Psalm 119:151 - But You are near, O LORD, and all Your commandments are true.
In the longest chapter in the Bible, there are five short words that ring like a melodious bell in the harsh roar of modern history: "But You are near, O Lord." And in another section of the Bible, in a rarely read chapter, occurs a sentence that hits the target in the bullseye when you're looking for an answer to what's wrong with the modern world.
Ahaz, king of Judah, turned his back on God. Not that he became altogether irreligious, mind you! After all, the king had to worship something. That is, he must believe in something outside of himself. So he did; he turned to idols. The sacred record reports that "he shut up the doors of the house of the LORD," and that "he made high places to make offerings to other gods." Then comes that well-aimed sentence: "But they [the idols] were the ruin of him and of all Israel." When men turned their back on God and begin to love and trust something else more than they love and trust God, the result is always ruinous (see 2 Chronicles 28).
God can be as real to us as He was to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. God can be as true to us as he was to Abram during his pilgrimage from Ur of the Chaldees to the Promised Land. God can be as evident to us as he was to Moses by the burning bush. And God can be as close to us as he was to David when he wrote, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).
Now I can imagine someone might ask, "How do you know that God is near? Have you seen Him?" The answer is no; I have not seen Him. But I have seen many indications of God's nearness. I see His majesty in the mountains and in the clouds; I see His greatness in the stars and in a drop of water; I see His power in the storm and the tiny atom. But all this is like the flickering of a candle compared with the noonday brightness of His revelation as given in this Bible!
It is there we find God's love. It is in the Scriptures we read of God's Son, Jesus Christ. We read of His life, His obedience to God, and His ministry to us. We read that He took our sins to the cross, died there, was buried, and three days later rose in resurrection victory.
As fallen creatures, our sin keeps us from appreciating God's nearness. Remember it is Christ Himself who says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with Me" (Revelation 3:20).
It is because of Jesus that we can draw near to God and away from those things that would be as idols in our lives. For each of us, Jesus stands ready, waiting, knocking on the door of our hearts.
May today be the day you hear Him knock on yours.
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, may we receive Your Son when He comes for us. In His Name we pray. Amen.
From "When God Is Near," a sermon excerpt from Rev. Dr. Armin Oldsen, former Speaker of The Lutheran Hour
1. What things hinder you from drawing closer to God?
2. God being near to us is truly awesome to think about. What does this mean to you?
3. What do you find most significant in the Bible's stories about God interacting with humans?