(The devotional Teach Me To Pray is full of wonderful words from Andrew Murray that encourage us in our spiritual lives. Here is one of my favorites.)
Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you. James 4:8
It has been said that the holiness of God is the union of God’s infinite distance from sinful man with God’s infinite nearness in His redeeming grace. Faith must always seek to realize both the distance and the nearness.
In Christ, God has come very near to man. Now the command comes: If you want God to come still nearer, you must draw nearer to Him. The promised nearness of Christ Jesus expressed in the promise, “And be sure of this: I am with you always” (Matt 28:20), can only be experienced as we draw near to Him.
This mean that at the beginning of each new day, we must yield ourselves to His holy presence. It means a voluntary, intentional, and whole-hearted turning away from the world to wait on God to make Himself known to our souls. It means making time to allow him to reveal Himself. It is impossible to expect the abiding presence of Christ with us through the day without the daily exercise of strong desire and child-like trust in His word.
As you pray, let these words come to you with new meaning each morning: “Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you.” Wait patiently and He will speak in divine power: “I am with you always.”
When I hear the phrase “Season of Giving” I immediately think of all the gifts I need to buy for my family before December 25th. Yet the other day I was reading through the book of Luke and came across chapter 12. In verses 33 and 34 Jesus gives us a straightforward command. “Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (NIV)
Give to the poor. I find it interesting that this command comes on the heels of the section where Jesus commands us not to worry about having enough. It appears Jesus is saying ‘God knows we need food and clothes, therefore go out and give to the poor.’
Isaiah 58 also talks about sharing our food with the hungry, providing shelter to the poor wanderer, and clothing those who are naked. James1 likewise commands us to care for widows and orphans.
Give to the poor. I love giving Christmas gifts to my family, but no where in scripture am I commanded to do so. I am told by scripture to love and provide for my family (1 Timothy 5:4). But…my family can hardly be described as poor. Our pantries and closets are bursting at the seams.
Give to the poor. Actually, Jesus said to “Sell your possessions and give to the poor.” I do have a couple of automatic donations that come out of my checking account every month, but the money I give does not require me to sell anything. I have been challenged this year to give more. Much more.
I pray that you will join me in this challenge. When you give to a large ministry through mail or online, be sure to check out its rating with groups like GuideStar and Charity Navigator. Don’t forget local needs as well. Local food banks and community organizations touch people right where you live. And it is great to give money, but they also need volunteers to give of their time and talents.
Join me in reaching out to the widows and orphans this Christmas season—and all year long.
Here are a few ministries which I support and highly recommend.