From: Francis Harper
Draw Nigh Unto God Msg for 8/11
Draw Nigh to God
“Draw nigh to God and he will draw nigh unto 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).
In this scripture James gives us the recipe for drawing near to God. If we follow his prescription, God will draw nigh to us. What blessing is greater than to live in the Lord’s presence? The psalmist describes the blessings of living in the sacred nearness of God. “. . . in thy presence is fulness of joy: at thy right hand are pleasures for evermore” (Psalm 16:11).
The pathway to God’s presence is also portrayed in the life of Jacob, who prayed, “O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth which thou hast shown unto thy servant . . . And he [the Lord] said, Thy name shall no more be called Jacob, but Israel; for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed . . . and he blessed him there” (Genesis 32:9-10, 28-29).
In both of these descriptions humility is emphasized as the way to God’s presence. Jacob confessed, “I am not worthy.” James counseled, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
How long has it been since we have recognized our unworthiness to be in God’s presence? David, sensing his many transgressions, prayed: “have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness; . . . blot out my transgressions. Cast me not away from thy presence . . . Thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it . . . The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Psalm 51). David became “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14).
If we want to live in the Lord’s presence and be the Lord’s people [“after God’s own heart”], we need to bow before him with broken hearts and contrite spirits. We need to weep and mourn over our sins, as James suggested.
We need a genuine breaking before God. Those who weep over their sins will be forgiven and preserved in the great day of the Lord’s judgment. “For behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up . . .” (Malachi 4:1).
Attendance at church once each week is no guarantee that we will be numbered with the wise virgins when the Lord suddenly appears. Remember the parable: “Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself; God, I thank thee that I am not as other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers; or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week; I give tithes of all that I possess. But the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven . . . saying, God be merciful to me, a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other; for everyone who exalteth himself, shall be abased, and he who humbleth himself, shall be exalted” (Luke 18:10-14).
“The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit” (Psalm 34:18).