Of course, WSC is cultivating a community of women whose relationship with God is close, vital, and joyful. So, in this second get acquainted post, we are talking about ways to draw closer to God. Before we get started just wanted to remind you once again to add email@example.com to your contact list so future emails make it to your inbox and not to spam!
Okay, let’s dig in. Growing closer to God is a goal for all serious Christians, but one that often seems elusive. I’m sure you’ve seen the snippet on the picture above on posters or in your church bulletin. Although you know that you are the one who caused the distance, this cliché doesn’t tell you how to fix it.
This blog identifies five practical steps to draw closer to God using James 4: 7-10. While we usually engage the lives of women of the Bible as examples, guides, and mentors this article examines this passage of Scripture through an an unlikely mentor named Zacchaeus.
WHO IS ZACCHAEUS?
- He also lined his pockets with stolen tax money.
- Despite Zacchaeus’ corruption, he was curious about Jesus and went to Jericho to check Him out.
3. Jesus sensed his presence and looking up in the tree told the man to come down.
4. Zacchaeus promptly presented himself before the Lord.
Of course, this riled the self-righteous gossipmongers, but Jesus didn’t pay any attention. A man was about to be drawn closer to God and his life will change now and for eternity.
FIVE STEPS THAT BROUGHT ZACCHAEUS CLOSER TO GOD.
“Submit yourselves then, to God.” (Jas 4:7a NIV)
Zacchaeus had reasons to stay in the tree: the crowd’s hate was palpable and mobbing him was not out of the question. However, when Jesus told him to come down he didn’t hesitate or make excuses.
Listen for God’s voice and obey!
This was a lesson I learned during a tumultuous time in my life. The chaos drew me closer to God, thus I cried out to Him for help and healing. However, when He told me an unappealing truth, unlike Zacchaeus, I rejected His “suggestion.”
If you read my story last week, you know that ignoring God got me nowhere except in trouble and further from my Savior. When God speaks, listen and follow the path He puts before you, even if it isn’t the path you want or assume is best.
Have trouble hearing God? Click here for an article that provides ideas on how the fruit of the Holy Spirit can help us during our “hard of hearing” times, or is it selective hearing?
Surely Satan didn’t want Zacchaeus to get closer to God, therefore I believe he tried his best to keep him from Jericho that day. Perhaps he planted ideas in his head about staying away from the peasant crowds and counting his money that afternoon. Providing reasons to ignore God is Satan’s specialty. Don’t be fooled by his ploys.
Satan’s ploys in this area aren’t original, however, they are effective. He convinces us that God owes us; after all, we teach Sunday school, serve on church committees, work in the nursery, go on mission trips, etc.
Surprise! God doesn’t owe us, moreover, He gives us more than we deserve. It’s called grace.
During the tumultuous time mentioned above, I learned to quit blaming God and recognized that church work is not a vaccine against trials and troubles.
Zacchaeus showed up; Jesus took care of the rest. When Jesus invited Himself to Zacchaeus’ home this double-dealing man made no excuses about the house being a mess or not wanting to inconvenience Jesus. Trying to hide your flaws is futile, God knows about them anyway.
Welcome Jesus, even when your house is a mess!
To grow closer to God it is imperative that you spend time with Him. If you stop talking to a friend or ignore your spouse, the nearness dies and the kinship you felt no longer brings joy to your life. That is why Bible study, prayer, and meditation are necessary to maintain a satisfying, joyful, and authentic relationship with our Creator and Savior.
Furthermore, when you spend time with God don’t do all the talking. We all know annoying people that don’t allow us to get a word in edgewise, however, when we visit with God that is often how we act. If you are looking for more help about silence before God, check out number two in “Twenty-one Ways to Jumpstart Your Prayer Life”.
Upon receiving forgiveness, Zacchaeus recognized his depravity, thus both his heart and behavior changed, consequently he made restitution to the people affected by his thievery. He gave the people four times the amount that he cheated them and half of his money to the poor.
BRING YOUR SIN INTO THE LIGHT.
I know your asking, “Why would I do that?” I don’t like confronting my sin either. However, neglecting to seek forgiveness for specific sins grieves the Holy Spirit and affects our relationship with God. Like Zacchaeus, appreciate your forgiveness and let your actions reveal your changed heart. The following Psalms may help you prepare for confession: 6, 32, 51, 103, and 130.
Wealth and influence don’t impress Jesus, and Zacchaeus realized this when standing in God’s presence. No matter what your position, be humble, understanding everything is from God.
YES WAY! God made us in His own image and each of us is unique. However, we are not saved because we are the favorite child. God’s gracious love and mercy is the reason for our salvation.
God does not honor a proud spirit. All successful endeavors (even those attained by nonbelievers) are by the grace of God. Someday ALL people will know this is true. Be humble in your weakness and success. Give God the glory, always.
SO, NOT AS CLOSE TO GOD AS YOU USED TO BE? GUESS WHO MOVED!
Following these five steps reminds me that the cliché is true – it is me that moved. In fact the distance we feel is a state of mind, not reality. God is never far. Just reach out and God will grab your hand and draw you close once again.
COMMENTS AND ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
If you want to learn more about Zacchaeus click here for an article about this complicated man. The Bible documents his story in Luke 19: 1-10.
Additionally, if you have any ideas on how to draw closer to God, please share your thoughts in the comment section below. You may help a sister-in-Christ!
Thanks Patrice, I think this is so true. God is calling His people to repent and live genuinely in relationship with Him. I think there’s a lot of thinking among Christians about how our nation needs to repent but it’s really all of us Christians who need to repent and start being real then God will hear, forgive, and heal. There are some prayer gatherings going on here this month where we live in Iowa and a national movement called the return (thereturn.org) to turn back to God. Sept. 26 is a big gathering organized by the return, even praying at home that day to join in would be great.
I whole-heartedly agree with Cassandra! And, Patrice you nailed it when you wrote, “Realize that we’re not saved because we are the favorite child. God’s gracious love and mercy is the reason for our salvation.” There seems to be an emphasis on God loving us so much – and YES, He absolutely does! However, we often misunderstand what love actually is… His love is not like a pair of soft and comfortable old slippers to slop around in and be lazy. He is more than the Lamb that was sacrificed. He is ALSO the Lion of Judah and He will judge the world. Our region in northwestern PA is also preparing for His “return”. We are gathering and praying with those in Washington DC on Sept. 26th, also. And you, dear sister Cassandra are wise when you say that it is the CHURCH who must confess and repent! The world just does what it does. God loves the world as He states in John 3:16. Are the lost going to be condemned because the church failed to speak into the lives of the lost and love them with the fierceness of a Lion? God will hear us when we confess and repent. We must return to our first love. I feel like it is… NOW. OR. NEVER.
Debbie, I am always grateful when readers comment and express their thoughts. I wish more would take the time to do so. Your discernment is on target! We only want to talk about God’s love and not His judgment. I think it is because, deep down, we realize our depravity, even when we don’t want to admit it outwardly. I hope that our prayers at the end of this month might bring about a desperately needed revival that will start in some small place and spread throughout our country and then to the world. Thanks again for your thoughts.
Thanks so much for your wise comments. As Debbie mentioned this area is also having a time of prayer on Sept. 26. I pray that many take the time to come together. I often think about the nation repenting. The U.S. has certainly turned away from God, but you are right about the church repenting. The impact we could have if only we realized our own sin and contribution to the corruption and decay of our land. Thanks, again, Cassandra. Appreciate your thoughts so much.