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First Priority: Emotional Intimacy with God--Part 2

Because you are created in the image of God, you have the capacity to love God and others. We learned identifying your Cognitive Behavioral Framework (CBF) is like finding something that’s been misplaced, you retrace your steps. To discover your CBF, you follow behavior to emotion, emotion to a thought, and the thought to a core belief. This core belief will tell you everything you need to know about your behavior. Identifying the emotion is a key element of your CBF. Engaging your emotions as teachers (Principle of Emotions as Teachers) results in more successful relationships at every level of your relational framework, including your relationship with God and relationships at home, work, and in ministry.

Experiencing emotional intimacy with God may sound wonky, but it can be found in both the Old and New Testaments. In the OT, King David’s relationship with God demonstrated deep emotional intimacy. He was “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22). God scans the Earth looking for hearts fully committed to Him (2 Chron 16:9). Many Christians view David’s relationship as the pinnacle of a walk with God. It is safe to say, that a very deep relational level of connection existed between David and God based on faith and trust through priority over time.

Emotional intimacy is taken to a new level in the New Testament. In addition to "walking with God", Jesus invites us to another aspect of relationship: abide. In John 15:4, Jesus says "Abide in me, and I will abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in me."

I love this teaching because it adds a layer of intimacy to our relationship with God. Walking with God encapsulates time, energy, and prioritization. Abiding in Jesus is not about the doing; it promotes rest and reliance on His supernatural energy through the Holy Spirit. Abiding speaks directly to our emotions and emotional capacities. In walking with God, we can have conversations with Him, seeking and receiving direction. In abiding in Jesus, we are still, assuming a position of dependence, through which we can receive supernatural peace because He is our source of energy and emotional strength.

With that in mind, I want to introduce the Principle of Abiding, which states, "Abiding in Jesus gives me the supernatural emotional capacity to withstand the pressures of living in a fallen world."

"Abiding in Jesus gives me the supernatural emotional capacity to withstand the pressures of living in a fallen world."

God uses a lot of agricultural references in describing Himself and His relationship with us. Abiding in Him is no different. When we remain in Jesus to the extent that we hand over our emotional state to Him, He offers us His emotional state. It is a transference of nurturing power that Jesus describes as “vines and branches.” At the biological, psychological, sociological, and spiritual level, we are receiving the emotional sustenance from Him that will enable us to live and thrive.

And as we abide and rest in Him, we can have confidence that God the Father walks about in the garden, as the farmer, ensuring every branch is impeccably pruned, not carrying excess weight, and rooted in good soil resulting in the production of good fruit. God the Father is the gardener, working all things for the good of those who love Him. As David said so many times in the Psalms, He is our refuge. As we abide in him, the Holy Spirit does the farming, and we are called to find rest in His provision.

The Principle of Abiding calls us to rest in Him; however, Paul encourages us to "be imitators" of God (Ephesians 5:1). Are these truths contradictory? Not at all! It is tempting to rely on ourselves and our ability to accomplish the stringent tasks of making disciples and finding joy amid a fallen world, but Jesus turns all that on its head. He offers to do the hard part for us, requiring only that we lay our efforts at His feet offering Him what we have, and He will multiply it and supplement it supernaturally. Taking on Jesus' emotional state of peace in the face of sin as we trust God to wrench something beautiful from our suffering and our sacrifice of will, is the ultimate result of abiding in Him.

Thankfully, the tools for abiding in Jesus are the same tools you use for walking with God: the Principles of Moment & Small Things Often. Practice recognizing the moments He provides and doing the small things often because if you are going to walk with God and abide in Jesus, you must go to His word, His people, and Him in prayer.

For more in depth analysis of God and emotions. Check out the next blog...First Priority: God's Emotions and What He Does with Them

About the Author:

Dr. Corley is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor (LPC-S) in Missouri and Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) in Kansas. He specializes in marriage counseling and trauma recovery. This is an excerpt from his series called A Framework for Family.

If you think you might need some help in this area. Click the image below and give us a call. We are professional Christian counselors, bringing healing to the family, giving hope for the future.

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