Knowing the truth is essential. However, the demons know the truth but are not saved. Along with knowledge, we must have faith in the Good News about the risen Lord and Savior, Yeshua the Messiah. After we have faith, it’s essential to develop a close, personal, intimate relationship with the living God.
The Psalms were written by men who knew God and had a close, personal relationship with Him. Here’s how they described their relationship with Him: Dwelling in His tent: King David in Psalm 61: Let me dwell in your tent forever! Before there was a temple, there was a tent. God’s presence was associated with that tent. God’s presence was manifested in that tent. The priests entered the tent to serve the Lord there, but they didn’t dwell in the tent. Imagine dwelling in that tent, now and forever. You would be close to God – all the time. Sheltering under His wings: Psalm 61: Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings. God does not have wings. This is poetic imagery. Like a mother bird protects her chicks by covering them with her wings, David wanted to be close to God so he would be protected. Loving God: King David in Psalm 18: I love you, Lord. Imagine a man who is newly in love with a woman, and the woman is in love with him. He thinks about her all the time. He wants to be with her, spend time with her, talk to her, hold her. That’s what our relationship with the Lord is to be like: In love with Him, desiring to be close to Him, to talk to Him. Longing for God: The sons of Korah in Psalm 42: As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. Imagine a deer on a hot, sunny day in Israel. It’s very thirsty. It longs to drink from streams of water. That’s what our relationship to God is to be like – passionate, intense, characterized by desire to be close to the living God.
To develop a close, personal relationship with the living God we must focus on God. The world is full of things that are interesting and attractive. There are so many things we can focus on. Our primary focus must be on God Himself. Psalm 105: Seek the Lord … seek his presence continually! To seek is to attempt to find. Seeking the Lord and seeking His presence mean attempting to find Him, to get close to Him. Seeking takes effort – purposeful, intentional effort. Are you exerting effort to seek the Lord – continually, all the time? Another way of describing seeking the Lord is lifting our eyes to the Lord or looking to the Lord. Psalm 123: I lift my eyes to you, O God, enthroned in Heaven. We keep looking to the Lord our God for his mercy, just as servants keep their eyes on their master, as a slave girl watches her mistress for the slightest signal. Looking to the Lord as servants keep their eyes on their master takes effort – conscious, deliberate effort.
We develop a close, personal relationship with the living God by frequent interaction with His Word. Psalm 1: Oh the joys of the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the way of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the teaching of the Lord, and on his teaching he meditates day and night. The person who is close to God doesn’t allow the wicked, the sinners and those who make fun of God and the things of God to influence him. He rejects their counsel, their ways and their company. Instead, he allows himself to be influenced by the Word of God – day and night. He reads the Bible each morning. He doesn’t read it like he reads a newspaper. He reads it carefully. He reads it thoughtfully. He reads it prayerfully. He meditates on it. Throughout the day, he thinks about it. Because he does this, the Word of God is alive in him. It lives in his mind and heart, ready for him to apply to all the situations he encounters. And if his delight is in the Word of the Lord, and if he’s thinking about it day and night, he has joy. Oh the joys of the man whose delight is in the teaching of the Lord. You’re lacking joy? Could it be that you’re not delighting in the Lord’s teaching and not spending enough time reading it and thinking about it?
We develop a close, personal relationship with the living God by talking to Him in various ways. King David in Psalm 5: In the morning, Lord, you will hear my voice; in the morning I will present my prayer to you. The sons of Korah in Psalm 88: But I, Lord, have cried out to you for help, and in the morning my prayer comes before you. Just like it’s important to start our day by reading the Word of God, it’s important to start our day with prayer. If we begin the day talking to the Lord, we’re much more likely to pray without ceasing – to continue talking to Him throughout the day. If we don’t start our day by talking to the Lord, we’re much less likely to talk to Him throughout the day. Praying includes asking God for things for ourselves and for others. However, it means more than asking. We’re to talk to the Lord about the things that are interesting to us. Some people only pray when there’s a problem, or if they’re dealing with an important situation or have a big decision to make. That’s not enough. If you’re married and you only talked to your spouse about problems or the big things, and never the many small things that happen every day, what would your relationship be like? Not good. We’re to talk to God about the big things and the little things.
We don’t just talk to Him and ask Him for things, we thank Him for His many blessings. And we praise Him for who He is and the amazing things He has done, is doing and will do. Psalm 92: It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to the Most High. It is good to proclaim your love in the morning, your faithfulness in the evening. Psalm 100: Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. Expressing gratitude to God and praising Him creates closeness to God – like a worshiper who entered the courts of the Temple would get closer to the Lord, whose presence was in the Temple. You aren’t as close to God as you should be? It could be that you’re complaining about the things you don’t have instead of thanking Him for the many things you do have, or you aren’t praising Him and thanking Him the way you need to. You don’t have much to thank God for? Not true. Here are things all of us can thank God for: For being the great God that He is. For making us in His image. For His love for us, especially as demonstrated through His Son’s incarnation, sinless life and agonizing death. For the forgiveness of our sins, salvation, friendship with God. For the sure hope of Heaven and a great and eternal inheritance. For our physical needs being met today.
We develop a close, personal relationship with the living God by listening to Him talk to us. While God can speak to us directly in an audible voice, He does so very rarely. While God can speak to us through a prophetic message, He does so rarely. The primary ways God speaks to us is through our interaction with the Bible, through the counsel of others, and by us listening for His still, small voice speaking to us. Silence and solitude help us hear Him. Psalm 62: For God alone my soul waits in silence … For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence. And Psalm 46: Be still and know that I am God. When we are still, our minds start thinking about important issues, and God whispers to us what we need to do. Some of the greatest men of God, like Moses and Paul, spent years in isolation. Messiah Yeshua often went to an isolated place, where He communed with God. Find a place where you can be alone and quiet. Taking a walk, engaging in a hobby that doesn’t require too much use of the mind, like gardening, can provide this kind of solitude.
We develop a close, personal relationship with the living God by participating in good music. Music can bring us closer to God. In fact, the Psalms were originally put to music. Listen to music that gets you thinking about God. Psalm 96: Sing a new song to the Lord! Let the whole earth sing to the Lord! Sing to the Lord! Psalm 33: Praise the Lord with melodies on the lyre; make music for him on the ten-stringed harp. We need to be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with our hearts to the Lord.
We develop a close, personal relationship with the living God by seeing God’s handiwork in creation. David in Psalm 19: The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the Earth, and their words to all the world. As we go through our daily activities, we should make an effort to observe God’s amazing creation. As we become better observers of the creation, we will learn more about the greatness, power, wisdom and love of the Creator; and we will have greater appreciation for Him and be drawn closer to Him.
We develop a close, personal relationship with the living God by telling others about Him and the great things He has done, especially that He is a God who saves. Psalm 96: Each day proclaim the good news that he saves. Declare his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does. We are to be aware of people around us and the interactions we have with them. We look for opportunities to tell them about God, that He is a God who helps, delivers, rescues, redeems intervenes and saves. We take the initiative and direct attention to Him, and the Good News about Messiah Yeshua. Someone asks you: “How are you today?” You respond: “I’m blessed because I know that Yeshua is alive and real and my living Lord and Savior. That brings me peace and sanity in this crazy world. How are you today?” You are on the phone with a customer service representative, and at the end of the conversation he asks you: “Is there anything else I can do for you?” You respond: “Yes, there is. I want you to know that the purpose of life in not to make a lot of money working for the company you do. It’s to be reconciled to God before we leave this world, and that happens when we know that Jesus Christ is the risen Messiah. He’s real and alive, and He loves us and wants us to be with Him forever. I know Him that way, and I want you to know Him like I do.” As we are faithful to the command to proclaim the Good News to everyone we can, we’re a blessing to others – and we benefit ourselves. We grow. We get stronger. We build ourselves up in our most holy faith. Lord, help each one of us develop a close, personal relationship with You, the living God, by practicing these spiritual disciplines revealed in the Psalms. Amen.