Tag Archives: intimacy with God

Christians and Temples

“We promise together not to neglect the Temple of our God.”
Nehemiah 10:39b, NLT*

The returned Israelite exiles have vowed to keep themselves pure, to live God’s way, and to provide all that’s needed for the upkeep of the Temple and its ongoing offerings.

The Temple is where they worship God, where they’re forgiven and restored. Where they go for wisdom.

It’s the symbol of their relationship with God.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God?” (1 Corinthians 6:19a, NLT*)

We’re responsible to keep our bodies pure and healthy, and to maintain our spirits. “The church” is the people of Christ, not the buildings in which we meet, but we do need to care for our corporate worship sites, since they’re visible signs of our worship. More than that, we need to care for one another.

Jesus said, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:35, NLT*)

We need to guard our relationships with God, to put Him first in worship and to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to Him. (Romans 12:1, NLT*)

God who longs to reconcile all people to Himself, You are holy. We are not. Yet You designed us for relationship with You and we’re not complete without it. Rekindle our first love intensity for You. Draw us nearer, remind us how vital it is to stay close to You. Help us to live for You and to love one another and to keep our “temples” in good order.

May this be our prayer this week, from Mark Schultz: “Give us clean hands“.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Enemies of God?

You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.
James 4:4, NLT*

James uses strong language here to make us see the seriousness of divided loyalty.

We live in the world, but as Christians we’re to live by God’s wisdom and not by following the world’s way.

“World” has two meanings here. We live in the physical world and are called to bring God’s love to our fellow inhabitants, but we’re also called to demonstrate a way of life that doesn’t match the natural, unredeemed human mindset.

It’s not about being against the world. It’s about being for God, choosing to stay close to Him, guarding our relationship with Him above all else.

It’s about faithfulness. Loyalty. Loving this God who loves us so much more.

The more we resist the desires and thought patterns that would damage our intimacy with God, the more we can grow in the abundant life He wants to give us.

We want it all—want it both ways—and we fool ourselves that it’s okay. But it’s stunting our spiritual lives, making us poor examples of what God offers, and it’s making us much less than God designed us to be.

And it’s offensive to Him.

Holy God, You love us but You require our full allegiance. Please forgive our disloyalty and help us to live for You. Take Your rightful place in our hearts, exalted and adored, and help us conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the hope and salvation You’ve so freely given us. 

Our song this week is Vicky Beeching‘s “Undivided Heart.” May it be our prayer.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Parented by God

My best mornings begin with a special time alone with God. When my children were small, desperation had me setting my alarm early enough to fortify my spirit before facing the breakfast chaos.

In the shelter of my bed (sitting up to keep awake) I’d enjoy a quiet time with the Lord. It was like a spiritual snuggle with my Divine Parent before I faced my own parenting role.

The Bible has so many images of the parental aspects of God’s heart. One particular morning, I was thinking about Him as “Father to the fatherless.”

I’d grown up in a loving home and my parents lived nearby. By this point I was in my mid-thirties (a few years ago now!) with a husband and children of my own. I had grown up.

But part of me often felt like an orphaned child. That morning I poured out my fears and loneliness to Him in prayer. Abba… Papa… help me to stay in the shelter of Your care. Grow me under Your watchful eye.

After a while, I felt in my heart that it was time to get up. Lord, I sense our time together is over now….

I meant it as clarification: was I really supposed to get up? I hadn’t opened my Bible or paused to listen for His leading. I’d done all the talking. Again.

A gentle reassurance interrupted me: Oh, no… we’ve just begun.

His message, inaudible but understood, resonated in my soul.

What followed was the mental equivalent of that little scoot a parent gives a toddler to send her out to play after a hug. Warmed by His love, I scooted.

Rainbow: be still and trust God

Taking God for Granted

Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused.
Romans 1:21, NLT*

Knowing God but not worshipping Him or being thankful leads to terrible depths. God lets us find out the hard way, and what’s saddest is that some never see and turn back.

The context here is people who turn away from God. They know about Him but don’t care. I wonder how many start out with that intent and how many drift away because they aren’t paying attention to God.

That troubles me, because I know plenty of good people who believe in God but don’t seem to think about Him. Sure, He’s there to turn to in a crunch, but what if their spirits harden and they won’t call out to Him for help? What if they believe the enemy’s lies about God and decide there’s no point?

And what about those of us who know and love God? This is a warning for us too, not to take God for granted and let our relationship stagnate. It takes discipline and intentional effort to keep a strong, daily connection with our God. There are so many distractions and drains on our time.

Father, I don’t want to slide away from You even a little distance. You are life itself. There’s so much more of You to know; draw me deeper into relationship with You. Let me know You better so I can more fully trust and obey You. And please, by Your grace, draw back the ones who are slipping away. Help them see, help them choose Your life. Our whole world needs You, Lord. We’re no good on our own. Open eyes, soften hearts, draw many to Yourself.

I know we’ve had this song last week, but it fits so well today: Here’s Michael W. Smith with “Draw Me Close to You.”

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

So the Lord May Bless You

I’ve been reading in Deuteronomy (yes, on purpose!) about Moses’ long speech to the Israelites before they’re to finally enter the Promised Land. He reminds them what God has done in the past and what kind of behaviour God expects in the future.

What strikes me is the intent behind the litany of dos and don’ts: it’s not about following the rules, it’s about the Israelites’ lifestyle being a sign to the people around them. They’re to show how God designed humans to function, and how well He looks after those who trust Him.

Although the Old Testament proclaims Israel as God’s chosen people, it gives clear instruction to welcome the stranger and the alien and to allow them to learn about God.

The Pharisees got it wrong with their legalism. From the beginning, God asked for wholehearted love and obedience rather than rigidity. Peter had a handle on this when he wrote that we’re to live prepared to give an answer for the hope within us – we’re to live so that people can see we’re different.

What does it mean for us today?

  • legalism is not the way
  • personal holiness: not “I don’t do that” in a judgmental way, but “I do this because I love God”
  • taking seriously what He says
  • personal times alone with Him, again out of love and perceived need rather than performance or “earning points”
  • care for the person who doesn’t see his/her need, because God does see the need

We need to live mindfully according to His ways, secure in the knowledge that He is powerful, good, and able to care for us. Deuteronomy 23:20b is one of many illustrations of Moses’ theme: live God’s way so that we don’t block the blessings God wants to give – for our sakes and for the sakes of those who see us.

I’m really struck by how much God wants to give, and I wonder how much we miss by our own choices and actions.

Love, Listen, Hold… Live

“Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life…”
Deuteronomy 30:19b-20a, NIV*

Moses is winding up his recitation to the Israelites of God’s faithfulness in their journey. Their choices will shape their future. He’s previewed the blessings and warned of the curses. He leaves them with a motto for life.

Love the LORD Your God

  • it’s a heart and spirit response
  • it has active implications – don’t just feel it, do it

Listen to His voice

Hold fast to Him

  • cling to Him
  • rely on Him as an anchor and fortress


We always need a reason why, even if it’s just that God says so and we choose to trust Him. Moses answers the question: “The LORD is your life.”

Holy and eternal God, You are our life. We’re not whole when we’re not close to You. Help us love You, help us listen to You, help us cling to You, so we can live. Thank You for such grace that gives us this gift!

Here’s John Waller’s “The Blessing.”

*THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Enticed Away?

Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them.
Deuteronomy 11:16, NIV*

This is part of Moses’ warning to the people of Israel as they’re getting ready to enter the Promised Land. Idol worship is rampant among the nations they’re to evict, and they need to stay set apart for God.

There’s much to entice us away too: possessions, problems, pleasures…. With multi-tasking and constant communication and noise, our thoughts scatter like seed in the wind.

We forget.

Being careful takes intentional effort. Moses had some suggestions for the people that will help us too:

  • Talk about God, with our family and friends. Not to preach, in this context, but to teach our children and to encourage and remind our believing peers.
  • Visual reminders… we may not tie them to our foreheads or write them on our doorposts as Moses said, but art, jewellery, symbols are all good reminders as long as we don’t tune them out.
  • Keep God as part of each day, all day long and wherever we are. One thing I’m learning is to notice the beauty of creation around me and to remember to thank God for His gifts.

Sovereign Lord, You have called us to be a people belonging to You, and we want to be faithful. You know how easily distracted we are. We need help! Please teach us to be careful not to be enticed away. And when our focus slips, please draw us quickly back. There is no one like our God, none other worthy of worship and adoration.

Here’s a classic Keith Green song: “Draw Me.”

*THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

God is Present

When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”
Genesis 28:16, NIV*

This is the Jacob who stole his brother’s birthright and was now fleeing for his life under the guise of visiting extended family to seek a wife. Not exactly abiding in God’s presence at this point in his life, was he?

On the road, “He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.” (Genesis 28:12, NIV*) And he saw God, who spoke to him.

God had been with Jacob all along, and Jacob hadn’t known it. Or lived like it. But when he recognized God, he worshipped.

It’s so easy to worship God in church and daily devotions, but then to go into daily life as if He’s not present. Violet Nesdoly touched on this recently at Other Food: Daily Devos when she quoted Nancy Pearcey’s book, Total Truth: “Sadly, many Christians … give cognitive assent to the great truths of Scripture but they make their practical, day-to-day decisions based only on what they can see, hear, measure, and calculate.”

Violet was talking about choosing to live daily life based on God’s Word, but the principle applies to living with awareness of God. You can read the whole post here: “Word-Directed  Living.”

I’ve seen a few references lately to a book called The Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschel. One of the questions Craig asks on his website is “Do you live your life as if God is in the room, or do you assume He’s not paying attention?

It’s so easy to forget, or to get distracted. If we’re not vigilant, intentional, and reminding ourselves to rely on God, we can act as if we’re on our own.

Promise-Keeping God, You said You’d never leave nor forsake us and yet we sometimes live like you’ve set us loose. Forgive us for being so easily distracted by life, and remind us of Your nearness. Help us learn to live daily in Your presence, confident in You and following Your leading.

Our song is Michael Card’s “Emmanuel.”

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Following the Leader

In your unfailing love you will lead
the people you have redeemed.
In your strength you will guide them
to your holy dwelling.
Exodus 15:13, NIV*

This is part of the Israelites’ song after God brought them through the Red Sea on dry land and let the sea flow back to drown the enemies on their trail.

God rescued the people, and the word “redeemed” here reminds me that His work with Israel in the Old Testament was often a prophetic picture of His work to rescue and redeem us all through Jesus.

Today’s verse declares that the God who has shown Himself mighty to save is able to lead His people into the land He has promised. They didn’t make it easy for Him, and He had to keep reminding them to obey Him.

He led them out, but because of disobedience, that generation lost the chance to be led in to the Promised Land.

Believers in Christ face the same danger. He’s rescued us from bondage to sin’s destructive ways. Let’s not drop our guards now and get stuck in the wasteland, or what Mark Buchanan calls the “borderlands” in his book, Your God is Too Safe.

We need to trust and honour Jesus as Lord as well as Saviour. All the way into the deepening relationship He that promises, and that we won’t fully experience in this life. But let’s get further up and further in, as much as we can.

Our God and Shepherd, Strong Deliverer and Redeemer, thank You for saving us and promising us abundant life. Help us rely on Your unfailing love and live in trusting obedience to Your guidance. 

Our song is Carolyn Arends’ “Go With God.”

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Dependence on God

Though the Lord is great, he cares for the humble, but he keeps his distance from the proud.
Psalm 138:6, NLT*

This reminds me of the psalm where the writer would rather be a gatekeeper in the Lord’s house than to dwell (presumably in luxury) in the tents of the wicked.

Why do we get so caught up in wanting it both ways? We long for closeness with God, but at the same time we want to be powerful enough to handle things on our own.

We’re not God, we can’t do it all, and in the grand scheme of things we’re pretty insignificant. But He loves us. And He cares for us. And He works His strength through us for far greater impact than if it came from us.

Dependence on Him doesn’t diminish us. It completes us and lets us live in close relationship with the One who embraces us as His sons and daughters.

Father God, help me quiet myself in Your care. Help me remember to live in confidence in You instead of wanting to put confidence in myself. Help me delight in what You’re doing.

Our song this week is from Steven Curtis Chapman: “God is God,” from the album Declaration.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.