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Solitude and Conversations with God (Intimacy with God Part VI)

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Jesus often retreated from the people to pray. Passage from Luke 5:12-16.

Jesus Heals a Man With Leprosy

While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”

Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him.

Then Jesus ordered him, “Don’t tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.”

Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

The passage from Luke does not tell us that Jesus sometimes withdrew to lonely places and prayed. It says He did it often. I truly believe if we read of Jesus doing something, we should pay attention because He only did what was in alignment with the Father.

Prayer is simply communication with God. If you’re in a relationship with someone, that relationship requires communication. The foundation for intimacy (into-me-see) is built on fellowship, experience, and communication. Without communication, the other pillars of the relationship begin to crumble. They tumble to the ground.

God invites us to know Him. He offers the invitation for intimacy.

Why do we talk to God?

Because we want to build a relationship with Him. He already knows us. Do we know Him?

Because we love God. We talk to people we love.

Because God enters situations He’s invited into. If we don’t pray, He’s not invited.

Because we need God. He said apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5).

Why do we retreat to lonely places to pray?

So we can hear God more clearly and be free of distractions. Alone time together is more intimate. You can give the other person your undivided attention. Hopefully, they also have yours.

We talk to God and listen to God because we love Him, respect Him, value Him, cherish Him, and we want to know His thoughts.

When was the last time you asked God, “What is your perspective on this situation? God will you give me heaven’s vantage point? God will you show me how to love this person? Will you give me insight into solutions to this world problem? God how do you view me? ”

When we don’t pray (talk to God), we are often leaning on our own understanding. We are worrying and fretting, filled with fear. We are powerless in areas of our lives because we have not yielded to the wisdom of God. We are anxious and insecure. We are not abiding, we are striving.

Effective ways to pray:

Talk to God. He’s listening. You have His undivided attention. The Creator of the Universe has given you His undivided attention. Whoah! That’s enough to pause and say, ” Wow.” He’s more important than any earthly president, King or Queen, or celebrity. He’s our loving Father. You don’t have to have a long, rehearsed prayer. Talk to your Papa.

Listen. One of the ways God speaks is through His word. A verse may pop into your mind or a portion of a sermon. Don’t dismiss it. Ask God for wisdom, insight, and to speak to your heart. Then listen.

Pray God’s word. I’ve been doing this a very long time and was encouraged at a conference last weekend when both teachers encouraged praying God’s word. You can find scripture prayers at the top of this website. God’s word does not return void. It accomplishes all it’s sent out to do (Isaiah 55:11). Seeds of His word are spread to the world as you pray His word. They are watered by Him and bring forth a harvest.

Thank God. Have you ever had a relationship with an ungrateful person? They just continually have their hand out and complain to you with their problems. If so, you know it doesn’t feel good. God likes to be thanked. Yes He does. He is not fond of complaining. Yes, we can air our concerns to God…yet the Bible tells us to continually give thanks.

Intercession. Pray (ask God to help) for other believers all over the world. Talk to God about things outside your realm of influence. Talk to Him about everything.

Jesus told the disciples how to pray with the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6). It’s a great prayer. We are invited into relationship. My prayers may sound different than yours. One of my frequent prayers is, “God what are you saying? Who do you want to bless today? What’s on your heart ?” Another one is “Thank you Papa.”

May we seek God for He is glorious! He is outstanding. And He loves to be with His children. He adores you. He wants the best for you.

Papa God, may we know our inheritance in Christ and come boldly before you. Fill us to overflowing with your wisdom and give us an unquenchable desire for Jesus. May we steal away and grow to know you even more. In Jesus powerful name, amen.

 
 

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Abiding (Intimacy with God Part IV)

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Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you. [Live in Me, and I will live in you.] Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in (being vitally united to) the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me.

I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing.

John 15:4-5 (Amplified Bible).

Photo credit: Pinterest

Jesus gave us the key to knowing the Father, through relationship with Him (John 14:6). He gave us the key to eternal life, repentance and faith in Him. He gave us the key to victorious life from sin, the deposit of His Holy Spirit. He also gave us the key to fruitful living, abiding in Him.

One set of my life verses are found in John 15. Intimacy with God produces fruit. The remaining, union, connection, covenant, and relationship with God produces the fruit of His likeness and divine revelation.

Have you ever noticed that best friends and especially married couples will begin to know each other so well that they can finish the other’s sentences or they begin to act in similar ways.

Intimacy (abiding) produces oneness.

God created every human being with the desire to be known and unconditionally loved. He created humans to require intimacy. He’s the only One who can fulfill this need without any flaws, perversion, or creating codependency.

When we are disconnected (not abiding) in God we are relying on our own strength, power, intellect, wisdom, and resources. Or we are relying on someone else’s. Both will fail. Human wisdom is not perfect. Humans are not perfect-infallible. According to Romans 3:23 all (but Jesus) have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.

I’ve heard many people state Christians don’t behave like Jesus. Is this because they aren’t saved? I can say the following.

Sanctification (becoming like Jesus) is a process. The Holy Spirit works in us to reveal righteousness, the person of Jesus, to teach, equip, comfort, love, and empower. It’s a journey. Just as a baby learns and grows over time, so do we. Spiritual growth is a process. We learn. We make mistakes. We grow. We rely on God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness.

Christlikeness or bearing fruit results from connection to God. His Holy Spirit produces fruit. If you don’t have the Holy Spirit, there’s no Source to draw from. If you do have the Holy Spirit, you have the ability to quench or grieve Him (1 Thessalonians 5:19 and Ephesians 4:30).

God is in control in the sense nothing happens without Him knowing. He’s Sovereign. God did not make humans robots. He will not force us to obey Him, spend time with Him, love Him, love others, do what’s right, or anything else. We can say no to God. Adam and Eve are prime examples of our ability to choose what’s wrong. We can be believers who choose to sin. Yet those who choose to live independent of Him will face consequences for their actions.

Abiding is about relationship. Jesus repeated Himself: Abide in Me! Remain in Me! Stay connected to Me! We cannot abide or remain in someone we do not talk to unless it’s Sunday morning, or in times of trouble, or when we need something.

Relationships are built on quality time, communication, mutual investment, love, commitment, appreciation, and with God (doing what He asks). He said our love for Him is manifested through obedience.

Note: Many have used the word legalism to promote lawlessness. Legalism is trying to obtain righteousness or God’s love through rule keeping. Obedience to God is an act of love. We don’t obey to gain favor, love, or righteousness. Righteousness comes by faith. Favor and love are gifts from God. Obedience is a fruit of our love for Him.

So how do we abide?

1. Salvation. If you are not saved (in relationship with God through repentance and faith) you cannot abide in Him. No one comes to the Father unless they come through the Son.

2. Make God the highest priority. This doesn’t necessarily mean lock yourself on a room with a Bible 24/7. It means God is invited to be the central focus of life.

3. Cultivate relationship. Think of God as the closest family member. Talk to Him. Listen. Spend time with Him. Get to know Him. Rely on Him. Be with Him. Thank Him. Focus on Him. Worship (love, adore) Him. Ask Him to deepen your awareness of His Presence. Meditate on His word and goodness. Invite the Holy Spirit to help you.

I’m a list person, yet my relationship with God isn’t a formula. He’s my best friend. I wake up thinking about Him. I spend the day talking and listening to Him. I end the day with Him. He’s the closest to me. I take time to steal away with Him. In trouble, I look to Him. In good times, I look to Him. He has my attention and focus.

Sweet friends, there’s always more with God. God invites us into the secret places of His heart. He unites us to Himself. He doesn’t need us. He wants us. The Creator of the Universe and galaxies calls us by name. He wants to know us and be with us. He doesn’t need anything. Even the angels worship around His throne. Yet He delights in our love for Him.

May we grow in intimacy with God! He loves and adores us.

You’re continually in my thoughts and prayers.

In Jesus powerful name, amen.

Love in Christ,

Erin Lamb

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2014 in Devotions, From the Author, God's Heart

 

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Radical LOVE!

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(Image credit Instapray)

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another,”-Jesus.

Jesus never asks us to do something He will not empower us to do. He gave us the secret to loving like Him in John 15:5. He told us to abide in Him. If His Spirit is in us, we can love! God is love. These are some thoughts I’ve been pondering about love in God’s Body (followers of Jesus).

In fellowship and covenant (committed love)…

Who will you die to self for?

Who are you willing to continually sacrifice for?

Who are you willing to carry when they cannot carry themselves?

Who are you willing to support even if it’s not convenient for you?

Who are you willing to pray for until they get breakthrough?

Who are you willing to join your life to so they are blessed beyond measure because of the gifts God placed in you?

Who are you willing to continually love, even if they do not love you?

God invites us to enter into covenant with other believers. It’s not about saying I love you…it’s about living I love you. Loving when it’s hard. Loving in winter, spring, summer, and fall. We are called to love one another as Christ loves us. It’s not a love that is in word only. It’s a love that causes us to throw off our selfishness, pride, apathy, complacency, and passivity. Are we committed to this kind of love for one another? This kind of love lets the world know we belong to Jesus. Here’s an excerpt from the Bible on the friends who carried their friend to Jesus. This is the radical love that God is calling every believer to…Christ’s agape love.

The Help of Friends – Luke 5:17-20

One day Jesus was teaching the people. The Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there too. They had come from every town in Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. The Lord (God) was giving Jesus the power to heal people. There was a man that was paralyzed (crippled). Some men carried him on a mat. The men tried to bring him and put him down before Jesus. But there were so many people that the men could not find a way to Jesus. So the men went up on the roof and lowered the crippled man down through a hole in the ceiling. They lowered the mat {into the room} so that the crippled man was lying before Jesus. Jesus saw that these men believed. Jesus said to the sick man, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” (ERV)

I went through a very hard season and I can say I spent most of it relying heavily on Jesus. I can say I am thankful for the people who loved me in the beginning, middle, and end of the storm. The people who didn’t make it about them, but enabled me to just get to Jesus. I am human just like everyone else, in dire need of Jesus. I need comfort just like everyone else in loss and pain. If you encounter one person who loves you unconditionally and is willing to sacrifice for you, you are richer than most of the people in the world.

Many people have associates. Many people have buddies. Many people have people willing to take from them. Many people have someone to hang out with and participate in activities. Not very many people have friends willing to risk their very lives to save them.

We don’t need more self-centered Christians. We need more willing to lay down their lives as Christ did for us. It’s hard. It hurts. It’s painful to love, especially when you aren’t loved in return. Yet love will always be the greatest commandment and the true marking of a disciple of Jesus.

What if every believer lived a life a love?

No person would feel disconnected, unsupported, alone, or unloved. Yet, this is not the reality. We have people in church every weekend who feel absolutely unloved and uncared for. We don’t need to play Christian games or say, “I love you,” if we don’t. We do need to ask God to fill us so we have something to offer others. We need to live the Gospel, not just know the Gospel. It’s our mission. It’s our purpose on earth-Love God, love people.

May we love, and love well…it’s a process and it’s a journey…yet it’s what we are called to in Christ. And it’s possible through Christ who gives us His strength. Those who abide in Him will bear much fruit (John 15:5). I pray earnestly that I can live what I know of Jesus, let Him live through me. So imperfect, yet so dependent on Him for everything.

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Posted by on September 9, 2014 in Devotions, From the Author, God's Heart

 

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Becoming

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Image credit (Passion of the Christ Film).

Be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma,~Ephesians 5:1-2.

Becoming…the Christian walk is about becoming like the One who gave His life for ours. I do not hear many messages about becoming like Christ anymore. My pastor teaches on it and this past Sunday talked about this narrow path that leads us to being transformed into the image of God’s Son.

Becoming is rooted in abiding. After salvation (believing, repenting of sin, asking for forgiveness, and choosing to say yes to following Jesus), there’s a process called sanctification. The Holy Spirit works in us so we are transformed into the image of God. Those who abide in Him, will have abundant fruit (John 15:5). Apart from relationship with God, we cannot live like Jesus. Grace, God’s abounding grace, empowers us to do the impossible-live and love like Jesus.

Why is becoming so important?

Well, because we represent God in the earth. Some people will never set foot in a church. They will interact with you. If you are following Jesus, you are His Ambassador (sent ones-representative) on earth. He calls His followers to be salt and light. If we don’t imitate Christ in every area of influence and relationship, where’s the light shining in the darkness?

I’ve met way too many people who refuse to go to church because they’ve had horrible experiences with Christians. It’s sad because God is so good.

I have a few friends who are atheist. They grew up Catholic or Protestant, yet they saw people claiming to love and represent God abusing grace, acting exactly like the world, and had some painful experiences. All of which led them to believe God must not be real if His followers are so unrighteous and unloving.

I had one friend who fell down the steps while visiting a church. She stopped the pastor to ask for help. She couldn’t get up and he was the only one who came by. He told her he was late for a staff meeting and left her there.

Jesus said the world will know we belong to Him by our love for one another.

I’ve been in church my entire life. My dad is a pastor. We were taught loving people regardless of who they are or what they believe was and is a priority.

I’ve heard other Christians question my kindness towards them. Why are you doing this? Did God tell you to do this? Well, yes in His Word when He said love others as I have loved you.

How does God love me?

He forgives.
He gives.
He’s merciful and kind.
He’s generous.
He’s encouraging.
He’s thoughtful.
He gives good gifts!
He points me in the direction of truth and holiness.
He supports my dreams.
He cares about every detail of my life.
He’s patient.
He’s compassionate.
He gives more of Himself than I could imagine possible.
He mourns with me.
He laughs with me.
He rejoices over me.
He sees the best in me when I’m at my worst.
Jesus prays and intercedes for me.
The Holy Spirit empowers me.
He protects me.
He provides for me.
He shares His wisdom and knowledge.
He listens.
He speaks.
He comforts.
He celebrates.
He leads.
He’s good!

If I am to imitate Him, then I treat people the way God treats me. I do as He does.

Becoming requires a dying to self and selfishness. It’s not easy, yet it’s possible via the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. It’s so important. We are the only interactions some people will have with God. We are not responsible to save the world. We are responsible to let God live and love through us. Jesus invited people to follow Him, not just pray a prayer. Following Jesus is about imitating Him.

We can draw people to God by shining bright, or we can push them away by our lack of love.

God is LOVE!

Father please forgive us for the times we’ve chosen our own path apart from You. May we overflow with Your love. Teach us to stay connected to the true Vine, You. May we be the brightest lights, reflecting and representing You in the earth. In Jesus powerful name, Amen.

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Posted by on September 3, 2014 in From the Author, God's Heart

 

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