Defeating Discontentment

Today’s Readings Exodus 35-37, Psalm 96, Philippians 4

There are so many things that grab our attention daily.  The world has so many things that can make us discontent.  The newer version of a car, the newest style of clothes, a new job, an upgraded look to match the TV, new friends, a new car, or a different significant other.  Just about all we see daily can leave us in a discontented state. Discontent can take your joy and bring you anxiety, leading to fear.

It’s hard to find people who are content with where they are.  ( I know I suffer myself.)

Know that the human heart cannot be satisfied without God.

Philippians 4:1, “Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved. I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

Paul is in jail, on death row…still, he is content.

In verse 11 Paul  is saying, “I’m satisfied, I have enough.” And saying you have enough is saying, “God, I am content with what You’re now doing in my life.” In other words, it’s really an act of worship to be content. You are bowing before the Lord and saying,

The familiar words of Psalm 23 begin this way: “The Lord,” or, “Yahweh is my shepherd, I shall not want.” A satisfied heart should be the experience of every believer because God promises to satisfy us with everything we need.

May we shine as lights by being content with God’s plan today and in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why?

Today’s Reading: Exodus 4-6, Galatians 6

Why? I’ve asked this question often.  I’ve asked it of others, and I’ve asked it of God.  In recent struggles, I’ve asked it again and again. In today’s reading of Exodus, Moses struggled with various things.  I thought of insecurity as I read Exodus 4.  I could relate to times of inadequacy.  Moses had said, ”  “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?” Of course, the Lord answered and told Moses ways to move forward.   Then, in Exodus 5, Moses felt like he and Aaron had struggled to get the message from the Lord across to Pharaoh.  Moses then asks the question in Exodus 5:22, “Why, Lord, did you bring trouble on these people?” 

Why? How many times have you asked Why?  As I mentioned earlier, I recently cried this word to God.

Moses prayed, “Why, Lord, have you brought trouble?” in Exodus 5:22

Joshua cried, “Why did you ever bring these people across the Jordan?” in Joshua 7:7

Gideon cried, “Why has all this happened to us?” in Judges 6:13

Nehemiah asked, “Why is the house of God neglected?” in Nehemiah 13:11

A Psalmist wrote, “Why, Lord, do you stand so far off?” in Psalm 10:1

David prayed, “Why are you so far from saving me?” in Psalm 22:1

Jesus cried out, “Why have you forsaken me?” in Matthew 27:46

I don’t understand. I pray for this trust daily.  Not a sparrow falls from the sky without Him seeing it. (Matthew 10:29) I have to remember and trust that there is no problem in my life that God does not know about. Even though I may not understand…I can trust that God is in control and will work all things out based on His desires, not mine.

Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan. Ephesians 1:11

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

One of Billy Graham’s daughters, Anne Graham Lotz, wrote, “Life is about more than temporary safety, health, happiness, and prosperity. It’s about a relationship with Him that transcends those things. He never, ever has promised to protect us from suffering, pain, and death.  But He has promised to be with us and bring us through…when we place our faith in Him.”

So when you ask, Why – today…trust His love He has for you and the plan He has for you.

The Great Command

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[e] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.

The greatest commandment.  Let’s go! We got this right.  It seems pretty simple: Love God! How am I doing, though?  How are you? I love Him, but do I truly believe, think, act, trust, and follow?

Let’s break it down a little and chew on it.

Love = Love with all my heart.  I think of things I love.  My wife, kids, family. Those whom I felt I needed to lay my life on the line for.  Do anything for the person.  John 15:13 2 Thessalonians 3:5

May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.

Soul = my consciousness, desires, and emotions.  Are my thoughts thinking about His promises? Do my desires of Him wake me up, keep me engaged, and allow me to lie down at night with a peace that only He can provide?  Psalm 62:1  Jeremiah 29:13

Truly, my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. 

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Mind = Where do my brain and thoughts go throughout the day? How do I remain inspired as the world attempts to pull us in different directions?  Can I remain less distracted?

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” Psalm 139:23-24

Strength = Hah! What I have left, can I give it to Him? When the body wants to shut down or not get out of bed, can I keep myself going to praise Him another day?  Raise our arms as we praise, dropping to my knees as I pray.  With whatever we have, can we give it all for His glory?

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

The greatest commandment.  How can we all grow more obedient today? This year? Till He returns or He calls us home?

 

 

Happy New Year!

Today’s Reading: Genesis 19-20 & Mark 2

I have found myself sick the last two years around New Year’s.  It’s no fun because of the impact on plans and the added responsibilities in our household. In the midst of feeling under the weather, I connected with the story told in Mark 2.

When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”

Maybe it’s a sickness? Maybe it’s a decision to be made? Maybe you have sinned and are letting the sin sit in the back of your mind.  Take it all to God this year.  Repent, pray, and trust. Praying for our faith to be stronger than ever.

Eternal Hope

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” ~ John 3:16

Yesterday, our house was up early, excited to see what was under the tree.  The joy of specific gifts made me smile as Mom and Dad sat back with their coffee in hand.

As we turn the page on a day we celebrate worldwide, I pray for us to find daily moments to remember His birth.  The birth of Jesus was not only about a baby being born in the manger but also a plan that God had the whole time for a savior to come to save us from the ways and life He knew we would live. In between the returns, vacations, and excitement of new gifts. His birth provided me a transformation from a life once lived to an eternal life we are promised.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

Jesus was willing to do what God asked. He was willing to make the sacrifice.  Christmas is a great time to remember the birth and the sacrifice.  Jesus came to do everything necessary to guide, sustain, and protect us until eternity with Him is our final home.

Celebrate that today!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Ready…Wrestle

The job promotion we thought we should have received.  The argument that left you saying and doing things that you later regret. The loss of a loved one that came out of nowhere. The diagnosis of a medical condition that alters the life you were used to. The betrayal of a friend whom you had trusted. The expectations were set on a holiday season that didn’t go according to plan.

Job’s story helps us look and think about our human sufferings and how we can remain faithful in the midst of suffering.  Job was going through tremendous suffering. He had lost everything he thought was dear to his life. He didn’t know the answers to why he was suffering, and the advice shared by friends was a mixture of truth and error, providing no answers and intensifying his pain.

Job 17:15 where then is my hope— who can see any hope for me?

How about you? Any suffering? Are any questions not answered causing more physical or mental anguish? I can confess I have had and currently struggle and will probably run into something new tomorrow.

I know my suffering is not comparable right now to what Job endured. Yet even in these times of pain, frustration, and loss, Job never gave in.  After being encouraged to throw in the towel, he fought back.

I wrestled in HS and college.  Throughout those years, the tougher competition in practice and during a wrestling meet made me better.  The more challenging competition helped me to train harder, be more intentional in my preparation, and challenged me to have more grit. Job wrestled with God.  Jacob fought with an angel of the Lord all night. (Genesis 32:24-30) Peter argued with God. Acts 10:9-16) Job dug deep and asked hard questions, prayed with purpose, repented his sins, and never let the world talk him into giving up.  The world wants us to give up. God wants us to grow.  He gives us these moments of fear, pain, questioning, and doubt, not to give in but to wrestle.  To grow in our spiritual walk.  This wrestling can help me grow from a less mature understanding of God than before.

In the end, Job, even though he suffered much, trusted God to rescue him. Will I? Will you?

Job 19: 25-26  I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth.  26. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God.

Today’s Reading: Job 15-17 & Revelation 14

Holy, Holy, Holy

Today’s Readings: Ezra 7-10, Psalm 97, Revelation 4

In today’s reading of Revelation 4, John shares the worship that takes place to our God, who is on His throne. John shares the voices heard and the praise of a Heavenly Choir singing glorious praise to the only one who deserves it all.

Regardless of what comes upon us regarding tests and trials, as Christians, we know that our final outcome will be in the presence of this throne.  If you believe, all places will lead to His Eternal Kingdom.  Will you take a moment to repeat this praise to Our Heavenly Father?

8 “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
who was and is and is to come!”

11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.”

Heavenly Fathe,- coming off Thanksgiving and having these special moments to praise you are the best part of my day.  Lord, help us to focus more on You and less on ourselves. Let us know that this life and everything that happens daily come from you. Lor,d help us realize that everything we have is on loan and will one day be back in Your presence.  You are worthy of our best every moment.  Help us to give You that.  Amen

 

 

The Righteous Palm

Today’s Readings: Ezra 3-4, Psalm 92, 1 John 1

12 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
13 planted in the house of the Lord,
they will flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They will still bear fruit in old age,
they will stay fresh and green,
15 proclaiming, “The Lord is upright;
he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”

In reading the verses for today, I paused when I got to Psalm 92. I started to think about the warm beach and loved the connections the writer of Psalm made to palm trees. Palm trees have a very distinct root system compared to other trees.  They have a fibrous root system.  Palm trees are known for their long life. Flourishing for a palm tree would mean to live long. Palm trees can even bend 40 to 50 degrees without snapping and withstand hurricane-force winds. The cedars of Lebanon grew to 120 feet and up to 30 feet in circumference.  Cedars are solid, strong, and immovable.  These verses let us know that as believers, we will stay upright, firm, and immovable despite the winds of our circumstances.

Jesus warns us that those without strong roots are easily shaken by trials and fall away (Matthew 13:5-6, 20-21). Without strong roots, a Christian cannot endure the storms of life.  The righteous, in contrast, are not easily shaken.

Where are your circumstances right now? Do you feel the breeze blowing? If you are going through your own storm right now, first know that God is with you. If you hold true to His promises, He wants us to come through stronger than before and ready to flourish. Stay strong, keep your faith firmly in God.

Lord, thank you for making me strong in You. I pray that whatever happens around us helps us remain strong.  We ask that in the storms that will come, we use them to help us grow.  You are working in and through our storms. Thank you, Lord, for keeping our mind and heart focused on You.  Amen

 

Undivided Heart

Today’s Readings: Ezekial 34-36, Psalm 86, John 12

11 Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.
12  I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. 13  For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths, from the realm of the dead.

Do you remember what it was like to feel dead?  Have you ever experienced moments where you felt useless, lost, or confused? I have.

David’s prayer on today’s readings was a prayer I’ve prayed for many nights, days, and moments when I’m seeking direction. This prayer is one I pray today. His Word can take a divided heart and mind and point you in a direction where you can find hope, peace, and truth.  Every day, I try to remember to invite the Lord into the moments I open His Word.  I ask Him to show me all I need to hear, all I need to know to take my heart that can feel divided towards my desires and help me understand, believe, and obey.

I seek God to answer my anxious thoughts, prayers, and struggles. I’ve realized the closer I grow to Him and the more I seek Him, the more I have less of a divided heart. Teach me and unite my heart.  Cast your worries on Him and choose to be thankful. Lord, I pray You will help us walk in Your truth and Fear Thy Name. No matter how close we are to our Lord, we can always ask Him for ways to increase our awareness and improve our obedience.  Lord, help me always to know You will provide and are the source of my hope and joy. Will you commit this prayer to memory with me?

 

 

Heavenly Hope

Today’s Readings: Ezekiel 4-6, Psalm 82, John 2 

Ezekial 6 

10 And they will know that I am the Lord; I did not threaten in vain to bring this calamity on them.

The phrase “and they will know that I am the Lord” occurs 65 times in the book of Ezekial.  The Lord doesn’t say this to show His ability to get revenge but to impress upon the people that the Lord is the only true Living God. Many people in Ezekials day were worshipping man-made idols and calling them gods. Today, I could say that we all have many idols that can preoccupy and take our focus away from our faithful God, who determines our eternity.  As I reflect on the difficulties I have caused, I think about how I placed other small gods before the source of my eternal life and love.  

Even as we read in John 2 today towards the end of the chapter, Jesus knows we ride the struggle bus daily. That our human nature falls short.  In this life, some will have a superficial faith.  In times of joy, we sing praise, while we can seem lost in the trials.  

24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. 25 He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.

 

Heavenly Father, I pray we stay focused on you through it all.  Lord, help us remain strong and connected to you as the worldly idols pull at human hearts and minds. Lord, we can not do this life without You.  There is nothing more important in our life than you.  Thank you, Lord, for sharing Your Word that keeps us grounded and reminds us that there are no idols on this Earth that will fulfill our longing in our hearts besides Your love and grace.  ~ Amen