As we continue to look at “The Practice of the Presence of God” from Brother Lawrence, I am reminded that the letters of this humble servant of God show us that the soul that seeks the daily presence of God will find Him in every circumstance of life.
Brother Lawrence begins one of his letters with the following, “We have a God who is infinitely gracious and knows all about our wants. He will come in His own time and when you least expect it. Hope in Him more than ever; thank Him with me for the favors He does you, particularly for the fortitude and patience which He gives you in your affliction. It is a plain mark of the care He takes in you. Comfort yourself, then, with Him, and give thanks for all.”
In Psalm 55:22 it says, “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” In 1 Peter 5:7 it also says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
I don’t know of anyone else who cares for you like the Good Shepherd, Jesus. He is never too late, He is always on time.
I remember one time when I was at a conference and I got a phone call from Cammi. She knew I was there and called a few times in a row. I got up and walked out to answer the call. She was very sick and didn’t know what to do. She was miles away from me at college. The cancer had returned and every small sickness could lead to anything. I encouraged her to call her close friend and go to the emergency room. My heart was desperate and I was so far away from her that I couldn’t physically be there which didn’t help me at all. As I returned to the Worship Center, the worship team was singing a song she had sung in our church in the past. It was called, “It Is Well.” I will never forget the confirmation that the Lord gave me at that time. It was as if He was right beside me telling me that it will be alright. I trusted the Lord at that time like no other time.
The words say, “Grander earth has quaked before. Moved by the sound of His voice. Seas that are shaken and stirred can be calmed and broken in my regard. And through it all, through it all, my eyes are on You. Through it all it is well with my soul. And far be it from me to not believe even when my eyes can’t see. And this mountain that’s in front of me will be thrown into the midst of the sea. So let go my soul and trust in Him. The waves and wind still know His name. So let go my soul and trust in Him.”
Sometimes I pull away early in the morning, go in the Worship Center, and just bask in the Good Shepherd who leads me. I sit at the piano and play the song, “It Is Well,” and just cast all of my cares on the Lord. When is the last time you pulled away from the routine and let God remind you of His love? Soon, your despair will turn into praising the One and Only. God wants us to seek Him at all times, wherever we may be.
May God richly pour out His Spirit on you today. Just know that we prayed for you today in our “Front Row” Prayer ministry at the church. This Sunday we will continue to look at the wonderful grace of God.
Joy in Jesus!
Excerpt from, “The Practice of the Presence of God,” by Brother Lawrence.
“In a conversation some days since with a person of piety, he told me the spiritual life was a life of grace, which begins with servile fear, which is increased by hope of eternal life, and which is consummated by pure love; that each of these states had its different stages, by which one arrives at last at that blessed consummation.”
He went on to say that his constant devotion to God through recognizing that God was all around him and all through him. It rose up in him such a high esteem for God that faith alone was totally satisfying at every point of the day. He did not compartmentalize his home life, church life, and business life. He saw it as one.
At first he didn’t feel devoted enough to God as he had wished, his past sins were ever present in his mind, and he also didn’t feel worthy of receiving the unmerited favor of the Lord. His heart was ever so troubled in the form of suffering immensely. When he embraced the fact that he would never feel worthy but could embrace God in ever increasing faith, he began to walk before God in faith, humility, and love. He sets his mind on Christ knowing of His faithfulness to him. He has no will but that of God’s, and He has set his motives purely that of love for the Father.
He writes, “I consider myself as the most wretched of men, full of sores and corruption, and who has committed all sorts of crimes against his King. Touched with a sensible regret, I confess to Him all my wickedness, I ask His forgiveness, I abandon myself in His hands that He may do what He pleases with me. The King, full of mercy and goodness, very far from chastising me, embraces me with love, makes me eat at His table, serves me with His own hands, gives me the key of His treasures; He converses and delights Himself with me incessantly, in a thousand and a thousand ways, and treats me in all respects as His favorite. It is thus I consider myself from time to time in His holy presence.”
His greatest desire is to be a stone before a carver, where the Lord can make a statue as he presents himself before God. He wants God to form His perfect image in his soul and make him entirely His. This all simply because he had set his mind on practicing the presence of God in all situations and at all times. People could not notice, at the time, that he was any different than he was before. But if they examined his life thoroughly, or followed him around, then they would have seen a man more fulfilled and confident in his relationship with the life giving God of the universe. What a place to be. I too desire to be in such a relationship with my maker.
On Sunday, I am going to begin a new series on grace. Let’s pray for the Lord to show us His amazing grace as we seek Him with all of our hearts together.
May God richly bless you this week as you follow Him.
Joy in Jesus!
Ephesians 4:17- 32
17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
I was looking at my library and I came across this small book from a seventeenth-century French monk named Brother Lawrence. He writes about practicing the presence of God at all times. In a sense, that is what putting off the old self and putting on the new self is all about. You are living with a new set of standards. It is all about changing the attitude of our minds. Allow me to take some excerpts from this old classic for the next several weeks.
At the age of 18, when he was converted, Brother Lawrence saw a tree stripped of its leaves, and thought that in a short time the leaves would be renewed. Following that transformation, flowers and fruit would appear. From that thought process he received a high view of the providence and power of God which changed his soul forever. This set his heart afire toward God and loosed it from the world. It was from that day forward that he continually conversed with the Lord.
Brother Lawrence walked with Christ along with the lowly and in the commonplace. There was nothing flashy about him. He didn’t line his walls with certificates and degrees. He chose to simply walk in the background of life moving from one encounter with God to the next. He shows us how, at any moment and in any circumstance, the soul that seeks God may find Him, and practice the presence of God.
Let’s go on this journey of peeking in the window of a humble man of God making Christ the centerpiece of his life. We would do well to consistently make Jesus a priority in everything we do.
On Sunday we will continue our look at our Mission and Strategy as a church in the series, “This is Us.” God is moving in our midst. May you seek God in the simple and ordinary today.
Joy in Jesus!
Rev. Mike McClurg
Senior Pastor, Findlay First Church of the Nazarene