Developing a Relationship with God

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers. Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction Psalm 1 (NIV)

God blesses His own children. Its wrong, however, to try to use the bible as device to receive blessings to further one’s own ambition. Many people, in essence, are their own gods who think that “living by their wits” is what life is all about. We all approached life in this manner from birth, even the most dedicated Christians. Paul includes himself in this list to his protégé Titus: At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another (Titus 3.3 NIV). No one can enter into the Kingdom of God without a metaphorical “new birth”, which suggests a metaphorical “death to self:” then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mt. 16.24 NIV).

Everyone knows their Creator innately: since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them (Rom. 1.19 NIV). Hence, anyone can repent and talk to Him to ask for guidance in life and how to understanding His word. It’s just that simple. Sure, obstacles to walking with God will come, but, faith and steadfastness are enjoined for the disciple: Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong (1Cor, 16.13 NIV). Also, waiting is trusting: Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord (Ps. 27.14 NIV). Phil. 4.6 is a verse that every Christian should have memorized: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (NIV).

Psalm 1 was written almost 3000 years ago before wide-spread dissemination of writing. In the Psalmist’s days scripture was memorized after hearing it read by priests and scribes who preserved God’s word. The Jewish Feasts and Sabbath gatherings were times which ordinary Israelites could hear the scriptures read. For sure, modern distractions didn’t exist, but, they didn’t have the same access to scripture resources either. It’s really a personal decision of dedication and discipline to study the Word of God every day.

If a person reads 3 or 4 chapters a day, they will finish the bible in one year. The best way to do it is just to start at Genesis and read sequentially though the bible and then start all over, and, just keep reading. Not everything “will click” at once, but, the bible tends to explain itself. Even Peter had difficulty understanding every scripture: His [Paul] letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction (2Pet. 3.16 NIV). Also, each subsequent time reading the bible, new insights occur, partly, because the whole biblical context is fresh in memory. “Practice makes perfect” when studying the bible so long as God’s child reads in His presence with humility and a readiness to obey.

Spiritual growth is not about activity either. One cannot, automatically, grow in knowledge by reading more of the bible or praying longer. A person needs to be ready for new insights and ways of thinking. The bible is not written according to modern learned wisdom or current man-inspired thinking and values. Neither will anyone ever know all bible mysteries; however, many crucial teachings are knowable and need to be held steadfastly. The Christian Church through the centuries has combated false doctrines, which, if not adequately refuted, people tend to readopt. Also, Christians, through the years have formulated concepts such as the deity and eternality of the Son and the Triunity of God. Some of these biblical concepts are contained in scripture as implied truth while others are more explicit.

Weekly church attendance under a well trained and godly pastor is also vital for learning the bible’s truths. While each Christian has the Spirit and ultimately are taught of God (Jn. 6.45), believers need mutual encouragement and insights from others who are also indwelt by the Spirit. Some long-time and faithful Christians, who themselves have been trained in original languages, doctrine, history, and other disciples, are called of God to be under-shepherds of His people. Christians should financially support their places of gathering along with the pastors: Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor (Gal. 6.6 NIV). This practice is almost timeless. In O.T. Israel, tithes were eaten by the worshippers and attendees of feasts while the bulk of their “tenth” were given to the Levites who themselves tithes to the priests. A church facility requires initial costs and further upkeep to be bourn by the attendees. This responsibility is similar to eating a portion of their tithes and giving the rest for ministerial support.

Additionally, it does no good to read the bible without obedience to its teachings. Just like the Psalmist, the reader will need to remember what they read or heard and think upon the concepts. The bible communicates concepts and not just words to be taken mystically. Truth from the bible is conveyed not primarily from the terms, but, what the terms imply; and therefore, meditating on what the bible is saying is crucial. We should all be hearers who obey the bible: Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says… But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do (Jas. 1.22,25 NIV).

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