When we think about God, do we regard Him as an intimate friend, or a casual acquaintance?
When we think of intimacy today, most people think only of sex. But the greatest intimacy is that of friendship, emotional intimacy.
In "How to Listen to God," Charles Stanley explains how a distant friend may give ear to our prayers if we happen to be interested in the same things, but an intimate friend is one who listens, regardless of the subject matter.
Many times the viewpoint of God stays in the Sunday-school perspective taught early in life. These viewpoints are based mostly on what others taught us. But, God is not to be left in our memory.
God is always here, with us in our every day. He knows our personalities, and our capacity to listen. He knows what we're thinking, and He is still in the communication business.
If we are going to listen to God, we need to come to Him expecting Him to speak to us. Expectancy (hope) is based on reliability (trust). And, reliability is based on faith (belief)(see Hebrews 11:1).
Faith is total belief; a complete trust. Having faith means that we don't know or understand everything about a topic or an issue, yet we believe it anyway.
All people have faith; the question is: In what do we place our faith? For the Christian, faith is placed in Jesus Christ and the knowledge that His death on the cross provides a way to have a relationship with God.
While specific details of each person's life are not laid out in the Bible, we do know about how to please God with the way we act, think and speak.
God's will is that we obey according to what we know of Him now; and as our relationship with Him deepens, He will continue to reveal even more to us.
When we are mindful of the everyday blessings of God's work in our lives, it's easy for our spirits to be grateful. In response, we commit deeper aspects of our lives to Him.
We sacrifice our desires in favor of God's desires. As we do this, opportunities to serve Him present themselves. It's important to remember that we need to be transformed inwardly by God's miraculous power, or we will be distracted by the world and by our habits.
Human beings are creatures of habit. Many of our actions become automatic, almost mechanical. Habits can be traps that keep us from growing into who God created us to be.
It is never too late to refresh our relationship with God. If we are convicted of the need for a deeper relationship with God, it is probably the Holy Spirit working in us.
If we desire to rededicate our life to God in a specific way, take time now to pray. Ask for God's help to hear His voice. As we admit our shortcomings to Him, we open the way for His power to work in our life. Read God's Word daily, in a planned and disciplined way (Psalm 119.9, 11).
As God's thoughts invade our minds, our actions begin to change. Ephesians 4:22-24 says if we have heard Him, and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus, we put off our former conduct that grows corrupt, and are renewed in the spirit of our mind.
In effect, we put on the new person that was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
We can have as much of God and His peace as we want, through thousands of correct choices each day.
The most persistent choice we face is whether to trust God or to worry. We will never run out of things to worry about, but we can choose to trust God no matter what.
Bonnie Donnelly is a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Marietta. Thoughts of Faith is a weekly column written by various ministers and lay people. Those interested in scheduling a date for writing a Thoughts of Faith column should contact Christy Hudson at 376-5446 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, if a Thoughts of Faith column is written at the writer's convenience and sent to The Times, it will run the first available date.