Come close to God [with a contrite heart] and He will come close to you. — James 4:8
I find it amusing that when I begin a study designed to teach others the life-lessons found in God’s Word that I am the one that benefits most from my time with Him.
A few weeks ago, I began a teaching on the Book of James. One of the points of my initial teaching was a verse we all know so well, “Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials. Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace].” (James 1:2-3)
I remember saying, “We are not asked by God to enjoy the trial but we are instructed to delight in the fact that the trial will bring us closer to Him.” What a beautiful promise! However, the moment we claim the promises found in God’s Word, the enemy rushes in like a flood and with it He brings a myriad of trials and tests.
The reality is that we must not only quote the Word we must live the Word until we are inseparable from it—it is the only way to walk away from our battles in victory. However, when troubles arrive we often feel isolated from God— separated from His presence.
Remember this valuable truth—no matter how distant we feel from God, He is never far from us—it is we, who have walked away. It is we, who need to draw closer to Him.
This truth should bring every believer hope. A hope that can only be found in Christ. It is the kind of hope that Paul speaks about when he declared, “…there is the bringing in of a better hope [Jesus], through which we draw near to God.” (Hebrews 7:19) “…let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith…” (Hebrews 10:22). The good news is that Christ, through the Cross, has removed any obstacle that would separate us from Him!
Years ago, Derek Prince presented a teaching on the Book of Hebrews called, “Let Us Draw Near to the Throne of Grace.” In it, he speaks of the mercy and grace, which the Lord provides when believers take a step toward Him. Mercy is the unconditional love of God that keeps us from what we deserve and grace is the unmerited favor of God that gives us what we do not deserve. When the Lord of all creation invites us to come closer to Him—it benefits us to do so.
The first thing we must do is remove the barriers that keep us from His throne. What are some of these barriers? The first is sin. Sin separates us from God (Ezekiel 14:7) The Bible promises that if we repent of our transgressions then God is faithful to forgive us of our transgression. (1 John 1:9)
Another barrier is unbelief. The Bible declares that unbelief will separate us from God, “Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.” (Hebrews 3:12) God rewards those who believe in Him. (Hebrews 11:6)
Still another obstacle from God’s presence is a proud spirit. The Word of God warns that, “A man’s pride will bring him low, But a humble spirit will obtain honor.” (Proverbs 29:23)
When we remove the barriers and meet God’s conditions then He promises to draw closer to us—what encouragement that brings! God promises to lift up those who repent, who believe and who humble themselves in His sight, (James 4:10). Those that draw near to God in obedience to His Word will find God drawing near to them through His mercy and grace.
As we draw closer to God in faith, trust, and obedience, He promises to draw closer to us and deliver us from our troubles. If we repent and humble ourselves before God then He will reward us with His unmerited favor. He promises to lift up the humble (Matthew 23:12), He will revive their spirit (Isaiah 57:15) and He will hear their prayers (Psalm. 10:17).
I count it all joy when the trials of this world confront me for it is an opportunity to draw closer to the God of my salvation for there I will find my peace, my hope and my assurance that everything will be all right.