he can to stop you enjoying the presence of God. We need to be aware of this and press through when things become difficult, or dry or when obstacles are put in our way.
 Life – not Liturgy
Where there is a genuine relationship with God there is no need for a liturgy. Liturgy is there to compensate for a lack of relationship. There is no genuine relationship where you approach people with a pre-arranged speech.
 Method
As stated above, we can not be too methodological. But we can learn from some principles…

Time with Jesus

A Priority
We always find time to do what we feel is important. So if our time with Jesus is important – let’s organise our day round it, rather than giving Jesus what is left over when everything else is done.
A Place
A special place to meet with Jesus can be most helpful. In busy lives a quiet corner can be hard to find – but it’s worth it.
 A Time
If we don’t program in the imprtant things they will not happen. The less important but urgent things will crowd them out. So we simply have to earmark and ring fence a time to do spend with Jesus
 Quiet
We have to find a place where we can be quiet, away from the hustle bustle of life.
 Routine
A routine may appear legalistic, but most of us have many routines that we stick to every day. Surely it is no inappropriate for there to be a routine for the most important thing that we do?

It would appear that for almost all of us, early in the morning is the most likely time to meet all these requirements.
What do we do as we spend time with Jesus.
Again, there is a real danger in being over –prescriptive. But…
 Devotional reading – personally I find to start with something that focuses my mind on God very helpful.
 Confession – confession is simply putting our house in order before we come to God., making sure that any potential barriers between Him and me are sorted out .
 Worship – the Psalms are a rich source of worship material. To fix our minds on the glory of God is a rich and biblical thing to do. There is no reason not to sing, clap, dance or to do any of things that we exhort one another to do.
 Word – here we are in the meat and gravy of our time with God. Like Mary, above, sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to Him, forms the backbone of our time with Him. Bible reading notes are highly recommended – they are systematic, devotional and enable us to understand the words we are reading.
Prayer – here we bring to God the things that are on our minds. A list is very helpful, and as our prayer life develops that will grow in volume.
The most important thing to remember here is that this is not in-depth Bible study,por intercession, This is you spending time with the lover of your soul. It is your greatest privilege, joy and delight. Don’t let the enemy rob you of it!
John MacDiarmid
September 2011

Posted Under: The Big Issue

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