For this new year of 2017, first and foremost, I must draw nigh to God. I believe that with each new year, everyone should strive for better. What do you desire? What new ventures are you ready to take on?

* Do you desire to go back to school?
* Do you desire a better job, perhaps one that is more fulfilling?
* Are you ready to purchase your first home?
* Do you want to lose weight?
* Do you need to get healthier?

I believe any goals you and I may have can be achieved with faith and perseverance. However, God reminds me that our first priority should always be to pursue Him. Yes, we can and SHOULD pursue our dreams, so long as we keep God at the forefront. If we pursue GOD first, then He will guide our footsteps towards our dreams and enable us to achieve our goals. Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” To do anything outside of God comes with unnecessary headaches and stress. Now, who wants that?!!

To draw nigh to God means to come close to God or to come closer to God. That can be achieved by spending more time in prayer, in worship, in the reading and studying of the Scriptures, and in the house of God with other believers. Regardless of how long a person has been a Christian, one can never get too much of God. We are ever learning and evolving.

In the 4th chapter of the book of James, the writer James (Biblical scholars say he was a brother of Jesus) was addressing the early Christians and expressing to them the necessity of drawing close to God.

James 4:1-10 (New Living Translation)

(1) “What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires that war within you?

(2) 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.

(3) And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.”

According to verses 1-3, these early Christians were arguing and fighting. These were people of God in conflict with each other! Believers in Christ Jesus! Church folk! And why were these people, to whom James was writing, at odds with one another? As the scriptures point out, instead of just coming together on one accord, seeking the will of God, and focusing on pleasing God, each person wanted things to go his or her way. Each person wanted to do only what made him or her happy. As a result, they resorted to doing evil. They were lying, cheating, stealing and even committing murder. Because they had taken their focus off God and weren’t right inwardly, they were treating each other with contempt.

(4) You adulterers (or unfaithful people of God)! 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.

(5) 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.

If we say that we are children of God, but are not faithful to God, then we’re walking in disobedience to God, and are following the ways of the world. That, in turn, makes us God’s enemies. As harsh as it sounds, it’s the truth. To disobey God is to behave like His enemy!

(6) And He gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Those who humble themselves before God, FREELY receive His grace (unmerited/undeserved favor, mercy, lovingkindness). Why do we need God’s grace? Romans 6:14-15 say, “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under the law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” God’s grace is so powerful that sin no longer has power over those of us who surrender to Him. During the Old Testament era, God’s people continued disobeying His laws because they didn’t have the ability to keep them. However, thanks to Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, His grace empowers us to obey God and to grow spiritually. Morevoer, we must understand that we have to respect and appreciate His grace, and not take it for granted by using it as a license to sin. Yes, God is loving and forgiving, but Galatians 6:7 let’s us know that He will not be mocked (or made a fool of), and we will reap what we sow. Therefore, God may forgive us for things we choose to do that we know are wrong, but we dare not think there won’t be consequences behind those choices.

Although these early Christians were out of order with God, it wasn’t too late for them. Fortunately, that same truth applies to us today!

7 So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

We cannot resist the devil, the world, our flesh or sinful, human nature, until we first submit or surrender to God. It is GOD who empowers us to say NO to our enemies!

8 Draw nigh or come close to God, and God will draw nigh to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.

It is a personal choice to draw nigh to God, to allow Him to cleanse us, and to become totally loyal to Him. According to James 1:6-8, when our interests are divided between God and those things that don’t please Him, we are unstable. So, if you’re looking for stability or balance in your life, stop fighting and SURRENDER!

9 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.

We have to have repentant hearts and truly be sorry for our sins and past mistakes. When we’re truly sorry, then we’re less likely to repeat them.

10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up in honor.

Once we recognize just how much we need God and submit sincerely and totally to Him, then in time, He will raise us up and make our lives significant and honorable.

This year of 2017, I will draw nigh to God, and I encourage you to do the same! Drawing nigh or coming close to God must be an ongoing process because of the wickedness that is prevalent in this world and because of our flesh or sinful, human nature. Galatians 5:16 says, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” In other words, when we allow the Holy Spirit to guide our lives, we won’t give in to our sinful nature. Everything we need is, therefore, in GOD!

The following video is from my radio broadcast “The Kimberly Joy Show: Draw Nigh to GOD”:

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