L2W: Growing in Your Relationship with God

This is the second chapter from my new resource, Learning to Walk: Some First Steps for New Believers. As with the previous two entries, I welcome feedback. I want this resource to be useful, so let me know if you think It’s missing anything, or if anything in it needs more clarification. Thank you!

 

Jesus makes a very profound and important statement in John 17:3. He says, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”  The bedrock of salvation and eternal life is a relationship with God.

You’ll notice that Jesus said nothing of liturgy, programs, dress-codes, or other religious things. Religion is a valuable tool for growing your relationship with God, but it cannot ever be used as a substitute for that relationship. Religion is a means, not an end and should never become an object of worship itself.

Remember, eternal life isn’t something distant—a perpetual church service in the clouds. It isn’t “someday” off on the far horizon. Eternal life is a living relationship with the Living God that begins right now!

Your first step as a newborn in the family of God is to get to know him. This may seem challenging since you cannot see him with your eyes, hear him with your ears, or touch him with your hands. Yet this doesn’t mean that God cannot be seen, heard, and felt. He is very real, even more real that you and I, and he wants to be found by those who have the desire to seek him.

Have you ever read a “Where’s Waldo” book? It can pretty challenging to find that skinny little striped man amid all the chaos that so typically surrounds him. There are often characters who share his stripes or hat; they’re close, but they’re not Waldo. They’re just a decoy.

As hard as it may be to find Waldo, you will eventually discover him, usually, because you know who you’re looking for and what they look like. It’s the same with God. There are a ton of distractions in this world, but if we know what to look for, we can find God amid the chaos of our lives. And as a blessing from his own hand, God has given us a great treasure that will help us to see exactly who we’re looking for: the Bible.

Reading the Bible will give you a great view of God. The Bible is called “the Living Word of God.” It’s more than a storybook to entertain us, a newspaper to inform us, or a hallmark card to make us feel all warm and fuzzy. It’s meant to reveal God. Unlike other books, we don’t read it to finish, we read it to change. It speaks to us and reveals to us what’s in our own heart and shows us the heart of God.

As we read the Bible we come face to face with God himself. We see ourselves as we are, and we see who God is making us. Through these sacred pages, God leads, guides, shapes, and molds us. Reading the Bible gives you a clear view of God and his work.

The word “Bible” comes from the Latin, biblia, which means “book.” There are 66 books in the Bible which are divided into two sections: The Old Testament, which is the Bible Jesus would have had, and the New Testament, which is the part of the Bible that was written and compiled as a result of Jesus’ life by his apostles. Both are equally important and relevant to daily living.

The Bible was originally written in three languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Since most of us aren’t fluent in those languages, scholars have worked tirelessly to translate them into English. There are several very good translations available. Choose one that is easy for you to read and understand (see page 91). I suggest a study Bible, or Life Application Bible which includes study notes to help you grow in your understanding of what’s being said and what it means. Keep in mind, however, that the Bible is the inspired word of God, the notes are just helpful guides and not scripture.

Just reading the Bible is good, but God wants the best for you—he wants you to experience his presence and truth, so we can’t stop at just reading it. As it is written, “Don’t merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says!” (James 1:22)

We are not invited to know about God. We are invited to know him. There’s a difference. It’s like the difference between looking at pictures of Yosemite, and actually spending a week hiking through it. It’s the same with God. Understanding that God provides is only of some value. Experiencing God’s provision is life-changing.

Read the Bible, listen for the Holy Spirit to give you understanding, and determine to be responsive to what he shows you. When you read the Bible and are able to see and understand how it pertains to your life, that is God speaking to you by the Holy Spirit. It is an invitation from God to walk with him more closely. Seize that opportunity!

There are other habits that will nurture your relationship with God, and we will give these their own chapters.

(…to be continued)

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