Who says having a relationship with God is not important?
Its important that we establish a good relationship with God, but having one does not mean its enough to give us the promised salvation. So, the question is, how is our relationship with Him? Is it improving or declining? Or do we have such relationship?
First, lets discuss how we have relationship with God. We do believe, as others do too, that our relationship with Him is not only a mere Creator -creation relationship. More than that, God wants us to become His loving children, worthy of His love, care and mercy. Jesus says “for One is your Father in Heaven.” (Matthew 23:9) and then He teaches us the Lord’s prayer, He addresses God as, “Our Father, who art in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9). The belief that God is a Father to all of us does not come from folktale. Others, do not believe that God fathered anyone as their holy books says.
If God is our Father, then we are His children. God has no grandchildren, only sons and daughters. This means we, as individuals stand in our own faith. We can not save anyone except ourselves. Our individual faith to Him does that.
But, how do we become sons and daughters of God? Does it mean that we, as His creations are also called children of God? Can we consider that all human beings are children of God? In John 8:44, Jesus speaks, “You are of the Devil as father, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and did not abide in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own, for he is a liar and the father of it.” Jesus is referring to the people whom in His time, shows the character of being sons of the devil. They do the will of the devil and not the will of God, making them not children of God but children of the devil himself.
Therefore, not all of us are children of God. Because, not all of us believe in God and in Jesus Christ. Not all of us, obey the commandments, seeking His kingdom and searching for His will. Logically, we can not consider anyone who does not believe in Him to be a child of God.
Now, how to become a child of God. Jesus sets an example to all of us on becoming a son of God. (1 Peter 2: 21) For Christ also suffered on our behalf, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps. We become God’s child when we do what is necessary and according to His will. (Mat 3:15) And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. Remember the voice when Jesus was baptized by John in the river of Jordan? The voice says, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) Jesus, by leaving an example, shows that anyone who does the will of the Father and doing what is righteous will give us the right to be called His beloved sons or daughters.
We have to do the will of the Father. Joh 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Joh 1:13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Part of doing His will is to believe in His name, to be born not of blood or flesh, not on the will of any man but of God. Early Christians became children of God because they did what is necessary to become a child of God, that is, accepting the words of God, growing in faith, fellowship with the church of God and standing firm with the faith they received from God. We became children of God because of the faith in Jesus Christ. Gal 3:26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. Gal 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
Gal 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. Gal 3:29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Noticed, that part of being a children of God is not only having faith but being baptized into Christ. Among those who have been baptized were added to the church of God. Act 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. Act 2:47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. This is the relationship God wants us to have, Father and children relationship inside the church of God.
How to improve the relationship? Focus first on our family. People became busy nowadays because of the proliferation of many activities that makes us away from one another. Husbands usually go with their friends instead of having quality time with their family. Wives, socially interacts with other wives but forget to tend their children with the much attention they need. As a result, children are more happy with their friends outside their homes. There is nothing wrong with interacting with other people, but the problem is, people forget the most basic foundation of our society- the family.
We learned from schools that family is important; and as technology grows, the relationship and the values within the family circle started to become uncomfortable. This is Biblical, because according to Apostle Paul, in the last days, difficult times will come. (2 Timothy 3: 1-3) This is because people forget the values needed to create a harmonious society, even the spiritual values are now unknown to many children. Parents failed to pass these spiritual teachings to their children, thus producing an ungodly community. It all starts at the family.
We believe that the family that prays together, stays together. Children imitates the spirituality of their parents. The Bible says, Isa 59:21 And I make a covenant with you: I have given you my power and my teachings to be yours forever, and from now on you are to obey me and teach your children and your descendants to obey me for all time to come.” It is the duty of everyone to teach our children to obey God’s commandments. And its best that we teach them while they are young. Its a matter of training them while they are young. Pro 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. As an example, parents should pray, but as they pray, they should open their rooms so that their children will see their spirituality. Children should learn form their parents that they must have quality time with their Creator.
As each member of the family grow closer to the Lord, the relationship within the family will also grow strong. Communication is an essential thing and members of the family that continue to communicate freely and openly, with love and respect, will become a God-centered family.
We said before that we must improve our relationship with God individually, but it doesn’t mean that we can not do it as a family. Now, what are the things that we must do to improve our relationship with our Father – God?
Inside the family, constant communication with love and respect are key values to become a better family. Parents want to hear from their children – because they love their children. This is the same reason why God wants to hear from us also – because God loves us. Praying is a way of communication with God- our Creator. God, our Father hears our prayers. He listens and know whats best for us. Prayers are effective tool for improving our relationship with God.
Some of God’s servants know the value and importance of prayer, as well as the power of prayers in their lives. Jesus told his disciples a parable to teach them that they should always pray and never become discouraged. (Luke 18:1) Apostle Paul advises the members of the church to always pray. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
Kind David knows the power of prayer as he continually pray and constantly communicate with God every morning, in the afternoon, in the night and almost every time. (Psalms 55:17; Psalms 88:1-2) Psa 55:16 But I call to the LORD God for help, and he will save me. Psa 55:17 Morning, noon, and night my complaints and groans go up to him, and he will hear my voice. Psa 88:1 LORD God, my savior, I cry out all day, and at night I come before you. Psa 88:2 Hear my prayer; listen to my cry for help!
Again, Jesus set us an example as He prayed the whole night before He call His disciples. (Luke 6:12-13) And He advises the Apostles to be watchful and prayerful so that they may have the strength to face the things that will happen soon. (Luke 21:36) To know more about prayers, please click the following links: (1), (2) and (3).
Praying to God as a family is one way of improving our relationship with God. Relationships do not last if there are no communications. God wants us to constantly talk with Him, and remember that He always listens.
What are other ways we must do to improve our relationship with God?
Talking to God through prayers is an essential tool to improve our relationship to God. Through prayers, we have the opportunity to express our desires, needs and wants as well as giving praises and thanks to God. But in a relationship, especially between God and us, His children, its not enough that we keep on talking and God just keep on listening. The relationship’s communication process should be two-way. Therefore, we must learn not only to talk to Him through prayers but we must also learn to LISTEN.
But how do we listen to God? How did God talk to us before? Heb 1:1 In the past God spoke to our ancestors many times and in many ways through the prophets, Heb 1:2 but in these last days he has spoken to us through his Son. He is the one through whom God created the universe, the one whom God has chosen to possess all things at the end. Before, God spoke to us through His prophets. In the last days, He has spoken to us through His Son (Jesus Christ). The prophets wrote everything God has told them. They wrote it in scrolls and record everything God has told them to write. Through Jesus Christ, the Gospel was preached and anyone who believe it and repent will surely have salvation. Jesus commissioned His Apostles to preach His Gospel to all nations and baptize everyone who will believe.
Apostle Paul, called to be an Apostle to the Gentiles, says listening is important. Rom 10:17 So then, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message comes through preaching Christ. So, listening is essential for havingfaith. And having faith is important if we want to please God. Heb 11:6 No one can please God without faith, for whoever comes to God must have faith that God exists and rewards those who seek him.
We listen to the words of God during our worship day. We also listen during our Bible Study sessions. It is important that we listen to everything what God says, just like parents do to their children. Parents want only the best for their children, so does God. He wants us to be perfect in every ways, as He is perfect. Mat 5:48 You must be perfect—just as your Father in heaven is perfect. Listening to His words will make us clean, righteous and throughly furnished unto all good works. 2Ti 3:15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 2Ti 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 2Ti 3:17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
As a Father, the words of God maybe too sharp and harsh for us to hear; and sometimes its very hard for us to accept them. We sometimes feel uncomfortable listening to it. These are words of a Father to his child. Sometimes its too hard but in reality it only wants us to become a better person. As Paul says, His words are profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and for instruction in righteousness. God only wants us to be corrected and most of the time the truth hurts.
But there is a warning to every children of God who listen to His words. We are here not only to listen to His words but to put them into actions. Listening plus putting it into practice are a perfect combination to improve our relationship with God. Jas 1:21 So get rid of every filthy habit and all wicked conduct. Submit to God and accept the word that he plants in your hearts, which is able to save you. Jas 1:22 Do not deceive yourselves by just listening to his word; instead, put it into practice. Jas 1:23 If you listen to the word, but do not put it into practice you are like people who look in a mirror and see themselves as they are. Jas 1:24 They take a good look at themselves and then go away and at once forget what they look like. Jas 1:25 But if you look closely into the perfect law that sets people free, and keep on paying attention to it and do not simply listen and then forget it, but put it into practice—you will be blessed by God in what you do. (GNB)
Paul advises the children of God not to forsake or forget the assemblies or gatherings, Heb 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. In gatherings, we study and listen to the words of God and make us all closer to God, our Father.
Is there another way of improving our relationship with God?
God, our Father knows everything about us. He knows what is inside our hearts and our minds. And He is very much concerned with what we are thinking, therefore what we are thinking must be pure, clean and according to His will. What is inside our thoughts is almost the same of what is inside our hearts. The Bible has much to say about our hearts, and usually it explains our thoughts, minds, personality or character. God looks to us through our hearts and not to our faces, this explains that indeed, our hearts or shall we say, our minds and thoughts are important to God. (1 Samuel 16:7 - for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. )
Let us examine our thoughts. Who knows what we are thinking right now? No one knows, except us as an individual and of course, God who knows everything. Thoughts are always hidden, but it is often manifested in our words and actions.Luk 6:45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.The mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
One way of examining our thoughts is by meditation. Prayers and meditations are often mistaken to be identical. Although both requires us to give our precious time in doing them, they are different in many ways. In the Bible, meditation is never portrayed as a religious, mental or emotional ritual. It simply is directed thinking,
reflection, contemplation or concentration. Certainly the quality of our thinking can continue to improve, especially when we regularly pray for God’s guidance.
The aim of doing meditations to God is certainly to help us build a better and improved relationship with God. Like praying, meditating requires a lot of time – and having time with our Father is important, as He is always there when we need Him, every time, every minute and every second.
For many people, meditation is viewed as a mental or religious ritual. This discourages many believers because it makes meditation to be something awkward and difficult to do. This may come as a shock to some, but the Bible never mandates that we meditate— just as it never tells us to think—the presumption being that we already do.
It does, however, tell us what we are to meditate about. What do you think is the most common type of meditation? Probably it is worry. How sad! Instead of worrying about problems (or possible problems), we should pray! In
Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus Christ tells us not to worry—but to put God first and trust Him for our needs.
There are matters to meditate about and these are the things that God wants us to think rather than worrying all the time for everything. Let’s take a closer look at what God tells us to think about. We can find all the verses that mention such words as meditate, think, commune, ponder, imagine, remember, examine, watch, etc. Apostle Paul says meditate on these things … and the God of peace will be with us. This means, putting these things or meditating on these things can improve our relationship with God. Php 4:8 In conclusion, my friends, fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable. Php 4:9 Put into practice what you learned and received from me, both from my words and from my actions. And the God who gives us peace will be with you. (GNB)
To show that our lives are truly raised by God, we should set our hearts and fixed our minds on things not here on earth but in heaven. Col 3:1 You have been raised to life with Christ, so set your hearts on the things that are in heaven, where Christ sits on his throne at the right side of God. Col 3:2 Keep your minds fixed on things there, not on things here on earth.
King David meditates on the law of God all day – Psalms 119: 97. Psa 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. Meditating on the laws and words of God help us in doing it properly, and eventually will give us success not only in this life, but to the life to come. Jos 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
Imagine if we always think about our Father – God. Jesus says “for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6: 21) If we have time to think of God and His marvelous ways, then we consider Him as a treasure to us. By doing this, we get to improve more in our relationship with Him.
Are there other ways to improve our relationship with God?
Another way of improving our relationship with God is by fasting.
According to Fausset’s Bible Dictionary, the word (tsum) never occurs in the Pentateuch. The Mosaic law, though directing minutely the foods to be eaten and to be shunned, never enjoins fasting. On the yearly day of atonement, the 10th day of the 7th month, Israelites were directed to “afflict the soul” (Lev. 16:29-31; Lev. 23:27; Numbers 30:13). This significant term implies that the essence of scriptural “fasting” lies in self humiliation and penitence, and that the precise mode of subduing the flesh to the spirit, and of expressing sorrow for sin, is left to the conscientious discretion of each person. In Acts 27:9 the yearly day of atonement is popularly designated “the fast.”
There was a time when Jesus was asked because His disciples do not perform fasting. Jesus said, the days will come that they will fast. Mat 9:14 Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not? Mat 9:15 And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast. That day has come, in fact in the New Testament, the Disciples fast before God to prepare them in their ministerial tasks. Act 13:2 While they were serving the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said to them, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul, to do the work to which I have called them.” (GNB) Jesus set an example when He also performed prayers and fasting just before He started His ministry(Luke 4).
Fasting is a way of communicating and improving the relationship with Him. It is always enjoined with prayers. Luk 2:36 And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; Luk 2:37 And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. By fasting, we discipline ourselves by not only restricting ourselves to food and drinks, but also as well as earthly pleasures. By fasting, we get to concentrate or focus more on the true Bread of Life, which is Jesus Christ. Fasting is not just a way of loosing weight. The spiritual fasting teach us to abstain from drink and food as we put extra time on Bible Study, meditation and praying. (Exodus 34:28; Ezra 10:6; Esther 4:16; Acts 9:9).
By fasting, we learn humility before the Lord, because it is our chance to contemplate and have self-examinations on how sinful and how needy we are before Him. Psa 35:13 But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom.
Fasting is a form of worship to God, drawing us closer to Him, humbling ourselves and growing spiritually. Sometimes, fasting can be a powerful tool to beseech God for His help with one or more important needs for ourselves or for others. Some prayers are heard if associated with fasting. An example is when Jesus’ disciple could not cast out a demon, He told them that, “this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:14-21).
Proper fasting can do a lot of things. While we rely on the spiritual tools of prayer, Bible study and meditation on a daily basis, we occasionally need to do fasting. There can be many reasons to fast, such as a personal problem, a difficult to- overcome sin, facing a major decision, a Church crisis, a threat of danger, the need to change someone’s attitude, or expressing thanksgiving, among others.
However, we must never view fasting as pressuring God to get what we want (Isaiah 58:3). God wants us to pray about our problems, but not to try to dictate the solutions. Our attitudes should be like that of Jesus Christ when He prayed, “Not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). To ask God for His protection, Ezra proclaimed a fast for all the exiles returning to Judah (Ezra 8:21-23). Esther requested that all the Jews in Shushan fast so that they would be spared fromgenocide (Esther 4:16).Verses from Isaiah 58:1-12 show the different attitudes people do when they fast. Fasting is not just a ritual, it is an act of offering willingness to make sacrifices in different ways not only for ourselves but also to others.
Is there any other way that we can do to improve our relationship with God?
Loving the almighty God with all our heart, mind and soul is one of the greatest commandments we can ever do. But the second and like it is to love our neighbors like we love ourselves (Matthew 22:37-38). Apostle John says, “1Jn 4:20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 1Jn 4:21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” We can show our love to God by loving our brothers and sisters, whom we can see, touch and feel. This is the reason why we need everyone in the church for fellowship. Fellowship is God’s way of letting us obey the commandment of loving each other like we love our selves. It is also a way of bearing each others’ burden – Gal 6:2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. Brothers and sisters in the church of God need to grow together and achieve the perfection for the edification of the church. Fellowship is a way of coming together in unity of the faith, and knowledge about God, so that we will grow up in Him in all things and in love.
Fellowship also helps us become in unity as God wants us to be. Essentially, as each becomes a member of the church, we come from different walks of life. But being in fellowship always, we become one and unified through Christ because we were unified by His teachings and doctrines. 1Co 1:9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowshipof his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. 1Co 1:10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that yeall speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
Another benefit of having fellowship in the church is that it can help us overcome our weaknesses and develop Christian character. How can we show our mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsufferring, bearing with one another and forgiving one another if we don’t have fellowship? Therefore, fellowship helps us interact positively with the rest of our brothers and sisters in the church. “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do” (Colossians 3:12-13)
We are called to serve and love one another in Christ with brotherly love and being in fellowship with one another helps us to obey this calling.
Rom 12:11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rom 12:12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Rom 12:13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
We need to show one another the hospitality needed as a sign of love to one another. And we can not do this alone and separate with the rest of our brothers and sisters. We have to be in contact with them as we grow up in faith.
Rom 12:14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rom 12:15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Rom 12:16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Rom 12:17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. Rom 12:18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Rom 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
The Bible describes the Church as a loving and zealous community of believers—those who commune and communicatewith each other and strive for unity! God wants cooperative coworkers to work together in the task He has given His Church. “Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common” (Acts 2:44) Jesus says that the primary identifying sign of His followers is that they are showing love for one another. “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
In the Bible, love includes unselfish actions of service, not only emotions. How can Christ’s disciples serve one another if they don’t know each other and aren’t together? Hebrews 10:25 emphasizes the need of “assembling of ourselves together . . . and so much the more as you see the Day [of Christ's return] approaching.” The preceding verse, Hebrews 10:24, stresses the need to “stir up love and good works” among one another. Through Christian fellowship with other believers, we can encourage, strengthen, comfort and help one another. God knows that it’s difficult to survive spiritually on our own, therefore, we need the support and encouragement we get from being with others of similar mind and faith.
The members of the church know that their objective is to give worship to God, learn about His word and live a life according to His will. Paul describes the Church as “the pillar and foundation of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15, New International Version). The Church is the primary source through which God’s truth is taught and learned. But another objective of the Church is on giving of ourselves to one another. Notice this essential evidence of spiritual conversion:“We know that we have passed from [spiritual] death to life, because we love the brethren . . . By this we know love, because He [Jesus] laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:14, 16).
The most common fulfillment of “laying down our lives” is that we give of our time for our brethren. Members of God’s Church should imitate to become like Jesus Christ, but are far from that perfection. Each member is a “work in progress,” endeavoring to be “transformed” by God and gradually “conformed to the image of Jesus Christ” (Romans 12:2; 8:29).
Every member is at a different point in his or her spiritual progress. Sometimes problems arise just like we read about in the New Testament. But we know that God expects those He has called to His Church to work on themselves and to love, forgive and encourage others.
By doing these things, especially loving our brothers and sisters in the church, we get to improve our relationship with the almighty God. Each of us is His child, and if we love one another, it is a sign that indeed, we are His children, growing in faith, spiritually and maturely- improving day by day as we wait for His return to take us in the promised everlasting life.