Making the most of your Relationship with God

Posted: January 30, 2016 in Christianity and Christians, Making the Most of your Life

It’s important to begin with this topic because every other topic is pointless unless a relationship with God is your Number 1 priority. Without a firm connection to the Lord, you can’t hope to make the most out of life. Without this catalytic ingredient, it’s simply impossible.

I’ve found this to be true over and over, and each time it was a painfully unnecessary experience. This is a lesson best learned in a classroom and not on a field trip, because make no mistake: Whenever God wasn’t my first priority, I felt empty, and my life was rife with chaos. It never mattered whether I had a girlfriend, friends to spend time with, or social gatherings to attend. I could be in a room surrounded by people who I loved and who in turn loved me, laughing amidst what are supposed to be the best moments life can offer, and yet feel so alone and so empty. There was always an underlying sadness in my soul that tore at me. Did you see my entries written in 2012 and 2013? The cynicism should be evidence enough of what existed underneath. I was miserable back then, and I certainly wasn’t making the most out of life.

To the contrary, those seasons when God was my number one priority were the most remarkable times of my existence. It was during those times when I seemed to be the most successful, make the best decisions, and walk with the highest confidence. It was then when God granted me His precious wisdom, and He helped me develop and maintain the best relationships I’ve ever had. Indeed, He enabled me to make the most out of life.

Now, then, to the meat of this topic. This will be a list of four loosely-related subjects about how to make the most of your relationship with God: 1) Mental Priorities – the two types of Godly wisdom and the attitudes you must have in order to apply them 2) The importance of spending alone time with God, and how to make the most of it 3) How to best pursue God 4) Reconciling the consequences of your mistakes with God’s love.

 

Mental Priorities – the two types of Godly Wisdom and the Attitudes you must have in order to apply them.

First, there are two types of wisdom. There’s human wisdom and then there’s Godly wisdom. But then, to make things confusing, there are also two types of Godly wisdom. I won’t address human wisdom here because it’s Godly wisdom that you’ll need in order to make the most of your life.

Your first mental priority should be the pursuit of Type 1 Godly wisdom. Type 1 Godly wisdom is the bulk sayings you’ll find in the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes and a handful of other places in the Bible. Things like, “If someone does this, then that will happen,” or “Something, something, something, and then something else. This I have observed.” These are important truths about life which God inspired individuals like Solomon to write down. The pursuit of Type 1 Godly wisdom is the foundation of life improvement, but it is useless without your second mental priority.

Your second mental priority should be the love and pursuit of knowledge. This means all forms of knowledge and learning. As you learn about science and history and various forms of art and so on, you’ll also gain a great deal of understanding about who God is. It was He who made these, so it should be no surprise that gaining knowledge also opens your eyes to God’s magnificence.

With science, you will observe the method to His madness. You’ll learn how unspeakably vast His brilliance is and why He created things the way He did. Perhaps you’ve become a skeptic of science, but I challenge you with this: put aside bias and seek the truth. Even atheist and agnostic scientists make discoveries that glorify God. You, as a believer, can be equipped to see this and distinguish the nonsense from the sense (so to speak).

With history, you will discover God’s handiwork throughout the ages. It’s everywhere. In every nation and every event, God’s handiwork is there. Even bad things that have happened in our fallen world are rife with God’s involvement as He makes the most out of those situations for the good of those who love Him.

With art, literature, and other elements of culture, you will see how God inspires people and how magnificently He created us. Sure, there is plenty of evil out there and art forms that are not of God, but the capacity to create is something God only gave to humans. It has everything to do with being made in His likeness, and recognizing the result of that serves to bring us closer to Him.

Ultimately, the love and pursuit of knowledge provides a yearning for Type 1 Godly wisdom. It is impossible to pursue and apply this kind of wisdom without the passion to do so.

Your third mental priority ought to be the pursuit of Type 2 Godly wisdom. Type 2 Godly wisdom is the God-inspired understanding of how to apply Type 1 Godly wisdom and other knowledge to your life. Type 1 Godly wisdom is comprised of valuable information, whereas Type 2 is the ability to make use of that information. Type 1 is useless without Type 2, and so is the love and pursuit of knowledge. What’s the point of learning all about astronomy if you can’t infer what it means about God? With Type 2 wisdom, you discover His majesty rather than knowledge alone. A good analogy is this: Knowledge and Type 1 Godly wisdom are like cars, and Type 2 Godly wisdom is like the driver. They are useless without each other. It’s also worth noting how important Type 2 Godly wisdom is when it comes to understanding the Bible. The Holy Spirit provides Type 2 Godly wisdom while we read it as a method for God to speak to us through scripture. Indeed, the Bible is called the living word because of Type 2 Godly wisdom.

Your fourth and final mental priority should be the discipline to apply all of the above to your life. We just discussed how Type 2 Godly wisdom teaches you how to apply the first two mental priorities to your life, but knowing how and actually doing it are completely different things. A valuable daily habit would be to ask the Holy Spirit to give you the discipline to apply the first three mental priorities to your life, for Godly discipline is all about putting wisdom into practice.

Each of these things must be sought after vigorously if you are to make the most of your life. I urge you, dear reader, to spend time each day reading God’s word and learning all you can from it. Ask Him to show you Type 1 Godly wisdom and to expand your overall knowledge of anything and everything. Then ask Him to provide you with Type 2 Godly wisdom and the discipline to apply those three things to your life. These mental priorities will condition you to make excellent decisions and to have fantastic relationships with other people. They are the foundation to making the most of your time here on Earth.

Further scriptural reading on this subject:

Proverbs 2

Proverbs 3:7, 13-24

Ecclesiastes 7:11-12, 19, 25

Isaiah 55:8

 

The importance of spending alone time with God, and how to make the most of it.

Every night I recharge my phone, and every morning I recharge my soul. Actually, that’s false. I recharge my Galaxy S5 three times a day because its battery is garbage. Anyway, so in order for me to remain aware of God’s presence and to exhibit Christ-like virtues, I need a spiritual recharge at the beginning of every day. Just as eating breakfast helps get your day started, so it is with meditating on God. I cannot emphasize enough how important this is to your spiritual walk. Without this special time, your spiritual flame will dwindle. And, ladies and gentlemen, when it comes to a relationship with the King of the universe, anything less than a bonfire simply will not do.

Now, there is no single way to spend quiet time with God. So, before I discuss how I approach it, it is important to realize my precise method might not work for you. There are some things I do which I think everyone should, and there are other things which ought to be flexible based on the individual. I will clarify which is which as I proceed with the discussion.

First, there is the matter of when I spend my quiet time and for how long. Ideally, I spend time alone with God in the mornings not long after waking up. I allow a little time for the cobwebs of sleep to clear so my thought processes are of better quality, and then I set a timer for fifteen minutes. It is during those fifteen minutes that I pray. Now, let me make myself clear. My prayer time is not limited to fifteen minutes. It’s just fifteen minutes is the minimum about of time I allow myself. A lot of times I spend over an hour talking to God. The minimum amount of time you spend with God might be different than mine. A lot of people might set it for ten minutes, or even thirty minutes or an hour. I’ve settled on fifteen.

Now, about how I pray. To get the most out of it, I speak to God out loud as casually as I would my closest companions. He is my best friend and father, after all, and He’s certainly in the room with me just as any physical person can be. Why should my relationship with Him be unrelatable? A truly close relationship is relaxed and comfortable, and I believe this is what God wants from his children.

My dad taught me the greatest thing parents want from their children is a relationship with them. I think a lot of people actually hold God at a distance, trying to have a relationship with Him through obedience. And while He certainly does want His children to obey, because He wants what is best for them, His desire above all else is to have a relationship with them. Besides, without a relationship with Him, it is impossible to grow in a lifestyle of obedience to God. It’s all meaningless without first knowing Him.

While praying, there are three distinct items I pray about.

First and foremost, I thank Him. This practice helps me see how great His mercy is and how countless His blessings in my life are. It’s easy to lose sight of the good when bad things happen, but this helps to reign in my focus on His love.

Second, I bring any and all needs and desires to him. It’s perfectly okay to ask Him for things you want but don’t need. Indeed, the Bible says to ask Him about everything (see the further scriptural reading at the bottom). Sometimes God blesses His children with things they don’t need, but simply enjoy. He merely does it because it delights Him to do so.

Third, I talk to Him about whatever is on my mind. It’s true that He already knows everything I’m thinking before I bring it up, but talking about things with Him enables a whole host of benefits. For one thing, it’s a bonding experience that brings us closer together. And another thing, while I talk to Him, He often adds His perspective to my thoughts. Seeing events and circumstances through God’s eyes brings a whole new meaning to them. It helps me make better decisions, and it motivates me to go forth in confidence. When God’s on your side, who can be against you?

Here are ten other, specific things I pray about:

– I ask God to bless the work of my hands and mind.

– I ask God to prepare and equip me for the future.

– I ask God for wisdom and knowledge.

– I ask God to encourage and motivate me to press on.

– I ask God to help me focus and be intentional about things.

– I ask God for help with any upcoming decisions.

– I ask God for a pure heart and mind.

– I ask God to place my desires where He wants them.

– I ask God to give meaning to my work.

– I ask God to give me vision for the future, and to help me see opportunities, and to get me excited about the future.

Last, but certainly not least, there exists a component of my quiet time which is just as important as the rest, and that is to listen to God’s voice. Consider Psalm 46:10a: “He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God;’” A lot of times, particularly in December when all the Christmas decorations are up, I spend my quiet time in the living room with coffee, the Christmas tree, and a fire. My mother has bookshelves filled floor to ceiling with Bible commentaries and scholarly works. On one of the shelves, in plain view from the couch where I sit, there rests a wooden plank with Psalm 46:10a inscribed on it. Many times I sit there and pray, and yet I feel like I’m missing something. The plank then silently reminds me to recognize who God is. When I set my mind to this verse, my problems fade into insignificance. It is while I ponder Him that He often speaks to me. It’s not in an audible voice or a bizarre stream of thoughts in my mind. No, rather it is a gentle urging in my heart. I feel His warm presence, and then, in the calm security of it, He speaks to my soul. God speaks to us in a variety of ways. He speaks to us through scripture, through Type 2 Godly wisdom, and sometimes through other people. But it is here, in the quiet, when He speaks to our hearts. I benefit more from this component of my quiet time than any other.

Next I read from my Bible and a devotional book, typically one with a devotional for each day of the year. I should probably clarify that this is a component of my quiet time whose specifics might vary from individual to individual.

Typically I read only a single chapter of the Bible every day. It is important, however, to make certain that further context isn’t needed. Some chapters shouldn’t be read individually, but ought to be included with the surrounding chapters. In my opinion, however, a single chapter of the Bible is usually fine.

Now, there is a certain action you must take when reading the Bible in order to get the most out of the experience. Before you begin, it is crucial that you ask God to guide and teach you based on what you are reading. The Holy Spirit enables us to interpret and understand scripture. We weren’t meant to read the Bible by ourselves.

When you read, recognize what the Bible is. Ponder the notion that you are reading from the living Word of God, that you are literally holding a collection of words that came from God Himself. It’s a humbling thought that will certainly help you make the most out of reading scripture.

I also recommend reading from a devotional book. While it’s certainly optional, I like to underline the high points in order to facilitate superior comprehension.

All the steps I’ve listed usually only take me about thirty minutes to complete. In my opinion, it’s the best possible way to get your day started, as it’ll help prepare you for what lies ahead.

One final word of advice before I move on to the next section. Don’t confine your relationship with God to your quiet time. Your quiet time is much like starting an engine, but in order to keep it running, it must receive a constant supply of fuel. Make a point of acknowledging God’s presence throughout the day, and don’t be shy about saying small, brief prayers in your head whenever you feel it necessary. Keeping God’s presence in mind is what it means to walk with Him throughout your day, and it will bring you peace and comfort, regardless of what circumstances you encounter.

Further scriptural reading on this subject:

Matthew 6:9-13

Matthew14:23

Mark 1:35

Ephesians 6:18

Philippians 4:6

Hebrews 5:7

 

How to best pursue God.

We just discussed how to spend time with God, but what about the pursuit of Him in general? The Bible says He pursues us constantly, so how might we best respond?

In short, when it comes to your relationship with God, give it all you’ve got. Consider Luke 10:27a: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.”

You might have seen in my previous entries how I had a habit of staying home from church and watching the sermon online, entirely skipping the worship portion of the service. Even when I did make it, I was often late on purpose because I didn’t want to spend too long worshiping. I resigned myself that one or two songs would suffice, that if I stayed until the end of the sermon, my time spent at church was enough. I also thought I could worship God on my own at home in my own way that didn’t involve singing. And that’s true. I can totally worship God outside church in other ways than singing. But I wasn’t devoting much time to God, and the worship experience at church often contains the most important minutes of the week because you’re experiencing God with other believers. Some of the most encouraging moments in my walk with Christ – when He spoke to my soul – happened during worship. That’s not to say all those moments happened during worship. But many certainly did, and I believe that’s because worshiping at church places your focus on the Holy Spirit and better enables you to “listen” to Him. When I came in late on purpose, I wasn’t giving God my best effort. I was lukewarm, so to speak. Such a lackadaisical approach, I am convinced, hindered much-needed spiritual growth in my life. Simply put: each withheld effort (at church or otherwise) was a missed opportunity to grow in the Lord.

So I urge you, dear reader, to be intentional in your pursuit of God. The most precious act you can do in your family life is to make sure those you love know it. The same holds true in your spiritual life – make a point of acting in ways that demonstrate your love for God.

Further scriptural reading on this subject:

Matthew 6:33

Luke 10:27a

Luke 15:1-7

Acts 17:27-28

Hebrews 10:25

 

Reconciling the consequences of your mistakes with God’s love.

I have found the issue many non-believers take with Christianity is the abundance of “rules.” They disagree with them and find little merit to their purposes. They believe obeying God would serve only to prohibit happiness and pleasure, and that, ironically, obedience would keep them from making the most out of life.

Believe it or not, I understand where they’re coming from. I actually used to champion this sort of thinking before God intervened in my life and changed everything. However a closer, Spirit-filled application of Godly wisdom will reveal that God’s word doesn’t provide instruction merely to test our loyalty and devotion. Rather, God, in His vast and incalculable love for us, gave us these instructions so we might live with joy and wisdom and peace. It’s not always immediately obvious when reading scripture, but every command God gave us has the sole purpose of blessing us.

Whenever we are tempted, Satan tries to convince us that disobeying scripture isn’t that big of a deal, and we’ll be fine. And the lie is so believable because if we give in, we are usually satisfied – at first. However if we disobey God, some way or another the consequences will always show up. Sometimes (and I do mean sometimes) the consequences of sin are small in the beginning. And that’s good because what a great opportunity to repent and move away before things get worse. But if sin is given time to grow and destroy, it will inevitability lead to some form of death. It could be the death of a relationship, a career, or even a person. But rest assured, it will ultimately lead to death. Consider James 1:15: “Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” Disobedience, my friend, will always bring about consequences, even if you aren’t a Christian.

Of course, that’s not to confuse consequences with God’s discipline. First, God’s discipline is only for Christians. Second, God’s discipline occurs outside the ordinary consequences we might face, and it’s designed to get our attention so we don’t face worse consequences down the road. Third, God’s discipline is never spiteful. God never disciplines us and then says, “Ha, how did that feel?” No, rather He disciplines us with the expressed desire that we repent because it grieves Him when we face consequences.

Now, what if we repent but still have to face the outcomes of our sin? Consequences are nothing more than the results of our actions. That is why they occur even after a change of heart. God wants us to grow spiritually and make better choices in the future, so He allows us to reap what we sow with a precise hand on what happens.

But what if the consequences are devastating? What exactly do we trust God to do then?

The answer is both simple and reassuring. If we place our trust in the Lord, He will never allow our consequences to be too much. Now, allow me to make something clear about the last sentence. If you disagree with God about whether the consequences of your sin are bearable, consider this: You are imagining a future without God’s sovereignty over your life. You don’t know for certain how events will play out. But the truth still stands: God never leaves your side – even as you face consequences. Even though they are a result of your sin, He still faces them with you.

We all make mistakes. We all sin. But don’t forget that no matter what you do, God is in control of what lies ahead. And the Bible says God works for the good of those who love Him.

So take heart! Everything will be okay.

Further scriptural reading on this subject:

Luke 12:22-26

Galatians 6:7-8

Ephesians 3:20-21

James 1:15

 

In conclusion, I urge you to give life your very best effort. Make the most of every opportunity. Ask God to use you. Pursue Him with all you’ve got, and I promise your life will be enriched beyond what you can imagine.

So, dear reader, grab a Bible and study it. Satisfy your hunger for God. Learn about Him. Develop relationships with other believers so you might be encouraged. Pursue God and His plan for your life. Find out what the future holds, and experience a newfound joy that you’ve never felt.

Your relationship with God is the cornerstone of it all. Establish that foundation, and everything else will fall into place.

Comments
  1. Oh [Madman], “Making the Most of Your Relationship With God” is inspiring, comforting, encouraging and tremendously helpful to all who desire a closer relationship with our Creator and Father! Thank you for sharing these great truths God has laid on your heart…they resonate with mine! I enjoyed looking up and reading all your Scripture references. I praise God for how He’s leading you and for the way you have encouraged me through your walk with the Lord. God bless you and keep sharing!

    Like

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