This key is for my car, this one my house, the church, my mailbox at school, and these two I don’t know. Keys, we all have them. Keys unlock doors, treasure chests, diaries and much more. In the Christian life God gives us keys, keys that will open doors to bring us closer to Him
There are four keys to having a strong and growing relationship with God. I am not going to tell you the answer to life this morning or give you a four step program on how to have a perfect life. But I am going to tell you about four amazing things that if you do them and try really hard to follow them on a daily basis your life will improve and you will feel so much closer to God.
I was in New York City March of 2005. I was there for a week serving homeless people and helping in a shelter and training center for men. One day while doing street ministry my life was changed. We had been wondering around a park telling people about our faith and our God. I was terrified. I love to talk, but I hate talking to strangers. This was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. We were getting ready to leave and Zach, one of the other team members and I decided to go and talk to a few more people. We started talking to this one man, he told us about his life and how he wished he had a more real relationship with God. He wanted to know how to be closer to Him, and he did not know how. I told him that I felt the same way, and the way that I became closer to God was by talking to Him. I told him that communication was key in any relationship and that by talking with God we would become closer to Him. The man started walking away and tuned to us and said that all day he had been needing to hear something, and then he said that what I told him was it.
I don’t know if that man ever used my advice, but I do know that I did. After that day I realized the importance of talking to God. The first key is communication.
Ephesians 6:18 tells us 18 Pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all Christians everywhere.
God is my best friend, and He wants to hear everything. No matter how small it may seem to anyone else, God will care about it, and He wants to hear about it. I know that no matter what is going on in my life or how badly I have messed up God will listen and He wants me to tell Him.
People always wonder why we need to tell God everything, if He already knows what we are going to say. So I have an answer for that question. I want you to all think of the person that you are the closest to, the person that you know everything about. This person that you love so much has just found out some amazing news. You find out about this news from another person, you know the news now. Your loved one comes to you and tells you their big news and you celebrate with them and tell them how happy you are. Now think about that. You would not have told them when they came to you, “oh I am sorry I already know your news you don’t need to tell me yourself.” No, you wait and let them tell you, because you love them and you want them to share it with you. And no matter what the news is you want them to share it with you because you love them. That is how God is. No matter what the news is, He wants to hear it. He wants to celebrate with you or cry with you or just be there with you when you hit a rough spot.
The second key is love. I just finished my freshmen year in college and the last three months of my school year I lived by a statement C.S Lewis said, this great author put the definition of love best. He said, “Love is unselfishly choosing for another’s highest good.” If you have been in any kind of relationship, from being a parent, friend, spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend you know that this is true. When you love someone so much that you are willing to put them ahead of yourself that is true essence of love. Parent’s make sacrifices so their children can have better lives then they did, spouses pick up and move with their other when a job opportunity arises, true friends drop what they are doing to come and let you cry on their shoulder.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says, 4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. 6 It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
I know what you are thinking. This verse is impossible. Trust me, I know how hard it is to follow this verse. But I have learned a very important thing from this verse. No matter how hard it may seem, no matter how impossible it can be when you are so fed up with those people around you, you have to try.
I have little patients, and I don’t like to be kind, especially when someone I love has hurt me and let me down. But when you don’t be kind, and when you get jealous and rude, when you keep track of the things people have done against you, you become bitter. So bitter that you are not able to feel, or to love others the way you should.
John 3:16, 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
This verse says it all. This is the most unselfish act ever. God unselfishly chose the best for us. For us to live a life that would lead to eternal salvation, oppose to eternal damnation. No matter how hard it might be to be kind, and patient, to not be jealous, rude and irritable, remember love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Remember that. Remember that God wants love to rule over this world, and we must love people, no matter what they have done to us, no matter how much they have hurt us.
The third key is forgiveness. This is probably going to be one of the hardest. Because forgiveness also means letting go. I want you to think of a time that someone you love, someone that you have so much trust in, someone who told you that they would never let you fall, and if you did they would always catch you. Okay now think of a time when that person let you down, when that person was not there to catch you. It hurt didn’t it? No matter how far you fell, no matter how much they let you down, it always hurts. Have you forgiven that person, have you let it go? If you haven’t listen to what Jesus has to say about that.
Matthew 6:14-15, 14 “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.
I have realized that it is a lot easier to forgive those who are not closest to you. those that you cherish and have a closer relationship are harder to forgive when they let you down in a major way. Think about how God feels. We are His pride and joy, His crowning creation. And every single day we let Him down, every day we do something to break His heart. Yet as soon as we ask for forgiveness He gives it to us. He is just asking us to do the same thing. And yeah when we ask the other person for forgiveness the hurt that they causes us will not go away immediately. And our lives will not be all better, but we will have done the right thing, and in doing so you will have a weight lifted from your shoulders. Just like love, not forgiving someone leads to bitterness.
Ephesians 4:31-32 says, 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
It is going to be hard, and it is going to take time. But the initial step has to happen. The act of forgiveness must take place. This may mean actually going and telling the person that you forgive them, or writing a letter, or going into a place where you are all alone and yelling at the top of your lungs how you feel and at the end feeling a grand release.
The fourth key and the one that will answer more of your questions is following and obeying God’s instruction manual for our lives.
1 John 2:3-6 3 And how can we be sure that we belong to him? By obeying his commandments. 4 If someone says, “I belong to God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and does not live in the truth. 5 But those who obey God’s word really do love him. That is the way to know whether or not we live in him. 6 Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Christ did.
As Christians we have to follow what God tells us to do. No matter how much we might not like it, because it seems to take away fun from our lives. When you think about it God is just doing what is best for us. He is making sure that what we do in life will be good for us, and enables us to not harm ourselves. By reading God’s word we are going to unlock more doors and find new keys.