Do the passing of the years bring us nearer to God or just closer to death? It’s a sobering thought. There can be no more important consideration for us than what can we do to ensure that the passing years bring us closer to God, for otherwise, the years are wasted.
One important way in which we can draw nearer to God is by studying His Word. The Bible gives us the portrait of a
A righteous man: “His delight is in the law of the Lord;
and in His law doth he meditate day and night.” The
more we listen to God the closer we are drawn to Him.
A second way in which we can draw nearer to God is by pray-
ing. The Bible says: “Pray without ceasing.” (2 The-
ssalonians 5:17) Jesus said: “Men ought always to
pray, and not to faint.” (Luke 18:1) The more we
speak to God in prayer the closer we are drawn to Him.
The fact of the matter is, all the things God has commanded us to do are calculated to draw us closer to Him. Therefore, we must not neglect any of His commandments.
One of our hymns contains these words: “Draw us nearer, nearer, nearer blessed Lord.” It is not a matter of persuading God and Christ; they are willing. Are we?
Do you remember those words from your childhood? I do. There were those times for many of us when our parents told us either to do, or not to do, something and the reason given was “because I said so.” And I suppose most of us have at times said the same to our children. It simply means “I am the parent; you are the child, so do as you are told.” Similarly, God sometimes reinforces His commands by saying, “I am the Lord.”
In the Book of Leviticus, chapter 19, there is a long series of diverse commands given. It is this chapter that contains the statements “Ye shall be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy” which the apostle Peter quotes for us. (Leviticus 19:2; 1 Peter 1:16) Also, it is in this chapter that we have, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” which Jesus said was the second greatest commandment. (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:39)
How did God reinforce these commands? He said, “I am the Lord your God.” This statement, or a variation of it, is found, according to my count, 15 times in that one chapter. The point is that we need to do what God says just because He is God. He is the Lord; therefore, obey Him.
The 21st Century Christian Teacher’s mailing list shared some interesting ideas. When a movie portrays a swimmer who is drowning, generally they are thrashing their arms and yelling for help. The US Coast Guard says that’s not the case. Here are the five signs that indicate someone is drowning:
- Drowning people rarely scream. They’re more focused on trying to breathe than yelling!
- Drowning people only keep their heads out of water for short bursts.
- Drowning people can’t wave for help. Their arms are busy trying to keep their heads out of water.
- Drowning people are so preoccupied with not frowning that they are frequently unable to move towards a rescuer or grab rescue equipment.
- Drowning people can usually only struggle above water for 20-60 seconds before sinking out of sight.
Because most people don’t recognize what drowning really looks like, it is tragically common for someone to drown right in front of help.
What does this have to do with the church? There are people here who are drowning. They’re loaded down with sin or guilt. They’ve been treading water because of broken relationships, but they’re getting tired and they can’t keep on forever. Their burdens are pushing them underwater, spiritually speaking, but we don’t notice because we didn’t hear them yell, we didn’t notice them thrash. They just quietly disappear.
People who are spiritually drowning frequently can’t (or won’t) ask for help. Sometimes they don’t know how. Sometimes they don’t have the energy. Sometimes they are just so focused on what’s wrong that they can’t see what’s around them.
That’s where the church comes in: just like a potential drowning victim’s life depends on watchful parents, friends, and lifeguards, hurting people at church need our vigilance. We have to be watching to help or we’ll never notice until it’s too late. Let’s make a commitment to make sure that we don’t lose anyone right under our own noses.
The writer of the book of Hebrews calls upon us to offer two types of sacrifices to God. First, we are to offer “the sacrifice of praise” which we do in song and prayer. In the Old Testament God was praised with instruments of music (Psalm 150) but under the Christian system we offer “the fruit of our lips.” (Hebrews 13:15)
Second, we offer the sacrifice of good works. We are to “do good” and to “share” for God is pleased with such sacrifices. (Hebrews 13:16 NKJV) Whenever we help our fellow man, God views it as an offering to Him. There is a proverb which says: “He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord” then adds this: “And that which he hath given will he pay him again.” (Proverbs 19:17) Jesus said, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40)
Let us always remember these two sides to the Christian life. We must offer our worship to God and also live lives of helping others.
Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. Galatians 6:7