Daily Devotionals

Be Brave: Week 2 - Saturday

Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. James 4:8

"Direction, not intention, leads to destination," Pastor Andy Stanley writes in his book, The Principle of the Path. In his book, Stanley encourages readers to move in the direction that they want to go. After all, I can have great intentions to go to the store, church, or my small group, but until I get in the car and drive in the direction toward my intended destination, I will never reach my desired destination. The same is true in our relationship with God. Understanding the importance of direction, James wrote about the value of drawing near to God if we want to develop a closer relationship to Him in James 4.

In this chapter, James calls believers to stop trying to live according to the world. Instead, he calls believers to be faithful only to God (verse five). His passionate plea to readers in James 4:7-9 is to flee from evil and to turn away from the things that are not of God. "Come close to God," he tells them, "and He will come close to you" (verse 8). In other words, James is reminding them that "direction, not intention, leads to destination." They will end up in the direction they are moving. If they are going in the direction of the things of the world, they will move towards the world and away from God. If they move in the direction towards God, they will be closer to Him.

Don't you want to move in the direction towards God? All week we have been talking about ways we can move in the direction towards God. These things include praying, reading Scripture, getting involved in Christian community, and taking our sin seriously. The truth is, however, to draw close to God, we have to move in His direction. We have to actually do these things we have been talking about all week. If we want to draw close to God this year, we have to talk to Him, open our Bibles, spend time in Christian community, and turn away from our sin. It's not enough to want to do these things. We actually have to do them if we want to draw closer to God. How can you move in the direction toward Him today?

Moving Toward Action

As you consider drawing near to God today, pick one habit to take up that will cause you to move in His direction. Maybe you will memorize Scripture, wake up thirty minutes earlier to ensure that you will have time to read your Bible in the morning, join a small group, or attend a church service this week. Whatever you decide, write it down. Tell a trusted friend who can help hold you accountable for what you plan to do.

Going Deeper

Read James 4:1-10 (NLT)

What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.

You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate that the spirit he has placed within us should be faithful to him. And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say,

“God opposes the proud
    but gives grace to the humble.”

So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.