Content in the Mess

 

 

Content in the Mess

This is the fifth post lately about contentment. You can guess what I have been thinking about!

I have been so very, very upset about what is going on in the US. The good part of that is I have been driven into the Word and prayer. One of the results is these five posts.

Today I thought I’d tell you about my work to apply what I’ve learned about contentment to the current mess.

Please remember that true Christians vary in their positions and politics. Conservatives, you have liberal brothers and sisters in the Lord. Liberals, you have conservative brothers and sisters in the Lord. Please, as you walk through these troubled times, keep God first. Don’t discard Christians whose politics are different than yours. (And, yes, sometimes their positions may not be consistent with the Word of God. But Christians, even you, even I, can be wrong.)

I have been applying Ten Steps to Contentment to my view of this country’s current issues. I want to be content in the mess.

The Ten Steps are divided into work relating to our head (our knowledge about God), our heart (our inner core, including trust), and our hands (what we think, say, and do). All three categories must work together to reach contentment.

Head

God is sovereign over everything. He is allowing ungodly people to be elected, ungodly actions to be enacted and condoned. He is allowing evil to run its course. But for His holy purpose.

I’ve read the Bible. I know times get worse. I know bad times will happen. I know God is in control. I know He will judge righteously.

He changes time and seasons; He removes kings and sets up kings. (Daniel 2:21)

In the last days difficult times will come… (2 Timothy3:1)

Heart

Almighty God is my loving Savior. I can trust Him. I must trust Him. This is where He wants me to be. He promises to bring good out of this for His children.

I don’t have to understand what He is doing to trust Him. My trust is based on His character, not the news.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)

Calm and quiet your soul. (Psalm 131)

Hands

Lord, I am Your child, I am Your servant. I surrender myself to You in this situation. Help me praise You. Help me love You and my neighbor through this. Help me serve You.

Not my will, but Yours be done. (Luke 22:42)

Posts on Contentment

Current Event Bingo

Be Discontent

Ten Steps to Contentment

When to be Content

Content in the Mess

 

 

When to be Content

Christians’ goal should be, like Paul, to be content in any situation.

I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. (Philippians 4:11)

Often, though, we should NOT be satisfied with where we are. Paul was discontented:

For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. (Romans 7:15)

And, sometimes, you should be working to change your situation, even while you trust God for having you in that situation.

When should you be discontent? When should you be content?

Are you in a situation you can change and should change?

Are you in a situation you can change but shouldn’t change?

Are you in a situation you cannot change?

Can and Should

We are often in situations we can change and should change. Certainly, spiritual growth is in this category. Paul admonished us to run our races with endurance. He talked about striving, buffeting his body,

Frequently we are discontent because we want, for our own satisfaction, something else. Prayerfully consider this, seeking God’s wisdom, confessing as appropriate, and walking in His way.

Other times we need to work, in God’s will, to change our situation.

Suppose your finances are problematic. You may need to reduce your expenditures or find a way to increase your income. It’s possible, like Paul, you need to be content in scarcity, but, often, you can and you should improve your situation.

Suppose you must raise your grades to be eligible for a scholarship. You can and should work on this. You might have to drop out of activities you enjoy in order to devote more time to study. You might need a tutor. You might…

Think through your situation. What should you be working to improve?

Can But Shouldn’t

Sometimes we are unhappy with our lot, and can change it, but shouldn’t.

A classic example is Abraham and Sarah wanting a child. God promised them a child, but they got tired of waiting and got a child outside of God’s will. They were able to do so, but shouldn’t have. They should have waited.

Is that your situation?

Cannot

But sometimes, we cannot change the situation.

Joseph in Potiphar’s house and in prison are in this category. Joseph didn’t run away, he was a model slave and a model prisoner. The extent of his attempt to get out of prison was to ask the cupbearer to remember him.

I had a serious problem with my vision and had to cope with the possibility of becoming blind. While I prayed and sought medical care, I still had to surrender my eyesight to my loving God. (See When Storms Come: Will YouBe Ready?)

Discernment

We must ask God for wisdom about our situation, and what He wants us to do. Which category are you in?

If you need to change something, prayerfully work on it.

If you are in a situation you cannot or should not change, work at contentment. (See Ten Steps to Contentment)

Press on!

Ten Steps to Contentment

 

Christians are commanded to be content.

Paul said contentment was something he learned.

Therefore, we are commanded to learn contentment.

How to be Content

Learning to be content involves head, heart, and hands (what we think, say, and do).

Head

1.God is sovereign. Everything (good and bad) is under His control. (See Chapters 2 -5, When Storms Come: Will You Be Ready?)

 

2. God knows everything and is everywhere. Everything. Everywhere. (See Chapter 1, especially pages 21-22, When Storms Come: Will You Be Ready?)

 

3. God loves His children with an infinite, everlasting love. (See Chapters 7-9, When Storms Come: Will You Be Ready?)

God is in control of everybody and everything all the time. He allows evil for the moment, but He controls its limits and its consequences. His incomprehensible, enormous love for His children means He is with us, sustaining us through our hard times, and that He uses our circumstances for good.

To make that knowledge yours, you must study the Bible for yourself. Determine to spend thoughtful, prayerful, and frequent time in God’s Word.

Heart

The next step is to absorb that truth into your heart, to make God’s character a core part of your being.

4. Memorize His Word.

 

5. Meditate on His Word.

 

6. Determine to believe Him. (Believe what He says, not “just” believe in Him.)

 

7. Determine to trust Him. Trust in the Lord with all your heart. (Proverbs 3:5)

Trust is the key for contentment. Trust is based on head knowledge, and trust works itself out through what we think, say, and do.

Hands (what we think, say, and do)

8. Surrender to God and delight in His will. He knows what is best. Determine to accept His will in your situation, and don’t seek to get your own way.

 

9. In everything gives thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

 

10. Ask Him how He wants you to love Him and love your neighbor through this time. Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. (Philippians 4:5)

This situation is God’s will for you (but, please note that God may want you to work to improve your circumstances. You can be content as you work!).

Practice

Head, Heart, and Hands reinforce each other. As you increasingly know God, you increasingly want to serve Him. As your knowledge of Him becomes deeper and permeates your heart and your life, you trust Him more. And all that brings joy and contentment to you, moment by moment.

Reality Check

Watch yourself for discontent. When you notice an emotion signaling discontent, for example, irritation or sadness, confess it and confront it.

Intentionally take yourself through the steps in head, heart, and hands.

Determine to trust your almighty, loving God.

 

Be content!

 

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving Day 2017

Thanksgiving Day USA

Public days of thanksgiving have been common in the United States since the 1600s. In 1621 the pilgrims celebrated their first harvest in the “New World” with what is now commonly called the first “Thanksgiving.”

In 1789 the first United States president, George Washington, recommended a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God.

In 1863, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise.” He noted how prone we are to forget the source of the bounties we constantly enjoy.

Thanksgiving to God

Public thanksgiving started much earlier, of course.

Where were you…when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Job 38:7

Leviticus notes the sacrifice of thanksgiving. (Leviticus 7:12)

And we see that God hates grumbling. (1 Corinthians 10:10)

Thanksgiving Day 2017

This Thanksgiving, determine to give God thanks, and determine not to grumble.

One tool is to meditate on His blessings to you, both spiritual and temporal. You might designate a period of time, say 10 minutes, and list all the blessings you can in that period of time. Some families ask everyone at the dinner table to mention something for which they are grateful.

You might recite Psalm 100, individually, or as a group:

A Psalm for Thanksgiving

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.

Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing.

Know that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.

For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.

A Prayer for Thanksgiving

Give us grateful hearts, our Father, for Your many blessings. Make us mindful of the needs of others. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Thank You Lord!

~~~

The graphic is from the Midland First United Methodist Church, Midland, MI.

Praise the Truth

Star Factory nasa.gov

Star Factory. nasa. gov

Pilate asked Jesus: “What is truth?” (John 18:38)

And Pilate asked this while he was looking at the One who is Truth.

Who is Truth

God is the God of truth.

He who is blessed in the earth will be blessed by the God of truth; and he who swears in the earth will swear by the God of truth. (Isaiah 65:16)

Jesus Christ is the Truth.

Jesus said “I am … the truth…” (John 14:6)

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth.

When He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth. (John 16:13)

What is Truth

Truth is God’s expression of all He is. Everything God is and does is permeated by Truth. It isn’t just that He speaks the truth, He—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is the truth.

Nothing untrue comes from Him. He cannot lie. (Titus 1:2)

The Bible is the word of truth. (John 17:17)

The works of His hands are truth and justice. (Psalm 111:7–8)

And—there are many, many more illustrations.

Discern and Apply the Truth

We, the children of God, have believed the truth, and are to walk in truth. Our lives are to reflect the God of truth.

To walk in truth, we must discern truth from lie. The devil, by nature and practice, is a liar. (John 8:44)

We must apply the truth to all we think, say, and do, capturing every thought (2 Corinthians 10:5), and walking in His way. (Psalm 86:11)

Learning to walk in truth, is a life-long endeavor. As children of God, we are guided to all truth by the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, and we are prayed for by Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. What a privilege!

Praise the Truth

God, the Truth—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—I praise You for being entirely Truth and for expressing Yourself entirely in truth. God, I am so grateful You are who You are, and that in You there is no compromise, no shifting, no deception. Everything You say and do is permeated by truth, since You cannot do anything less. I praise You for Your Word of truth, for Your indwelling truth, for guiding me to all truth. Help me walk in Your truth, serving You in newness of life.

 

 

 

 

 

Acting on Fear

Fear is a common human feeling, both for Christians and for unbelievers.

Acting on Fear

Do you fear hurting someone’s feeling? Do you then stay quiet when the Lord tells you to speak up?

Do you fear lack of money? Do you then foolishly invest in wild schemes or take ungodly jobs?

Do you fear being rejected? Do you then not talk about Jesus?

Do you fear being alone? Do you then enter into alliances with unbelievers?

Do you ….

Christian Response to Fear

Our Lord told us to not fear and why we need not fear. He also told us who to fear.

I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him! (Luke 12:5)

For the examples above, here are some responses in line with Jesus’ admonition to fear God.

If you fear hurting someone’s feelings by speaking up, ask the Lord for wisdom in what to say and how to say it. Then speak God’s way.

If you fear poverty, remind yourself that God owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10), and knows what You need (Luke 12:30). Pray for direction on acquiring sufficient income and eliminating unnecessary expenses. Seek Him first. (Luke 12:31)

If you fear being rejected, remind yourself of Christ’s rejection and His commission to all of us:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations.  (Matthew 28:19)

If you fear being alone, remind yourself of God’s promise that He will be with you always (Matthew 28:20). Remind yourself of God’s command not to be bound with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14). Disobedience disrupts your fellowship with the Lord.

These are examples, since each of us has our own vulnerable areas. If we can identify our weak areas in advance, it’ll be easier to react in a godly way.

Costs

There is a cost in obeying God’s word. You don’t get what you want, in your “wisdom,” in your desire. You sacrifice your own plan.

But there is far, far greater cost in disobeying God’s work. There are “passing pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25), but sin always, always, separates us from fellowship with God until we confess and are cleansed (1 John 1:9). And there are almost always natural and unpleasant consequences of our sin.

Choose the cost of obedience rather than the cost of disobedience.

Remedy

  1. Deliberately study and absorb God’s Word. Remember what He says.

 

  1. Intentionally chose to believe what God says and that following what He says is in your own best self-interest.

 

  1. Determine to act in accordance with His direction.

 

Press on!

 

 

 

 

Be Discontent

Contentment, regardless of our circumstances, is fully possible for those whose Lord and Savior is Jesus Christ. In fact, it is a command.

Paul said he’d learned how to be content.

I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. (Philippians 4:11)

To Be Contented, First Be Discontent

In order to be content, however, we first must be discontent.

Huh?

Contentment requires that we know God is sovereign over our circumstances, and that we trust Him to be with us and bring good out of it. Contentment requires surrender to Almighty God, who knows what is best.

That level of knowledge, trust, and surrender requires us to be discontent with our spiritual growth. (This discontentment is with our own spiritual state. It is not discontentment with our situation, which is sin.)

Keep Growing

In this world, we are to keep growing. God is working on and in us (Philippians 2:13). AND we must press on to walk in a manner worthy of Him.

Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord…please Him in all respects, bear…fruit in every good work and increase…in the knowledge of God;” (Colossians 1:10)

Strive to Grow

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. (1 Corinthians 9:24)

I discipline my body and make it my slave. (1 Corinthians 9:27)

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith. (2 Timothy 4:7)

You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; (Hebrews 12:4)

Be Discontent with Your Spiritual State; Press On

Be discontent with where you are spiritually. Hate what doesn’t please Him.

Strive to walk in His way.

Press on.

Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12–14)

Press On!

 

Current Event Bingo

 

Current Event Bingo

How hard is it for you to watch the news? Since I’m asking, you can guess I am having a hard time.

Many current events are a demonstration of 2 Timothy 3:1-5.

In the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power. (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

God is Sovereign and Judge

My comfort is that God is Sovereign, working out His plan of the ages. And that He is the righteous, holy judge. And that I’m not.

[God] works all things after the counsel of His will. (Ephesians 1:11)

God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus. (Romans 2:16)

It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment. (Hebrews 9:27)

Walk in His Way

My goal is to “walk in a manner worthy of Him” through these dark days, making Him known, and helping others.

Walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. (1 Thessalonians 2:12)

Strategy for the News

But I still need a strategy to make it through the news.

Have you heard of Bingo buzzword? Bingo Buzzword is a tongue-in-cheek tool to help employees get through meetings. When an employee hears a buzzword, for example, “Outside the box,” “Mission Critical,” “World Class,” the employee crosses off that box. One cartoon had all the employees in the meeting yelling “Bingo” at the same time, to the dismay of their boss.

Well, I am going to try Current Event Bingo as a tool to analyze the news, and put it into a Biblical perspective. I think it would have helped when I watched the news this weekend!

BINGO!

 

P.S. This is to help with discernment, not judgment (condemnation), and to remind us of Jesus’ words: “When you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.” (Matthew 24:33)

Praise the Son

Harry-Mouse Durgin

 

Jesus is the Son of God, the Son of David, and the Son of Man.

Jesus is both eternal God, and perfect human.

Son of God

Jesus, the Word, is eternal, was God in the beginning, and was with God in the beginning. (John 1:1)

All things came into being through Jesus, the Son of God. (John 1:3)

Son of David

The Son of David was prophesized many years before His birth.

I will raise up your descendant after you [David], who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. (2 Samuel 7:12–13)

For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11)

Son of Man

Behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13–14)

Jesus referred to Himself most often as the Son of Man.

The Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. (Matthew 9:6)

The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath. (Matthew 12:8)

The Son of Man came to save that which was lost. (Matthew 18:11)

The Son of Man came to serve. (Mark 10:45)

Just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. (John 5:25–27)

Jesus, the Son

He lived a perfect, righteous life, and gave Himself as the perfect sacrifice to save us, believers, from our sins.

He lives at the right hand of God, always interceding for us as our great High Priest.

He will come again, with glory, to rule as King of kings and Lord of lords.

Praise the Son

I praise You, Christ Jesus, Son of God, Son of David, Son of Man. You, Son of God, humbled Yourself to be born as the Son of David, and humbled Yourself as the perfect sacrifice to save us. You, the Son of Man, have an everlasting kingdom.  Thank You for ever interceding for Your flock. I praise You, our almighty, holy, ruler. Come, Lord Jesus.

Make Every Effort

 

 

Make Every Effort to Seek God First

Do you make every effort to seek God first? If you have determined to read the Bible every day, do you keep going even when you have a very busy schedule, are out of town, or have visitors? What about other aspects of your spiritual life?

Or, alas, do you forget about Him?

Certainly, we should not expect our days to be identical. How boring!

We should not expect to be in control of what we face day-to-day.

We should see the unexpected as part of His plan for us.

Seek God First

But, absolutely, we must seek Him first.

Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. (Matthew 6:33)

Plans and Contingency Plans to Seek God First

We should plan how we will seek Him first.

We should develop contingency plans when our primary plan is disrupted.

Keep Going!

We must keep going.

In order to continue his strength-training routine, an out-of-town family member constructed a temporary weight room!

The photo is an example of him making every effort to keep going.

Seek God first.

Press on!