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Archive for March, 2020

Drawing Near to Jesus (James 4:8)

Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:20)

Jesus is ALWAYS there. He will never leave you or forsake you: The problem is that sometimes we don’t “feel” His presence. A fake wall attempts to block us from realizing He is there even if we don’t “feel” Him. It is none other than the enemy of our soul who is on the prow to separate us from the one and only Savior.

How do we overcome that psychological fake wall? How do we draw near to Jesus with our mind and emotions?  James tells us:

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” (James 4:7-8a).

How can you can submit yourself—your mind, will and emotions, and overcome the distance you “feel” between you and Jesus? How can you resist the devil from bombarding you with his pessimism and discouragement?

#1- Speak!

The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” -that is, the word of faith which we preach (Romans 10:8). Post verses here and there. Look at them as you pass by and read them out loud. There is something about “hearing” the words going into our ears from our own mouth that goes deeper than if we just just read them. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). Yes, reading scripture is good. Yes, listening to scripture might be better. But reading or quoting scripture out loud is best. It strengthens us. It causes our faith to increase. It is strengthening us to resist the enemy’s temptations. And it helps us “feel” that Jesus is there listening!

COME near to God by speaking His Word aloud, and you will find He is there with you.

#2 – Remember, and Tell it!

I’m sure you’ve heard testimonies from others that you will never forget. They stirred your heart. Just thinking about your own stories of times Jesus intervened or spoke something specific in your life reminds you that Jesus is present—wherever you are, whatever the circumstances may be.

Don’t just remember. Also, TELL your stories. Whenever Jesus is exalted, the enemy flees. You encourage yourself just by telling your stories. If there’s no one to listen, tell them out loud to yourself! Listen to them over and over again. Eventually they will crowd out whatever negative circumstances you might be in.

The Old Testament tells us of a time when the Israelites pursued the Philistines and won. Afterwards, Samuel took a stone, placed it as a memorial, and called its name Ebenezer; he said, “The LORD has helped us.” (1 Samuel 7:12). What are the Ebenezers in your life? How many times has the Lord helped you? Think back. Remember them. Tell them to others again and again. It helps you to keep them vividly “set in stone” in your mind and remind yourself that if Jesus did that once, He will also help in your current situation. He is still THERE, wherever you are.

In Malachi we read: Those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name (Malachi 3:16-18).

COME near to God by remembering what He has done before, and you will find He is there with you.

 

#3 – Sing!

When you can’t “feel” Jesus near, don’t go out and get drunk …  Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord (Ephesians 5:18-20).

Speak to one another in songs! But also sing to yourself. Sing songs you’ve heard, Sing words that come to you seemingly out of nowhere. But sing! Whether you can carry a tune or not, Sing! Whether someone is listening or not, Sing! Sing scripture. Sing your prayers. Sing your feelings.

Listening to uplifting music can activate the presence of Jesus and give you a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair (See Isiah

I grew up in church from birth and words of hymns I learned before I reached ten years of age are still engraved in my mind and heart. They have strengthened my faith time and time again. When I feel discouraged, a song will pull me out of the pit. As I sing, I’m drawing near to the Lord in my “feelings” and the devil has to flee because he doesn’t like to hear me praising my Savior. I wasn’t given a beautiful voice, but I sing when I shower. I sing when I clean. I sing when I drive.  The songs make me forget I even have a problem.

Charles Naylor was 36 years old, and had been a minister in the Church of God for 13 years when a tent pole fell on his back during an evangelism campaign in Florida, injuring his spine and kidney. A year later he was in a bus accident that made him an invalid for the next four decades. In spite of his physical impairment, he went on to write 150 hymns and publish 8 books and numerous articles. Music helped him draw near to Jesus and silence the enemy’s accusations.

COME near to God by singing hymns and spiritual songs, and you will find He is there with you

 

#4 – Pray!

Always give thanks to God the Father in everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:20). One kind of prayer is prayer of thanksgiving. When you start giving thanks, one thing leads to another and you keep pulling out reasons to be thankful. Tell the Lord one of those reasons, and another will follow.

Apostle Paul says: Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (Ephesians 6:18). Paul likes the word ALL—leaving out nothing and no one.

There’s not just one way to pray. There has been a plethora of books written on prayer. They talk about how to pray and how to get your prayers answered. The truth is, we don’t need to read any of them. Most people who read them are sincere in wanting to know “how” to pray and reading these books sometimes intimidates them ever further. Do not judge another person’s prayers. Just talk to Jesus from your heart. He already knows how you feel so talk to Him about it.

Pray on all occasions:

  • fear
  • mealtimes
  • car rides
  • playtime
  • schoolwork
  • church services
  • sickness
  • disease
  • operations
  • danger
  • prayer meetings
  • birthdays
  • deaths
  • weddings
  • graduations
  • ordinations
  • dedications
  • sports events
  • travel
  • financial deficits
  • emotional situations
  • loneliness
  • vacations
  • and you continue adding to the list           

Pray all kinds of prayers:

  • long prayers
  • short prayers
  • scripture prayers
  • one-word prayers
  • crying prayers
  • moaning prayers (Romans 8:28)
  • thankful prayers
  • grieving prayers
  • sad prayers
  • happy prayers
  • written prayers,
  • asking prayers
  • complaining prayers
  • seeking prayers
  • knocking prayers
  • silent prayers when necessary (He knows what you’re thinking! Psalm 139; Hebrews 4:12),
  • and you continue adding to the list.

COME near to God by praying, and you will find He is there with you.

Be proactive! We need to know how to encourage ourselves in the Lord like David did.  “David was greatly distressed; for the people spoke of stoning him … but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God” (I Samuel 30:6).

Did he speak God’s promises aloud?

Did he remember and talk about how God had helped him kill Goliath?

Did he sing some of the songs (Psalms) he had written?

Did he pray?

Did he do all four activities?

What about you? Are you wiling to speak, tell, sing, and pray in order to “feel” that Jesus is there with you?

SUBMIT yourselves, then, to God.

RESIST the devil by using your voice to speak, tell, sing, pray; faith precedes victory, and he will flee from you.

COME near to God–speak, tell, sing, pray; and you will discover He is there — wherever you are. Jesus, the Word, is near you–even in your mouth (Romans 10:8).

(James 4:7-8a).

Heavenly Father, We love you and thank You for giving us ways to be aware of your presence and to evict the devil from our minds, in Jesus’ Name.

 

___________

C. Yvonne Karl – Message given at Taylors Church of God, Sunday Morning, March 15, 2020

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