Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment – Quote

What contentment is not opposed to

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1. It is not opposed to a due sense of affliction. God gives His people leave to be sensible of what they suffer. Christ does not say, “Do not count as a cross what is a cross”; He says, “Take up your cross daily” (Luke 9:23).

2. It is not opposed to making in an orderly manner our moan to God and to our friends.

3. It is not opposed to all lawful seeking for help in different circumstances, or to endeavoring simply to be delivered out of present afflictions by the use of lawful means—it is but my duty. God is thus far mercifully indulgent to our weakness, and He will not take it ill at our hands if by earnest and importunate prayer we seek Him for deliverance until we know His good pleasure in the matter. Certainly seeking thus for help with such submission and holy resignation of spirit to be delivered when God wills, as God wills, and how God wills — this is not opposed to the quietness that God requires in a contented spirit.

— Jeremiah Burroughs

Old and New

Normally, at the beginning of the year we ask ourselves, How can I get rid of the old and begin anew? What can I do differently in my life? Where do I need to go from here?

In the Bible we see a lot of places that talk about the old and new. We see that after salvation we are new creations in Christ and we are to put off the old man and put on the new man. We know that we need to put away the “leaven” out of our lives and follow the Lord. The old and new can be represented by either “old” is bad and “new” is good. Although sometimes “old” could be better than “new” if it’s in the way of wisdom.

As we go along further in our walk with the Lord things grow harder. These are times that we are to keep something that is old instead of replacing it with new. The things the Lord places in our path is always necessary and good but isn’t always new. Even in 2nd John, the writer tells us that it’s not as though a new commandment had been written but it was from the beginning.

When we fail a test placed before us then the Lord brings that situation back into our lives, not necessarily in the exact same way but close enough to the original situation that we almost have to say, “This seems to be a deja vu type situation. I already went through that so why am I going through it again?” Going through the same type situation doesn’t always mean that it’s about the same test, either, even though it could be.

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Our hearts tend to grow cold and distant towards the Lord when things go our way. We tend to want our will to be done not the Lord’s will. This, of course, isn’t unusual as it’s part of human nature. Doing our will instead of God’s will should, though, be unusual for a child of God. We each have sinful ways in our hearts and lives that have to be changed and conformed to the image of Christ. We are not exempt from both general suffering and discipline given us from the Lord when we follow our will.

However, going back to the old and new. The Lord guides our hearts in what we’ve learned in the past and builds on those areas at the present and future. Each thing we’ve learned is a grace the Lord has worked in and through us within each situation. We can either grow to be more like the Lord or stay stagnant, which eventually causes us to lose ground. This means the trial we go through will be even more difficult and we will need to work even harder on those areas we’ve lost.

On a more personal level, I find even in my own heart that the further I go in my walk with the Lord, the more dependent I need to be on the Lord. The example was made of a man being on an airplane about to go down. He was given a parachute and the other passengers, who didn’t have one, made fun of him. They tried every way they could to get him to take it off but it only caused him to cling tighter to the parachute knowing the plane was going down and that was the only way he would be saved. Friend, whoever you may be, if you are a true believer cling tight to the Lord through all your trials. Yes, this is a poor illustration but the idea is still the same. Do not let the things of this world allure you away from the Lord. Remember this “airplane” is going down and we should be more like the Lord today than yesterday and tomorrow more than today.

The question was asked, Where do I need to go from here? The answer is simple. Depend on the Lord, wait for Him to guide your path, follow His will no matter who deserts you, makes fun of you, persecutes you, or even tries to wheedle you into leaving the “parachute” behind, so to speak. No, we can’t leave the Lord as He has adopted His children into His family, but we can sure be like His disciples and deny Him or even follow the world for a time. May His grace, from everlasting to everlasting, be ever poured out into our hearts so we, His true children, will do His will always no matter what comes our way.

Being Thankful In Everything

One of the comments in response to my previous post shared another aspect of contentment that is vitally important in our lives. Robert kindly pointed out the aspect of being thankful in everything. Contentment is not just a matter of not fretting; although, it is important that we not fret when things don’t go our way. Contentment is also a matter of being thankful for what we have and what we don’t have.

We live in a culture of ungrateful people. You can help someone and never hear a thank you from them but end up being treated as if you caused them problems and they are entitled to what you gave them. This attitude permeates our culture but we, being true believers, should not have this attitude. When someone helps us out our very attitude should be gratefulness towards that person and we should let them know it. Even more importantly, we should be thanking the Lord that He moved their hearts in that direction.

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When the Lord takes something from us, we should be thankful for His loving ministrations. It is very possible we didn’t need whatever it was taken from us or not given to us. Maybe the thing we want will end up a stumbling block to us, maybe we will put that before the Lord in our worship, maybe we need to spend time with the Lord before He is willing to give us anything extra, and who knows what else could be the reason for Him to deny that specific thing to us. That is His peculiar knowledge that He may or may not reveal to us in time.

Charles Spurgeon was known to pray that if something he wanted was not good for him then he would rather the Lord keep it from him. This should be our desire, as well. Even the Lord prayed, not My will but Thine be done. Who are we to think that God has to give us something just because we demand it or deem it to be in our own best interests?

Contentment is not based on just one thing we receive or don’t receive in our lives. It is based on the whole of our lives. 1 Thess. 5:18 is very clear in that in everything we are to give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning us. It’s based on no matter what happens or doesn’t happen, whether things are good or bad, whether evil is being done to us or good is being done to us…let us thank the Lord for all things. Is this easy? No, of course not but it’s the will of God and, as true believers, we are responsible to obey God. We should do it joyfully not just because it’s our responsibility but even more so because we love Him and want to obey Him in everything.

Wherever the Lord has placed us, let us be content in whatever situation we are and with whatever He deems necessary in our lives. Let us give ourselves wholly to being “content with such things as we have because He said, I will never leave you nor forsake you (Heb. 13:5).”

Dump Them Both

I have lived almost half a century. Being both a US citizen and a British subject, I can say that I have seen my share of politics. I have seen the games, heard the lies, and watched the vitriol fly. This current election in the USA must be the worse I have ever seen. We are a laughingstock among the nations of the world, many of whom have no fear of us as a nation. More importantly, they have no respect for us because our leaders (and potential wanna-be leaders) have no respect for the laws of this land.

America used to be a very great nation. We are the nation that was silent for the first 3 years of The Great War, also known as World War I. Finally joining in, the men of this nation answered the call to arms and routed the enemies of freedom. That was ALL that was fought for.

The same thing occurred in World War II when the greatest generation of Americans who have ever lived rose up and resoundingly thrashed the enemies of freedom on two fronts (Europe and Asia). We asked for nothing, but gave much. After all was said and done, we sent more of men and women to former war fronts and America rebuilt those nations one brick at a time. We even paid for it with grants, many of which have still not been repaid.

The men and women who gave their lives in the theaters of war followed their orders so that we might have the freedoms we enjoy today.

Sadly, I never thought, and I am sure our Founding Fathers, nor those veterans of war from World War II on, could have thought or imagined that our nation would be allowed to flounder like a fish out of water. To think that the choices for President and Commander-in-Chief is down to the vulgar, trash-talking, debauched candidate on one side and a feminist, God-hating, traitor on the other side is just enough to make anybody with half an ounce of common sense want to vomit – violently!

However, there is something even worse than what we are seeing today. Our nation has become a nation that panders to evil. It calls good to be evil, and evil to be good. Our nation has become a culture that thinks it is entitled. It thinks it is entitled to disrespect the American flag while being paid millions of dollars. Sadly, most of the people who complain about this are the same ones who will still pay hundreds of dollars at sporting events every single week and thus support and endorse what is taking place.

Our society believes that is must speak from the pocketbook because after all, “it’s about the economy, stupid!” When will we ever learn? Obviously, it is true that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. This once great nation is repeating history. History shows that Rome was NOT destroyed by her enemies. She was destroyed from within. Rome thought she was entitled to what she had. Ultimately, she was destroyed because she forgot the reason she existed was because of God and God alone.

Not only is our society at large a problem, but even the evangelical church is a problem. We have people fighting back and forth across the aisles of Facebook, Twitter, and even church itself trying to decide why and which of the lesser of two great, monstrous evils to vote for!

Seriously?? Let’s put this into perspective.

Let’s assume in a few years that the choice is down to a president who promises that he or she will only kill 10 Christians per day versus a president who promises that he or she will only kill just one (1) Christian per day. Are our only choices really to vote for the lesser of these two evils? The cries are growing louder and I can hear some saying, “Oh, that would never happen!”

May I remind you that we can easily substitute the word “Christian” in the above sentence and replace it with “baby” or “infant.” We end up with the same solution. We soothe our conscience by declaring that we are only voting for the president who “promises to only kill just one (1) baby a day” on his watch instead of standing for what is right.

You can argue all you want while using the illustrations of Joseph being second in command in Egypt, and Daniel being third in command in all of Babylon. Those two men were NOT voted in to their office. They were placed strategically, specifically, and sovereignly in those places of power by none other than God for a specific purpose.

The Christians of Rome had no option to “vote” for the lesser of two evil Caesars. They would NEVER have been told by the apostles to “vote your conscience” or “vote for the lesser of two evils and hope for the best.” Utter ridiculousness! They were commanded to obey the laws of the land, to remember who was in control, to pray for the leaders of the land, to watch for the Lord’s return, and to pray without ceasing.

Today, we have many who are not only self-acclaimed evangelicals, but even claim that they believe in the sovereign hand of God. They then turn around and think that the entire picture puzzle rests upon their feeble shoulders of clay. They declare that God is in control, but refuse to believe Psalm 2 that reminds us that God sits in the heavens and LAUGHS at the wicked. The wicked say, “Let us break their bands asunder” but God holds them in derision.

Today, our churches rarely pray and are certainly not watching and hoping for the return of the Lord. Our churches are more concerned about keeping the peace between rival factions in the congregation instead of saying, “Thus says the Lord…the wicked shall not prosper!”

In the meantime, having cast aside the belief in the sovereignty of God, we have become more and more pragmatic in our belief system. We justify the killing of only one baby a day because “maybe God will take this candidate out of the picture after he becomes president so that we can be blessed with the second person in charge” and America will truly become a Christian nation again. Our pastors and churches have accepted the handouts of the government and thus have been lulled into silence for the sake of a few dollars saved on church supplies at the local office supply store.

I would be a fool to encourage our readers to follow their heart. Your heart and mine cannot be trusted. Jeremiah 17:9 makes this very clear, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

Both candidates are simply two sides of the same coin. They both endorse the murder of helpless babies and support the abomination of the homosexual movement. Evil is still evil and will always be evil. Please spare me the details of how “a vote thrown away is a vote for ______” or “if you don’t vote, you are not obeying your civic duty and thus in sin!”

No, no, no, and NO!!!!!!

I want to hear more pastors, Bible teachers, and evangelists crying out to God like Nehemiah to forgive their sins, the sins of their homes, and the sins of this nation. I want to hear more who will be willing, even as a top official, to pray for what is right and true, even if it means that you get thrown to the lions. I want to hear more cry for mercy for the tragedy that has befallen this nation, and plead to God asking, “How long, O Lord, will the wicked prosper?”

The truth is that if those who claimed the name of Christ were willing to cease being pragmatic in their approach to life and realize that the Scriptures are good for all that pertains to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), then we would become a voice crying in the wilderness, “Make straight your paths for the King is coming.”

With all the arguments that have been bandied about as to who we should or should not vote for, I am truly appalled at the lack of integrity that is seen in every quarter. I am appalled at the emotions that are in play instead of the Scriptures. I am appalled at the reality that many who say they love the Lord and believe He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords live as though the rise and fall of America depends on them casting a vote for the lesser of two evils!

I have no right to tell you to vote for either candidate. Americans, by the law of the land, have been given the liberty and the choice to make as to what they will do in this election and every election after this.

Those who claim the name of Christ though have a much higher calling. We are not called to obey our emotions. We are not called to vote with our pocketbooks. We are called to be ambassadors of the King of Kings, and I have to wonder how many in the world look on us with disdain because we have fallen hard and fast away from the truths we claim to hold dear.

As a true believer in the sovereignty of God and the dictates of Scripture, I personally cannot and will not vote for either candidate. I will not violate my conscience in order to pacify my emotions. Finally, I choose not to vote ultimately because to do so means that I must practice situational ethics in order to justify either choice.

Like Joshua of old said, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!” We will wake up on November 6th giving thanks that we are one day closer to the return of the Lord. We will be able to sleep well at night knowing that we did not approve of one single candidate who stands daily to mock the Most High God. We will wake up knowing that no matter who will be the next president that our God still reigns and He ALONE puts up one and puts down another.

He alone can make our next Nebuchadnezzar to eat grass like a cow until he lifts up his eyes and praises the Most High God, and He alone can choose to feed the next Herod literally to the worms!

In conclusion, our readers have choices to make as well. My prayer is that each of you will pray about how you can make the right decisions that are in line with the Word of God. There should be and can be no other rule by which you decide your paths. Ultimately, we will each give account before God for the decision we choose to make, but we will not have the liberty to say that we loved what God hates because it was the better of all the other options.

Pass Me Not

Pass me not, O gentle Savior
Hear my humble cry
While on others Thou art calling
Do not pass me by

As I sing this song this evening, I have a picture of Bartimaeus sitting by the side of the road crying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on me!” It is so rare that I hear that kind of desperation in people’s prayers today. Especially when praying for others, I tend to hear monotone prayers, with words such as “Lord, be with _____ as he (or she) goes through surgery,” “Save _____,” “Be with us this coming week,” etc. Rarely do I hear people literally crying out to God, “Please save my loved ones. Don’t let them perish. Show me if there is anything I can do or say to help them find you.” Prayer should be more than a daily or weekly ritual; it should be a time when we enter God’s presence and present our petitions, knowing that He hears and expecting that He will answer as we pray in accordance with His will.

There are times I pray for a loved one, and I am not sure what God’s will is. This is especially true when a friend has a terminal sickness. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God can heal, even from Stage 4 cancer, but I also know He often doesn’t. During these times, I will still pray for healing until I am convinced that that is not His will. Then I pray for strength for the family to walk through the difficult time ahead.

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God is not obligated to answer every prayer. I know that. But He has told me to ask, so ask I do. And I ask in faith, knowing that He hears me and that He will do what’s best for me and my loved ones.

Right now, I have a friend who deals with a lot of pain and sleepless nights. I am praying for His healing but I also know that God’s strength is made perfect through weakness. If God chooses not to heal my friend, He will use the pain to make my friend stronger and draw my friend closer to Him. Although we often refuse to look at it this way, pain with God close by is far better than a youthful body that lives apart from God.

In closing tonight, I just want to remind you that Jesus is very near. Present your needs to Him as if He is sitting or standing beside you, because He is. Then, when you’ve presented your requests, take some time to listen. At the very least, you may feel His peace and His presence, but you might even hear His voice as He speaks comfort or gives you direction. Then be sure to thank Him for not passing you by. He is such a good God. I’m so thankful to know Him.

Are You Really Living?

The sermon this morning was on Philippians 1:21: “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” As I listened to the message, I wondered how many Christians truly think about that. So many go through life just existing, getting through life because they have to, so they miss the eternal purpose that God created them for. The fact is that God allowed everyone on earth to be born for a purpose. Sadly, few really fulfill that purpose.

Although it’s necessary to work to pay our bills, there is a reason God has you at your job. Your family may be hard to get along with but there is a purpose for you being a part of that family. Nothing happens by accident. Maybe the purpose is simply so that God can draw you closer to Himself. Maybe it is so that you can be a Light to people who need some hope. Whatever the reason, it is not a small thing.

If you’ve read my writings for any length of time, you know that I struggle … more than I should really. God has been so good to me and has made it very clear that He plans to use me, but it’s easy to lose sight of that. How it must grieve Him, though. It is such an honor to be called by the Almighty God, who can change a life or a situation with just a word and yet, often, He chooses to use an imperfect human and entrust us with tasks that He could better do Himself.

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Maybe you are struggling to figure out what your purpose is. Let me just encourage you that you have one. I can’t tell you why God hasn’t revealed it to you but I will tell you that, if you stay close to Him, willing to surrender everything that He asks of you, He will direct you if you listen. The second step to that is being willing to obey. Sometimes I think we are convinced God isn’t speaking when the truth is that we don’t like what He is saying and so we stop our ears and convince ourselves that the voice we’re hearing can’t be God. I agree that it’s important to know that you are hearing God’s voice before you step out to do the impossible but, if you aren’t willing to step out in faith when He asks you to, you will miss so much that God has for you.

I hope you will take some time today to examine your life and ask yourself: Are you living or just existing? Are you walking through life full of joy, knowing that your Father walks with you, or are you barely getting through each day, living for the weekend when you can unplug from your daily tasks?

Ask God to fill your heart with more of Him so that it is no longer you that lives but Christ who lives in you. As you open your heart to Him, you will begin to see through His eyes and will find that satisfaction that your heart longs for.

Praying in Jesus’ Name

And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13).

Many use this verse as a way to convince God that He must answer their prayers since they are praying in Jesus’ Name but Scripture is very clear that, if we pray according to His will, He hears us (1 John 5:14).

God is not obligated to answer every selfish prayer we pray but, as we draw closer to Him, our desire to please Him grows, and that is when our prayers our answered because they are finally in line with His will.

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There are some things that we can pray without wondering if it’s His will. For instance, God’s Word says that He is not willing that any should perish but instead desires that all come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Therefore, we can, in faith, pray for the salvation of our loved ones.

There are times when I feel like it is God’s will to heal a friend or family member. I will then pray wholeheartedly for their healing. Sometimes, even if I’m not sure what God is doing in a person’s life, I will pray for their healing, trusting God to have mercy and hear my plea but knowing that, if He chooses not to answer in the way I desire, He has a greater plan. Faith goes beyond believing my prayer will be answered; it is knowing that God knows what is best and trusting that He is still at work even when I don’t understand.

I have seen God’s hand at work so many times so I suppose it is pretty easy for me to trust the Lord. In spite of what some believe, God still saves, He still heals, He still cares. I don’t know about tomorrow but I know who holds my hand.