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Hello everyone! What are some of your favorite things to do on Sabbath? I like to watch nature shows, listen to music, and read! :)

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Get a Relationship With God

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I love going to church and learning about God. I'm a Seventh-day Adventist by birth, but I'm afraid I don't know how to have a relationship with God. Every time I try to have one, it never seems to work out rightI seem to slip back into sin. I know God is coming soon, and I really want to go to heaven, but I don't know how to have a relationship with Him. Please help me!


Steve Answers:

This is perhaps my favorite question that any teen has ever asked me!

It sounds as if you’re living on the edge of Jeremiah 29:13, which says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” The very next verse provides this promise:

“ ‘I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 29:14).

When your motivation is strong, of course you’ll seek God with all you have. Some people have an incredibly strong motivation to seek God when an emergency gets their attention. They want everything that has to do with God at that moment.

But what happens after the emergency passes? If their interest in God is based only on emergencies, they are sometimes referred to as “foxhole Christians”–people wanting God only when hiding from enemy fire in a foxhole.

You’ve got the right idea when it comes to wanting to have a relationship with God. After all, that’s what God wants too.

Some say that people are restless until they finally get together with God. Others say that each person has a hole inside them that only God can fill. Jesus said it this way, “This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John17:3).

How can you have a relationship with God? Start with what you already know about relationships. How do you have a relationship with another person? You spend time with that person. Sometimes you’ll do things together that you like to do, and sometimes you’ll do things together that the other person wants to do. If you don’t share interests, you probably won’t want to spend too much time together.

When your interests match up, or if your interests change to the other person’s interests, then you’ll enjoy doing those things of interest together. For example, some people like to spend their time playing sports, shopping, playing video games, just talking on the phone, or e-mailing or text messaging. Some like to go to events, such as a sports event, a concert, or a program at church. And then there’s just hanging out together (or whatever teens call it where you live).

One of the things that makes a relationship with God difficult is that you can’t see God face-to-face like you can your friends. If one of your friends moves a long way away, it’s usually more difficult to maintain that relationship, especially if you operate on the out-of-sight-out-of-mind principle.

Paul wrote about our relationship with God this way, “We can see and understand only a little about God now, as if we were peering at his reflection in a poor mirror; but someday we are going to see him in his completeness, face to face. Now all that I know is hazy and blurred, but then I will see everything clearly, just as clearly as God sees into my heart right now” (1 Corinthians 13:12, TLB).*

Don’t expect a relationship with an invisible God to be effortless, but don’t expect it to be impossible, either. Because this relationship is with God, you can have contact with Him at any time and in any place. You can’t have that with a human friend. Plus, God is also seeking a relationship with you. So you don’t have to worry about whether or not He likes you, thinks you’re weird, or if He wants a relationship with you.

John said it this way, “We know how much God loves us because we have felt his love and because we believe him when he tells us that he loves us dearly. God is love, and anyone who lives in love is living with God and God is living in him. And as we live with Christ, our love grows more perfect and complete; so we will not be ashamed and embarrassed at the day of judgment, but can face him with confidence and joy, because he loves us and we love him too. . . . So you see, our love for him comes as a result of his loving us first” (1 John 4:16-19, TLB). You can read Paul’s version in Romans 8:31-39. I like The Living Bible’s paraphrase of this passage.

Not everyone is the same, so I can’t give you a simple equation for having a relationship with God. Here’s what’s worked for some different people I know:

Person 1: spends 15 to 30 minutes each morning before school reading a portion of the Bible, then praying.

Person 2: spends 5 to 10 minutes praying after crawling into bed at night.

Person 3: listens to Christian music “all the time.”
Person 4: goes on a mission trip at least once a year.

Person 5: actively participates in things at church; not just a spectator who says, “That was boring.”

Person 6: did the required service hours for the Adventist school credit, but kept on doing service activities simply to serve.

Person 7: leads a small group Bible study once a week and is always looking for contact with God to be able to lead the Bible study.

Person 8: turns every situation into a prayer, whether it’s out loud or silent. Always seems to be experimenting with new ways to pray.

Person 9: reads one to two chapters from the Bible and then journals a response.

Person 10: does random acts of kindness (often anonymously) and has joined a small support group to live out their Christianity.

Person 11: memorizes portions of the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7), then looks for ways to live it right now.

Person 12: participates in every religious youth event possible.

I notice three basic keys that these people tap into in order

to have a living relationship with God. I suggest that you find ways to make these keys central to your life so you can have

a relationship with God:

1. Get input from God. Get it from the Bible, from listening to God in prayer, in small groups, in church, in Sabbath school, at retreats, etc.

2. Give input to God. Pray, journal, meditate, and get actively involved in discussions with others about God—discussions, not debates or fights.

3. Serve others. Serving others provides you with the unique experience of being God’s hands, feet, eyes, and ears to/for others. Plus, you get to see and sense Jesus in others, too! Serving others greatly enhances your relationship with God.

How has God communicated to you? Look around and check out God’s activity in the world (see Psalm 19 and Romans 1:19, 20). And here’s how God started His final message to His people: “Long ago God spoke in many different ways to our fathers, through the prophets [in visions, dreams, and even face to face], telling them little by little about his plans. But now in these days he has spoken to us through his Son to whom he has given everything, and through whom he made the world and everything there is. God’s Son shines out with God’s glory, and all that God’s Son is and does marks him as God” (Hebrews 1:1-3, TLB).

You—and everyone else—have a tremendous advantage when it comes to having a relationship with God. We have God’s Word, which has been recorded for centuries! We have the story of Jesus, who was God walking right on earth! Plus, we have the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us “to fill our hearts with his love” (Romans 5:5, TLB). So although God is invisible, there’s really no reason to miss Him. Excuses are flimsy, especially since God is wanting to have a relationship with you, too. So keep going for it; you can be friends with God!

* Verses marked TLB are taken from The Living Bible, copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, Ill. Used by permission.



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