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Feb 02 2013

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With Rapture & Grace

Many of us never ‘feel’ close to God. You may be one of those people. I’m here to tell you there is nothing wrong with that. You don’t have to feel close to God to be close to Him or to have faith in Him or to be obedient to Him. You may be closer to the God of the universe than those of us who ‘feel’ like we are. In fact, it’s quite a probability since His Word says, “the last shall be first, and the first shall be last.” But in case you are wondering, you are capable of feeling His presence if you want to, and God wants you to. You are capable of knowing pure rapture and being ravaged by grace. It’s a good thing and it’s not too hard. All it takes is a little brokenness, a little desperation perhaps (absolute desperation works even better), a little humility, a little courage, and a little decision to draw near to Him. Now, drawing near doesn’t mean you will always ‘feel something,’ but feel it or not, you will always experience something.

Zephaniah 3:2, She obeys no one, she accepts no correction. She does not trust in the Lord, she does not draw near to her God.”

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines rapture as an expression or manifestation of ecstasy or passion. So many of us who are in Christ are sincere in our faith but rarely experience the real ecstasy of living in the Secret Place of the Most High as described in Psalm 91. And there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that. We live by faith and not by sight, nor by emotion. But God is passionate and He enjoys blessing His children with zaps of enlightenment to the reality and awesome glory of His presence. Some live there with all their senses continually tuned in, like Enoch did and Apostle Paul and even some evangelists of our time. Others of us, others who are also saved, live in this divine presence but are tuned out… our faith carries us on but we may miss out on experiencing the extravagant, manifest glory that we can feel, see, and enjoy. The power of God manifested to our senses through our emotions when our affections are turned to Him can transform the hardened criminal inside of each of us. He can heal the secret self-hatred and loathing that we’ve buried away. He can open prison doors, heal any sickness, move mountains, break down the fortresses of the religious establishment, and quench the thirst of the outcast. God is All-powerful and to draw near to Him is to draw near to the reality of His awesome grandeur, His mighty arm, and His manifest love.

Hebrews 10:22, “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”

Your salvation doesn’t depend on how you feel. Faith working in our lives doesn’t depend on emotion. Being loved by God doesn’t require an acknowledgement of our need for grace. We are saved by grace through faith when we express our need for Jesus as our Savior and repent of our sins, but that doesn’t require an emotional outburst or a flagrant demonstration. Salvation works from the inside out and should cause radical change visible from the outside, but it’s not done by our own might or according to the standards of our peers. It’s accomplished by the Spirit of the Lord and can take time. Drawing near to Him is a privilege of the saved, something the condemned can never experience. It’s why being saved is so wonderful!! Not because it’s a ticket to stay out of hell, but because of the abundance God wants us to experience freely! Don’t be ashamed if you’ve never had goosebumps during a corporate worship service or if you have never teared at the mention of the name of Jesus or shouted with intensity with praise for the Most High. But friend, this is something you may want to experience, the presence of God is the most magical, fulfilling, sweet, captivating, wonderful place in existence and it can be manifested to you both physically and emotionally if you choose to ‘draw near.’

James 4 says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” This scripture doesn’t mean we are to be pitiful, woe-us me vagabonds. God has called us to peace and joy. What James is expressing by the Holy Spirit is that experiencing God is always powerful, whether you feel it or not, and if you make yourself aware of the famishing need for more of Him you will be humbled by a love so fierce that it makes you one with the Creator! Draw near with desperation, a thirst for Him, and tears derived out of your recognition that sin has made you nothing and God is everything… draw near with purity, not wavering in your decision to choose Him… draw near with a respectful fear knowing that if it weren’t for the Savior the glory of God would burn you alive… draw near with boldness and yet draw near aware of your weakness… and He will pick you up in His holy hands, bring your close to His face, kiss you on the lips with the affection of a Father, and say, “Where have you been? I’ve been calling for you son/daughter. Come near. Live with me. If you go through the fire I will be there. If you go through deep waters I will not let you drown. You have made my heart glad this day!”

God wants us all to be saved, but don’t miss out on the ‘more’ that He has for us. Faith can grow when you daily acknowledge the power of God moving through you! You have the power to raise the dead because of He who is greater in you. The Secret Place is the habitation of every believer. Open your eyes, taste and see that the Lord is good, and let it be manifested to your heart. Live with the awareness of the glorious passion God has for you!

Come worship the Light of the world; He is a consuming fire!

- Richie

woman in storm photo

“Oh God! Have me for your glory!” Smith Wigglesworth

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2 comments

  1. Kathy Castaldo

    I needed this message today. I felt that it was just for me and what I needed to hear and be reminded of. So often I don’t feel “in love” with Jesus and I take that to mean there is something wrong with me, that I haven’t tried hard enough or done the right things to connect with Him. But He relentlessly pursues us because He is good and merciful. Even broken, little me…is sought after by the God of the Universe. My acknowledgement of that is the most important daily decision I could ever make and it is up to me to continue to cultivate that relationship and be ravished in His love, as you have reminded us. Thank you, Richie for this devotion today and for continually turning me back to Jesus. I love you.

    Kathy

  2. judy douglas

    Richie, what a beautiful devotion and a wonderful reminder of the privilege we have to draw near to our savior. Your devotion prompted me to go to my hymnal and look up the old hymns that speak of being near to God. I sat at my piano and played and sang, Nearer, still Nearer and Near to the heart of God. If anyone want to know the words to these beautiful hymns I am sure they can find on-line. Some other Scriptures that I was reminded of this morning are James 4:8 come near to God and He will come near to you. And psalm 73:28 As for me, it is good to be near God.
    To all who read Cry of Worship, have a blessed day!

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