Summary: In order to understand Christmas, and to have abundant life we must draw near to God.
Draw Near to God
AS 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
In the Christian life we have certain promises. We have the peace of Christ, which surpasses all understanding. We have unconditional love of the Father, and we have the Holy Spirit who is sent to be our comfort and our guide. Yet we have this yearning to be closer to God. We want more of God in our lives. We want to overcome sin, we want to live godly lives, and then we should want an active relationship with the One who calls us His children.
James says we need to “Come near to God and He will come near to us.” We are told to submit ourselves to God. When we become Christians we submit ourselves to God and His Lordship. That is what saying “Jesus is Lord” means. So how do we “Come near to God.”
1. Learn to be Thankful (Expressing thanks builds a relationship with God)
a. Col. 3:15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
b. Col 4:2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
c. Heb 12:8 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,
d. No matter what our situation is, no matter what is going on around us, we are commanded to be thankful. Even in our pain? Yes, even though it is hard to do, it is the only way to know this peace that Jesus gives. Phil. 4:4-7 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Therefore we draw close to God by having an attitude of thanksgiving. How? By looking at the glass as half full, by knowing that what we have coming is greater than what we have now, knowing that what we have now is temporary, even the pain, yet what we will have in Heaven is eternal.
2. A heart that Thanks God Thinks God
A mindset that is thankful will think of the things he or she is thankful for and therefore think of God who has blessed us abundantly.
a. 2 Cor 1:3 says he is the God of all compassion and comfort. He knows our pain, he does not take it away, but he provides for us comforters. Our brothers and sisters in Christ and Himself.
b. He is the God of peace and Love 2 Cor 13:11.
c. He will never leave us or abandon us (Matt 28:20 and Phil 4:9)
d. 1 Peter 5:10-11 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
A heart that thanks God, thinks of God and He the God of peace. (Romans 16:20) and he will, when the time is right, crush Satan underneath our feet.
3. Thankfulness is selflessness
Having a heart of thankfulness to God is a heart that focuses on God. Twila Paris has a song that came out years ago “God is in control” no matter what the situation, He is in control. There is another song that we sing “God will make a way where there seems to be no way.” A heart that is thankful to God, focuses on God and sees that God is still in control. Look at the end of Paul’s letters, especially the ones we call the prison epistles. Paul knew his life was coming to an end yet he can say;
2TI 4:6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day--and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.