God’s Will is My Will

“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” John 17:20-23

“A gracious heart is contented by the melting of his will and desires into God’s will and desires; by this means he gets contentment.” – Jonathan Burroughs

“This too is a mystery to a carnal heart. It is not by having his own desires satisfied, but by melting his will and desires into God’s will. So that, in one sense, he comes to have his desires satisfied though he does not obtain the thing that he desired before; still he comes to be satisfied with this, because he makes his will to be at one with God’s will. This is a small degree higher than submitting to the will of God.

“You all say that you should submit to God’s will; a gracious Christian has got beyond this. He can make God’s will and his will the same. It is said of believers that they are joined to the Lord, and are one spirit (John 17:20-23); that means, that whatever God’s will is, I do not only see good reason to submit to it,  but whatever God’s will is my will. When the soul can make over, as it were, its will to God, it must needs be content. Others would fain get the thing they desire, but a gracious heart will say, ‘O what God would have, I would have too; I will not only yield to it, but I would have it too.’”

 

“Whereof I [Paul] am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:” Colossians 1:25-27

 

 

 

Hymn: Springs of Living Water

“Jesus answered and said unto her, ‘Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again; But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.’” John 4:13-14

 

Springs of Living Water

by John W. Peterson *

I thirsted in the barren land of sin and shame,
And nothing satisfying there I found;
But to the blessed cross of Christ one day I came,
Where springs of living water did abound.

Chorus
Drinking at the springs of living water,
Happy now am I,
My soul they satisfy;
Drinking at the springs of living water,
O wonderful and bountiful supply!

 

I thirsted in the barren land of sin and shame,
And nothing satisfying there I found;
But to the blessed cross of Christ one day I came,
Where springs of living water did abound.

[Chorus]

How sweet the living water from the hills of God,
It makes me glad and happy all the way;
Now glory, grace and blessing mark the path I’ve trod,
I’m shouting “Hallelujah” ev’ry day.

[Chorus]

O sinner, won’t you come today to Calvary?
A fountain there is flowing deep and wide;
The Savior now invites you to the water free,
Where thirsting spirits can be satisfied.

[Chorus]

 

* John Willard Peterson (1921 –2006) was born in Lindsborg, Kansas. He served as an Army Air Force pilot flying the China Hump from Burma during World War II. He attended Moody Bible Institute and graduated from the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago and shortly thereafter began his songwriting career. For over ten years he was President and Editor-in-Chief of Singspiration, a sacred music publishing company in Grand Rapids, Michigan. While there, he compiled and edited the popular hymnal, “Great Hymns of the Faith.” He had a major influence on evangelical Christian music in the 1950s through the 1970s. He wrote over 1,000 songs and 35 cantatas.

Some of John Peterson’s more popular song titles include “Heaven Came Down,” “So Send I You,” “Springs of Living Water,” “Jesus is Coming Again,” “Surely Goodness and Mercy,” “This is the day that the Lord hath made,” and “O Glorious Love.” His cantatas include “Down From His Glory,” “Born a King,” and “Hallelujah for the Cross.”

 

Metamorphosing the Affliction

“It is not so much the removing of the affliction that is upon us as the changing of the affliction, the metamorphosing of the affliction, so that it is quite turned and changed into something else.” – Jonathan Burroughs

In this example of the mystery of contentment, Burroughs focuses on a financial affliction—poverty, loss of employment, hunger, eviction, economic ruin. He encourages the believer to approach such an affliction with a gracious, spirit-filled attitude and seek a positive good through the affliction. The carnal believer looks for a quick and easy way out of the problem; the gracious believer asks God for divine help to grow spiritually through the trial.

 “I mean in regard to the use of it, though for the thing itself the affliction remains. The way of contentment to a carnal heart is only the removing of the affliction. ‘O that it may be gone!’ ‘No,’ says the gracious heart, ‘God has taught me a way to be content though the affliction itself still continues.’ There is a power of grace to turn this affliction into good; it takes away the sting and poison of it.

“Take the case of poverty when a man’s possessions are lost: Well, is there no way to be content until your possessions are made up again? Till your poverty is removed? Yes, certainly! Christianity would teach contentment, though poverty continues. It will teach you how to turn your poverty to spiritual riches.

“There is a saying… ‘Even poverty itself is riches to holy men.’ Godly men make their poverty turn to riches; they get more riches out of poverty than they do out of their revenues. Out of all their trading in this world they never had such incomes as they have had out of their poverty. This, a carnal heart will think, is strange: that a man shall make poverty the most gainful trade that ever he had in the world. I am persuaded that many Christians have found it so, that they have got more good by their poverty, than ever they got by all their riches.

“Therefore, think it not strange what I am speaking of. You do not find one godly man who came out of an affliction worse than when he went into; though for a while he was shaken, yet at last he was better for an affliction.”

It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.”

Psalm 119:71

Charles Spurgeon, in his magnificent commentary on the Psalms, The Treasury of David, elaborates on another aspect of affliction described by Burroughs as it applies to King David’s unique affliction in Psalm 119:71: “Even though the affliction came from bad men, it was overruled for good ends: though it was bad as it came from them, it was good for David. It benefited him in many ways, and he knew it. Whatever he may have thought while under the trial, he perceived himself to be the better for it when it was over. It was not good to the proud to be prosperous, for their hearts grew sensual and insensible; but affliction was good for the Psalmist. Our worst is better for us than the sinner’s best. It is bad for sinners to rejoice, and good for saints to sorrow. A thousand benefits have come to us through our pains and griefs, and among the rest is this — that we have thus been schooled in the law.”

 

Hymn: Hiding in Thee

“Bow down thine ear to me;

deliver me speedily:

be thou my strong rock,

for an house of defense to save me.”

Psalm 31:2

Hiding in Thee

Composed by Ira D. Sankey *

Lyrics by William Orcutt Cushing **

Oh, safe to the Rock that is higher than I,

My soul in its conflicts and sorrows would fly,

So sinful, so weary, Thine, Thine would I be,

Thou blest Rock of Ages, I’m hiding in Thee.

Chorus

Hiding in Thee, hiding in Thee,

Thou blest Rock of Ages, I’m hiding in Thee.

In the calm of the noontide, in sorrow’s lone hour,

In times when temptation casts o’er me its power;

In the tempests of life, on its wide, heaving sea,

Thou blest Rock of Ages, I’m hiding in Thee.

[Chorus]

How oft in the conflict, when pressed by the foe,

I have fled to my Refuge and breathed out my woe,,

How often, when trials like sea-billows roll,

Have I hidden in Thee, O Thou Rock of my soul.

[Chorus]

 

* Ira David Sankey was born in Edinburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1840. About 1856 he removed with his parents to Newcastle, Pennsylvania, where he became a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Four years afterwards he became the Superintendent of a large Sunday School in which he commenced his career of singing sacred songs and solos. Mr. Moody met with him and heard him sing at the International Convention of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), at Indianapolis, and through Mr. Moody’s persuasion he joined him in his work at Chicago. After some two or three years’ work in Chicago, they sailed for England on June 7, 1872, and held their first meeting at York a short time afterwards, only eight persons being present. Today he is considered one of the most popular composers of evangelistic hymns.

** William Orcutt Cushing’s hymn was the outgrowth of many tears, of which he wrote “many heart conflicts, and yearnings of which the world can know nothing – it is the history of many battles.” In 1876, Ira D. Sankey asked of Cushing, “send me something new to help me in my gospel work.”  Cushing wrote back, “as I waited on God, I began to think of the safety of being in Christ Jesus”. The words began to make themselves known, and soon the poem was on its way to Mr. Sankey.  The hymn became, “Hiding in Thee.” The scriptural basis for these lyrics is Psalm 31:2 “Bow down thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: be thou my strong rock, for an house of defense to save me.”

 

The Mystery – Subtraction not Addition

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” I John 2:15-17 (KJV)

Some of Jeremiah Burrough’s “mysteries” about contentment may sound archaic or even contradictory, but his practical aphorisms deserve careful thought. This observation about Christian contentment is one we should consider:

“A Christian comes to contentment, not so much by way of addition, as by way of subtraction.” – Jeremiah Burroughs

The non-Christian, “…knows of no way to get contentment, but to have his possessions raised up to his desires; but the Christian has another way to contentment. That is, he can bring his desires [KJV – lusts] down to his possessions, and so he attains his contentment. The world is infinitely deceived in thinking that contentment lies in having more than we already have. Here lies the bottom and root of all contentment, when there is an evenness and proportion between our hearts and our circumstances.”

When I read this, I am forced to examine my desires against my circumstances. The cause and solution to my discontent is contained therein:

  • Is my discontent caused by my circumstances (pain, stress, loneliness, poverty, conflict, turmoil) that are too much to bear? Am I discontent because I lack something that I do not presently have? If my situation or possessions were to change, would I feel more content?

  • Or, are my desires (comfort, ease, family and friends, riches, peace and tranquility) so opposed to the actual circumstances that God has brought into my life that my desires are causing me to be discontent?

I must answer this question myself: What is the desire of my heart? Is my heart discontent because that desire is not satisfied? Could it be that my desire in life is misplaced? It’s time to do some spiritual math. That process begins with subtraction. Subtract from my desire to live a life of ease free from want or conflict. This is very difficult. However, it is possible when my desires are diminished to more closely match my circumstances and the desires of my Heavenly Father. When my heart’s desire lines up with the will of God in Jesus Christ, a new desire will overshadow and subtract from discontent with my circumstances.

“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above,

where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”

Colossians 3:1-2 (KJV)

“If a man or woman has their [earthly] desires cut short, and have no large desires, that man or woman is rich. So this is the art of contentment; not to seek to add to our circumstances, but to subtract from our desires.” – Jeremiah Burroughs

 

 

 

Hymn: Sweetly Resting

Cleft in a rock on Mount Horeb

“O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,

In the secret places of the cliff,

Let me see your face,

Let me hear your voice;

For your voice is sweet,

And your face is lovely.”

Song of Solomon 2:14 (NKJV)

There is no place safer than in God’s hands sheltered from the attacks of the world, the flesh, and the devil. The writer of this hymn sought her hiding place in the “rifted rock” that is Jesus Christ. He alone is our shield from the snares and sins and storms of life. May we flee to Him, our Savior and Protector, at the first signs of temptation!

 

Sweetly Resting

by Mary Dagworthy Yard James

In the rifted rock I’m resting,

Safely sheltered I abide;

There no foes nor storms molest me,

While within the cleft I hide.

Chorus

Now I’m resting, sweetly resting,

In the cleft once made for me;

Jesus, blessed Rock of Ages,

I will hide myself in Thee.

Long pursued by sin and Satan,

Weary, sad, I longed for rest;

Then I found this heav’nly shelter

Opened in my Savior’s breast.

[Chorus]

Peace which passeth understanding,

Joy the world can never give,

Now in Jesus I am finding,

In His smiles of love I live.

[Chorus]

In the rifted rock I’ll hide me,

Till the storms of life are past;

All secure in this blest refuge,

Heeding not the fiercest blast.

[Chorus]

 

* Mary Dagworthy Yard James (1810-1883) was born in Trenton, NJ, she married in 1834 and had a son who became a minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church. She became a prominent figure in the Wesleyan Holiness movement of the early 1800s, assisting Phoebe Palmer (also a hymnist) and often leading meetings at Ocean Grove, NJ, and elsewhere. Another of her hymns begins “All for Jesus, all for Jesus, All my being’s ransomed powers,” written in 1871. It was said that she strived to live a life as close to Christ as possible. She died in New York City in 1883.

“These things I have spoken unto you,

that in me ye might have peace.

In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer;

I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

 

The Mystery of Contentment

 

“He who loves silver

will not be satisfied with silver;

Nor he who loves abundance, with increase.

This also is vanity.”

Ecclesiastes 5:10

 

It is a mystery that a person can be content and dissatisfied at the same time. Here is how Jeremiah Burroughs puts it: “…he is the most contented man in the world, and yet the most unsatisfied man in the world; these two together must needs be mysterious. A man should be content with his affliction, and yet thoroughly sensible of his affliction too.”

The secret of Christian contentment lies in the object of the contentment. “Godliness teaches us this mystery. (I Timothy 6:6) Not to be satisfied with all the world for our portion, and yet to be content with the meanest condition in which we are. A little in the world will content a Christian for his passage, but all the world, and ten thousand times more, will not content a Christian for his portion. A carnal heart will be content with things of the world for his portion; and that is the difference between a carnal heart and a gracious heart.”

Lacking physical comforts, security, food, or money, the Apostle Paul explained why he was content: “I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:12-13)

King Solomon understood that physical riches and pleasure are only vanity—futility and emptiness of soul that he called an evil disease. (Ecclesiastes 6:2) That emptiness produces dissatisfaction with life under the sun. As Christians, we know this to be true, but sometimes we deceive ourselves into thinking that something more will make us content in our misery. Unraveling the mystery of contentment is not found in something. It is found in someone.

“And Jesus said unto them,

I am the bread of life:

he that cometh to me shall never hunger;

and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.”

John 6:35

Hymn: Thy Will Alone

“Then [Jesus] said to them, ‘My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch.’ He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. And He said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.’” Mark 14:34-36 (NKJV)

 

Christian contentment in the face of tragedy and disaster is a spiritual matter. It is also a matter of the heart. Because contentment calls us to submit to God’s sovereignty, it is also a matter of the will. We choose to submit to whatever God has for our lives even though it may be unpleasant or painful. The night before Jesus went to the cross, He understood the torture and suffering He would endure because it was the Father’s will that His Son should give His life to atone for the sins of the whole world. (I John 2:2; 4:10) In spite of the unimaginable horror that would cause the Father to look away from His Son, Jesus loved us enough to submit to the Father’s will.

“Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: ” Galatians 1:3-4 (KJV)

 

Thy Will Alone

by Lottie Blackwood *

Thy will alone, dear Lord,

Is all I care to do

In all I act, or speak, or think,

While I remain below.

I care not what I do,

I care not where I go,

If thou wilt gently lead me, Lord,

Down thro’ this vale of woe.

I’m not afraid to trust,

I see thy smiling face;

Thou hast drawn apart the veil for me,

Within the holiest place.

Then help me trust thee, Lord,

To all thy will I bow;

A humble suppliant at the throne,

Thou dost receive me now.

 

* Lottie Blackwood – We know nothing about her except that she wrote hymns in the late 19th century. Internet searches turned up a few hymns, but nothing about her. Some of her hymns appear to have been republished with slightly different titles. “Jesus Saves Even Me” (sheet music, 1885); “Thy Will Alone Dear Lord” (hymnal, 1887); “Thy Precious Will be Done” (hymnal, 1888); “Thy Will Alone” (hymnal, 1900).

 

More to Learn About Contentment

“Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” 1 Corinthians 10:11-12 (NKJV)

“Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious, frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.” Jeremiah Burroughs

 

We’ve looked at a number of things in Burrough’s definition of Christian contentment that might make us feel well-prepared in the subject. To summarize: Christian contentment is a heart matter; it is a quieting of the heart; it is a spiritual matter; it is graciously and freely submitting to God’s plan for us; there is a certain pleasure in seeing God at work in our life through trials; everything that happens is due to God’s wise sovereignty; every circumstance, no matter how difficult or how long it persists, is in God’s control.

We will look at I Corinthians 10 quoted in part above in a later lesson, but note that the lesson of verses 11-12 is that our experiences in life, like the Israelites wandering in the desert, can leave us with misconceptions about who God is and why God puts trials in our path. The more God showed His grace and care in their desert wanderings, the more the Israelites complained and grew bitter against Him. If you’ve been a believer for any length of time, you’ve had many opportunities to face difficulties. Some of us have not handled them well and others have come through with flying colors—thanks to God and His grace.

My point is that sometimes we can think that we can deal with problems that come our way in our own strength. We pray, read our Bibles, worship, fellowship, serve, love our families, and work hard. Things will happen along the way and we feel confident that we can deal with them! “…let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”

We have a way yet to go in our study of Christian contentment. We live in a sin-cursed earth surrounded by sinners like us! The next lessons are mini-insights from Jeremiah Burroughs on “The Mystery of Contentment.” You might be surprised that a believer in the middle of the most horrible crisis of their life can still be spiritually content. How can that possibly be? That is the mystery!

 

Hymn: I Surrender All

“Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:8-11 (NKJV)

If there is one verse that holds the secret to Christian contentment, it is Romans 12:1. Surrendering of our lives to God each day sets the stage for a daily walk in the Spirit. The principles of surrender are explained in Chapter 6 of Romans: in the new birth, received from God as a free gift by faith in Jesus Christ, we became identified with Christ for all eternity. When He died, we died with Him. When He rose from the dead, we rose with Him. Now, we walk in newness of life where, again by faith, sin holds no power over us and we can live moment by moment in pure fellowship with our Savior. Sin breaks that moment fellowship, but never the bond of eternal life. Confession of our sin (I John 1:9) instantly returns us to fellowship and a walk of joy and contentment. Romans 6 and Romans 12:1-2 together form the foundation upon which a believer can build a life of spiritual contentment. The words of the hymn “I Surrender All” and the inspiration for it from the writer’s life are reminders of our need to submit every moment to whatever circumstances our loving, gracious God sends our way.

 

I Surrender All

by Judson W. Van De Venter *

All to Jesus I surrender,

All to Him I freely give;

I will ever love and trust Him,

In His presence daily live.

Refrain

I surrender all, I surrender all;

All to Thee, my blessed Savior,

I surrender all.

All to Jesus I surrender,

Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;

Let me feel Thy Holy Spirit,

Truly know that Thou art mine. [Refrain]

All to Jesus I surrender,

Lord, I give myself to Thee;

Fill me with Thy love and power,

Let Thy blessing fall on me. [Refrain]

 

* Judson W. Van De Venter (1855-1939) was born on a farm in Michigan. Following graduation from Hillsdale College, he became an art teacher and supervisor of art in the public schools of Sharon, Pennsylvania. He was, in addition, an accomplished musician, singer, and composer. He was also an active in his church’s evangelistic meetings. Recognizing his talent for the ministry, friends urged him to give up teaching and become an evangelist. Van De Venter wavered for five years between becoming a recognized artist or devoting himself to ministry. Finally, he surrendered his life to the Lord and full-time ministry, and wrote the text of this hymn. Following his decision to surrender his life to the Lord, Van De Venter traveled throughout the United States, England, and Scotland, doing evangelistic work. Toward the end of his life, Van De Venter moved to Florida, and was professor of hymnology at the Florida Bible Institute for four years in the 1920s. Van De Venter published more than 60 hymns in his lifetime, but “I Surrender All” is his most famous.