Drawing Nigh to God
Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. James 4:8-10
WHEN I LOOK AT THESE VERSES, I always think of Anna and Simeon who frequented the Temple in Jerusalem prior to and during the birth of Jesus. Anna and Simeon are in our photos today. They were looking for the coming of the Promised One that Moses and other prophets wrote about. Not everyone was looking for the Promised One. Anna and Simeon were different.
GOD REVEALS HIMSELF THROUGH HIS WORD, through His creation, through His people, through His various gifted and special-called ones, and through the things He allows or causes to happen. But, it’s up to the individuals as to what they do with God’s outreach to them. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. (Hebrews 4:2)
JESUS TALKED ABOUT THE VARIATION OF FRUIT resulting from the seed of the sower. And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.
THE POPULAR LEFT BEHIND SERIES OF BOOKS by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins sold over 80-million copies, according to Wikepedia. These books dealt with the return of Jesus Christ to earth and the days before and during the seven-year Tribulation Period. If 80-million Americans read those books, America had its memory triggered for a few months. Some were entertained and some drew near to God,… for a while. It reminds us of the early interest Jesus gathered in His ministry, only to have some of those same people turn against Him as a mob and shout at the Roman authorities to crucify Him!
THOUSANDS OF CHURCHES IN AMERICA CLAIM TO BELIEVE AND PREACH THE BIBLE in one form or another. However hard the efforts are being made to interest unchurched people, it doesn’t appear to be turning many toward the Bible. The message of James on drawing nigh to God is relevant to church goers and non-church goers, alike. Perhaps no one needs the message worse than the children who are growing up in “Bible-believing” churches. Survey after survey shows that 60% of the young people who are growing up in Bible-believing churches are leaving their church by the time they graduate from high school. That withdrawal is hardened when they go through college.
THE BOOK OF JAMES WAS PROBABLY THE FIRST NEW TESTAMENT BOOK and it appeared about 30 years after Christ rose from the dead. Strangely enough, it was not a book about evangelism. It has been dubbed the “Proverbs of the New Testament.” The Bible tells us how to go to Heaven and it tells us how to live on earth while we’re waiting on our trip to Heaven. James is a book on how to live on the earth as a Christian.
IS IT STRANGE THAT ONE OF THE PROMINENT THEMES of this first New Testament book is about drawing nigh to God? Christians drawing nigh to God? It comes right after the verse that tells us to “resist the devil.” We live in a world of moral rot and poison ivy and living like a Christian is of paramount importance to God. It is not always the easy thing to do and to succeed at living the Christian life, we must have the power of God.
“IT IS SAID THAT ONE TIME, MARTIN LUTHER THREW AN INKWELL AT THE DEVIL. Somebody might say that was a crazy thing to do, but it is not if you are resisting the Devil. James tells us that the way to resist the Devil is to draw near to God. The Devil will flee from you, because he doesn't like God as company. The Devil will not get to you unless you get too far away from God. A wolf never attacks a sheep as long as it is with the rest of the sheep and with the shepherd. And the closer the sheep is to the shepherd, the safer it is. Our problem is that we get too far from God.”(McGee)
THE VERSES RIGHT AFTER VERSE EIGHT SOUND POETIC, but they are not intended to be poetic and empty. Cleanse your hands, purify your heart, mourn and weep and let our laughter be turned into mourning and our joy into heaviness. What he is really after is the humbling of the heart; submission to God. This was the key issue in 2Chronicles 7:14: If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2Chronicles 7:14)
WHETHER IT IS OLD TESTAMENT OR NEW TESTAMENT, the issue is the same: humbling the heart. It is not nearly as important to God that we be fantastic Bible scholars as being humble Bible scholars. If that’s the issue, then we might as well get with the program, you think? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. (James 4:6)
PETER WROTE ABOUT THIS: Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: (1Peter 5:5-6)
LET'S BE ALL THE BIBLE SCHOLAR WE CAN BE, but first things first: humble our hearts so God can unlock his grace to us. Grace is getting good things we don’t deserve. But, we lock the door against the grace of God when we stiffen our hearts in pride and rebellion. This is how it works, so again, let’s get with the program. Seek His face. Surrender. Draw nigh to God on His terms. That’s the only thing that works.
Read Through the Bible in a Year
MARCH 11, 2019 – MONDAY
A.M. Deuteronomy 5-7 P.M. Mark 12:1-27
(Bible Gateway will read this to you if you like. Look for the speaker icon.)
A Good Verse to Memorize:
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6)
Song for Today:
Give Me Jesus (2:59) (Calv. Mem. Ch. Adult Choir )
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