“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4:8 (ESV)
Do you feel Him? Do you hear His voice?
So often we hear popular verses and they quickly float through our minds without impact because we have them memorized. They are the typical verses used within (and also many times outside of) the church continuously. We are used to them. They become familiar. They become unimportant. Much like the concept of “fruitfulness” Evan discussed in his first video sermon, “Are You Fruitful?. One of those verses that is thrown out nonchalantly within the church is “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” Let’s go deeper.
To some extent, I have always felt the Holy Spirit speak to me since becoming a Christian back when I was a young child. However, recently, as I have made studying God’s Word more of a priority, I feel the weight of the Holy Spirit almost constantly. And it is heavy. I’m going to be honest, sometimes it is downright annoying.
“I want to gossip, God. Please don’t get in the way.”
“I want to eat in excess, Jesus. Can’t I just this once?”
“I want to say this curse word… it makes the joke funnier, Lord! Can’t you understand that?”
“I want to make this snarky comment on Facebook, Christ. What is the harm?”
The list goes on…
The verse holds true. The more I have drawn near to God, the more He has drawn near to me. His voice has become familiar to me. I welcome it. I love that I hear Him all the time- that He is speaking to me on a regular basis. I appreciate the weight of the Holy Spirit pressing down on my heart throughout the day as I make decisions.
It is astounding how as I have devoted more of my time to Him, I have become more devoted to Him and His will for my life. For example, things that used to not convict me now do with intensity. I believe that there are things the Lord didn’t speak to me about because He was focused on building a relationship with me without concentrating on the sin and bad choices in my life. I liken in to how a Christian wouldn’t witness to someone through explaining to them all of the things they should give up to follow Christ. The most important thing would be that person’s salvation. The rest would come later once the Holy Spirit was living within them. In my case, I think Jesus was focusing on having me desire Him more and grow closer to Him before He worked on the seemingly smaller sin issues in my life.
This isn’t going to be a particularly longwinded post, but I just want to encourage you. If you aren’t hearing His voice and guidance, then perhaps it is time to crack open the Word of God. Reach out to Him. His promise to you is that if you draw near to Him, He will draw near to you. It is a promise. And guess what… God always keeps His promises!
Some Christ followers complain that they just cannot hear the Lord- all while allowing their Bibles to gather dust on the shelf. You want to hear God? The Bible says that the Word was with God and the Word was God (John 1:1). The Word also says, “And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” Ezekiel 36:27 (ESV) He indwells us as the Holy Spirit.
Thus, if you want to hear God’s voice, dear Christian, you know where to find Him. Don’t be too lazy to read your Bible. Don’t be too preoccupied to pray. If you are, then don’t expect Jesus to speak to you regularly. His promise was that if you draw near to Him, then He will draw near to you. Of course there are exceptions to this rule. But how often do you reach out to a friend multiple times without response before you give up and wait for them to call on you? God is constantly pursuing us but will not force Himself on us. Just look at how fervently God pursued Nebuchadnezzar, a wickedly vicious king (Read about it in the beginning of Daniel)! He pursues us just the same; however, sometimes we have to make the effort first.
God makes the original effort before we come to salvation. We love him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19), yet since we are His kids, if we choose to walk away from His loving arms, we must choose to return (Think “Prodigal Son”: Luke 15:11-32). Thankfully, God sometimes gives us a push in the right direction, as He did with the Israelites when He had to discipline them (Remember, we are His children- many times He has to punish us to accomplish His will.). Often times, natural consequences begin to occur. For example, we stop hearing His guidance as much as we used to, we begin to feel disconnected, or we begin to turn to the world as the Israelites turned to the Egyptians and Assyrians only to find that they aren’t on our team after all.
“Ephraim [most powerful tribe of Israel at the time, northern kingdom] is also like a silly dove, without sense— they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria.” Hosea 7:11 (ESV)
Eventually, if we are prudent, we will run back to the Lord’s arms.
“Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity.” Hosea 14:1 (ESV)
Dear Believer, if you aren’t hearing God’s voice, turn around. He is standing close, with His arms outstretched, all you have to do is reach out and draw near.