Years ago, I remember regularly hearing Dr. Les Ollila speak in chapel. It was always a blessing to hear him preach; however, his Monday chapels were especially impactful. Generally, in the first ten minutes of the chapel he asked the students and staff to recount any recent work of God they had personally experienced over the last week. I can remember thinking that the time taken for these “works of God testimonies” could be more profitably spent in actual preaching, but I have since come to understand that recounting God’s awesome works on our behalf is an important means of staying spiritually healthy.
This isn’t a new concept. Repeatedly, the writers of Scripture call God’s people to consider and recount the works of God. Remembering His awesome works on their behalf was an important means of helping the Israelites place their confidence in Him rather than in themselves or in the false gods of the surrounding nations.
Like Israel, God’s people today need to regularly reflect on the awesome works of God to help us place our confidence in Him alone. For many, God’s works are distant memories rather than present realities. They are experienced vicariously or at best corporately instead of personally in our lives and circumstances.
As Dr. Ollila would ask for testimonies, he would say something to this effect, “What has God done for you personally in the last seven days to show you that He is at work in your life? What prayer has He answered? How has He met a specific need?” These questions help us to personally consider how God has been at work in, around, and through me. And as we ponder God’s work in our lives, it begins to produce fruit in several ways.
Confidence in the Word of God
There is an important link between God’s works and His Word. God’s works remind us of the reliability of God’s Word. As we reflect on God’s gracious activity in our lives, we soon see that He keeps His promises. Frequently, we find ourselves expressing our desperate need for God’s provision in some area of our life. Remembering how God has shown grace and mercy in the past is an incredible aid in seeking His grace and mercy now. We can be assured that God keeps His Word because we’ve seen Him do it. And as we gain confidence in God’s Word, it contagiously spreads to different aspects of our life. For example, knowing that God is constantly keeping His Word to meet our needs reminds us that God also keeps His Word to help us deal with pestering sin or difficult relationships or even just confusing circumstances.
Commitment to Walk with God
Regularly remembering the works of God stimulates us to continue walking in obedience to God. When we continually review God’s gracious and personal intervention, it protects us from becoming complacent or passive in our relationship with Him.
A God who is distant and uninvolved will quickly fade from our daily considerations. We may remember Him at appropriate religious intervals or in times of need, but for all practical purposes, He becomes a non-factor in our daily living. However, when God’s acts constantly remind us of His intimate presence, we give Him proper consideration in every decision we make.
The author of Psalm 106 illustrates this connection for us. In recounting Israel’s history, he reviews God’s marvelous acts of intervention and provision for His people. However, when Israel failed to recount God’s wonderful works of mercy, they fell into gross disobedience (Ps. 106:7-12). Because Israel forgot the works of God, she failed to seek the counsel of God and soon found herself tempting God. We cannot expect to produce the fruit of obedience if we do not ponder the works of God.
Consecration to Worship God
As we contemplate the works of God in our lives and in the lives of others, our souls are stirred to worship. As God personally acts for us, we are moved to give our lives back to Him. We often see this response by believers in the Bible. Abraham built altars and sacrificed to God after receiving the promise of a seed. Samson’s parents offered a sacrifice in thankfulness for His unexpected promise of a son. Hannah dedicated young Samuel to the Lord’s service in thankfulness for God’s gracious answer to her prayer.
It is the same in our lives. As we contemplate God’s past and present activity on our behalf, our hearts are stirred to worship. We marvel at His wisdom. We stand amazed at His power to deliver. We rejoice as undeserving recipients of His grace. We are astonished at the direct answers to our petitions. And we are left speechless at the unmistakable evidence of His love and personal interest in our mundane lives. When we experience this, it is only natural to respond in worship!
Confidence in the Worthiness of God
This list of benefits could be greatly expanded. However, there is one final benefit that comes from the regular practice of this spiritual discipline worth noting here. Simply put, pondering the works of God leads to greater confidence in the worthiness of God. Every work of God reflects one or more of God’s attributes. An act of deliverance, a need supplied, a desire granted, a specific prayer answered, an infirmity healed, or a loved one brought to Christ are all testimonies of the wonderful, worthy God we serve. His love, mercy, omniscience, omnipotence, holiness, justice, and omnipresence overflow in every memory of His work.
Each testimony is a verbal reminder that God desires to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is perfect toward Him (2 Chron. 16:9). Every work of God reminds us of God’s character and utter reliability as a very present help in times of trouble (Ps. 46:1). When we constantly review God’s character through His works and rely on His Word, then we will trust in Him rather than lean on the arm of flesh in future times of trouble.
The author of Psalm 78 reminded Israel of her need to review the gracious works of God for each successive generation (vs. 4-6). It was the solemn and sacred duty of each generation to insure that those who came up after them would remember God’s gracious acts. In so doing, each generation would be motivated to put their confidence (hope) in God and keep His commandments (78:7). However, failure to remember and review these works of God would lead future generations to forget God and to repeat the mistakes of past generations. Like Israel of old, we must remember God’s works if we want to stay confident, joyful, and faithful before God.