How our relationship with God grows
By the Rev. Kathy Brumbaugh, Special Writer
Background text: Psalm 145:1-21
Devotional text: 2 Timothy 3:16
Last week, we began looking at scripture that teaches us how we grow closer to God. We learned that the focus of our relationship is based on love. This kind of love comes from God and teaches us to love God with all our heart, all our soul, all our strength and all our mind (Deut. 6:4-5, Matt. 22:36-37).
We learned that as we became Christians, we also began to be closer to God. Drawing closer to God helps us learn from the Lord’s wisdom. We become people with a new focus on life, that of leaving behind our sin nature and drawing closer to our spiritual nature as God’s Holy Spirit is within us.
We ended last week with looking at scriptures particularly dealing with our growing relationship with God. We began with prayer, which is our conversation with God. We will continue with prayer as we look at today’s message.
Did you know that the Psalms of David contain many of his most beautiful words of worship and prayer to God? Sometimes, when we do not know how to pray, going to the Psalms can be helpful. A regular reading of the Psalms helps us to draw closer to God as we read the heartfelt prayers of David.
Here are just a few examples:
“I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God … ” (Psalm 40:1-4).
“Hear my prayer, O Lord, give ear to my supplications! Answer me in your faithfulness, in your righteousness!” (Psalm 143:1).
“I will exalt you, my God and King, I will praise your name forever and ever … Great is the Lord and worthy of praise, his greatness no one can fathom.
“One generation commends your works to another, they tell of your mighty acts. They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty and I will meditate on your wonderful works … ” (Psalm 145:1-6, the entire Psalm 145:1-21 continues speaking of God’s goodness and protection).
These Psalms, and so many others, speak to our own feelings. As the psalmist cries out to God, we too cry out. As we read his words reaching out to God in times of distress, we do likewise. And when the Psalms praise God for his mercy and goodness, we also find the words to praise God.
Of course, the same can be said of all scripture. That is why reading our Bibles regularly helps us to draw closer in our relationship with God. In the New Testament, the gospels show us the life of Christ and his teachings. The many letters of Paul, and others, teach us what it means to follow Christ. As we read and think on scripture each day, we are drawing closer to God.
In the New International Version translation of 2 Timothy 3:16, we read, “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” The English Standard Version puts it this way: “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.”
Whatever translation you read, the message is the same. The Bible is the inspired word of God, full of wisdom for us.
We don’t have to read big sections of the Bible when we read. It’s actually better to read smaller sections at a time and to be aware of the context of the setting. This way we can spend time thinking about what we have read and how it applies to us.
I remember when I first began to read the Bible. It seemed like God was speaking directly to me. It touched my soul and held my interest. I wanted to read more, to understand what I was reading, to discover the wonder of God.
Reading through the entire Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, teaches us about life. We see imperfect people being used by God to do great things. We learn that faith and trust in God is a mainstay in our relationship.
In Romans, we find the Apostle Paul giving us an example of the difference between living the life that draws us closer to God (our spiritual nature) and living the life of sin (our sinful nature).
From Romans 1:26-31, we find a summary of various sinful natures that lead people away from God, including all kinds of shameful lusts, minds of depravity, evil deeds, greed, envy, gossip, slander, God-haters, arrogance, boastfulness and the list goes on.
Then, as we go to Romans 12 through 16, we read the rest of Paul’s letter to the believers in Rome. These scriptures include an in-depth discussion about our new spiritual natures in Jesus Christ.
Here are some examples: be encouraging to one another, give generously to help one another as you are able, show mercy and grace to one another as you have received mercy and grace from God, love one another as God has loved you, be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer. These words are found in Romans 12 and contain much more than is written here.
As we read our Bibles and dwell on God’s word, we are drawn closer to God, and our lives become more peaceful and content.
Next week, we will finish this series on building our relationship with God.