As I contemplated how to follow up this week’s sermons I happened to fall across this post by Ken Weliever. As you know, I don’t typically put another person’s articles in our bulletins. However, after reading this article I am sure you will understand.
Word of the Week: Near
A farmer, Jeb, and his wife, Mabel, were driving into town in their pickup truck. He was sitting behind the wheel in silence. Eyes focused on the road. Thinking about the work he had to do. Mabel was sitting on the other side of the cab against the door. It was a beautiful Fall day. The sun was shining. The leaves were changing. And Mabel begin to reminisce about their younger days. How they enjoyed long drives in the country. Special time together. And the intimacy of a young couple in love. Finally Mabel turned to Jeb and said, “You know when we were younger, we used to sit close together when we went out for a drive.” Jeb clenched his jaw, tightened his grip on the wheel, and looking straight ahead said, “Well, I ain’t never moved!” Our word of the week is “near.” When we have a relationship with someone we want to be near to them. Close to them. Connected to them. Physically, if possible. But certainly, emotionally. And relationally. Sometimes I hear people confess that they don’t feel close to God. They don’t feel near to God. They don’t enjoy the same feelings they experienced as new Christians. The Bible often speaks of our need to “draw near to God.” In Moses’ final address before Israel entered the promised land, he exhorted them to “go near and hear all that the Lord our God may say…” (Deut 5:27) David often spoke of his close relationship with God. He wrote in Psalm 73:28, “But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord God, That I may declare all Your works.” The Preacher in Ecclesiastes advised, “Guard your steps as you go to the house of God and draw near to listen” (Eccl. 5:1) The fact is that God desires to have a relationship with you. A kinship. A fellowship. For you to experience being near to Him. The Bible says, “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth” (Ps 145:18). God is not absent from our world, or oblivious to our problems. He is real. He knows. He cares. He hears. He wants to you to come near to him. David, a man after God’s own heart, experienced the nearness of God, and gave us this assurance. “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit” (Ps 34:18). To feel near to God, we must come to know God. But there is a big difference between knowing about God, and really knowing God and experiencing a relationship with Him. Mike Cope, in One Holy Hunger, expressed it this way: “We easily fall into the trap of believing that information is the key to eternal life. So, we turn to a “date based Christianity” to fill us with knowledge about God. We then open the pages of Scripture to memorize events that can later be regurgitated as if Christian living were similar to a sophomore history class.” To be clear, knowledge is vitally important. Our faith is founded on Bible knowledge, Everything I know about God is revealed in His Word. Yet, our knowledge must issue itself in a divine purpose. A practical way. And a personal relationship. Do you feel estranged from God? Distant? And unattached? Who’s moved? The Bible says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (Jas. 4: 8) -Ken Weliever, (from thepreacherman.org)
As I contemplated his words my mind kept wandering to how many times I have moved through the years. I moved when I permitted gluttony to ruin my life. I move every time I permit anger to guide my decisions. I move and then expect God to “make up the difference.” While I realize that we often like to say God is reaching out to us. We like saying things like God met us more than ½ way when he allowed Jesus to die for us. But, do we use this is a cop out? Do we use this so that we don’t have to move? So that we can continue in our sin and expect God to pick up the mess we are creating. Yep… too often I reply back, “I ain’t movin either.” -WTK
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