How Can We Draw Near To God?
James 4:8 simply says “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you”. This is one of my favorite verses but as a very practical person I’ve often thought "how do I actually do this? How do I draw near to God?"
I recently had the opportunity to teach for our Sunday Night Service here at Calvary Monterey and I shared from Psalm 34. Some time ago I read Psalm 34 in my quite time and was struck by the hope it offers by drawing near to the Lord in 5 Specific ways.
“I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears” (v.4)
To seek the Lord in this ways means an active pursuit. The word literally means to tread or often follow. Our faith should not be passive but active. God has the ability and desire to deliver us from fear. Are you actively pursuing Him with all your heart? When we seek the Lord He delivers us.
“Those who look to Him are radiant and their faces shall never be ashamed” (v. 5)
Here, looking and seeking are two different things. To look to the Lord means to behold, consider and regard Him. To pay close attention. It’s one thing to sing about God’s Majesty or Grace or Sacrifice but do we really understand these attributes? Have we considered them intently in a way that has made them sink deeply into our hearts? When we look to the Lord He changes us.
“This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles” (v.6)
This is a heart level, emotional plea to the Lord. Physically, audibly calling out to God to intercede on our behalf. Asking him to lift us up. James 4:2 says “You do not have because you do not ask”. Jesus said in Luke 11 “Ask and it will be given to you”. How often do we miss out because our pride or intellectual Bible knowledge keeps up from simply calling out to our Father? When we cry out the Lord saves us.
“The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and delivers them” (v. 7)
To fear the Lord means to revere Him. To stand in awe of Him. To have reverence, honor and respect. After marveling at the power of God in creation the Psalmist declares “Let all the earth fear the Lord, let all the inhabitants of the wold stand in awe of Him!” (Psalm 33:8). A reverence for the commands of God is a great protection for us. When we fear the Lord He protects us.
“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” (v. 8)
Another way to translate “takes refuge” is “trusts”. We trust the Lord when we seek refuge in Him. When we flee to him for protection and hope in Him. How do we come to trust in the Lord? By tasting and seeing that His is Good. By experiencing Him. How do we experience Him? by seeking Him, looking to Him, crying out to Him and fearing him. When we trust the Lord He blesses us.
As worship leaders let’s lead songs and services that allow or church families to actively seek the Lord. To look intently upon Him in a specific way. Give space for people to cry out the Lord. Have a reverence and awe for our God. And Trust Him.
If you’d like to listen to my full teaching on Psalm 34 you can check it out here.
Also, check out this excellent song written by Shane & Shane based on Psalm 34.