A Year for CONTENTMENT

youre-invited-mingle-before-you-jingle1-1r5pkol-1Knowing my own need, the Lord is leading me in the year of 2017 to continue in my desire and search for the contentment that is found in Him alone. It is easy to read about, to talk about, to search for its meaning and to hope and pray for it. Like “humility” which was our subject for 2014, and “meditation” for 2015, “contentment” has not only to be sought after, but prayed for, desired with the whole heart, soul, mind and strength, and more importantly, waited for with patient endurance.  All of these are possible only by His working them in us as His family in His kingdom.

This is our plan for this New Year, and we invite you to come with us, to help us to discover what the Lord wants and has prepared for us.contentment

Contentment is a subject not only to be studied and pursued, but can be described in many ways. It is the desire of most people, but misunderstood when it comes to knowing how contentment is achieved. Since the beginning of time, we learn that contentment does not come from the things of this world.   Without even using the word or a definition, our first parents experienced what I call a seventh sense (we will look at this later) in the Garden of Eden. They were content, until Satan convinced them that they needed more than God had given them.

We live in the same environment as our first parents, but with a greater need. Contentment is a state of being. No one is born with it. Like the apostle Paul, it must be learned, and the lessons do not come from other human beings. The enemy supernaturally instilled the spirit of discontent, and only one who is stronger than he can deliver us from it.

Divine Contentment

For many years Thomas Watson’s book, The Art of Divine Contentment has been a source of study and delight. You can download free and read with us or download free MP3. Unlike our review and study of Andrew Murray’s Humility, we will not be reading through this book chapter by chapter, but we will use some of Watson’s quotes.

We want you to come with us through this year and to add your comments. We will be posting one, two or three times a week. Not every post will be titled contentment, but relating to it in some way, as we continue our search for this precious state, which our Lord desires for us. He died to deliver us from this horrific power of oppression and discontent, which is opposite from life in His kingdom.

Our posts will relate also to a book that we will be finishing this year. Thriving Under Oppression is relative to the spirit that keeps us from contentment and the life for which Christ has saved us. Soon we will publish God Is Our Goal. This too is relative to the life that is lived here in anticipation of the eternal life that is ours in Christ.  Who knows; maybe this will end up being a book, and you will have helped me write it (Proceeds always designated for missions and charity).

We encourage you to share this invitation with your readers or others you would want to be a part of this movement for 2017.
YES ~ let’s call it a “movement for contentment” ~ long needed for the Christian community.
What effect would our contentment have upon the world?

“Blessed be the God and Father
of our Lord Jesus Christ,

who in Christ, has blessed us
with every spiritual blessing
in heavenly places.”
Ephesians 1:3

Gracious Father in heaven, it is you who has created us so that we may delight ourselves in you; who has redeemed us and restored us to an even greater estate from which we fell. Only you can bring us from the power of the oppressor to you, to know your presence and power, to work in us supernaturally this contentment for which you saved us in Christ. Draw those that you want to be a part of this year’s blessings as you lead us and teach us by the power of your Holy Spirit. Open our hearts, our minds, our ears, our wills, to you, to our Lord Jesus Christ and your Holy Spirit, so that we do not miss anything you have prepared for us. In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.
invitationImage from Related Article: Contentment

Heirs of the Kingdom (Part 2)

(Thomas Watson on the Second Petition of The Lord’s Prayer ~ Thy Kingdom Come.)

(5) Let the saints long to be in that blessed kingdom. Does not a prince that travels in foreign parts long to be in his own nation, that he may be crowned? The bride desires the marriage day. ‘The Spirit and the bride say, Come: even so, come, Lord Jesus.’ Rev 22: 17, 20. Sure our unwillingness to go hence, shows either the weakness of our faith in the belief of the heavenly kingdom, or the strength of our doubts whether we have an interest in it. Were our title to heaven more clear, we should need patience to be content to stay here any longer.

Again, our unwillingness to go hence, declares we love the world too much, and Christ too little. Love, as Aristotle says, desires union. Did we love Christ as we should, we should desire to be united to him in glory, when we might take our fill of love. Be humbled that ye are so unwilling to go hence. Let us labour to arrive at that divine temper of soul which Paul had:Cupio dissolvi, ‘Having a desire to depart and to be with Christ.’ Phil 1: 23. We are compassed with a body of sin: should we not long to shake off this viper? We are in Mesech, and the tents of Cedar, in a place where we see God dishonoured. Should we not desire to have our pass to be gone? We are in a valley of tears. Is it not better to be in a kingdom? Here we are combating with Satan. Should we not desire to be called out of the bloody field, where the bullets of temptation fly so fast, that we may receive a victorious crown? O ye saints, breathe after the heavenly kingdom. Though we should be willing to stay to do service, yet we should ambitiously desire to be always sunning ourselves in the light of God’s countenance. Think what it will be to be ever with the Lord! Are there any sweeter smiles or embraces than his? Is there any bed so soft as Christ’s bosom? Is there any such joy as to have the golden banner of Christ’s love displayed over us? Is there any such honour as to sit upon the throne with Christ? Rev 3: 21. O, then, long for the celestial kingdom!

(6) Wait for this kingdom of glory. It is not incongruous or improper to long for heaven, yet wait for it. Long for it because it is a kingdom, yet wait your Father’s good pleasure. God could bestow this kingdom at once, but he sees it good that we should wait awhile.

[1] Had we the kingdom of heaven as soon as ever grace is infused, then God would lose much of his glory. Where would be our living by faith, which is the grace that brings in the chief revenues of glory to God? Rom 5: 20. Where would be our suffering for God, which is a way of honouring him which the angels in heaven are not capable of? Where would be the active service we are to do for God? Would we have God give us a kingdom, and we do nothing for him before we come there? Would we have rest before labour, a crown before victory? This were disingenuous. Paul was content to stay out of heaven awhile that he might be a means of bringing others thither. Phil 1: 24.

[2] While we wait for the kingdom, our grace is increasing. Every duty religiously performed, adds a jewel to our crown. Do we desire to have our robes of glory shine brighter? Let us wait and work. The longer we stay for the principal, the greater will the interest be. As the husband man waits till the seed spring up, wait for the harvest of glory. Some have their waiting weeks at court; this is your waiting time. Christ says, men ought to pray, and not to faint. Luke 18: 1. So, wait, and faint not. Be not weary, the kingdom of heaven will make amends for waiting. ‘I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord,’ said the dying patriarch. Gen 49: 18.

Use 7. For comfort to the people of God.

(1) In all their sufferings. The true saint, as Luther says, is haeres crucis, heir to the cross. Affliction is his diet-drink, but this keeps him from fainting, that his sufferings bring a kingdom. The hope of the kingdom of heaven, says Basil, should indulcerate and sweeten all our troubles. ‘If we suffer, we shall also reign with him.’ 2 Tim 2: 12. It is but a short fight, but an eternal triumph. This light suffering produces an ‘eternal weight of glory.’ 2 Cor 4: 17. The more weighty precious things are, the more they are worth, as the more weight in a crown of gold, the more it is worth. Did this glory last for awhile only, it would much abate and embitter the joys of heaven; but it runs parallel with eternity. God will be a deep sea of blessedness, and the glorified saints shall for ever bathe themselves in the ocean. One day’s wearing the crown will abundantly pay for all the saints’ sufferings; how much more when ‘they shall reign for ever and ever!’ Rev 22: 5. O let this be our support under all the calamities and sufferings in this life. What a vast difference is there between a believer’s sufferings and his reward! ‘The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.’ Rom 8: 18. For a few tears, rivers of pleasure; for mourning, white robes. This made the primitive Christians laugh at imprisonments, and snatch up torments as so many crowns. Though now we drink in a wormwood-cup, there is sugar in the bottom to sweeten it. ‘It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.’

(2) Comfort in death. That which takes away from God’s children the terror of death, is that they are entering into the kingdom. No wonder if wicked men be appalled and terrified at the approach of death, for they die unpardoned. Death carries them to the jail, where they must lie for ever, without bail or deliverance; but why should any of God’s children be scared and half dead with the thoughts of death? What hurt can death do to them, but lead them to a glorious kingdom? Faith gives a title to heaven, death a possession. Let this be a gospel antidote to expel the fear of death. Hilarion, that blessed man, cried out, Egredere, anima, egredere, quid times? Go forth, my soul, go forth, what fearest thou? Let them fear death who do not fear sin; but let not God’s children be over much troubled at the grim face of that messenger, which brings them to the end of their sorrow, and the beginning of their joy. Death is yours, it is a part of the believer’s inventory. 1 Cor 3: 22. Is a prince afraid to cross a narrow sea, who shall be crowned when he comes to shore? Death to the saints shall be an usher to bring them into the presence of the King of glory. This thought puts lilies and roses into the ghastly face of death, and makes it look amiable. Death brings us to a crown of glory which fades not away. The day of death is better to a believer than the day of his birth. Death is aditus ad gloriam, an entrance into a blessed eternity. Fear not death, but rather let your hearts revive when you think these rattling wheels of death’s chariot are but to carry you home to an everlasting kingdom.

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Divine Contentment

(From Thomas Watson‘s The Art of Divine Contentment)

Epistle to the Reader

Christian Reader,

     Having seriously considered the great dishonor done to almighty God (as well as the prejudice which accrues to ourselves) by the sin of discontent (a universal and epidemic sin), it put me upon the study of this subject at first.  More is it incongruous to handle this next in order to “The Christian Charter) [reprinted by Soli Deo Gloria in The Sermons of Thomas Watson], I showed you there the great things which a believer has in reversion.  Things to come are his, and here behold a Christian’s holy and gracious deportment in this life, which reveals itself in nothing more eminently than in being content.

     Discontent is to the soul as a disease is to the body: it puts it out of temper and much hinders its regular and sublime motions heavenward.  Discontent is hereditary, and, no doubt, is much augmented by the many sad eclipses and changes that have fallen out of late in the political body, yet the disease is not to be excused because it is natural, but resisted because it is sinful.  That which should put us out of love with this sullen distemper is the contemplation of the beautiful queen of contentment.

     For my part, I do not know of any ornament in religion that more bespangles a Christian, or glitters in the eye of God and man more, than this of contentment.  Nor certainly is there anything wherein all the Christian virtues work more harmoniously or shine more transparently than in this orb.  Every grace acts its part here.  This is the true philosopher’s stone, which turns all into gold.  This is the curious enamel and embroidery of the heart, which makes Christ’s spouse all glorious within.  How should every Christian be ambitious to wear such a sparkling diamond!

     If there is a blessed life before we come to heaven, it is the contented life.  And why not be contented?  Why are you angry, and why is your countenance fallen?  Man, of all creatures, has the least cause to be discontented.  Can you deserve anything from God?  Does He owe you anything?  What if the scene were to turn and God put you under the blackrod?  Whereas He now uses a rod, He might use a scorpion.  He might as well damn you as whip you.  Why, then, are you discontented?  Why do you give way to this irrational and hurtful sin of discontent?  May the good Lord humble His own people for nourishing such a viper in their breast as not only cuts out the bowels of their comfort, but spits venom in the face of God Himself!

     Oh, Christian, if you are overspread with this fretting leprosy, you carry the man of sin about you, for you set yourself above God and act as if you were wiser than He, and would sassily prescribe to Him what condition is best for you!  Oh, this devil of discontent which, whenever it possesses a person, makes his heart a little hell!

     I know there will never be perfect contentment in this life.  Perfect pleasure is only at God’s right hand, yet we may begin here to tune our instrument before we play the sweet lesson of contentment exactly in heaven.  I should be glad if this little piece might be like Moses’ casting the tree into the waters, to make the bitter condition of life more sweet and pleasant to drink of.

    I have once more ventured to address the public.  I acknowledge this work to be homespun.  Some better hand might have made a more effective draft, but, having preached upon the subject, I was earnestly solicited by some of my hearers to publish it, and although it is not dressed in that rich attire of eloquence as it might have been, I am not about poetry or oratory, but divinity.  Nor is this intended for fancy, but practice.

     If I may herein do any service, or cast but a mite into the treasury of the church’s grace, I have my desire.  The end of our living is to live to God, and to lift up His name in the world.  May the Lord add an effectual blessing to this work and fasten it as a nail in a sure place.  May He, of His mercy, make it as spiritual medicine to purge the ill humor of discontent out of our hearts, so that a crown of honor may be set upon the head of religion, and the crystal streams of joy and peace ever run in our soul.  This is the prayer of him who is desirous to be a faithful orator for you at the throne of grace,

Thomas Watson

From my study at Stephens, Walbrook
May 5, 1653

The Art of Divinie Contentment
http://www.heritagebooks.org/the-art-of-divine-contentment/
or available online http://www.ccel.org/ccel/watson/contentment.html

This Old House of Prayer

Father, Son and Holy Spirit
In the morning hours, visit ~

Wake me with a gentle breeze,
Or however you may please.

Search my heart and know my thoughts;
Reveal to me what is of naught.

Remove that which you see as strange;
And by your own design, arrange ~

A place where you may sit and rest;
Where you may draw me to your breast.

Come and find a special place
Where You may dispense Your grace.

Stay ~ and at the noonday meal
Make me know You linger still.

Teach me of Your Holy Word ~
Of Your strength to undergird.

In my heart and in my mind
Write and hide that I may find.

All day long ~ into the twilight hour
Work in me indwelling power.

That I listen and hear your thoughts~
That I may love you as I ought.

Knowing that we both are blessed.
~ When You are Host, and I am guest.

(I wrote this poem after “meditating on my bed” in the early morning hours.   It was a blessing, as I have been concerned about my loss of memory recently; coupled with the study that our church is doing in Thomas Watson’s book The Great Gain of Godliness, Chapter 8 – The Godly Should Meditate on God’s Name. We are challenged to consider what and how often our thoughts are on God. My prayers are that whatever I forget, that I will never forget Him.)