Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Enjoying the Nearness of the Lord

Meditation for the week of May 5, 2013

Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. (Philippians 4:5)

I like technology.  I especially like a program that we use on our computers at home called Skype.  That program has made it possible for us to call our family members and for a little while it “seems” as though they are right in the room.  We see them in real time and in living color.  We hear them talk just as though they were visiting in our home.  In actuality they are miles away but for a little while, they are “at hand.”

This phrase “at hand” is interesting.  It is sometimes translated near.  The Greek word that is used can mean close in terms of location.  For example Bethany was near Jerusalem.  Sometimes it means close in terms of time as when summer is near.  Many would say that Paul is referring to the imminent return of the Lord Jesus in our verse for today.  Imminence has to do with time and refers to an event that is ready and could happen at any time.

I am inclined to believe that Paul is referring to the close presence of the Lord in this verse rather than to the imminent return of the Lord.  I have been giving a lot of consideration to the fact that in the book of Philippians Paul wants to obtain to some kind of resurrection.  He seems to feel that he has not obtained to it but is striving to obtain this particular condition.  We won’t have to strive to obtain the physical resurrection at the rapture so I believe Paul wanted to live as though he had already experienced the resurrection.  He wanted to live as though the Lord was present at all times which would be true if he were living as though he were already resurrected.  This assembly had two valuable sisters who were not getting along and this verse seems to be the way that they could work our their problems.  First, be gentle.  Second, remember that the Lord is not far off.  In fact He is present.  Therefore, these sisters should live as though they were already in the presence of the Lord.

Paul had been in the presence of the resurrected Lord on the road to Damascus in Acts 9.  It appears that Paul was caught up into the third heaven in 2 Corinthians 12:4 and had an experience that it was not possible for him to properly describe in human words.  He also says he received an abundance of revelations in 2 Corinthians 12:7.  He likely received many of those during those three years that He spent in Arabia and Damascus from the time he was saved until the time of his going up to Jerusalem to visit Peter.  Paul tells us that he didn’t receive the gospel from man.  It was revealed to him by the Lord Himself (Galatians 1:12). Apparently,the Lord ministered personally to him in those three years just as he had ministered personally to the other apostles for three years.  I think Paul knew what it was like to be in the presence of the Lord both in heaven and on earth.  And that is why his citizenship was in heaven.  The physical problems of life did not interfere with his enjoyment of the spiritual blessings of communion with and service for the Lord. 

I know that the Lord is always present in the person of the Holy Spirit once we are saved.  He seals us according to Ephesians 1:13.  While the Holy Spirit is a person, He is nameless.  But the Lord’s nearness in Philippians seems more real and more personal to me.    The Lord has a name; and for Paul, He was a very real presence in his life.  Paul didn’t serve an idea, or a philosophy, a myth or a religion.  He served the Lord that He had met and with Whom he had talked.  He had been invited into His present home in the Father’s house and had visited with Him there.  That kind of relationship with the Lord is only possible for one who has had his or her life changed by trusting the Lord since trust is the basis of any relationship. 

Paul knew that the Lord was at hand (or near or present).  If we who are saved could enjoy that kind of nearness to the Lord, most of our problems would become insignificant.  We would be so heavenly minded that people would wonder why we are “glowing”.   We would truly be the salt of the earth.  We would turn this world upside down. 

But more than that, we would look forward to getting up in the morning since each day would be a new adventure with the Lord.

Bruce Collins

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