Drawing Near to God

Picture of day planner and to-do listRelationships take work. The more effort and time we put in, the greater our emotional intimacy with our friend, spouse, and … God. Many of us know this, and yet, if you’re like me, you allow so many lesser things to crowd God out. I know intellectually, when I’m busiest, I need Christ most, and yet often that is when I tend to neglect Him in leu of my agenda or to-do list. In the middle of a busy conference season, my guest’s post today really resonated.

Come Near by Aliseea Cromer

“Come near to God and He will come near to you.” James 4:8, NIV

Relationships. We see them all around us. We all desire to create and grow relationships with others, maybe even to go walking up to a stranger with confidence, a warm smile, our hand out, as we share our name.

For some of you, introducing yourself to others might not have been as easy. Maybe you stood on the sidelines and watched others interact with one another and kept to yourself.

Maybe you’re shy.

Maybe you’ve been hurt in the past and have a hard time opening up to others.

It’s easy for some of us to create relationships while it is more challenging for the rest. But how are you doing with your relationship with God? Are you too caught up with friends and family or too closed off to turn to pursue Him? I’m not asking this with a pointed finger because I’ve been there—pushing off reading my Bible or allowing hurt to keep me from Him.

But our hearts need Jesus. He alone can heal, sustain, and fulfill us. He’s pursued us time and time again, but some of us have ignored Him and dismissed times we could’ve spent with Him.

“I’ll read my Bible later.”

“I have to get ready for work. I don’t have time for God now.”

“I need to clean the kitchen before I leave. I can’t do that and read my devotionals.”

I’ve come up with too many excuses as to why I can’t spend time with God, why it’s ok to put Him at the bottom of my list, stating that I’ll get there when I’ve got time.

Perhaps you’ve been there—entertaining reasons why you don’t need to deepen your relationship with God, why He would

Woman reading on her cell phone.

Image by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

much rather you do that thing than spend time reading Scripture.

We’re imperfect and sinful, more often focused on our agendas than the condition of our hearts. But here’s the amazing thing: we’re imperfect sinners saved by grace. Every day we get a new start to open our Bibles and spend time with Him. (“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23, NIV.) We need to begin with saying, “I’m going to spend time with God today. I’m not making any more excuses.” By doing this, we will be rewarded. Not in money, clothes, or beauty, but by growing closer to Him, which is the best reward we could receive. And as we continue spending time with Him, we’ll be more alert to His voice talking back to us.

Let’s talk about this! How are you going to start spending time with God today? What can you do that will make a difference in your walk with God? How can you come near to Him, knowing that He is, in that moment, drawing near to you?

Get to know Aliseea!

Aliseea P. Cromer's headshot

Processed with VSCO with av8 preset

Aliseea P. Cromer is a youth leader, teacher’s aide, aspiring author, and a firm believer in Christ. She was born and raised in a Christian home and came to know Christ when she was four.

It wasn’t until 2016 that Aliseea truly started to pursue her dream as an author. One of the first books she’s ever written, but never published, was a sci-fi/teen fiction genre about a young girl who was different than anyone else. It was through the time she was looking at getting her book published that the wise words of her mother and the conviction of the Holy Spirit that Aliseea should be using this gift to honor God through her books. After a year of seeking God’s direction, Aliseea wrote the story that’s been on her heart and is now praying for guidance as she looks for an agent to represent her. In the mean time, Aliseea continues to write, whether it’s on her blog or in her journal, to honor and praise God and point others back to Him.

Aliseea is currently in the process of editing her book and doesn’t have anything published. She is getting ready to launch her blog on May 5th, 2018 and prays that it will be used to encourage others.

Before you go, make sure to stop by WhollyLoved.com to catch a glimpse of Christa Cottam’s latest video devotion–focused on starting our day right by spending time with Jesus. That’s our focus all week–learning to abide. Because life is found in Christ alone! Connect with us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram for more encouragement on prioritizing Jesus.

When Anxiety Hits–Seeking God

God has given us everything we need to live confident, peaceful lives. But we can spend so much time wandering about in our misery, we fail to seek out the best way to peace—time with God Himself. My guest today shares a cute story regarding her midnight-roaming feline to illustrate an unshakable truth.

What My Cat Taught Me About God by Karin Beery

When my husband and I got married, we moved into a small rental house. With less than a thousand square feet, there wasn’t room to move things once we put everything in its place. That’s why we never rearranged our bedroom furniture – lack of options.

cat peering in the nightAnd that’s why my cat’s 3 a.m. cries always surprised me. After four years in our small house, Midgie would still wake me up in the middle of the night as she stood in the living room meowing. Even though I always slept in the same location Midgie would somehow lose her way, then cry out in despair or frustration (she’s never confirmed which).

Then I’d call her and give a quick whistle, and she’d trot my way, and burrow under the covers with me.

It always amazed me. Midgie knew where exactly where I was, but it wasn’t until she panicked and cried that she’d finally find me.

How many times have I treated God the same way?

He never changes. He never moves. His words and promises are always faithful and trustworthy, yet time and again when I landed in desperate situations, feeling hopeless, lost and confused, I’d cry out as if He somehow hid from sight!

He didn’t always call my name or give a little whistle, but in the middle of my panic, I’d remember where I could find woman reading her BibleHim—on my knees in prayer or through reading my Bible.

Thanks to Midgie’s late-night meowing, I try not to wait until panic sets in before I talk to God about my concerns. And if I forget and anxiety gets the best of me, it doesn’t take long to remember how to connect with God.

Midgie, on the other hand, still gets lost at night, but I love her anyway, and when she’s frightened in the middle of the night, I’ll be right where I’ve always been—in bed, waiting for her.

***

God makes a similar promise in James 4:8: “Come close to God, and God will come close to you” (NLT). Therefore, whenever we call out to Him or take the slightest step toward Him, we can be confident that He is already moving toward us.

Let’s talk about this! What do you normally do when you feel anxious, uncertain, or unsettled? Do you normally run to God first, or do you wander about in your misery first, like Karin’s cat did? How can turning to Him first in prayer help give you peace and confidence?

***

Karin Beery's headshotKarin Beery – Writer. Editor. Novelist. Karin writes contemporary and speculative fiction with a healthy dose of romance. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s editing or writing business copy through her business Write Now Editing & Copywriting Services. And when she’s not doing either of those, she teaches – she’s currently teaching Substantive Editing for Fiction through the PEN Institute. You can connect with her on Facebook,Twitter, or at her website, www.karinbeery.com.

Stripped to the Essentials

Sometimes life gets hard, lonely, frustrating. We don’t always have answers this side of heaven, but every once in a while, God gives us a glimpse of His Father’s heart and big picture plan. I had one of those moments last week during a leisurely walk with my daughter.

If you are or ever have parented teens, you know how hard it can be to connect on a heart-to-heart with them. They’d much rather spend time on their phones or Facebook than participate in family activities. But as their parents, we know they still need us … whether they think they do or not.

If you’ve been following my posts, you’ll remember how difficult our move was for our daughter. You’ll also remember the insight God gave me when I cried out to Him for aid. (You can read about it here.)

Last Thursday, as she and I talked about everything from hairstyles to God’s Word lived out in the day-to-day, I realized what a priceless treasure this time was. What a beautiful opportunity for heart-molding God had provided through my daughter’s brief period of loneliness. Heart-molding that will strengthen her to face her new school, college … life.

This summer, God stripped my daughter of much of the business that weighs her down in order to create time for something she really needed–time with her parents.

I began to think of all the times God does this with us. Maybe He’ll place us in a period of unemployment, drawing us to His side and freeing our time to truly connect with Him. Or maybe He’ll remove us from our family and friends for a time so He can be our all-in-all.

Let’s talk about this. When has a difficult time turned into an opportunity for divine intimacy? When has it brought your family closer together? How might our reaction to frustrations, change, or difficulties affect this?

Join us at Living by Grace as we talk about God’s loving heart and His longing to draw near to us.

I love James 4:8, and I claim it as a promise. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” This verse tells me, the moment I turn to God through Bible study, song, or prayer, He is already turning to me.

I also wanted to announce the winner of June’s gift basket. Most often, the gift basket goes to a Reach Out contributor selected by you, my readers. This time, the winner, Shannon Vannatter, decided to give the basket to a randomly selected reader.

The winner is: Dicky To. Dicky, I’ll be contacting you shortly.

Read this month’s most popular Reach Out story, It’s Not About Us by Shannon Taylor Vannatter.