Posted in Love

Having a Close Love Relationship with God

Jesus with Child

The stage is being set. People are taking position for the greatest explosion of events this world will ever experience. God will pour out His Holy Spirit in great measure upon this earth. Many will be healed, saved and delivered.

Before a big game, a coach will prepare his or her players with strategy and training to win. In this season I believe God is bringing many through refining fires not to discourage or defeat them, but to bring up and burn off that which is hindering their success. So don’t be discouraged if this is happening to you.

On the other hand, be wise to the strategies of the evil one. He wants to defeat and discourage you and get you to turn inward and keep you sidelined with your head between your knees. Don’t let him do it. He is the accuser of the brethren. He uses accusation to keep us beating ourselves up or getting us to point blame at others. This is not the answer.

I believe one of the greatest components for our success in this season is directly connected with our close love relationship with God and our outward love toward others.

Importance of God’s Love

Just how important is our love relationship with God?

Consider the Lord’s message to the church of Ephesus. In Revelation 2:2-3 (NIV) the Lord encouraged the church at Ephesus by bringing recognition to their deeds, their hard work, perseverance, enduring hardships for His name, not growing weary, and discernment of false apostles. However, He goes on to state in Revelation 2:4-6 (NIV), “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”

This reminds me of the athlete who is working hard on the playing field, but is failing to spend time listening, following and obeying the leading of his coach. If we want to be the finest participants we can be in this great end time move of God then let’s put priority on having God as our first love.

Agape love (unconditional love) for God and others must be a motivating force in all we do and say. If we operate in God’s love then people will be drawn to Christ to get know Him. God’s love is not cheap. He stands with us through thick and thin.

In Christ we get to know His love for us and the love God has for the people in the world around us. First Corinthians 13:2-3 teaches us that true usefulness and true value is found with God’s love, not apart from it.

“And if I have prophetic powers (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose), and understand all the secret truths and mysteries and possess all knowledge, and if I have [sufficient] faith so that I can remove mountains, but have not love (God’s love in me) I am nothing (a useless nobody). Even if I dole out all that I have [to the poor in providing] food, and if I surrender my body to be burned or in order that I may glory, but have not love (God’s love in me), I gain nothing.” – 1 Corinthians 13:2-3 (AMP)

Understanding Who God Is

Key to loving intimacy with God is understanding who God is. How can we boldly come into God’s presence if we don’t understand first that He is the God of grace (unmerited favor) who paid the price for all our sins? Yes, all our sins. We are greatly loved and highly prized by God even if we have done something that we are deeply ashamed of. Remember what Jesus said of the woman who anointed His feet and washed them with her tears. In Luke 7:47 (NKJV) Jesus said, “Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”

If God is viewed from self-righteous and critical eyes, how much harder is it to draw close to Him and demonstrate that immense love and willing obedience He deserves?

Consider the man who buried the talents his master had given him. He said of His master, “Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours” (Matthew 25:24-25 NKJV). This man did not respond in love toward his master.

Knowing we have a God of grace, mercy and love should prompt us to respond back to God with love.

This is why it is so important to represent a God of love to the world around us and not a God who is ready to pound people because they don’t measure up to His standards.

What is important to God is humility and contriteness of heart (see Psalm 51:17).

Corporate Love Brings Unity and Harvest

A corporate love that puts God as our first love will draw people together into unity. When unity in the body of Christ comes to maturity there will be a tremendous release of power and harvest of souls. John 17:20-23 makes it clear that when we corporately unite in Christ there is a revelation released to the world that Father God sent Jesus and that He loves the people in the world as much as He loves Jesus.

“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” – John 17:22-23 (NIV)

Knowing God

There is a distinct difference between knowing of God and truly knowing Him in a deep love relationship. Matthew 25:11-12 (NKJV) reads, “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’” In this passage, the English phrase I do not know you is translated from the Greek words ouk oida. It means, I do not intuitively know you as my own or I’m not related to you.1 In a true love relationship we experience God, listen to Him and obey Him out of love rather than using a religious agenda to build our own empire.

Presence and Belonging

God encourages us to grow deeper in intimate love with Him. As we do this, we will experience His abiding presence and a greater sense of belonging to Him.

At the converging point of intimacy with God is His presence. Will we go where the Holy Spirit moves us?

The Song of Solomon 2:10-13 (NKJV) reads, “My beloved spoke, and said to me: ‘rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grapes give a good smell. Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away!’”

Will we rise up and go away with God when He calls us to spend time in His presence, to hear and see what He has, or have the cares and worries of life entrapped us? As with any relationship, the more we look inward and demand others to meet our wants and desires the more we can push others away. Our gaze must be outward toward God’s face to express our love and trust in Him, to seek to know Him better, to understand His ways, and will for our lives and those around us.

An important component of having an intimate love relationship is the realization of belonging and commitment or covenant.

God calls us His children (see 1 John 3:1). As believers in Him we are joint heirs of God and are sealed with the Holy Spirit (see Romans 8:17, Ephesians 3:1). He paid the price for us with His blood and rescued us from hell and separation from Him who is Love. His love and salvation for us is a free gift. He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). In fact, Isaiah 49:16 (NIV) goes on to state, “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.”

Knowing God’s Ways and Desires

In pursuit of this love relationship we must get to know God’s ways, who He is, His desires, and His heart. We must be willing to care and value what is important to God. God does not force His will upon us. We must choose to follow Him. Moses demonstrated such a heart for God.

In Exodus 33:13 we find that Moses didn’t demand for himself the riches, comforts and fame of the world, but rather prayed, “If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people” (Exodus 33:13 NIV). May our heart cry be to know God’s ways better and to find favor with Him.

A woman shared with me a dream she had about working as a waitress in a restaurant. Jesus came to her in this restaurant all excited to give her a message. She was, however, so consumed with waiting on tables that she made Jesus wait and wait and wait. The excitement wore off on Jesus’ face and He left. When she finally got back to Jesus, He was not there.

My friend, I ask you this, how strong is your love for Him? Is it priority to spend time with Him and listen to His voice? Or have you become so busy and troubled about many things that you have neglected to spend time with Him in worship and listening to Him?

We must surrender our will and our plans to Him and trust Him with the things pressing upon us.

Preparation of the Jewish Bride for Marriage

Steps Jewish brides were to take, give additional insight into what we can do to get closer in intimate love with God.

First, there was establishing a covenant with the groom. This secured their commitment and sense of belonging. In a spiritual sense, consider the importance covenant has in our relationship with Christ. In our covenant with Christ we are joint heirs with Him. We are seated in heavenly places and have a place of authority with Him. We are highly favored and have the confidence that He will never leave us nor forsake us. These facts are not based on our performance, but our relationship with Him.

Second, the bride underwent a time of cleansing through washing in a purification pool. Remember, we are washed with His blood and stand forgiven. So we can walk free from condemnation. We are washed by the word of God as well (see Ephesians 5:26). This is why it is so important to read, study and meditate on the word of God each day.

Third, there was the need for the bride to become set apart to the groom. She needed to turn her focus away from the unrestrained impulses of singleness to prepare for the day when she would be completely united to her espoused husband. As we separate ourselves away from the worldly lusts and impulses—we will find it so much easier to draw close to God. It is the things of this world that work to pull us back from God, to consume our heart and emotions with the negative and polluted things.

Fourth, the bride and groom had a personal day of atonement on the day leading up to marriage. During this time the bride and groom were to have a time of prayer and fasting. The word atonement comes from the Hebrew word kapar, or to cover.2 In this context, to cover refers to the covering of sin through repentance and confession of sin. To the Jew, marriage is a turning point that gives them the opportunity to be set free from the sins of their past to begin their lives anew.

God calls us to confess our sins and move ever closer in sincerity without the entanglements of half-hearted commitment and unresolved conflicts. Are you ready to develop a more intimate love relationship with God? There is no better time than now!

- Bruce Koch

Note:
1, 2 Strong, Dr. James, The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, Copyright © 1995, 1996

Bruce Koch is president of Gospel Tramway. He is an author, intercessor, teacher and preacher of God’s word. He resides in Georgetown, Texas with his wife Sherry and son Ethan.

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