For the last two weeks, we have looked at the incredible passion and real intimacy Jesus Christ wants to have with each of us, and how it is not our sins that break His heart but our lack of desire for Him in return. Our passion and thirst for everything but Him. The fact that our emotions, needs and trusts are placed in something—anything—but Him. Because He created us to be His greatest love, desire—His beloved. Like any husband, He longs to be everything to His bride in return. Many (most) of us never experience that intimacy with Christ. We give Him our money, time, proper behavior—everything but the one thing He desires most. After two weeks of study, the question now comes down to this: "How do I draw closer, more intimate with Christ as He desires?" Today, we will give a very real and practical, eye-opening answer to that question.
When Hosea took everything he had and paid for his wife's betrayal—bought her back—and she was safely at home with him again, Hosea set a temporary and strange rule to begin their healing: Hosea 3:3. He was saying to her, “I love you, I accept you, you are home. “But you will not be physically intimate with any other man, nor even me, for a time.” Why would he ask this of her? Hosea 3:4-5. Hosea wanted her to return to him in real desire and love first, so that their physical intimacy would have longing and meaning. He would be with her, be committed to her, love her, but He would wait until she truly desired only Him—before he would draw any closer, before he would enter into more intimacy with her. In other words, she would have more of him when she truly began to desire Him most: James 4:8. God expressed this very same thing about His people as well in this "come to life" story representing Him and His Bride. Right here is where the vast majority of Christians exist today. You have been bought with His Blood; you are safely home in His arms, but you have no real intimacy because He is waiting for you to truly want Him. You can have all of Him that you truly desire, but He can do no more until you want more because it is to be a marriage—a deep, mutual love. His choice and His desire is there; it is our lack of desire that is keeping the relationship from becoming more. And many are living miserably right here because you are living somewhat apart from the world; but He hasn't truly replaced what you've given up. Therefore, some live forced and sad lives in marriage to Him. Some grow tired of not having their desires met, so they return to the world in their passions once again. We can claim that we do not know how to draw closer and more intimate to God all we want, but here is Biblical Truth: [Example: if you were in some remote village with a can of ravioli and a can opener, you may not know how to get the can open. I would have to give you instructions on how to use the opener. But, if you had not eaten for three weeks, and you were literally beginning to starve—even if I hadn't given you instructions on how to use the opener—even if you didn’t have an opener—do you think you would find a way to get into the can? Absolutely—a knife, shovel, rock would be all you would need because your hunger—your desperation—would compel you to find a way, even if it was untaught or unorthodox.] In the same way, you and I can have all of the training and teaching we could ever want about how to become more intimate with Christ; but until we have a desire, desperation or a thirst, we will never open the can. We will be "have to" and "need to" Christians. [Have to be good. Need to read. Should pray more.] On the other hand, if we are truly desperate for Him, no one has to teach us how to draw near; nothing will stop us from finding a way to be near Him because our lives depend on it. Nothing else matters until we can have Him: the Living Water, the Bread for our souls. Scriptures are crystal clear on this fact: Psalm 84:2; Psalm 63:1, 3-5; Psalm 42:1-2; Psalm 143:6. Moses was so desperate for God that he would not take his greatest Promised blessing from God if it meant God's intimacy would not be with him: Exodus 33:2-3; Exodus 33:15. But this is exactly what most would prefer today; what most actually want today. They would take that deal in an eye-blink because they are only truly wanting what God can give them anyway, not His personal love and fellowship. If you are not close to God; if you are not hearing and seeing Him in your life—it is not because He doesn't want to be there—it’s because you don't want Him more than anything else: Jeremiah 29:13-14; Matthew 5:6.
At this point I am sure many are thinking: "Ok Doug, clear Biblical truth—I won't have more of God until I hunger and thirst for Him. So, exactly how am I supposed to make myself hunger and thirst? That seems a bit impossible." Think about this: Can you make yourself hungry and thirsty physically? Absolutely. How? By not eating or drinking. Think again: about what Hosea said to Gomer when he brought her home? Hosea 3:3. Hosea said this to her after she had ruined her life and lost everything in lust for these men (and what she thought she could get from them.) The first real step towards Intimacy with Christ is to stop and realize the uselessness of everything you now hold so dear other than Jesus Christ. With some people that realization is brought to light through circumstances in life. Many through sickness, disaster, loss, persecution have been brought to a place of weighing the true value of things in this life and their futility. Some even longing to go back to a time when God was all they had. Many in life—through actually receiving all they had desired—realize nothing satisfies them, nothing has true fulfillment. If you obtain everything you deem to be so much more important than God right now—will one bit of it have mattered at all just 100yrs from this day? Will any of it have still remain important? And how has the value placed of these things—the pursuit of money, toys, acceptance of others, position, revenge affected your mind or your heart? The value of those around you? Your appreciation for life and all the other blessings surrounding you now? Stop thinking and acting the way you do. Stop placing value on things the way you do simply because the world tells you to. It is blindness to reality and total futility. It is not all we were made for in life. Come to the realization that Gomer had when she returned home: "None of these things were what I hoped for; they only made me waste my life in futility." And let it make you hungry and thirsty for what satisfies. Stop feeding on these other things long enough to develop a new hunger. Like Gomer, cut these things out of your life until you crave something in their place. Stop eating junk food long enough to crave the real thing. Confess your own worldly and selfish focus on things; tell God you want to hunger after Him. Fast, and rely on the Spirit to take you to the next level.
Finally and honestly realize you are totally helpless and powerless over your own life. You may work for an education, develop your skills, strive hard to make your own breaks work out, but reality is this: you are not truly in complete control of one single area of your life. God has His Hand—His final say—over everything that comes into and out of your life—the people, the breaks, the provision, the health. In one single day, one single heart-beat, one single phone call, one shift in the economy, one act by one crazed political leader, one careless moment—all of your perceived control can be wiped away, and you realize that nothing on this earth is really completely in your hands: Psalm 73:25-28.
When you do realize these things are useless and unfulfilling; you are really not in control of anything and that He alone is the only value, only hope. When you realize Jesus Christ alone cares more deeply for you than anyone else in life; when you do realize that He gave everything He had—not only to pay for your sins and bring you Home to Himself again—but He actually stepped into your place in shame, failure, judgment and despair—then you will hunger and thirst for real love and purpose, and you can give your love to Him in abandon and surrender.
Come together intimately with Him—maybe for the first time—as Gomer finally came together with Hosea after she realized He was really all she wanted and needed. Truly say, "I am done with anything that takes me away again." Then it will finally mean something to say: “You belong to Christ, and He belongs to you.”
[PERSONAL STORY: Here is the complete truth of my recent injury: God had brought me to a place of complete discontent with my relationship and service to Him. I had just finished a fast and time of desperate prayer that God let me be where He is; be in His will; that God would draw closer; that God would use me to be a more devoted servant than now. I had a simple, freak fall tearing everything out of my knee in a moment. As I lay there on the ground, before even trying to get up and get home, I knew it was bad. I knew everything had just changed significantly for a time. My first words were, "Really God? Is this the answer?" That simple instant; that small accident has put me out of work longer than I have ever been out. It has changed my financial situation dramatically; has put into question if I can even return to my great job; has taken away most of my physical activities for a time; has changed my double-vocation status for a time—and in these changes it has shown me that nothing in my life really belongs to me. It has allowed me to slow down and focus on Him and His work. It has allowed me to spend intimate time with Him alone. It has allowed me to focus on the needs and preciousness of those round me. It has made me focus my helplessness and my passion on Him. It has shown me that He has always been close; He has always been ready for more; He has always been my provision and protection—and I am helpless without Him. It has shown me that my intimacy with Him is more important than all the service and ministry in my life. And it has made me realized that to be hungry and thirsty for Christ means not even worrying about "doing" the ministry, but drawing so close to Him that ministry is the result. Jesus is not wanting your perfection; He is wanting your hunger and thirst for Him. This is why failures like David (murderer/adulterer), Moses (arrogant/murderer), Peter (hot-headed/selfish/careless/rebellious), Paul (persecutor of church/murderer) were so very close to God when many who may have "looked" more righteous were not. You have all you need to be as close to Christ as anyone ever has before. But no one can show you how, or can lead or convince you. You alone have to be desperate enough to open the can: John 6:35. God Ends His entire Book of Scriptures to us with these Words: Revelation 22:17. Jesus Knows that: "You are not you; not your selfish, distant, uninterested self when you are hungry."
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