Many times I have longed nestle in the arms of my Father, but have been too lazy. It meant stopping and speaking to Him, something I should have been doing already. Now, it seems like it has been weeks since I have been folded beneath His wings. Perhaps He does so to me already, but my running to Him may have been months, even years ago.
And then the shame and guilt of being a horrible Christian pushes me away the more.
Despite what a rebellious, straying daughter I have been, He has not given me a rock or a scorpion to eat this entire time. In fact, though He has been leading and discipling certainly, for He is a loving Father, He has still offered me feasts of blessings.
How often, like a guilty child, or like my first parents in Eden, I have slinked about life’s every corner, awaiting some terrible consequence justly unleashed from my Lord because of my wickedness. Yet, He has been so gentle. “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench.” He is so loving, gentle, compassionate. Like a shepherd He gently calls for me, leads me. And never does He jolt me so harshly that I long to run away.
The thing I long to do now is the thing I fear: speak to my Lord, earnestly and uninterrupted. To spend hours with my Savior, listening to His voice, and asking Him what He would have me do.
One thing He has given to us is the wisdom from fellowship of believers. Yet in the course of pilgrimage, I have not been able to have those same opportunities for speaking to Christian friends about our namesake. Oh, Christ, how lonely You must have been. Yet how satisfied You were with The Spirit! Lord, give me that Spirit, that same holiness and zeal and love and thirt and hunger quenching nurishment that so powerfully sustained You on Earth and forever. How much I long to be cradled by You, to feel the passion of your affections. Yet how much more now I also long to be far away as possible, like the prodigal’s son. Like Adam and Eve in the garden: hidden, naked and ashamed because of what I’ve done. Yet you speak in a still, small, loving whisper. For you are the God Almighty, the Great I Am, the God Who Sees. You are the God of mercy, of healing, of intercession. The king.
In you there is abundant life and perfect forgiveness
Forgive me, Lord!
And thank You.
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.
Sundays are easily my favorite day of the week. And here are 100 reasons why:
(1) It’s the Lord’s Day! When God first created the world, He rested on the seventh day (for us, a Saturday). When He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for our sins, Jesus fulfilled the promise of life and resurrected from the dead on the FIRST day of the week (Sunday). This is the day the New Testament church began to meet. It’s the Lord’s Day of victory, promised in Genesis 3:15!
(2) I get to worship ALL DAY.
This may sound sarcastic, but this is really quite a wonderful thing. In the morning, I have time to listen to sermons before church, then go to church, then read my Bible, then go back to church. Because God gave this day for us to put all other worldly things aside I have TIME with Him. For an ENTIRE DAY!! 😃
(3) I get to hear about how much He loves me.
Pastor S. may preach about sin and hell, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a message if love. Christ endured hell on the cross–the wrath and abandonment of God the Father–for my sake. To give me eternal life, He took the punishment for my sin. This is why Nicholas Sparks has nothing on the gospel when it comes to love stories. Why would a God whom I have slapped in the face with hatred, come to die for me so I don’t get punished for it? All the while telling me how much He loves me.
(4) I get to spend time with my family. To hear them makes my Spirit thank God.
(5) I get to watch other people physically worshiping our Lord.
(6) I get to see other Christians, in cars, or on sidewalks, going to church.
(7) The singing is so much fun. Everyone has a distinct voice and sings to the Lord.
(8) Christian loved-ones far away are also worshipping especially on this day, and it brings a sense of unity in the soul.
(9) I get to take communion. This is a very humbling time because I do not deserve to sit at the Lord’s table. But this is His promise to me, to His people, that we will est with Him in the wedding feast to come.
(10) I am reminded of my sin. Joyous? Not particularly. But Jesus is the Great Healer. How can I get better if I don’t know if I am sick? And He not only tells me I’m sinful, He sanctifies me through His prayers and Spirit.
(11) I get to hear familiar Bible verses in the worship service, and new ones!
(12) Things to memorize. The rhythm of prayers, verses, hymns stick in the soul and the brain. It’s an opportunity to say the things God has stamped on my heart that I can say without a bulletin.
(13) There are always new things to pray for. Family out of town? Traveling mercies. Anxiety? Prayers for peace in Jesus. Someone ill? Pray for comfort.
(14) Jesus prays for me! Always!! And I remember it during prayers on the Lord’s Day.
(15) Praying for the Holy Spirit to work in my heart and others during service, especially if I am having a hard time concentrating, and seeing, feeling, knowing God has answered the prayer.
(16) Seeing church family. So wonderful to see, touch, hear, connect with those who are my family in Christ– a family hardly different from biological kin.
(17) All the different personalities and warm smiles!
(18) The offering. Am reminded of all the offerings in throughout the Bible, of Christians who gave all they had out of love. And that great offering of Jesus on the cross Who gave us JOY.
(19) Watching my elders pray silently during various parts of the service.
(20) When people write notes.
(21) The happiness that soaks the room during worship.
(21) Watching people sway to the hymns, sometimes to the same beat and direction, other times completely opposite.
(22) Knowing the presence of Jesus is with us.
(23) Sitting next to my sister who I have prayed for His joy for years, worshipping.
(24) On the Lord’s Day, He shows how He has answered prayers.
(25) Writing prayers down to Him. His Spirit works within me as I pray to Him… forever humbling and amazing because I am horrible at prayer and gratitude.
(26) Sunday School! About the Holy Spirit.
(27) Watching children worship. Saying the apostle’s creed, rising to the hymns.
(28) Hearing loud voices from the kids on their favorite hymns.
(29) Being around the wisdom of older adults at church–and their love!
(30) We retire early on Sunday evenings, which means we can each spend hours reading God’s word and learning about it.
(31) Family devotional. This is especially enjoyable after we all have been filled with a day of worship.
(32) The preaching. It is so clear it is a taste of heaven, during the content hour or so of being filled with God’s love and word with His people.
(33) First-Sunday lunch.
(34) When visitors come and worship.
(35) Long, quiet afternoons.
(36) Hearing about church family
(37) The benediction
(38) The announcements
(39) When the church is full!
(40) Being able to slow down and check-in on people.
(41) Being filled with so much love for others after hearing and knowing what Christ has done for me.
(42) Dressing for the King.
(43) Knowing that if I cannot afford a nice dress, do not look pretty, or have to wear the same outfit every week it truly DOES NOT MATTER. The heart is what matters, not the exterior. And the heart will be reflected in the exterior. God wants a broken and contrite heart to heal, and wearing tons of makeup doesn’t fool Him, although it may fools others.
(44) God’s people love you for Christ in you, not because if how you look.
(45) The love.
(46) The day is a testimony of His love.
(47) Having a day to pray and learn how to pray.
(48) Turning the cell phone off (ideally).
(49) It’s okay not to check eBay today.
(50) Having people over.
(51) And talking about Jesus with them.
(52) Going to worship, then feeling refreshed.
(53) The crisp, toner-streaked bulletins.
(54) Watching my parents sit next to each other in church.
(55) Squeezing the hands of Ms. M in our pew.
(56) Passing out hymnals.
(57) Learning new things about *old* (familiar) verses.
(58) Singing Psalms and hymns.
(59) Actually paying attention to hymn/psalm words (this happens…sometimes 😞).
(60) Watching everyone at church serve each other in so many different ways.
(61) Always realizing by the end of the day I was going down the wrong path all week, and was so close to danger when Jesus protected me.
(62) The sadness of the Sunday being over is not quite as overwhelming as the happy assurance that it is either coming again in a week, or Christ is coming back first.
(63) Going to fellow believers’ homes.
(64) Writing notes and suddenly having a spiritual “A-ha!” moment.
(65) Sitting down for sermon.
(66) Standing up for reading God’s word.
(67) The hymn of thanksgiving!
(66) Feeling the different emotions different verses bring, and different memories it gives. For me, some verses remind me if when I first started learning about Jesus. Others, an exciting verse I read last week.
(67) Being in awe that I was made for this. To worship GOD.
(68) The comfort that the outward worship habits don’t save or sanctify. God works in the heart. Plucking grains on the Lord’s Day may be a bad thing, but it may also matter more where the heart is.
(69) Knowing that Jesus rose on this day.
(70) It’s Easter every Lord’s Day!
(71) That the devil no longer has power over me–especially today when He tries so much harder to turn me aside.
(72) Hearing people speak about Jesus with passion.
(73) The happiness that comes after a full day of worship that continues throughout the week.
(74) The things I read in His word today, or hear in His word will help me throughout the rest of the week.
(75) This is the day people get baptized!
(76) And the day people get excited about…like me.
(77) The stillness of the night.
(78) The birds chirping in the morning.
(79) I sleep the best on Sundays because He takes my cares away.
(80) If I am able to go to church, it is a HUGE gift!
(82) The gospel gives great feelings to Christians. Repentance and sadness over sin and its consequences, yes, but ultimately joy. But the reassurance that just because I may not be feeling happy today does not mean that the Holy Spirit is not working; in fact, quite to contrary. Just more proof that I have nothing to do with my salvation.
(83) Feasting on God’s word. Sunday is a holiday. Eat His fruit and meat!
(84) Memorizing (finally!) a passage I have known for years but didn’t know the chapter if verse in the Bible.
(85) Sharing Bibles.
(86) Writing in Bibles.
(87) Finding wonderful articles with proof texts online that encourage walk with God.
(88) The joy of knowing people can call-in to hear worship if they are ill.
(89) Breakfast or no breakfast? I remember when Dad would make us breakfast!
(90) Seeing my family serve the Lord at church.
(91) Falling asleep in the car thinking about a sermon.
(92) Praying. Constantly. Through the Spirit.
(93) Renewal of excitement for the returning of my Lord.
(94) Knowing that the Lord is victorious over the world.
(95) And that He has give me joy!
(96) Seeing the missionary cards upon entering the sanctuary.
(97) Having a day of being separated from the spears of the world (if in a blessed environment) and sheltered safely in Jesus’s bosom.
(99) Knowing that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are working in their people, including me.
(100) A day to write things like this to draw closer to God, and it be okay.
What are some reasons you love the Lord’s Day?
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
It’s not Him it’s them.
He is God.
He is all.
I can’t describe how happy I am in Him.
He has given me such a wonderful, wonderful week. Thank you, Lord. You have drawn me closer to You.
Shown me my sins that were stumbling blocks
Rewarded me at every step.
Because YOU love me and it is abundantly clear.
Thank you for loving me.
And those I love.
Help me to see I am nothing.
Cause me to serve.
Give me wisdom.
Use my body to share yourself with others.
My mind, my hands, my soul.
And give me joy.
I ask these things not because I deserve them, but because YOU have died to give them to me
Let not your blood go to waste, Lord.
Wash me in You, it is Your desire.
Wash my friends, my family.
Give them joy.
Never let them forget joy.
Thank YOU for the joy You ARE. You love me and you have loved me just this much even when I didn’t think so.
You are wonderful.
Greatly to be praised.
All excellent and powerful.