I've been quiet on the blog, and even my posts on social media have slowed recently. Starting a new business has been exciting and such a joy, but also has brought on a lot of work and learning that has shifted my attention. BUT this weekend, GOD got my FULL attention as we retreated from everyday life to Beulah Beach for our first Great Lakes Women's retreat. The weekend was truly a blessing, came at the perfect time, and had a theme that my heart was so desperately needing... to Draw Near to God.
“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
I was asked if I would be willing to do a little teaching for our morning devotional one morning of the retreat. While spending a few months praying over it and taking notes here and there, I didn't actually sit down to write the teaching until about a week before the retreat. I was lead to use some thoughts from a little teaching that I did for our girls group when I was living in Oregon. It was based off of a sermon I had listened to a few years ago on Colossians 1, along with some supporting verses, devotionals and things the Lord kept laying on my heart, all with the main point of drawing near to God. Okay so here goes.... more of my heart & teaching below, as always pray over it & go to scripture first and foremost, I am just a vessel that God is speaking through!
We should desire nothing but the Lord, drawing near to Him, letting Him reclaim the throne in our hearts as He draws near to us.
If only we knew where the father was taking us, we wouldn’t become so preoccupied with such lesser things—there is this struggle with the persistent pursuit of lesser things. I would say that our downfall is to take good things and try to put them above God in order they were never designed to be (at least I know there are certainly times that I do). As woman, I think there is this temptation is to put first place energy to second place pursuits-- whatever that might be: our jobs, relationships, money, husbands (or desire for one), families (or desire for one), [insert any desire...], worry/doubt/fear, clean homes, perfection, doing ALL THE THINGS, that need we sometimes feel to try to "control things" and the list continues! I think there is this tendency in the midst of hustle, grind of every day life to lose sight of what or WHO comes first. There is need for us to humble ourselves, repent in cleansing our hands and purifying our hearts- drawing near, to desire nothing but God, letting him reclaim the throne of our hearts. When we draw near, He draws near to us.
Nevertheless I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand. With Your counsel You will guide me, And afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but You. And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. -Psalm 73:23-26
In Colossians 1, Paul gives picture of Jesus so big, so bold, so beautiful—the rest of the priorities and things will begin to find there proper place, fading, as we draw near and Jesus reclaims the throne of our hearts.
Colossians 1:15-20 15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. 19For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
In drawing near, we too get to experience the fullness of the Spirit dwelling in us. Walking in step with the Spirit. But first, we have to let the other priorities fade in light of this big, bold, beautiful picture of Jesus-- who HE is and what He has done for us.
Continuing on with James 4:8- Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. We need to have a spirit of repentance, surrender, letting go of expectations, experiencing the refining of our hearts to remove impurities. Sometimes just like printers have to be re-calibrated, we too need to re-calibrate our hearts. Over time if we are not careful, the image of God in us can get slightly distorted, we stop seeing and living clearly.... the purposes we live for begin to wane. Jesus is first, we need to be renewed, our lives are not about us but Jesus— let Jesus sit on the throne of our hearts. We have to be renewed daily to push away the grind of life that has the tendency to become idols or greater things in our life than Jesus. We have to surrender fully to Christ alone, letting go and letting GOD. Removing idols, desire nothing but God.
Here are a few verses to help re-calibrate and refine our hearts in following Jesus:
Ezekial 36:25-28 25Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.28You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God.—letting Jesus reclaim the throne of our hearts
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. -Romans 12:2
Mark 8:34-36 34And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them,"If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 35For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it. 36For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?
Psalm 37:7 Surrender yourself to the Lord, and wait patiently for him.
Surrendering your life often means...
- Following God's lead without knowing where he's sending you;
- Waiting for God's timing without knowing when it will come;
- Expecting a miracle without knowing how God will provide;
- Trusting God's purpose without understanding the circumstances.
- You know you're surrendered to God when you rely on God to work things out instead of trying to manipulate others, force your agenda, and control the situation. You let go and let God work. You don't have to always be in charge. Instead of trying harder, you trust
We should humble ourselves, surrender our hearts, desire nothing but the Lord, drawing near to Him, letting Him reclaim the throne in our hearts as He draws near to us.
Lastly I will leave you with and excerpt from Jesus Calling that talks about being in the presence of Jesus, refusing to worry or rush off to the day's activities before spending time with Him. When we draw near, He restores our souls & sense of direction.
“Demonstrate your trust in Me by sitting quietly in My Presence. Put aside all that is waiting to be done, and refuse to worry about anything. This sacred time together strengthens you and prepares you to face whatever the day will bring. By waiting with Me before you begin the day’s activities, you proclaim the reality of My living Presence. This act of faith—waiting before working—is noted in the spirit world, where your demonstration of trust weakens principalities and powers of darkness. The most effective way to resist evil is to draw near Me. When you need to take action, I will guide you clearly through My Spirit and My Word. The world is so complex and overstimulating that you can easily lose your sense of direction. Doing countless unnecessary activities will dissipate your energy. When you spend time with Me, I restore your sense of direction. As you look to Me for guidance, I enable you to do less but accomplish more. -Excerpt From: Young, Sarah. “Jesus Calling.”