Grace Baptist Devotional
The Lord is near to all who call on him; to all who call on him in truth.
What would you need to do in order to grow closer to Jesus?
I’m sure you’ve heard a version of the saying “God doesn’t change, so if God feels distant, I’m the one that’s moved away”. Of course there is truth to that, but what if you feel like your relationship is stronger with the Lord than it’s ever been and that you don’t feel like God is far away? You pray and attend church regularly, have a commitment to reading your Bible and are involved in small groups (Sunday School) and participate in church activities and ministries.
So first, if you’re reading this and you don’t feel like that represents you then my #1 on my list is to start there and build a good foundation. Reading your Bible, regular church attendance and church participation are key in helping to build a good springboard.
1.) If you are already praying, attending Sunday School, reading your Bible and involved in activities, KEEP doing what you’re already doing. This is a foundation for you. Apathy and complacency are two big roadblocks to faith. In fact Galatians 6:9-10 teaches:
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. “
Which leads me into number 2:
2.) Look for ways to minister to individuals in your own church. You often give your tithe and donations perhaps to worthy programs such as Lottie Moon or Missionaries or other programs and sometimes it can be difficult to see the end result. I would suggest while keeping these program in the forefront of your mind, look for individuals in your church to help as well. The overworked single mom or parents who need a break, the person who needs a power bill paid, the family who needs groceries, the caretaker caring for ailing spouse, parent or child. It could even be the person who needs loving, gentle correction. You will see the direct impact of your ministry to these people with your efforts.
3.) Start your own home small group. Meet at your home or even meet virtually. Don’t quickly discount virtual meetings. Sure, we were made to fellowship in person but even meeting virtually, regularly provides yet another opportunity to read scripture, study, and talk about God. To be sure, I’m not talking about replacing what you already are doing, but adding to it rather.
4.) Find a new way to get involved in church. Even if you’re already participating, check with the Nursery, the Choir, the church band or media team if you have one. Volunteer to be part of the cleaning crew. In the church I grew up in, budgets were tight because services were very simple. Members simply cared for the church. Members would team up each weekend and handle the basics like sweeping, dusting, removing candy wrappers from pews and taking out trash. It’s also a prime time with a small intimate group to worship God together and there’s something about being in a sanctuary alone or with a small group.
5.) Enjoy the creation of God. The Bible says in Romans 1:20
“For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”
Whether it’s raining, snowing, sunshine or a starry night, take time to meditate on God’s creation. When it rains, watch how the earth drink and the plants renew, when it snows listen to how quiet the air becomes as animals sleep and plants fall away and the world rests. Look at the stars and know that God knows everyone by name, wonder at the universe and our small place in it and reflect on just how awesome of a God we serve.
6.) Read books and do some self Bible studies. Look for good books by good Christian authors of good repute to your faith and/or use a study Bible to help you along to increase your knowledge of the Bible and grow closer to God. You can always ask your pastor for recommendations.
7.) Start a blog ministry. At least two members of Grace Baptist have blogs. When writing these blogs, your mind is drawn to teach others how to draw closer to God through their ministry. If you do a good blog that takes research, prayer and scripture look up. This can also help you grow in your own knowledge of God even as you teach others.
8.) Learn a new Hymn or research an old one. Have you heard one recently at Grace Baptist you weren’t familiar with? Look it up on Youtube and listen to it. But when you listen to it, understand the words, mediate and pray on them. Research the hymn itself. Why was it written? For example the Hymn “It is Well” was written by Horatio Spafford in 1873 after becoming financially ruined and losing five children. Yet, still he glorified God with “It is Well”. Reflect on what he was going through when he wrote that and how his faith seen him through. Then pray about what you’ve learned through whatever Hymn you’ve researched and ask the Lord to help apply that faith to your life.
9.) Start a prayer journal. If we’re honest, do we really pray for everyone who asks us to pray for them or do we maybe sometimes forget? Keeping a written prayer journal and setting a time of day can help you to keep you in the routine of praying. I’m not saying make a routine prayer, but get into a routine of praying. Use your prayer journal to pray for specific people and specific situations.
10. Phone fellowship. In the middle of a pandemic when we can’t get together or even when we can return to normal, try calling another member and starting a phone ministry. Reaching out to one another by phone and hearing a voice is encouraging. Texting may be okay for a very short check-in but don’t let it substitute for your voice and encouragement. You can praise God anywhere and this includes on the phone with a fellow believer. If you can, perhaps try to “three way” or conference another person into bible study. Keeping a phone conversation to three keeps it both intimate and manageable. Agree with two or three people to read a verse or two or even a chapter and then discuss it and pray about it over the phone together.
These are just ten ideas you can use to grow closer to God. There’s always something new to learn. Don’t quit learning, don’t grow weary of doing good, finish the race. When in doubt, go back to #1 as a foundation and start from there.