James 4:8, 9 - Drawing Near To God.
James 4:8, 9 - Drawing Near To God.
James 4:8, 9 (NKJV) Draw near to God and He will draw near to
you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you
double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to
mourning and your joy to gloom.
CONTEXT AND PERSPECTIVE
The Wild West brought about new kinds of heroes: the lone
wolf, the independent pioneer, and the classic rugged individualist.
No one could tame the untamed frontier like they could. They did
not obey rules - they made them.
The Christian life is not an untamed frontier demanding Wild
West heroes. Rather, it is a sanctuary for settlers who respect the
boundaries. As you read this passage, look for the boundaries in which
believers are to live.
Here James also discusses the nature of true wisdom; getting
along with other people; faith and what it can do; and having the
right perspective on the future. If you want to blaze a trail to God,
this is a good spot from which to start.
Read James 3-5
Getting close to God requires a transfer of ownership - a
humble submission of our lives to him (James 4:7-10). Once that
transaction takes place, we must continue the fight against the forces that
draw us away from Christ. We must resist the devil and flee from him.
We must embrace God's will and let go of our own evil desires. We
must grieve our sinfulness rather than celebrate it. And we must
To sign away your life won't mark you as a distinctly heroic
person in most people's eyes. But it will lead to intimacy with God,
and it will allow God to "lift you up" (4:10) - something he does
not do for lone wolves. [The One Year Through the Bible Devotional
by Dave Veerman]
The psalmist said, "But it is good for me to draw near to God"
(Ps. 73:28, KJV) James gives five ways to do this: (1) Submit to God
(James 4:7). Yield to his authority and will, commit your life to him
and his control, and be willing to follow him. (2) Resist the devil
(James 4:7). Don't allow Satan to entice and tempt you. (3) Wash your
hands ... and purify your hearts (that is, lead a pure life) (James
4:8) . Be cleansed from sin, replacing your desire to sin with your
desire to experience God's purity. (4) Grieve and mourn and wail in
sincere sorrow for your sins (James 4:9) . Don't be afraid to express
deep heartfelt sorrow for what you have done. (5) Humble yourself
before the Lord, and he will lift you up (James 4:10; 1 Pet. 5:6). [The
One Year Bible Companion re Jam.4:8]
There may be times when God seems far away. You may feel as
if your prayers go unheard. James said there is a simple reason for
this and a solution. If you are far from God, it is because your sin
has separated you from Him.
God is unchanging. His character stays absolutely holy. His
faithfulness remains constant; it is we who change. We allow sin into our
lives. We choose our own direction. We spend less and less time with
Him in Bible study and prayer. Then one day we realize that we have
gradually grown distant from God. The solution, according to James, is
straightforward. We are to draw near to God. As we realize our need to be closer
to the Father and we begin to return to Him, He meets us even as
the father hurried to greet his prodigal son (Lu 15:20).
Drawing near to God requires you to take two actions. First,
you must cleanse your hands (Is 1:15). You must cleanse your way of
living. If you have been actively engaged in sin, you must renounce it.
If you have done anything to offend or hurt someone, you must make
it right. Second, you are to purify your heart (Ps 51:10). You must
make certain your attitudes, thoughts, and motives are right in God's
eyes and are in harmony with God's word. Jesus warned that you cannot
serve two masters (Mt 6:24). It is impossible to love anything else as
much as you love God and still please Him.
If God seems distant, do what is necessary to cleanse your
hands, purify your heart, and draw near to Him. [Experiencing God Day
by Day by Henry and Richard Blackaby re James 4:8]
Nancy Guthrie says she was shocked and shaken when she heard
that a lifelong friend who had always been a person of integrity and
a pillar of the church had left her husband and children and moved
in with another man. One reason Nancy was so shaken was that she
wanted to think she herself was above some sins. This news made her
realize that attitude was dangerous.
When we've done something so wrong it makes us want to hide
in shame, Guthrie says we think, How could I have done that? That
isn't like me. Instead we should think, That's exactly like me. This
just reveals the core of who I am.
One gifted and powerful man who succumbed to a sexual liaison
that destroyed his career and wounded his marriage used the same
words of shamed astonishment: "How could I have done that?"
Sometimes only the enormous consequences of our sins awaken
us to the truth about ourselves. We are both Dr. Jekyll and Mr.
Hyde. Until we recognize our sinful condition, we are vulnerable.
As Paul warned the Corinthians, "Let him who thinks he stands
take heed lest he fall" (1 Corinthians 10:12, NKJV). We must contend
with both our fallen nature and the enemy of our souls.
Jesus told Peter that Satan desired to sift him like wheat.
What a fascinating, but chilling, revelation of the unseen war! Satan
wants to sift us like wheat. He will use temptation, suffering,
bitterness, or any other weapon he can to try to trip us up.
Jesus' promise to Peter in light of Satan's desire is equally
fascinating: "I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should
not fail" (Luke 22:32, NLT). Scripture tells us that Jesus prays for
us, too, so we know how high the stakes are for each of us. We must
therefore be prayerful and constantly alert.
Lord, sometimes I get a chilling glimpse of how Satan is
after me and tempts me. Please garrison my soul and protect me against
temptation, for I understand my weakness and call for your strength.
Humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil and he will
flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you.
James 4:7-8, NLT [The One Year Book of Encouragement by Harold Myra]
Some of us have tried to have a daily quiet time and have not
been successful, Others of us have a hard time concentrating. And all
of us are busy. So rather than spend time with God, listening for
his voice, we'll let others spend time with him and then benefit
from their experience. Let them tell us what God is saying. After
all, isn't that why we pay preachers?...
If that is your approach, if your spiritual experiences are
secondhand and not firsthand, I'd like to challenge you with this thought:
Do you do that with other parts of your life?...
You don't do that with vacations ... You don't do that with
romance .... You don't let someone eat on your behalf, do you? [There are]
certain things no one can do for you.
And one of those is spending time with God. [Grace For The
Moment SB By Max Lucado re Jam. 4:8]
The moments when I truly live are the moments when I act with my
whole will. Never allow a truth of God that is brought home to your
soul to pass without acting on it, not necessarily physically, but in
will. Record it, with ink or with blood. The feeblest saint who
transacts business with Jesus Christ is emancipated the second he acts;
all the almighty power of God is on his behalf. We come up to the
truth of God, we confess we are wrong, but go back again; then we come
up to it again, and go back; until we learn that we have no
business to go back. We have to go clean over on some word of our
redeeming Lord and transact business with Him. His word 'come' means
'transact.' "Come unto Me." The last thing we do is to come; but everyone
who does come knows that that second the supernatural life of God
invades him instantly. The dominating power of the world, the flesh and
the devil is paralyzed, not by your act, but because your act has
linked you on to God and His redemptive power. [My Utmost for His
Highest by Oswald Chambers re Jam. 4:8]
The power that set the galaxies spinning, that holds the earth
in place, that calmed the seas, that turned water into wine--that
power is in your life. Why would we go through life trying to do
things in our own strength? And yet, so many of us fall into that very
temptation. Be different. Thank God for his power at work in your life and
on your behalf. Rely on him instead of yourself. [The One Year
Bible for New Believers re Eph.1:19, 20]
LINKS WORTH CHECKING OUT:
Lifting Up Jesus Bible Studies: http://www.liftingupjesus.net/
Grace Notes: http://www.e-gracenotes.org/index.php
Excellent Spiritual Resource Site:
More Spiritual Resources: http://www.aBible.com