A month with God: Draw near

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(Emphasis added.)

From the Ash Wednesday sermon of a Capuchin monk, as related on The Dawn Patrol:

[W]e normally start Lent promising so much change for the better. Yet it is not (most frequently unatttainable) virtues that will save us, but God, and the thing is to be as close to Him as possible.

From the Letter to the Hebrews and the Gospel according to Luke:

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. -- Hebrews 4:15-16

This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant. The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. -- Hebrews 7:22-25

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. -- Hebrews 10:19-23

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. -- Hebrews 11:6

"But when he came to himself, he said, 'How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants."' And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him." -- Luke 15:17-20

From Spurgeon's Faith's Check Book:

The nearer we come to God, the more graciously will He reveal Himself to us. When the prodigal comes to his father, his father runs to meet him. When the wandering dove returns to the ark, Noah puts out his hand to pull her in unto him, When the tender wife seeks her husband's society, he comes to her on wings of love. Come then, dear friend, let us draw nigh to God who so graciously awaits us, yea, comes to meet us.

Did you ever notice that passage in Isaiah 58:9? There the Lord seems to put Himself at the disposal of His people, saying to them, "Here I am." As much as to say -- "What have you to say to me? What can I do for you? I am waiting to bless you." How can we hesitate to draw near? God is nigh to forgive, to bless, to comfort, to help, to quicken, to deliver. Let it be the main point with us to get near to God. This done, all is done. If we draw near to others, they may before long grow weary of us and leave us; but if we seek the Lord alone, no change will come over His mind, but He will continue to come nearer and yet nearer to us by fuller and more joyful fellowship.

I'll close with a short excerpt from an article I just came across by Googling the phrase "draw near." I don't know anything about the author, so I won't offer a blanket endorsement of his site, but what I read here makes sense (even if it is somewhat awkwardly expressed) and it ties neatly back to the quote with which I began:

Purity becomes practical when we meet our need for the presence of God. Personal purity in our outward behavior is the result of continually quenching our thirsty desires with God and not by earthly means.

It is a continuous cycle. The more you draw near and quench your thirst with God the more you will experience purity. The more you experience purity the more you will feel the freedom you need to keep on staying in His "holy place" and drinking His presence.

Which comes first? Do you avoid all sin and then draw near? On a practical level it doesn't work that way....

The gist of the article is that as we keep ourselves apart from God out of our sense of shame, we try to fill the emptiness with more sin, which brings on more shame, and more alienation from God -- a vicious circle. If instead we trust that we are clothed in Christ's righteousness, if we draw near boldly and seek God's grace, we find that God satisfies our desires, starting a virtuous circle which causes us to purify ourselves and draw ever closer to Him.

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Twatch said:

"All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of superintending providence in our favor. To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity.

And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? Or do we imagine that we no longer need his assistance? I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth-that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the Ground without his Notice, is it probable that an Empire can rise without his Aid?"

-- Benjamin Franklin (To Colleagues at the Constitutional Convention)

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on February 11, 2008 1:11 AM.

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