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
to make near, i.e. (reflexively) approach:—approach, be at hand, come (draw) near, be (come, draw) nigh
Purposefully, I seek the Lord. Purposefully, I draw near to Him. Purposefully, I want to be near to Him in this seemingly un-purposeful period of my life.
I have moved across three states to the Western Slope of Colorado where I knew one person, my cousin, eleven months ago.
I am awaiting a condo-building to be completed.
I am not in a church yet.
I am holding a lot of distrust towards many who call themselves brothers and sisters in Christ.
I need Him close because I am not walking alone very well.
So, ‘drawing near’ to God in a diligent way is my real purpose right now.
I continue to read the Bible with “Sweeter Than Honey, A 365-Day Devotional” by Patsy Burnette. I truly have been diligent since January 1st and here it is mid-August! Only the Lord can keep me on track!
I somewhat calmly await the completion of a four-story condo building in my new Colorado city. They are still placing completion between end of December to March, 2023. It is getting closer!
With almost a year now in my new city, I have decided to volunteer. I am going to be in a kindergarten class, beginning this week. I will be with a seasoned teacher (but she is at a grade level and a school that is only her second year). I will be there initially thinking I will be observing more than doing, but I actually know better. Five-year-olds will be my teachers more than the teacher herself!!
…let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:22
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16
Dearest God, As I approach You this day, I humble myself and ask for Your hand upon me, my moves and my heart. You know my every step before I even take them. You also know my circumstances and that which is in my heart. You know the aching body that I live in. Please hold it with Your love and Your healing touch. Father, I pray that You go before me in all I do and all I am. May this ‘diligence’ I have been learning this year be consistent with Your desire for my life. As I walk into this kindergarten class this week, please use me for these children and their teacher. May I be a light of Christ in their world, sharing His love, His openness, His calm, His caring. Thank You for this opportunity, for taking me over a few hurdles to get to this place, for this week’s new adventure. It has been a long time since I was in a public school classroom. Guide my hands and heart as You hold me near. I pray over these children for their ability to learn and for their safety. I pray these young minds and bodies be ready to soak up the lessons like a sponge, as this early age usually is! Thank You for the new friends I am making here. Please grow me, Lord, in community. I ask for Your guidance as I draw near and hold fast to You, my Lord. Help me not to waver in my faith, God, for You are faithful. Father, I lift up several relatives of my late husband, Kenneth, who are caring for my two elderly sisters-in-law…Terri with her Mom, Michelle with her Grandmother/Gary…his Mother. I pray for them each and all as I know this is hard. Please cover all precious givers-of-care in Your Grace and Mercy, my Father. I pray all in the Name of Christ, my Lord. Amen.
Bugs Bunny likes to taunt Elmer Fudd in the cartoons, similarly, the Roadrunner to Wylie Coyote. I have struggled my life to not be a target for another’s taunts. Today’s language might state ‘a taunt’ as ‘bullying.’ God states that the Israelites will be a taunt. It is not that they are doing the taunting but that they are doing things that cause others to notice them and what they have done to betray their God, the One True God. The children of God have disobeyed God. After many, many reminders, God uses them as a taunt, as a visual lesson from God to others watching. In the meantime, others may, indeed, taunt those who have gone astray.
How often throughout my 74 years have I disappointed and displeased God in the actions I have taken, the words I have spewed out, the thoughts I have had? Often, in the Bible, we see, again and again, the Israelites idolizing gods of others. They disobey God by going against His rules and His words.
And the people of Israel did secretly against the LORD their God things that were not right. They built for themselves high places in all their towns, from watchtower to fortified city. They set up for themselves pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree, and there they made offerings on all the high places, as the nations did whom the LORD carried away before them. And they did wicked things, provoking the LORD to anger, and they served idols, of which the LORD had said to them, “You shall not do this.” Yet the LORD warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments and my statutes, in accordance with all the Law that I commanded your fathers, and that I sent to you by my servants the prophets.” But they would not listen, but were stubborn, as their fathers had been, who did not believe in the LORD their God. 2 Kings 17:9-14
As I continue to read the Bible with “Sweeter Than Honey Devotional A 365-Day Devotional Journey” by Patsy Burnette this year, we are in the midst of the prophets, Jeremiah, Habakkuk, Ezekiel. The words, the messages God gives to these men to, then, give to the children of God are hard words to hear let alone to have to speak for God. They hold lesson-upon-lesson for the Children of God as well as for readers such as myself. Oh, that I will relearn once again!
Throughout the prophecies, God calls His children names that I find hard to stomach. Below these Scriptures, you will see these words and their definitions. None of them are a good, positive description for anyone. We should want to be the opposites.
I will make thema horror to all the kingdoms of the earth, to bea reproach, a byword, a taunt, and a curse in all the places where I shall drive them. Jeremiah 24:9. ESV
“You shall be a reproach and a taunt, a warning and a horror, to the nations all around you, when I execute judgments on you in anger and fury, and with furious rebukes—I am the LORD; I have spoken—when I send against you the deadly arrows of famine, arrows for destruction, which I will send to destroy you, and when I bring more and more famine upon you and break your supply of bread. I will send famine and wild beasts against you, and they will rob you of your children. Pestilence and blood shall pass through you, and I will bring the sword upon you. I am the LORD; I have spoken.” Ezekiel 5:15-17
“For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: As my anger and my wrath were poured out on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so my wrath will be poured out on you when you go to Egypt. You shall become an execration, a horror, a curse, and a taunt. You shall see this place no more. The LORD has said to you, O remnant of Judah, ‘Do not go to Egypt.’ Know for a certainty that I have warned you this day that you have gone astray at the cost of your lives. For you sent me to the LORD your God, saying, ‘Pray for us to the LORD our God, and whatever the LORD our God says, declare to us and we will do it.’ And I have this day declared it to you, but you have not obeyed the voice of the LORD your God in anything that he sent me to tell you. Now therefore know for a certainty that you shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence in the place where you desire to go to live.” Jeremiah 42:18-22
“Why do you provoke me to anger with the works of your hands, making offerings to other gods in the land of Egypt where you have come to live, so that you may be cut off and become a curse and a taunt among all the nations of the earth? Have you forgotten the evil of your fathers, the evil of the kings of Judah, the evil of their wives, your own evil, and the evil of your wives, which they committed in the land of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem?” Jeremiah 44:8-9
The boldface words in the Scriptures above are defined below:
זְוָעָה.zᵊvāʿâ. a horror, an object of terror, a trembling, an object of trembling
אָלָה.‘ālâ. an imprecation:—curse, cursing, execration, oath, swearing.
שַׁמָּה.šammâ. ruin; by implication, consternation:—astonishment, desolate(-ion), waste
Just reading these definitions makes me realize that when I walk against the very grain of God, I must sound like fingernails on a chalkboard. (Since chalkboards are now white boards, the sound will not be the same for those of you who are not familiar with that high-pitched screech that fingernails make on those black boards, but know that it is an extremely harsh, high-pitched screech. Makes your spine chill.) I look and sound like a taunt toward all that God has taught me. I am a reproach, a disgrace to the God Whom I love and desire to be obedient. Plus, I no longer look like Jesus Whom I am supposed to represent as I grow more and more into His image. I should be ashamed. When others look at me, who do they see? A belligerent, angry, lying, Jesus? NO, it is Linda in that reprehensible image, but if I represent Jesus as a Christ-following human being, then I ought to look like Him and not anyone or anything else!
I have the desire to walk peaceably with God, but I stray now and again. The Israelites strayed and yet God loved them dearly. He loves them in the midst of their disobedience just as He does us. That does not mean that God ignores them and lets them get away with all sorts of misdeeds. He wants obedience to Him from all of us who call themselves His. God is merciful and He is just. He punishes just as a father punishes his child when the child has disobeyed.
“Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will set my face against you for harm, to cut off all Judah. I will take the remnant of Judah who have set their faces to come to the land of Egypt to live, and they shall all be consumed. In the land of Egypt they shall fall; by the sword and by famine they shall be consumed. From the least to the greatest, they shall die by the sword and by famine, and they shall become an oath, a horror, a curse, and a taunt. I will punish those who dwell in the land of Egypt, as I have punished Jerusalem, with the sword, with famine, and with pestilence, so that none of the remnant of Judah who have come to live in the land of Egypt shall escape or survive or return to the land of Judah, to which they desire to return to dwell there. For they shall not return, except some fugitives.” Jeremiah 44:11-14
Dearest Father, I pray for each of us who love You so and want to walk in the obedience which You have called us. May we hear Your promptings, Your warnings when we wander, when we stray away from where You desire us to be. May I heed Your warnings, Lord. May I seek Your guidance in all things. Forgive me, Father, when I ignore You, when I am remiss in being mindful towards You. I know You never stop loving me, yet You want me where You want me. Please open my ears to hear. Open my eyes to see. May the eyes and ears of my heart be ready to see and hear You and be ready to follow those plans that You have always had for me… since before I was created. Guide me onto Your path and away from mine, Lord. I pray in the powerful Name of Jesus. Amen.
The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do. Then the word of the LORD came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the LORD. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. Jeremiah 18:1-6
clay: as material of vessels
CSB: But the jar that he was making from the clay became flawed in the potter’s hand, so he made it into another jar, as it seemed right for him to do.
NET: Now and then there would be something wrong with the pot he was molding from the clay with his hands. So he would rework the clay into another kind of pot as he saw fit.
NLT: But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over.
God gave Jeremiah a visual this time rather than just words, as if God’s Word is not enough! I am a visual learner more often than not. I grasp the whole idea when I can see something being done, see something in actuality, see or touch rather than just hear. Looks like Jeremiah needed that for this picture, this word picture. He was preparing a sermon from this. How better to be able to grasp the WHOLE point!
The Potter reuses the same lump of clay when the first pot was not turning out as He intended because of a flaw, a lump, a stone, something in the clay. As I am the clay, God created me in His original form. As life welled up from His hands, I grew into the beautiful life that He created. As’choice’ began to be a reality in my life, some of the choices I made were His choices for me, but so many were not. Over the course of these seventy-four years now, God has thrown this lump of clay back onto the wheel to see about changing my course. He drew me back to Himself. He loves me so that He desires that I become more and more as the image of His Son, Jesus the Christ.
“O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the LORD. Behold, like the clay in the potter‘s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. Jeremiah 18:6
I want to say that God does not need to take this clay to remake me again and again each time I take the wrong pathway from the one He has planned for me. But He does, I think! In a way! He created me perfectly, yet I need remolding from time to time as I am not perfect while I walk on this earth. The Holy Spirit draws me near and teaches me more and more through the Word, the life of Jesus, by prayer. He kneads my life through Himself to look more like the original way He created.
I spoke to the prophets; it was I who multiplied visions, and through the prophets gave parables. Hosea 12:10
God creates us perfectly no matter what we look like, what paths we, ourselves, choose over our lifetime, or just what happens to us in our bodies, our minds, our lives. We have been created perfectly. As we grow in Christ, we are to walk in the Lord as unto perfection, one step at a time. We should depend upon God to guide us and protect us as we become more and more like Christ. This is not an easy walk and it certainly is not a straight shot from the creation God made to the one we are to become. The road to Christ is a powerful walk but filled with storms, hills and dales, temperature extremes, roadblocks, plus our own weariness.
But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8
…from George Whitefield’s ((1714-1770), sermon “The Potter and the Clay:”
“Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, ‘O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter?’ Saith the Lord. ‘Behold, as the clay is in the hands of the potter,’” (marred, and unfit for the first designed purpose) “‘so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.’” At length, then, Jeremiah hath his sermon given to him: short, but popular. It was to be delivered to the whole house of Israel, princes, priests, and people: short, but pungent, even sharper than a two-edged sword. What! says the sovereign Lord of heaven and earth, must I be denied the privilege of a common potter? May I not do what I will with my own? “Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hands, so are ye in mine hands, O house of Israel. I made and formed you into a people, and blessed you above any other nation under heaven: but, O Israel, thou by thy backslidings hast destroyed thyself. As the potter therefore might justly have thrown aside his marred clay, so may I justly unchurch and unpeople you. But what if I should come over the mountains of your guilt, heal your backslidings, revive my work in the midst of the years, and cause your latter end greatly to increase? Behold, as the clay is in the hands of the potter, lying at his disposal, either to be destroyed or formed into another vessel, so are ye in my hands, O house of Israel: I may either reject, and thereby ruin you, or I may revisit and revive you according to my own sovereign good will and pleasure, and who shall say unto me, what dost thou?”
.… “I shall now proceed to show, that what the glorious Jehovah here says of the house of Israel in general, is applicable to every individual of mankind in particular.” ….
“First, I shall undertake to prove, that every man naturally engendered of the offspring of Adam, is in the sight of the all-seeing, heart-searching God, only as a “piece of marred clay.” ….
.… “But this is not all, we have yet more evidence to call; for do the blindness of our understandings, the perverseness of our will, the rebellion of our affections, the corruption our consciences, the depravity of our reason prove this charge; and does not present disordered frame and constitution of our bodies confirm the same also? Doubtless in this respect, man, in the most literal sense of the word, is a piece of marred clay.“
“Secondly, That being thus marred, he must necessarily be renewed: and under this head, we shall likewise point out by whose agency this mighty change is to be brought about.”
…. “This is what John the Baptist calls “being baptized with the Holy Ghost,” without which, his and all other baptisms, whether infant or adult, avail nothing. This is that fire, which our Lord came to send into our earthly hearts, and which I pray the Lord of all lords to kindle in every unrenewed one this day.”
“As for the extraordinary operations of the Holy Ghost, such as working of miracles, or speaking with divers kinds of tongues, they are long since ceased. But as for this miracle of miracles, turning the soul to God by the more ordinary operations of the Holy Ghost, this abides yet, and will abide till time itself shall be nor more. For it is he that sanctifieth us, and all the elect people of God. On this account, true believers are said to be “born from above, to be born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” Their second, as well as their first creation, is truly and purely divine. It is, therefore, called “a creation;” “but put ye on,” (says the apostle) “the new man which is created” — And how? Even as the first man was after God in righteousness and true holiness.”
As I readied myself to pray as I usually do at the ends of my posts, the prayer of Mr. Whitefield, at the end of his sermon, says so much that I will have him prayer for us this day:
You, that have in some degree experienced the quickening influence (for I must not conclude without dropping a word or two to God’s children) you know how to pity, and therefore, I beseech you also to pray for those, to whose circumstances this discourse is peculiarly adapted. But will you be content in praying for them? Will you not see reason to pray for yourselves also? Yes, doubtless, for yourselves also. For you, and you only know, how much there is yet lacking in your faith, and how far you are from being partakers in that degree, which you desire to be, of the whole mind that was in Christ Jesus. You know what a body of sin and death you carry about with you, and that you must necessarily expect many turns of God’s providence and grace, before you will be wholly delivered from it. But thanks be to God, we are in safe hands. He that has been the author, will also be the finisher of our faith. Yet a little while, and we like him shall say “It is finished;” we shall bow down our heads and give up the ghost. `Till then, (for to thee, O Lord, will we now direct our prayer) help us, O Almighty Father, in patience to possess our souls. Behold, we are the clay, and thou art the Potter. Let not the thing formed say to him that formed it, whatever the dispensations of thy future Will concerning us may be, Why dost thou deal with us thus? Behold, we put ourselves as blanks in thine hands, deal with us as seemeth good in thy sight, only let every cross, ever affliction, every temptation, be overruled to the stamping thy blessed image in more lively characters on our hearts; that so passing from glory to glory, by the powerful operations of they blessed Spirit, we may be made thereby more and more meet for, and at last be translated to a full, perfect, endless, and uninterrupted enjoyment of glory hereafter, with thee O Father, thee O Son, and thee O blessed Spirit; to whom, three persons but one God, be ascribed, as is most due, all honor, power, might, majesty and dominion, now and to all eternity. Amen and Amen.