Month: April 2017
Find Your Blessings
Who knows how many eggs are hidden on any Easter weekend, and perhaps not found. For the toddlers, eggs are hidden in sight so that they are easily found. For older children, the eggs are hidden so that they are more difficult to find.
Our heavenly Father promises blessings to His children. He makes His blessings known to us as newborns and small children without much effort on our part. Our eyes are opened to His blessings through a new birth. He continues to bless us as we age, but we find them in different ways.
Last Wednesday the Lord gave me a direction as Jerry and I journeyed early in the morning before daybreak to the local hospital. We were instructed to “look for a blessing” in the day ahead. Little did we know that we would be there longer than planned and that He would continue to unfold blessings everywhere and everyday for the next six days.
Blessings came in the events of the first day with our daughter, who took time away from her job to be with us, and through the hours of the procedure with nursing staff, doctors, family and church family.
Because we did not come home the same day as we had hoped, Jerry was admitted as an in-patient, for major surgery on Friday. The direction to “look for a blessing” continued. Now I know that I should have journaled these blessings; they were too many to remember.
The experience of those six days, coming home on Monday, looking for the blessing of Jerry’s healing continues to bear fruit and the sharing of this blog.
How do we find these blessings that God has hidden for us?
There are three places in particular that we are “blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessings in heavenly places.”
Blessings are hidden in the knowledge and wisdom of God’s Word. The more we read, study and look for these blessings the more we will find.
Blessings are hidden in everyday circumstances, especially in times of adversity. This is where the Holy Spirit directs us to focus on God, our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. He is there in His promises to be with us always. It is during these times that we are more in need and able to see the blessings He has for us.
Blessings are hidden in relationships, beyond those that seem the most affectionate and amiable. Loving our neighbors, no matter their disposition, is a blessing from our heavenly Father, and will multiply as we relate in the Spirit of Christ to those who are not blessed in Christ. We can be a blessing to them as we share our concerns for them in a way they are not used to.
There is much more we could say about these blessings hidden from us, but revealed by the Holy Spirit. Tired from this last week, needing for both of us to recuperate, I wanted to at least share this experience with you. As soon as possible, I will share The Patience That Leads to Contentment.
In the meantime, look for and find your blessings hidden in Christ, His Word and everyday circumstances. Thank Him and praise Him for all things.
Dear Father, you, indeed, are exceeding abundantly able to do more than we can ask or think by the power that works in and through us. Please continue to open our eyes to the blessings of your kingdom for your children here on earth and let us share them with others. In Jesus’ name, I pray, thank you and praise you. Amen.
The Price of Contentment
For the world, contentment cost nothing more than what money can afford.
A divine contentment was purchased by the blood of Christ; for those who are His followers, born of His Spirit. The love of God was revealed for His children by the death of His Son; purchasing and redeeming us from the bondage of sin and death (Romans 8:2). We are born to a living hope by His abundant mercy and the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead; to an inheritance in Him that no one can take away (1 Peter 1:3-4).
It is a legacy that we do not deserve, could not pay for, nor earn by any good work.
Not to be content with the finished work of Christ that assures and provides a pardon from sin, and an abundant life in Him, is to doubt this free gift of His own righteousness for us and to live without Him.
“You Are Not Your Own”
“You have been bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). God so loved us, desired us, sired us and made us His own, to lavish His grace, His provisions, His protection, His goodness, His own life for us, in us, and through us. To His own glory He has shined His light into our hearts to shine through us His grace, mercy and power. He has given us all things pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3) through Christ His Son (Romans 8:32).
He has given all for us to reflect His presence, His goodness and His wealth in and upon us. He has spread abroad His love in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, which He has given us (Romans 5:5).
Our Response to His Sacrifice and Mercy
In response to His sacrifice and mercy in taking our sin and punishment upon Himself, Paul urges, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2
Here is the reality of a life of contentment according to His will. His sacrificial death works through us for a sacrificial life devoted to serving Him and others while He is preparing us to share His glory. True contentment cost Jesus His life, and it costs us ours. He denied Himself for us to give us eternal life in Him. To experience this life of contentment we deny ourselves for Christ’s sake. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” Galatians 2:20
Understanding the Terms of Sacrifice
Eternal life in Christ begins when we are born of His Spirit; a new heart and spirit are joined to Christ from that moment. Eternal life is not experienced just when we die, but here, now, and forever. The new birth, faith and repentance separate us from the world’s way of life. We are no longer our own, being conformed to this world, but sanctified, being transformed by the renewing of our minds, and growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ until He calls us home to be with Him.
Jesus paid the price for our contentment. Presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice means that we have received, understand, accept, and enter into the covenant of life that is ours in His death and resurrection.
Gracious Father, We thank you for your covenant of redemption and grace made with Christ, your Son, before the foundation of the world. We praise you for the work of your Holy Spirit in revealing and fulfilling your covenant with us. Enable us to know the power of Christ’s resurrection through the continued work of the gospel, bringing us to submission and surrender of all that we are, so as to live in covenant with you, in Christ, now and forever. In Jesus’ name we pray and thank you. Amen.
Have you ever seen a donkey standing out in a field? I am not familiar with donkeys but whenever I see one, it seems to be waiting for something or someone to direct it.
God could just as easily have called us his donkeys instead of his sheep. But there are only a few special donkeys; many special sheep.
There are two donkeys mentioned in the Bible. It seems they were created to be “beasts of burden.” In the Old Testament Balaam had a donkey that could talk; he warned him and saved his life (Numbers 22:22-35).
Balaam’s donkey was probably older, beaten down under the burden of his master.
Jesus’ colt was waiting for his master when the disciples found it and took it to Jesus.
As the gentle master He rode the colt through the gates of Jerusalem.
There may be much that we could learn from the scenario of the Triumphal Entry that we now call Palm Sunday, but one in particular comes to mind this morning.
There are times when we may feel like nothing but a donkey (you many call it whatever you please) but that is not how God created us. The oppressor would have us believe that we have to carry the burdens of the world; that we have no worth except as the scum of the earth. We, as His children, were born in His image, redeemed by the blood of Christ, and directed by His Word and His Holy Spirit to bear His image and the fruit of the Spirit of Christ.
Would we have been honored to be Jesus’ colt? Yes, but that honor was predestined for one only. That colt carried Jesus into the fiercest battle that anyone can wage ~ the battle against Satan and our sin. He won the victory a few days after, and since then calls us to Him to fulfill His purpose in each of us. The memory of the first verse held in my mind since childhood is in Matthew 11:28-30. He has not redeemed us to ride us, but to free us from our bondage and to share our lives here while preparing us for His glory. In meekness He is able to fulfill His will in each of us as we tell others of Him and His victory in us.Dear Father, Thank you that each Lord’s Day, you call us to come in worship to Christ, your Son, who has won our hearts to serve Him and to be a part of the battle against the oppressor in our own lives and the lives of others. We praise you that our calling is not to tread through this life alone, but in unity with Christ, our master, and His other sheep. In Jesus’ name we thank you and praise you. Amen.
The Conclusion of What Matters
How amazing these last three days have been, and how blessed to see how God carries us through what He begins in us to where He wants us to be. When I write it is usually because I need to learn something new, or to confirm and shore up what I have been learning. Such is the case with the last post, What Matters?
The following are quotes from those who responded to the question.
Gail replied, “how we treat each other”
Jean, summing up her answer, which is worthy to be considered by us all, and in the same path that the Lord has been leading me as we have contemplated this question: “Peace with the Lord, this relationship of continuing to learn of His grace and mercy; He is our life as a loving Savior and Father, a faithful God. He is all in all.”
David expressed the desire for his family ~ “the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ that he has experienced.”
Andi: “preparing ourselves and others for the second coming of Christ; happiness and protection for children and grandchild.”
Lee: “resting in the finished work of Christ”
Joey: “God and people, in that order”
Kim: “knowing Him”
Gadol: a personal matter for “fulfillment of purpose, vision, call and will of God”
These were all good answers that attest to another thought.
What matters depends on who and where we are at any given time in our lives. It depends on our circumstances and our relationships. From these thoughts let us find a general answer that applies to all children of God, living as joint-heirs with Christ in His kingdom. What matters to us will be different than what matters to those of this world, who do not claim an inheritance in the kingdom of God.
What matters to those outside the kingdom are the things of this world, their possessions, their families, themselves. We will not list those things here, but let’s follow on to a conclusion of what matters to us.
What matters to us as God’s children can be summed up in one word, overall.
GOD matters ~ first, because He is our creator and redeemer, He has given us life twice, and continues to sustain us as His people, preparing us to share His glory, eternally.
God, the Father, the Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit in each of their roles matter in every life, in every circumstance, in every relationship, as He becomes our main relationship and unites us in relationship to others of His family.
Prayer matters because this is His gift to us as His children and the means of communion and contentment with Him that carries over into our relationships with others.
God’s Word matters because He teaches from His Word what matters in our relationships. Love might be the first thing that comes to mind, but love alone, in how we perceive love, may not be enough. We see the manifestation of love in humility, commitment, faithfulness, discipline, accountability, patience, kindness, forgiveness and other marks of Christ’s nature and disposition in us. These apply to our relationships with the Lord our God and with others, even if they are not of the “household of faith.”
It matters that we keep the same obedience to the Lord, composure, confidence, and self-control with those who are of the world.
This brings to mind another matter, that of light. No one can live without light. This light is given for new birth into His kingdom through the gospel, the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ. The gospel matters to us and to His church for the matter of our salvation.
We need a certain time of physical darkness, for rest and sleep, but spiritual light is needed for the darkness of the mind and spirit. This too is given us by His Spirit in His Word so that we know how to live in this world, holding forth ‘the word of life” that is ours in Christ.
We learn about other things that matter from God’s Word, such as Philippians 4:8: “that which is true, honest, just and pure, that which is lovely, of good report, of virtue (excellence) that which is worthy of praise”
What matters to God?
If we continue to think and write about it, we could go on and on, but hopefully we have posed a question that our hearts will consider as long as we live in this world, so that our Lord will continue to teach us what matters in His kingdom, in our lives, and our calling to serve Him in His kingdom. You and I matter to God. At one point this week we had considered that God is over all and that everything matters to Him. How then should we look at everything? Whatever we know and wherever we go, we should consider how God wants us to relate to the people and circumstances in which He places us. As Gadol pointed to the call and will of God, it matters to God how we respond as His people to those around us, in obedience and acceptance to where He wants us to be to fulfill His plan in us.
When looking in His Word for the word “matter” or “matters” we found one reference from the book of Ecclesiastes. Before we end with this, we will add one more to our list, that of wisdom. How does wisdom tie in with Ecclesiastes 12:13?
Since we are in the area of what matters to God, what other things from His Word would you add? What other things matter to God? We have but to read and glean these things that matter to God, our Father and to us.
Gracious heavenly Father, thank you leading us to consider what matters, and bringing us to see that the answers come from you. Thank you for being all that matters and that everything and everyone matter to you. Bring us to understand more and to find our contentment in you and your kingdom alone through the salvation that is ours in Christ. In Jesus’ name we thank you and praise you. Amen.
Two days ago, Jerry set a record as we celebrated his eighty-first birthday. He has lived longer than any of the Rogers in his family. His brother died at the age of eighty, and all his dad’s brothers died in their seventies.
During this time, we are preparing for surgery to repair an aneurysm in his only leg, praying for blood flow and healing for the wound on his foot, and considering other things at this age and stage of our lives. Yesterday we were questioning if we should be delving into something we did not understand (while I try to remember what that was, I am watching the wind and rain assault the beautiful dogwood that we have enjoyed the last few days blooming outside the window. How easily our thoughts can change. I can’t remember the thing we were considering two days ago. It must not have mattered.) 🙂
After discussing whether or not, we asked if knowing would matter. That progressed to the question: “What matters?” We have never really asked that question before, so as to discuss and document the answers.
After talking about what we though mattered, I decided to pose this question to our readers. Before stating our answers in this blog, I would like you to share your responses to this question. If you need some time, think about it and come back later to comment. At different ages we may consider one thing that matters more than others. What matters and makes us content when we are young may not matter when we get older.
Let’s leave off the answer “love” for the time being. Love would probably be the first answer for a lot of people; it might also mean something different to each of us.
Please join me in this conversation, to which we will add, after your comments are made.
Oh ~ and please include your age; that matters in our answers. 🙂
Dear Father, I pray that you will give us insight for our answers to this question of what matters in this life. In Jesus’ name I pray. amen.
Weighing, Measuring and Filtering Our Words
This is a side note from our last post The Voice of Contentment, as we considered the voices that we hear.
Somewhere in the past, I remember hearing or reading that God gives all people a certain number of words for each life. If this was true, many would have nothing to say in their latter years. 🙂
While this statement is not a Biblical reference, it might be something to think about.
There are Biblical references that speak of our voices and our words. There is much written in the Bible about our tongues, our lips, our mouths and the intentions of the heart in reference to the words we speak. These are all related, but let’s look basically at the words that come from the mind, the heart and the mouth when we speak to others. What is the source of what we, as God’s people, speak?
And what effect do our words have on others?
Joseph spoke to his brothers about his dreams. They “hated him for his dreams and his words.” Genesis 31:8
God gave words to Moses and Aaron to speak to the people. Exodus 10:6-7
Moses spoke the words of the ten commandments to the people. Exodus 24:3;
Moses was instructed to speak words of warning and promises. Deuteronomy 1:1
Joshua spoke to the people “the words of the Lord.” Joshua 3:9
WEIGHING OUR WORDS
When we speak, let us learn to ask four questions:
- Would the words I speak be what I would want to hear?
- Would they be a burden on the person to whom I speak?
- Are my words necessary?
- Would my words be to the glory of God?
Jesus came to speak “the words by which all men will be judged.” (John 12:48) He is the only one who has the authority to judge.
“And he said, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.” Luke 11:46
“But ‘the burden of the Lord’ you shall mention no more, for the burden is every man’s own word, and you pervert the words of the living God, the Lord of hosts, our God.” Jeremiah 23:36
“His speech was smooth as butter, yet war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords.” Psalm 55:2
Words can put a burden on others, even to “torment,” as in Job’s case (Job 19:2)
The Psalmist speaks of “words of trouble and deceit” (Psalm 36:3); “words that devour” (Psalm 52:4); “words of hate (Psalm 109:3) “bitter words like arrows” (Psalm 64:3); “arrogant words” (Psalm 94:4); “false words” (2 Peter 2:3).
“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:1-2
“Charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.” 2 Timothy 2:14
“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18
MEASURING OUR WORDS
“Jesus, whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure.” John 3:34
“But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” Ephesians 4:7
“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” Romans 12:3
“Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. Ecclesiastes 5:2
“When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” Proverbs 10:19
“Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.” Proverb 17:27
“For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:37
FILTERING OUR WORDS
If after weighing what we say, and measuring what we speak, we can know that our words will be edifying to those to whom we speak, and to build up the church as a whole by using God’s Word as a filter. If we listened and read more of His Word we would be less likely to be speaking our own words. We can be sure our words will glorify our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ if we encourage ourselves in His Word. Jerry Bridges in his book, The Discipline of Grace, says that he has to preach the gospel to himself everyday.
“The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times” (Psalm 12:6); gracious words, pure, like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body” (Proverbs 15:26; 16:24).
His words are sweet (Psalm 119:103); they give light (119:130). We stand in awe of his words (119:147); there is “hope in His words” (119:147); “words of insight and words of the wise” (Proverbs 1:2, 6) they are “holy words” (Jeremiah 23:9)
“The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd.” Ecclesiastes 12:11
We are to hold fast His words that are hidden in our heart, that He will put in our mouth (Psalm 119:11, Proverbs 4:4; Isaiah 51:16)
What did Jesus’ disciples say about His words?
The people “marveled at the gracious words that came from His mouth” (Luke 4:22) Peter said He had “the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).
Paul spoke of “the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness in 1 Timothy 6:3; “being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed” (1 Timothy 4:6).
What did Jesus say about His words?
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” Matthew 23:35
“For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:38
“The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.” John 12;48
The early church was encouraged by “the gospel, not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”
1 Corinthians 1:17
“not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,”
1 Corinthians 2:4
“in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.” 1 Corinthians 2:13
Do we consider our words as governed by the Spirit of Christ? Let us make our words a matter of importance for the Father’s kingdom and the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our words should be filtered through His Word and prayer in the power of the Holy Spirit. When we speak to others of Christ, the Holy Spirit must be working in their hearts for them to understand the words we speak.
In all our conversations our words should be that which encourages and strengthens our brothers and sisters in Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:18).
Let us not waste a moment of His precious time given us here, to share His glory. We can be channels and purveyors “holding forth the word of life” with words that give life, using every opportunity as builders with God of His kingdom on earth. We need not be reticent but with prayer and preparation through His Word anticipate that He will fill up our days with His goodness, His grace and love, laying up treasures in heaven as we spread the joy and contentment that is ours in Christ. We can weigh, measure and filter what our heavenly Father has given us in Christ, and with the abundance share the overflow as he continues to fill us with His fulness.
Dear Father let these prayers from the Psalmist be our prayers today and everyday.
“Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord God of hosts;
let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel.”
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.