It wasnâ€™t because law school was so difficult; it was because Jesus is so wonderful.
Thanks to my mother, Iâ€™d known about Jesus all my life. But I didn’t really know Jesus. Therefore, I didn’t really love him or trust in him for my salvation.
All of that changed the first semester of law school when the Holy Spirit lavished me with a triple blessing.
He opened my eyes to see that I was a sinner who could not stand before a Holy God.
He then opened my mind to understand the gospel, the good news that through his perfect life, sacrificial death and glorious resurrection, Jesus Christ had paid the full price for all my sins and opened the way for me to be reconciled to God and enjoy him forever.
Finally, the Spirit gave me a deep, life-long hunger to know and love God more deeply and intimately.
These three blessings gave me a completely new guidance system for my life, which can be summarized with a simple acrostic: GPS.
- Glorify God: trust, obey and worship him
- Pursue God: Seek him earnestly
- Serve God: Do what pleases him
Last week I described how we can glorify God by trusting, obeying and worshiping him. Today, Iâ€™ll share four ways that I constantly seek to know God more fully.
Cherish Intimate Time with God
My computer downloads security updates every day to protect itself against the latest viruses that seek to corrupt its operation. My mind and heart need similar protection from the false values and ideas that the world is constantly throwing at me.
Thatâ€™s why I get up early every morning and cherish an hour alone with the Lord. I help my mind to wake up by first reading from two or three devotional books, such as Spurgeonâ€™s Morning and Evening, Chamberâ€™s My Utmost for His Highest, or Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers.
I anchor my devotions by reading one Psalm a day, beginning with Psalm 1 on January 1, reaching Psalm 31 on February 1, and so on through May. I then read through Proverbs in June, one chapter a day. I start over on the first day of July, reading both books twice a year.
Each morning I also read a chapter or two in another book in the Bible, working my way through both the Old New Testaments, and journaling the insights and applications God reveals to me.
Some of my richest time is spent memorizing and meditating on Bible passages that are particularly relevant to me personally or useful in my ministry (seeing Hiding Godâ€™s Word in Your Heart).
Finally, I go to prayer to process what God has revealed through His Word, to apply it to my life, and to ask him to shower his grace on others.
I cherish and guard this time jealously, not only because it brings me great pleasure but also because it enables me to filter out worldly deceptions and prepares me to approach my day with confidence and purpose.
I didnâ€™t do all of these things when I first began meeting with God in the morning. I started with just fifteen minutes reading a single chapter in the Bible and praying each day. But I found so much pleasure and value being with him that I just kept extending our time together. Now the hour flies by far too fast â€¦ the more I know him, the more I enjoy him.
Read Life-Changing Books
One of the most valuable pieces of advice I ever received was this simple truism: â€œThere are two things that will make you a different person a year from now: the books you read and the company you keep.â€ How true!
Although itâ€™s all too easy to relax in front of a television or movie screen, or to spend hours glancing at your smart phone or tablet, these activities rarely expand your mind, improve your character, or make you a better person.
Thatâ€™s why Iâ€™ve always got two or three books going. For pleasure and relaxation, I usually read history books (e.g., How the Irish Saved Civilization) and biographies of people whose lives inspire and instruct me (most recently, Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Lincoln, both Roosevelts, Bonhoeffer, Churchill, Truman, and Reagan).
To grow personally and spiritually, I am constantly reading from a growing circle of gifted Christian authors, such as J.I. Packer (his classic book, Knowing God, changed the course of my life), Tim Keller, Jerry Bridges, John Piper, Timothy George, David Powlison, and Paul Tripp, to name just a few.
I also enjoy reading books by men like Dan Goleman (Emotional Intelligence), and Malcom Gladwell (Blink and Outliers), who are expanding my understanding of human neurology and behavior.
Even though many of these books are not biblically grounded, thanks to common grace these authors can still help me to know God better as I learn about the marvels of his creation (Gen. 1:31; Ps. 139:13) and his providential guidance of human events (Prov. 21:1; Dan. 4:34-35), and contrast â€œworldly wisdomâ€ with the wisdom of God.
Pursue Quality friendships
Shortly after I put my trust in Christ, a godly pastor said, â€œIf you want to grow spiritually and know God better, find the most godly men you can and spend as much time with them as possibleâ€ (see Prov. 13:20).
As I embraced this counsel, God graciously surrounded me with a circle of men and married couples (and eventually with a very godly wife!) whom Iâ€™ve enjoyed socially, recreationally and in small group Bible studies. These people have inspired, instructed, and challenged me in ways that have forever changed my understanding of and devotion to God.
Enjoy Regular Worship
God also opens my heart and mind to his beauty and excellence through corporate worship. I look forward all week to enjoying warm fellowship, singing Godâ€™s praise, sitting under solid, practical teaching and preaching, and being encouraged through the Lordâ€™s Supper.
The more time I spend with brothers and sisters who are humble, who delight in God, and who display his transforming grace in their lives, the better I know and love the God who has knit us together into one body.
God Is True to His Promise
In Jeremiah 29:13, God promises, â€œYou will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.â€
Iâ€™ve found this promise to be absolutely reliable. The more I pursue God and seek to know and obey his will, the more he reveals to me the beauty of his character and the excellence of his ways (see John 14:21).
And the more he reveals himself to me, the easier it to discern and trust his guidance and to walk on paths that are pleasing to him and safe for me. As David wrote,
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his nameâ€™s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me (Psalm 23:1-4).
When you pursue a deep relationship with God, he will not just tell you where to go; he will walk with you every step of the way.
– Ken Sande
- How do you pursue a deeper knowledge of and relationship with God? Are you as consistent and earnest as you would like to be?
- Who do you know who seems to pursue God earnestly and consistently? How does that investment of time seem to impact their lives?
- If you could change just one thing about how you seek after God, what would it be?
- If you really want to change in this area, confide in a person who loves you enough to pray for you and to hold you accountable for your goals.
- For more detailed guidance on developing a fulfilling devotional life, I highly recommend Donald Whitney’s Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life.
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