DRAWING NEAR TO GOD

[WEEK FIVE]

This week is an opportunity for reflection toward action. What did we see? What did we experience? What is our response? What did God say to us? And what are we going to do about that?

Steps for Drawing Near to God

Scripture Reading

Isaiah 6:1-13 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”

Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”

And he said, “Go, and say to this people: “‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”

Then I said, “How long, O Lord?”

And he said: “Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people, and the land is a desolate waste, and the Lord removes people far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. And though a tenth remain in it, it will be burned again, like a terebinth or an oak, whose stump remains when it is felled.” The holy seed is its stump.

Spiritual Disciplines & Discerning Questions

Over the last few weeks, we have learned from Isaiah’s encounter with God. Use this week to meditate again on the passage considering the insights, commands, and call to action for you.

Now is the time for action. We have marveled at the holiness of God, looked at our unworthiness and confessed sin. Forgiveness has been given and now the call to follow must be acted on. To assist you in your processing, use the following questions to determine next steps for you personally, for your role on your team, and for WV as an organization. Commit to an action this week.  

Hear God’s Word 

  • As you listen to God in the silence, is there additional awareness of what your next steps are? 
  • Isaiah 7:1 marks a new day for Isaiah and by extension for us as well. How will Isaiah 6 be worked into your life walking into the challenges of tomorrow and tomorrow’s tomorrows? 

Speak to Him 

  • James 4:8 tells us, among other things, that if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us. Talk to Him about this. Does any other Scripture come to mind about moving toward God?  

Submit to Him 

  • As we pray for God to send out workers, share the gospel, or to fill a need, we too often say, “Send someone” and do not always grasp if God is giving us a personal assignment or role in it. What personal assignments do you feel God is placing on you in this next season? 

Take Action 

  • What is one thing you will do in this week that has spiritual impact on you personally, on your team, and WV as a whole? 
  • Accountability is critical. Who will you share your insights and next steps with? 

Reflections

We began this month-long pursuit of drawing near to God in the crossroads of disruptive changes at work in our world in light of Covid-19. We’ve experienced the tumult of social unrest in many parts of the world, and especially in the USA, over issues of justice. We’ve also experienced the loss of colleagues in layoff decisions for the next fiscal year and the reverberations of how this may impact our work. This has been a heavy month. And yet, God has met with us through praying, reading, meditating, fasting, Scripture memorization and in sharing with others our journey.  

Through this time we wanted to draw near to God to seek His face and to hear His voice; not only individually, but as teams and as a mission as a whole. You may recall that we first did a deep dive into that wonderful vision of God “high and lifted up” with the resulting worship coming close on its heels. We then did a deep dive into confession, for we recognized that we, just like Isaiah, are lost and people with “unclean lips” and that we live among a people of “unclean lips” which led to potent expressions of confession. We then reflected deeply on our availability to be used by God, wherever and whenever. And now this week, we have been realizing the difficulty of the task and yet the privilege of being ambassadors who boldly proclaim the Gospel to those near and far from the it. This has driven us to the conclusion that we have to declare our dependence on the Lord by praying. Daily. 

Take time to reflect on these weeks and what God has revealed about Himself and His will for us. 

I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you… From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will perform before those who fear him. –Psalm 22:22 & 25 

Resources

Print off a “Drawing Near to God” Notepad set to write down your take aways from each section. Includes marks for cutting into smaller pieces and placing in easy-to-see locations as important reminders. Designs are available in A4 and US Letter sizes. Click your preferred link below to get a file ready for printing.

Draw Near Reflection Notepad – A4 size

Draw Near Reflection Notepad – US Letter size

Prayer of Blessing

Father, help me see the world as you see it. Break my heart with the things that break your heart. And when you call me to act, help me not to duck!”

– Steve Hayner

Join The Discussion

Scroll down to “Leave a Reply” to share your reflections with others.

“A church is the body of Christ. It functions best when all of its members are able to share what they sense God is doing and saying.” – Henry Blackaby

Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • Kathy Haley says:

    Draw near…
    Our eternal, holy, tempted in every way yet without sin High Priest
    …saves to the uttermost those who draw near through him (Jesus)!
    …makes it possible for us to draw near in confidence
    …and receive mercy and grace to help in time of need.

    «The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.»
    ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭7:23-27‬ ‭ESV‬‬
    https://www.bible.com/59/heb.7.23-27.esv

    «Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.»
    ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭4:14-16‬ ‭ESV‬‬
    https://www.bible.com/59/heb.4.14-16.esv

  • Bruce Swanson says:

    So here are some thoughts that might or might not have a coherent flow to them. I’m not sure if hitting ‘enter’ to break up paragraphs will do that or immediately post, so this will be one long run-on chunk of words. In my short meditation before prayer time a couple weeks ago, I mentioned that the context of Isaiah 6 (especially chapters 1-5 with chapt 1 underlined) impacted me, dovetailing with the protests, demands and heightened awareness of the need for justice. God cares deeply about justice and gets really angry at his people when they (we) do not love it enough to pursue it in our day to day lives, society, and culture. (I posted a great video — in the GMC 360 Discipleship Group — of Tim Keller laying out the biblical call for justice, followed by Bryan Stevenson (the Just Mercy guy) talking concrete issues right after. We have been mentioning, recently, that as we talk about the future we want to keep the main thing the main thing. I agree. However, I disagree if we define as the “main thing” the view of the Gospel that our churches and we have pursued for the past 7 decades. A view of the Gospel as almost entirely personal and private, with small to no sweeping social implications. The “main thing” must include a heart for and sacrificial effort to pursue God’s love for justice and the oppressed in this world. Debating and wrestling about this will get pretty messy very quickly. We all will agree that we should love justice, etc (it’s painfully clear in Scripture), but HOW to pursue it will differ greatly among our WorldVenture community and partnering churches in the States and around the world. We will need dump truck loads of grace for each other and freedom to pursue justice/mercy in ways that make sense to us. We will also need to put forth the effort to study, listen to people not like us, question our assumptions, and be willing to humbly change our thinking and actions as we become more aware of uncomfortable truths we have not noticed before — in the country/culture most of us grew up in and also in our adopted countries and cultures around the world. We will disagree on how much effort/resources should be dedicated to pursuing justice and mercy, fearing that it could take away from communicating the info and details of the Gospel. Some of us will say that’s a false choice, that the Gospel includes it all; some will not see it that way. We have got to wrestle with this stuff. I’ve been at it for about 2 years and Laurie (I’m married to her) and I are settling on a couple personal paths we can follow once Covid permits. We need to discover our multiple paths forward in this area as the WorldVenture community.

  • Brent Ralston says:

    Just some thoughts I have had through this past month:

    First, this is not the time for World Venture to be in retreat or maintenance mode, but it is a time for advancement. We should not be taking a defensive posture, but recognize that God is doing a new thing in these times of uncertainties and challenges. With what is happening in our world and in our country and in our mission, it is easy to “hunker down” and weather the storm. I believe that is the wrong posture for us to take.

    Second, are we as individuals and as a mission trying to do the work in our own strength, or in God’s strength (2 Cor. 12:9)? We would never say this out loud, but is it possible for us in the secrecy of our own rooms or hearts say, “God, we’ve got everything covered. We have prepared for every eventuality and challenge that comes along. We’re good!” Are we setting the bar high enough, are we seeking to do the outlandish, to the point where we have to depend upon the Lord because we know we can’t do it in our strength?

    Third, what does it mean in our vision statement that we are “willing to risk all?” What kind of difficulties and sacrifices are considered too much and we draw the line there?

    There are implications for us as individuals and for us as a mission depending on how we answer these questions.

  • Lynne Leona Schmidt says:

    Isaiah’s encounter with God was not a passive experience:
    And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts

    It shook everything, including Isaiah.

    Our world is being shaken.
    People are coming out of the woodwork with opinions, commentaries, protests as if.their lives depended on speaking their thoughts. Theirs is a passion inspired by fear, pain, angst, desire for change. It is revolutionary in spirit, but it is clear that those speaking out dont know how to get to where they want to go: a place of peace, feeling worthy and loved and as if they matter on this earth. The fight for a cause is a cry for significance…and WE know the only ONE who can give them what they search for! Isnt that amazing?

    So, if that doesnt ignite a passion and purpose in us, we had better get on our knees and plead with God for forgiveness. Then get up changed.

    It isn’t programs, new logos, change becsuse we are feeling restless.

    It is the vision of God. It should shake us and make us ready for battle and immediately engaged.

  • jeffd says:

    I resonate with the reflections above describing deep changes occurring in our world and my/our need for gospel induced transformations in my/our lives.

    Just as Isaiah could not dial back the clock and undo his seeing the Lord seated upon a throne, high and lifted up, neither can we change the circumstances of 2020 nor the outcomes of our drawing near to God. May we rise to the demands and challenges of this new season as Isaiah rose to his. May our lives validate the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ, that in him God is reconciling the world to himself, that there is a better way to live life than the vain, empty expressions we see exalted by those who have yet to encounter the living God. And, by the Spirit of God, may we vigorously embrace new pathways to be on mission with God that make disciples of Jesus in the year 2020. Oh that our prophet-like obedience to God would bear him much glory and fruit!

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