God Moves in a Mysterious Way

The story of William Cowper’s struggle with anxiety and depression has always intrigued me. In his most famous hymn, God Moves in a Mysterious Way, he demonstrates that in the trials of his life and the darkness he fought he could always keep his eyes on the light and promises of Jesus Christ. In this great hymn, I think Cowper rested on the sovereignty and providence of God to bring sanity to his stormy life.

We all do well to rest in God’s sovereignty and providence in the same way. Here are the lyrics to this great hymn that Cowper penned and an arrangement for piano of the hymn you can listen or sing along to. Blessings.

  1. God moves in a mysterious way
    His wonders to perform;
    He plants His footsteps in the sea
    And rides upon the storm.
  2. Deep in unfathomable mines
    Of never failing skill
    He treasures up His bright designs
    And works His sov’reign will.
  3. Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
    The clouds ye so much dread
    Are big with mercy and shall break
    In blessings on your head.
  4. Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
    But trust Him for His grace;
    Behind a frowning providence
    He hides a smiling face.
  5. His purposes will ripen fast,
    Unfolding every hour;
    The bud may have a bitter taste,
    But sweet will be the flow’r.
  6. Blind unbelief is sure to err
    And scan His work in vain;
    God is His own interpreter,
    And He will make it plain.

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow: The Cure for Worry and Anxiety

I know this may sound weird, but sometimes I love to get down on the ground in my backyard to get a good close look at all the little plants, sticks and rocks. What amazes me is the detail in some of the smallest of those little plants.

Most people have a fascination with beautiful flowers. The zoo in our city built an entire facility called the botanical gardens just for gazing at plants. Large flowers like irises and gladiolas are always striking and stunning in their shape and colors. But have you ever stopped to take a look at the flowers that pop open in the smallest of plants right in your backyard?

The photo included in this article is one I took in my own yard. It’s a picture of a weed. That’s right, a tiny plant that is here today, gone tomorrow. It’s a plant that I wouldn’t think twice of either pulling out of the ground root and all, drenching with weed killer, or plowing down with my mower.

Take a moment and study the photo. Admire the complexity of this little purple flower. The colors are exquisite. The shape of the flower is almost tropical in design. The little “hairs” on the tops of each petal are unique. Even the green leaves underneath each flower have an almost Victorian look. All this beauty and intricacy — in a weed!

As I was on my hands and knees, phone in hand, trying to get the best shot of this tiny flowering weed I’m sure the neighbors thought I was a bit crazy. But there on the ground, as I sat gazing with amazement I was reminded of an important lesson the Lord Jesus teaches in the Scriptures. It’s one of those lesser to greater lessons that he used so often to get us to focus on the truths of the character and promises of God.

“See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:28b-30)

This passage reminds me that God knows we are prone to anxiety. Our hearts and minds are bent towards worry. Jesus teaches believers that the cure to worry is to consider the flowers. Consider the reality that if God so decorates the flower of a weed that is here today and gone tomorrow, he will surely care for his adopted children who he has secured for all eternity through Jesus Christ.

How often we run here and there fretting over small and great things! How little we stop and take the time to marvel at the tiniest of flowers and use that as a lesson to remember the teachings of our Lord. The way to combat the frantic worried mind and heart is to stop and look at the flowers God has created. When we marvel at the beauty, creative mastery, colors, shape (and even smell), of something as insignificant as a flowering weed it should cause us to be reminded that God cares infinitely more for his adopted children than for that weed dressed in colors Solomon only dreamed about. And if that be the case, what in the world do we really have to worry about? Oh, we of little faith indeed!

If you are like me, you sometimes feel paralyzed by worry and anxiety. Over time I have slowly come to realize two important things. First, worry is a sin because we are in essence doubting God’s goodness and his providence. Second, the cure to worry and anxiety is to saturate your mind with the great truths of the word of God and his character. How amazing is it that our Lord teaches us to gaze at little flowers to help us be reminded of both of these truths!

So next time you are out and about, take a moment to stoop down and marvel at something as insignificant as a flowering weed. If you marvel through the lens of Scripture, it will be a balm to your weary anxious soul.

The Destructiveness of Worry

“Do not worry about anything–but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Learning not to worry, is one of the lessons that every Christian should master.

Worry is a terribly wasteful experience:

  • it uses up the strength we need for our duty,
  • it unfits us for doing our work well,
  • it is dishonoring to God, for He has promised to care for us, if only we do His will faithfully,
  • it is utterly fruitless, for it does not take away the things that it frets over.

The Bible gives many lessons on the subject–but none that makes plainer just how we are to eliminate worrying from our life, than what Paul here tells us to do.

First of all, we are simply not to worry: “Do not worry about anything.”
There is no room for exceptions, special circumstances, and all that.
We are not to worry about anything.

What then shall we do with the matters that we are disposed to worry over? Put them into the hands of God in prayer–and leave them there! If we do this–then the peace of God will guard our hearts and thoughts from all anxiety.

It will be a great benefit to us in every way, to learn this lesson.

(J.R. Miller, “Morning Thoughts” 1906 / HT: Grace Gems)

Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

The Best News

Q. How are you right with God?

A. Only by true faith in Jesus Christ. Even though my conscience accuses me of having grievously sinned against all God’s commandments and of never having kept any of them, and even though I am still inclined towards all evil, nevertheless, without my deserving it at all, out of sheer grace, God grants and credits to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness and holiness of Jesus Christ, as if I had never sinned or been a sinner, as if I had been as perfectly obedient as Christ was obedient for me. All I need to do is to accept this gift of God with a believing heart.

Question 60 from the Heidelberg Catechism

Accepted

There are a few interactions I’ve had when sharing the gospel on the streets that stick in my heart and mind. One such interaction occurred a few weeks ago. We were at a large bus terminal in the heart of our city where we frequent every weekend as part of an evangelism ministry. The busy bus station is a wonderful place to share the gospel since there are always people coming and going (and standing around).

We walked around handing out gospel tracts and speaking with some of the people standing around waiting for their bus to arrive. It can be a captive audience! As I made my way to the back side of the bus station I handed a tract to a young man and began a conversation with him. He asked me a few questions about the contents of the tract and that gave me an opportunity to begin sharing the good news of the gospel. He had a worried look on his face as I was telling him about Jesus and the judgment. He said with a genuinely concerned look, “I don’t know if I will be accepted by God.”

Continue reading Accepted

The Three Worst Friends

Yes, Virginia, there is an unholy trinity!

The English Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon, often called the “prince of preachers”, had great insight into the dangers, toils, and snares of the Christian life. It’s no wonder that he is often referred to as the last of the Puritans. Like the Puritans of old, he not only had a grasp of the gospel and the Scriptures, but he also had an experiential and biblical understanding of the realities of the Christian life.

There are droves of sermons, books, and articles that speak of the Christian life in almost fairy tale ways. Most of them make the Christian life sound like something out of a movie. They tend to portray a life of abundance, happiness, prosperity, and freedom from any conflict. In fact, it wasn’t too long ago that one of the best selling books in most Christian bookstores described the Christian life as the best it gets right here and now. There are so many misleading resources that sadly Christians have become influenced by much of them. We need to get back to what Scripture says about the Christian life, not what the latest religious guru concocts to tickle the ears of the masses.

Continue reading The Three Worst Friends

Darkness Ordained by the Physician of Light

All suffering has a divine purpose from a loving heavenly Father.

The Christian life is not easy. No matter what the rolex-clad television preacher tells you, Jesus makes it perfectly clear that the life of a believer is no walk in the park. (John 16:33) In fact, it’s pretty much impossible to find any instance in the Scriptures of faithful believers living their best life now. A quick perusal of “the hall of faith” in Hebrews 11 shows that believers suffer mightily as they live as pilgrims looking forward to the life to come.

The reason for suffering is something that is often debated among Christian circles. In my estimation, there really shouldn’t be much debating. I believe that God has spoken clearly in the Scriptures that suffering isn’t only expected, but is ordained by God. In his infinite wisdom, God uses suffering in the lives of believers to sanctify them and conform them more into the likeness of Jesus. For example, when Paul penned the letter to the Philippians he told them that they were not only appointed by God to believe but that they were also appointed to suffer. (Philippians 1:29) Knowing this truth, Christians can live their lives understanding that God is right in the middle of their suffering. Nothing is by chance. All suffering has a divine purpose from a loving heavenly Father.

Continue reading Darkness Ordained by the Physician of Light