National Day of Prayer 2019

Church, have you ever wondered what is God’s will for your life? According to the Apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”

When we look at these 3 verses at-a-glance, they look like a series of straightforward and simple to understand commands. Yet, upon further reflection we would have to admit that, although straightforward and simple; they are really challenging commands to obey. How do we rejoice all the time, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances? Is this even possible?

The short answer is yes! You see, one way to understand these commands is to view them as summons to be captivated by who Jesus is, and what Jesus has done. We live out the will of God when we are captivated by the person and work of Jesus Christ. Think about it like this:

  • What happens to us when we lay hold of the wonderful gift of salvation? Well, according to 1 Peter 1:8-9, when we receive the end result of our faith (the salvation of our souls) our inner response is inexpressible and glorious joy.

  • What happens when we make the discovery that "apart from Christ we can do nothing" (of eternal value)? We seek to depend upon Christ completely. We express this dependence through prayer.

  • Finally, what happens when we reflect (on a day-to-day basis) that as Christians we are recipients of God’s unfailing, unconditional, and undeserved love in all circumstances? Our minds are filled with the attitude of gratitude, and so we give thanks to God.

Do you get it?

  • When we rejoice in Christ and His salvation, we live out the will of God!

  • When we depend upon and abide in Christ, we live out the will of God!

  • When we remember all the ways Christ is upholding, sustaining, blessing, caring, and guiding us and return thanks to Him, we live out the will of God!

Now that sounds straightforward, but it is still very challenging to put into practice! There are just so many things working against us as we try and engage in these godly pursuits. There are many things that prevent us from being captivated and captured by Christ - not least, the world, the flesh and the devil. The world, with all of its temptations, always seeks to lure us away from devotion to Christ. The flesh "is weak" (as Jesus said) and often succumbs too easily to the temptations or distractions that greets us on a daily basis. The devil, our enemy, prowls around like a roaring lion looking to see if he can devour and destroy us. I’m sure you would agree, it is these factors which make living out the will of God feel impossible?! So, the question is: practically speaking, is there anything we can do to help us as we seek to live the will of God?

Again, the short answer is yes. One practical thing that will help us to live out the will of God is coming together with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ for times of fellowship, prayer, and worship. Listen to what the writer of Hebrews says in chapter 10:23-25

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

This week, we have a great opportunity as a church family to come together for prayer, worship, and fellowship. On Wednesday, the 27th of November, our denomination, the Free Church has organised a National Day of Prayer. I’d love to see you there!

Come along and spend time rejoicing and giving thanks to Christ with your church family! Come along and express corporately and privately our absolute need of Him - to move and work in our personal life, family life, church life, in community and across our country! Come along and pray that His will would be done here on earth as it is in heaven!

As I wrap this blogpost up, I want to tell you about one of my Christian heroes from Scottish church history: a young Christian martyr called Archibald Stewart.

He hailed from the small village of Underbank in South Lanarkshire. On the 15th March 1684, when he was in his 19th year of life, he was executed along with four others at the cross of Glasgow because of his involvement in the covenanting cause in the 16th century.

There is a monument in memory of young Archibald in the cemetery of Lesmahagow Old Parish church, South Lanarkshire. I’ve visited it many times. Why? To read the extract from a letter he wrote on the day he was executed. It is well worth your consideration - especially the encouragement and instructions he gave to his fellow Christians!

“This is the sweetest and joyfullest day that ever I had in my life; I am more willing to die for my Lord Christ and His truth than ever I was to live! I bless the Lord who has called me, chosen me and redeemed me through His blood and the riches of His free grace and for accepting my testimony. I am called to witness this day for Him! If every drop of my blood and every hair on my head were life, I would willingly lay them down for my lovely Lord Jesus Christ. Let none doubt this; these are the true words of a dying martyr and I seal them with my blood.

Study to know the preciousness of Jesus; miss not the Kingdom for fear of suffering. He has covered all my cross with love and borne both it and me! If ye only knew what of His love I have gotten since I was honoured with imprisonment for His truth, ye would not be afraid of suffering. OH! I cannot express His matchless love for me.

It is little I can speak for Him, but be persuaded this is the way to obtain the crown of glory: Spend much time in private prayer and study self-denial. Keep up your fellowship meeting which you and I had together though ever so few be to attend them. I think they are the life of religion. My soul has been many times refreshed through them, if no will help you: DO YOUR OWN PART! Oh! Pray, Pray, that the Lord will hasten His return to His covenanted land and see the Glorious days of the Church of Scotland, when this storm has passed and gone.

Now I wish with all my heart and soul, that those who have wronged me may have repentance and that it stands well with the Lord’s glory to forgive them, as I desire also to be forgiven.

Now farewell all societies of the Lord’s people, Mother and sister! Farewell, reading, singing, praying, conversing, and meditating on Holy and Sweet Scripture. Farewell! Welcome Heaven, welcome Holy Angels and spirits of just men made perfect. Welcome eternity and salvation for evermore. Welcome Father, Son, and Holy Ghost! Into thy hands I commit my spirit. Amen!"

Tollbooth March 15th 1684: Archibald Stewart! “His Christian magnimity and delight at his death were observed by many!”

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”

Cumbernauld Free Church will be open for various times of prayer on the 27th of November: ⏰ 7.30am - 9am ⏰ 12.30pm - 2pm ⏰ 7.30pm - 9pm