WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
NOVEMBER 8, 2021
TOPIC: CULTIVATING INTIMACY WITH GOD
BY T. O. BANSO
“As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalm 42:1-2 New King James Version).
It is the responsibility of every child of God to cultivate an intimate relationship with God. The pursuit of the legitimate business of each day or the demands of leadership responsibility in the Gospel ministry is not superior to developing an intimate relationship with Him. A Christian or a Christian leader should not be so busy that his fellowship with God suffers. Get your priorities right. Being busy is not the same as being productive.
As busy as Jesus was, He didn’t allow it to disrupt His fellowship with God. Jesus spent time alone with God daily in prayers. He prayed at different times. He prayed all night. “Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God” (Luke 6:12 New King james Version).
Jesus prayed early in the morning. “Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed” (Mark 1:35 New King James Version). He equally prayed after ministering to the people. “Immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while He sent the multitude away. And when He had sent them away, He departed to the mountain to pray” (Mark 6:45-46 New King James Version).
After watching His habit of praying alone for some time, one of His disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray. “Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples’” (Luke 11:1 New King James Version). And He taught them what is popularly called the Lord’s Prayer.
When Jesus was about to go to the cross, He took four of his disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane and asked them to be praying so that they would not fall into temptation. He went some distance from them to pray because his soul was sorrowful even unto death (Mark 14:32-42; Matthew 26:36-46; Luke 22:39-46).
The psalmist said, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalm 42:1-2 New King James Version). The New Living Translation presents the verse thus: “As the deer pants for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I come and stand before him?”
Does your soul thirst for the Lord as the psalmist said? Or are you lukewarm, apathetic, or in a spiritual slumber? God said He would vomit out of His mouth the lukewarm - those who are neither cold nor hot (Revelation 3:16). David expressed his thirst for the LORD in Psalm 63:1-2, saying, “O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory” (New King James Version).
Hear David again in Psalm 84:2: “My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the LORD; My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God” (New King James Version). Are you thirsty for the Lord? Does your soul long for Him? Jesus says if anyone thirsts, he should come to Him and drink (John 7:37).
Make sure you spend time before God. Minister to Him and let Him minister back to you. Intimacy with God is very important for a leader as much as it is for the people he is leading. If a leader in the gospel ministry fails in cultivating intimacy with God, he may be doing the “work of God” without God’s involvement – he is acting independently of Him. He will not be doing what pleases God, as he is not in communication with Him.
John 15:5-6 says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (New King James Version). How can you abide in Him when you don’t spend time with Him?
The work of God is not more important than God, the owner of the work. No one should become a stranger to God while claiming to be doing His work. God may tell such people on Judgment Day, “Go away from Me, you self-will workers. I desired intimacy but you were engrossed with work. You didn’t get it right.”
Indeed, when Jesus called His disciples, His first priority for them was intimacy with Him – intimacy with Him came before any other thing. Mark 3:14-15 says, “Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons” (New King James Version). Being with Him, came before sending them out to preach, and to have the power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons.
You must make fellowship with God your most important priority. Moses had an intimate relationship with God. He spoke with him face to face (Numbers 12:8). When you spend enough time with God, you will receive constant revelations from Him and the power of the Holy Spirit upon your life will increase.
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony, he did not know that the skin of his face glowed because he had spoken to the LORD face to face. He had to cover his face with a veil after speaking to the Israelites until the next time he would go to speak with the LORD (Exodus 34:28-35; 2 Corinthians 3:13). When a leader cultivates a personal relationship with God and has quality fellowship, his followers will recognize it; they will feel the impact. When a Christian spends time with God, He will feel the impact.
Cultivate intimacy with God if you want to walk with Him and be effective in your personal life and work in the Kingdom of God. Intimacy with God includes desiring it and drawing near to God, having faith and trust in God, fellowshipping with Him in worship, studying, meditating on the Word of God, and obeying His Word. It also includes communicating with the Holy Spirit in an attitude of prayer as you go about each day and praying for yourself, your followers, and your assignment. It involves waiting – standing still and listening to the Holy Spirit.
The Bible says you should draw near to God and He will draw near to you (James 4:8a). Don’t stay away from God. Draw near to Him. Fellowship with Him. He says you should call to Him, and He will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know (Jeremiah 33:3). Seek the LORD while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near (Isaiah 55:6).
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Holy Spirit, deliver me from anything hindering me from cultivating deep intimacy with God. Help me to set my priorities right and make the best use of my time. Holy Spirit, give me a thirst and hunger for God, which nothing but God will satisfy. I will draw near to God and He will draw near to me in Jesus’ name.
(For over 600 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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