From: Francis Harper
Draw Nigh to God
Where does the process of drawing near to God begin? Since God never violates our freedom to choose, the decision to cultivate a closer relationship with God is left to us.
As we draw ever nearer to God, step by step, we begin to know ourselves as we are known. “For now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12). As we draw nearer to God we become more and more conscious of our sins and of our need to repent. We need to see ourselves as God sees us. When this happens, we may say as Paul, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24).
Jesus described many of us in our day when he said, “. . . thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable and poor, and blind, and naked” [spiritually] (Revelation 3:17-18). Only in His presence will we see ourselves as He sees us.
The Scriptures have been called the gospel mirror. A daily, consistent, scriptural study will help us see the changes we need to make in our lives. Every positive change we make will bring us closer to God, which in turn will reveal even more things we need to overcome. This is the process of our redemption. Jesus says to us, “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Erlo Stegen had been a Christian missionary in East South Africa, for twelve years. He felt that the efforts of his missionary team had been a complete failure. He said there weren’t even twelve true Christians to show for their hard work. He then challenged his team to attend two Bible Studies each day at seven a.m. and five p.m. They started by studying the Book of Acts. From the outset, the Lord took hold of their hearts. The more they studied, the more their hearts were broken. They saw how the early Christians continued with one accord in prayer.
During one of their sessions they were suddenly interrupted by a young woman; a new convert, who stood up and asked if she could pray. Her simple prayer was, “O Lord, Jesus, we have heard what the early church was like. Couldn’t you come down and be in our midst as you came down two thousand years ago? Couldn’t our church be the same as the one in Jerusalem?”
Pastor Stegen told how the Lord convicted them of pride, prejudice and idolatry. He said to his team: “Let us get down on our knees and pray.” He continued, “I wept incessantly, and cried, God, be merciful to me, a sinner. We were praying in a cowshed when we heard a noise like a great wind. Everybody was conscious of the presence of God. All I could do was bow down and worship the God of heaven.” This happened in December, 1966.
Stegen testified, “After the Holy Spirit came down, more happened in two or three days than had happened in our twelve years of hard labor.” Without church bells ringing, the people came. The Holy Spirit drew them; they came without invitation. Many lives have been transformed and healed; physically and spiritually.
The mission base, Kwasizabantu [Zulu for “the place where people are helped”], was established in 1970. Currently it is one of the largest and most successful mission stations in South Africa. Four thousand beds are available for those who come to be helped.
The Holy Spirit stands by to help us today, even as it helped the First Century Church.
May the Lord be with you, always.