Closer Devotionals

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Click on any of the titles below to read our weekly devotionals written on that week’s sermon content.

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Since we left the Garden of Eden, humanity has attempted to discover the path back to GOD.  This tension, this distance from GOD in connection to our sin, is the human condition, that which is the core of all the issues we face.  Sadly, our attempts are centered around our pursuit of a god that closely resembles us.  Paul describes this faulty rendering in the opening of his letter to the Romans.

“Yes, they knew GOD, but they wouldn’t worship him as GOD or even give him thanks.  And they began to think up foolish ideas of what GOD was like.” (Romans 1:21, NLT, emphasis added). 

As we chase after the god made in our own image, based on our own “foolish ideas,” we move further away from the GOD of truth, in whose image we are designed.  As a result we find ourselves lost and further from true, intimate, daily relationship with Him than ever before.

“As a result, their minds became dark and confused.  Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools.  And instead of worshipping the glorious, ever-living GOD, they worshiped idols…” (Romans 1:22-23, NLT, emphasis added).    

So, how do we get back to GOD?  We get back to GOD by worshipping GOD the way that He wants us to, not based on our own personal preferences.  Which begs the question, what does GOD really want?

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“I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices.  I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6, NLT, emphasis added).

GOD desires true worship, not the constructs of religion that humanity has built in an attempt to self-help our way back to the Garden.  He wants us to truly know Him in a deep, rich relationship rather than as a theory or idea.  There’s a huge difference between knowing GOD and knowing about GOD. 

“The LORD said, “…this people draw near with their words and honor me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote…” (Isaiah 29:13, NIV, emphasis added). 

First, it’s important to remember that we can learn a great deal about GOD through study and discussion, and this intentional time spent with the Word is important in our spiritual growth.  With that said, if we draw near in only words and offer little more than lip service, we are not truly honoring GOD in the way He desires.  What GOD really wants is for us to learn about Him through experience and relational intimacy.  So if GOD truly desires us to worship Him and know Him in a personal relationship, how do we worship GOD’s way? 

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Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth.  Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing.  Know that the LORD Himself is GOD; It is He who has made us and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.  Enter his gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise.  Give thanks to Him, bless Him name.  For the LORD is good; His loving kindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.” (Psalm 100:1-5, NLT, emphasis added).

In these five verses, the psalmist lays out seven ways in which to truly worship and grow closer to GOD.  We are called to shout, sing, and serve joyfully.  We must remember who He is, and through Him, who we are.  We are called to worship, expressing gratitude for the limitless blessings GOD provides and praising Him for the greatness of His glory.  Finally, we are commanded to revere His name. 

At first glance, this list may appear daunting and even a bit vague.  Yet GOD does not leave us on our own to stumble in the dark trying to find Him.  As we begin to put these commands into action, His own presence and the Holy Spirit that dwells within us will lead us into further worship and will guide us on our way. 

“Come close to GOD and GOD will come close to you.” (James 4:8a, NLT)

Admittedly, striving to worship GOD’s way may feel a bit awkward at first, if we aren’t accustomed to reaching out to GOD in a personal way.  But through worship, we are able to grow closer to GOD and in doing so, our worship and thanksgiving and reverence becomes all the more natural and personal, drawing us even closer to GOD.  As we worship GOD’s way, not only do we move closer to Him, but he too draws closer to us. 

It is through this continual journey of growing closer to GOD, founded upon the sacrifice of Christ that allows us to be restored to intimacy with the LORD, that we are able to circumvent the human condition and to experience GOD more fully. 

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David is called a man after GOD’s Own heart (Acts 13:22, 1 Samuel 13:13-14). Why is this important, and—most importantly—how do we have the same spoken about us?[/vc_column_text][vc_text_separator title=”1. Transform Alone Time into Solitude with GOD” title_align=”separator_align_center” color=”grey”][vc_column_text]

As a shepherd, David spent a lot of time by himself in the pasture.  Instead of letting this alone time turn to isolation, GOD led David to a place of solitude with Himself.  These moments of solitude that David began to reflect upon and discover the heart of GOD as well as the value of a personal relationship and a life that worships the LORD.   

Similarly, when we find ourselves alone, GOD is gently calling us to enjoy a moment of solitude with Him, to discover His heart for us. Whether it be through feeling the sun’s warmth on our skin, taking a deep breath and feeling the air in our lungs, offering a simple prayer of gratitude, or peacefully listening for GOD’s whisper, these periods of aloneness can become powerful moments of solitude with our Creator. These simple experiences of GOD’s presence then lead us closer to His heart.

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David is called a man after GOD’s Own heart, not because his behavior reflected this, but rather because despite his own personal issues, he continued to chase after GOD; despite his own sin, he recognized GOD’s greatness and worthiness. This understanding came from his times of solitude with GOD.  It also led him to a deep and intimate worship of God, in which he offered up his entire being, despite his flaws and shortcomings.

“In view of God’s mercy, . . . offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to GOD—this is your true and proper worship.”  (Romans 12:1, NIV)

Notice that Paul does not tell us to “get ourselves figured out, and then worship.”  Too often we fall into the lie suggesting we have to be “good enough” to come before GOD, when that will never be the case.  We can never earn GOD’s presence in our lives.  Instead, GOD seeks us out, even when we are unworthy.  In response, we are called to live after GOD’s heart and to receive GOD’s unending mercy.  Our “true and proper” worship is then found in offering him our entire beings and worshipping Him with everything we have and everything we are. 

David understood this truth, which is why during every time of struggle and trial throughout his life, David would turn and worship GOD to express his need and desire for GOD.  

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David’s life was set apart because of the anointing that he receives (1 Samuel 16:1-13). After David’s anointing, the Holy Spirit was with him for the rest of his life. An anointing is the marking or smearing of us by GOD.  In our own lives, an anointing is the designation that we have been chosen by GOD. Through the blood of Christ, we have all been uniquely anointed.  We have all been uniquely chosen.

This anointing is the empowerment by the Holy Spirit to discover and accomplish the Mission that GOD has created and chosen you to fulfill.  We may not immediately be aware of what our Mission is, and that’s okay.  Each journey of faith is one of a kind and discovering our anointment is certainly an aspect of living after GOD’s heart.  

Once we have recognized our Mission, we must embrace our anointment and live in surrender to GOD’s Plan for our lives as His Favor goes before us to prepare our path.  Such surrender is not always easy.  As we see in 1 Samuel 16:19, David is anointed to be king, but was sent back out into the pasture to tend the sheep in the meantime.  Even so, David was content to serve where he was positioned until GOD changed his position, because he understood his Mission and surrendered his plans to GOD.  

To life a live after GOD’s Own Heart, we must spend intentional time in awareness of His presence, intimately worship Him with our whole being, and answer the personal calling He has placed on our life.  

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