In Times Like These Draw Near To God 8/30/98

James 4:7-10
Page 1763 Come Alive Bible

JESUS CHRIST said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

Memorize that. Put it on the screen saver of your mind and reflect on it often. Invest your life in it and it will pay eternal dividends. We need such a truth to which to anchor our soul in our societies tempestuous sea.

Jesus Christ also said there would come a day in which there would be “distress among the nations, with perplexity” and “men’s hearts failing them for fear and expectation of those things which are coming on the earth” (Luke 21: 25, 26).

Is this that day? The international money market crisis seems to be worsening by the day and our own economy beginning to quake as a consequence. There is a moral crisis in the White House that appears to be being condoned by a majority of Americans and youth confused as to what is right or wrong.

Because of our tendency to assert there are no absolutes and all truth is relative we have lost our moral compass. Truth is now spoken of as being subjective. That is I alone, the subject, determine truth. There is no absolute objective truth in the marketplace. What influence is this having on our society?

Extensive studies show that youth who refuse to accept objective standards that govern their lives are:
65% more likely to mistrust people. Why shouldn’t they?
48% more likely to cheat on exams. Why not!
36% more likely to lie to their parents.
Twice as likely to lack purpose in life.
Twice as likely to be resentful.

People without objective truth, that is, the Bible to guide them live by what is called “cultural ethics.” That is whatever the ethic of the culture that is what is right. Whatever the culture approves is proper. In light of that America is headed toward a deeper abyss of immorality than ever imagined. By approving of the immorality made so public in Washington we are saying it is our new “cultural ethic.” There is a problem with that.

Many saw the movie “Schindler’s List” which depicted the horror of the holocaust. Was there anything wrong with the atrocities of the holocaust?

After the war when the Nazi officials were tried for war crimes in Nuremberg, Germany their defense was “how can you come from another culture and condemn what we did when our culture said it was acceptable?”

In condemning them the world court said there is something above culture that determines what is right or wrong. We say that something is the Scripture.

The international threat of terrorism is causing us to barricade our monuments and cower ourselves. There is indeed “distress among the nations, with perplexity.” The hearts of people are failing them because of fear.

Oscar Wilde once wrote that in our postmodern society, “People know the price of everything but the value of nothing.”

This has been called the “Age of the Sellout” in which “Everything is for sale. Honesty and integrity are traded off like chattels, for money and power.”

Whether it is the “Age of the Sellout,” or the “Age of the Fallout” or the “Age of the Blowout” it is our Age. This is the time in which this generation of Christians have been called upon to give light. This is our only time to be “the salt of the earth.”

In such a time as this we need to establish on the marque of our minds the words of Christ:

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

James 4: 7-10 lists some steps of preparation we each need to take in order to achieve this balanced mental, emotional, and spiritual state.

A. First, positively. You must “Submit yourselves therefore to God.”

This calls for a conscious willful action on your behalf. It requires you making a choice. Some persons arrogantly refuse to submit themselves. Each of us must respond to the self asked question: “Whom shall I serve, God or myself? Shall I make it my chief concern to do the will of my Heavenly Father, or shall I demand and assert my own way?”

It is said that when Aaron Burr, one of the most controversial personalities in early American life, reached the age of 21, he squarely faced the issue of whom to serve. Resolutely he decided to turn his back on the God of his fathers. He became a disgraced murderer and tried for treason. In death his body was laid to rest at the foot of the grave of his grandfather, Jonathan Edwards. Edwards was one of the most revered clergy/statesman of his era. The graves of the two illustrate the difference between one who seeks first the kingdom of God and who chooses slavery to self.

B. Second, negatively. “Resist the devil…”
The devil and his two allies: the world and the flesh, have designed and do desire your spiritual destruction.

A couple of decades ago the devil was thought to be only the figment of the imagination of radical Christians suffering a type of paranoia. Today devil worship proliferates. It is the natural Frankenstein created by a nation that has decided it can make it on its own.

When a decadent nation turns its back on God it turns back to the gods of decadence. Today Satan is more cunning than when he appeared to Eve. He is most effective as an angel of light.

Resist the devil: Through prayer. Pray “deliver us from the evil one.”

Bible study.
Regular public worship.
Association with friends who are committed Christians.

A. “Cleanse your hands” is a reference to outward actions. It is an appeal to our outward lifestyle. We must strive to maintain a clean lifestyle.

Verse 4 gives us a warning: “Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” The Christian who endeavors to do so is described in our text as “double-minded.”

B. “Purify your hearts” is a reference to an inward attitude. Medical science had not progressed in that day. A common concept was that blood carried in it ideas. They became conscious thoughts when the blood flowed through the brain. It was known that the heart pumped the blood. Therefore, it was thought that the heart was the point of origin of all creative thoughts. Hence, an appeal to cleanse the heart was a directive to change the thought pattern. Don’t let your mind dwell on evil ideas. Purify your thoughts by driving out the wrong concepts and ideas with Bible oriented ideas.

A critical negative spirit is a condition which needs to be purified. If you are going to think the Christ thoughts the mind must be purified of negativism.

There is a new book entitled “The Theory of Twenty-One.” The author shows as a result of research that out of every 21 people, 20 think negatively about everything. Only one is a positive person.

In another book by a different author entitled “Hide-N-Seek”, persons are urged to inventory their 16 closest relatives. Be objective who among them was negative and who are positive. Most persons will conclude they were reared in a negative environment.

Pray to be the “one” among 21.

An article in “The Christian Herald” tells the story of a senior executive in one of New York’s largest banks. In it he recalls his start with the bank. Shortly after being hired as an office boy the bank president called him in and told him he wanted him to work with him each day. The boy expressed reluctance saying he knew nothing of banking. “Never mind,” said the president, “you’ll learn a lot faster if you just stay by my side and keep your eyes and ears open.”

The young boy did and later acknowledged, “Being with that man made me just like him. I began to do things the way he did, and that accounts for what I am today.”

If we live each day as close to the Lord as possible we gradually become more like Him. Draw near to God and draw nearer to His likeness.

III. CONFESS TO GOD “Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep…” (vs. 9)

These are three evidences of repentance. Don’t waste your pain. Let it be used of the Lord to draw you to Him. Our life experiences can help us develop and maintain some admirable qualities.

1. A settled belief that the principles of God are true. This is a contrast to acceptance of the undefined postmodern dogma called “tolerance.” The choice between the two is as distinct as a sailor who charts his course by the North Star and one who maps his course by a pen light on the wall of his room.

2. Convictions which are rooted not grafted. Grafts often wilt easily in heat. When your convictions are rooted they withstand the heat of criticism and complaint.

3. The courage to act based on conviction not consensus. The issue is “Thus saith the Lord, not thus saith the majority.

4. Resilience born of heavy burdens and personal suffering.

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord”

The word “covenant” means an agreement or testimony. Actually, our Bible is divided into a new and old testament, literally, new and old covenants. A covenant is an agreement. Therefore, agree with the Lord that you are going to “humble yourself.”

It can result in a new beginning as written of in “The Land of Beginning Again” by Louise Fletcher Tarkington:
So I wish that there were some wonderful place
Called the Land of Beginning Again
Where all out mistakes and all our heartaches,
And all our poor selfish grief
Could be dropped like a shabby old coat at the door
And never put on again.
A renewed covenant will result in guidance.

King George VI of England during World War II made the following words vital in his new year’s address: “I said to a man who stood at the gate of the year – ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’ And he replied: ‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light, and safer than a known way.'”

The Lord will guide persons who made a covenant with Him.

Again I say this calls for a willful personal commitment from you. You are called on to make a choice.

George Beverly Shea, a name well known in Christian music, had to make such a decision as a young man. He was offered a significant secular recording contract and a major media job. During the time he was wrestling with this decision the Lord used his Godly mother to help make the decision. She copied 2 verses of Scripture and placed them on the piano. Shea came in and found them and sat for a time meditating on them. Slowly his fingers began to wander across the keyboard as ever so gradually his commitment as expressed in his newly emerging song beloved by millions. He wrote and sang:
I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands;
I’d rather be led by His nail-scared hand.
Than to be the king of a vast domain
And be held in sin’s dread sway;
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.

Beverly Shea made a covenant with God. He decided to follow Jesus and that decision has influenced every other decision he has made.

Make your decision today. “Boast not thyself of tomorrow” (Proverbs 27).


God will never put you down if you turn to Him.

He will build you up.