Friday, May 4, 2012

The Benefits of Drawing Close to God

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

He is not far from any of us, but unless one turns towards God one is still far from Him.

1. The Only Way to Be Able To See God Better is To Get Closer To Him.

We never get any good view of anything from far.

Though God is close to each one of us, unless we turn our hearts to get closer to Him, we won't be able to see Him in our lives. But, the moment we turn to Him the veil is removed and we get into the Spirit and become free, reflecting His very glory (2 Corinthians 3:16-18).

Walking in the light is like the choice of turning the lights on or off. One moment we can be in the fullness of light, the very next moment in pitch darkness. Remember Peter, how for a moment he was praised because he spoke by divine revelation that Jesus was the Son of God, but the very next moment he had to be rebuked with the words "Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men." (Matthew 16:23). It is drawing near to God that makes all the difference.

Psalm 73: The story of how Asaph experienced bitterness and frustration when he turned his eyes towards the world, despite the fact that he lived in the Temple of God. He confessed "I was near You, and yet became a beast" (Psalm 73:22, acc. the Hindi Version). However, he found the answer when he entered the sanctuary of the Lord and determined "it is good for me to draw near to God" (73:28).

When it seems He is nowhere around, remember it's time to get closer to God.

2. In His Presence is Fullness of Joy (Psalm 16:11).

When we're in God's presence, there will not be any reason to be joyless. Lack of joy is sign of something missing in our lives. Is something blocking our getting closer to Him? When life is not productive, it becomes joyless. King Solomon was successful in every way the world might think a man could be successful. He had wealth, wisdom, riches, and honor. He was more intelligent than any one on earth. He was the best ruler on earth. He did great works of construction, unparalleled in history, and wrote books. However, at the end of all he found his life and works to be a total emptiness. "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity" he cried out in the book of Ecclesiastes. Worldly success didn't give him joy. Finally, he found the answer in drawing closer to God and finding true fulfillment in the worship and service of Him. Unless our lives are useful for God, we have only labored in vain.

Jesus said that the Father wants us to be fruitful, and fruitfulness and the fullness of joy go together (John 15:8,11). A woman experiences such great joy when she gives birth to a baby, that she forgets all her pain. However, there cannot be any fruitfulness unless we abide in the Vine, i.e. stay closer and connected with Him. Remember, unless our all belongs to Him, His all cannot belong to us. That is the beauty of connection. When we draw near to Him, He draws near to us.

3. There is Perfect Rest in the Presence of the Lord.

Jesus said, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28).

Many times people make religion so complicated and filled with things that it all becomes a big burden. However, Jesus taught us that religion is not what God is all about. Jesus didn't come to create a new world religion; He came to bring back God's children back to the Father. It's as simple as that. Christianity is just one single fact: God's relationship with man and His call to draw closer to Him.

Let me quote a few confessions by Bear Grylls (well known for his adventurous series called "Man Vs Wild"). I take the following quotes from his blog:

As a young kid, I had always found that a faith in God was so natural. It was a simple comfort to me: unquestioning and personal.

But once I went to school and was forced to sit through somewhere in the region of nine hundred dry, Latin-liturgical, chapel services, listening to stereotypical churchy people droning on, I just thought that I had got the whole faith deal wrong.

Maybe God wasn’t intimate and personal but was much more like chapel was … tedious, judgemental, boring and irrelevant.

The irony was that if chapel was all of those things, a real faith is the opposite. But somehow, and without much thought, I had thrown the beautiful out with the boring. If church stinks, then faith must do, too.

The precious, natural, instinctive faith I had known when I was younger was tossed out with this newly found delusion that because I was growing up, it was time to ‘believe’ like a grown-up.

I mean, what does a child know about faith?

It took a low point at school, when my godfather, Stephen, died, to shake me into searching a bit harder to re-find this faith I had once known.

Life is like that. Sometimes it takes a jolt to make us sit and remember who and what we are really about.

Stephen had been my father’s best friend in the world. And he was like a second father to me. He came on all our family holidays, and spent almost every weekend down with us in the Isle of Wight in the summer, sailing with Dad and me. He died very suddenly and without warning, of a heart attack in Johannesburg.

I was devastated.

I remember sitting up a tree one night at school on my own, and praying the simplest, most heartfelt prayer of my life.

‘Please, God, comfort me.’

Blow me down … He did.

..............

To me, my Christian faith is all about being held, comforted, forgiven, strengthened and loved – yet somehow that message gets lost on most of us, and we tend only to remember the religious nutters or the God of endless school assemblies.

...............

Faith in Christ has been the great empowering presence in my life, helping me walk strong when so often I feel so weak. It is no wonder I felt I had stumbled on something remarkable that night up that tree.

I had found a calling for my life.

(http://www.beargrylls.com/index.php/blog/chapter-25/)

1 comment:

Ann said...

Funny 'cause you start the Bear Grylls part with Matthew 11:28. Bear just posted this verse on Twitter a few days ago! Love his book Mud Sweat & Tears where this chapter on faith is from.