A Closer Walk with Christ Part 1

Steve and I were privileged to teach a seminar on A Closer Walk with Christ at Cru19. Part 1 is my portion. Next week I will post Steve’s session as Part 2. May these posts encourage you as you seek to walk closer to Jesus.

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Most of our family is vacationing together in the Colorado mountains this week. Kids from three to 13 keep things lively. Paddle boards, kayaks, hiking, s’mores, a tiny brook, board games—all for one major purpose: to keep us close. It is so easy to drift apart, especially as family scatters across the country. 

It’s also easy, with our busy lives, to drift apart from our Lord. My desire is not to drift from a strong relationship with Jesus, not even to maintain the current status, but to keep on growing closer and closer to Christ. Here are some attitudes and actions that have helped me. 

Live in Awe

When was the last time you said “awesome’? Spectacular scenery, a hard-earned accomplishment, an amazing special effect in a movie? We are created to appreciate the wonders of our world—and especially the wonder of a relationship with the God who made us. 

Our Lord tells us in Isaiah 29:14: “Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder…” 

He encourages me to anticipate His surprises: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”  

I have no idea what He might do. I live in awe, to never get over, what God can and will do: 

I never get over God’s love for me.

I never get over that that love sent Jesus to the cross to dies for me. 

I never get over the beauty and wonder of the world God created.

I never get over that God invited me to be a partner in building His Kingdom.

 Live in Tune

This is another awesome truth to never get over: God loves to talk with me. He invites me to His throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16 ).

Most of us are good at talking to God, at giving him our lists of requests, at suggesting what He should do. But probably we are not as consistent at listening. Yet good conversation and a closer relationship require both talking and listening.

I have been in a long process of learning to linger and listen, of living in tune with my Savior. Of taking time and giving attention to what God wants to say to me.  Jesus invites us:

“He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 11:15)

“Listen to Me, all of you, and understand.” (Mark 7:14)

I love to take long prayer walks, especially on the beach. Usually the first thing I say is “What do you want to say to me?” And He answers. Over the years He has said things like:

“I have something I want you to do.” He has unfolded that something over my lifetime.

“If you marry him (the good man I was engaged to), you won’t be able to do what I want you to do.” I sadly broke that engagement, but know it was the right decision. 

“My dream for you is better than your dream” when He asked me to follow a different path than I had planned.

When I listen, when I live in tune with Christ, we grow closer. Relationship, intimacy and my character grow. I become more like Jesus. I discover God’s plan. My life becomes more meaningful and purposeful. 

Live in the Spirit 

The Holy Spirit is the secret for living the Christian life. Jesus said it was better for Him to leave so the Spirit could come to live in us. Amazingly, we become the home of God Himself as His Spirit comes to dwell in us. And oh! What amazing things He does for us.

In His Word, we find His very present Spirit is our Advocate, Comforter, Encourager, Truth, Freedom, Peace, Warrior and our Power:

 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.  (John 14:26, New Revised Standard Version

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever.  (John 14:16, King James Version)

 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)

 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. (John 16:13)

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (2 Corinthians 3:17

You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4, New American Standard Bible)

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses… (Acts 1:8)

All this is ours as we live in the Spirit.

Live in Gratitude

One of the hardest commands we find in Scripture is “…give thanks in everything for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). 

Paul reinforces it in Ephesians 5:20: “And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

How is this possible? I have found that living in awe, living in tune and living in the Spirit do a wonderful work in me to enable me to live in gratitude. 

And when I give thanks—especially for what is hard to receive--three great things begin to happen.

1.    My focus changes. Instead of holding on to anger or disappointment or fear, I start to see Jesus. I remember His love and sacrifice for me. It may be barely perceptible at first, but it grows. 

2.   Then my faith expands. I remember—and believe—that He is God and He is good. So I can trust him.

3.   Doors open. When I say thank You, it is as though I hand God a key to open doors—of acceptance, of understanding and of opportunity—for God to do His good work in and through me.

May God bless you day by day as you increasingly live in awe, in tune with God, in the Spirit, in gratitude.

What about you? Where do you need to grow in order to live closer to Christ?

You can listen to the seminar here.

C2019 Judy Douglass

In Part 2 Steve Douglass will give us several more ways to walk closer to Christ.