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Draw Me Nearer . . . Nearer, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
The Truth Network Radio
August 29, 2022 7:05 am

Draw Me Nearer . . . Nearer, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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August 29, 2022 7:05 am

Flying Closer to the Flame

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Today from Chuck Swindoll. The Spirit of God lives within us, ready to take charge and ready to move us and give us a sense of confidence in life and we sort of stagger along, sort of stumble our way from day to day, not even claiming the vast provisions that are ours to have. When we read the Psalms, we're often struck by the psalmist's unbridled passion for God. In the 42nd Psalm, we read, my soul thirsts for God for the living God. And in Psalm 119, my soul languishes for your salvation. Well, many of us share these sentiments, but we don't have the slightest idea on how to draw closer to God. Today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll helps us understand what's missing in our lives and the only one who can fill the void.

Chuck titled his message, Draw Me Nearer, Nearer. What I have to say is going to bother you. Some of you will be uneasy hearing some of these things. Others of you will find comfort in them. They are thoughts that are not usually heard in non-charismatic churches. Those of you who are of a more conservative persuasion, and I am numbered among you, will wish that I would leave well enough alone.

I cannot do that because in my opinion it is not well enough. Oh, basically I suppose things are. We have a good system of theology.

For the most part, we are orthodox, we are biblically sound, we are logically defendable, and unfortunately, however, for some, the quest is over. There is nothing more to discover, nothing new to experience, but my question to a few of you is this. Are you satisfied with your walk? I mean, are you absolutely, unequivocally, and unconditionally satisfied with the level of your walk with Christ, with the power of God's presence in your life? Or do you, on occasion, in a few unguarded moments, entertain thoughts like, I wonder if there's more. Or, I wonder if my prayer life couldn't carry much more dynamic and confidence than it does. Practical questions like, why when I get sick do I first think of calling my doctor rather than calling on God? Why, when I am in a need, a financial need, do I first think of some bank I could go to for a loan rather than the courts of heaven for provision?

It's that sort of thing that troubles me. While that rolls around in your mind, let me read a few excerpts from a letter I received from a friend of mine whom I love dearly. He is a Christian businessman, works for an organization, and lives outside the state of California. You probably would not know him, and he writes me, every once in a while, provocative letters that, because he loves me, that make me think. He is an evangelical, a conservative, he is not a charismatic Christian. I say all of that not to label as such, but to let you know the background of this letter, lest you cast it aside saying it's another one of those.

Among other things, he calls scatter shootings. There's a yearning in the evangelical world for a greater sense of intimacy with God. I believe we have had too much head and not enough heart. We are intrigued now with the Holy Spirit. Like the proverbial moth and flame, we don't know how close we can fly without burning up our wings.

We are all attracted to the flame for some unexplainable reason. Still, we are frightened by the Holy Spirit. There is a fear among evangelicals that we've missed out on something spiritually.

The abundant life we've sought isn't altogether fulfilling. There's a craving for spiritual intimacy with God that is seldom, if ever, satisfied. Could it be, he asks, could it be that what is really missing, the thing that would give us an appetite for daily prayer and Bible study and personal dynamic, is the empowering of a more profound measure of the Holy Spirit?

Don't we need to let the Holy Spirit out of the closet? Evangelicals may have believed the spiritual world is flat, that if they sail too close to the edge of the Christian experience, they'll fall off the edge into an emotional oblivion. So, we've run away from all but the most intellectualized expressions of the Spirit, as though it were some kind of sea monster. Evangelicals are reasoned believers, quote unquote, almost too logical. Yet, we've always suspected that too much emotion has been let out of our Christian experience. Many of us yearn for spiritual passion, which has become only a flicker of light to be turned up several notches. Somebody with evangelical credibility needs to tell us that it's okay to get closer to the flame.

It challenges me to do that. Maybe God still works miracles, he adds, and I read this in conclusion. Maybe God still works miracles, at least in some measure.

If not, then why do we pray for God's help when we are sick or diseased? Are our prayers for God's intervention merely psychological games we play on ourselves, knowing that God no longer acts decisively, much less miraculously, in our world today? Evangelicals are secretly concerned that we become deists who think God's last acts were a few miracles after the resurrection. Since about 70 AD, he writes, God has gone off into the back room, leaving blind spiritual and physical laws in control.

Is there an option besides deism and Oral Roberts? Can we free God to work proactively in his world? Let's face it, Chuck, the charismatics scare us. We are secretly relieved when fringe nuts like, and he names four or five, have their sordid laundry aired out in the press. The truth is that mainstream charismatics are also embarrassed by extremists. Let's don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. How would a new, unintimidated theology of the Holy Spirit change our experiences in worship, in prayer, in witness, in spiritual confidence?

Some of us need a revolution. Isn't it about time evangelicals revisited the doctrine of the Holy Spirit without concern that it will sound too charismatic? Shouldn't we leave God more room to work directly in our lives today?

ET has had deeper, more positive, personal impact on some people than the Holy Spirit. After you've had a chance to review this letter, I'd love to visit with you by phone. We may be so far off base that it scares you to death. If so, I'll understand. I love that man. I love his courage. I love his creativity.

I love it that he isn't afraid to put his finger on a nerve and push a little, even if it may make us uncomfortable and uneasy. At least it makes us think. And some of you have stopped thinking. That frightens me most of all. You are prey to the next cult without even realizing it. Now, I want to begin with a candid confession. Many of us must confess the same confession. Maybe you don't want to be numbered among others of us.

If that's true, nobody's going to force you to be. But I think this represents more than a few. I think this is the majority of us. The confession is there are times we desire more fulfilling expressions of our faith. There are times we wish for more evidences of the dynamic of the Spirit of God in our lives. But fear holds us back. That's an important part of the confession. Fear of being misunderstood by our brothers and sisters in the faith. Fear of being mislabeled.

Fear of going off the emotional deep end and getting weird. Now, stay with me through this. Don't get mad at me yet. You can get mad at me later, but if you get mad, you'll block a lot of this out.

So, wait till later. Okay? Fear of getting away from scripture and into error. We're afraid of that, and so we don't dare risk something that we've never tolerated before.

Not even the thought of it. The fear of falling into doctrinal waters and getting way over our heads and not being able to swim back to shore. Now, some of you need me to put you at ease, and so for the few of you who need that, let me do so. I have never in my life been more committed to the scriptures. I love Christ more, and I believe his word more deeply than ever in my life. I, virtually every day of my life, I am in the word of God. So let me put your mind at ease. I am not moving into the wastelands of experience and setting aside my confidence in the scriptures. I absolutely adore Jesus Christ, and I wait on him to teach me from his word. I have zero interest in, quote, becoming a charismatic.

I have even less interest in leading this ministry into the charismatic style of ministry. Relax. Relax. When you have coffee tonight, don't talk about that.

That's not worth your talk. I have no secret plan, no subtle manipulative idea of getting us into some region far afield and then cutting off ties with our roots. Our roots are essential for our stability. I am probably more orthodox than I've ever been in my life, but I am still thinking. And I am still dissatisfied with the status quo, which is just Latin for the mess we's in. I am not convinced that our understanding and appropriation of the Holy Spirit is all it can be or all it should be. I don't think we need more of God. I think we need to act upon all that we have.

I don't believe we need to pray for some new thing to come upon us. I believe we need to appropriate what is within us. That's what bothers me. It's like the brain.

We use maybe one tenth, one eighth, one tiny portion of it for all our lives, and the rest of it just lies there like a gray glob, just getting wrinkled. And I think the Spirit of God lives within us, ready to take charge and ready to move us and give us a sense of confidence in life, and we sort of stagger along, sort of stumble our way from day to day, not even claiming the vast provisions that are ours to have. And I'm saddened about that. I grieve that.

For me and for you. I do not believe that everything is solved by simply praying, nor do I believe that these words represent every one of us. Some of you have an enviable walk with Christ, and you find yourself in a realm of freshness and newness that is, to many of us, enviable. But most do not.

Most do not. And so all I ask is that we remain open and teachable that our God may lead us and show us new truth, all truth, fresh truth, old truth brought back to life, blow the dust off traditional truth that we have allowed the debris to stack upon and to hide from us. Like Paul writes, that I may know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings being made conformable unto his death. The Amplified Bible says something like, that I may know him, that is, that I may become progressively more intimately acquainted with him.

Isn't that beautiful? Progressively become more intimately acquainted with him. Don't you want that? I want that. I don't want to just kind of drift into the horizon and have him stick me six feet under with a sigh, fine old man.

I don't want that. I want to die challenging people to go to the very edge of their faith and encouraging you to risk new thoughts, new ideas, new experiences without fear. We can get a lot closer to the sacred flame than we ever have without getting burned. I sincerely think we have pulled way too far back from what the Lord has for us.

A closer examination, I think, will enlighten us to what I'm getting at. Ephesians chapter 5. Please find a Bible. My opinion is not worth anything more than anyone else's opinion, but God's word is worth it all. So we need to relearn, rediscover by closer examination what he has said, Ephesians 5. We find here a stack of don'ts. One don't after another.

You like to take notes? Here they are. Verse 3. Don't be immoral, impure, or greedy. Five three. Do not let immorality or any impurity or greed even be named among you as is proper among saints. That's the first series of don'ts. Don't be immoral, impure, greedy.

Four. Don't lose control of your tongue. And there must be no filthiness and silly talk or coarse jesting. That means dirty jokes. They're not funny. They don't build your faith. They are not fitting, but rather there ought to be the giving of thanks.

And so don't lose control of your tongue. Verse 6. Don't be deceived. Let no one deceive you with empty words. Cults are full of empty words. New Age is full of empty words.

High sounding but empty words. Don't be deceived by empty words. For because of these things the wrath of God comes upon sons of disobedience.

Verse 11. Don't participate in evil deeds. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead expose them. Stay away from dark deeds. Stay away from immoral acts. Stop watching the wrong cables on television. Stop hanging around the wrong sections of the video store.

Stop lingering over the wrong magazine. Stop feeding your mind filth. It's very clear, don't participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness.

And that would have to do with those realms that get nearer and nearer the demonic. Stay out of that stuff. Don't play the games. Don't buy the disks. Don't get into the world of the dark and the demonic. Don't do that.

He says so. Verse 15. Don't be unwise. Be careful how you walk, not as unwise but as wise. 17. Don't be foolish. Look at these.

The list is lengthy. Don't be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Verse 18. Don't get drunk. You wonder if scripture ever addresses alcoholism?

Look at verse 18. Clearly, it speaks against getting drunk. Don't joke about it. Don't make it a fun part of the weekend. Don't look back and try to think it is a cute part of a little looser lifestyle. It is disobedient to God. Clearly set forth in the scriptures. Don't get drunk with wine.

Now, God cares very much about our personal lives, doesn't he? That's why the list is there. And you know me with lists. I hate lists that people make up. And don't bring them to me and don't bother me with your lists. If God's given you a list, fine, that's great. You want to live with a list, great. Don't expect that to be obeyed by me and I will not voice my lists upon you.

But when the book gives a list, it's for all of us. And I've mentioned only a few from the scriptures, but here's a list of them in chapter 5 because God cares about our personal lives. And then he brings it to a climax and he offers one grand positive command after don't, don't, don't, don't, don't, don't, don't, don't. But there's a positive command in verse 18. But be filled with the Spirit. Now, I personally did not yell that out.

I said it quietly, but it is full of emotion. In place of all of these things that are supposed to be, that are supposedly emotionally and physically stimulating, which they are not, come back to the person of the intimate Spirit and let him fill your life. He doesn't say pray for the Spirit.

You don't have to do that. You have the Spirit. The Spirit of God came as part of the package deal, if I may use those marketing terms, as part of the package of salvation. Without your even knowing it, the Spirit of God came and took a permanent residence within you.

Praise his name. And you got within you the full capacity of power, like building a vast reservoir awaiting the coming of rains. And all it is is a vast chasm until the rains come and the mountains drain their waters into this area.

And before long, it becomes full, almost running over. The capacity is there to hold it. That's what the Spirit of God provides.

The full capacity of power and dynamic. You got all of that at the moment of salvation. Now, in light of that, let him fill you. That's the command.

Let him take control of you. Instead of being filled with alcohol, instead of being filled with drugs, instead of being filled with guilt over deeds of darkness, instead of being filled with wrong statements and wrong acts, be filled with the intimate Spirit of God. Like the wind would fill the sail and set it on its way. What a delightful moment it is when the full wind catches full sail and you're on your way across the waters. Without any control of your own, that is, any power of your own, all you have is the rudder or the wheel. And you move along silently and swiftly you swish through the waters because the wind is filling your sails.

That's the picture there. That's our subject over the next several programs. Today we're learning to fill our sails with the empowering wind of the Holy Spirit. And we encourage you to keep listening. This is Insight for Living.

Our Bible teacher, Chuck Swindoll, titled our current study, Flying Closer to the Flame. To learn more about this ministry, we invite you to visit us online at Here at Insight for Living, we believe your best learning occurs not only when you listen to this daily program, but when you sit down by yourself, read a good book, and invite God's Spirit to speak to you.

Along those lines, I want to draw your attention to two special resources we've prepared for you. The first is Chuck's devotional that arrives automatically in your email box each day of the week. Start your day, take a midday break, or end your day with written material that's carefully crafted to inspire your walk with God.

There's no cost. Just go online and sign up for Chuck's daily email at slash devotional. And if you're looking for a tangible book, one that digs a little deeper into the theological doctrines that define our Christian faith, I highly recommend reading Chuck's very popular and practical book called Growing Deep in the Christian Life. Filled with humorous stories and down-to-earth applications, Chuck's book reveals how the practical side of theology is what helps you grow deeper in your walk with God.

Again, it's called Growing Deep in the Christian Life. To purchase a copy right now, go to slash store, or call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. Well, August tends to be one of the leanest months for nonprofit media ministries like Insight for Living. All that to say, as God prompts you to give a donation, please follow His leading. Your contribution will truly make a difference for those who come to rely on Chuck's teaching. To give a donation today, call us.

If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888 or go online to slash donate. In March 2023, Insight for Living Ministries is hosting an unforgettable journey to Israel. Carefully plan to deepen your understanding of the Bible and draw you closer to God.

Here's Chuck Swindoll. For thousands of years, no place has been more meaningful to God's children than the land of Israel. The rugged landscape reminds us to find refuge in God alone. The fertile valleys invite us to follow our shepherd. Jerusalem's position at the very center of the world announces the good news of Christ to every nation. And now you can see Israel with Chuck Swindoll and Insight for Living Ministries, March 5th through the 16th, 2023. Every time I visited the Holy Land, I returned home with a refreshed heart for God and a renewed vision for the world.

Really, I mean it every time. And so I want you to have the same life changing experience. To learn more, go to slash events or call this number 1-888-447-0444. Insight for Living Ministries Tour to Israel is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. I'm Bill Meyer. Join us when Chuck Swindoll helps us understand how to cultivate an intimate friendship with God.

Tuesday on Insight for Living. The preceding message, Draw Me Nearer, Nearer, was copyrighted in 1992, 1993, and 2003. And the sound recording was copyrighted in 2003 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-04 22:33:39 / 2023-03-04 22:42:41 / 9

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