Drawing Near I

Drawing - near


Sunday 03/12/17 

Series: Doers of the Word

Message – Drawing Near I

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Drawing Near

Last week we spent time pressing into the richness of James 4:6-8. As we looked both at this passage AND our initial key text of James 1:22-25, we see James introducing as it were 3 necessary questions… which we can actually see in the passage itself. They are…

  • How do I hear?
  • How do I remember?
  • How do I do (practice)?

Let’s read those two passages beginning with James 1:22-25,

James 1:22-25,

“(22) But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.  (23)  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror;  (24)  for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. (25)  But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

So we can see that there is a hearing which leads to forgetting and a hearing which leads to remembering.

The one who walks away and forgets does not suffer from business or poor memory, they are suffering the results of an undisciplined mind.

Now let’s look at James 4:6-8 where James is instructing those who have NOT heard the right way, NOT remembered and NOT practiced. What does he say to them?

James 4:6-8,

“(6) But He gives greater grace. Therefore He says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. (7)  Therefore, submit to God. But resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.  (8)  Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, double-minded people!”

Notice that James does not offer a different set of instructions for busy people and another for the retired and another still for part-time workers….one for single people and another for the married….NO! He tells the exact same thing to each and every person. If we believe the scriptures to be inspired we have to accept that external pressures, occupations, walks of life and business play NO significant role in our ability to draw near. Our inconsistencies are not external and peripheral, they are internal to the heart and are the result of being lazy with our minds.

Drawing near…

You’ll remember we discussed the different kinds of “near” mentioned in the bible. What does James 4:8 Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you mean?

So when we say drawing NEAR to God – we are not speaking in terms of physical distance but rather heart distance.

The default position for the child of God is NEAR to Him. It is unnatural in the extreme for a child of God to be positioned at a distance from His person.

“NEAR” is precisely the atmosphere in which the child of God was born and that in which he was designed to forever remain.

Here are our three definitions for hearing, remembering and doing:

  • Hears the wordTo bend over or stoop down near in order to hear.
  • Not forgetful – holding onto continues to stay near it & abide in it. – Jn. 14 & 15
  • Doer of the work – keeping it.
  • He will be blessed in his keeping it.

Last week we covered KEEPING. We learned that it means to GUARD, attend to and observe.

We illustrated it by read from John 14 & 15…looking at abiding and being a branch.

As we move forward we will refer back to KEEPING as guarding, attending and observing.


To bend over – stoop down near. This is a HUNGER to hear! This is the love-sick longing of a lover!

This key is found in chapter 1 where James explains temptations in terms of heart location. “Each one is DRAWN AWAY by his own DESIRES and enticed. Desire leads to action and action leads to separation.”

But it works in the opposite as well! “We find ourselves drawing near due to our DESIRES. As we are enticed, those desires are stirred up within in us. This leads to desire becoming an action – without even trying we find ourselves drawing near to God in intimacy!”

We sang a song last week and this, which illustrated this, “My heart aches for you….in my soul there is an agony….”

I illustrated this last week with Teri and how sometimes, I just need to be near her, just need to hold her. Not because of any estrangement – but just the opposite – because I long for her!

Augustine wrote, “Thou hast formed us for Thyself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.”

Tozer said, “God wills that we should push on into His presence and live our whole lives there…it is a life to be enjoyed every moment of every day.”

The psalms talks about a deep soul hunger… “As the deer pants”….

Are these just the ramblings of men who had gotten so religious that they had lost touch with reality or had they pressed in long enough –  to discover something many others… MOST others miss?

I think they pressed in long enough to enter that presence beyond the veil…and once they saw they KEPT it – They guarded it, attended to it and observed it.

David said, “One thing I have desired and that I will seek after…..”

Desire IS to drawing near, what remembering is to enticement.

We will develop a hunger for that which we feed on. The body and the mind can be trained! They will respond WITH DESIRE for the things you consistently feed them.

So, the first step we can take in drawing near to HEAR from God is to draw AWAY from other things…feed CONSISTENTLY on Him!

“Oh how I love Your law, it is my meditation ALL THE DAY” ~ Psalm 119:97

We will pick up here next weekBlessings! 


I hope this teaching will challenge you and encourage you to place your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

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Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it right...safety in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keeps authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provide teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!