The Benefits of Intimate Fellowship
It's quite funny sometimes how we can treat spending time with God as a chore, and yet we are the ones who need it, not Him! We are nothing and would not even be in existence without God! In contrast, God is everything and remains completely self-sufficient without us! There is so much to be cherished and obtained from spending intimate time with the Lord! As believers and followers of Jesus Christ, we must regularly take inventory of our individual hearts to determine if there is anything in there that is standing in the way of us seeking God with all our hearts, minds, souls, and strength (cf. Mark 12:30). He desires our full attention, and those of us who profess to be His children must be willing to remove any distractions that shift our focus off of Him!
What are some of those things that God offers us through intimate fellowship that no other god or deity can?
Purpose. God created every single individual in this world with a special purpose within the unsearchable depths of His mind! Even more so, God has endowed every believer with a unique assignment here on the Earth! It is specific and unique to that individual alone, distinct from all others. God desperately longs for His children to discover their identity and purpose in Him so that they can experience the fulfillment and satisfaction that results from a life that is fully surrendered to Him and the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Since God is our Creator and the One who established His plans for us before we were even born, He is the One whom we should seek to discover our purpose!
We do not have to settle for self-help books and other resources that claim to help people discover their intended purpose in life when we can ask God Himself! In Ephesians 2:10, the apostle Paul declares "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." As we seek to know God more intimately and deepen our understanding of who He is, He will begin to gradually uncover His unique purpose for our lives through His Word, other believers, our natural talents and skills, strategic circumstances, and the direction and guidance of the Holy Spirit above all!
Peace. In Philippians 4:6-7, the apostle Paul admonishes the saints in Philippi, saying "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." One of the most important aspects of seeking intimate fellowship with the Lord is having an active prayer life! Prayer is our primary form of communication with God, and Jesus, His Son, serves as the mediator between us and God (cf. I Timothy 2:5). Jesus is the only One who is qualified to be our mediator because He is the only one who reconciled us back to the Father through His atoning death on the cross, which paid the penalty of our sins! Because of Jesus' active role as mediator, we as believers have the privilege to go before God and lay all our cares, concerns, needs, and other requests before Him. In turn, the apostle Paul assures us that the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus!
God's peace is inexplicable; it has the power to shield our hearts and minds from the paralyzing power of fear in the midst of storms. The traumatic events of this year alone have crippled so many people across the world with fear and anxiety! While we are not exempt from tribulation or the very real emotions that result from it, these moments should not disable us! In Isaiah 26:3, God promises to keep in perfect peace those whose minds are stayed on Him because of our trust in Him! When we find ourselves paralyzed with fear and anxiety, we must ask ourselves whether we have been intimately communing with God in prayer and devotion. Are we going to continue to wait to pray until after the next tragic event occurs, or are we going to develop a consistent, intimate prayer life that is irrespective of our circumstances? We cannot allow fear and anxiety to usurp the throne that rightfully belongs the Lord!
Power. In Philippians 2:12-13, the apostle Paul writes to the saints in Philippi saying, "So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and work for His good pleasure." When we trusted and accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, we received the free gift of salvation, a gift that can never be lost or taken away from us! The Holy Spirit then entered into our hearts and sealed us for eternity through His permanent indwelling (cf. Ephesians 1:13-14). Therefore, it is indeed God by His Holy Spirit who is at work in us, who empowers us to desire and work for His good pleasure. Dr. Charles Stanley expounds upon this principle further saying, "It is God's Spirit working and through you that empowers you to live out your salvation. The degree to which [we] yield to Him impacts the work He'll achieve through [us] and the changes He will effect in [our] life."
When we fully yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit, He influences us to not only desire, but also conform to God's will for our lives, which is ultimately our sanctification, being conformed to the image of His Son (cf. Romans 8:29). The Holy Spirit empowers us to resist our sinful desires, die to our flesh daily, and walk in ongoing repentance before God! Ultimately, we as believers must decide whether we are going to fully yield to the Holy Spirit or resist Him. It is our responsibility to show evidence of the transforming work He has already begun in us, which cannot be done without any genuine effort and discipline on our end! God will, however, aid us in doing so through the power of the Holy Spirit! This sentiment is the very truth that compels us as believers to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, for we know that we do not have settle in accomplishing this ongoing task in our own strength, but in the strength and power of God's might (cf. Ephesians 6:10).