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

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Another Year Older and Deeper in Debt

The country song, Sixteen Tons, was written and recorded by Merle Travis in August, 1946. Based on life in the coalmines of Kentucky, the song was one that I remembered from my childhood. It included the lyrics, “Another day older and deeper in debt.”

When I woke yesterday morning to another birthday (two short of eighty years), many thoughts crossed my mind and ended with this one, using the words “another year.”

How many years do we need before we realize how indebted we are for all God does for us? Biblically speaking, I thought my life might end after my seventieth birthday. But, the Lord had different plans than I knew. Even before then I owed my whole life to Him, but with each subsequent year, He so blesses us to see and to bless and praise His name; to live with a thankful heart.

I am indebted to Him for His creation of me, and His plans for me before I knew Him.

I owe Him for giving me the knowledge of Himself through His Word and the power of His Spirit.

I am indebted to Him for opening my eyes to see my sinfulness and my need for a Savior, for His forgiveness; indebted to Christ, His Son, for the debt He paid for my sins.

I owe Him for a new heart, a new spirit, and a new life in His Spirit.

I thank Him for making me His child, taking me by the hand, and continuing to guide me with His Word and Spirit through this wilderness.

The more He blesses, year after year, especially through the difficult times, the more I owe. The more He gives, the more I know I can never repay.

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I am indebted to Him for a husband for 56 of 78 years; for two children and their spouses, six grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and another on the way. There are friends, pastors, teachers and others who have been a blessing to us, whom we can never repay.

We could go on praising Him for the next seventy years and would be even more indebted.  His blessings never end, and His promises are forever and ever. And, more is to come. We can never stop His blessings from being poured out upon us, and these only samples of what awaits us for eternity.

Dear heavenly Father, even as I give all to you, it will never be enough to repay you for all that you are, all that you have done, and are doing in my life. Thank you for your mercy and goodness that you cause to follow me all the days of my life, that I may dwell in your house forever. In Jesus’ name I thank you and praise you. Amen.

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Hidden Treasure

“As a child I had a recurring dream of walking a dirt path, and seeing the reflection of the sun on something in the dirt. Reaching down I discovered a penny. (When I was a child we picked up lost pennies.) As I picked it up, I found other pennies. Picking up the pennies, I found nickels underneath, and then dimes, and quarters and half-dollars in the dirt. The more I picked up the more I found buried in the dirt.

I could not understand this dream until,  as an adult, the Lord brought me into His Word. Then, I began to understand the treasures that are hidden there. The more we take, the more we see and desire and receive. As we continue to look to the path and take what He gives, more of the riches of God’s covenant and kingdom are revealed.

Jesus said, “It is the Father’s pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). It is His pleasure to open these treasures through His Word, that we may know the heritage that is ours.

In 1993 a year after my new birth, I began writing what our heavenly Father was teaching me of our inheritance through Jesus Christ. (1Peter 1: 3-4) I began writing a little book called The Legacy. It speaks of a will written by an ancestor who wanted to bequeath His fortune to future descendants. The Legacy speaks of itself through me of how God was revealing His love and kingdom to His children who would be born of His Spirit.

God’s Word is such as a father would write in His own written will to pass on all the wealth that he has to his children. Those who read and study, meditate, and take to heart in faith what is written, will discover that this wealth is indeed meant for them individually and corporately with other members of the household of faith ~ those whom God births into His own family. He desires us and sires us according to His own will and His timing, in different generations. He brings us through His Word and Spirit to know Him, to be born of Him, to believe and repent, turning in faith to receive all the promises of His inheritance, and to live the abundant life that is ours through His Son, Jesus Christ. There is no life that can compare to this life. It fulfills God’s purpose for our creation and redemption and becomes a delight for us as His children.“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). As we come to this garden that He has prepared for His children we find all our delight in Him. This is His ultimate purpose. God is our goal. His purpose is to satisfy us to the fullest in Himself. His desires become our desires.” The Garden of GOD’S WORD ~ The Purpose and Delight of BIBLE STUDY

Dear Father in heaven, how can we know you, your promises of the life that is ours in Christ, your Son, without your calling, and giving us a new heart and spirit to hear and respond? We praise you for your power to give us physical life and spiritual life through your Holy Word, making us your own children. Thank you for the delight we have in you. Nothing compares to the treasure of your Word and the power of your Holy Spirit to activate your Word in us. In Jesus’ name we thank you and praise you. Amen.

Fran

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GOD Is Our Goal ~ GOD’S Plan for His People

(Fourth in the series Little Books About the Magnitude of God)
Our new book is available from Amazon.

How do you wrap up fourteen summers of study with your grandchildren? The diagram we used to summarize our years together is still on the blackboards (two stacked on the back of the door leading to our prayer room) from five years ago. This book, with the diagram, is the conclusion we came to ~ GOD at the top, our Purpose at the bottom, and His PLAN through JESUS between Him and us, doing His work to keep us and bring us to Himself.

“How many goals do we set in a lifetime? How many do we actually reach? The Christian worldview is one that sees goals based on what has been accomplished for us by our Creator and Redeemer. God has a purpose for His creation. He has a plan. He has set the goal, and by His plan in Christ, brings us to Himself. As we live in anticipation of reaching this goal, it affects all that we think, say and do, making our pilgrimage here a joy and a glory to Him.”
eBook $1.99  Paperback $5.59.
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Dear Father, I pray for your grace to lead those who will read this book to see, to know, and to live in assurance of reaching the goal that you have set for us as your people. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

The Essence of Contentment

The essence of contentment is distilled from the presence of the Father in His own children. It is a seventh sense that comes from the new birth. The birth of God’s Spirit within us springs up to eternal life with a new heart and a new spirit directing our course of life here, preparing us for the eternal glory with the Father and His Son. Most of us have something of our parents that is reflected in us, some trait or expression.  The same is true of our relationship with our heavenly Father who, in Christ revealed Himself.  We, too, as His children will exhibit His character, when by His Spirit and His written word we become more and more like Him.  He is content to have desired us, and sired us for His own family.

We are continuing to learn and proclaim the legacy of God’s kingdom through our books and here on God’s Grace ~ God’s Glory as He is leading and teaching us. We are each given short-term goals but none of us have arrived at His planned destination. We are learning to live in this wilderness of oppression trusting His Word, His presence and His power with us (Ephesians 3:20-21).93854-004-7fcc6b28

The Sixth Sense

We are normally born into this world with five senses. I believe that “faith” is a sixth sense that comes with the new birth. Regeneration brings us in faith and repentance to citizenship in God’s kingdom. There is a sense of new life, a difference from what we lived before. Faith brings a sense of distinction from the old life that we knew. Although it is a new sense of its own, it is connected to the other five senses. Faith is a spiritual sense that comes about through our physical senses of seeing, hearing, touch, taste, and smell.

Faith comes by hearing the gospel, the good news of Christ and our redemption (Romans 10:17). We read God’s Word and the Holy Spirit moves with our spirit to know that we are God’s children (Romans 10:17, Ephesians 1:18). We touch and hold His Word as He teaches us (Proverbs 4:13; 1 Timothy 4:16; Philippians 2: 14-16). We “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8; Matthew 4:4). We become a sweet fragrance of Christ (2 Corinthians 2:15). These are but samples of how God uses the senses He created in us to birth us to a living hope and the inheritance that we have as joint-heirs with Christ. (1Peter 1:3-4)

Faith Leads to Contentment

Faith then affects how our senses are used to lead us and grow us in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ and conform us to His image (2 Peter 3:18; Romans 8:28-29).

bridge-of-faithFaith becomes the bridge, the means to the whole of God’s kingdom. Here is where we connect faith and contentment, contentment being the seventh and complete sense in communion with the Father.

Remember the diagram of oppression, adversity, and contentment from an earlier post. Our Father uses faith to bring us out of the state of oppression, through adversity. We would rather say that His presence and power lift us above the adversity and brings us to the state of contentment. We do not escape adversity, but learn to live in conformity to the image of Christ. His Word and faith in His Word train our senses.  By these we are enabled to accept and live unmoved by our circumstances. We are being trained and we practice keeping our senses focused on God, our Father and our hearts centered in Christ and His promises, as we are led by the Holy Spirit.

Dear Father, Thank you for filling us with your fulness and spreading your love in our hearts; for becoming life to us through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Continue to fill us with your Holy Spirit,and to work your contentment in us.  In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

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The Authority of Contentment

Why is contentment so rare in human creatures? It seems that the status quo, even for God’s children, is brokenness. This condition is becoming more and more acceptable as a means of relating to others.

We can all agree that we live in a world of oppression. The world is really not a fit place to live, but we, as God’s people have a directive. God set the mandate for us before time began. (Ephesians 1:4) I heard recently, “We are a distinctive people.” But, this is not a new statement. This is the  Biblical perspective for the Christian church.

God, our heavenly Father is the authority of His kingdom. He rules in holiness, in love, and grace in the lives of His people. By His power He has birthed a family for Himself, growing us and conforming us to the image of Jesus Christ, His Son, who is the first of many brethren. (Romans 8:29)

He came in Jesus to work in us a new life, compatible with Himself. He is teaching us here what His kingdom is like, training us for eternity with Him. By His authority He commands us by His Word what is expected in His kingdom. We will look at four of these in this post ~ those that begin with what we are to “BE.”

We began this series by describing Contentment as a supernatural state of “being.” We will add here that it is part of the legacy of God’s kingdom.

“Being” a joint-heir with Christ has many components. Each part is derived from the same source of God’s grace. The authority that commands us to “BE” is the source that works each part in us. All characteristics of the Christian life are distinctive in that they are beyond our natural abilities. Andrew Murray states in Waiting on God, “what He commands is a promise of what He will do.”

We will look at His commands to “be holy,” “be glad,” “be still,” and “be content.”

We will see how Contentment fits and flows from holiness, gladness, and stillness, and why He commands these for His people.

“Be Holy”

We begin in the Old Testament in Leviticus to see God’s separation of a people for Himself, then in the New Testament the repetition in 1 Peter to those who are separated and made holy in Christ.

In Leviticus 11:44-45 and Leviticus 20:7 we see that He has brought the Israelites out of bondage. He separated them from the land of Egypt, “to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” He is holy, and makes His people holy.

In 1 Peter 1:13-16 he quotes the same command to God’s people in our day. This section of Peter’s letter is titled, “Called to be holy.” Please read this part of his letter to the Jewish Christians. What I find interesting in both the Old and New covenants is the statement, “You shall be holy.” In agreement, we consecrate ourselves, with the mind-set that He will do the work in us. (See also 1 Peter 3:15)

“Be Glad”

Psalm 32:11 is the last verse of the Psalm that begins with the word “Blessed.” I will not take away from your gladness by telling you what is in this Psalm. If you are serious about living a contented life you must read Psalm 32 for yourself. Reading the whole Psalm gives us the understanding of why we are to “be glad.” I would suggest reading it every day for a month and see what happens. Perhaps you will establish The Glad Rule in your home.

“Be Still”

Psalm 32 and Psalm 46 are short Psalms, but packed with the context from which we find memorable verses. Psalm 46 begins with, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble.” Reading this Psalm to verse 10 gives us understanding of why He instructs us to “Be still.”

“Be Content”

If we have done our homework through the first three subjects of “being,” we will come to a better understanding of this distinctive of Contentment.

The writer of Hebrews 13:5, like Peter, quotes from the Old Testament (Joshua 1:5).

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

a-my-countenanceFrom the first statement of God’s authority in our Contentment, “I am your God” to “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” we have the reason for our Contentment. When we know Him, He will be our Contentment, here and for eternity. Contentment is wrapped up in His written word and His Living Word, Jesus Christ as He works it in us.

Three things we need to remember that carry through this series.

  1. Divine Contentment is supernatural, possible only for God’s people.
  2. It is the result of relationship between God our heavenly Father and His children.
  3. He will teach us and show us what He is doing in us.

The training in the distinctive of the Christian is a life-long process that fits us for Heaven and eternity with our heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

This world is not just a wilderness, and a battleground of brokenness, but the place that our heavenly Father proves His authorship, power, victory, and majesty through the lives of His people.

Gracious Father, we praise you that you have chosen a people to be holy unto you, a distinctive family that you are training to be your image-bearers. Fill us with your Holy Spirit to do the work that you command and promise for us as your children. Give the world a different image of your kingdom as we love and reach out to those who are in adversity with the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. In His name I pray. Amen.

Praying For Our Nation ~ Week 4

give-us-this-day“In the fourth petition we pray that of God’s free gifts we may recieve a competent portion of the good things of this life and enjoy His blessing with them.” Shorter Catechism

As one of the most affluent nations in history, Americans live daily in the abundance of things that other nations only imagine. We have all the technical devices, all that we want to entertain us, and more food than we need ~ yet Jesus taught us, His people,  to pray for our “daily bread.”  We understand that our prayers are not just for us and our family, but for all people. We are reminded that He taught us to “seek first the kingdom of God our Father, and His righteousness”  before anything else, believing that He would supply all our physical needs.

As with the other petitions of the Lord’s Prayer, this one alludes to our trusting God our heavenly Father, whose name, kingdom and will are first and over all things in heaven and on earth, so that all our hope for all things is in Him.

Dear Father, as we anticipate a transition of leadership in a few weeks, let us as your children continue to examine our hearts and our faith. Show us your leading for all things. Make us to know that all that we need comes from you.

Even as we ask you to give us (all of us) our daily bread, give us understanding that we need not fear what man can do, nor hope that any man or woman can do more than you enable them to do. Again, I ask that you enable us to encourage others, and that you will grow the faith of all your people as we see you supplying all our needs.  More than physical food, enable us to understand the more needful, spiritual food that comes only from your Holy Word. Turn us to the truth and power of your Word, that we may know the abundant life that you promise us in Christ, your Son.screen-shot-2016-10-15-at-2-46-50-pm
Pour your Holy Spirit on us; give us a hunger for your Word; draw us to your Word for all that you desire for us.

Let us enjoy you and your blessings today, without anxiety of what we may need tomorrow. Show us our extravagance, and how to live simply in obedience, confidence, and contentment in you, so that we may share with others what you so graciously pour out upon us.

Make us the answer to the prayers of others who are in need, for the spirit, soul, and body.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

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