Shawn Wasson

Dr. Shawn Wasson is senior pastor of Bethany Baptist Church.

Closer to God

I heard that a popular New Year's resolution is to become closer to God. People are seeing the need for spiritual growth and understanding. It makes sense to follow Christmas with a resolution concerning faith. Many Christmas services mentioned the following Scriptures:

"Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and call his name Immanuel." Isaiah 7:14. This Old Testament prophecy was fulfilled in Matthew 1:20-23, when the angel of the Lord repeated it to Joseph in a dream. "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us)."

That is the wonderful thing about the incarnation, Jesus being born, is God became a man and dwelt among us. God wants to pursue a relationship with us. When you celebrate the birth of Jesus, do you think about the fact that he was born to die. Christmas and Easter go together. Jesus was virgin born, lived a sinless life, died on the cross, and rose from the dead. He conquered death and the grave so we could know God and have eternal life in heaven.

Jesus is the sacrificial lamb that takes away the sin of believers. Jesus was born in a location where sacrificial lambs were birthed and wrapped in the same cloths that sacrificial lambs are wrapped in to protect them from spot or blemish. This was no accident, and the shepherds knew exactly where to look after the angel told them this sign.

Christians believe that God became a man--that Jesus is deity. He is the product of God the Father, and his earthly mother is Mary. Jesus helps us to know God and to understand salvation through faith in God's plan of redemption. We are sinners, and the best of us cannot do enough good deeds to erase our wrongdoing, or to earn our place in heaven. We need God's help to receive salvation and to know God.

Even though I am a pastor and have been in full-time ministry since the 90s, I am always hoping to grow closer to God. One way I go about it is to read the Bible. This year I hope to read the entire Bible through as a family. We are attempting to do this by reading a few chapters an evening Mondays through Fridays.

I am encouraged to hear that many people want to pursue a relationship with God, but I am curious if they are taking a biblical approach to spirituality or if they are attempting to relate to a god of their own creation.

Proverbs 14:12 warns us, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death." Instead of trusting my own instincts to get myself closer to God, I trust Jesus who says, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6.

To become a follower of Jesus we must repent of our sin, trust in Jesus, and live for God. Growing closer to God is something all believers should desire.

Did you know that the Bible says that people do not naturally seek after a relationship with God? Romans 3:9-10 says that no one is righteous, and no one seeks God. We give credit to God for giving us the desire to pursue him.

Romans 10:9-10 says, "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart, one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved."

The Apostle Paul said his desire was to know God." In Philippians 3:10 He writes, "That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death."

James 4:8 says that if we draw near to God, he will draw near to us. May God bless you with the peace and purpose that comes from having a close relationship with the Creator.