Contentment vs. Anxiety

Why has it taken so long for me to write this post?

It is not because I have been at my task of caring for Jerry. It is not because there are not enough hours in the day to witness of the Lord’s goodness ~ this is the reason I write.

Titles come so very easily, but the meat is not always simple to come by. We long to publish the truths of the Father’s kingdom, but it must come by experience. And so this is true of the subject matter of contentment and anxiety.

Growing up in an environment of anxiety stamps a person for life, until we encounter Christ and learn of Him.

Then, we are born and sealed with His Spirit of promise, sanctified, and set apart for His use.

But even as Jacob wrestled with the angel of the Lord, so we wrestle for the promises that are ours in Him. This wrestling is the work of the Holy Spirit within us, bringing us to know the promises through God’s Word, claiming them, and working through life with the two-edged sword to destroy the strongholds that have have been set up in our lives.

There is as much difference between contentment and anxiety as between day and night. The difference is as light and darkness; as good and evil. And each has its ownership and connotations.  Books have been written, messages spoken and songs sung, and we could say more, but we post very simply today of how the Lord brings us from the anxiety of this life to contentment in Him.

The Source and the Fruit
Anxiety is the abnormal attitude of human beings; the seed thought of every man; flowing from the spring of unbelief.

“O, ye of little faith.”

“Yes, Lord, I hear you. I recognize your voice. I acknowledge my lack of faith.”

“Why do you doubt?”

“I have no excuse. My thoughts carry me where I do not want to go. They seem to have a power of their own.”

“Have I not proven that I love you and am able to provide all that you need?”

“Yes, Lord, I am guilty of forgetting you and your goodness when my thoughts wonder away from you. When times are difficult I am carried away by the moment. I am still learning to be content in every circumstance. I confess my sin, and ask that your Spirit keep me in your Word, to always remember your promises. Let me not dwell on the things of the world, and the power of the enemy. But let your Word be the source of my thoughts, to do its work. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation and the contentment that is ours in you. Bear in and through me the fruit of your Spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, temperance; the fruit of holiness, righteousness, truth, grace, and humility. Fill me with your fullness, so there is no room for doubt or fear, but only thoughts of you, your grace and your glory.”
Fran

image: Google

How the Holy Spirit Works ~ Part Three

Do you question God’s power to work in your life? Do you doubt or wonder at His supernatural working what He has planned and desires in your life? We are continuing to learn how God, who is Spirit, works supernaturally, whether it is for our salvation, our sanctification or contentment. His kingdom begins here on earth, His Spirit working in ours. He made us spiritual creatures in a physical body with the intentions of living His own Spirit in us, and portraying His own image. Jesus, being the example and the means through which He would accomplish His plan, is through the power of His Spirit, revealing and fulfilling His plan in us.

We have seen in our previous posts, the first and Part Two, where He begins. In this post we will continue to see the flow of His Spirit bearing the fruit of His own work (John 7:37-39; Galatians 5:22-23).

The Holy Spirit works in the spirit of man through the soul and the body; in the body, through the mind, heart and will. Here we see how He works in our impressions, our affections, emotions and expressions for His desired results.

The Spirit and Impressions

The Spirit works with the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17).

“For freedom Christ, (through His Spirit and Word) has set us free” to know, fear, love, obey, and bear the fruit of His Spirit.” Galatians 5:1

Jesus promised His disciples to send the Spirit of truth, explained in the priestly prayer in John 17:17.

We cannot avoid the impressions of the Holy Spirit when the Father sends Him to witness of Christ in us. He brings us to read or hear His Word, and He brings conviction ~ “And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:” John 16:8

“the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you:”
1 Peter 4:14
“lively stones, built up a spiritual house .”
1 Peter 2:5
“Sealed with the holy Spirit of promise.”
Ephesians 1:13

The Spirit and Affections

Do we sense the stirring of the Spirit within us? Where are our affections when the Holy Spirit does the will of the Father and the work of the Son within us? Where are our affections when we learn the truth of God’s love for us?

“Seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:1-2
“And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” Galatians 5:24

The Holy Spirit impresses us with the Father and Son’s love for us, so that we respond in brokenness, humility, repentance and faith.

“God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.” Romans 2:4

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Romans 12:1-2

The Spirit and Emotions

“But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
Romans 8:11
“Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.”
Romans 12:11

“The meek and quiet spirit” 1 Peter 3:4

The Holy Spirit works through our emotions and zeal in the body of the church.

“Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.”
1 Corinthians 14:12

“in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:”
1 Peter 1:22

The Spirit and Expressions

From the Spirit’s working in our spirit, soul and body, through our mind, heart and will, He is able to make His impressions real, and to express what the Father and the Son do in and through us as His people. In the following references we see what He expects to do in and through us to the Father’s glory.

“How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
Hebrews 9:14

“For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:20

“Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:3

“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.” Ephesians 6:18

“in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” Philippians 1:27

By the power of the Holy Spirit we are brought together as His people to live the abundant life here, bearing the fruit of the life of Christ, by the power of the Spirit, content with what He is doing in us until He brings us home to glory ~ ready to answer those who ask our reason for hope and contentment.

Dear Heavenly Father, as we close this segment of our series on Contentment, I praise you for leading us to know how you work through your Holy Spirit to prepare your people for our eternal glory with you. As we wait and grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, continue to bear the fruit of your Spirit within us. Conform us to the image of Christ by His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and temperance. Thank you for loving us and making us your children. Enable us to be content with your glorious blessings in and through us. ~ for your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

“Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, by the power that works in us; to Him be glory in the church throughout all ages, world without end.” Ephesians 3:20-21

Recommended Reading: The Power of the Spirit
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Born for Contentment

Everyone who comes into this world is  “born for adversity.”  God’s children are born for contentment.

Years ago, when our oldest granddaughter started elementary school, I asked her why children were going to school every day. Her reply was, “So that we can get a job, make money, and buy what we want.” She was learning well at an early age what the world teaches about contentment. Now, at the age of twenty-four she is married, has a two-year old daughter and a job. And through adversity, she is learning to be content with what she has.

In this world of oppression, we are taught that we have the power to accomplish whatever makes us happy.  This is not the contentment for which God’s people are born. Let’s leave behind the fallacy that we are responsible for our own contentment.

True contentment ~ divine contentment ~ comes to us by the supernatural power of God, our heavenly Father.  He desired us and sired us for His own pleasure and contentment.

Just as we learn from infancy how to survive physically, we must learn, at His feet,  how to be content in this world of oppression.

Desire to Desire What God Desires

We are reminded of the apostle Paul’s words, “ I have learned…..to be content.” (Philippians 4:11) What God gives us in our new birth is a new heart, and a new spirit with a desire for that which is eternal.

Learning about true contentment is not easy. It is as foreign to humanity as anything we can study or desire. It is beyond imagination, so supernatural that we cannot think about it without being overwhelmed. We are reminded of Jesus’ promise, “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”(John 4:14)

rivers-of-living-waterThis eternal life becomes a fountain (Psalm 36:9), then a stream (Isaiah 35:6), then breaks forth into rivers of living water (John 7:37-39). The source is God, Himself, through Christ, His Son, and the power of the Holy Spirit working in the heart to produce His own life. This is what He meant when He said, “The kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:21

The new birth is the spring. Growing by the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ brings the blessings of His presence and power, blessings we cannot fathom, or control, at times carrying us away with the flow.

Oppression ~~~~ Adversity ~~~~Contentment

Divine contentment is the opposite end of the spectrum from oppression, as far as heaven is from the earth. Between oppression and divine contentment, the reality of adversity remains part of every person’s life. Divine contentment is God’s blessing and gift of grace, that His children may live content in Christ, in the middle of adversity. It is more than just having what we think we need, but receiving what He has so graciously prepared for us ~ more than we could ask or think.
(1 Corinthians 2:9; Ephesians 3:20)

As we continue to proclaim the legacy of God’s kingdom we will share what He is teaching us of this supernatural, phenomenal gift of His contentment.

Dear Father in heaven, many ask why you allow oppression and adversity. Keep us close to you as we are learning your thoughts and your ways concerning our place in your kingdom here on earth. We praise you for the contentment that is ours in Christ, for the legacy that is ours as joint-heirs with Christ now and for eternity. Show us your ways O Lord; teach us your paths; lead us in your truth and teach us.  For Thou art the God of our salvation.  On Thee do we wait all the day. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
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Are You a Blessing?

blessed-bejpgIn a recent conversation with a young woman, she expressed her desire to be married and to have a family. She had thought several men might have been the right one, but was now hoping for another prospect. After discussing the subject for a few minutes, she said that she did not understand why God had not given her a husband. She was 28, and still living with her family.

I asked her, “Are you a blessing, where you are?

With some thought, she admitted, “No, I’m not.”

She was not happy with her circumstances and desired to escape her present living conditions.
She realized that if she was not content with what God had given her, she should not expect more.

I asked her to read my post, The Plight of the Discontented Woman. She then agreed that she needed to examine her relationship with the heavenly Father before she could expect anything to change with her circumstances.

God has blessed us with everything that we need for a life of happiness and joy in Him. (2 Peter 1:3) He has given us all things needful in this life and for eternity through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 8:32) He has created us and redeemed us in Christ, so that we will be a blessing to Him and to others.

ARE YOU BLESSED?
Have you been BLESSED
by the BLESSINGS that are ours in CHRIST?
Are you BLESSED every day
by the GRACE of our LORD JESUS CHRIST?

ARE YOU BLESSED?
Then ~
Be a BLESSING to God and others today.

Dear Father, Thank you for creating and redeeming us in Christ, your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us be content in Him for all of life here as we will be forever.  By the power of your Holy spirit, make us a blessing to you and others today.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

You Can’t Take Away My Joy

Jerry came wheeling into the kitchen last night, asking if I was still cleaning. “Sure,” I said, knowing that he was aware of my nightly schedule after dinner.

Since his amputation eight years ago, he feels badly that most of the work falls on me. Last night was no exception. He thinks that it is a drudgery for me to cook and clean for him. After his comment, I said, “Stop! You can’t take away my joy. The Lord planned years ago that this would be His grace and joy to me.”    He said, “I wouldn’t want to take that away.” 🙂

imagesIn writing Two Full Plates ~ Learning to be a Caregiver I realized that the Lord began preparing me for this role, and the reward of it, when I was only a little girl, trained at an early age to wash the dishes and make the beds everyday. Today these are done as naturally as brushing my teeth, although more rewarding. These are also good times to memorize and practice the hymns and psalms that we will be singing next Lord’s Day.

Jesus washed the feet of His disciples as an example for us, but more than this, died for us, to deliver us from the drudgery of the world, and to know the joy in serving Him and others.

In His presence is fullness of joy, no matter the task. Work can be drudgery or a joy depending on the heart and the spirit.   A task done, as unto the Lord, and to His glory, is not work, but a pleasure. The mind and the heart follow where He leads no matter the place or activity.

 “Your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.”
John 16:22
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Dear Father, thank you for teaching us, and by your Spirit working in us, the joy of each day’s work and pleasure in you and our Lord Jesus Christ. In His name I pray.  Amen.

The Plight of the Discontented Woman

(This is a follow-up from the previous article.  If you have not read it I encourage you to read it before you read this article.)

There are many single women today who are discontent with their families, their education, their jobs, their singleness, and many other reasons; not only unbelievers but Christian women as well.16_discontented-singles Some Christian women that I know personally want to be married and have a family.  They sincerely want a husband with whom they can share their life and to bear children. This is a noble desire, a natural desire for women in all ages. My only counsel, as an older woman, is that you not make this the main focus in your life.

As the apostle Simon Peter writes in his second letter to those who are waiting for the second coming of our Lord, the message is to us today.  Whether male or female, young or old, while we wait for a new heavens and a new earth, we are to “grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  2 Peter 3:18  Take advantage of this time in your life to immerse yourself in His word and prayer; not so that you can be an expert and able to argue certain doctrine, but so that you can humbly discern the faith of others (I did not say to judge) and support and compliment one that may become your husband.

Some beautiful women have no problem finding a husband (we cite the record of Rachel and Leah, Genesis 29-30),  yet their lives are no happier than a single woman without one.  This is the point that I want to make.

If you are unhappy with your situation now, a husband will not make your life any happier.  Your contentment is not dependent on your position in life, but on the condition of your heart. Is Christ all to you now?  Then He is enough.  If Christ is your life, then live humbly and fully in the joy of His presence.  His work of grace in your heart will make you more desirous to those who are looking for a virtuous wife.  Your contentment will be an attraction to others.  It says to a man that you are not dependent on others for your happiness.  It relieves a prospective husband of the burden (the oppression) of making you happy.

Seeing Christ as your contentment and joy is an encouragement to others that you would be a suitable help mate. And if God does not give you to a man, then live in service always to Him.  He will more than fulfill your need for companionship and love in this world, with the promise of an eternal love beyond that which any man can give.

” A Christian has that which may make him content. Has not God given you Christ? In Him there are unsearchable riches. He is such a gold mine of wisdom and grace that all the saints and angels can never dig to the bottom. Never complain as long as Christ is your Friend. He is an enriching pearl, a sparkling diamond. The infinite luster of His merits makes us shine in God’s eyes.   In Him there is both fulness and sweetness. He is indescribable good. Lift up your thoughts to the highest pinnacle; stretch them to the utmost; let them wander to their full latitude and extent—yet they fall infinitely short of those ineffable and inexhaustible treasures which are locked up in Jesus Christ. And is there not enough here to give the soul contentment: A Christian who lacks necessities, yet, having Christ, has the one thing needful.” ~ Thomas Watson The Art of Divine Contentment

Dear Father, I pray for these women whose desires are not fulfilled; who feel that they need something else in life beyond what you have given.  Reveal Christ as the fulfillment, the contentment and joy that you meant Him to be when you sent Him to the earth.  As the propitiation for our sins you have expressed and bestowed a love beyond any that we can ask for or understand.  Make us all humble, accepting the role and position you have given each of us in this life.  Thank you for the hope of your fulfilling every promise that you have given us in your word, now and for eternity.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen

Related Article: I Don’t Wait Anymore

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Fight or Flight ~ the Plight of the Discontented Wife

(Warning:  This is an OUCH, and an encouragement.)
As an older woman who has over the years images
taught and mentored younger women I want to share some of what I have learned from this experience.

Only three of those I mentored were single, but all had an original desire to know and live a full life in Christ. All discipling was personal and biblically based. Christ was the center of each relationship; the prayer was always to seek the Lord’s will in the hearts and lives of each one that I mentored. Some came to me; others I took under my wings.  None were forced,  but each had a seemingly sincere desire to know and grow in Christ.

Each one was unique; and I was amazed sometimes at what the Lord was doing in the lives of those He allowed me to spend time with.

With some the mentoring stopped at a certain stage because they were not willing to submit to God’s word in a certain area of their lives. They had not fully understood the cost of following Christ.  There are not many women today who are seeking older women for the purpose of knowing how to love and obey their husbands.

The Blight of the Church
In mentoring, and beyond those personal relationships, I write here of what I have observed in the church. Not just younger women, but older ones have been the decision makers for their families. We have had many such families leave our church.  It was well known that the wife was dissatisfied; either with relationships, the doctrine, the programs or activities of the church.

There are many women today who are leaving their husbands for no reason except that they are unhappy with where they are.  Many are being deceived, even as Eve was, by the same spirit of discontent.  Christian women who are not abused and whose husbands have remained faithful are hearing the commercials from lawyers who stand with them in public courts to declare their freedom from any authority over them.

What these do not understand is the oppressive spirit that pervades not only their own lives, but the lives of their husbands, the life of the churches of which they are members, and others with whom they shares their problems.

Where there is discontent the whole church is affected. We are members one of another. It is like a sickness that pervades the whole body.   Only the work of the Holy Spirit can heal and make the church a healthy church that is able to fulfill its purpose. The practice of church discipline is not known in many churches today, but is effective to a degree. The discontented wife is not excommunicated until her discontent is actively displayed; in the case of railing against her husband and the church, and refusing to repent.

Suggestions For Mentors
Be cautious at what age and stage you become a mentor. Paul warned the church against new converts becoming deacons and elders. The older women, mentioned in Paul’s letter to Titus, would have been those with wisdom and knowledge, and years of experience. Being a friend who is able to listen and sympathize is different from leading another person in their relationship with the Lord; and teaching them to love and obey their husband.

It is easy for one who is being mentored to become dependent on their mentor. The purpose of mentoring is to direct their way to Christ; to total dependence on Him.

And this is not to take the place of, but directed to, their own personal study of God’s word, personal prayer, and the preaching of God’s word and counsel from their pastors.

This time should be limited. After a year those who are being led should be able to go and grow on their own.  A mentor can remain a friend and available for special times of need.

I have also written from my own experience of having been that discontented wife; and have learned that contentment is coupled with humility. These two, humility and contentment, have been the main things I have desired and prayed for in these latter years; for myself and others. Here is a quote from Thomas Watson in his book, The Art of Divine Contentment

images“ Here was a sore temptation the devil handed over to Job by his discontented wife. Only his grace, as a golden shield, warded off the blow from his heart. “Thou speakest as one of the foolish women” (job 2:10).
Discontent tempts a man to atheism and apostasy.
Atheism is the fruit that grows out of the blossom of discontent.

” A Christian has that which may make him content. Has not God given you Christ? In Him there are unsearchable riches. He is such a gold mine of wisdom and grace that all the saints and angels can never dig to the bottom. Never complain as long as Christ is your Friend. He is an enriching pearl, a sparkling diamond. The infinite luster of His merits makes us shine in God’s eyes.   In Him there is both fulness and sweetness. He is indescribable good. Lift up your thoughts to the highest pinnacle; stretch them to the utmost; let them wander to their full latitude and extent—yet they fall infinitely short of those ineffable and inexhaustible treasures which are locked up in Jesus Christ. And is there not enough here to give the soul contentment: A Christian who lacks necessities, yet, having Christ, has the one thing needful.”

To the Discontented Wife
If you are not content with your life, whether a wife or not, search your heart. Does Christ have your whole heart? Do you seek daily His word, and in prayer desire His Spirit to lead you in His word to obedience in all that you read? Does Christ speak to you, leading personally through His word? Or do you live, desiring things your own way, and blaming your circumstances on someone else?

My prayer is that God will reveal yourself to you. Once you are able to see yourself as you are, a sinner who is discontent with God and the life that He has given you, I pray that He would reveal Christ to you as your Redeemer; and enable you to believe and follow Him in obedience to His word and Spirit. In His timing and His way, as He changes us (and sometimes our circumstances) we are able not only to endure all for His sake, but He gives us joy in the middle of our circumstances, and praise, for our deliverance from the oppressive spirit that has controlled our life.

The God whom we have railed against in our discontent becomes our refuge and our life.

If you are the victim of one with this oppressive spirit Christ will give you the power of His Spirit of humility and contentment; to resist this oppression and live hopefully and fully in Him.

Dear Father, turn our eyes to you in Christ, melt our hearts and unite us in Him and His church.  Make Him to be our only desire, our hope, our joy, and our fulfillment ~ all to your glory, now and forevermore.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

Related articles:
The Plight of the Discontented Woman
 Give Your Marriage at Least Fifty Years

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