I feel far away from God. How can I get closer to Him?
It's so important for us to take God at His word and believe that He is with us at all times. But this doesn't always come naturally; we need to ask God to help us realize this and take delight in His presence.
Listen to what David wrote in Psalm 139, "O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether. You have hedged me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain it. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me....How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You." (Psalm 139:1-10 & 17-18)
The truth is that God "is not far from each one of us" (Acts 17:27) and Jesus promised in Matthew 28:20 that He is "with you always, even to the end of the world".
We can see the problem is not that God is withdrawing Himself from us, for Hebrews 13:5 assures us that "He Himself has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you." Hebrews 13:8 states that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever". Thus we find that God does not change. But due to our human nature, one day we can find ourselves on the mountaintops and the next day down in the valley. We have our ups and downs. So we have to trust God and believe that He is able to do for us what we can not do for ourselves (staying near to him). The Lord does not want us to trust our feelings, but to trust Him and His Word (Hebrews 11:1 & 6).
The Bible assures us that if we draw near to God then He will draw near to us (James 4:8). We have already found that the Lord is already near to everyone; we just need to recognize His abiding presence and make sure that there isn't anything getting in the way of our relationship with Christ. It's true that cherished sin and open rebellion will cause us to drift away from God (Psalm 66:18, Isaiah 59:1-2), but if, through the power of Jesus, we confess and forsake that sin, then we can have peace, knowing that our prayers are not hindered (Psalm 66:19-20, 1 John 1:9). And of course, if we want to improve our relationship with God and live more fully in His presence, then we need to set aside plenty of time for prayer and the Bible, since communication is so essential for the improvement of our relationship with God. A true connection with Jesus is vital. This is how we can draw nearer to the Lord and Hebrews 11:6 tells us that "He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him."
The closer we come to God and the stronger our relationship is, we will find that our doubts will vanish and confidence will prevail. Jesus often told the disciples just how important faith was and He showed them how much they were lacking (Luke 17:5-6, Matthew 8:25-26, Luke 22:32). But as the disciples grew in their walk with Jesus, they had no problem believing and trusting in God (Acts 4). In fact, they were even willing to die for their faith in Christ (Acts 7:55-60, Acts 12:1-2, 1 Peter 3:13-14). Many times, we may feel far from God because our faith is weak and we have doubts about salvation. This is why God's Word is so important: it fortifies our faith! (Romans 10:17) As we read verses like Hebrews 7:25, we can know for sure that Jesus is "able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them." Our salvation was secured 2000 years ago on the cross; God has already done His part. So now, "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:28)
One who truly understands and accepts the teachings of the Bible can assuredly know that we are born again (1 Peter 1:23), and that we are fully accepted by the Lord (Romans 5:1-2). We can have in our soul the assurance of present salvation, with no uncertainty whatsoever (Philippians 1:6, Ephesians 3:12, 1 John 2:28). In fact, we may know this so fully that we can truly "rejoice in the Lord always" (Philippians 4:4) and in "the God of our salvation" (Psalm 65:5).
If you want your faith to be strengthened, we recommend that you study through the following points:
1.) We can't be confident in our selves, but we can be confident in Jesus (Philippians 3:3). The initiative in the plan of salvation is from God; NOT from man. "All things are of God" (2 Corinthians 5:18). We know that He "hath reconciled us' (verse 18); that "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself" (verse19); that it was NOT we who loved God, but He first loved us (1 John 4:9-10); that Christ is the "propitiation for our sins" (John 2:2); and that "we were reconciled to God by death of his Son" (Romans 5:10). All this comes to us "according to the gift of the grace of God" (Ephesians 3:7).
2.) We can't gain salvation on our own; Jesus is the only Savior of lost mankind. God said, "I. even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no savior (Isaiah 43:11); "there is no God beside me; a just God and a savior. . . . Look unto me, and be ye saved" (Isaiah 45:21-22). Jesus Christ our Lord is the only foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11); He is the only way to salvation (john 14:6 & Acts 4:12).
3.) Man, in and of himself, is hopelessly lost. There is no salvation in man for man. No man can "redeem his brother" (Psalm 49:7). Without the salvation provided in Christ Jesus our Lord, man would be hopelessly lost. "There is none righteous, no, not one (Romans 3:10); "There is none that doeth good, no, not one" (Verse 12); "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (verse 23).
4.) Since man is naturally dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1), even the initial promptings to a better life must come from God. Christ is the true light, who "gives light to every man coming into the world." (John 1:9). This light, in some way known only to Divine Providence, penetrates the darkness of human hearts and kindles the desire for God. If the soul begins to seek God, then "the Father which hath sent me (Christ)" will "draw him (the seeker) (John 6:44). "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me" (John 12:32). So even the desire to repent comes from above, for Jesus our Savior "gives repentance" and grants "forgiveness of sins" (Acts 5:31). The positive changes that come to our heart are not by an act of our own ability, but wholly by the new birth coming from the Holy Spirit (James 3:17-18; Galatians 5:22-23). We are to be "born again" (John 3:3); "born of God" (1 John 3:9); "born of the Holy Spirit" (John 3:5-6); Dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:11). This is a work of divine grace. In a real sense, we are "His workmanship" (Ephesians 2:10). Jesus saves us (Matthew 1:21) and it is He who gives us the Holy Spirit to wash and transform our hearts (Titus 3:5-6).
5.) Nothing we can ever do will merit the favor of God (Isaiah 64:6). Salvation is a gift of His grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). It is grace that "bringeth salvation" (Titus 2:11). We are not saved by "works" (Romans 4:6; 2 Timothy 1:9), Neither can we be saved by the "law" (Romans 8:3), nor by the "deeds" or the "works of the law" (Romans 3:20,28; Gal 3:2,5,10).
6.) While salvation is of God, a surrender of the will is called for. We are to believe--"whosoever believeth in him" (John 3:16); to yield --"yield yourselves unto God" (Romans 6:13); to submit--"submit yourselves therefore to God" (James 4:7); to present ourselves to God--"present your bodies a living sacrifice" (Romans 12:1); to reckon ourselves dead to sin--"reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin" (Romans 6:11); and, by God's strength. remain dead to sin--"For you are dead and your life is hidden with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:3).
7.) The Christian life and experience is a growth in grace. When we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord, we want to fulfill His purpose for our lives (1 Peter 4:2). We should "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18). Growth in the Christian life means an intimate relationship and fellowship with Jesus Christ our Lord (Philippians 3:10-14). The serious side to this experience is that it calls for a daily denial of self--"if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me" (Luke 9:23); a daily sacrifice--"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God which is your reasonable service" (Romans 12:1); and it calls for daily surrender--"Yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness" (Romans 6:19). Our attitude should be "Not my will, but Yours be done." (Luke 22:42)
8.) There will be fruitage in the lives of God's children (Matthew 13:23). In John's Gospel we read of "fruit" (John 15:2), "more fruit" (verse 2), then "much fruit" (verses 5 & 8), and finally that "your fruit should remain" (verse 16). "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law" (Galatians 5:22-23). Paul also compares what are lives were like before Jesus came into our heart to our present state: "What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life." (Romans 6:21-22)
9.) The child of God may have confidence and assurance. It is our privilege, and our heritage as blood-brought children of God, to have "full assurance" (Colossians 2:2), to enjoy "full assurance of faith" (Hebrews 10:22), and to know the "full assurance of hope unto the end" (Hebrews 6:11). We have confidence in Him (1 John 5:14), "confidence toward God" (1 John 3:21). We KNOW "that we are in Him" (1 John 2:5); we KNOW "that He abideth in us" (1 John 3:24). We KNOW that we "have eternal life" (1 John 5:13).
10.) When God forgives our sins and gives us the assurance in His Word that we are forgiven (Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 2:13), we delight to REJOICE in the Lord. In the light of such great salvation, we like the psalmist, express our joy and gladness. "Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous" (Psalm 33:1). "Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God" (Joel 2:23). "Let thy saints shout for joy" (Psalm 132:9); "Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them: let them also that love Your name be joyful in You" (Psalm 5:11). Over and over again comes the refrain, "Praise ye the Lord," (Psalm 150:1) and the people took this to heart, for we read, "I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou Most High" (Psalm 9:2); "My soul shall be joyful in the Lord: it shall rejoice in His salvation" (Psalm 35:9); "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me in the garments of salvation" (Isaiah 61:10); "I will declare what he hath done for my soul" (Psalm 66:16).
Joy is one of the great words of the New Testament. The Gospel itself is declared to be "tidings of great joy" (Luke 2:10). Jesus desired for His disciples to partake of HIS JOY, that in and through Him, their joy "might be full" (John 15:11; 16:24). Paul exhorted the saints to "rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say rejoice" (Philippians 4:4). Someday, in a joyful tone, we will sing with the angels, "saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing" (Revelation 5:12).
To bring our feeling in touch with our mind and the knowledge that God has given us in His Word, we need to surround our mind with His Word--the Bible. The Psalms are especially uplifting. We need to keep close to Jesus our Lord and Savior. We need to pray for the Holy Spirit to bring our feeling in harmony with our thoughts and that He will manifest His presence in our lives with the "joy of the Lord" (Nehemiah 8:10). We must watch what we fill our minds with -- Keeping our eyes focused on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2). The Bible tells us to "pray always" (Ephesians 6:18) and "without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17); that means to keep our minds on heaven with a song in our heart and a continual prayer for guidance in all our daily matters. God longs to guide us each moment (Psalm 32:8 & Proverbs 3:5-6), but the Bible tells us we receive not because we ask not (James 4:2). We should keep our minds pure (Hebrews 10:22) (not watching and reading things that are impure), knowing we are in the presence of holy angels who minister in the presence of God and who are working for our salvation (Psalm 34:7). "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whosoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things" (Philippians 4:8).
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