By Clifton Jones
If we want to stay out of sin, we must stay in fellowship. We know that fellowship with Him isn’t agony, it is nearness. Jesus will go with us anywhere we have to go; to school, work, and play. It is our job to do the work and He will give us the strength and energy to work. He will give us the know how, therefore we need to stay in fellowship with Him.
I was in a school play in 1955. I was to present a gift and make a speech. One of the lines I had to say was, “We hope that you will not receive this gift for its intrinsic value, but in the spirit in which it is given.” At that time I did not know anything about “intrinsic value.” I said that to say this; when we bow and talk to the Lord, I believe the Lord is more concerned about our real inner feeling than He is anything else we are attempting to say or do.
“Nearness to Me,” that is what I can hear Him say. “Focus on Me. Give Me your undivided attention, give Me your allegiance, give Me your loyalty, give Me your obedience,
give Me your respect. Don’t be just another cry baby who comes to Me and receive what you need and not come back until you get in another tight.”
He knows that we won’t be able to identify sin except in cases where it is gross, if we don’t stay close to Him.
- John 1:7 “If you walk in the light as he is in the light, we will have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus will cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
He is saying to us, I want you to stay close to Me, close enough to fellowship, close so I can keep you clean! The commercial says that dirt can’t hide from intensified Tide; that’s just a commercial. But sin can’t hide when we maintain nearness to our Lord! Now that’s a fact!
“We won’t know we have a hidden problem unless we get close to the Lord.”
David said, “The entrance of thy word giveth light.” One may not know how dull they are until we get close to the Lord.
I’ll say it again, It may be one of the elements that keep the self-centered person out of prayer. “The entrance of thy word giveth light, it makes wise the simple.” What did you say Lord? “Come closer.”
I notice in the business world, when business men want to cut a deal, they go and try to find someone who is close to the big-wigs – the big shot. They feel that since you know them, you can get a favor and I will receive the benefits.
God does not work with that kind of system, therefore we don’t have to continue on prayer welfare. You see that is more like Catholicism. Why do we need pastor Greenapple to ask God for what we can ask Him ourselves? Since we have confidence in Pastor Greenapple, how did he get in speaking terms with God and you didn’t? How did he get in such good favor with God? We need to inquire as to how one gets that nearness to God, so we can get what we need.
- Psalm 34 “18 “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart and saveth such that have a contrite spirit.”
We are trying to point out the importance of brokenness. We may not have used the term, but that’s what we were pointing out when we referred to Daniel and Nehemiah. Both men were broken about sin. This verse in Psalms tells us that God is nigh that person who is broken. Now any individual who comes before God with the attitude that God is indebted to them will leave empty.
The Pharisee went up and prayed, “God I thank you that I am not like other men, I fast twice a week, I give tithes of every thing I possess.” I’m a stone thrower! Then he would leave well enough alone. You see this guy I’m with? I’m not like him. In other words he is not short of saying God when I get through, you have got to bless me. But the Lord went AWOL. In other words, I’m not thinking about him. The other man never even lifted up his eyes – this guy did not have a long theological discourse to present to the Lord. He just simply said, “Have mercy on me a sinner!” Do you know why? He was broken.
The Lord is near broken folks. I believe Hannah got her son, Samuel, not because she went to the Temple to pray, but because she was broken.
“Nearness to the Lord bring brokenness. We cannot stand beside the Lord without seeing how unlike Him we are.”
The Lord is nigh to a broken person. Now if we know that there is something displeasing in our lives and we are not broken, it is impossible for us to approach the Lord in peace.
- Psalm 145:18,” The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him, in truth.”
Now truth originates from the Word. When the Word comes to us and we do not harmonize with it, it will be hard for us to call upon Him in truth. We must call upon Him in truth. I Samuel 14:36, Saul was a leader, but was not considered a spiritual leader. He was not considered a leader with Godly insight, because I find that the ark of the covenant stayed out of Israel’s midst for 20 years. That means that half of Saul’s leadership Israel was without the ark. The ark signified the presence of God.
Now as we read the next verse we can get a better picture.
- “And Saul said, Let us go down after the Philistines by night and spoil them until the morning light, and let us not leave a man of them. And they said, Do whatever seemeth good unto thee, then said the priest, Let us draw hither to God.”
The priest had the message. Let’s see what God has to say about this. Let’s check God out. We need to ask ourselves, before we make a mess, shouldn’t I pray about it? It is nothing unusual about us making a mess before we pray about it. It is a blessing that God is not like us, if He was, He would say something like this, after we had made the mess and then call on Him: “Why didn’t you call Me, before you messed up? I could have helped you.”
What I should know, I want to know; I don’t want to find out afterwards. I don’t want to die and then find out I didn’t have what I should have had. If there is anything wrong with Clifton Jones, I sure would like for the Lord to let me find out while I’m alive, while I still stand a chance of getting some broken-ness, which leads to repentance. A broken person is close to the help of God.
- Psalm 73: 28 “But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord, that I may declare all thy works.”
This tells us why it’s good to draw near to God. You don’t mind getting near do you? Now in the physical, after 8-10 hours it is not good to get near some of us, because our Dial deodorant may not be dialing any longer. Our Right Guard will have turned to left-tackle, and our Sure may not be all together sure. Do you understand me? When we draw near and put our trust in the Lord, we don’t have to worry about falling, the Lord is our strong tower. “The Lord is our refuge and strength. Avery present help in trouble.” We only get that kind of protection when we draw near. We cannot stand afar and get that kind of help.
In Hebrews 7:19, it is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and what He did on Calvary that makes it possible for us to get into His presence. “For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did.” By his sacrifice, this was the act that opened the door. By which we draw nigh to God.” What did he say in Hebrews 4:16, “So let us come boldly,” come how? COME BOLDLY! This appeal is designed to eliminate from us a coward, intimidated, withdrawn spirit of approaching His presence. There was a time when we had no right to approach His presence, but now through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we have become heirs. Now we can come in, come in-NOW. When you come in please remember that you came in as a son. Now that’s the tenderness of it. And as an heir that’s the business aspect. You come in as a joint-heir, and that’s our right to ownership. Each of the above are to point back to what he did, So that I can draw nigh.
- Hebrew 10:22 “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”
The Lord desires us to draw near, until everything that would aggravate, intimidate, harass, prohibit and prevent, He will be able to help us deal with it. Now, He says let us draw near, with a true heart. Where did we get a true heart from? He gave it to us. He took out of us the stony heart, that non-compassionate heart, that stubborn heart, that self-willed heart, and He gave us a true heart. That is why broken people can get so much from the Lord. Notwithstanding, we must come in full assurance of faith. We do not come doubting whether he will do what we ask Him. But we write our names on every promise, that’s assurance of faith. Having our hearts sprinkled from and evil conscience, those bad thoughts and bad practices that we did yesterday the blood of Jesus has cleansed us, and we are no longer intimidated by them.
We do not have to expect Jesus to say, “You know what you were?” He is not going to do that. So let us draw near.
Now after reading and thinking over these simple teachings, and we yet maintain a distance from Him, He is going to want to know what have I done to you? When friends stop speaking, someone will want to know, “What did I do to You?” James 4:8 says, “Draw nigh to God and he will draw nigh to you.” If we draw closer, He will. If we stand afar He will do the same thing. We are told in Isaiah 59:2, that sin is the thing that comes between us and the Lord.
“If there is a fence between us & God we can be assured He didn’t build it”
If there is an imaginary line between us and God, He didn’t draw it. If there is a stumbling block between us and God, He didn’t cast the occasion of stumbling. But our iniquities have separated us and God. Our sins have hid His face from us, that He will not hear. Can we not see why He wants us to draw near Him?
When we discover that hardheadedness and rebellion has caused us to disobey God’s Word, we need to confess it and forsake it. Then I John 1-7, is our cleansing scripture.
Have you ever noticed that when we start playing around with sin, we get to the point we don’t want to fellowship, unless we find someone in the same shape we are in. When backsliders hang together, or when weak folk run together, it is because they have something in common.
Some people backslide and leave the building, and some never leave the building. So they can talk the same language. You see they never have to worry about neither one saying, “Jesus I sure appreciate you, you are the kind and merciful God.” Neither one of them will have to worry about the other, they won’t be embarrassed by the other one talking to Jesus, out of a sincere heart.
Matthew 6:10, when you are praying this prayer, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” We need to make sure the earth we are talking about is the earth that we are made of, and that we are willing to yield ourselves to do His will here on earth. If that is not the case we need to stop lying to the Lord. Stop our hypocriting trying to hood wink the Lord and make Him believe we want to do what He wants done.
Verse 12, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. If we don’t want his will to be done in this walking, talking, eating, sleeping, tall, short, fat, and thin earth. We
won’t be doing what he says in verse 12. And I believe the Lord is more concerned about this moving earth doing his will than he is about the earth that the church building is setting on.
The above article, “Getting Near Through Brokenness” is written by Clifton Jones. The article was excerpted from chapter seven of Jones’ book Intimacy With God.
The material is most likely copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.