“It is the infinite value of the finished work of Christ upon the cross plus nothing that is the sole basis for the removal of our guilt and the bestowal fo the same level of worthiness as is possessed by Christ.” -Francis Schaeffer
This is one of my favorite quotes and I let it sink in and wash over me again as I sat in the church pew this past Sunday. My soul needed to remember that truth yesterday. It was a great quote to start off a worship service and it is a great quote to start off this last of the six ways to practice the presence of God. This next one will have us thinking about our sin and turning away from it, so we need to a great dose of scripture and truth about God’s grace!
In case you missed my last 6 posts, they are linked below:
The First Way (Finding constant pleasure in His divine company)
The Second Way (Conversing with God in little ways while we do our work)
The Third Way (Do everything with great care)
The Fourth Way (Stop to praise God)
The Fifth Way (Adore God in faith)
Here is Brother Lawrence’s sixth way to practice the presence of God…
“We must carefully examine ourselves to see which virtures we are in most need of and which we find the hardest to acquire. We should also take note of the sins that we most frequently fall into and what occasions contribute to our fall. In our times of struggle with these areas, we can go before God with entire confidence and remain in the presence of His divine majesty. In humble adoration, we must confess our sins and weaknesses to Him, lovingly asking for the help of His grace in our time of need. Then, we will find that we can partake of all the virtures found in Him, even though we do not possess any of our own.”
As we look at this way of practicing the presence of God, it is important we remember the WHY of doing it. Why should we examine ourselves?
Do we do it to grovel? Do we do it to be outwardly pious and win favor to God? Do we do it to win blessings and salvation?
No, absolutely not.
We do it because it is clear in the bible that God calls us to repentance, a turning away from our sin. We do it out of thankfulness to the Lord for His mercy toward us because His lovingkindness was meant to lead us to repentance.
“I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:32)
“Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord!” (Lamentations 3:40)
“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”(Proverbs 28:13)
“I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.” (Psalm 32:5)
“Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” (Luke 15:7)
“Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4)
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.”(James 1:22-24)
I guess this is the one practice that could actually take up some of our time. But at this point, I hope that we’ve seen what a great treasure God’s presence is. It’s such a privilege and honor to be with Him. He has been so good to us, how can we not be compelled to take part in this activity that He calls us to and that promises yet more blessings?
How can we not take part in any of these ways to practice His presence…even if we’re busy?
Yes, taking time to examine our ways can…take our time. But the maker of our souls knows just what we need for the abundant life with Him. Since He calls us to it, it must be something He knows will bless us!
When we talk about examining ourselves and repenting, it is good to remember grace. If you struggle with going through seasons of not examining yourself, you are not alone! I do too.
Perhaps the wrong idea about God has kept us from coming to Him with what we see in the mirror. Let’s remember that God’s grace can be applied to our needy souls in two ways.
First, God’s unmerited favor (grace) through faith can be applied to us through Christ for salvation and all other spiritual blessings.
“He who knew no sin became sin on our behalf so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20)
Our past, present, and future sin was placed on Christ and punished fully and completely on the cross and His righteousness, acceptability, and approval with the holy, righteous God were bestowed upon us as a cloak.
John Bunyan is quoted as describing his conversion in this way, “One day as I was passing into the field . . . this sentence fell upon my soul. Thy righteousness is in heaven. And I thought I saw with the eyes of my soul Jesus Christ at God’s right hand; there, I say, was my righteousness; so that wherever I was, or whatever I was doing, God could not say of me, he lacks my righteousness, for that was just before him. I also saw, moreover, that it was not my good frame of heart that made my righteousness better, nor yet my bad frame that made my righteousness worse, for my righteousness was Jesus Christ Himself, ‘The same yesterday, today, and forever.’ Hebrews 13:8. Now did my chains fall off my legs indeed.”
Second, God’s grace is God’s help and assistance to us through the Holy Spirit to live in a way that honors Him in any and all of life circumstances.
“We can only draw on resources which have already been deposited in our name in the bank. But (to continue the bank metaphor) the whole of Christ’s life, death, resurrection and exaltation have, by God’s gracious design, provided the living deposit of His sanctified life, from which all our needs can be supplied.” (Sinclair Ferguson)
Because of our fellowship (union) with Christ, we come to share his resources. That is why he can “become for us” sanctification, just as he is also our wisdom, righteousness and redemption (1 Cor 1:30).
Jesus helps us in our time of need. Not just at the beginning when we first ask Him into our life. His grace is ongoing and helps us right now to say no to ungodliness and yes to His ways.
Do we need peace instead of anxiousness? His peace is ours!
Do we need love instead of hate? His love is ours!
Do we need to forgive instead of harbor bitterness? His forgiveness is ours!
If you are in Christ, you are blessed with every spiritual blessing.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” (Ephesians 1:3-4)
Will you join me this week in focusing on examining, repenting, and yielding to the spiritual blessings and assistance that are ours through Christ?
Is there a way that you make time to do this daily or weekly? I’d love to hear how you keep yourself accountable in this area!
This is the last post in the series on the book, Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. I’m very excited to start a new series next week as I’ll start a series on one of my favorite books, All Loves Excelling, by John Bunyan. I’ll be writing a four-part series on the breadth, length, depth, and height of Christ’s love based on chapters from this book.
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Linking up this week with these encouraging blogs: