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Devotions > Drawing Near?

4 Nov 2013

Perhaps you can remember a time when God reached down into your life and touched you in an unforgettable way?   There is nothing in this world that is more exuberating than receiving substantial evidence of the personal love and interest of God. 

 Of course we have been correctly taught that God always loves us individually and personally, and this is true.  While we should each receive this truth by faith, God in His wisdom seems to provide at times powerful tangible evidence of His personal love and care.  Yet it seems some fail to receive this touch, the visible evidence of the fingerprints of God upon their lives.   

Since our thoughts are not His thoughts and our ways not like His, we cannot prescribe how God’s touch will look in a life.  Nevertheless we will press on with the desire to encourage your reception of God’s love directed individually and tangibly toward you.    The depth of the experience of our personal relationship with God through Jesus is critically important not only to our walk but also to the nature of our prayers.   

Jesus said ……   "The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.” [John 10:10 (NASB77)]  

In this proclamation we see evidence that Jesus was talking aboutexperience.   When we have lost something to a thief it is an experience, not a theory.  When we have lived through devastating destruction, it is more than a hypothesis; it is an authentic negative life occurrence.   Likewise death ……. death is one of the most prevailing occasions we are required to walk through in this life.    In this statement Jesus contrasts abundant life with death and destruction and theft.  As He makes this contrast the life He describes as abundant is not a theory.   This life of which Jesus is speaking is the quality of life that is intended by its Progenitor to beexperienced in countless powerful ways in our lives.   The sphere of abundant life includes our prayers!   Abundant life changes everything!

So how do we move in the direction of abundant life?   What do we need to start or perhaps stop in order to experience the abundant life of God that Jesus came to impart?  Perhaps a few scripture passages will give us some introductory instruction regarding this inquiry.

Isaiah 66:2 (NASB95)
2 "For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being," declares the LORD. "But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.

Inthis passage God through the prophet Isaiah is clearly instructing us ….  if we desire to catch His eye … we must humble ourselves and submit our lives in obedience to Him.    God seems to describe one who is so deeply concerned about their humble submission and obedience that they literally tremble at His instructions.

In another place Daniel is described by a heavenly being as being highly esteemed, it is clear from the context that this means highly esteemed by God. 

Daniel 10:11-12 (NASB95)
11 He said to me, "O Daniel, man of high esteem, understand the words that I am about to tell you and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you." And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling.
12 Then he said to me, "Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words.

Together with high esteem Daniel received from the hand of God both God’s listening ear and His supernatural answer to Daniel’s prayer.  To what do we assign the cause of such a response from God?

 While there are several other examples we could examine, perhaps we should propose this conclusion:  humble submission and obedience to God is like a powerful magnet drawing the attention and positive response of God toward the one who has a heart of authentic  humility and obedience.  This seems to be an immutable law of God which we can find revealed in many forms throughout scripture.

In stark contrast we find what seems to be another law; namely the strong dislike and disgust God has for the proud and arrogant:

 Proverbs 16:5 (AMP)
5 Everyone proud and arrogant in heart is disgusting, hateful, and exceedingly offensive to the Lord; be assured [I pledge it] they will not go unpunished.

Psalms 5:5 (NASB95)
5 The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes; You hate all who do iniquity.

In God’s word He reveals His nature.    His nature in regard to humility and pride seems to be slightly similar to the nature He has given to us, that is, we are repelled by those who display pride and arrogance and are drawn to those who consistently live in humility.   Yet in thisworld humility and obedience seem to be drastically distorted by the one who came to steal and kill and destroy.  They are painted as prudish and archaic as ineffective as the rabbit ears on grandma’s television.    But if we are to experience the supernatural love and blessings of our God we must choose to position ourselves in a place of blessing.     An excellent start to this journey is to seek with all of our hearts to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God.

James, a chosen leader in the early church, wrote to believers in his time and to us these words (below) that come from James Chapter 4:2b-10.  In his instruction James specifically addressed reasons that we do not receive answers to our prayers.   

 “You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 [Or] you do ask [God for them] and yet fail to receive, because you ask with wrong purpose and evil, selfish motives. Your intention is [when you get what you desire] to spend it in sensual pleasures. 4 You [are like] unfaithful wives [having illicit love affairs with the world and breaking your marriage vow to God]! Do you not know that being the world’s friend is being God’s enemy? So whoever chooses to be a friend of the world takes his stand as an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose that the Scripture is speaking to no purpose that says, The Spirit Whom He has caused to dwell in us yearns over us and He yearns for the Spirit [to be welcome] with a jealous love? 6 But He gives us more and more grace ( power of the Holy Spirit, to meet this evil tendency and all others fully). That is why He says, God sets Himself against the proud and haughty, but gives grace [continually] to the lowly (those who are humble enough to receive it). 7 So be subject to God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him], and he will flee from you. 8 Come close to God and He will come close to you. [Recognize that you are] sinners, get your soiled hands clean; [realize that you have been disloyal] wavering individuals with divided interests, and purify your hearts [of your spiritual adultery]. 9 [As you draw near to God] be deeply penitent and grieve, even weep [over your disloyalty]. Let your laughter be turned to grief and your mirth to dejection and heartfelt shame [for your sins]. 10 Humble yourselves [feeling very insignificant] in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you [He will lift you up and make your lives significant].”    (emphasis added)

First we do not ask …. Not asking is nearly always a symptom of pride.   Either in pride we believe we do not need help, or in pride we believe we are not worthy of help.   Pride is always all about us. Then James addresses our motives, our attitudes.   He asks the question ….  what or Whom do you love?

 The quotation above is from The Amplified Bible as it seems to make verse five more understandable.   In this place James seems to be saying in context that the Holy Spirit has unimaginably strong desires for our righteousness.   He is in fact very jealous of our faithful obedience to and our intimate fellowship with God.  Yet as God, the Spirit is under the constraint of the freedom granted by God to every human to choose between right and wrong between God’s way and self.  

God is depicted as a jealous husband with indescribably strong emotional desire for the faithfulness of His straying wife.   While God’s desire for our faithfulness is exceedingly strong His constraint that provides to us the gift of choice is even stronger and thus our unfaithfulness brings great angst to God and to His Spirit.   Oh how devastating and destructive is our sin.

Notice how James ties together our choices and God’s answers to our prayers.   We have the opportunity supported by God’s Spirit to choose to submit in humble obedience of heart and receive answers to our prayers that bring great joy to the heart of God as He brings answers that likewise bring glory to His Name.   

 As we have seen the attitude of humility is a critically important component of our prayer life.   God delights to hear the humble and contrite and moves with great gladness to answer their prayers.   If only we will seriously seek to understand the true nature of God through His word assisted by His Spirit we will be better positioned to experience the fullness of all that God desires and has planned for us.    

Draw near brothers and sisters to God and He will draw near to you!

Jeff Williams