Saturday, April 14, 2007

Psalm 148:14 - Near to God

"...a people near to Him" Psalm 148:14b

Oh my soul. Consider this Psalm of praise. All that falls within the realm of creation is called upon to offer up to their Creator the worship He is due. All substance and souls have the special privilege of praise established within their beings by a wise and loving God. However, a difference is pointed out in our text. All creatures enjoy the purpose of worshipping God, but only the redeemed know the privilege of friendship with God. Israel was God's redeemed people, and a picture of all those whom God would save by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. And here, this Israel, all His saints, are called "a people near to Him".

What does it mean to be near to God? For myself, I must confess that I often do not feel that nearness. The heart seems chilled by all the common chatter and the cares and concerns of everyday life. The soul becomes sluggish, sleepy and slow in spiritual pursuits, trapped by the tyranny of time, distracted by the day to day demands.

To be near to God seems to me to speak of sincerity. The Pharisees were accused by Jesus of honoring God with their lips, but their "hearts were far from Him". It was a religion of the hand, not of the heart. False religion paints the surface but poisons the soul. Nearness to God is the open exposure of all I am to His searching eye, it is the uncovering of the soul. By nature we hide our hearts from Him.

But am I sincere? Is my faith for real? I read recently of John Duncan, Rabbi Duncan as he was known, and his fear of shallow religion which he describes as the "gentle conviction of sin, the calm coldish admiration of Christ, the gentlemanly, scholar like, prudent gratitude, the obedience of a freezing but not absolutely frozen state". Oh my that you? I pray it is not so.

How then shall I draw near to God? Surely I must do so. James says "Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you" [James 4:8]. To draw near to God, I think, is:

First and foremost is that resting upon Christ from the heart. Jesus said that "no one comes to the Father but by Me". Christ is that door through which those that desire to draw near to God must direct themselves. Meditate upon that Mediator! Brood upon His birth, chew on His charity, think upon those thorns, deliberate about His death, reflect upon His resurrection, consider His coming again! Oh the wonder! "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were afar off have been brought near by the blood of Christ" [Ephesians 2:13].

Next, set thy sight on the sinfulness of sin. Cry out over my own corruption, be my own worst critic when it comes to my own crooked ways. The Psalmist says "The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart" [Psalm 34:18]. When I witness any wrong in another, acknowledge that the root of that weed lies within me as well.

Finally, cultivate a regard for God's reverence. Endeavor after an awe of the Almighty. Hallow His holiness in your heart. The Lord said to Moses "By those who come near Me, I must be regarded as holy" [Leviticus 10:3]. Swim against the stream of a society that seeks to sink our Savior down to a sort of sidekick. The flesh tugs upon His throne, eager to establish on earth what God has erected in eternity. Here is the irony. The higher we imagine God, the closer He is to us. Those that bring Him down, move Him further away.

Oh my soul, what a wonder, that God so high should seek to save thy soul so low, and by His grace have "a people near to Him".

Soli Deo Gloria

No comments: