Category Archives: Intimacy with God

Articles of describing the intimacy of prayer, the intense language of prayer, and how prayer is our personal link to God.

Risk:Living by Faith-2

In the previous “blog study” we looked at David as an example of a person who had faith in God and lived out that faith in his everyday life. At times David took great risks of faith with God. The key is “with God” and from his “relationship” with God.
Keys that characterize David’s faith:

  • David knew God through the scriptures. David discerned God’s character and heart for men as he read the word of God. David believed what he read about God and took that into his heart and mind. David spoke these truths to himself and integrated these truths into his life. It is knowing and believing truths about God that made David able to take risks of faith.
  • David valued and esteemed God. David was in absolute awe of God. David’s heart was set to honor God. Read Psalms 63:1-3 and 27:4 to get a glimpse of David’s genuine heart for God.
  • David had an acute awareness of God’s presence in his life. David was able to discern God helping him, supporting him, training him and protecting him in various situations in his life. David took these things to heart, remembered them and connected them to his present circumstances. These experiences fueled David’s faith.
    An example of this is in 1 Samuel 17:34-37, David tells Saul that God helped him to kill a lion and a bear when they went after the sheep. He connects that experience with facing Goliath and believes God will do the same with Goliath.

Risks – Living Faith
David had a deep relationship with God. He valued God. He esteemed God. He feared God and was devoted to “do life with God.” Because of the strength of David’s heart for God, he lived out of his faith in God and took risks that honored God and helped others.

A Personal Reflection: I have to stop here and think about my life and my relationship with God. Is my relationship with God really a “relationship?” Or am I going through a series of “spiritual activities” that give me a false sense of a relationship with God?  Do I know truths about God’s character? Do I believe those truths and bring them into my daily consciousness and use those truths to uphold me in difficult situations?

Risking Life – Come from Personal Connection
In 1 Samuel 17, we read of the encounter between David and Philistine giant, Goliath.

1 Samuel 17: 10, Goliath brazenly, with no fear, states that he “defies” the armies of Israel. It seems he postured and railed thus for 40 days (v.16).  David’s heart picked up on the fact that this man was railing against God, as well as His people. David personally felt the insult and disrespect of Goliath for God and God’s people.

  • A Personal Reflection: I have to ask myself: Do I personally connect with God, am I insulted on behalf of God by the “railing” of the world against God and truth? Or is my faith more just in my head, but not my heart?

Goliath defied God and Israel. In this context the word “defy” means: to hold in contempt, to scorn, to belittle, to denigrate, to shame and to blaspheme.

David was insulted on behalf of God. He took a stand and asked, “Who is this pagan Philistine anyway that he should be allowed to defy the armies of the living God,” 1 Sam. 17:26

To David, Goliath was not a giant, but a man without faith or fear of God. David steps forward in faith, without armor or supporting troops. Looking at David in that moment, he is mismatched, vulnerable, outnumbered, alone, and exposed.

Fighting Words – Faith Words
David knows God. He has truths embedded in his heart that he learned from the scriptures and from his experience with God. David spoke these truths about God to himself, to all the people watching from a distance, and to Goliath as he stepped forward to encounter him.

“…I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.” (1 Sam. 17:45-47)

David was not alone, God was with him. David’s armor and shield was God. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why we see so many references in David’s psalms to God as his Shield, his Champion, his Rock, his Strong Tower, and so on.

A Relatable Faith
I read this account of the faith of David and I am in awe. I am enamored and star struck by David’s faith.

Then I think: I can’t relate to this. David is a super spiritual hero in the scriptures. I cannot have this faith. I have struggles and serious flaws in my character. I have made many mistakes in my life.

As I read further in the life of David, I see he was not a perfect man. He did not do everything right. God described him as “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14), yet David was flawed; he sinned. One might say that David made a royal mess of things. He lusted. He committed adultery (2 Sam. 11:2-5). He arranged for the death of a man who was loyal to him, and then tried to cover up both the adultery and the murder (2 Sam. 11:6-17).

David’s track record with parenting his children was not the best. His son Amnon forced himself on his sister (2 Sam. 13:1-15).  His other son Absalom killed Amnon. (2 Sam. 13:20-32).  Absalom then rose up in insurrection against King David his father and attempted to take the throne. (2 Sam. 15:1-14).

God Sees Something I Don’t
Even many years after the truth of David’s life is known, God continued to describe David in the scriptures as a “man after God’s heart,” Acts 13:22.

  • After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ Acts 13:22

While I am impressed with the stand David took for God with Goliath, I am honestly more drawn to the type of intimate relationship that David had with God. This relationship was born of God’s love for David as well as David’s love for God. It is a mutual relationship.

As I read further in 1 and 2 Samuel and the Psalms, I see that I can have a relationship with God like David had. It is a matter of the heart, not of perfect performance. I don’t have to be perfect, just faithful.

I can, like David, make my heart’s home in God and let my life flow from that. The Message version states this in an impressive way.

  • “God, the one and only—I’ll wait as long as he says. Everything I hope for comes from him,  so why not? He’s solid rock under my feet,    breathing room for my soul, an impregnable castle: I’m set for life. My help and glory are in God  —granite-strength and safe-harbor-God—so trust him absolutely, people; lay your lives on the line for him. God is a safe place to be.” Psalm 62:5-8

Jesus – Makes It Reality
Jesus, the ultimate hero in the story of God has made it possible for me and you to have a deep personal relationship with God. In fact, such an intimate relationship has always been God’s heart and will for us and Him.

“In Christ, he chose us before the world was made. In his love he chose us to be his holy people—people without blame before him.  And before the world was made, God decided to make us his own children (relationship) through Jesus Christ. That was what he wanted and what pleased him.” Ephesians 1:4-5 (NCV)

Risk – Another Word for Faith

Within the spiritual community that I am a part of we have been talking about God’s dream that is that everyone would have a deep personal relationship with God. That this is God’s desire; it is his will, his design.

  • “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” Eph. 1:4-5 NLT
  • “There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” John 14:2-3

Partners in God’s Dream
We have been reflecting on how God has invited us into being a part of his dream and working with him to complete this. The term “risk” came up, as in thinking about what risks can we take in order to be fellow workers with God to advance his dream by sharing God’s invitation to a relationship with him through Jesus.

Risk can be an intimidating term to some people, because in some way it means that we are doing something that has an element of stretching our limits. Risk involves going above what we normally would do, and it has the potential to result in a negative consequence of some type.

Risk involves vulnerability and possible exposure, or a pushing beyond our comfort zone. It involves a certain factor of the unknown. There is not a specific guaranteed structure or outcome. Sounds like faith to me.  

Risk – Another Word for Faith
As I pondered the term risk I thought, God has been talking about risks since day 1 of creation. When we assert faith, we do not physically see the outcome or sometimes even the process. The scriptures in Hebrews 11: 1 say that; “Faith if the assurance of things hoped for the conviction of things not seen.”  Therefore, faith involves risk.

Faith and Risk are inherent in many scriptures, such as: Romans 8:28 and Psalms 46:1-3.

  • “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

We may not see “the good” at the time, but we trust – we take the risk to believe that God is moving and working on our behalf.

Psalm 46:1-3 implies a risk to trust God in the midst of trouble, doubt, and when it seems our world is coming apart. These verses are a poetic and symbolic rendering of God’s unchanging heart and faithful character.

  • “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.”Ps. 46:1-3

Risk Takers- Faith Walkers
If you are still unconvinced that you can become a risk taker read Hebrews 11 and become inspired by ordinary men and women who took risks of faith and deepened their knowledge and experience with God.

  • “And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead…” Heb. 11:32-35

Relationship – Heart- Risk
Faith and risks flow from a deep relationship with God that is characterized by:

  • knowing and believing truths about God,
  • valuing God, and
  • cultivating a heart that cannot live without God.

King David, a risk taker, was described by the Spirit of God in the scriptures as being just such a man. The Spirit says David was a man after the heart of God. We read this characterization in Acts 13:22  

  • “And when He (God) had removed him (Saul), He raised up David to be their king, of whom He testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after My heart, who will do all My will.” Acts 13: 22

David was known to have a relationship with God even before he became famous for his mighty deed of slaying the giant.

  • “One of the servants answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the lyre. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the LORD is with him.” 1 Samuel 16:18

I have to stop here and reflect: What am I known for: my education; my titles; my appearance; my various skills and talents or even for my vices? Or, am I known for loving God and my fellow man; for walking humbly with God and man?  What are you known for?

Develop a Heart for God
Having a heart for God involves: seeking to know God personally; trusting in God and developing righteous character as you do what pleases God.

The words of David in the Psalms he wrote, reveal his heart for God.

David valued God and actively sought after knowing God and relating to God.

  • One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple…My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” “Your face, Lord, I will seek.” Ps. 27 4, 8

David sought to know and to do God’s will:

  • Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.” Psalm 86:11
  • “Show me your ways, Lord,teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” Psalm 25:4-5

It is through developing this knowledge of God and heart for Him that David could take risks for God.

It is the same for us. We can only live out our relationship with God, rise to challenges and difficulties, and do His will, if we are seeking daily to know Him and to do His will.

More to Come
This study has caused me to think more deeply about cultivating my heart for God and relationship with God. My faith is only as strong as the truths I know about God and choose to believe.  

In the next blog we will look closer at the various risks that David took to do great things that honored God, helped other people and caused David to grow in faith and love for God.

A New Look at an Old Truth for a New Year- 2

“I am Thy servant to do Thy will, and that will is sweeter to me than position or  riches or fame, and I choose it above all things on Earth or in Heaven.” A. W. Tozer

When talking about the will of God we generally don’t hear such a forthright proclamation of love for the will of God. When we think of the will of God, we may think of the commands of God and begin to feel all those “I am not enough,” and “I can’t do that,” or “It’s too hard” kinds of feelings and thoughts.  

As I begin this new year, I am hoping that my study of God’s will and gaining greater understanding of how it fits into my relationship with God will help me to “love” and “treasure” the will of God much like Tozer or the psalmist who said:  

“ I delight to do your will, O God, your law is within my heart.” Psalm 40:8

God’s Will = Intimacy with God
When I read passages about God’s will, I see how intertwined His will is in a relationship with us. Jesus addressed this.

In Matthew 7:21-25 – Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you.

In that little word “knew” we see a world of relationship, a deep knowing, trusting, believing, interacting with and doing what pleases our Lord. In this kind of relationship with God, doing His will is embedded in that love. I believe that is why in Psalm 40:8, the psalmist can say, “Your law is in my heart.”

When Jesus spoke to the Pharisees, He strongly reminds them, and us, that it is more than trying to live up to a standard in isolation from relationship with God and others.

“Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.” Luke 11:42

What is missing in what these men were doing? Justice, which I believe, is associated with doing right in relationship to their fellow man, and love for God. 

That is what happens when I think the “will of God is equivalent solely to keeping the law of God.” It then becomes a focus on performance and self. That is when I get scattered, running about, doing this and that resulting in my feeling “not enough,” “not making the grade,” “judged,” and eventually a dissatisfied feeling leading to trying to prove myself to prove myself to God and others.  Ever been there?

The Bottom Line
In the previous blog study, we saw that the will of God is his desire, intent, and design to draw us into a relationship with Him, through that relationship He gives us the ability to be with Him, to stand in His presence, through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus. Clearly and undeniably encapsulated in Ephesians 1:4-5.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. For He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in His presence. In love He predestined (pre-planned) us for adoption as His sons through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the Beloved One …” Eph. 1:4-5 (BSB)

The bottom line of God’s will is His love and desire to draw us close to Him. Everything about His will is directed towards that end. Within that interactive relationship God’s will encompasses Him delighting in and actively loving us, and us responding by pleasing Him.

Relationship Words
If we look closely in the scriptures at various words that are associated with the will of God. In these words we see God’s good intent and His love for us.

Desire:
“For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” Hos, 6:6 (ESV)

God’s will is founded in the word “desire,” not “demand.” What is it that He desires? Love and knowing God.

Esteem:
Isaiah 66:6 uses a different word to show that those who live in a close loving relationship with God are “esteemed” by God.

“Has not My hand made all these things? And so they came into being,” declares the LORD. “This is the one I will esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, who trembles at My word.” Is. 66:2 (BSB)

The word esteem indicates God’s will is meshed with His valuing us. He is pleased with and highly values a person who is humble/contrite in his/her relationship with God and one who respects God’s word.

Desirable:
“All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the LORD weighs the heart. To do righteousness and justice is more desirable to the LORD than sacrifice.” Prov. 21:2-3 (BSB)

The emphasis is on what God desires is about heart and relationship, not necessarily performance. Righteousness involves our thoughts and actions in relationship to God, but also to others. Again, the will of God is relational, involving both God and man..

Delights –Pleasure – Pleased – Devoted:
“He does not delight in the strength of the horse; He takes no pleasure in the legpower of the man. The LORD is pleased with those who fear Him, who hope in His loving devotion.” Psalm 147:10-11 (BSB)

These words are associated with the will of God in relationship with us. The “will of God” expresses God’s devotion to us. What an awesome truth- the almighty, sovereign and loving God is devoted to you and me. That gives me a clear perspective on the will of God in my life and moves me to respond with devotion to God and to delight to do His will.

Reflections on the Will of God
Throughout this study of the will of God, I am asking myself some questions. I will share them with you and perhaps they will help you in your walk with God.

  • Do I know what the will of God is? Have I taken time to know him so that I know what pleases Him?
  • Am I doing many good things because they are what everyone else is doing, and or because they seem to be expected of me? Or, am I doing these things as an intentional loving response to God in my relationship with Him?
  • Do I esteem, treasure, delight in God in response to how He esteems, treasures and delights in me?

When I feel stressed by performance, or other’s opinions, judgments and expectations, I meditate on Ephesians 1:4-5 and remember God’s will is to draw me close to Him and that He is transforming me into His image.

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The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear Him.
Psalm 25:14

A New Look at an Old Truth in a New Year

Do you ever wonder if you are attuned to God and His will; if you really understand what God’s will is, and if you are following it?  I do, even though I have been a disciple of Jesus for many years and have read the Bible through several times.  I feel led to seriously re-consider, study anew the idea of “God’s will” and “doing God’s will,” if doing is even the accurate expression.  

The concept of the “will of God” is often used in a generic way, in that all good activities are lumped together and referred to as doing the “will of God.” Most people would think that my choice of knowing and doing the will of God is a rather basic focus. After all, a friend of mine said, “You have been a disciple of Jesus for many years; surely you know and are doing the will of God.”

As believers in God, we tend to automatically assume we are doing the will of God. We attend and participate in church services; we do good works; we live a relatively “clean” life style, so we think we are doing the will of God, but are we? Or, are we doing someone’s idea of “God’s will,” or our own version of “God’s will.” So at the start of this New Year I want to take a new look at God’s will and my connection to His will.

What is the “will” of God?
Simply put someone might say, “That’s easy the will of God are the commands of God; and almost immediately another pipes up and says, ”Uh, oh, be careful you don’t get legalistic.” Putting my fears of legalism aside I want to look at this idea of doing the will of God as embodied within my relationship with God, not the keeping of a code or fulfilling certain expectations so that I feel good about myself, or sense of spiritual security, which may be false.
What does it mean to live out the will of God in my life?

The word for “will” in the Greek New Testament is thelema, or a form thereof, and refers to: will, desire, intention, design, or plan.

We see this word spoken by Jesus in the prayer he taught his disciples: “Your (God’s) kingdom come, Your will (thelema) be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10

Again, Jesus refers to “doing the will of God” as recorded in Mt. 7:21: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will (thelema) of my Father who is in heaven.”

The Will of God and Relationship
I am thinking the “will” of God has more to do with His intention, His desire, His design, or His plan to draw us close into a relationship with Him and to transform us more and more into His image. Clearly this has been God’s plan for me all along. Let’s take a close look at Ephesians 1:3-6 while defining and emphasizing some words.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. For He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in His presence. In love He predestined us for adoption as His sons through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of His will (thelematos). to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the Beloved One..” (BSB)

 Here are the things that stand out in this passage about the will of God:

  • “chose” – God made a deliberate “willful choice” to draw us into a relationship with Him through Jesus
  • “in His presence” – The expression in His presence signifies a close personal relationship. God’s intention, his will/his design was to bring us into an intimate relationship with him
  • “predestined” – This meaning of this word is more closely associated with the understanding of “pre-planning.”  God planned in advance to send His Son Jesus to be the sacrifice for our sins (our self-willed-ness) so that we could be personally connected to Him.
  • “the good pleasure of His will” – God’s will, His intention, His design, His plan to initiate this and bring this about through Jesus was His pleasure. Pleasure has several meanings among those meanings is delight, good favor, beneficence towards man. God’s will to draw us close to Him was not done with a heavy heart or out of some kind of divine obligation. It was God’s pleasure to design, to plan in advance for us to be in an intimate relationship with Him.

When the angels announced the birth of Jesus they were revealing this truth about God’s good will, His good plan for us. The NKJV translates “God’s pleasure” as “His good will or good intent” to man.
          “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” Luke 2:14

There are many passages of scripture from Genesis to Revelations that reveal this same aspect of God’s will, His good intention, His design to gather us into Him.

Facets of the Divine Will
The will of God is like a large sparkling diamond. It has many facets. Like a diamond, each facet shines in a different way as you hold it up to the light. Once we see the whole of the diamond, we can then begin to examine the facets and get a better understanding of its beauty and value.

So it is with the will of God. The more I understand about the facets of the divine will, the more I can appreciate the will of God and the more likely I am to be in sync with God’s will.

Some words that need to be considered as facets of the will of God include:  surrender, submission, Lordship, exchanging yokes, denying self; abiding in God; refuging in God; knowing the eternal God and rejoicing in His presence. I am sure after a little thought you will see more facets to the will of God.

Some of the facets mentioned above may bring back a tinge of fear or maybe even a sense of burden or insecurity, but when I consider the will of God as His choosing to design a plan for me to come into a forever friendship with Him  through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus, I can give up all fear and lean into Him.

Reflection for a New Year
I would ask you to reread Ephesians 1:3-6 and re-consider your ideas about the will of God in your life.

Do you know what the will of God is? How does doing the will of God fit in with having a personal relationship with God? How can you grow in sync with God’s will? What will that look like in your life?

I intend to continue my quest for comprehending and taking in the will of God in my life this year. I invite you to join me.

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“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,
making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:15-17

Nuclear Prayers

“Where is God when I need Him?” This is a question many of us think, but we do not often ask God for fear of sounding disrespectful.

A friend of mine who has had a significantly rough life journey was asking this question. Over the past several years she has been walking closer with God, working on healing from the scars caused by her own negative thinking, words and actions; and from traumas delivered by others.

She has acknowledged negative actions, words and attitudes that she has been responsible for, and has sought professional help in working through the toxic actions and words of others. These are all important steps in the healing process.

She has sought answers not only in counseling but also in truths in God’s word, in prayer and in her relationship with God.  In viewing this from a “Christian” perspective one might say she is a Jesus girl seeking a deeper more genuine walk with God. Yet, she feels her prayers are unanswered and wonders why she does not feel God’s support. Maybe she needs to ask God this very question, “Where are you, Father?”

God Welcomes Laments!
Sometimes praying what we think are standard, acceptable, safe prayers may not be enough. Such “standard” prayers may indicate that we need to get down deeper in trusting God.

Perhaps we need to follow the example of the prophets and psalmists of old and pray risky prayers. Maybe, we need to risk sounding brazen and disrespectful. Sometimes we need to “dump it” on God, lament and moan to God from the depths of our heart. Such prayers may sound scandalous. They may sound disrespectful to God, but in truth such prayers show absolute trust in the love and goodness of God.

Lamenting to God is a true pouring out of your heart, and shows an authentic engagement with God.

The Israelites knew how to lament to God. In fact when the Israelites began moving away from God, breaking their covenant with Him, God literally asks, “Hey, why aren’t you guys trusting me, lamenting to me and asking me where I am?”

Jeremiah 2: 1-8 reveals that God accuses His people of not trusting Him enough to lament. This is apparent in verses 6 and 8.

 5 This is what the Lord says: “What fault did your ancestors find in me, that they strayed so far from me? They followed worthless idols   and became worthless themselves. They did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord,  who brought us up out of Egypt and led us through the barren wilderness,  through a land of deserts and ravines, a land of drought and utter darkness, a land where no one travels and no one lives?’7 I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce. But you came and defiled my land and made my inheritance detestable. The priests did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord?’

Dumping It!
True faith is childlike and just dumps it out. Lamenting is pouring out our heart to God. It is risking sounding like a spoiled child or an offended wife in order to seek God’s help. Shallow “religious” faith bottles it all up. In a sense, it is hypocritical because we are in our minds saying, “Well, God, you are the sovereign God and it is your fault that these things are happening.”

The prophets and the psalmists in their lamenting reveal a true faith in God, a real dependence on His love, faithfulness and power.

David, a man after God’s heart, often lamented to God. David cried out to God in desperation and in faith. Psalm 142:1-2 carries the tone of a lament.
“I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy.  I pour out before him my complaint; before him I tell my trouble.”

Laments Recorded by God
Below are examples of prayers of lament found in the scriptures. As you read them you may feel uncomfortable with the raw openness of these prayers, but listen for the faith. What are they really saying?

Blaming God for their Sinful State

  • Why, Lord, do you make us wander from your ways and harden our hearts so we do not revere you? Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes that are your inheritance. Isaiah 63:17

Charging God with Forgetting, Rejecting; Neglecting…

  • Wake up, O Lord! Why are You sleeping? Arise! Do not reject us forever. Why do You hide Your face and forget our misery and oppression? For our soul has sunk to the dust; our bodies cling to the earth. Psalm 44:24-25 (BSB)
  • Do not hide your face from me,do not turn your servant away in anger;you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Savior. Psalm 27:9
  • How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?How long will you hide your face from me?How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? Psalm 13:1-2
  • “Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again?Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time?Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?” Psalm 77:7-9

Charging God with Anger and Abandonment

  • Why, Lord, do you reject me and hide your face from me?15 From my youth I have suffered and been close to death; I have borne your terrors and am in despair. 16 Your wrath has swept over me; your terrors have destroyed me.17 All day long they surround me like a flood; they have completely engulfed me.18 You have taken from me friend and neighbor—  darkness is my closest friend. Psalm 88:14-18

Nuclear Faith
Laments are like nuclear prayers that express radical faith. They are not the tantrums of a child, but rather cries coming from hearts that know God. Laments are the vulnerable, desperate outpouring of our need to God. When we lament we are grieving about our life, we are proclaiming our trust in a God who is faithful; compassionate; involved and powerful.

Laments come out of faith and lead us to greater faith. They remind us who God is and how much we need Him. With humility and out of your deep need for God, begin a journal of your own authentic laments to God.

God, a Personal Friend (2)

Picture this: It is the dark of the night, the sky out in the country is brilliant with stars, myriads of stars, countless, dazzling, bright stars, against the dark backdrop of night (imagine no street lights). As we watch the scene, Abraham stands looking up. He seems to be talking to someone, someone who has his arm around him and seems to be pointing to the stars. The scene seems to present two friends appreciating the night sky and conferring with each other.

Something like that really did happen to a man named Abraham. It is recorded in Gen.15:4-6.

  • “Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.”  He (God) took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then He said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness.”
  • James 2:23 echoes this truth: And the Scripture was fulfilled, that says “And Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness, and he was called a friend of God.”

Now picture this: You seated on your couch with God next to you. Maybe He is holding your hand or has an arm draped around your shoulders, talking to you and you to Him.

Can’t picture it? Let’s see where we get this idea about a very personal God.

 God says, “Come Sit with Me.”
Psalm 25:14 states: “The secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him and He will make His covenant known to them.”

The word translated secret inherently implies some type of intimacy. Like one friend whispering a confidence to another. The word “secret” is “cowd” in Hebrew. It means “counsel, consultation; familiar converse; intimate conversation.”

Actually this word “cowd” comes from a primitive root that means a couch or a cushion upon which someone reclines, indicating people sitting together leaning in towards each other and conversing.

  • The NIV translates this concept as: “The Lord confides in those who fear Him;
    He makes His covenant known to them.”
  • The ESV translates it as: “The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear Him,
    and He makes known to them His covenant.”

Both translations catch the intended meaning with the words “confide” and “friendship,” but the primitive root of “cowd” captures the intimacy of this relationship. We need to be careful that our “religion” does not obscure our vision of the relationship that God is longing to have with us.


A Second Look at an Old Friendship
So what does this very personal friendship with God look like? If we take time to look closely, and beyond the way we have always seen the story of Moses and God, we can get a glimpse of it.

We see this relationship throughout the life of Moses. Let’s look at one snapshot of their relationship, such as when Moses was called to work with God to deliver Israel from Egypt. This meeting is recorded in Exodus 3 and 4.

I am used to seeing this meeting of God with Moses at the burning bush, God is depicted as the Sovereign LORD, giving a command to His servant Moses. But, on second look, maybe what we really are seeing is God reaching out to a man (Moses) to bring him into a friendship and partnership with Him.

What signs of friendship do I see?
I see God’s reassurance of His presence with Moses, like he isn’t going it alone; it doesn’t all depend on Moses.

      And God said, “I will be with you…” Ex. 3:12

I see it in God, like a true friend, being transparent and revealing His true identity to Moses.

  • God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’ “This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation.” Ex. 3:14-15

I see it in God, as a good friend, sharing His strength and power with Moses.

  • “Then the Lord said, “If they do not believe you or pay attention to the first sign, they may believe the second. But if they do not believe these two signs or listen to you, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground. The water you take from the river will become blood on the ground.” Ex. 4:8-9

In chapter 4, we see Moses, so to speak sitting on the couch” with God, having intimate converse or consult with God. Moses shares his weakness and fears with God, and God provides support for Moses in each thought. There is intimacy; there is encouragement; there is frustration and even anger expressed; but always, God is the friend, the help, the advocate.

Many other instances in the life of Moses reveal this close personal friendship and partnership between God and Moses. We can see it in the life of Hannah, David, Hezekiah, Elijah, Elisha, Daniel and countless others, but the question is do we see this for our life today?

In the End It Is “Religion or Relationship”
So many times in my life I have tripped over my practice of religion and missed the depth and beauty of a real relationship with God. God is all about this relationship. He has set it up from before the creation of the world for us to be close to Him.

Eph. 1:4 – 6 states this truth clearly. Look for the relationship words.

  • “For He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in His presenceIn love He predestined us for adoption as His sons/daughters through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the Beloved One.”

While God is Almighty, all powerful, and the sovereign Lord, He does extend Himself to us as our intimate friend. Knowing that God has been eternally longing for friendship with me is a thought that draws me to Him. At times it is hard to believe that “God” would actually want to be friends with me because I know who I am, how messed up and sinful I am and can be. But the amazing thing is that God knows that too, and in spite of my messed up self, God still reaches out to me (and you) in love.

Intimacy with God: The God Who Is Near

“Am I a God who is near” declares the Lord, “and not a God far off?  Can a man hide himself in hiding places so I do not see him?” declares the Lord. “Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” declares the Lord. Jeremiah 23:23-24

 In Jeremiah 23:23, God is addressing Israel telling them that He is the God who is near and the God who is far away, in other words, He is  everywhere and aware of all we are doing. In context, it is a rhetorical question. God is asking Israel if they know the fact that He is every where. In truth, He is so close that He knows their hearts. They think God is not near them and therefore He does not know what they are doing and thinking. 

What does it mean?
God is the God who is near.  The phrase is “miq-qarob ha elohe” or “Elohei Mikkarov” is translated  “the God who is nearby.”

The word “qarob” is an adjective and means near, and carries shades of meanings such as: nearby, drawing near; allied; approachable; and ready at hand. As we search through various lexicons we see it carries the meaning of God being near us; His presence being with us; and His desire for an intimate relationship with us. It also indicates our ability to draw near to God.

 In other instances it implies a relationship in which there is an affinity between two people, and an intimacy in their knowing one another. 

“Elohei Miq-qarob/Mikkarov” describes a truth about God’s character and the intentions of God towards us. The truth this name emphasizes is that God is always near us ready to draw to Him. He is nearby us, therefore He knows about us and the happenings in our life. The context of this title for God in Jeremiah 23 indicates that God is near and knows the thoughts and intents of our hearts.  Such knowledge is not meant to threaten us but to provide security.

Truths that Confirm God Is Near
The truth that God is near; is present; is approachable, and infact, desires to be close to us is attested to in other passages. These other passages describe in detail characteristics of this nearness.

  •  The nearness of God is akin to the very source of our life, Acts 17:26-28.
    And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Himthough He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being …”
  • The nearness of God is a safe refuge and a help in times of trouble, Psalm 46:1. The word for help in this verse is “ezrah” meaning succor; a suitable help; a strong support.
    God’s intent towards us is to help, to support, to provide for us.
    “God is our refuge and strength an ever present help in the times of trouble.”(BSB)
  •  The nearness of God means God is always with us, Psalm 139: 7-12.  He guides, he leads. He is with us in the dark times. He is with us even when we want to run away from Him or hide from Him.
    “Where can I go from your Spirit?Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.”
  • In the nearness of God we can see His great wonders, Psalm 75:1. As I move closer to God in vulnerable faith, my eyes are open to see more of Him and His wonders. In the intimacy of my relationship with God He uses His power to help me, and He works wonders within me and my life.
    “We give thanks to You, O God; we give thanks, for Your name is near. The people declare Your wondrous works.”
  • The nearness of God is directly connected to calling on God with a firm or true faith, Psalm 145:18
    “The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.”

 Truth in this verse is defined as firmness in faith, a faithfulness. In order to be close to God, to have that intimate connection, I have to firmly believe that God will answer me when I call on Him. This truth is echoed in James 1:5-6 and Hebrews 11:6.

Do I truly believe that God is near and will help me? Is my faith such that I am open to His helping me even though His answer  may not meet my expectations? In other words do I fully trust the God who is near, who knows my thoughts, feelings and needs? Do I trust Him to do what is right and best for me?
 

Do I want to be near God?
The truth we learn from some of these passages in the Old Testament is that God is near to us. God desires that intimate connection to us and reaches out to us through time and space to bring about the possibility of our being intimately connected to God.

Immanuel, God in the flesh, has come to make intimacy with God a reality. We see this truth throughout the New Testament. Ephesians 2:13 demonstrates how this intimacy with God can happen.

  • “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

We are encouraged to draw near to God through Jesus, Hebrews 10:21-22 and James 4:8

  • “… and since we have a great priest over the house of God,let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10:21-22
  • “Come near to God, and God will come near to you. You are sinners. So clean sin out of your lives. You are trying to follow God and the world at the same time. Make your thinking pure.” James 4:8 (ICB)

It challenges me to realize that the God who creates and sustains all life; the God who: divided the Red Sea; walked on water; gave sight to the blind; healed the leper, and raised the dead, wants to be close to me. The question is do I want to be close to God? Am I willing to seek His face, to seek His presence in my life every day?

Prayer Response: Pray that God will teach you how to be close to Him; how to go deeper and have an intimate relationship with Him.

Intimacy with God: The Lord of Hosts and You

Intimacy with God involves knowing Him deeply and personally. Such intimacy begins in knowing about the character and nature of God in his Word, in creation and in our life experience with God.

Reading the scriptures will help us grow in knowing God, understanding his character and interactions with man. How we take those truths into our heart and use them in our daily interactions with God helps us to develop intimacy with God.

I have found in my studies that the names God gives himself are an important way God reveals himself to us.

Names Make Intimate Connections
In John 10:3, we read that Jesus knows his sheep by name.
The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

Jesus knows the sheep, so he calls each one by a name. They listen and follow him. There is a trusting relationship between them. A little further on in verse 10, Jesus explains the deeper nature of this relationship with his sheep. It is akin to Jesus’ relationship with the Father. They are so close and intimate that they are one (John 10:30).

Jesus has plans for us to get even closer to Him. In John 17:21-23, Jesus prays that we will be one with each other and one in him, as he and the Father are one.

I love the fact that Jesus does not treat me in a generic way, or just as part of a group, but he knows me by name.  Jesus calls each of us by name, not only that but he has made plans to draw us closer to Him. These truths bring a sense of intimacy into the relationship.

If God knows our names and we feel a sense of closeness, we can grow even more in our intimacy with God by knowing His names. In sharing his names with us God is opening up knowledge of himself to us. In reality, God is inviting us into intimacy with him.

In revealing his names, God is revealing deep truths about his nature and character, and who he is in relation to us. We respond to God’s intimate overture to us by believing the truths he reveals about his self, and then we use those truths as we meet the circumstances in our live. In a sense, we live out the character of God in our lives.

The LORD of Hosts
One of the names God reveals to us is, LORD Sabaoth translated LORD of hosts,
“You show steadfast love to thousands … O great and mighty God, whose name is the
Lord of hosts
…”
Jeremiah 32:18

The wordtsaba” is translated several ways. It means army, or host (as in a large organized army). It refers to the angelic armies of God. It is a war term and is often used in association with various battles and struggles. The prophets use this name of God often in their writings.

A clear reference to spiritual/physical warfare and the LORD of hosts is found in Isaiah 13:4b-5.
“The Lord of hosts (tsaba) is mustering a host/army (tsaba) for battle. They come from a distant land, from the end of the heavens, the Lord and the weapons of his indignation, to destroy the whole land.”

It is used to indicate God’s supreme and unlimited power, authority and judgment. (On occasion it is used to refer to the actual physical heavenly bodies of the sun, moon and stars).

Here are a few of the passages using the word “tsaba.” (The name LORD Sabaoth is used 261 in the Old Testament).

  •  “When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army (tsaba) of the Lord. Now I have come.” Joshua 5:13-14
  • “Micaiah continued, “Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne with all the host (tsaba) of heaven standing on his right and on his left…”
    2 Chronicles 18:18
  • “Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his hosts (tsaba)!” Psalm 148:2
  • “Our Redeemer—the LORD of hosts (tsaba) is his name— is the Holy One of Israel.”    Isaiah 47:4

Intimacy in Real Life – A Shepherd Boy and the LORD of Hosts
David knew God’s name – LORD Sabaoth. This name revealed to David that God is almighty and sovereign over all. Armed with this knowledge about God, David was confident that God was with him as he approached Goliath.

David refers to God as the Lord of Hosts as he faces off with Goliath. As David moves towards Goliath He says that he is coming to Goliath in the name of the Lord of hosts.

“Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” 1 Samuel 17:45

Goliath could not see any “hosts” of God, so he laughed at and scorned David. All he saw was an army hiding in fear, but David knew who God is, David knew God’s name –LORD/Yahweh Sabaoth.

David believes that God truly has an army of angels. David calls upon LORD Sabaoth, and claims His power to help him in the battle.

David incorporated the truth he learned in intimate times with God and from his past experience with God, therefore, he was able to depend on God’s all mighty power as he stepped up to face Goliath. This is an example of how intimate knowledge of God became a part of real life. As a result of fighting Goliath with God, David grew in faith and intimacy with God.

A Woman in Conflict and the Lord of Hosts
As I read about the word “tsaba” in scriptures I came across the story of Hannah. The scriptures describe Hannah as a woman sorely troubled.

In 1 Samuel 1:1-20,  we read of this struggle within Hannah’s heart and in her relationship with Peninnah, the other wife of Hannah’s husband.  Hannah was grieved because she was barren; and she was grieved, even vexed, by the taunting of Peninnah (Elkanah’s other wife) who had children.

  • “And her (Hannah’s) rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb.  So it went on year by year. As often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she used to provoke her.” 1 Samuel 1:6-7

In her struggles regarding both barrenness and the taunts of this other woman, we read that Hannah prays to God.  In her prayers, Hannah does not address God as Merciful Father, or Compassionate God as one might think, but rather because of her struggles she uses the war reference to God. Hannah addresses God as “LORD Sabaoth” in her prayer.

“After they had eaten and drunk in Shiloh, Hannah rose. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. And she vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life…”1 Sam.1:7-11

This is amazing. Hannah knew God’s name “LORD of hosts.” She understood the meaning and believed the truth of it. From this knowledge and belief Hannah intimately pours out her heart about her conflict, her battle, to the LORD of Hosts.

The LORD of Hosts and You
Knowing God as “LORD Sabaoth or Lord of hosts” gives me confidence and security.
I can call upon my Father who is Yahweh/LORD of the angel armies, and feel secure as I battle against sin and darkness in my life. With this knowledge of God born of intimacy I lean on LORD Sabaoth in conflicts with others. As He helps me conquer fearsome and intimidating circumstances, or darkness in my life, I grow deeper in my closeness with God.

The truths that are revealed by God in His Word to me are truths that cause me to have a deeper connection to Him, a deeper intimacy with Him as I engage in life.

Intimacy with God is not an ethereal experience, or a continuous run of warm fuzzy feelings. It involves knowing truths about God, believing them, and living out your daily life.

Intimacy with God is a truth: it is a feeling; but also it is an action we take as we depend on God. David did this as he approached Goliath in the name of LORD Sabaoth. Hannah did this as she cried out to LORD Sabaoth for help in her struggle.

What about you and LORD Sabaoth? What will He do in your life?

Intimate Names

Names are meaningful and special. Names can be very visionary, in that they seem to characterize a specific quality or goal of an individual’s life. For example, I know a couple who named their daughter Mercy, and she grew up to become a most compassionate nurse and caregiver.

God has a thing for names!
In scripture God uses His name(s) to convey meaning and to help us understand Him.  Knowing the names of God provides a deeper knowledge of Him, an intimate connection. In John 10:3, 14, Jesus clarifies His deep personal relationship with His sheep (followers) through His use of their names.

“The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. … I know my sheep and my sheep know me—“John 10:3, 14

Names establish connection. Knowing God by name brings about trust in His character and thus a deeper intimacy with God. The names used of God and by God for Himself, reveal His character and ways of interacting with and on behalf of us. The more we know God, the deeper our intimacy with Him will become. In Psalm 9:10, the Psalmist declares that knowing God’s name(s) leads to trust in God.

“The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.
Those who know your name trust in you,
 for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.”

In Psalm 91:14, we see a similar connection with one of God’s names. We see this connection that the believer holds fast to God because he knows God’s name, and God responds protection and deliverance,

“Because he holds fast to Me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows My name. Ps. 91:14 (ESV)

God’s nature and character is represented in His names and titles. Some of these names include: Champion, Refuge, Savior, Deliverer, Rock, Fortress, High Tower, King of Glory, the Most High God, God Almighty, the Lord of Hosts, and so on.

Addressing God Intimately
The language used in the Psalms provides a window into the intimacy that can exist between God and man.  What are some of the ways psalmists addressed and referred to God?

God, the One Enthroned on High
In Psalm 113:5-8, we see God’s name expanded to indicate His superlatively high, majestic position above man.

“Who is like the LORD our God, the One enthroned on high? He humbles Himself to behold the heavens and the earth. He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the dump
to seat them with nobles, with the princes of His people.”

We get a deeper understanding of God when we understand His position as “the One enthroned on high,” meaning God is Sovereign Lord overall. This God who is Sovereign and Most High God bends humbly towards us who are poor and lowly. He bends down and brings us up.

Psalm 18:35 provides a clear and accurate picture of this when the psalmist says:

  • “You have given me the shield of Your salvation; Your right hand upholds me, and Your humility exalts me.” HCSB
  • “Then You give me the shield of Your salvation. Your right hand sustains me, and You stoop down to lift me up.” Ps. 18:35 EHV

God did this for you and me.  I am a sinner and of lowly heritage, but I have been lifted up out of my sin and brought near to God, through the sacrifice of Jesus, and He has made me a priest unto Him and a member of His royal family.

  • “…remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ Ephesians 2:12-13 
  • “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, to proclaim the virtues of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9.

God, the One Enthroned on High gives us a place in His presence, an identity and a purpose!

God, the Righteous Judge
In Psalm 7 and Psalm 50, God is referred to as the Righteous God, the Righteous Judge and the God of Justice.

  • “Put an end to the evil of the wicked, but establish the righteous, O Righteous God who searches hearts and minds…. God is a righteous judge and a God who feels indignation each day.” Psalm 7:9, 11  BSB
  • “And the heavens proclaim his righteousness, for he is a God of justice.” Psalm 50:6

No Warm Fuzzies
The terms judge and justice do not make me feel all warm and fuzzy, in fact I feel insecure at the mention of such terms. Yet, if I understand the truth in the name of God as theRighteous Judge,” I can have a deeper feeling of trust and appreciation for God.

Justice and Security?
The reason for this trust and thanksgiving is Jesus.  God worked out His righteous judgement in Jesus. Romans 8:4 states that God met the just requirement of His law in Jesus. I broke God’s law, many times through my sin. In the court of God, I am guilty and deserve the consequence of that guilt which is death, separation from God.

Yet God arranged for the penalty due me to be paid in Jesus through Him being the sin offering for me. God arranged payment of the penalty through the shedding of Jesus’ blood. Jesus then offered his blood as the atonement for my sins which canceled the debt and the penalty standing against me.

“For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful man, as an offering for sin. He thus condemned sin in the flesh, so that the righteous standard of the law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:3-4 BSB (See Romans 3:25-26)

God fulfilled requirement of His law in the sacrifice of His Son. Justice  has been served, but not to me, but rather to the Son of God for me. So, I can come before the Righteous Judge with confidence and love because of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus.

  • “When you were dead in your trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our trespasses, having canceled the debt ascribed to us in the decrees that stood against us. He took it away, nailing it to the cross!”  Col. 2:13-14 
  • “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. 2 Cor. 5:21

Know God’s Names to Develop Intimacy
I (we) can develop a greater sense of intimacy with God when we know the names and titles by which God is called. These names open up my mind to understand who God is and what He has done for me, while at the same time helping me see who I am before God. When I see myself in deep need of God, Who He is, and what He has done for me, then I am more real with Him and move deeper into Him.

As you read and study the Bible, look for God’s names. What do they tell you about Who He is and how He interacts with you?

Intimacy and Asking

Intimacy and Asking by Lory Demshar
God has invited us into a very personal relationship with Him. In truth He not only invited us, but planned and prepared how I can have this deeply intimate fellowship with Him. The atoning sacrifice of Jesus is the foundation of this invitation and our faith in Him is our R.S.V.P to God’s invitation.

In a previous blog we looked at some Psalms to learn what intimacy sounds like.

We read words that describe intimacy such as longing for; yearning; hungering and thirsting for and being consumed with God.

In this blog I want to look at questions, deep personal questions that reveal the agony of the soul and a vulnerable intimacy that we dare to have with God.

Questions Reveal Intimacy
As we read through the Psalms we see that the psalmists asked some, what I would call, “gutsy” questions. Yet these questions reveal an understanding of a personal relationship with God. Such questions show vulnerability, an ability to pour out our weakness, our fear, our confusion and our pain to God.

Such questions spring from a faith in God, a trust in His openness to us; His care and concern for us, and His involvement in each one of our lives.

These questions are so emotionally revealing that at times they sound more like a demand for an answer, and infact sometimes are just that. To me these questions imply that only someone who knows God deeply can risk being that intimate.

Urgent Intimate Questions
Look at some of the questions that the psalmist felt at ease asking God.

In Psalm 13:1-2, David, in his agonizing, asks these questions of God.
“How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?  How long will my enemy triumph over me?

In two relatively short verses David puts forth 5 questions that reveal the very personal, intimate relationship he has with God.

David is asking God –Yahweh, the great almighty eternal God who is the source of all life and who has all power, “How long is this difficult situation going to go on? How long will You, God let this happen?” This is intimate, gutsy.

David is so vulnerable that in the next question he tells God, “I feel like you have forgotten me. You have gone off and left me in this difficulty alone. Where are You my God, my Friend, my Helper?”

David gets gut level open and asks God, “Are You hiding Your face from me? Have You turned Your back on me? Do you not want to be in a relationship with me?”

David is ratcheting up in his vulnerable faith and is telling God that this difficulty is too heavy for him to bear alone. It is on his mind day and night. He is sick with sorrow about this. He is wrestling about what to do and why it is happening. Perhaps David is sleepless and restless and pacing and calling out to God, being vulnerable and asking question after question demanding an answer.

The questions David asks God in Psalm 13 are an example of intimacy with God.

Other Questions
As we read through the Psalms we see many examples of such intimacy revealed in questions. Read and reflect on the intimacy with God that these questions imply.

  • “Why, Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” Psalm 10:1
  • “Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever?  Has his promise failed for all time?  Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?” Psalm 77:7-9
  • “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?” Psalm 22:1-2 (A Messianic saying, yet a question David asked).
  • “… save me because of your unfailing love.  Among the dead no one proclaims your name. Who praises you from the grave?” Psalm 6:4b-5

What do you ask God?
As I read through these psalms and look at the events in the psalmist’s life I am drawn to the intimacy that the psalmist had with God.

Do I trust God enough to ask my own very vulnerable questions? Do I dare to be that personal with God? It seems to me that God is calling us to this very intimacy.

I encourage you to read through the Psalms and look at the questions the psalmists asked. Begin to become more personal with God, ask Him the questions you have on your heart.