Thursday, April 9, 2015

Drawing Near

"Draw near to God and He will draw near to you."
That has been on my heart this week and I can't shake it.  I actually had it as though it said, "Draw near to Me and I will draw near to you."  Jesus didn't say that exact line.  While he could have said that, it is not recorded in the gospels.  This is a portion of scripture in James 4:8.  It is not even the whole verse nor even the whole context.  Yes, it can stand alone; however, it has more fullness when looking at the whole context.  I'm always amazed when what I thought I knew is only a portion of the fullness of what I can know.

James 4:1-10 NIV  What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
    “God opposes the proud
    but shows favor to the humble.”
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
11 Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?
I am not a deep theologian, but from this text it appears that James is speaking to a group of people who are not getting along.  James is writing to them and giving them truth and some pointers to overcome these issues.  There are battles within them.  They ask for things with wrong motives.  They are not humble.  He says in verse 7 to submit to God and resist the devil.  Come near to God and He WILL come near to you (verse 8).  Purify your hearts.  Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up (verse 10).  Don't talk about each other.  I believe that out of the overflow of the love you have for Christ, these things will come. 
Holiness isn't something to just sign up for and BOOM you got it.  It is something to work at.  Righteousness is something that comes through seeking the Lord and finding Him.  There are struggles.  There will be struggles.  Jesus was even tempted, and by the Word of God, He overcame.  He desires a relationship with us and in light of that relationship, our desires will be drawn toward Him and no other.
I'm doing studies on the Gospel of John and the epistle of I John in my church right now and it seems like there's a theme in the message Jesus gives to His disciples right before His crucifixion in John 13-16 as well as the message in I John.  I leave you with a few of these scriptures as well as portions of Isaiah 55.  May there be for you Shalom, His peace.
John 13:34-35 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 14:12-14  12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
John 15:5  “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
John 15:9-12 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
I John 2:9-11 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. 10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. 11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.
I John 4:7-12 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
Isaiah 55:1,6-9 
“Come, all you who are thirsty,
    come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without cost.
Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake their ways
    and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
    and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
    declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

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