If you are a believer, I’m guessing that your relationship with God is priority. But sometimes stuff happens along the way that makes us lose that connection.
This is one of the most frequent questions I get, and I’m going to answer it to my best ability. It is in no way exhaustive, a formula or the authority on this matter. I’m just sharing my experiences and what I’ve seen to bear fruit for me.
God is all about relationship, and He loves each one of us greatly. But like any relationship, it requires intention and investment in order to figure out the nuances, otherwise, it will grow cold quickly.
I’ve been a Christ follower for 16years this year, I gave my life to Christ, or became ‘born again’ when I was 14 years old. I was introduced to church by my parents, who took us to church from an early age. They went to an African independent church, but then a Canadian missionary started coming to our street every Sunday and driving all the kids to Sunday school, which is when I was introduced to the teachings of Jesus.
Even though I was in church, and did all the ‘good’ things, I did not have a personal relationship with God, which happens through confessing with your mouth and believing in your heart that Jesus is Lord. I had no peace in my heart about the issue because I knew that this matter was not settled. I did not have the ‘blessed assurance’ so to speak.
I was active in youth, and I was a ‘good girl’ and did all the things Christians were doing, but Jesus was just out there, not in my heart.
So at 14, I decided to respond to an altar call at church and get into a relationship with God, because up to this point I knew there was a God, and what needed to take place for me to become His child.
And then after I got married, and had my first baby at 25 I hit a super rough spot in my relationship with God. The relationship felt routine, I struggled to read the Bible consistently and when I did read it, I got nothing, lol. Church was a battle, to say the least. It got to a point where I would only go sometimes.
My breakthrough came through about 2 years ago, after years of feeling like I was wondering the desert but with no manna.
Looking back, I realize that there are some things that I stopped doing that are vital to keeping the relationship vibrant, and I’m going to outline them in the hope that you can avoid them.
Please note that I’m not saying that we DO anything to get saved or receive the grace of God, but this is just a process of working out your salvation with fear and trembling. And you probably know these things, but I pray that you go beyond just knowledge and move into revelation.
So let’s dive in.
- BE BORN AGAIN
This is where it begins. Going to church, being born into a church-going family, hanging around Christians – doesn’t make you Christian. Receiving Jesus into your heart and acknowledging him as Lord and Saviour is how you become born again (Read John 3)
Physically, a child is born when a man and woman come together. In the spirit, one is ‘born again when the Spirit of God and of a man/woman come together. Just like you know when you are alive physically, you’ll know when you’re alive spiritually.
Sin entered the world through Adam, so as soon as you are born you are sinful, you don’t have to DO anything to be sinful (Romans 3:23). The things we do to hurt ourselves and others are just a result of our sinful nature. But Jesus bore the sin to repair our relationship with God, the Father.
There are whole teachings on this, but if you desire to have a relationship with God, receive Christ. Pray according to (Romans 10:9) by yourself, or ask a friend/relative to lead you. I’m sure they would more than love to lead you in this way.
I’ve added a prayer to help you along in case you are by yourself.
“Jesus, forgive me of my sins. I confess with my mouth and believe in my heart that you are Lord of my life. From this day onward I’m yours.”
Once this is taken care of, now let’s move to the next point.
2. RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT
This one I’m going to attempt to explain to my best ability because it’s something I didn’t really know/understand until this year. The Holy Spirit is the 3rd person of the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), and it is He who Jesus left with believers when Jesus ascended to heaven.
Sometimes you receive the Spirit when you are born again, but most of the times you don’t, like me. I was a believer for many years but I had never received the Holy Spirit. At Ephesus, Paul encountered some believers who had not heard of the Holy Spirit. He placed his hands on them and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. (Acts 19:1-7). So it is possible to be a believer, be baptized but have never received the Holy Spirit.
Let me share an illustration that will help drive the point of the Holy Spirit home.
‘We have an old gas boiler in our house. The pilot light is always on, but the boiler is not giving out heat and power. Some people have only got the pilot light of the Holy Spirit in their lives, whereas when people are filled with the Holy Spirit, they begin to fire on all cylinders. When you look at them you can see and feel the difference.’ Nicky Gumbel
Do your research into this area, there are many instances in the Bible of people receiving the Spirit and be radically changed after that.
Find a Spirit-led person and ask them to pray for you to receive the Spirit because this seems to be the pattern in the Bible. But you can pray alone too and ask to recieve to Spirit I believe.
From my experience, once I received the Spirit my walk became less laborious, I feel more ‘in tune’with God, and the Bible is not as dull as it used to be.
3. MAKE TIMES WITH GOD PRIORITY
No matter how busy you are, or how tired you are, make time for times alone with God. From the presence flows the power of God. I used to cringe whenever I heard the term ‘quiet time’, because it just sounded like this thing I never could really get into, or figure out. But honestly, this is my favourite time of the day now, and it’s priority in my life.
Jesus was a super-busy guy, but we see quiet a few instances where he ‘pulled away from the crowds to pray.’ If God in person thought it was important to do this, then who am I to think I can thrive without doing the same?
Now at this point you may be saying, but how?
Let me share what I do generally:
- Open my eyes
- Say a thank you prayer
- Grab my phone and head straight to the YouVersion App where you can get great devotionals.
- Note down what I feel God saying to me
Some days I’ll pump some worship music and pray, some days I’ll sit and meditate on the Word, some days I’m up and about immediately.
The point is to spend some time alone with God, how you do it depends on you.
Here’s the thing, just because you don’t FEEL anything doesn’t mean God is silent. Keep doing the discipline and seeking, I promise you’ll find Him.
4. BE PLUGGED INTO A VIBRANT, BIBLE-BELIEVING CHURCH
I know this one is opening a can of worms for some people, and I totally understand. People have been hurt by others in church, but unfortunately church is where you can find other believers.
The Bible also instructs us to not forsake meeting with other believers (Hebrews 10:25), and I truly believe that if we find a group of people sold to God, and invested in us, we have no choice but to grow into who we are meant to be.
What you do once you are in church is also important, your posture will affect your level of connectedness. If you choose to walk in and walk out of church without talking to anyone, you will possibly still feel isolated and not grow. So even though you go to church, you may struggle. This is the quickest way to be bored with church, I know about it all.
But here are some ways you can make sure you are connected in your church:
- Join a Homecell/Lifegroup/Bible study : Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in church, but having a smaller group that you meet with and hand out with every week keeps you connected to the bigger structure.
- Serve : Find out where you can utilize your talents and gifting in the church. This is the quickest way to cultivate them, by giving them back to God.
I’ve been blessed to serve in the CRC vision for the past year, and I’ve seen my faith and just myself grow in leaps and bounds!
5. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE THAT WILL GROW YOUR FAITH
This is similar to the church point above, but for this one, I mean in your day to day life. Some of you may work in toxic environments, or find that the top 5 people that you spend the most time with pull you down rather than lift you up. Be intentional about seeking people that will encourage and grow your faith, pray and ask God to open your eyes to them and lead them to you. A lot of the time when we find our people we’ll find our purpose.
And since we a live in a world of connectedness, don’t let geography be an excuse, get online and find your people!
6. SHARE YOUR FAITH
We are meant to be salt, we are meant to be a city on a hill, a light that you cannot hide under a bushel. Have you ever seen kids boasting about what their parents have done for them? No shame whatsoever 🙂 Has God done anything for you? We are to have childlike faith – full of awe and wonder and spilling over.
Sharing your faith doesn’t mean standing on the corner and shouting that people repent, though there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this if this is you. But in your workplace, at school, at the mall – get off your phone and ask the Lord to open your eyes and reveal whom He needs to touch. We are His hands and feet after all.
For me, I love sharing my faith via my social media platforms. Not because of any agenda, but because I truly enjoy talking God things, and connecting with people that desire to do the same.
What creative ways can you be sharing your faith?
7. DON’T SIN ON PURPOSE/LIVE YOUR FAITH
I know this sounds funny, but for real, sometimes we struggle to share our faith because we are under great condemnation, we feel unworthy because we are stuck in habitual sin. Please know that I say this with no judgment whatsoever. Choose to follow God’s commands, because you love him.
When you love someone you try and stay aligned with them.
If you have sin that you struggle with, go and speak with someone that will offer Godly counsel and pray with you. Then CHOOSE to walk in an upright way. There’s so much blessing that flows from that.
People will look at the fruit your life produces before they listen to what your mouth speaks.
Don’t be like a person that looks at themselves in the mirror and then forgets what they look like, do what the Bible says (James 1:23)
And if you miss the mark, go back to God and ask for forgiveness, don’t stop communicating with him and His people.
8. WATCH WHAT YOU LET IN
The music that you listen to, movies that you watch, books you read, people you follow on social media – are they glorifying God and pushing you closer to Him? Or they leave you wanting and discontented? Do an audit, garbage in, garbage out.
9. MIND YOUR LANGUAGE
This may seem like a small thing, but just don’t let any unwholesome talk out of your mouth, especially about others and yourself. You hold the power of life and death in your tongue, choose to build rather than tear down. Out of the same mouth can’t come praises and curses (James 3:10), so train yourself to ONLY speak life.
From what I’ve realized though, out of the abundance of the heart your mouth will speak, so fill your heart with the Word and the Word will pour out (Luke 6:45)
I wanted to even this out and make it 10 points, but I feel these are adequate, well done if you’ve come this far! Before I leave, check this out:
‘I say to you, ask, and you will receive.’
‘Seek, and you will find.’
‘Knock, and he door will be opened to you.’
‘Foe everyone who asks receives.’
‘He who seeks finds.’
‘To he who knocks, the door will be opened.’
Seek, knock, ask – all of these tell me that there is action that needs to take place, that there is process involved. So we can’t just leave this to chance and hope for the best.
We can write all strategies in the world, but at the end of the day his joke is easy and his burden is light. He simply says SEEK, and you will FIND. I don’t what seeking looks like for you, and it’s up to you to define that with him.
May you be encouraged greatly, and may He breathe new life into you.
If you’ve become born again today in point #1, please let me know about it?
And if anything has encouraged you or challenged you please also leave a comment to let me know.