Intimacy With God - Josh Cole
This page contains a transcription of the podcast episode entitled, “Intimacy With God” presented by Josh Cole.
Intimacy is being in close relationship. In this episode Josh explains how to have an authentic lifelong connection with God.
Jesus – our example, desired intimacy and a closeness with God the Father. It was this very intimacy that would guide him, encourage him, and strengthen him to complete his mission here on earth. What does this look like for us today?
“Hey, welcome back to our four-part series called “Getting to know God”. In episode one, we covered the topic “Who is God?” and now we move into today’s topic — “Intimacy with God”.
Have you ever thought about what it looks like to become close to God? How close can you get? Intimacy is an authentic, close connection with someone. Today our guest speaker, Josh Cole, is going to share some tips to help grow your relationship with God. Josh is a good friend of ours, currently serving in YWAM New Zealand, with his wife and young children. We hope you can catch some of Josh’s passion for Jesus in this next talk. Enjoy!”
Hey guys, Josh here, coming to you from New Zealand. Stoked to be with you today to be able to share about intimacy with God. I think it’s one of the most, if not the most, important subject we can talk about and give our lives to and dive into. Intimacy with God. What is intimacy? Intimacy just means being in close relationship. Now, God designed us to be intimate with Him. In fact, God created us in His image to know Him and to love Him and to walk with Him. Right from Genesis Chapter 1, and then all the way to Revelation Chapter 22, the whole canon of scripture — revolves around the idea of God dwelling with man and man longing to be with God. That’s it. That’s the story of the Bible. The story started with a wedding and it ends with a wedding. The whole deal is about romance. The gospel is a romantic story. It’s a love story. Intimacy. At the heart of intimacy with God has to be love.
Let’s think about it for a moment. If you know somebody and you know that they don’t really like you, they’re mostly upset with you, they’re a little grumpy with you, and you don’t really like talking to them. Why would you want to get to know somebody that didn’t like you or you didn’t like talking to them? You probably wouldn’t.
So the first thing we’ve got to understand when we dive into this whole idea of intimacy with God is that that we’ve got to understand that it starts with having a right God image. We’ve actually got to see God right. We’ve got to see Him as the God who — yes, He’s all powerful, He has all dominion and authority and He’s the all-powerful Creator who created all things. Psalm 33 says “He breathed the stars out of His mouth, He created the heavens and the earth. His glory can’t be contained, even in the heavens”. Psalm 113 says “He stoops down to look at the earth” and who is this God that breathes out stars, and he’s infinitely great — yet He knows how many hairs are on your head. He knows everything you’ve ever done, everything you think, all of your motives in your life, he knows it all… and who is this God that’s so great, yet He wants to be intimate and He knows every little intimate detail of your life. We’ve got to understand that He’s the God of the Bible. He is who He says that He is, not who we want Him to be.
I think we’re living in a generation, particularly in the western world, where we’re living like this “pop culture christianity”— where it’s kind of like, “Add Jesus to your life and it becomes a little better”. But that’s not necessarily who God is, or what he’s called us to be a part of. He has called us to love him with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength. Jesus said that in Matthew 22: the first and the greatest commandment — “Love God with everything that you are”. Who is this god that that has all power and majesty, yet He wants something that He doesn’t have? What is it that god doesn’t have?
Well, what He doesn’t have is the voluntary ‘yes’ and the voluntary love that you have in your life. I think all of the seasons of our life; everything that we do, all of the events, all of the different ups and downs of life, revolve around the very issue of — “Are we loving God with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength?”. That’s God’s goal for your life — to get you to this point of of saying voluntarily “Yes, God, I love you, I want you, I’m hungry for you, I want to walk with you” and that’s his goal for your life. So He is unrelenting in His pursuit of you.
So we’ve got to understand who God is, but we’ve also got to understand number two we’ve got to understand who we are to Him — that we are made in His image. Guys, that’s profound. We’re actually made in the image of God. You’re an image bearer of the Almighty, Creator God. Your Creator. Not only do you bear His image, He takes up residence on the inside of you. If you’ve confessed with your mouth and you believe in your heart that Jesus is the Lord of your life, and you’ve been saved and born again, the God of the universe takes up residence inside of you it’s stunning that you got to sleep for eight hours last night and you didn’t blow up into a million pieces. You’ve got the Creator God inside of you, and God is calling you to walk with Him and to know Him.
How do we do this? We do it through the Spirit. The Spirit leads us into all truth; that leads us to God. And so the gift of the Holy Spirit is powerful. He wants to reveal God to your heart, and reveal God to your mind, and your emotions, and your whole being — so that you would know Him as He is and walk with him. Adam and Eve they walked with God in the cool of the garden and everything inside of us aches for Eden. We long to go back to our original home. In fact, I think that every attempt at human progress, every attempt at development, all of technology and urbanization of the world is our weak attempt as human beings to get back to the garden. There’s something deep inside of us that longs for Eden — to go home, to walk with God, to be in this unhindered relationship of pure relationship of love with God. And guess what, guys — that’s where the story is going.
Revelation 22. He is our God and He will be with us forever. And so, I’m longing for that day, but right now guys, we have the opportunity to pursue God, and to make him the goal of our life, the overarching vision of our heart, and our life; to know God and to walk with him. I want to call you to do that; to have a lifelong vision for intimacy with God — not just for a week, not just for a month, not just during this course or for the next few years — but I want to call you to get a lifelong vision for intimacy with God.
See intimacy with God — it takes time. I’ve been on this journey for 20 years and the more I get to know about God, the more I realise I don’t actually know that much about Him, and the more I want to know Him. So you’ve got to set yourself at a marathon pace — don’t just go on a sprint and think that you’re going to get it overnight, because it probably won’t happen like that. You might get touched a little bit, and you might get awakened to love, but this this is about a lifelong journey of pursuing God and getting to know Him. So I want to call you to have that to be your overarching goal in your life, regardless of what you do. Some of you are going to be school teachers, doctors, probably lawyers, maybe stay at home parents, but make this the heart cry today — that your life vision is going to be to be intimate with God; to know God, and to walk with Him and to love Him with my heart, soul, mind, and strength. If that becomes your life vision, you will be successful regardless of what you do. You’re going to do a lot of things and they might be your assignments but your mandate is to know God. Your calling is to know God and to walk with Him. Just realise that your calling is not so much what you do, but it’s who you become in God.
So I want to encourage you with a couple of things today. I want to encourage you to get a plan. Number one. If you don’t have a plan you’ll probably do nothing. Someone once told me they said “You know, if you don’t put time into something, then what that says is you don’t value it”. It’s the same with intimacy with God. It takes time. You’ve actually got to make a plan and you’ve got to set time in your day to be with God — and I would encourage you to do that — actually set a time every day where you’re going to meet with God.
We talk about radical christianity, and bold and courageous and wild faith, and all of these things about you know praying for revival — I want to tell you the most radical thing you can do in Christianity is set a time and a place where you want to meet with God and say ‘no’ to everything else that tries to crash in upon that time and that place — and do that every day of your life. If you do that every day of your life, that takes great courage that takes great boldness. That takes a resilience and a commitment, and I want to tell you that is radical christianity! Bible out, heart open, ears open and a longing for God. He will meet you, I promise you. So set a time set a place.
Get your bible out. This is amazing. God actually reveals Himself mostly through the word. I mean He reveals himself in many ways — but the way that we mostly know God is through the word. So what I want to encourage you is to get a bible reading plan in place. You know, there are many plans you can go into YouVersion, there’s many different apps that you can implement bible reading plans and I love all of those. Even, you know, reading the Bible through in 90 days or whatever or through in a year — those are all great. But I want to encourage you today, what I want to talk to you about is actually turning the bible into conversation with God. I believe this is our prayer manual. I believe that the Bible, the word of God, is so powerful when we turn it into a prayer conversation with God. It’s so simple. For example, I want to give you permission to camp on a chapter for a week, or maybe two or even a month.
For example take Psalm 23. Man, I would encourage you guys — dive into the Psalms. Oh, it’s just like pulling back the curtain on David and some of the psalmists journal and reading their journal and what their heart cried to god. But the Psalms are so powerful! Take psalm 23 for example: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Just stop there and turn that into a prayer dialogue — a conversation with God; like this: “Lord, what does it mean that you’re my shepherd? What does it mean that you are leading my life, that you are shepherding me, that you’re overlooking and overseeing my soul?”. “What does it mean today that I am your sheep and you’re my shepherd?”. “Thank you, God, that you look over my life — you watch over my life, that you protect me.”
So you can turn a simple verse into a powerful prayer that moves your heart and it also moves God’s. Turn it into prayer. Actually pray the Bible. It sounds so simple, but when you do it it’ll move your heart and it’ll actually infuses the word of God into your spirit. You begin to get to know the word of God in a whole new way than if you were just to study it and read it for information.
I’ll tell you what, we’re living in an information overloaded generation. We’ve got so much information, so much study, so much research has gone into the word of God you can google anything — you don’t even have to go to seminary anymore you just go to Google. But what Google can’t give you is authentic conversation with God that moves your heart and moves God’s heart — but when you take the word of God, and you begin to pray, and you begin to ask God questions around the word — “God, what does it mean that you are my shepherd?” — You make it personal to you, it changes everything! So I encourage you to do that.
The next thing I encourage you to do is actually take time to wait on God. Meditate. What do I mean by that? I mean stop. Actually slow down. We are so busy. We’re so distracted by so many things. There’s so many things going on in our lives and our emotions, our screens — we’re scrolling — and jobs, and it’s just so much stuff going on — friends and relationships to keep up with… I want to call you to stop. Actually slow down and just stop. Meditate and wait and just sit before god contemplate.
I know it’s hard for us as a generation that love to be busy… but just stop and let the longing for God get loud because here’s what happens. When you go to a place of silence and you stop and you remove all of the distractions and it’s just you and God — all of a sudden you realize this: “I don’t know God as I ought to. I don’t know God in the way that I thought that I knew God!”. The longing for God gets louder and louder and louder. You realize that all of those props that you lean on all of the busyness that anesthetize the pain of the fact that we don’t know God as we ought to, when they’re removed — the ache for god gets loud.
I promise you we’re living in a time right now where God is wanting to reveal himself like never before in human history. He is pouring out his Spirit — revealing who He is to us and the access to the revelation of God through the spirit is incredible right now… and the opportunity to know god is unlike ever before. We’re living in a time of so many uncertains and so much turmoil and so much crisis and so many unknowns — but I want to tell you there’s one thing that stands firm through all of the ages, in every generation and it’s the character and the nature of God and the access to God to know him and walk with him. And God wants you to know Him and to walk with Him, and so I want to encourage you stop and just be with God and let that ache for God get loud.
I want to leave you with an encouragement today out of Psalm 27. It’s one of my favourites. King David he wrote the Psalm, and what happened was he’s king of Israel — he’s got so much power, military might and economic power, and in Psalm 27 verse 4 he wrote this incredible verse which has actually become one of my life verses and I encourage you to read it. Psalm 27:4 is incredible because it’s like pulling back the curtain on David’s devotional life and seeing what’s most important to him and David goes like this, he goes “One thing have I desired” meaning past tense… “One thing have I desired, this which I seek (meaning future tense), that I would be in the house of God (meaning be where God is) that I would gaze upon the beauty of God and that I would inquire in his temple. Three things David says; he says “This is what I desire…” — He goes “I want to be where God is, I want to be in God’s presence, I want to gaze on the beautiful God and I want to seek Him out. I want to inquire of Him and hear His voice”.
Guys, make that the cry of your heart! “God, I want to be with you where you are!”, “God I want to be fascinated by your beauty and by your glory and your splendour!” and number three “God, I want to hear your voice. I want to inquire of you. I want to know what you think about me. I want to know what you think about what i’m doing. What do you think about this decision or that decision? What do I do in this situation? God help me with this.” And involve him, inquire of him throughout the seasons of your life, and the events of your life, and your job, or whatever it is that you’re doing; involve him in those processes, and I tell you what — God wants to be involved! And you’ll be surprised when you intentionally ask God questions, you intentionally wait on Him, you intentionally sit before Him, inquire of Him, you’ll be stunned at the things God begins to show you; and He wants to show you so much about who you are, what you’re called to, and the way that he feels about the people around you.
The thing i’ve discovered about prayer is this: The more you pray, and the more you seek God, the more you want what God wants… the more you fall in love with what God, wants the more you begin to desire what God wants, and your heart desire and your heart cry over time as you walk with God becomes the very cry of God’s heart.
Jesus, you know, in John 17, he said, “Father, I desire that they would be with me where I am and that they would behold my glory”. Jesus actually wants us to look at Him, and to be with him, to be in him (John 15), to abide in him, bear much fruit because we’re abiding in him, but to look at him, and be stunned, and captivated, and fascinated by who he is. You know that God has the capacity to fascinate your heart, not just in this age, but in all of the eternal age, you’re going to peer in to the depths of the revelation of God. I reckon in a million years from now when you’re in your resurrected body, you’ll be just as stunned with who God is like you were the very first time that you met Him. Guys, God is so full of love, and he’s so captivating, and he’s so fascinating! Do you know that there’s seraphim that fly around the throne of God, day and night, they never stop saying “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord, God Almighty”. You know, these guys have eyes everywhere — eyes within, eyes without, eyes under their wings, they’ve got eyes, they’re made of eyeballs essentially, and they’re made to look at God and you know what — they never ever get bored and they never get tired! One time I was thinking, I was like, “God, these creatures in Revelation chapter 4 — they’re flying around your throne, they’re looking at you, they’re singing to you, day and night, they never stop!” Isaiah saw the same guys — 800 years ago — in Isaiah chapter 6 — they’re still singing after 800 years; not even the same song, it’s the same word! Do they ever get bored? And God spoke to me and He said “Josh, no one makes them stay”.
And I realised, “Wow, God really is fascinating and he wants us to be captivated by who He is and to go on a lifelong pursuit of knowing the depths of His heart, the depths of His glory, the depths of His greatness, and then to make Him known!” And there’s no other way except through intimacy about forging this lifelong relationship with God.
Guys, it’s a marathon. It’s not a sprint! Be patient with yourself. Start today. Start right now. Carve out time. Wait on God. Pray the word. Talk to God. Involve him in every moment of your day and I want to encourage you — if you do this God will meet you! He will be faithful to you and in 10 years; 20 years; from now, you’ll have a heart whose capacity has been enlarged to love Him. That’s the reward! He’s the reward! The reward is not so you can do more stuff for Him; the reward is Him Himself. So set Him as your goal and go after Him! Hunger and thirst for Him. A really good place to start is just to say this: “God, I want to want you!”.
Then when you get bored, you wake up one day and you just don’t feel like seeking God, here’s a really good prayer: “God, I place the cold heart before the fire of your intense love. Come and set me ablaze again!” It’s a really good prayer! And just let Him show you who He is!
Intimacy with God always starts with God first. We only love Him because He first loved us. We only long for Him because He first wanted us! And so guys — the pressure’s off, but the pressure’s on. He’s made a way but now you’ve got to do your part. He’s done His part, you do your part and he will meet you. He is faithful. Let me pray for you.
Jesus, I thank you for every person listening right now. Lord, I pray that you would give them grace to go after you to hunger and to pursue you. Lord, you said that if they seek for me with all of their heart that they would find me. Jesus, I pray like you did in John 17 verse 26, that the same love that the Father has for you, that that same affection, that same desire, would be put in us for you Jesus. Thank you, Lord, do it for them today. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Bless you, guys. I hope you enjoyed this. Get to it — it’s fun!
What a great invitation — to let God show you who He is. If you desire an intimate relationship with God, He wants to answer that prayer.
Here are some important questions to ponder from today’s message:
- – What is your lifelong vision for intimacy with God?
- – How will you make this happen?
- – What is your current image of God and yourself?
Thank you so much for joining us today. If something specific stood out to you, don’t forget to make a note and take time to process it further. God has something for you. We hope you can join our next episode as we continue this four-part series to discover getting to know God.
If you liked what you heard today and would like to discover more on this topic, you can check out our Discipleship Training School. We offer many more training options from seminars and certificate 3, 4 all the way up to diploma level.
Our prayer is that you continue to get to know God in a personal way.
Thank you so much for listening, hope to see you again.