Life is filled with uncertainties and heartache. As age takes a toll on the frailties of the flesh the spirit of man seeks for answers to his existence. Calamities compound the plans of tomorrow and death is a certain unwelcome guest in our home. We strive to peal each layer of life carefully to soften the blows that will come in the course of time. There is no means to fully prepare for the uncertainties that are certain. Yet we find in our relationship with our Heavenly Father a peace that allows the storms to rage and our hearts to find peace. This peace is the anchor of the soul fastened to the rock of hope.
With anticipation, expectation and longing of heart we are able to look beyond this vale of suffering to a place where there are no tears, nor death, “nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4). From the compassionate hand of God He will wipe away all these things that hurt our lives. In the peaceful moment of death we find the peace that passes all understanding in the comfort of His angels as we fly to the bosom of Abraham to share in the eternal blessing of God’s love. This is a real hope. It is not a hope of possibilities but a hope that finds itself in the real promise of God’s word. “In hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before the eternal times” (Titus 1:2).
Peter declares this kind of hope is a “living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). The resurrection of Jesus was not a lucky thing to happen but a plan fulfilled from the mind of God (Acts 26:22,23). If we believe that Jesus rose from the dead, this belief will secure our hope in the same promise that as God raised Jesus from the dead we also shall share in this resurrection. The helmet we wear in the armor of God is called the “hope of salvation” (1 Thessalonians 5:8). Through hope we are saved (Romans 8:20) and this hope does not make us ashamed “because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit given to us” (Romans 5:5).
When Noah was told by God the world would be destroyed and that salvation would be found in the ark, he lived in the real hope of God’s promise for salvation (Genesis 6-9). Abraham left his homeland with the hope of a promised land (Hebrews 11:8-10). The son of promise came from the hope Abraham and Sarah (Hebrews 11:11-19). The apostle Paul affirmed his hope in the Lord when he wrote: “Now there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that Day; and not to me only, but also to all those who love His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8). Our hope is the same hope in the promise of God and that hope is real.
Jehovah takes pleasure in those who hope in His mercy (Psalm 147:11) and the hope of the righteous is gladness (Proverbs 10:28). “Behold, the eye of Jehovah is to those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy” (Psalms 33:18). It is a blessing to know saints of God who live in this secure hope and that face death as the fulfillment of a hope long held close to their hearts. “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, they shall rest from their labors, and their works follow them” (Revelation 14:13).
The Psalmist wrote: “But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all thy works.” (Psalm 73:28). What the Psalmist recognized as being good for him, is certainly good for us today. It is very important to draw near to God at all times and this thought should be dear to our hearts. When we draw near to God, there are other considerations regarding drawing which affect our lives. We draw:
Away From Ourselves. It is very easy to think more highly of ourselves than we should. The proper evaluating of ourselves is a great challenge which everyone faces. This evaluation is mentioned by Paul in Romans 12:3, “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” As one draws near to God, he becomes less selfish, and humility becomes a greater part of his life. The control of self was important to Paul. He wrote: “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” (1 Corinthians 9:27). Drawing near to God helps us to defeat self and keeps us from becoming castaways. Jesus said: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24). The nearer that we are to God, the more strength we have to do what is involved in this verse.
Away From The World. Though the word “world” is used in different senses in the scriptures, we are thinking of it in view of John’s definition of it in 1 John 2:15-17, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” When we draw near to God, we draw away from the world with its affections and lusts. We can not please the world and God at the same time. So often, individuals draw near to the world and not to God. By so doing, the blessings and benefits of God are forfeited. We must not ignore Romans 12:2, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” When one is conformed to the world, there is no way for that one to “prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” by their life style. “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” (1 John 5:4). Faith in God and drawing near to God are practically the same. They are very important in our having victory over the world.
God Near To Us. “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” (James 4:8). As we draw nigh or near to God, He promises to draw near to us. God is ready to receive us and we need to do His will and all which is involved in drawing near to Him. Obedience, study and worship are all included in drawing near to Him. These considerations can never be overlooked in our obligations to God. Through the years, I have mentioned in sermons that God will be just as near to us as we will permit Him to be. “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.” However, it is the same old story with so many, and that being, they expect God to do everything without their effort. They are so filled with presumptuousness, they blame God for not being near them when they needed Him. How near did they want God to be to them? Evidently, they did not want Him enough to do their part in drawing nigh to God. Isn’t it only fair and proper to expect men to draw nigh to God if they really desire Him to draw near to them?
The Hebrew writer spoke in more than one place regarding this drawing nigh. “For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.” (Hebrews 7:19). The better hope involves Christ and the New Testament which we are called upon to respect and obey. “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10:22). Though figuratively, it has been said that this is the only verse in the New Testament which includes faith, repentance and baptism. There is no way to be near the Lord if we neglect obeying these commandments. Furthermore, Paul preached to the Athenians that God was near enough for us to reach Him. “That they should seek the Lord if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us” (Acts 17:27).