Thought for the Week - 29th SeptemberPastor Diana Rutherford
In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you.
I go to prepare a place for you.
Last night we drove home through floods, with water spraying up the sides of the car. It was all very exciting. The thought of the mercy of God being like that – like the rains falling! When you can’t helped but get soaked because it is so wet. The mercy of God is like that. Sometimes you can’t help but wade through it, and even if you try to avoid it, you find it pursues us. It’s a lovely thing.
The verse above is often spoken at funerals. The idea being that when we die and go to heaven to be with Jesus, there is a place prepared for us. It’s a place that’s perfect for us and has our name on the door. It’s a place where we go in and find rest.
In my Daily Reading, Army Carmichael comments on this verse. She wrote that “mansions” does not mean “big houses”, but resting places on the road, where a traveller was refreshed before setting forth again on his journey. It’s a contrast between rest and progress. The idea being that we’re on a journey, and there are places along that way where we can rest. Where we can be refreshed, and gather strength again, and then we make progress.
Progress in spiritual things is something we cannot do. Mr Black used to say we can’t speed up the progress, but we can slow it down. If we think about it, it makes sense. Sometimes we want to find more of God, we want to grow, and we want go on with God, and we actually can’t do it. We just have to wait on God doing it. But there are times when we put the brakes on, and keep God at arm’s length. Progress is something that we can choose to make or choose not to make.
Not any one of us should stand still from the moment we come to Christ our saviour, and as we begin to walk along that road, there should be development and growth for each one of us. There should be change in our lives along the way. We should begin to learn how to pray. We begin to talk to Jesus. We begin to read our Bible. That’s progress. Its progress to do that on a daily basis – that no matter how busy or tired you are, that somewhere along the way you can have time with God. Where you sit, think and reflect. That’s progress. It’s how you begin to be rooted in the things of God.
People often approach me to say they’ve lost their way spiritually. My first question is whether they’re still having their daily time with God. The answer nearly always is no. It’s so basic, but if we don’t have that plug in time with God, we begin to lose our faith. It’s so simple that we miss it. It’s so childlike that we can miss it. Always make sure that you have that time to read your Bible. Think about the time we can spend on social media – we can spend fifteen minutes with God. That time we set aside to read our bible, to pray, to praise and worship.
The quality of that time is important and is a part of the progression. Sometimes we can read and not understand, or we can pray like a shopping list. Grace always says: five minutes reading, five minutes praying and five minutes thinking. We need to think on Him and think on what He’s telling us. There’s huge wisdom in that. The chaos of your life doesn’t matter, you can find Him in that. Fifteen minutes to read, pray and think. If you begin to develop that, it becomes a habit that you don’t want to miss out on.
If your spiritual life is rocky right now, take time to do that.
If we take this word “in my Father’s house are many mansions”. We have the journey along the road, and these are the mansions along the way, where we go into the resting places, we sit down and rest in Him. He begins to speak to us. That is how we become grounded and rooted in God. It’s by that fifteen minutes a day.
We begin to discover God speaking to us through the Bible. It’s a two way conversation. It’s not a shopping list that you give to God of what you want. We read the Word and He begins to speak to us from it. We begin to realise that there are changes needing to be made within us, that He’s putting pressure on us. It’s a lovely pressure, because it comes from Him. And we begin to adjust our lives accordingly, without making a fuss. It’s a lovely thing to develop that relationship with God. Until it becomes the place where we go to meet with Him – it’s so easy and our soul is refreshed and strengthened.
He wants us to find the quietness of God along our journey. That’s where the resting place is. He’s not a threat to our souls. It’s this idea of rest and progress, where we make progress spiritually. One of the first things to progress is this quiet time. Make it a rule of life. Have that time with Him. That’s the first part of your progress. As you’re doing that, you progress. You read the Word, God is speaking to you, and you’re making the changes. And you begin to go on.
Then we take that what He’s given you, and begin to give it to other people. When we start doing that, it’s a delightful thing to do. When you realise that your personal testimony can affect another person, it’s absolutely wonderful. When we begin to speak about Christ – not an intellectual discussion, but a personal experience where you open your heart – when you share that and see the response in them. Sometimes it’s a positive response, where you discover that that person would love what you have. That sense of rest. It’s something that everyone is looking for – people are always searching for rest. We can find that rest in God; it’s a wonderful place.
Over the weekend, I lost my mother. She’s been unwell for some time. The presence of God with me was incredible. The presence of God with her was incredible. The sense of being carried and upheld by the prayers of people, and by God Himself, was absolutely amazing. Someone told me that I’m so strong. I am not strong, but God is. All we need to do is open ourselves to that one, and find one of these mansions. We slip into and find that place of wonderful peace in Christ.
In John 3: 20 we read: “All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.”. There was a time when we all loved sin. Deep down in our hearts, when we avoid God or hold Him at arm’s length, it’s because of fear that our sins will be exposed. But it’s when our sins are exposed that we get relief. It’s a huge weight off our shoulders.
The truth is that there is not one of us that hasn’t sinned. We all know what we have come from. We know how many mistakes we have made along the way. We know how much of a sinner we are. So there is no need for us to be anxious about our sins being exposed.
We don’t always have to confess our sins to a person either, as long as we confess them to God. We take what we have done, and the wrong we have done in our heart, and we take it to Him. We say “Lord, this is what I’ve done”. Tell Him – explain it to Him, explicitly. Think about the worst thing that you’ve done, and you take that to Him. Tell Him what you’re really like. At that point, when Jesus takes your sins away, you are forgiven. The relief and the joy, and the happiness that comes, is remarkable.
You suddenly realise that nobody can expose you anymore. Nobody can talk about you anymore, for Christ has forgiven you. If someone comes along and says they know your past, you can face it knowing you have been saved by His grace. The next verse is John 3: 21, where we read: “But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants”.
We come to the light so that others can see that we are doing what wants. It’s another part of the progress and the journey. It’s another mansion, a resting place, along the road. It’s coming to the realisation that every sin you’ve ever committed has been forgiven!
A few weeks ago, a breath came over our service that reminded me of revival. There came a wonderful sense of God. We sang the words “my sin, not in part but in whole, nailed to the cross and I bear it no more”. It was like a wave of God coming over the company. My sin, not in part but the whole! That’s another part of the journey – another mansion – when you have that revelation inside: that I am totally forgiven! There’s nothing like it in all the world. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done. It doesn’t matter that your garments were once scarlet with sin – they’re made whiter than the snow! It’s a wonderful thing.
For us along life’s spiritual journey, there are different mansions and different resting places. Places of rest, places of progress. But one thing is important is that every one of us – no matter how fast or slow we go – that every one of us makes that progress. We see the changes and we being to go forward in the things of God. What’s important is our faithfulness, our steady progress, and our moving forward. We go to reach the goal that is Christ Himself. To be one with Christ, and to find Him.
Really, all of life is about death. All of life is really about being prepared and ready for when we shall meet our saviour. The things of eternity are what matters. So all through this life, in all the choices we make and decisions we make are all about being made ready to one day meet with Christ.