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Drawing Near: A Life of Intimacy with God [NOOK Book]

Overview

It's hard to want something you don't know you are missing. Sadly, many believers have never experienced true intimacy with God because they don't understand what it is or how to achieve it. But we humans were created for intimate fellowship with God, and this has always been His deepest desire. Scripture clearly states that the Lord yearns for us and seeks those who pursue Him. Yet we must come to Jesus on His terms-not our own.

In Drawing Near, John Bevere invites readers to ...

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Drawing Near: A Life of Intimacy with God

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Overview

It's hard to want something you don't know you are missing. Sadly, many believers have never experienced true intimacy with God because they don't understand what it is or how to achieve it. But we humans were created for intimate fellowship with God, and this has always been His deepest desire. Scripture clearly states that the Lord yearns for us and seeks those who pursue Him. Yet we must come to Jesus on His terms-not our own.

In Drawing Near, John Bevere invites readers to explore a life of intimacy with God. Emphasizing the need for obedience, he urges us to practice-just as we would practice anything we hope to improve-our communication with the Holy Spirit. Understanding that prayer is a dialogue, not a monologue, Bevere encourages us to listen at the Father's feet. Study questions in each chapter offer opportunity for reflection, and a "How to draw near to God" section offers practical steps toward developing true intimacy with Him.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781418513498
  • Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/21/2004
  • Sold by: THOMAS NELSON
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 183,817
  • File size: 538 KB

Meet the Author

John Bevere is a best-selling author and popular conference speaker. He and his wife, Lisa, also a best-selling author, founded John Bevere Ministries in 1990. The ministry has grown into a multi-faceted international outreach including their weekly television program, The Messenger, which broadcasts in 214 nations. John has authored numerous books including The Bait of Satan, The Fear of the Lord, and Under Cover. He and Lisa live in Colorado with their four sons.
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Read an Excerpt

DRAWING NEAR

A Life of Intimacy with God
By John Bevere

Nelson Ignite

Copyright © 2007 John Bevere
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-59951-009-5


Chapter One

THE GREATEST INVITATION OF ALL TIME

* * *

"Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." James 4:8

There is a call-no, a cry-coming from the heart of God and with each passing day its intensity increases: "Why are you satisfied without My presence; why do you remain distant when you could have intimacy with Me?"

All of us have friends or people we admire and want to be closer with. They hold a special place in our hearts, and spending time with them is a treat, especially when it comes at their invitation. Such a request to share their company fills us with anticipation, joy, and excitement. We happily do whatever it takes to clear our calendar and accept their request.

Within the book of James we find the greatest invitation ever issued, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you" (4:8). Stop a moment and ponder this: the Creator of the universe, the earth, and all its inhabitants, requests your presence. Not only your presence, but He desires to be intimately close, for we are told "he is a God who is passionate about his relationship with you" (Ex. 34:14 NLT).

This is God's unwavering desire. He is the One who has issued the invitation, for He longs to be known by His children. Since the fall of man it has taken thousands of years, intricate preparations, and a huge price to open the way for this kind of close relationship. John, one of Jesus' closest friends, reported,

No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known]. (John 1:18 AMP)

Adam knew the Lord openly; but because of sin, or disobedience, was separated from His glorious presence, and his fate extended to all mankind. Men and women could no longer see or know God as Adam once had. However, the Father yearned with great passion and compassion to redeem our fellowship from this terrible separation. In answer He sent Jesus, who'd been with the Father from the beginning, God manifested in the flesh, to pay the price that would liberate us from darkness in order to reconcile us to God, if we receive Him as our Lord.

However, this reunion of God and man has not been preached nor experienced in its fullest extent. We've emphasized the liberation from sin and death, but neglected to declare the intimate fellowship awaiting all who've been made free. This neglect is costly and even disastrous, as so many miss the beauty of knowing God intimately. A parallel of this tragedy was played out in the Old Testament with the descendants of Abraham.

Two Totally Different Motives

I have always been amazed by the contrast of attitudes and behavioral patterns of Moses and his kinsmen, the children of Israel. The book of Exodus opens with Abraham's descendants suffering under harsh captivity. They had been in Egypt for almost four hundred years. In the beginning they enjoyed favor, but it was not long before they were enslaved and cruelly mistreated. In their agony they began to cry out to God for deliverance.

The Lord was moved by their prayers and sent a deliverer by the name of Moses. Though born a Hebrew, he'd escaped slavery and was raised as a grandson to Pharaoh in his household. As a prince of Egypt, he was moved by the plight of his brethren but had to flee for his life to the wilderness only to return years later and deliver Israel from their bondage by God's Word and power.

Israel's deliverance from Egyptian bondage parallels our deliverance from the slavery of sin. Egypt represents the world's system just as Israel is a type of the church. When we're born again, we're set free from the world's system of tyranny and oppression.

It is not hard to imagine how cruelly the children of Israel were used and abused by the citizens of Egypt. Their backs were scarred by the whips of Pharaoh's taskmasters; their homes were the slums, and their food was leftovers. They had no hope of inheritance as they slaved to build the prosperity of their Egyptian masters. They wept as thousands of their infant sons were put to death by the order of Pharaoh.

Though they suffered all this cruelty they were quick to forget. For even after their deliverance from Egypt, whenever things went wrong they would regret their flight from Egypt and mock their prayers for deliverance with comments like "it was better for us back in Egypt." They would even be so bold as to suggest, "Let us select a leader and return to Egypt" (Num. 14:4, author's emphasis).

But not Moses; he was the only one for whom the conditions had been better in Egypt; in fact, no one in the world had it better. He was raised by the wealthiest man on earth, lived in the best, ate the best, wore the best, and was taught by the best. Servants took care of his every need and desire as his inheritance was great in both wealth and promise. He willingly left all this behind, and, unlike the children of Israel, he never looked back nor longed for what was behind.

What made the difference? The answer is Moses had encountered God. He saw the fire and drew near. He met the living God in a burning bush on Sinai; Israel did not! When the Lord called him aside he drew near. Later when the children of Israel were presented with an even more wonderful invitation, they drew back (see Ex. 20:18-21).

I very frequently ask congregations, "Where was Moses bringing the children of Israel when they left Egypt?" The normal response is "the promised land." Yet that's not true. He was headed for Mount Horeb, or Sinai. Remember God's words to Pharaoh, through Moses, "Let my people go, so that they may worship me in the desert" (Ex. 7:16 NIV). It was not "Let My people go, so they can inherit a land." Why would Moses take them to their promised land before first introducing them to the Promiser-the desire of the ages? If he first brought them to the promised land they would end up loving the promises more than the Promiser, God Himself. Moses couldn't wait to bring them to the very place where he'd met with God.

To a large extent, we have done this in our churches as well; we've preached more of what Jesus will do for us rather than who He really is! As a result we have cultivated many who serve God primarily for benefit rather than in joyful response to who He is. It could be compared to a woman who marries a man for money; her motive is not to know her husband for who he is, but rather for what he can do for her. Oh, she may love him on some level, but for all the wrong reasons.

People who emphasize the blessings of God to the neglect of a relationship with Him create disciples who come to God to get something, rather than those who respond to Him for who He is. He is like no other and none compare to the wonder of Him. Once God is encountered, as Moses experienced, the promises all fall into perspective. He is so much more wonderful than anything-even His blessings.

God's main purpose in delivering Israel was so they could know and love Him. He desired to make Himself known to them. He said, "I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to Myself" (Ex. 19:4). Yet they missed their destiny.

God's longing for intimacy with His people has never decreased or changed, for this very desire is continually revealed in His Word, and reflected in Paul's passionate prayer,

[For I always pray to] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation [of insight into mysteries and secrets] in the [deep and intimate] knowledge of Him. (Eph. 1:17 AMP, author's emphasis)

He has made His passion known. God desires every born-again child to know Him deeply and intimately! Wow, does this excite you? If not, reflect a moment and allow the wonder of it to overwhelm you.

We serve a living God, the original Father whose heart aches for His children. He is a Communicator, who desires interaction. Paul was quick to point this out to the struggling believers of Corinth: "You will remember that before you became Christians you went around from one idol to another, not one of which could speak a single word" (1 Cor. 12:2-3 TLB). From Paul's exhortation we see one of the primary characteristics that differentiates God, our Father, from all false gods and idols-He speaks!

"Pull Off the Road"

Recently while I was driving, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart, "I have something to say. Pull off the road."

I've learned when God tells me to do something, I should obey instantly, no matter how trivial or inconvenient it appears at the time. Was not Moses on the back side of the desert tending his father-in-law's flocks when the Lord got his attention (there are different ways God seeks our attention)? God came to a bush and caused it to burn without being consumed.

We read how Moses said to himself, "I will now turn aside and see" (Ex. 3:3). The words turn aside come from the Hebrew word cuwr. James Strong, an expert in the original languages of Scripture, defines this word as "to turn off." Moses deliberately departed from his planned course of action to respond to the Holy One who beckoned him.

Once he responded we read, "So when the LORD saw that he turned aside ... God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, 'Moses, Moses!'"

It wasn't until God saw Moses turn aside that He pursued him by calling him by name. I believe the Lord would have gone no further if Moses had not responded. God did not call him when the flocks were corralled at Jethro's; it wasn't the most convenient time. What if Moses had thought, If I get distracted from tending these flocks they'll wander all over the place and it will take hours, possibly an entire day, to round them up. I'll check this out later when things are under control and it won't interrupt my day. Would the outcome have been the same?

Some may reason God would have done something even more dramatic, but is this consistent with His nature? Consider Samuel, when as a young man he served the high priest Eli and his sons (see 1 Sam. 3). One evening he lies down and hears a voice calling, "Samuel! Samuel!"

Samuel runs to Eli and says, "Here I am, for you called me."

Eli responds, "I didn't call you, go back to bed."

Samuel again hears his name called a second time and runs to the priest only to get the same response. This occurs three times and finally the priest catches on and tells the boy how to respond. The fourth time when he hears, "Samuel! Samuel!" he knows how to respond, "Speak, for Your servant hears." Then the Lord speaks and shows him His will and mysteries yet to be revealed.

God could have done something different. Perhaps the second time when He saw Samuel wasn't getting it He could have said, "Samuel, don't run to Eli, it is I the Lord, your God, who is calling for you and I want to speak to you." But is this His way? He desires to be wanted and recognized, as well as to be known. He looks for those who are diligent in spirit, who will seek and pursue, even if it takes tenacious persistence.

Looking at the Gospels we see this similar pattern. Jesus finishes feeding the five thousand with five loaves and two fish. He then tells His disciples to get in a boat and go before Him to the other side of the sea. He departs to the mountain to spend time with His Father. Later that evening the disciples were still toiling against the wind to cross the sea when we read,

Now about the fourth watch of the night He [Jesus] came to them, walking on the sea, and would have passed them by. (Mark 6:48, author's emphasis)

Notice the words: "would have passed them by." The NASB version reads, "and He intended to pass by them." However, when they saw Him they cried out, and He responded, "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid." He got into the boat and the wind ceased. If they hadn't cried out, He would have kept walking. He'd passed nearby, but if they hadn't cried out He would not have forced Himself on their company.

It seems to be God's pattern to make a step toward us, and if we respond, He takes another and draws close. If we don't respond He does not push His way in, or cut in on our dance per se. Who knows, if Moses had not turned aside, would God just have waited as He did in the case of Samuel, and as Jesus did with His disciples? He often waits until we are hungry enough to respond.

To return to my driving experience, what if I hadn't turned off the road when He spoke? Would I have missed His encounter? I am certain there have been times I have, but as it happened then, a half mile down the highway there was a rest stop. The moment I pulled off I heard the Spirit of God whisper to my heart, "Did I not say to you, 'pray without ceasing?'" (1 Thess. 5:17).

I responded, "Yes Lord, you did."

He probed further, "Is prayer a monologue or dialogue?"

I responded, "It's a dialogue Lord, a two-way conversation."

His words came quick, "Well if I said to pray without ceasing then that means I am willing to communicate with you without ceasing!"

Needless to say I was excited. I realized the wonderful opportunity I'd been given and it is not extended to me alone, but to each and every one of His children.

Now you may ask: Do you mean God will speak nonstop? That is not what He spoke to my heart. He said He is willing to communicate ceaselessly. Words are but one of the many and varied forms of communication. My wife can give me a look and I know what she is saying though no word has been spoken, and can sometimes write up to three pages from what she just said through that one look. Why? I've lived with her more than twenty years and learned the ways and mannerisms by which she communicates. You could be in the room when one of these looks is given and it would mean nothing to you. Why? Because you don't know her like I know her. In fact, the first few years we were married I might not have picked up the message either. Now after twenty-one years with her I've learned a bit more about the way she communicates.

The Call to Draw Near

It is important for you to know this book is not a "how to" manual, but could be more likened to a trail guide or map that gives directions toward our ultimate destination-the heart of God. If I had access to a treasure map showing the way to buried treasure on a deserted island, it would be of no use to me until I traveled to the island destination and familiarized myself with the terrain in order to get my bearings; and then I would need to exert some effort as I walked the paths, climbed cliffs, and traversed valleys to get to the hidden treasure. There would need to be some cost, energy, and effort on my part. The map would only tell me the way and keep me from wasting my time with futile efforts and explorations, as well as protect me from some of the hidden traps. This book is like that map; it is an invitation for you to join me on a wonderful and exciting journey-the journey to the heart of God. The Word of God contained on these pages will guard you from pits, traps, and dangers that would try to sidetrack you. It should keep you from unnecessary trouble and vain expenditure of energy.

So if you're ready, let's begin!

Study Questions

1. What event or experience in your life initiated your desire to read this book?

2. Consider these examples of God's invitation to draw near:

Moses saw a burning bush and turned aside to investigate. In doing so, God called out to him.

The young boy Samuel heard a voice four times before he responded, "Speak, for Your servant hears."

When the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water-walking as if he would pass them by-they cried out.

Which of these examples best describes God's invitation to you? Have you responded? If so, what was the nature of your response?

3. As you contemplate prayer being a dialogue, a two-way conversation, what has God been communicating to you, both verbally and nonverbally?

(Continues...)



Excerpted from DRAWING NEAR by John Bevere Copyright © 2007 by John Bevere. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Introduction v
Chapter 1 The Greatest Invitation of All Time 1
Chapter 2 God's Pursuit 10
Chapter 3 Protect Your Hunger 24
Chapter 4 Passion for His Presence 39
Chapter 5 Behind the Veil 52
Chapter 6 The Friends of God 67
Chapter 7 What Hinders True Intimacy? 87
Chapter 8 True Worship 110
Chapter 9 With Whom God Dwells 124
Chapter 10 Intimacy with the Holy Spirit 137
Chapter 11 The Promise of the Father 159
Chapter 12 The Language of Intimacy 184
Chapter 13 Full Assurance of Faith 207
Chapter 14 Drawing Near 227
Appendix A 237
Appendix B 241
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2006

    changed my life

    This book was introduced to me through a close friend, and we have spent a generous amount of time going over it in detail. Later, I purchased quite a few copies for friends and relatives and their lives have been changed incredibly. So much of what John Bevere writes about is so easy to relate to. It gives you so much to think about--this has been a life-changing and wonderful book. I don't say that about just anything :o)

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2009

    Awesome book if you really want more from a Christian life.

    John Bevere is extremely effective at getting to the real challenges that prevent most Christians from living an impactful Christian life. This book may offend some, but it outlines critical truths for anyone that desires a deeper experience with God and is not content with the status quo.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2008

    Inspirational

    This book is very insightful and truly inspirational. Scriptures are used throughout to support every concept. I recommend this book for any believer. It will strengthen your faith and help you on your journey to greater intimacy with the Lord.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2006

    the truth

    i have read a lot of books by john bevere, he always reverts to his own personal experiences,related to the word . his books have inspired me in my walk with god, to understand he is intimate, and desires that we fully understand that he lives in our hearts. the level of intimacy depends totally upon the individual surrendering his own ideas. god is as real as you will allow him to be in your life.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2012

    A must read book

    What a wonderful book to read. This book drew me closer to God. I feel a closer and a more intimate relationship with God and I felt the Holy Spirit every step of the way. You can tell that he gets every word in this book from God. I feel so strongly about this book that I think every Christian should read this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2011

    good

    i like it

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted January 6, 2013

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    Posted October 23, 2008

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