I have been thinking about the goodness of the Lord lately, and it was the topic of John's sermon yesterday. He made two points that I would like to remember...
First of all, he mentioned that a person can go about her day, making godly decisions, living the Christian life, etc... and not be actively aware of God's transcendence, omnipresence, or omnipotence. However, we can not make decisions or obey or be close to Christ and NOT be aware of his goodness. (which can be an umbrella term describing his grace, kindness, mercy, etc.)
In other words, all that we do that is in any way considered obedience is directly from the goodness of God, because apart from Him, we are not good.
I know this sounds basic, but it is something I must preach to myself. My tendency is to forget... leading into the second thing I want to remember...
One practical way we despise the goodness of God is by not recognizing His goodness and/or taking it for granted. Instead of being aware of it continually and being motivated to love and holiness, we can take His goodness for granted and become presumptuous.
CHRISTIAN PROGRESS by John Angell James
I have been reading this book too long (I started it b/c it was small and thought it wouldn't take too long!), but I just finished this morning. This was a very helpful book which addressed the necessity of progress in the life of the believer. His other book, The Anxious Inquirer was instrumental in my coming to know the Lord. He also has written a book called Female Piety which has been turned into a pamphlet called A Woman's Mission... very helpful as well.
I want to post some quotes from the book. It is definitely worth reading!
Be thankful, then, for "the day of small things:" despise it not. But be not satisfied with it. Religion must be a shining and progressive light.
We should grow in our knowledge of the character of God, that we may resemble it; in the perfection of the law, that we might be conformed to it; in the example of Jesus, that we may be more like it... A desire merely to know, is curiosity, but a desire to know in order to do, is sanctity.
Be more insensible to the world's favor, frown, or smile.
And what is the crowning grace, the finishing stroke of beauty, and the brightest ray of glory in the Christian character? HUMILITY.
Do everything as if God did nothing. Depend upon God as if He did everything. Hence, do all in a spirit of prayer. Prayer is the golden thread that is to run through all our actions, stringing them altogether, and suspending them all upon the hand of God.
From this book, I can say that I do not want to be a lighthouse directing other ships on course, but staying stationary myself! Each chapter has a (sometimes painful) very pointed address to the reader at the end. Here is a piece of one:
Am I really so anxious to grow in grace as to be using all of the means necessary for that purpose? Am I serving my soul as I do my body, that is, by being careful about my spiritual health, and adopting all proper measures, and diligently employing them to promote it?
Do I really want to grow?
Do I hunger and thirst after righteousness?
Do I take pains for this self-cultivation?
Do I most constantly and seriously attend means of grace, public and private, week days as well as Sabbath days?
Do I constantly, devoutly read and study the Holy Scriptures, not allowing other books to supplant the Bible? And do I search them to be made more holy?
Do I feel my need of the Holy Spirit's influence, and am I constantly wrestling with God to bestow it upon me?