What is it? How do you develop it? How do you find it? How do you create it?
We find that it is defined as:
close familiarity or friendship; closeness:“the intimacy between a husband and wife”
synonyms:closeness · togetherness · affinity · rapport · attachment · familiarity · friendliness · friendship · amity · affection · warmth · confidence · chumminess
So as we consider intimacy and the synonyms, let’s consider how we develop, find, and create it. What do you to develop closeness? What can you do to develop togetherness? How do you create a rapport with someone? Are you willing to be a friend before someone else becomes your friend? Are you willing to be warm, confident, and chummy with others? Relationships are a two way street, however, it usually starts with one of the people putting their hand out first and sticking with it. Once you find it, you know you have it! Once you start or create it, you need to keep developing it! If we use the synonym of warmth, just like a fire produces heat, if you don’t keep feeding into it, it will cool, it will reduce, and it will go out! So we need to not only be willing to find it, create it, we also need to develop it, build it, strengthen it!
How to Develop Intimacy with God
Devotional Psalm 35:11-18, Luke 2:41-52, Numbers 7:66-89, Numbers 8, Numbers 9:1-14
Are you willing to step out and develop an intimate relationship with God? One like Jesus did?
Are you willing to go beyond the day to day grind and step out into the lives of the people around you, opening yourself up that others may come to know who you are and what you believe in?
Have you ever considered or grabbed a hold of what Jesus meant when He said “whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these“?
1. Openness, vulnerability and honesty … Psalm 35:11-18
11Ruthless witnesses come forward; they question me on things I know nothing about. 12They repay me evil for good and leave me like one bereaved. 13Yet when they were ill, I put on sackcloth and humbled myself with fasting. When my prayers returned to me unanswered, 14I went about mourning as though for my friend or brother. I bowed my head in grief as though weeping for my mother. 15But when I stumbled, they gathered in glee; assailants gathered against me without my knowledge. They slandered me without ceasing. 16Like the ungodly they maliciously mocked;16 Septuagint; Hebrew may mean Like an ungodly circle of mockers, they gnashed their teeth at me. 17How long, Lord, will you look on? Rescue me from their ravages, my precious life from these lions. 18I will give you thanks in the great assembly; among the throngs I will praise you.
–from Psalm 35
There were times when David was down; his soul felt empty (v.12, MSG). He was honest and open enough to talk about the challenges:
David faced great opposition from those who repaid evil for good and attacked him. You also may face great opposition from those who repay evil for good and attack you (vv.12,15b). They may slander (v.15c), or maliciously mock (v.16a). Opposition does not only come through the world – it can even come from God’s people (v.16).
There may be times when your prayers do not seem to be heard. ‘My prayers returned to me unanswered’ (v.13). He says to God, ‘How long are you going to stand there doing nothing?’ (v.17, MSG).
We all stumble (v.15a). We can feel we are walking with the Lord quite happily and then suddenly we stumble. There may be times when we fail to meet our own standards, let alone God’s.
Like David, speak to God about all these challenges. Do not pretend that all is well. Speak from the depth of your heart. He will not be surprised or shocked by anything you say. It is this openness, vulnerability and honesty that draws you into an intimate relationship with God.
Lord, thank you that you listen to the cries of my heart. Thank you that you rescue me and enable me to say, ‘I will give you thanks in the great assembly; among the throngs I will praise you’ (v.18).
2. Grow in wisdom … Luke 2:41-52
41Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. 42When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”49 “Why were you searching for me?”he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” 50But they did not understand what he was saying to them.51Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.–from Luke 2
Even as a child Jesus had astonishing wisdom: ‘And all who heard him were astonished and overwhelmed with bewildered wonder at his intelligence and understanding and his replies’ (v.47, AMP).
As someone has said, ‘Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.’ Knowledge is horizontal. Wisdom is vertical. It comes down from above. It is far more important to grow in wisdom than to grow in wealth. Wisdom outweighs wealth. Intimacy with the Father leads to growth in wisdom.
After Jesus’ parents find him in the temple courts he says to them, ‘Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?’ (v.49b). Or as The Message translation puts it, ‘Dealing with the things of my Father’ (v.49b, MSG).
On the one hand, Jesus’ relationship with his ‘Father’ was unique. On the other hand, he also enables you to call God ‘Father’. He prayed to God as ‘Abba’ (the Aramaic word used by children on intimate terms with their father), and he taught his disciples to do the same (11:2). St Paul, writing about the Holy Spirit, says, ‘For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father”’ (Romans 8:15).
We can learn four things about the wisdom that comes from intimacy with the Father by examining Jesus’ example in these verses.
Wisdom comes from listening
Wisdom is willingness to listen to and learn from others. Jesus was ‘sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions’ (Luke 2:46).
Sir Isaac Newton said, ‘I find intelligence is better spotted when analysing the questions asked rather than the answers given.’
Often, those who know most speak least. When we are talking, we are usually merely repeating what we already know. When we are listening, we may learn something new.
Asking good questions is the key to being a good conversationalist. It was said of President J. F. Kennedy that he made you think he had nothing else to do except ask you questions and listen, with extraordinary concentration, to your answer. You knew that, for the time being, he had blotted out both the past and the future for you.
Wisdom leads to simplicity
Wisdom brings clarity. Jesus knew where he should be and what he should do. He declared, ‘Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?’ (v.49). Knowledge leads us from the simple to the complex; wisdom leads us from the complex to the simple.
Wisdom is holistic
Wisdom is shown not only in what we say, but also in how we live: ‘Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them’ (v.51). Wisdom is about the whole of life, rather than just our intellect or our words.
Wisdom should grow
Through his intimate relationship with God, ‘Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and people’ (v.52) – a very similar description to that used of Samuel (1 Samuel 2:26).
Wisdom should grow as we get older. Not that Jesus’ wisdom was flawed or imperfect, but it grew as he matured, as it should with us.
This is a prayer we often prayed for our children – that they would grow in wisdom and stature and in favour with God and people.
Above all, Jesus’ wisdom came from his intimate relationship with God. God was his Father. He knew he had to be in his Father’s house, and his intimacy with his Father was the foundation of his wisdom.
Father, thank you that you have given me the Spirit of adoption by which I can cry, ‘Abba, Father’. Thank you that you call me into the same relationship of intimacy that Jesus had with you. Help me to grow in this relationship of intimacy, simplicity and obedience. And to grow in wisdom and stature and in favour with God and people.
3. Stand still and listen … Numbers 7:66-9:14
66On the tenth day Ahiezer son of Ammishaddai, the leader of the people of Dan, brought his offering.67His offering was one silver plate weighing a hundred and thirty shekels and one silver sprinkling bowl weighing seventy shekels, both according to the sanctuary shekel, each filled with the finest flour mixed with olive oil as a grain offering; 68one gold dish weighing ten shekels, filled with incense; 69one young bull, one ram and one male lamb a year old for a burnt offering; 70one male goat for a sin offering; 71and two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs a year old to be sacrificed as a fellowship offering. This was the offering of Ahiezer son of Ammishaddai.72On the eleventh day Pagiel son of Okran, the leader of the people of Asher, brought his offering.73His offering was one silver plate weighing a hundred and thirty shekels and one silver sprinkling bowl weighing seventy shekels, both according to the sanctuary shekel, each filled with the finest flour mixed with olive oil as a grain offering; 74one gold dish weighing ten shekels, filled with incense; 75one young bull, one ram and one male lamb a year old for a burnt offering; 76one male goat for a sin offering; 77and two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs a year old to be sacrificed as a fellowship offering. This was the offering of Pagiel son of Okran.78On the twelfth day Ahira son of Enan, the leader of the people of Naphtali, brought his offering.79His offering was one silver plate weighing a hundred and thirty shekels and one silver sprinkling bowl weighing seventy shekels, both according to the sanctuary shekel, each filled with the finest flour mixed with olive oil as a grain offering; 80one gold dish weighing ten shekels, filled with incense; 81one young bull, one ram and one male lamb a year old for a burnt offering; 82one male goat for a sin offering; 83and two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs a year old to be sacrificed as a fellowship offering. This was the offering of Ahira son of Enan.84These were the offerings of the Israelite leaders for the dedication of the altar when it was anointed: twelve silver plates, twelve silver sprinkling bowls and twelve gold dishes. 85Each silver plate weighed a hundred and thirty shekels, and each sprinkling bowl seventy shekels. Altogether, the silver dishes weighed two thousand four hundred shekels, according to the sanctuary shekel. 86The twelve gold dishes filled with incense weighed ten shekels each, according to the sanctuary shekel. Altogether, the gold dishes weighed a hundred and twenty shekels. 87The total number of animals for the burnt offering came to twelve young bulls, twelve rams and twelve male lambs a year old, together with their grain offering. Twelve male goats were used for the sin offering. 88The total number of animals for the sacrifice of the fellowship offering came to twenty-four oxen, sixty rams, sixty male goats and sixty male lambs a year old. These were the offerings for the dedication of the altar after it was anointed.89When Moses entered the tent of meeting to speak with the Lord, he heard the voice speaking to him from between the two cherubim above the atonement cover on the ark of the covenant law. In this way the Lord spoke to him.–from Numbers 7
Setting Up the Lamps1The Lord said to Moses, 2“Speak to Aaron and say to him, ‘When you set up the lamps, see that all seven light up the area in front of the lampstand.’ ”3Aaron did so; he set up the lamps so that they faced forward on the lampstand, just as the Lordcommanded Moses. 4This is how the lampstand was made: It was made of hammered gold—from its base to its blossoms. The lampstand was made exactly like the pattern the Lordhad shown Moses.
The Setting Apart of the Levites5The Lord said to Moses: 6“Take the Levites from among all the Israelites and make them ceremonially clean. 7To purify them, do this: Sprinkle the water of cleansing on them; then have them shave their whole bodies and wash their clothes. And so they will purify themselves. 8Have them take a young bull with its grain offering of the finest flour mixed with olive oil; then you are to take a second young bull for a sin offering. 9Bring the Levites to the front of the tent of meeting and assemble the whole Israelite community. 10You are to bring the Levites before the Lord, and the Israelites are to lay their hands on them. 11Aaron is to present the Levites before the Lord as a wave offering from the Israelites, so that they may be ready to do the work of the Lord.12“Then the Levites are to lay their hands on the heads of the bulls, using one for a sin offering to the Lord and the other for a burnt offering, to make atonement for the Levites. 13Have the Levites stand in front of Aaron and his sons and then present them as a wave offering to the Lord. 14In this way you are to set the Levites apart from the other Israelites, and the Levites will be mine.15“After you have purified the Levites and presented them as a wave offering, they are to come to do their work at the tent of meeting. 16They are the Israelites who are to be given wholly to me. I have taken them as my own in place of the firstborn, the first male offspring from every Israelite woman. 17Every firstborn male in Israel, whether human or animal, is mine. When I struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, I set them apart for myself. 18And I have taken the Levites in place of all the firstborn sons in Israel. 19From among all the Israelites, I have given the Levites as gifts to Aaron and his sons to do the work at the tent of meeting on behalf of the Israelites and to make atonement for them so that no plague will strike the Israelites when they go near the sanctuary.”20Moses, Aaron and the whole Israelite community did with the Levites just as the Lord commanded Moses. 21The Levites purified themselves and washed their clothes. Then Aaron presented them as a wave offering before the Lord and made atonement for them to purify them. 22After that, the Levites came to do their work at the tent of meeting under the supervision of Aaron and his sons. They did with the Levites just as the Lord commanded Moses.23The Lord said to Moses, 24“This applies to the Levites: Men twenty-five years old or more shall come to take part in the work at the tent of meeting, 25but at the age of fifty, they must retire from their regular service and work no longer. 26They may assist their brothers in performing their duties at the tent of meeting, but they themselves must not do the work. This, then, is how you are to assign the responsibilities of the Levites.”–from Numbers 81The Lordspoke to Moses in the Desert of Sinai in the first month of the second year after they came out of Egypt. He said, 2“Have the Israelites celebrate the Passover at the appointed time. 3Celebrate it at the appointed time, at twilight on the fourteenth day of this month, in accordance with all its rules and regulations.”4So Moses told the Israelites to celebrate the Passover, 5and they did so in the Desert of Sinai at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. The Israelites did everything just as the Lordcommanded Moses.6But some of them could not celebrate the Passover on that day because they were ceremonially unclean on account of a dead body. So they came to Moses and Aaron that same day 7and said to Moses, “We have become unclean because of a dead body, but why should we be kept from presenting the Lord’s offering with the other Israelites at the appointed time?”8Moses answered them, “Wait until I find out what the Lordcommands concerning you.”9Then the Lordsaid to Moses, 10“Tell the Israelites: ‘When any of you or your descendants are unclean because of a dead body or are away on a journey, they are still to celebrate the Lord’s Passover, 11but they are to do it on the fourteenth day of the second month at twilight. They are to eat the lamb, together with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 12They must not leave any of it till morning or break any of its bones. When they celebrate the Passover, they must follow all the regulations. 13But if anyone who is ceremonially clean and not on a journey fails to celebrate the Passover, they must be cut off from their people for not presenting the Lord’s offering at the appointed time. They will bear the consequences of their sin.14“ ‘A foreigner residing among you is also to celebrate the Lord’s Passover in accordance with its rules and regulations. You must have the same regulations for both the foreigner and the native-born.’ ”–from Numbers 9
You cannot develop an intimate relationship with God without setting aside time to communicate with him. ‘When Moses entered the Tent of Meeting to speak with the Lord, he heard the voice speaking to him… and he spoke with him. The Lord said to Moses…’ (7:89 – 8:1).
God spoke to Moses (8:1; 9:1). Moses spoke with God (7:89). It was a two-way conversation. God spoke to Moses face-to-face, as a person speaks with a friend (12:8) – talking and listening at the same time, watching for each other’s reaction.
In the age of the Holy Spirit you are in an even better position than Moses. You no longer have to go to a particular place, like Moses did, but can be with God wherever you are. By the Spirit of adoption you are brought into an intimate and eternal conversation with God the Father (Romans 8:15–17,26–27).
This was the pattern. ‘The Lord spoke to Moses… So Moses told the Israelites… The Israelites did everything just as the Lord commanded Moses’ (Numbers 9:1–5). The Israelites’ whole way of life was built upon obedience to what God had said to Moses in the place of intimacy. Your intimacy with God needs to overflow into the way in which you live your life. You need to put into practice the things that God shows you in the place of intimacy.
There are times when it is not always clear how God is guiding us. Again, Moses’ example is a good one. When the people asked Moses a difficult question to which he did not know the answer, he replied, ‘Wait until I find out what the Lord commands concerning you’ (v.8). If you don’t know the right answer it is wise to ask people to ‘wait’. This gives you time to pray and to find out from God the right way forward.
Eugene Peterson translates, ‘Give me some time; I’ll find out what God says in your circumstances’ (v.8, MSG). The Amplified Bible says, ‘Stand still and I will hear what the Lord will command concerning you.’ In the busyness of life stand still and listen to what God wants you to do.
Lord, thank you that I can meet with you each day, speak with you and listen to you. Help me to hear what you are saying to me and to live today in this relationship of intimacy, simplicity and obedience.