Charles Stanley - Our Intimacy with God
Do you realize that God has purposed to reproduce His life in your life and through your life? And in order for that to happen, He must reveal Himself to you and He must bring us into an intimate relationship with Him. An intimate relationship with Him is of the highest priority. And it demands something of us. And it impacts our entire life. For example, when you have the right relationship with Him or if you have a poor relationship with Him, out of that flows everything else in your life so that your relationship to Him determines how you live your life. Whether it's the right kind of life or the wrong kind of life, it all relates to that.
So if I should ask you today: do you have an intimate relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ? Well, some of you'd probably say, "Well, I'm not sure". Or, "I don't even know what intimacy is". Usually when we think of intimacy today, we think of sexual intimacy. That's where most people leave it: the what you see, what you touch, what you feel. But you see, all that's surface. Intimacy goes much deeper than what you see, what you touch, what you feel. And what I want us to look at in this message today is: what does it mean to have an intimate relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ?
Now, some people have a difficult time with that and this is the reason: they would say, "Well, if God is who He says He is and that He is holy and He's righteous and transcendent above us and He's sovereign in all these other things and how can I, a sinner, have a personal, intimate relationship with a Holy God? How is that possible"? That's what I want to explain because it is possible. It is the will of God for every single one of His children to have an intimate relationship with Him, which means just being saved is not enough. Just going to church is not enough and reading the Bible and all the rest. It's relationship.
And we live in a day when it seems that most people are having difficulty having a relationship. There's all kind of things that go on in people's lives, but intimacy is not one of them. I want you to turn, if you will, to the sixty-third Psalm. Because if there's anyone in the Old Testament who certainly had an intimate relationship with God, it was David. Was he perfect? No, he was not. He was a sinner just like all of us have sinned against Him. And so, what I want you to see is: here is the expression of a man's heart. Here is evidence of a man's intimate relationship with the Father.
And so, beginning in this sixty-third chapter of the Psalms, I want to begin in verse one which says, "O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; my soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. Because Your loving-kindness is better than life, my lips will praise You. So I will bless You as long as I live; and I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul is satisfied". Listen, "My soul is satisfied with marrow and fatness, and my mouth offers praises with joyful lips. When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches, for You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me".
Here is the expression of a man's heart that's not satisfied with things, with places, with prominence, and prestige, and all the rest; here is a man whose soul hungers after God. Could you say that you hunger after Him? Could you say that the most important thing in your life is your relationship to Him? Could you say that you want Him more than you want any other thing or person or any opportunity? What's first and foremost? Is it an intimate relationship with Him?
Intimacy talks about closeness, oneness, unity. And so, as we look at this, what I want us to see is I want us to take a look at what real, genuine intimacy looks like. What is it about? Because God desires that for us and when you read what David said in the Psalms, he's hungering and thirsting and yearning after Almighty God. Somebody says, "Well now, what's this all this hungering about"? Listen carefully because, listen, this could be one of the most important messages you've ever heard in your life. Because if you do not develop what I'm going to talk about, you're going to go through life and you're going to miss the ultimate purpose for which God created you.
Remember what He said? In the beginning He said, "Let us create man in our own image". What did He mean by that? Not so much physical, but the image of who He is: Spirit. There's something so awesome about God. And He said, "Let's create man in our own image so we can relate to him and he can understand who we are. And I can love him and love her and shower upon them the goodness and the kindness and all that I am". That's God's purpose. So, what does this look like? It's a relationship of spiritual intimacy. That is, it reaches deeper than physical intimacy. And because you and I have the Holy Spirit living within us, we have the privilege and the power to relate to the Spirit of God. When you became a believer, the Spirit of God came into your life to do what? To enable you, to equip you, to empower you, to give you direction and guidance for your life and all the things that we need.
And so, we have the Holy Spirit. And when you and I submit to the Spirit of the Living God within us, we can begin to develop a relationship with Him because it's our spirit and His Spirit. Nothing to do with things. It isn't asking God for things, it's developing that relationship. So it all begins with a personal relationship. Then when we talk about that, we talk about this idea of a personal relationship. What's that about? It's about being open and honest and free. So we're not hiding anything, we're just being who we are. And think about the times that you've prayed oftentimes, and you told God what you wanted Him to know. And you only confessed up to a point. And you're willing to repent up to a point.
Intimacy says, "Here's my heart". Intimacy says, "I'm willing to unwrap myself, God, before You; my heart, my soul, my spirit and everything that I am. I want You to see all of me. I want You to know that there's nothing I'm holding back". This personal relationship: intimacy. Then, of course, when I think about that naturally, I'm going to think about the whole idea of trusting because if I should ask you if you have a relationship to somebody or for your husband or your wife, if you don't trust them, you cannot have an intimate relationship. You can have a physical relationship and a surface relationship, but no intimacy. Intimacy says I'm willing to trust you.
And you see, a person will not surrender their life to God because they don't trust Him. He may ask them to do something they don't want to do or something they think they can't do. Or something in life that just, no, no, no, no I can't do that. If I trust Him, I will obey Him. And if I obey Him, it's because I love Him. You ask yourself the question: do I really and truly have an intimate relationship with Him? Do you really and truly trust Him? Is this relationship, listen, not a church relationship, this is a relationship between you and Almighty God? Not only must there be a trust in that relationship, but there must be loving in that relationship.
Go back to Psalm forty-two for a moment and listen to what the Psalmist says here because all of this is an indication of his personal, intimate, loving relationship to the Father. He says in Psalm forty-two verse one, "As the deer pants for the water brooks," that is, he's been running and running and running and running, maybe chased by some other wolf or something. And he says as he pants, thirsty, so thirsty, "Pants for the water brooks so my soul pants for You, O God". My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; Could you say that you thirst for Him? Could you say that you have a hunger for Him? Could you say that you really and truly love Him?
Now, I'll be honest with you about something, I can remember, I don't know exactly the day, but I remember it was a number of years ago. I remember praying and telling God that I loved Him. And all of a sudden, it dawned on me, I felt like I had marbles in my mouth. And I finally had to say, "God, I don't know whether I do or not. Somehow, it's not ringing in my spirit. It sounds good and I've been saying it a long time: I love you, God". But on that day, it's like the Spirit of God just jumbled my words and made me realize I didn't know what I was talking about. And I began to realize I didn't really love Him the way He wanted me to love Him. I had an affection for Him.
And then as the Lord opened my eyes and helped me to see, I somehow had a very difficult time accepting His unconditional love because I grew up believing that somehow, I had to deserve it. Somehow, I had to merit His love. And on that day, I realized, no, I did not really love Him. I had an affection for Him, but it was the beginning of bringing me to realization of what true, genuine love for God is all about. I think about also another issue and that is this issue of openness and transparency because, you see, you can't have an intimate relationship with somebody you're holding secrets from them. And when you think about how people live oftentimes, and live a lifestyle that is not a lifestyle of openness and honesty and transparency. How can you have relationship with somebody who's keeping secrets and keeping things from you? Well, you can't because we go back to the whole issue of trust, what's going on?
So think about this: when you pray and you talk to the Lord, do you open your heart totally? Do you say to Him, "Lord, I know I've sinned against You, please forgive me in Jesus' name"? You said first John one nine, that's what I'm claiming. Amen. That won't work. Transparency says, "God, today I was very, very lustful. Today I was very prejudiced. Today I should not have opened my mouth and said that. Today I was very critical. Today," whatever it might be. Openness, honesty, and transparency. God is with us. And you see, to have intimacy, it's got to be both ways. Listen, God wants you to know Him. He desires that you know Him fully. He created you to reveal Himself through you because He wants to express His love. He's an awesome God of love. He wants to express it. He desires to express it and He wants us to do the same.
That leads me to the next issue and that is: it's got to be a two-way relationship. Now, I want you to listen to this carefully, probably if I said to you, "Well, do you pray"? "Yes". Well, let me ask you this: when you pray, what do you pray for primarily? More than likely you're going to say, "For my needs, naturally". Or, "I pray for my friends or people who are sick or whatever". Well, when you pray, how long do you pray? What do you pray about? And then, how long after you finish talking do you listen? You see, you cannot have an intimate relationship if you do all the talking.
So let me ask you this: the last time you prayed, did you stop and say, "Lord, now that's my feeling, now I want to hear what You've got to say". Oh, you say, "Well, you know God doesn't speak to me". Oh yes, He does. His Spirit speaks to your spirit, but you've got to be willing to listen; to give Him time to speak. If you say your prayer or pray to Him and get up off your knees, more than likely, if it's the kind of praying you're doing, you're not on your knees anyway. But if you just pray and the last thing you know you go to sleep. You didn't hear from God. You just voiced your feelings. Intimacy means I must be willing to listen to Him. What does He want to say? Which brings me to the last one and that is time. Listen, a relationship where time and effort are given to know God.
Now, when people say for example, "You know, I would read the Bible, but I'm just so busy I don't have time". Or, "I know I should spend more time in prayer, but I just don't have time. I don't have time, I don't have time, I don't have time". Think about what you're saying. You're saying to the God of this universe, the Creator, you're saying to the Sovereign of this universe, our Sustainer, you're saying to this God who is our judge you don't have time for Him? Who is the source of every single thing you have, who desires an intimate relationship with Him. It takes time, which means, of course, it doesn't happen overnight. He makes it very clear. He will show you the truth about Himself. He, listen, He will show you the truth about Himself through His Word, but He will also show you the truth about Himself in life. Develop a listening heart, a listening spirit.
And the reason people make wrong decisions is because they don't listen to Him. One thing you can bet for sure: He will never mislead you. You know why I know that? Because He is a God of purity, righteousness, and truthfulness. He cannot deceive, He cannot mislead, He cannot do anything that would be a contradiction to who He is. This very God is living on the inside of you in the person of the Holy Spirit. He's there. Why? Because it is His Spirit that speaks to our spirit. It is His life connected to our life.
You say, "Well, but I'm not worthy of all that. The next time you feel that way you just remember this: that the cross is God's one and final testimony to His awesome unconditional love for you no matter what. He does care about you, and He wants to work in your life His awesome grace and love and mercy. Now, those are the characteristics of a genuine intimate relationship. So somebody says, "Well, okay, so once I have that relationship, what can I feel? What can I sense"?
You see, we are sort of like this. Well, let me give you some words. First of all, stability. When a person has an intimate relationship with the Lord, it's like that there is an anchor that's there. That no matter what wind blows against you, it's going to be okay because you know God is there in you and with you. There is this sense of security within you, takes away the fears. Because He's not up yonder, He's inside. And you have this intimate relationship with Him.
So, there is security, there's stability, there's serenity. And that is this quietness in your spirit that no matter what's going on, there is this sense of quietness and peace and contentment because you're talking to Him. You're listening to Him. You have built that relationship. There is also a sensitivity. Now, watch this, there's not only a sensitivity to the Lord, but there is a, listen, when you have an intimate relationship with Him, you have who He is on the inside of you. You'll find yourself very sensitive to other people. I don't mean their criticism necessarily, there might be a little bit of that. But you'll be sensitive to their needs, their hurts, their person-hood. There'll be something, in other words, God, listen, because God is in you, He's relating to other people, listen, through His Spirit, He's relating to their need, their emotional, spiritual need, He witnesses to that. And all they can do is give us credit when what they don't realize is that God is working in their life.
So, when you think about how all this develops and I think about that spiritual sensitivity and spiritual understanding, in other words, one of the things that you'll, when you start developing this intimacy, you're going to start understanding the Word of God in ways that you've never understood it before, why? Because God wants you to understand. The Bible is not a mystery book. It's not a book of philosophy. It is a book of truth that explains the attitude and the heart of Almighty God. So that we can, listen, because you see, we said in the very beginning, He created us to have relationship with Him, which required of Him to reveal Himself to us, through His Word primarily, and through our spirit, and to bring us into this intimate relationship with Him.
Now, there are three barriers, so you might want to jot these down. There are three barriers. And here's the first one: it is pride. Don't pray because I can handle it. We don't ask Him, I'll work it out. It's pride. The reason people don't get on their knees, except their physical thing sometimes, is pride. How can you be too prideful to get on your knees to Holy, Righteous, Sovereign God? Every breath you have is a gift from Him. It is pride that keeps us off our knees, pride that keeps us in sin. We'd rather have a relationship with somebody than God. The second thing is rebellion, sin. As long as there's sin in our life, there's no intimacy with God.
When people say, "Well, I pray, but nothing happens. I pray, but God isn't answering me. I pray and hmm hmm hmm". Then you need to look at yourself and ask yourself the question: God isn't the problem, you're the problem. There is no intimacy where there is rebellion. Now, think about this: you have to think about your own relationships. Can you have an intimate relationship with a husband or wife who's just rebellious against you? No, you cannot. You can't have an intimate relationship with your children if they're in rebellion in their life. And then the last one is real simple: if it's pride, if it's rebellion, and then if you're in a hurry. If you're in a hurry, you won't develop an intimate relationship with God.
It takes time. Time to read His Word and meditate upon it, think about it, ask questions: God, what are you saying to me? Lord, how does this apply to my life? Is this a warning? Is this something that I need to look at in my life? Oh Lord, thank you for this wonderful promise. Time to read, time to talk to Him, time to listen to Him. Cannot tell you how very important that is. And you see, here's what'll happen: the more you listen, the more you're going to hear. And the more you hear, the more excited you're going to be. And the more excited you're going to be, the more time you want to give to listen to Him.
Now, if you're in love with somebody, you like listening. And you see, the more you love Him, the more you're going to want to listen. He's willing to tell you far more than you expect. Because, you see, knowing that God gave His Son for me, I know He'll give me all the information and everything else I need. And that's what Paul meant in Romans when he said, "Having given us His Son Jesus Christ, will he withhold from us any good thing"? And the answer is no. So, with that in mind, would you say that you have an intimate relationship with God? Or would you have to say, "Phew, I missed it"? You say, "When do I start"?
Think about this: all of us one of these days, no matter where we are and whatever our age, our heart's going to beat for the last time and we're going to meet the Father. Is He going to be a stranger to you? Or do you want to have the kind of intimate relationship while you're here in this life whereby your life can impact the people around you? Not because of what you're doing, but because of what He, living within you, is able to do through you. And that is my prayer for you. Don't be satisfied with less in your relationship to Him than intimacy, which is the will and purpose and plan of God for you.
Father, how grateful we are when we think about You: perfect, holy, awesome God having a personal intimate relationship with sinners like us. But because the blood of Your Son has washed us clean and sanctified us under Yourself, You're willing to do it. And I pray for every person who hears this message: create within them this awesome, holy, dissatisfaction with where they are and a hunger to know you in a deeper way than ever before. In Jesus' name, Amen. program is sponsored by In Touch Ministries and is made possible by the grace of God and your faithful prayers and gifts.