Midweek Fellowship - July 27, 2016

 

“Intimacy with God”

 Fr. Roberto M. Jorvina

 

Our presence here tonight is a divine calling.  Some of us have braved the traffic; some of us have set aside schedules; some of us invested some amount of money that we can be here.  It is God who causes us to be here. 

 

I pray that this will be an infection that will not remain here, but for the rest of the Cathedral of the King that we can awaken them and alert them to this wonderful work that happens in the middle of the week.  Christianity is not just a Sunday to Sunday event, but a day to day, a minute by minute, a moment by moment experience of the life of God in our lives.

 

We live in an age where the image and the likeness of God, of which we have been created in, is being marred and distorted.  Man, today, is quickly losing his true identity, his true purpose and the very essence of his life.  If you ask someone what their purpose is, the most common answer would be, “I don’t know.”

 

Today with all the ability that we have to probe into the minute, microscopic, and even the atomic world, with all the equipment needed to look into the unexplored regions of our galaxy, tools and apparatus are available for man to extend his gift of sight, but not his insight.  We can see everything – except that we cannot see ourselves.  We cannot see who we truly are.  Why are we living?   We are good in science, in finances, but we cannot give an answer to a question about our purpose in life.  

 

Computers make us fantastically more able to calculate and to analyze, to do things that, just a few years ago, was difficult or even impossible to accomplish. But computers cannot make us meditate. It cannot make us love, nor forgive, or give the warmth of a personal touch that only a human being like you and me was made to do.  

 

Contrast this backdrop with the teachings that the Church has been giving.  The themes that we have chosen for several Sundays now, “The Goal of Loving Your Neighbor,”  “The Goal of Abiding in Him,”  “The Goal of Intensified Prayer,” all has to do with relationships.  It is a living and active participation in the lives of human beings, of people, of our neighbors, and not a cold, impersonal gadgets or machines.   Even on Wednesday nights, we have begun with the preparation and the work of service to God, which finds its beginnings in spending time with God.  Every day is a living encounter with God.

Let us pursue this lesson as a first aspect of our preparation of occupying until He comes and of anticipation of the work that God has given to us.   We can’t make time for God, but everything belongs to Him.  He owns us.  It is like tithing – it is not ours, but His, because everything we own is His.

 

We begin with the word intimacy which is a state of having a very close relationship; it is a very personal, private association marked by a very close association and friendship.   The key words here are relationship and friendship.   They are words that are losing their meaning in today’s cyber age. I was told of a young man who has 2,508 friends on his Facebook account. I could not seem to reconcile that with the Scripture that says that a man of many friends will come to ruin. 

 

When we talk about intimacy, many thoughts and associations come to mind – most of which do not have the real essence and meaning of the word.  In fact, we get uncomfortable just mentioning the term because we often associate it with something sexual and lustful.  Are you intimate with your wife?  Are you intimate with your girlfriend?  Immediately, the thought is something that has to do with physical intimacy. We are at a loss for words when we try to bring it to a tangible and actual expression of the word.

 

God has created us for intimacy.  The whole essence of the covenant with God is about intimate relationships.  The epistle of John 1, 2, and 3 were written during the rise of the Gnostic era in early Christianity.  John was trying to correct knowledge of the people then.   He was saying that there is nothing wrong with the physical fellowship that we have.  John writes in 1 John 1:3, “What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us(intimacy); and indeed our fellowship (intimacy) is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.”

To become intimate with God is to gain the means to have the way for us to constantly manifest the image and the likeness of God within us. If we say we are made in the image of God, we are like Him.  How does this work? How relevant is it?  How can being intimate with Him work for us today so that the image and likeness of God can be seen?

In Exodus 34:28-29, “So Moses was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did not eat bread or drink water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments. It came about when Moses was coming down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the testimony were in Moses’ hand as he was coming down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because of his speaking with Him.”

God is Light, and in Him, there is no darkness.  What would we expect to happen to Moses or to anyone of us who spends 40 straight days and nights in His presence?  This light will rub off.  In Psalm 17:15, “As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake.”   We will be satisfied that we will be like God when we are aware that we are like Him.  Is this our goal in life?  Is this our passion?

In Mark 3:13-14, “And He went up on the mountain and summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him. And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach.”  Our first calling is to be with the Lord.  It is not so much that we are not called to do other things, but our first calling is to be with Him.  Many people would always tell me, “I have yet to see a man successful in ministry that does not start the day with God.”   Before, I would try to make a substitute, doing my quiet time with God at night only to realize that it doesn’t work.  The first moment of the day is to be with God.  This will make a difference in our lives.  It is intimacy with Him.  

In Acts 4:13, “Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.”  How were the disciples recognized? It was not by their great exploits or credentials?  They were recognized as men who have been with Jesus. This was their identity; their ID as they began to act, to react like Jesus, to speak like Jesus, to think like Jesus, and to look like Jesus.

Spending time with God makes a difference in our lives.  We learn to appreciate Him, to commune with Him, and it becomes a joy for us.  Jesus said, “My life for yours, so that your life may be Mine.”   We begin to acquire a manner of life that directly comes from God

Remember this formula: your success of our life is equal or proportionate to the degree of your intimacy with God.  Success is not measured by how many diplomas you have.  Success is not measured by how many cars or how many properties you have.  These are accomplishments, not success.  Success is defined by God, not by the world; and our success in life is only to the degree of our intimacy with God.  

I read an article about a certain group of skiers that was unlike many other skiers. This group was composed of blind people.  I have not actually experienced how to ski, but I would think that it is a difficult sport, requiring special skills and agility.  To ski while deprived of your sight is another thing; it is next to impossible.  But there are men who do it.  They slide down a mountain slope with no means to see what lies ahead.  The secret is the presence of a trained guide who communicates with each skier.  They have developed a means of communication that will help the skiers traverse the course they need to take. What the blind skier does is he develops the skill to listen and to process the signals that the instructor or the guide would give him.

We have a similar predicament like this blind skier.  By ourselves, we are blind to the course of life ahead of us.  This is why the Psalmist says, “Lord, to You, I lift my soul.  Do not let me be ashamed.  Do not let my enemies exult over me because none of those who wait for you will be ashamed.  Teach me Your way, Lord.  Lead me to Your path.”   Like a blind skier, we are not aware of the perils, the dangers, and the obstacles that lie ahead.   We are blind to these, but we have a Guide, the Holy Spirit who knows the Way because He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.   What we need to develop is the ability to listen and to process His “signals” to us, the communication that He gives to us, and learn to respond to it.  This comes with the intimacy.

Like the blind skiers, we have been blessed with the powerful ability of insight. It is an ability that can be developed.  A person is not born deaf.  A person is born with the ability to hear.  An infant can hear and see but his ability to process what he hears and sees is not yet develop.  This skill, as the child grows up, can be developed. 

This is the same thing with hearing God.  To be honest, it is hard to listen to God because we did not develop the ability.   We were trained for many years in the system of the world to listen to our physical senses.  Before this, we already had the potential.  If the potential or the gift or the capacity is present, then the skill and the ability can be developed.  If we have muscles in our legs, we can be a runner.  We can be developed to be one because we have the muscles in our legs.  This is the same thing with our muscles in our arms.  If we develop them, we can carry things that are heavy.    

This is what cultivate and keep means when God gave man the order.  This is what occupying until He comes mean.  Occupy until He comes means develop the skill that God gave you.  We can harness that faculty or that gift so that we can use it for our benefit.

Hearing God is an innate skill in every believer.  God created us so that we can hear Him.  When Samuel was a young boy, he was under the tutelage of Eli.  God said, “Samuel,” and Samuel ran to Eli, and he said to Eli, “Did you call me?”  Eli said, “No, I did not call you.”  This happened again and for the third time, finally, Eli had a revelation that it was God who was calling Samuel.  This shows us that when Samuel was a little boy, he already heard the voice of God.  

From the beginning, a child was already created by God to hear Him.   This is why we recommend that pregnant women have their husbands read Scriptures to them so that the child could hear them because the child can already process this.  We may not see it scientifically, but understand that this happens because God gave this human being an innate ability to hear.

The Song of Solomon 5:2 says, “I was asleep, but my heart was awake.   A voice! My beloved was knocking: ‘Open to me, my sister, my darling,   My dove, my perfect one!  For my head is drenched with dew, My locks with the damp of the night.’”  There is the intimacy present that he could hear the voice. 

In Luke 10:21-24 New American Standard Bible (NASB), “ At that very time He rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, “I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight.  All things have been handed over to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.  Turning to the disciples, (those people that Jesus was intimate with), He said privately, “Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see, for I say to you, that many prophets and kings wished to see the things which you see, and did not see them, and to hear the things which you hear, and did not hear them.”

 

We are blessed that we have the ability to hear from God.  It comes with intimacy and comes with developing this necessary and important time spending it with God.  Developing a listening or a hearing ear is just like anything that we have been blessed with and it can only happen if we see it as a VITAL, NECESSARY, and IMPORTANT aspect of our lives.

I would like to end with this challenge to us:  is intimacy with God a priority for us?   Is it something really important? 

In the 70’s, they printed the Bagong Lipunan bills and it was the time that I was entering college.  We were talking to an economist and we asked, “Why don’t they educate people about the printing of new peso bills?  They need to know the details of what they are going to do.” The economist said, “Don’t worry because that is money and people will look for ways to know what to do with it because to them, that is important.”  A person who finds something vital and important will find a way to have knowledge of it.

This is the same thing with God.  If we really know what spending time with God is, we will really make time for Him.  We need to enthrone this in our hearts.  I leave this challenge with you.  Learning to hear the voice of God is a practice we must do.  We have to train our senses to hear and to learn God. If we are serious with Him, we would know what He is saying to us. Train your heart and talk to God and listen to His voice.      

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