But for good as well as for ill one never knows what is coming next. You remember the Imitation says ‘Bear your cross, for if you try to get rid of it you will probably find another and worse one.’ But there is a brighter side to the same principle. When we lose one blessing, another is often most unexpectedly given in its place. — C.S. Lewis
In 1982, Scottish reformed minister, Sinclair Ferguson, published a short devotional. This uplifting book, “Discovering God’s Will” has been one of my delights in my spiritual journey this year, a tier or so below the Holy Bible, of course (it’s like compared chocolate to Splenda, the Bible and the words of man!), and also Candlish’s commentary on 1 John.
I love Sinclair Ferguson for his straightforward teaching and passionate devotion to God’s Word.
Here are ten quotes I have found helpful in “Discovering God’s Will.” Hopefully you will find these just as encouraging.
On God’s will for our lives, Ferguson speaks of Job. He concludes the example by saying,
“Job did not know what God’s ultimate purpose was. But the readers, hundreds of years later, do know, since they ‘have seen what the Lord finally brought about’ (Jas 5:10-11). This contrast underlines the difficulties in which we often find ourselves. We do not see what the Lord will finally bring about. We sometimes think we have learned what His ultimate purpose is for our lives, only to discover that we are like climbers who thought the next peak was the final summit. Only when we reach it do we discover that there is still some further height to scale in the purposes of God.”
[Chapter 2, page 34]
Yet to remember that in our trek,
“God does not deal with us as a crowd, but as individuals. The very process by which He reveals to us is part of the special guidance which He has promised to us. His timing, like His wisdom, is absolutely perfect, and we can trust Him without reserve.”
[Chapter 2, page 37]
This quote was especially convicting:
“Have you potentially three score years and ten to live for the Lord Jesus Christ, and yet you have hardly entertained one serious thought about what His will might be?”
[Chapter 3, page 43]
Obedience is essential in the walk:
“But this is not a matter of trusting and then obeying. It is also a matter of obeying and continuing to trust in God, even when we cannot understand His ways with us.”
[Chapter 3, page 48]
Obedience to Him includes walking in love. What does this mean?
“[In Ephesians 5] Paul expresses it both positively and negatively. Positively it means to follow the example of Christ, demonstrated in the cross…Paul also expresses walking in love negatively. That is arresting in our modern culture of opinion where it is so superficially assumed that the one thing which love never does is to say ‘No.’ This is a radically mistaken view. You will notice that in these opening verses of Ephesians 5, Paul provides a substantial (but still not exhaustive) list of all practiced to which love will say, ‘No.’ Walking in the ways of God means refusing other ways!”
[Chapter 4, pages 54-55]
This is a matter of the heart:
“Do you ever find yourself challenged on a course of action by a fellow Christian, and automatically respond: ‘What’s wrong with it?’. It is the most natural form of self-defense. For, in our heart of hearts we know, as Paul so incisively teaches, that this is not the really important question. There may be ‘nothing wrong with it’; but there may be nothing right with it; it may not prove to be beneficial to me.”
[Chapter 5, page 67.]
But let’s not stop there:
“I must not be content with asking whether a course of action will be personally helpful. Will it have a like beneficial effect on others?”
[Chapter 5, page 71.]
These are vital aspects to our Christian life. It makes sense, then, that:
“For the Christian, the choice of a life-calling will be seen as one of the most important decisions he ever makes.It will determine many aspects of his life. It is essential therefore to be assured that we are doing the will of God.”
[Chapter 6, page 75]
An important note on any life-calling:
“Work is a privilege. It is the gift of God. But it is also a commandment and a duty. God has given it to us to make us complete men and women. Indeed, Scripture indicates that when we work we reflect the image of God, just as when we take a Sabbath rest we pattern our behavior on our Maker (Ex.20:11).”
[Chapter 6, pages 75-76]
And in the last chapter, Ferguson calls to our hearts once more:
“Like the good shepherd, Jesus has gone before us; we have but to follow His footsteps (1 Peter 2:21). He has pioneered the way of obedience through the undergrowth of this fallen world. It can never be do difficult for us to walk in the paths of righteousness as it was for Him. Only in worthy walking do we follow in the paths of righteousness. That is where Christ leads us. Are you wandering, or following?”
[Chapter 9, pages 120-121]
That chapter is called “He Leads Me,” and it speaks of God’s provision and protection for His children, like described in Psalm 23. I cannot wait to finish reading this beautiful book, and I’m thanking the Lord for it tonight. If you have time, I encourage you to pick up this marvelous little book about living for Jesus.