“Seek the Kingdom of God[a] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:33 (KJV)
Let’s pick up where we left off after Relationship vs. Religion Pt2. I’ve told you about my deep love for God. Now I want to give more details on how our relationship developed. It’s one thing to say I love God and we have a relationship but what exactly does that look like? Where is the practicality in all of this? At least, that’s what I’d imagine you would want to know. Therefore, I would like to discuss three things I did that helped me enhance my relationship with God.
Read the Bible
This may seem basic, but you would be surprised at just how many people don’t read the Bible for themselves. Some folks have simply decided to follow everything they’ve heard in church. While others, sometimes unknowingly, internalize things the world has told them about God.
Those just didn’t seem like viable options to me. No! No! No, that just wouldn’t do! There’s so much deception in the world and I knew that I wanted to know the Word of God for myself so that it couldn’t be used against me or to deceive me. Knowing the Word for yourself won’t make you immune from deception but it is wise to have your own understanding. The Bible even tells us that we shouldn’t believe everything we hear but should test the spirit behind the words we receive.
Test the Spirits
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore, they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. 1 John 4:1-6 (ESV)
In addition to developing my own understanding, I also wanted to know about this God that loved me so much. I had so many questions. I wondered if Jesus is the son of God and I am God’s child does that make Jesus my brother? Who do I pray to? God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit? This may sound simple minded to some, but these were legit questions I asked God. I knew that if I wanted truth and transparency that I would have to open the Bible and read it myself. Outside of those reasons, I felt the Holy Spirit continually nudging me toward reading the Bible. In my heart I knew He was beckoning me to open the Word of God.
When I finally set out to read my Bible in its entirety I found myself overcome with so many emotions. Reading the Bible, I experienced joy, pain, love and any other feeling you could imagine. I finally understand what people mean when they say that Bible is the greatest love story ever told. In church, we used to read the King James Version (KJV) but I found that reading the New Living Translation (NLT) is more manageable for me. When I was ready to get disciplined, I found a solid reading plan on Pinterest and I read the Bible cover to cover in 90 days. Ya girl was thirsty for Jesus! I’m not saying you have to be extreme and do a 30, 60, or 90-day Bible plan. But its not a bad idea. There are also 365-day Bible plans and many other options. My suggestion would be to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in the journey. You won’t be disappointed. Below is the plan I read, not sure who created it but I’m grateful for them!
Followed Jesus (Went to Church, Listened to Sermons, and Searched for Him in Everything)
“Anyone who wants to serve me must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.” John 12:23-26 (NLT)
Many of us follow our favorite celebrities, fitness gurus and even the Shaderoom to get the tea. But how many of us follow Jesus? Remember earlier when I said ya girl was thirsty for Jesus? Well, I am, and it started a few years ago when I began searching for him daily. Nowadays, I can’t go a full day without a good dose of Jesus. What do I mean? Okay so… I practically became obsessed with the man. But can you blame me? I started listening to sermons and podcasts. I’ve read books, blogs and even watched thousands of YouTube videos to learn more about the lover of my soul. You know how women can sit and watch makeup tutorials for hours on YouTube? Well that’s how I sit sometimes for hours learning about and hearing the Word of God. We are blessed that we have so much information available in so many unique formats.
Last year, I joined a local church after a long hiatus from church (due to church hurt and some other things we will discuss in another blog). I’ve also joined online groups with likeminded Christians to discuss the Word of God and what it means to be a Godly woman. Then there are other times when I just get really quiet and sit before the Lord. It’s in that place that I can feel the presence of God ministering to me. I also take long walks in nature to feel the presence of God. Just to be clear, I can’t take credit for knowing to do any of the things I listed above. All I did was tell the Holy Spirt I was open to receiving and ready to experience God, then He led me every step of the way.
Gave up My idols
This last one is not easy to discuss because I don’t like folks in my business. I said that to God and I promise I heard Him chuckle and say, “what business?” (*insert chuckles*) Anyhow, in the past, there were certain things in my life that I gave more importance to in my heart than God. When I first came to God, he asked me what is that in my hand and told me I had to release it. This scenario has played out on numerous occasions over the course of my life.
One time it was a relationship with a guy I had no business with. Another time it was bitterness toward my mother for the abuse I suffered at the hands of my stepfather. More recently, in December 2016, I found myself an emotional wreck. I was depressed because I was 26, single and childless. At that point I could care less about marriage, but I REALLY WANTED to be a mother and have a child with or without a husband. Obviously, my thought process was backwards! Why would anyone in their right minds want to raise a child in a single parent home? Clearly, I was out of my mind! I found myself getting jealous of people who were recently engaged and/or having a child soon. I had made a god (small g) out of becoming a mother. I had to surrender that desire to God and trust that one day my dream would come true. The other thing I had to give up was pre-marital sex. At the time it wasn’t a big deal because I was single and didn’t have any prospects anyhow. Don’t get your panties in a bunch just being transparent here. It’s been 1 year and 4 months since I took my vow of abstinence until marriage (I promise we will dive deeper into this later *wink*). And let me tell you, it is not easy. Jesus said it best, “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41 (NIV)
Those are just a couple of examples, I still have a lot of work to do. This walk isn’t easy, it takes time. God often challenges me to give up something or pushes me to improve my life. He does it partially to keep me on my toes (*insert more chuckles*). But I truly believe He wants to make sure that He is on the throne of my heart. I also know that he corrects me so that I stay on track with the purpose He has for my life.
That’s all folks! I tried to provide short, actionable steps for developing a deeper relationship with God based on my personal experience. However, I realize that I become rather longwinded with these blogs. I just love God so much and its easy for me to keep talking about Him once I get going.
The Word: “Seek the Kingdom of God[a] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:33 (KJV)
The Story/The Lesson: I developed a closer relationship with God by reading the Bible, following Jesus, and giving up my idols. Jesus truly became the Lord over my life and I placed Him on the throne of my heart. I made the cultivation of this relationship a priority and removed things from my life that God asked me to release to Him.
Bonus: Listen to this amazing worship song and apply it to your everyday life – Clear The Stage by Jimmy Needham
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