Today’s Scrip-Bit   6 March 2022 James 4:8a.

James 4:8a.     Draw nigh (near) to God, and he will draw nigh (near) to you. 

Well, it’s a glorious Sunday morning in early March of 2022! And can you believe that the temperature is already about 10 degrees Celsius…at this time in the winter season, and is expected to go up to around 15! Wow! Mother Nature has certainly gone awry! But it’s a good thing we have Jesus to cling to, the One who never changes – the same yesterday, today and forever – to give us a strong foundation and keep us in perpetual balance, since Mother Nature appears to have lost hers. (smile) 

And today we are going to open with a song of praise that’s ever so appropriate for our walk with God in these unprecedented times of our lives, one we well know and LOVE. It’s aptly titled ‘Nearer My God to Thee.’ Oh friends, with all the atrocities, the disasters, the strife and hatred that’s taking place in our world in this current season of Lent, all of us need to get closer to God. There’s no doubt about that, because it’s only through His unconditional LOVE, His grace, mercy and forgiveness that we can ever hope to make it through these tempestuous times! 

The song is such a wonderful testament to our faith, especially the practicality of it, and reminds us of those marvellous words from James. ‘Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh (near) to God, and he will draw nigh (near) to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye doubleminded.’ (James 4:7-8) And unfortunately, we are all numbered amongst that lot. 

But there is hope, as one commentator fervently declares: ‘Even when we cannot see or feel Him, the Lord never leaves our side. As we walk through each day, let us remember to call upon His name and give thanks. The beautiful lyrics of ‘Nearer My God to Thee’ are the perfect call to the Lord. And when you hear the story behind this amazing hymn, you will be reminded exactly why we need him every hour and second.’ 

So, on this first Sunday morning in the Lenten Season of this confusing year of 2022, let’s do exactly what James, Jesus’ brother, advises nuh, let’s submit ourselves to God, draw closer to Him, as we sing this beautiful hymn in a soulful and heartfelt manner, truly conveying the hope we have in Jesus. And as we raise our voices in sacrificial praise to heaven, let’s remember why we need Him, each and every second of every hour of every day.  

So let’s sing: ‘Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee! E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me, Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee. Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee! Though like the wanderer, the sun gone down, Darkness be over me, my rest a stone; Yet in my dreams I’d be nearer, my God, to Thee. Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee! 

There let the way appear, steps unto Heav’n; All that Thou sendest me, in mercy giv’n; Angels to beckon me nearer, my God, to Thee. Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee! Then, with my waking thoughts bright with Thy praise, Out of my stony griefs Bethel I’ll raise; So by my woes to be nearer, my God, to Thee. Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee! 

Or, if on joyful wing cleaving the sky, Sun, moon, and stars forgot, upward I’ll fly, Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee. Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee! There in my Father’s home, safe and at rest, There in my Savior’s LOVE, perfectly blest; Age after age to be nearer, my God, to Thee. Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!’ 

Oh my people, there’s nothing in this world that compares with being near to our Creator! But it doesn’t just happen, we must make a conscious effort to bring it about, and the Lord will help us when we do that. And the story behind the hymn is a perfect example of that, of experiencing God in a greater way. It was written by Sarah Flower Adams (1805-1848) somewhere around 1841 to follow her pastor’s sermon on Genesis 28:11-19, known as the story of Jacob’s ladder, or Jacob’s dream, when Jacob was sent to Padan-aram to seek a wife from his mother’s family. 

The Good Book tells it. ‘And Jacob went out from Beer-sheba, and went towards Haran. And he lighted upon (came to) a certain place, and tarried (stayed) there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place and put them (at his head) for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and beheld a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. 

And behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed (descendants). And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land: for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.’ (Gen. 28:10-15) 

Wow mih bredrin! Can you imagine having that dream? And why did the Lord offer all of that to Jacob, a known ole crook and scamp eh, who had earlier stolen His brother Esau’s birthright? He certainly uses those whom we think are unfit to do His work, like He did later on with Bruh Paul. And can you imagine Jacob’s reaction? Here is how the Good Book tells it. ‘And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not. And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.’ (Gen. 28:16-17) 

Oh friends, yuh see how easy it is for God to put the fear of God in us when we think we are big and bad and bold!  And the Good Book continues: ‘And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar (altar), and poured oil upon the top of it. And he called the name of that place Bethel (House of God): but the name of that city was called Luz at the first.’ (Gen. 28:18-19) 

Yes mih people, Jacob had finally met his match, God! And when that happens, as so many of us can testify to, we suddenly come to our senses and our lives do a complete 360 degrees turn around, reminiscent of Bruh Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus many moons later. It was the same with Jacob. ‘And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment (clothes) to put on, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the Lord be my God. And this stone, which I have set for a pillar (altar), shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth (a tithe) unto thee.’ (Gen. 28:20-22) 

Oh fellow believers, the Lord kept His word and Jacob also kept his vow. That’s how it ought to work. And please note that Jacob’s tithe was voluntary, like Abraham’s was to Melchizedek (Gen. 14:20) because the Law of tithing was not given to Israel until the time of Moses. It just goes to show a sincere LOVE and appreciation for God’s generosity to them, a trait that should also be found in us modern day believers, and even stronger too, because we have been granted much more than the old-timers, we have Jesus and all the wonderful things He brings to the table. 

Now, my fellow saints, I do hope that what we‘ve said today will make a large imprint on our hearts and souls, and bring us ever closer to God, because we so badly need it, if we are to maintain our peace and LOVE for Christ and diligently do His work in these tempestuous times. Much LOVE!

…the only wise way to walk this life…is to walk it as closely as possible with Christ…   

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