Living in relationship with God
By the Rev. Kathy Brumbaugh, Special Writer
Background text: Psalm 145:1-21
Devotional text: James 4:8
Today we look at our third and final column series on living in a relationship with God. Last week, we looked at what the Bible tells us about prayer and scripture. This week, we are looking at times of fellowship, choosing friends wisely and serving one another, working as to please God and resting in God.
Another way we draw closer to God is when we attend church services and meet with our Christian friends. Those friendships develop our Christian connections with one another both in and out of church.
Church also offers us a weekly reading of God’s word along with hymns of praise that bring us closer to understanding God. Fellowshipping with our Christian friends helps us to encourage one another and speak about what we have learned from God’s word.
Along with that, we learn to serve one another. Serving is a gift from God to us. We learn to serve faithfully and to give cheerfully. God never asks us to do what we do not have the ability or means to do. He uses us just as we are.
When we are serving others, we are serving God. We read in the New Testament from James 4:8, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” We feel God’s joy in serving, and it gives joy to the person we serve.
Here are some findings that speak to friendship in the Old Testament:
Proverbs 12:26 — “The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked lead them astray.”
Along with that, we read Proverbs 13:20, “Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get into trouble.”
And finally, we read this advice in Proverbs 17:17: “A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in the time of need.” Although this scripture can refer to one’s actual sibling, it can just as well refer to a close friend.
As we go to the New Testament, we read in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing.”
1 Corinthians 15:33 has this to say: “Do not be misled. Bad company corrupts good character.”
If we want to live in relationship to God, these scriptures and more provide us with helpful advice and truth from our wise God.
Next, we look at our work life, for having a relationship with God does not end at church or prayer and with our friendships. We all need to work at something in order to provide a life for ourselves or for our families. As we go to work, we may find that our work is anything but joyful. We work anyway because we have to.
Ideally, we have chosen work in a field that we are gifted in and it gives us pleasure to provide service to others. We may work in a labor job where we are creating something, and working with our hands and bodies makes us happy.
Unfortunately, we do not always have kind employers or even fellow workers. As we look for better employment, God tells us in Colossians 3:23 to continue to do our best no matter what the circumstances. In the words of the Apostle Paul, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than people.”
I think we all at one time or another have worked in difficult circumstances, and it’s hard. I have had times like that in my own life, where I have taken a job that I truly liked only to find problems in the workforce. I kept repeating Colossians 3:23 to myself until a better position in a better place became available. It really helped me through the difficult time.
No one is perfect. All people make mistakes or are not at their best all the time. However, the truth is this: having a trusting relationship with God always helps us. God blesses us in ways we cannot imagine. As we become closer to God, we experience his blessings more and more.
Finally, in our relationship with God, we need to find time to rest. The Psalms often help us in this regard. Read through the words of Psalm 23. Read about relaxing, rejoicing and being glad in Psalm 118:24.
Our lives are more than work, family and play. We all need to remember God’s commandment to work on six days but on the seventh day to rest. In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus told us to come to him, “come to me, all of you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest … and will give you rest for your souls.”
We should take heart that our relationship with God doesn’t grow overnight. As I write about developing a closer relationship with God, I remember thinking about all these things I needed to do when I was a young believer. It seemed overwhelming to me. That was because I was trying to do anything and everything at once, every minute of every day, to please our God.
Then, I took a breath. I realized everything all at once is never the way to grow closer to God. It is overwhelming to think that way. God draws us close to him as we draw close to God. Although God teaches us his ways, like anything, it takes time. Little by little we grow to know who God is and to develop our trust in him.
It takes time to build our relationship with God. Allow it to take time. It’s not something to be rushed. It is something to grow into throughout our lives. God is here. God is with us. God lets us take time to grow, and he shows us the way.