New Year's Resolution: Intimacy with God
Passage: John 17:3–17:3
Introduction – Key Concept: Knowing God intimately
Exodus 33:13 – “Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight.”
Jeremiah 9:24-27 – “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”
Philippians 3:7-10 – “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”
Main Verse: John 17:3 – “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
The word “know” in these passages is from the Greek word ginosko, meaning to know, learn, understand, perceive. This word depicts intimacy and experiential knowledge rather than an informational type of knowledge.
*According to Jesus, eternal life is knowing God intimately.
Many people know God in an informational way, but not in an intimate way. What’s the difference? Let’s say you know all the facts about your favorite athlete – position, height, weight, strengths and weaknesses, hometown, etc. Is that the same thing as having a personal relationship with him? We must not attempt to know God in an informational way only. We must experience Him to know Him intimately.
How to Grow in Intimacy with God
1. Spend Quality Time with God
• The greatest contributor to intimacy in any relationship is quality time and shared experiences
• To grow in intimacy with God you must devote time daily to cultivate intimacy – this is often called a “quiet time” or “personal devotion” or “personal worship”.
• How to have a quiet time:
o The right time: find a time in your daily schedule, preferably the morning, when you can devote yourself to quality prayer, worship, and Bible reading completely free from distractions. According to the A.C. Nielsen Co., the average American watches more than 4 hours of TV each day! Devote one of these hours to a quiet time with God.
o The right place: you can talk to and worship God anywhere, but an effective quiet time with God should be enhanced by your environment. Try to find a place where you can be alone, free from stress and distraction. Turn off your cell phone, lap top, and other electronics.
o The right materials: you should plan to have a Bible, a pen, and a journal or notebook only. Do not get distracted with lots of things. A journal helps to record things that God is saying to you and helps you to focus your prayer time. Writing out your prayers helps you stay focused.
o What to do:
▪ Prepare. Begin your quiet time by spending a few minutes in silence, preparing yourself. You may find your mind racing with thoughts about your day and your duties. Try to focus on spending time with God. Read a Psalm or two to help prepare you for your quiet time with God.
▪ Pray. Spend the first part of your quiet time in honest and sincere conversation with God. The Apostle Peter wrote to us, telling us to cast all your cares and anxieties on Him because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7). Pray specifically and honestly, telling God the most important things on your mind.
▪ Listen as you pray. Be aware that the Holy Spirit whispers when you listen as you pray.
▪ Read your Bible. Select a good daily Bible reading plan that allows you to systematically read through the Bible a few chapters a day. Aim for consistent daily Bible reading, rather than reading large chunks occasionally. The best Bible plans include a chapter from the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John), a chapter from the Old Testament, and a chapter from the New Testament. Your Bible’s table of contents will help you locate the different books of the Bible. A great place to start is with a chapter a day from the book of John.
▪ Pray and record. After reading in the Bible, notice verses which caught your eye or piqued your curiosity. Write these verses down and meditate (think) on them. Look for promises to claim, commands to obey, blessings to enjoy, sins to confess, examples to follow, prayers to pray, and topics to research.
▪ Worship. Find music that helps you sing worship songs to God.
2. Shared Experiences with God in a Community of Believers
• God often moves among His people when they gather together for prayer, worship, Bible study, and fellowship.
• Commit to being involved with other believers regularly.
• Look at this example of what the earliest believers did from Acts 2:42-47 – “And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
o What are the patterns and habits they engaged in?
• These habits of the early church led them to experience God regularly and to grow in intimacy with Him.
3. Work toward obedience as God leads you to make decisions
• Obeying God is a powerful way of moving into a more intimate relationship with Him.
• As God speaks, He will often clearly lead you to make decisions. The way you react to His leadership is critical! If you follow Him in obedience, He will often reveal more of Himself to you, leading you to greater intimacy with Him. If you postpone obedience, your growth will surely be stunted. If you fail to obey Him, you will fail to grow and actually begin to slide backwards, away from God.
• Obedience proves your love to God.
o John 8:31 – “If you abide [obey] in my word, you are truly my disciples…”
o John 14:15 – “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
Three Hindrances to Knowing God:
• In Luke 8, Jesus describes people who receive the gospel, but do not mature in their relationship with God. He gives us three factors that hinder growth: “but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.”
• The hindrances to knowing God are:
o Cares (worries) of this life – what life issues dominate your thinking?
o Riches (financial issues) – this could either be having riches or dreaming about becoming rich. Much of our energy is focused on making money or keeping money or spending money. This is a major hindrance in knowing God intimately.
o Pleasures of life (distractions that cause you to focus on pleasing yourself more than pleasing God)
-Start the habit of having a daily quiet time. It takes 24 days to make a practice a habit. Strive for consistency
-Choose at least 3 passages from this Bible study to meditate on and/or memorize
-Commit to finding a group of believers to meet with regularly in addition to your commitment to attend church services weekly
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