Henry & Richard Blackaby and Claude King

B. Childress
May 05 2013

And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our
meeting, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
(Hebrews 10:24-25)


I was preaching one Sunday about how Christ’s presence in our lives dramatically affects our daily living.  At the close of
the service, a man came forward weeping.  The pastor asked him to share his story with the congregation.  The man
confessed that a decade earlier his wife had urged him to come with her to church.  When he visited, he liked the
people, enjoyed the worship, and decided to join the congregation.  Later, he heard the church needed teachers in the
children’s Sunday school department, so he volunteered.  Over the years, he served in numerous capacities in his
church including being a deacon and a Sunday school teacher.  Yet as I preached that morning, the Holy Spirit
awakened him to the fact that he did not have a personal relationship with Jesus.  This good man had been practicing
religion without a genuine, life-changing encounter with Christ.

As I spoke of how the Holy Spirit walks with us to guide us each day, the man realized he was not hearing the Holy Spirit
speak to him.  As I talked of God’s love for us, he saw that he served God but he did not truly know God.  To his and the
church’s surprise, this man suddenly recognized that, for all his service and attendance at church, he did not have an
experiential relationship with God.

This man is not alone.  If there is one comment I hear over and over from people who study
Experiencing God, it is this:
“I thought I knew what it meant to be a Christian and to walk with God.  But after studying this material I realize that
although I was a religious person, I did not really know what it meant to enjoy a personal relationship with God.”

That is the heart of this book – to move you from merely being religious to having a vibrant, real, growing relationship
with God.


John said to the believers in the first century, “What we have seen and heard we also declare to you, so that you may
have fellowship along with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ” (I John 1:3).  
Then he added, “We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete” (I John 1:4).

Just as the apostle John wrote what he had seen and heard to encourage his fellow believers, so when I wrote
Experiencing God, I was simply sharing what God had taught me as I walked with Him for many years. It was neither a
theological treatise nor an exhaustive book on the Christian life.  It was just a testimony of what God taught me as I
experienced Him.

The result of sharing these truths with others has been unbelievable!  It has led to opportunities for me to speak in 114
countries.  It has allowed me to share God’s truths in churches of every size and denomination.  It has brought invitations
to speak at the White House, the Pentagon, and the United Nations.  It has led me to a ministry to Christian CEOs of
many of America’s largest companies.  And most significantly for me, it has resulted in the testimonies of countless
people who share that through the study they learned to experience God for the first time.  What a joy for me to know
that, as God walked with an ordinary person like me, He would do so much to encourage God’s people around the
world.  My prayer is that you will never settle for less than all God intends to do through your life as He walks with you.


There are times in every Christian’s life when one senses a clear loss of intimacy with God.  Even the most zealous
Christians can find their love for God has cooled if they are not careful.  How does this happen?  What are the signs,
and how can we restore a relationship with God once it has been broken?

I see a pattern in Scripture of how God’s people experience revival.  Although revivals often exhibit unique features, the
following six characteristics generally occur when people fall away and then return to God:

    1.  God is on mission to redeem a world that does not know Him and is lost in its sin (see Romans 5:8).  We do not
    naturally seek after God.  He pursues us (see Hosea 11:7-11).

    2.  God is the One who initiates a love relationship with us that is real and personal (see John 1:12).

    3.  Because of sin, our hearts tend to depart from this intimate relationship.  We do this individually and also as
    God’s people, collectively.  This departure is devastating and will lead to spiritual death if it is not corrected (see
    Jeremiah 3:20-22).

    4.  Whenever we stray from God to any degree, He disciplines us in increasing measure until we return.  God the
    Father loves us as His children, and He will correct us as our heavenly Father until we turn from our rebellion (see
    Hebrews 12:5-11).  He will continue to discipline us until we reach a moment of crisis at which we must make a
    serious choice.  This decision is either to repent and return to God, or to perish in judgment (see Isaiah 59:1-20).

    5.  We cry out to God in our distress and return to Him.  Scripture promises that “if we confess our sins, He is
    faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).  In
    confession, you agree with God about the awful nature of your wrongdoing.  Confession and repentance go
    together.  When you repent of sin, you turn away from that sin and return to God.  When your fellowship with God
    is broken because of sin, agree with Him about your condition and turn from it.  Return to God, and He will forgive
    you and reestablish your relationship with Him.  But we must recognize that God does not call us to rededicate
    ourselves; He calls us to repent of our sin.  When we want fellowship with God to be restored, we must
    acknowledge that it is our own sin that caused the breach in the first place.  Second Chronicles 7:13-14 reflects
    on this point:

    “If I close the sky so there is no rain, or if I command the grasshopper to consume the land, or if I send
    pestilence on My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My
    face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin and heal their land.”

    God’s prescription for restored fellowship with Him is humility, prayer, seeking His face, and repentance.  He
    promises to hear, forgive sin, and bring healing.  God loves us too much to allow us to stay where we are.

    6.  When we return to God (and not merely to religious activity), He returns to us in a fresh, close relationship and
    begins once again to fulfill His purposes for us (see Zechariah 1:3; II Chronicles 15:1-3).  Spiritual revival occurs
    when the life of God returns to our souls.  This can happen to an individual, a church, a denomination, or a
    nation.  The way you know you are truly restored to God is when He returns to you (see James 4:8).  If you merely
    give lip service to your need for reconciliation with God, He is not fooled (see Galatians 6:7).  The joy of your
    salvation, the power of God, and His holy cleansing of your life will not occur until you sincerely return to God.

How do we lose intimacy with God?  There are three parables of Jesus in Luke 15 that describe how this can happen.

The lost sheep (verses 3-7).  How do sheep get lost?  They typically are drawn away by distractions.  They don’t
consciously choose to wander from the rest of the flock.  They simply follow whatever catches their interest at the
moment.  Going from one thing to the next gradually draws the sheep farther and farther from where it should be until it
is hopelessly lost and in grave danger.

The lost coin (verses 8-10).  Valuable possessions are generally lost through carelessness.  No one means to lose
something precious, but by not taking precautions, we can misplace a treasured object.  Nothing is more priceless than
our relationship with God.  Yet we can neglect it because of our preoccupation with daily concerns.  In the busyness of
life, we forget to pray and we cut short our times with the Lord.  Then one day we discover God seems far from us.  We
have inadvertently lost the intimacy we once enjoyed with Him.

The prodigal son (verses 11-32).  In this story, the son chooses to leave home to indulge in a lifestyle that dishonors
his father.  Tragically, there are those who deliberately abandon their fellowship with Christ.  Perhaps they decide they
want to pursue worldly pleasures or they refuse to obey what God has clearly commanded – such as forgiving someone
who has offended them.  Some move far from where they once were with God.  Only a willful, repentant choice to return
to God can bring someone back who has moved far away.

Our departure from God may go unnoticed – at least at first.  But before long, the fact that we are now far from the Lord
becomes obvious to us and to those who observe us.  There are at least four ways you can discern if you have drawn
apart from God.

  1. You no longer hear from God (see Deuteronomy 30:17; Amos 8:11-12).  Deuteronomy 30:17 says, “But if
    your heart turns away from God and you do not listen…”  Scripture warns that disobedience to God inevitably
    leads to spiritual deafness.  The longer we refuse to heed a word from God, the harder our hearts become toward
    Him.  Eventually, we will have steeled ourselves against God’s Word to the point that our heart becomes
    impervious to anything God says.
  2. You lost your Joy (see John 15:9-14).  Jesus claimed He had given the disciples His teaching so “that My joy
    may be in you, and your joy may be complete” (John 15:11).  Since the natural by-product of abiding in Christ is
    joy, a joyless Christian is a contradiction in terms.  However, when we become so preoccupied with concerns and
    various tasks that we fail to abide in Christ, our joy in the Lord inevitably wanes.
  3. Your life does not produce spiritual fruit (see John 15:1-8).  The natural result of abiding in Christ is spiritual
    fruit.  Galatians 5:22-23 identifies the fruit the Spirit produces in a Christian’s life: love, joy, peace, patience,
    kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control.  The more such fruit there is in your life, the more like
    Jesus you will be.  Spiritual fruit is not something you produce by your own effort.  It is the outgrowth of an intimate
    relationship with Christ.
  4. You no longer experience spiritual victory in your life (see Deuteronomy 28:25).  Scripture promises that
    if God is for us, nothing can stand against us (see Romans 8:31).  However, if God is not for us, then we will
    experience continual defeat.  In Old Testament times, God cautioned His people that one clear way to measure if
    they were pleasing to God was whether or not they were victorious over their enemies.  When God’s people
    experienced defeat, according to Scripture, it was an incontrovertible sign that they were no longer pleasing to
    God.  Experiencing such grievous defeats would often drive God’s people back to Him (see this recurring cycle in
    the book of Judges).  But eventually, God’s people allowed their hearts to become so hardened that God allowed
    their total destruction as a people in A.D. 70 by the Roman armies.


A former pastor once came to me and solemnly recounted the devastating defeats he had experienced in his life.  His
church had fired him.  His wife had left him and filed for divorce.  All of his children had departed from walking with God
and were indulging in gross immorality.  His finances were in shambles, and he could not meet his obligations.  Finally,
his health had broken from a series of stress-related illnesses.  Grimly, he pleaded, “Pray for me, my brother.  I am
experiencing intense spiritual warfare!”

This man was in graver danger than he realized.  He assumed that all of his problems were the result of Satanic attacks.  
Yet he did not take into account the fact that God was allowing him to experience these continual defeats.  If this man’s
life was pleasing to God, would He allow him to undergo one terrible defeat after another?  While God does allow those
He loves to suffer – Job, Paul, and Jesus are examples of that – it is possible to go through illness or attacks and yet to
do it victoriously.  This man was being beaten on every front.  He needed to draw near to God and ask God to search
his heart to see if there was any wickedness in him (see Psalm 139:23-24) causing God to remove His hand of
protection from his life (see Isaiah 5:4-5).

The safest thing to do as a Christian is to guard your relationship with God so you do not depart from Him in the first
place.  But how do you protect your relationship with God?  You can do the following four things:

  1. Proverbs 4:23 cautions: “Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.”  The heart is the core of our
    being.  It is the arena in which we experience our greatest spiritual victories as well as our most devastating
    defeats.  We cannot afford to neglect it or to take its condition for granted.  When we allow ourselves to be
    exposed to sin or we let unforgiveness and bitterness dwell within us, we will no longer enjoy the intimacy with God
    we once did.  Only you can guard your heart.  No one else can do that for you.  It takes conscious, sustained
    effort to protect yourself from sinful, destructive thoughts and habits.
  2. Proverbs 11:14 warns: “Without guidance, people fall, but with many counselors there is deliverance.”  Our hearts
    are desperately wicked, and they can easily deceive us (see Jeremiah 17:9).  We might believe we are sharing a
    prayer request with others out of concern for someone when in fact we are merely gossiping.  We may think we
    are relating a personal testimony at our church for the glory of God when in fact we are bragging.  That is why
    surrounding ourselves with godly friends who feel free to voice their concerns to us is healthy.  Such advisors
    rarely volunteer for this service in your life, however.  You must enlist them and invite them to share any counsel
    with you they believe you need to hear.  Having people around who care about you and who will alert you when
    they see your heart shifting away from God can save you much heartache.
  3. Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:
    37).  That should be the gauge for your Christian life.  Periodically meditate on your love for God.  Ask, “Am I
    loving the Lord my God with all my heart, or have other affections begun crowding out my devotion to Him?” Then
    examine your soul: are the deepest parts of your life wholly devoted to God?  Survey your mind.  Are your
    thoughts entirely subjected to Christ and your love for Him?  When you find you are not loving God as you should,
    immediately take action to return to your love relationship with God.  If you practice this personal evaluation
    regularly, you will find that you never drift far from Christ before you recognize it and address the necessary
    issues in your life.
  4. Jesus also said: “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man
    who built his house on a rock” (Matthew 7:24).  Loving God is a choice we make.  Love is never merely a feeling
    or a thought.  Love requires action.  If you love God, you will put into practice God’s commands found in
    Scripture.  It is too late to begin trying to follow God’s instructions when the storms of life assail you.  Adopt a
    lifestyle of immediate obedience.  Then when trials inevitably come, your life will be firmly grounded in God’s Word,
    and nothing will be able to harm your relationship with Him.

If you find you are not as enthusiastic and devoted to God as you once were, take time to pray.  Return to God and
immediately begin to experience His presence returning in your life.  If you have not departed from God, write a prayer of
thanks and commit yourself to remain steadfast and true to Him.


EXPERIENCING GOD, by Henry & Richard Blackaby and Claude King, Copyright 2008, B&H Publishing Group.