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Experiencing Spiritual Intimacy
By Christa Kinde
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2006 Thomas Nelson, Inc.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneKnowing God
"And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent."
John 17:3 NKJV
Clearing the Cobwebs
Is there someplace you go to so regularly that you know it intimately-backward and forward?
Our family loves to go hiking. Nearly every weekend finds us packing up and heading out into the woods. Our favorite destination is a state-protected natural area surrounding a local lake. Trails of varying lengths and levels of difficulty wind through the trees, skirt small ponds, and zigzag up steep ridges. The first time we found this park, we were awed. Each bend in the trail brought us to some new and lovely scene. Now, the trails are becoming familiar. The more we revisit the paths, the more well-known each landmark becomes. A fallen tree covered with white mushrooms, a seven-trunked tree skirted with moss, a bench with a plaque reading, "Come aside and rest awhile." Each visit to the forested hillsides has yielded new discoveries as well-violets in spring, a doe and her fawn, a snail shell, a turtle, a crawfish, a pretty rock.
As Christians, we talk about God as a personalGod. He's our Father. He's our Lord. He's our Savior. One of the strongest desires of our hearts is to know God more. But getting to know God is much like hiking through the woods. What begins in awe-inspiring discovery becomes comfortably familiar over time. When we've walked with God for many years, there are landmarks we can point to-answered prayers, unexpected graces, needed comfort, and blessing upon blessing. And as we travel the trails in our spiritual lives, and they become well-worn and smooth with frequent use, we make new discoveries about God as well. We come to know God in personal ways.
1. God is big. Vast. Limitless. Infinite. Just as a hiker who sticks to the trails only gains a small glimpse of the vast woods she's traveling through, we can only begin to know our Heavenly Father. What does Job 36:26 say about our limitations in understanding of God?
2. Despite the unsearchable nature of God, we begin with the assertion that God is God. It is a starting place for the relationship that will be built.
Exodus 8:10 - "That you may know that ...
Deuteronomy 4:35 - "That you may know that ...
Deuteronomy 4:39 - "Therefore know this day, and consider it in your heart, that ...
Psalm 46:10 - "Be still, and know that ...
Psalm 100:3 - "Know that ...
3. What precious gift does God give to us, according to Jeremiah 24:7?
4. How does 1 John 5:19-20 say that we came to know God?
5. So how can we go about getting to know a God who is unknowable? What does Paul tell us in 1 Corinthians 2:10?
6. Let's read some more of this passage. According to 1 Corinthians 2:10-12, why have we received the Spirit of God in our hearts?
I know my own grocery store like the back of my hand. No matter what I might need, I know exactly where to find it. Yeast, raisins, popcorn, evaporated milk-I can quote you aisle and shelf. But drop me in the middle of a grocery store on the other side of town, and I might as well be in the Amazon forest. I've lost my sense of direction. I don't know how to navigate. I'm lost.
Getting to know God is often like getting to know a new grocery store. Just when we think we have God all figured out, something unexpected shakes us to our foundations. For a little while, we're lost. That's when we rely most on the Holy Spirit. He reminds us of the things that are unchanging, and helps us to readjust when God does the unexpected.
7. Has God ever surprised you, for better or for worse, and opened up your eyes to some new facet of Himself?
8. Getting to know God is a lifelong journey. We should never give up the pursuit. In Isaiah 58:2 we get a picture of what followers of God should be like. How are they characterized?
9. Each of us has some area in our life that we're proud of-some accomplishment, some talent, some characteristic, some facet of our personality. You might call it one of the reasons you're glad you're you! What does Jeremiah 9:24 say we should be proud of, boast about, or glory in?
Do you think you can know God and not have it change your life? There are two sides to this. What is Paul's criticism of those who say they know God but don't show any evidence of it in Titus 1:16? And how does David describe a life lived in the pursuit of knowing God in 1 Chronicles 28:9? How has knowing God changed your life?
Ponder & Pray
God is knowable, and we long to know Him intimately. This week as you ponder this, try to make a list of the ways in which God still "wows" you with awe-inspiring discoveries. Then add to that list the ways in which He has become a comfortable and familiar friend Are there landmarks in your relationship with Him? Thank the Lord this week for well-traveled trails you've shared with Him, then ask God for new paths that will lead you to a more intimate knowledge of Him.
Trinkets to Treasure
At the close of every Women of Faith conference, women are asked to play a little game of pretend. Each conference guest is asked to imagine that a gift has been placed in her hands-one from each of the speakers-to serve as reminders of the different lessons shared. This study guide will continue this tradition! At the close of each lesson, you will be presented with a small gift. Though imaginary, it will serve to remind you of the things you have learned. Think of it as a souvenir. Souvenirs are little trinkets we pick up on our journeys to remind us of where we have been. They keep us from forgetting the path we have traveled. Hide these little treasures in your heart, for as you ponder them, they will draw you closer to God.
Trinkets to Treasure
Your trinket this week-a walking stick-will serve as a reminder that our Christian walk gives us the chance to know God. Something to lean on as we travel the well-worn trails of God's continued goodness. A steadying handhold as we explore new paths with awe-inspiring vistas. A familiar accompaniment as we revisit the landmarks of our spiritual walk.
Chapter TwoBeing Known
"Now what more can David say to You? For You, Lord God, know Your servant."
2 Samuel 7:20 NKJV
Clearing the Cobwebs
Is there anything or anyone that you could say you're a fan of?
My uncle is a total "cheese-head" (translation: Green Bay Packers fan). My Grandma loves the The Cat Who ... mysteries by Lillian Jackson Braun. My husband has a thing for the Gold City quartet. I subscribe to all of Martha Stewart's magazines. (Did you know there are, like, four?) Have you ever been a fan of something or someone? Most of us have at some point or another. Or if we've not been fanatical ourselves, we know someone who has. You know what I mean. Never missing a new episode of your favorite television program. Knowing all the lyrics to all the songs of your favorite band. Tacking up posters of some teen heartthrob in your locker. Buying all their latest gadgets. Wearing their t-shirts. Getting season tickets. Buying their books. Going to their concerts. Tuning in to their daily radio program. Attending conventions. Whether it's Star Trek, Car Talk, or Crop Night, you're a fan.
The stereotypical fan gushes with enthusiasm, "I'm your biggest fan!" They prove their love by knowing everything they can about the object of their obsession. They're into the details-trivia, statistics, likes, lyrics. But every fan comes to the realization one day that their fascination is completely one-sided. They may know everything about their favorite author, actor, or performer, but to their idol, they are just another stranger.
1. To God, we're not just another face in the crowd. A real relationship is two-sided, and just as we are drawn to know all we can about God, God delights to know everything about us. What does Psalm 44:21 say that God knows about us?
2. With most people, we can put on our best face. We can decide just how vulnerable we're willing to be. But according to 1 Samuel 16:7, when God looks at you, what does He see?
3. How is it that God knows us so well? What does Job 33:4 say He's done for each of us?
4. How does Job 10:8 describe our formation?
5. Our hearts long to be known intimately. God knew us before we ever took a breath! David celebrated God's intimate knowledge of his own beginnings. Take a look at Psalm 139:13-16 NKJV.
For You _______________ my ______________ ____________; You _______________ me in my mother's womb. I will praise You, for I am __________________ and _______________ made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My ___________ was not ___________ from You, When I was made in ____________, And ________________ wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my ________________, being yet ______________. And in Your book they all were written, The days _______________ for me, When as yet there were none of them.
There's a chorus we often sing in our worship services at church. The lyrics in one of the verses go like this: "I see the stars that you have made. I know you call them each by name. To think Father God, whom heaven displays, is thinking of me in intimate ways." God is so big, and we are so small. Yet God cares about every little detail of our lives. He knows us intimately. He loves us unconditionally.
6. According to Ephesians 2:10, "God has made us what we are" (NCV). In other translations, what does that verse call us?
7. So if God knows us so well, what can we possibly have to say to him? What does 2 Samuel 7:20 tell us David said to the Lord?
8. David never stopped talking to God. What things did David say God knew about Himself in his Psalms?
9. God knows us and loves us. How did He pour out that love into our lives, according to Romans 5:5?
Usually, when we talk about God's all-knowing nature, we focus on the fact that He can see all the bad things we've ever done in secret. A good example of this can be found in Hebrews 4:13. Then, we discover that our not-so-secret-after-all sins are what separate us from God-effectively hiding Him from us. Look up Isaiah 59:2 for this point. Perhaps we need to take a page from David's book. He didn't avoid those little sins, figuring God knew they were there and that was enough. What did David willingly do, according to Psalm 32:5?
Ponder & Pray
Our adoration of God is not one-sided. Even as we strive to know Him better, we can thrill to the fact that He knows us intimately. We needn't try to hide anything. We can tell Him anything. We'll never be misunderstood. What's more, it doesn't matter if words fail. He reads our emotions and interprets our silences. He just knows us! Thank God this week for the intimacy of His knowing.
Trinkets to Treasure
Just as fans yearn to know everything there is to know about the object of their affections, we are compelled to know God more and more. But while the average fan is just a face in the crowd and a stranger, we are recognized, known, and loved by our Lord. To remind us of this fact, our little gift this week is a pennant-the sort waved with excitement during sporting events. Though we wave it in the midst of a sea of cheering people, we are seen as individuals and known by God.
Chapter ThreeI Will Send You a Helper
"And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever."
John 14:16 NKJV
Clearing the Cobwebs
Did you have a nickname growing up?
Don't you just love sidekicks? They're always taking second billing. Mentioned more as an afterthought. A footnote in the life of their famous friend. Sidekicks rarely get as much attention as the main character, but you have to give them credit. They're always there. Outside the limelight, a sidekick is a hero's faithful friend, moral support, and right hand man. What would Lucy have done without Ethel? Where would the Lone Ranger be without Tonto? How could Fred Flintstone have managed without Barney Rubble? Could Frodo Baggins have finished his quest without Samwise Gamgee? Robinson Caruso had his man Friday. Don Quixote had Sancho Panza. Captain Kirk had Mr. Spock. Batman had Robin. Snoopy had Woodstock. Calvin had Hobbes. Yogi had Booboo. And Robin Hood had Little John. Even in the Bible, there were dynamic duos. Moses had Aaron. David had Jonathan. Paul had Barnabas. Aaron, Jonathan, and Barnabas didn't get the kind of admiration or attention that their friends received, but they were indispensable. Without them, the heroes of Scripture would have been very lonely. The heroes needed someone to listen. Someone to trust. Someone to understand. Someone to care. Someone to share their secrets. In the Lord's service, they needed a friend, a confidant, a helper.
We too cannot do the Lord's work alone. We need Someone to trust, to listen, to understand, to care. But our Helper is far superior to any earthly sidekick.
1. What did John the Baptizer say Jesus would do in Mark 1:8?
2. When the time came for Jesus to leave His disciples and return to His Father in Heaven, what news did He share to help comfort His friends?
3. Though we could hardly call Him a sidekick, God sent us the Helper we desperately needed. What did Jesus say the Helper would do in John 15:26?
4. What is another way in which this Spirit of truth could help believers, according to John 16:13?
5. What invaluable gift does the Spirit impart, according to John 14:26?
6. According to John 14:16, how long would this Helper stay with us?
When I was a kid, I always wanted a flashy nickname. My only nickname throughout my childhood had been rather uninspiring. Dad called me his Helper. Other kids had nicknames-Sport, Flicka, Gypsy, Red. One guy in my class had the ignominious middle name Howard, but was affectionately dubbed "Howie" throughout his high school years. I actually approached my parents on the subject, asking them if they could please give me a good nickname. My Dad explained that nicknames like that just kind of happen, and you can't invent them. So I was stuck with Helper.
It wasn't until much later that I took consolation from the fact that God Himself had that same nickname. God is called our Helper, and the Holy Spirit was sent to be a Helper. It may not be the flashiest nickname, but I'm in good company.
7. Helper may seem to be a humble term, but what does Psalm 54:4 tell us about the Lord?
8. What does Hebrews 13:6 say we can be bold about?
9. Every verse of Scripture can give us some tidbit, some new facet of understanding.
Who does Acts 5:32 say God gives the Holy Spirit to?
According to Hebrews 6:4, what have we become?
Excerpted from Experiencing Spiritual Intimacy by Christa Kinde Copyright © 2006 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.. Excerpted by permission.
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