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Living With God
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Even though I know God and He’s real in my life, how can I get a one-on-one, really close, personal relationship with Him? I have friends who seem to have it, and I envy them sometimes. But no matter how hard I pray and study my Bible (and I don’t understand half of what I read), that kind of relationship doesn’t happen for me. Do you think the devil has anything to do with this?

Pastor Steve Answers:

I’m pleased and excited to hear you say that you have a relationship with Jesus already. But I wonder if that means you’ve simply accepted Jesus, but haven’t done much to develop your relationship with Him.

You mentioned that you read your Bible and pray, but that it doesn’t do much for your relationship with God–well, so far it hasn’t seemed to produce the kind of relationship that your friends seem to have with Jesus. I suggest that you ask your friends what they do to make their one-on-one relationship with Jesus thrive.

Here’s what I do. Yes, I read the Bible, and I pray. But that isn’t enough. Those devotional disciplines come to life when I start living what I’ve read and prayed. In fact, my prayers often get shaped by what I’ve read in the Bible.

I’m quite a bit older than you, and I still don’t understand everything in the Bible. But I read for the purpose of making contact with God. I’ve found that when I read "because I’m supposed to," it’s more like a classroom assignment rather than a relationship. For example, if a teacher told me I had to become close friends with another person, that wouldn’t motivate me as much as if I wanted to become friends with him or her.

Instead of being frustrated about the things you don’t understand in the Bible, focus on the things you do understand. Try reading Matthew 5, 6, and 7. It won’t take long to read those chapters. Afterward, take time to pray about one verse a day. Then look for ways that God can live that verse through you. Here are a few examples:

Go out of your way to do incredible things for people you don’t like, and people who don’t like you for some reason. (See Matthew 5:44.)

Give things to people who need them without making a show of it or doing it for community service credit. (See Matthew 6:2.) If you aren’t giving anything to the needy, then start.

Ask God to forgive you only as often as you forgive people who do you wrong. (That’s in the middle of the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:12.) What would happen to you if God forgave you only when you forgave others?

In everything you do, treat others the way you would want them to treat you. (Check out the golden rule in Matthew 7:12.)

My guess is that if you zero in on parts of the Bible such as those, you’ll start to pray more, because you’ll be desperate for God to change you on the inside. And that’s when you’ll find your one-on-one relationship with God becoming more than just a nice thing. It’ll be the focus of your entire life.

Do you really want a one-on-one relationship with Jesus? How about having that kind of relationship with both Jesus and God the Father? In Jesus’ words: "All those who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and live with them" (John 14:23).

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By Steve Case. Reprinted with permission from Insight Magazine Online. Copyright © 2013 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW LIVING TRANSLATION © 1971.


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