Monday, October 20, 2014

Contented with My Lot

After having lunch with my husband the other day, a very special treat in itself, I headed back to work under a clear blue sky with the sun shining on a beautiful autumn day. I had a very conscious thought that I am very happy with my life. I sighed contentedly and thanked God for blessings totally undeserved. I was suddenly overwhelmed with how good God is to me always. Psalm 16:6 came to mind. The psalmist says, “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.” In the verses preceding, David pledged his loyalty to the Lord, denouncing idolatry and those who run after and sacrifice to other gods. Charles Spurgeon said that “David believed in an overruling destiny which fixed the bounds of his abode, and his possessions; he was satisfied with all the appointment of the predestinating God.” David was rejoicing as I did in the largeness of God's goodness to him. However, as I looked at this passage more closely and read verse 5, which says, “The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup...”, I surmised that David's joy was more in the Giver God than in the gifts given. Yes, my life is so very good, and its boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places, but my contentment is and always will be in God my Father, my Savior, my Holy Spirit. Be encouraged and contented today in Holy God.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


I have been thinking about joy a great deal lately, especially as I am studying Philippians once again. Paul's writings are filled with the theme of joy and rejoicing. He is writing this letter as he is under house arrest, chained to a Roman soldier day and night. Yet he begins by telling the Philippians that he is thankful for them and makes every prayer for them with joy. The very fact that he is thinking of others over himself is amazing, but even more astounding is that he is doing so with joy. A few verses down he tells them, "I will rejoice." Why? Because no matter what is going on with him and around him, Christ is being proclaimed. His joy comes from his attitude "to live is Christ and to die is gain." He begins chapter three with the admonition to rejoice in the Lord before he gives them some strong warnings about false teachings that might rob them of their joy. He picks up the theme of joy again in chapter four, saying once again, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, Rejoice." As Paul ends this letter to the Philippians, we are shown where he finds this joy. It comes from his focus on the Lord. "I rejoiced in the Lord greatly..." He has joy because he is content with his lot in life. "I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content." He has joy because he is totally dependent on Christ. "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." Again, he has joy because he looks to God alone. "To our God and Father be glory forever and ever." Be encouraged today in the joy of the Lord, and may "the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit."

Monday, April 9, 2012

Overwhelming Blessing

God's blessings are constant; as constant as the air we breathe. As constant as the dawning of each new day for His mercies are new every morning. As constant as the changing of the seasons. As constant as His faithfulness to forgive our sins when we confess them. My thankfulness is not as constant.  I often drift into a taking for granted mode.

Sometimes God overwhelms us with blessing. I have just experienced one of those overwhelming blessing times.  Last Wednesday, our ninth grandchild was born. What a huge blessing and how very grateful we are for her. This was a high risk pregnancy for our daughter-in-law so we had covered these last nine months with extra prayer, and were so very thankful to have our granddaughter so healthy and normal at birth and our daughter -in-law so healthy.  However, we were overwhelmed with gratefulness for the safe but abnormal delivery of the baby.  Things happened so quickly there was no time to get to the hospital, so our son delivered her at home with the help of a 911 operator. Overwhelming blessing!

Our daughter and son-in-law, who have been in an adoption process and waiting for a baby, received a call Saturday night from their agency in Mississippi that they had a newborn baby girl.  So, Laurie, Dax, and children came to our house from Florida last night on their way to Mississippi today to meet and bring home their daughter.  We will get to meet grandchild number 10 later this week. Overwhelming blessing!

All of this, along with the season of Easter, has me evaluating and meditating and being immensely humbled.  I deserve nothing my God chooses to give me, not the air I breathe, not one more new day's dawning, not His faithfulness, and certainly not the forgiveness of my sin. Yet He chose me before the foundation of the world to be His child and joint heir with His only begotten Son, to be the recipient of  the imputed righteousness of this Son through his death and resurrection, and to have the promise of eternal life with Him.  Overwhelming blessing!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Meditating on the Cross

It is the week before Easter.  I have been reading Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross, a wonderful little book edited by Nancy Guthrie and containing parts of sermons and works of 25 classic theologians and contemporary communicators.  These meditations focus on the sacrifice Christ made on the cross.  I have been overwhelmed in my reading, once again, knowing the sacrifice my Savior made for me on the cross

One of the most meaningful works to me was, "He set His Face to Go to Jerusalem" by John Piper. Luke 9:51 tells us, "When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem." This is Luke's theme for the next 10 chapters.  In chapter 19 we read of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem and the multitude that greeted him, saying, "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" (Luke 19:37-38) They all thought they had their Messiah but their understanding of what this meant certainly missed the mark at this time. Piper says, "...if Jesus had taken his throne on that first day of palms, none of us would ever be robed in white or waving palms of praise in the age to come. There had to be the cross, and that is what the disciples had not yet understood."

He goes on to say that "the misunderstanding of Jesus' journey to Jerusalem results in a misunderstanding of the meaning of discipleship. This is why it is important for us to see, lest we make the same mistake." We know that when Jesus "set his face to go to Jerusalem", it had a very different meaning for him than it did for his disciples. They had great expectations of what it would mean for Jesus to reign on an earthly throne. For Jesus, the destination of Jerusalem meant certain death.

Piper says, "the surprise about Jesus the Messiah is that he came to live a life of sacrificial, dying service before he comes a second time to reign in glory. And the surprise about discipleship is that it demands a life of sacrificial, dying service before we can reign with Christ in glory... When Jesus set his face to walk the Calvary road, he was not merely taking our place; he was setting our pattern. He is substitute and pace setter."

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Case for Contentment

Since being diagnosed with breast cancer last September, undergoing surgery, then radiation treatments, I have had a good bit of time to meditate and contemplate.  I have spent much of this time meditating on contentment. God has impressed on my heart the need to be content and has given me the desire to be content.  However, contentment is not a state that just happens.  As we learn from the apostle Paul, it is a heart attitude that is learned.

In Philippians 4:10-13, Paul states, "I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me.  You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned whatever situation I am to be content.  I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound.  In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." Paul was thanking the Philippians for their support but he wanted them to know that he had learned to be content.  How did Paul learn to be content?  It was under the most difficult circumstances: being ship wrecked, being imprisoned, being beaten, wanting to go to Spain to spread the gospel and not being able to. We learn contentment or discontentment from life lessons.

The children of Israel chose to be discontented in their difficult circumstances.  Remember how they looked back to Egypt and grumbled and complained about not having what they wanted to eat or not having water or about Moses' leadership or about being afraid to follow the Lord's leading? They were discontented because they did not trust God and His sovereign plan for their lives. They were discontented because they were ungrateful for the provisions God had given them. They were also discontented because they were disobedient. They broke God's laws again and again, which caused them to be out of fellowship with Him.

Paul said, "I have learned the secret of facing hunger, abundance and need."  That secret was trusting God so absolutely that he was able to say, "I can all things through Him who strengthens me." Contentment brings joy, and Nehemiah tells us, "… for the joy of the Lord is your strength." (Nehemiah 8:10b)  Psalm 28:7 tells us that a thankful heart exults.  "The Lord is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song, I give thanks to him." The third verse of the wonderful hymn, “He Leadeth Me, O Blessed Thought”, says, “Lord, I would clasp Thy hand in mine, nor ever murmur nor repine, content, whatever lot I see, since ‘tis Thy hand that leadeth me.”

I am convinced that a lack of trust in God's sovereign plan for our lives, an ungrateful heart, and a disobedient spirit keep us from being content.  So, I challenge us today to trust God completely in all the circumstances of our lives, give thanks always and for everything, act in obedience to His word, and learn to be content.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Abiding in God's Word

I become more and more convinced of the importance of hiding God's word in our hearts. This was brought to mind again yesterday as I was teaching of Jesus' temptation by Satan from Luke 4. Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to come face to face with Satan. Three times Jesus comes against Satan's temptations with quotes from the Old Testament. This gives us an example directly from our Savior, who was tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin, how we are to come against the temptations we face. Ephesians 6:11 tells us. “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” A very important piece of that armor is “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” 

Another reason for being in God's word and knowing it is to be able to come against the lies of Satan, discouragement, and despair with the truths of the word.1 Corinthians 10:5 says, “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ...” The Holy Spirit uses God's word to convict us of sin and bring us to repentance. Hebrew 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” God's word gives us guidance. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path,” Psalm 119:105. We go to God's word daily for comfort, assurance, peace, and strength. 

Finally, I love the admonition and promise in Joshua 1:8, “This book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” Spend time in God's word this week.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Grumbling and Complaining

I am always amazed when reading Exodus at how quickly the Israelites lost their joy at being a freed people and turned from thanksgiving and rejoicing to grumbling and complaining. Exodus 16:1-2 tells us “They set out...on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness...” Just six weeks after God had miraculously parted the waters of the Red Sea, killed the Egyptians pursuing them, and freed them from slavery, they are grumbling and complaining. True, they are hungry, but rather than praise God for His mercies in the past and ask Him to please provide for them now,  they go into drama mode saying it would have been better to have died in Egypt by the meat pots and with stomachs full of bread than to die in the wilderness of hunger. 

Grumbling comes from an ungrateful, untrusting heart. When my children were young and began complaining about this or that, I would challenge them to give me a list of what they were thankful for.  Of course, that usually generated more grumbling, but I  persisted, making my point with them.  Paul admonishes the Philippians in 2:14 to “Do all things without grumbling or the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world...” In this passage, Paul is telling them to work out their salvation by demonstrating their faith daily, growing spiritually, and therefore showing a sinful world what Jesus Christ looks like. He is cautioning them against being like their forefathers whose spiritual progress was hampered by grumbling and questioning. Christians are to be marked by thanksgiving, not grumbling and questioning. We see the admonishment to be thankful in Colossians, Ephesians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians.

So, this week I challenge us all to take every complaining thought captive, replacing it with rejoicing and thanksgiving. I challenge us to not allow our joy to be stolen or to rob someone else of joy by grumbling. Let’s honor our Lord and be a blessing to others as we “givie thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1Thess 5:18)