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Your intimacy with God will be your greatest weapon in Spiritual Warfare. How many of you know that when you are in the arms of the biggest daddy in town, you win? Isn't that right? There isn't anybody bigger! "Don't mess with me, or I'll call my daddy!" When you are in your daddy's arms, no one will want to mess with you. That's the key to war, the key to fighting and winning: pursuing intimacy with our Lord. God wants to be intimate with you--to be close to you, and He wants you to be intimate with Him--to be close to Him.
I know this is hard to believe sometimes. It's easy to think, "Why would God want to be close to me? If God really knew all about me, He wouldn't want to be close to me." However, God does know all about you, and He still wants to be intimate with you!
In the New Testament, the most common word for worship is the Greek word 'proskuneo' (Strong's #4352). It means, "to kiss toward"--a term of intimacy. Kissing happens to be an activity of endearment. You don't go down the street just kissing anybody, do you? (Well, you shouldn't!) You kiss your spouse, you kiss your children, and in certain cultures, you use it to greet your brother. It is an act of endearment. It is also something you do in close proximity. In other words, you have to be close to kiss. You know those little X's and O's just don't cut it. They're just not like the real thing! Also, blowing a kiss is not like the real kiss. Intimacy is a term that the Bible uses to describe our worship of the Lord Jesus. Intimacy means, "to kiss towards". God really wants us to be close and intimate with Him.
Having this intimacy means I can come before God, and I can come without shame, without embarrassment, without condemnation, without judgments. I can come right into His presence, because He is my Daddy. He loves me, and I'm covered by the blood in the full work of Christ. I can come right into His presence, enjoy Him and get really close to Him. This is what God wants for me.
The pursuit of intimacy is not a very easy thing. It has not been a very easy thing for me, personally. In the last two weeks, God has really been dealing with me in this area. The Lord started to "mess" with me by playing the hymn, "In the Garden," over and over in my mind. The words to that hymn go: "I come to the garden alone . . . and He walks with me and He talks with me . . . " I have to tell you, most of the time that I sing this song is at funerals. So I listened to this and I thought, "Okay, Lord, what is it You are trying to tell me here? Are You trying to break something to me here -- like it's my time to die and You're just easing it in?" I could not get this song out of my head. It was not as though I had just sung it. I was just going over it in my head, until finally I figured it out. God was trying to teach me and speak to me.
Whenever God asks you a question, He is not looking for information; He already knows everything. When God asks you a question it is because He wants to reveal something about you. So, as this song was playing repeatedly in my head, the question came to me, "Rodney, do you have the same closeness with Me that is in this hymn?" I thought about it. "And He walks with me and He talks with me and He tells me I am His own . . .. " What was it saying? Was it possible to just walk along and have God say, "Hi! I love you; you're Mine?"
As I said earlier, God was trying to reveal something to me about my walk and my intimacy with Him. Had I been asked that question three weeks before, I would have quickly answered it, "You bet!" But when God kept asking me that question, I began to think that perhaps I had not given Him the right answer the first time; that maybe He would continue to ask this question until I answered it correctly. "Rodney, do you have the relationship with Me that we see in that hymn?" I finally concluded that I did not. I realized that I don't I have that relationship, that intimacy that is in the hymn -- that I can walk with God and talk with Him, holding hands like we're buddies or friends. I began to question myself, "Have I ever done that; have I ever had that intimacy?"
Pursuit Of Intimacy
I began to look back at my life and reflect on my life, checking to see if I had ever had that kind of relationship with God. There was a time when I did pursue loving the Lord. I did not begin that way, but I remember back in the mid-70s when I was a youth pastor and an associate pastor, my senior pastor asked me this question. He said, "Do you love the Lord or do you love the things He gives?" Of course, I thought I knew the answer: I loved the Lord! Then God began to get hold of my heart and ask me that question over and over again until finally I said, "All right, I love the things You give, but I want to love You too." Then I began to pursue loving the Lord. It was a desire of mine; it was a passion of mine, and I intentionally pursued loving the Lord. I went after Him! I read all the scriptures on loving the Lord, but I was a little confused and I asked, "How do you love God?"
Love is about meeting needs, but how do you meet God's needs? I didn't really know how, so I just did what I knew to do. I just spent time with God and hung out with God. I sought to pursue getting to know Him and to gaze into His presence. And the Lord led me to II Corinthians 3:18 where it says that as we gaze into His glory, we are changed and "transformed . . . from glory to glory." And I hung on to that verse. I disciplined my life. I had my quiet times and I would spend time talking to God, and He would talk to me, and a lot of that came out of discipline. However, the question that the Lord kept bringing up to me was, "Are we intimate friends?" "We talked a lot!" "Well, a lot of your talking was telling Me what you wanted, what you wanted Me to do, and how you wanted Me to bless other people. Did you like just hanging around Me?" Well, I had things to do, places to go, people to see--you know how it goes.
I found out the Lord speaks to me. I heard His voice. I spent time with God, and God gave me words for people. He gave me words of knowledge. He gave me prophetic words. There was a flow of conversation. God was speaking to me; I was hearing the Lord! I would spend my time in discipline and prayer; I got the Bible out and had my quiet times. And I think that's still important in spending time with the Lord; in pursuing intimacy it is necessary to do that.
But the Lord asked me, "Do we have that deeper kind of relationship?" Then I came across Exodus, Chapter 33:11: "The Lord spoke to Moses face to face as a man speaks with his friend." I do not think I had quite that level of relationship with God. I did not know if I really wanted to or not. I thought that if I looked God face to face I would be scared to death, so I didn't know if I wanted to get that close to Him or not.
But when I finally said, "Lord, I don't have that; I'm not like that," I became jealous for it. I said, "I want to be that close to You; I want to be Your friend. I would like one day to be known for being a friend of God." God's friend! That would be my heart's passion--to be close to God and be intimate with Him in that way.
I looked through my quiet-time journals. (That is one of the best ways I can document my walk with God, my relationship with God.) As I went through them, I saw somebody who passionately pursued a relationship with God--spent time with God, getting to know God to a degree or to a measure. It wasn't as if I had not been pursuing intimacy, but the Lord was revealing to me a level of intimacy that He wanted to bring me into that I did not have. I had begun to think that just because God blesses me, anoints me, speaks to me, and works through me that I am intimate with Him. I had just presumed that because we were close in areas of ministry.