Summary: How do we get closer to God?
In this series, we will be looking at seven key areas of life and how God can make a difference in each one. Today we’ll consider how we might grow in spiritual health and get closer to God. Now, one might not think we need a reason to understand why getting closer to God is crucial to growing in spiritual health, but let’s just sum it up as follows:
The further away you get from God, the more your life is troubled; but the closer you get to God, the more your life is transformed.
I’m assuming we all want to be close to God, because we’re here today. But the Bible says “All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own.” (Isaiah 53:6, NLT) In other words, like sheep, we tend to wander.
So today, we’re going to talk about how to get close to God, how to stay close to God, and if you’ve fallen away from God, how do you get back in close relationship with God.
Fortunately we have a story in the Bible on how to get close to God and stay close to Him. It’s the story of the Prodigal Son, in in Luke 15.
From this story we learn four things we need to do to get close to God. This is the pathway to spiritual transformation.
1. You’ve Got To Get Fed Up - V. 17 “When he came to his senses”
Nothing is going to happen in your life until first you get dissatisfied with things as they are. If you think you’re just fine, then you can sit out the next seven weeks because nothing’s going to happen until you recognize your need for change. You’ve got to get hungry. You’ve got to get anxious for a change. Nothing happens until you get fed up.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” - Matthew 5:6 (NIV)
Are you there yet? If not, just give it time. God will go to work to develop a holy dissatisfaction in you. He’ll let a little rain in your life. And if that doesn’t work He’ll let in a little bit more. And if that does not work He’ll send a storm. Why? Because though God loves you just the way you are, He loves you too much to let you stay that way. He will do what He can to keep you from wasting your life.
“You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. But you can salt his oats and make him thirsty.” - Anonymous
God often makes you thirsty by putting salt in your oats. Whether it’s to bring you to Him or to bring you back to Him, God will work to make you aware that you’re headed is wrong way. Now, He really doesn’t have to do much, because you’ll be doing most of the work for Him. When you’re going away from God, you’ll be your own worst enemy, just like the young man in this parable. But just know that when you get fed up, when you decide you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired, that’s God knocking at your door.
2. You’ve Got To Own Up - v. 18 “I have sinned”
I own up to my own sin. That’s the second thing that this young man did. And nothing is going to happen until you own up.
A lot of people today are fed up; but they want to blame something or someone else for their dissatisfaction. So they look everywhere but to God to fulfill them. They blame others for their troubles. They blame God for their troubles. They look everywhere else but to themselves for someone or something to blame for their troubles. Notice how you spell blame: “b-lame.” It’s being lame when you blame other
people or things for your spiritual condition.
The reason your life is a mess is because you are living life your way; and “news flash,” when it comes to life, YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING! Only the Author of life can guide you in living life to the full. That’s why He’s been “salting your oats” as we mentioned earlier. He’s calling you to get fed up and to own up to the fact that your problem is going your own way instead of His way. The Bible calls this sin. And sin is what separates us from God.
“It’s your sins that have cut you off from God.” - Isaiah 59:2 (NLT)
“There’s nothing wrong with God; the wrong is in you.” - Isaiah 59:2 (The Message)
Whether I am coming to God for the first time or returning to Him, I need to own up to the fact that my problem is I’ve been going my own way rather than God’s way. I need to admit my sin and recognize that forgiveness is available because God paid the penalty for my sin by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. I need to admit my sin and turn to God.