“…contentment is a choice.”

quietplaceFrom The Quiet Place: Daily Devotional Readings by Nancy Leigh DeMoss:

Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” — Luke 1:38

I have come to believe that we can manage to acquire just about anything that we’re determined to have. If we want to be married badly enough, we can find someone who will marry us. If an unhappy spouse wants to get out of marriage badly enough, he or she can get out. If we want a newer model car or a college education, we can take out a loan.

But we need to be reminded of how dangerous it is to insist that God give us our own will. In fact, one of my fears is that God will give me everything I want! The history of the Israelites is a vivid reminder that when God gives us what we demand, we may also get “leanness” of soul to go along with it (Ps. 106:15 NKJV).

Over the years, I have grown to realize that contentment is a choice. True joy is not the result of having everything I want, but of gratefully receiving exactly what God has given me. The enemy has robbed many of us of our joy by getting us to live in that foolish realm of “if only.”

“If only I had a husband.” “If only I didn’t have a husband!” “If only we had children.” “If only we didn’t have so many children.” “If only I had a different job.” “If only I lived in a different place.” “If only I could own a home.” “If only our winters weren’t so long…”

The fact is, if we are not content with what we have, we will never be content with what we think we want. The key to joyous living is to embrace the will of God and to receive with gratitude the gifts He chooses to give us in each season of life.

Can you identify any areas of discontent that may have been robbing you of the ability to fully enjoy what God has given you?

just a quick thought

I’d like to write more on this later, but this will have to do for now. As I read Scripture I can’t help but notice how real evil is. (And honestly, I can’t help but see it in real life, in the macro and micro.) Many professing Christians today (and some I actually know) dismiss evil, and even hell, as real. That’s because of our tendency in this age to believe that making judgments on behavior is wrong (“Who am I to judge?”). And this puzzles me because Scripture just doesn’t support those beliefs. Just about everywhere I turn in Scripture evil is a real presence. It is a reality in this world, this side of Heaven. The psalmists certainly understood this. And yesterday I read this in Proverbs 8:

I, wisdom, dwell with prudence,
and I find knowledge and discretion.
The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil.
Pride and arrogance and the way of evil
and perverted speech I hate.

The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. That’s really not how we Christians talk or act, is it? So many believe that hatred of anything is a sin. And if you won’t call any behavior or desire evil — if you won’t dare to make a judgment, you certainly can’t hate it. And if we don’t hate evil, I don’t see how we can really *love* people. For example, if some evil act is done to your children, and you won’t acknowledge it or dare to judge it as evil, you aren’t truly loving your children.

Evil is real.

Wisdom hates evil — the evil in the acts and desires of others and the evil in our own hearts.

That’s what God’s Word says, and if we don’t believe it, *we* have some adjustments to make. Instead, so often, we want to adjust God’s Word to fit our own preferences. But therein lies trouble…and evil.

Just thinking out loud,

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“The choice before you and me today is this…”

quietplace

I’ve had some extra time with the Lord on this quiet Saturday morning, and He is making Himself clear. As I’ve prayed through today’s reading in Handbook to Prayer (I’ll share more about this little gem one of these days.), I’ve been reminded once again of Philippians 4:6-7 and the command to turn over my worries to God and to THANK Him. I don’t know why I have to be reminded of this so often, and I wish I could master it, but at the same time I’m thankful that God cares enough about me to continue to remind me and encourage me. He doesn’t give up. He is faithful.

As I turned to where I left off in  The Quiet Place: Daily Devotional Readings by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, I found this:

I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. — Psalm 34:1

The choice before you and me today is this: Do we only give God glory for the parts of our lives that are going the way we want? Or do we worship Him, trust Him, and give Him thanks just because He is God, regardless of the dark, painful, incomprehensible places we encounter along our journey?

Look, it’s a sacrifice either way. If we go on without gratitude, choosing to be bitter, bemoaning our fate, we force ourselves to live in these already unhappy conditions with the added drag of our gloomy disposition. We sacrifice peace; we sacrifice contentment; we sacrifice freedom and grace and joy. But what if we could maintain all these things — and even increase them beyond anything we’ve ever experienced — by making just one sacrifice: the sacrifice of thanksgiving?

If you must go through what you’re facing now anyway (should God choose not to lift it from you miraculously, which He can always do and for which you may certainly pray), why make it even worse by withdrawing from His grace and fellowship, enduring life on the raw edge without relying on Him for help? Be it disappointment, be it physical suffering, be it mental and relational anguish, why not see what could happen if you let your pain drive you to His side?

Yes, to give thanks in all things may require a sacrifice. And no, it may not change your situation, perhaps not even a little. But it will put you in the only position possible for experiencing everything God desires for you throughout this hard stretch of life. That’s the promise of gratitude.

~~~It may feel a bit insincere to give thanks under certain circumstances, perhaps even manipulative. But we counsel and train our hearts by such steps of obedience. Offer the sacrifice of thanks, and let God’s truth lift and sustain your spirit.

I love my God who cares enough about me to communicate clearly to me. I don’t have to guess about His will. He wants me to pray and give thanks in all situations. And He wants this for me because He knows it’s the best thing for me.

And for you!

Thankful,
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“You have a reason for living this day…”

quietplaceFrom The Quiet Place: Daily Devotional Readings by Nancy Leigh DeMoss:

God’s goal in saving you was not just to make your few years on earth more enjoyable. He had an eternal end in view. His intent was to make you holy, as He is holy, that you might perfectly glorify Him, bring Him pleasure, and enjoy intimate fellowship with Him for all eternity. That is why He chose you — nothing less!

So from the moment you set your feet on the floor each morning, till the moment you lay your head on the pillow at night, don’t lose sight of this grand purpose of the ages. You have a reason for living this day; you have an eternal destiny. With both eyes set on pleasing Christ, let Him sanctify you by His grace.

“…His Word is our sanity.”

quietplaceFrom The Quiet Place: Daily Devotional Readings by Nancy Leigh DeMoss:

Both we and the generations coming behind us must endure a world that is often dark and distressing. We are confronted by challenges that seem to leave no other option than worry and panic. But His Word is our sanity. It is what keeps us from losing our equilibrium when all around us appears to be spinning out of control. It tethers us to truth, mentally and emotionally, protecting our minds, and reorienting our perspectives.

Store up God’s Word in your heart. Memorize it; meditate on it; allow the Spirit of God to personalize it to your life. And be continually renewed as God uses it to transform you into the likeness of Christ.

If you’re not already in the habit of memorizing Scripture, select one verse to memorize and meditate on this week. Watch how God brings it to bear on your current circumstances.

I’m taking her counsel to heart and will be meditating on Psalm 116:7 today — “Return , O my soul to your rest; for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.”

“…win the first battle of the day by knowing where the true battlefield is.”

quietplaceFrom The Quiet Place: Daily Devotional Readings by Nancy Leigh DeMoss:

…by the time you get up in the morning, an unseen battle has already been raging for hours in the heavenlies. Within the mystery of God’s sovereignty, He has given the forces of hell the temporary right to contend with Him and His own. And you as His child start each day in the crossfire of this cosmic duel.

On the face of things, it may only seem like a lack of desire to spend time alone with the Lord in prayer and His Word. It may feel like the press of the day’s upcoming schedule, disturbing your thoughts before your feet hit the floor. It may sound like the typical morning review of ongoing issues with your marriage, your children, your job, your general life situation.

What it may not seem like is what it actually is: the presence, activity, and involvement of Satan’s forces, drawing you away from God, wrestling you back down into fear, doubt, discouragement, and sinful reactions.

So stand to your feet. Recognize the real enemy. Invite your victorious Lord into this challenge. And win the first battle of the day by knowing where the true battlefield is. Consciously take your place within the ranks of the One before whom even hell’s most defiant warriors must ultimately concede defeat.

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What would change in your approach if you remembered that the real enemy is not the people, things, and circumstances in your life?

“…Jesus Christ does not say to you,’I told you so.’…”

proverbs wisdomFrom Ray Ortlund’s Proverbs: Wisdom That Works

If you have had your bellyful of sin and you feel wounded and it seems like nobody cares anymore and your heart is broken because you are experiencing the bitter aftertaste of death, Jesus Christ does not say to you, “I told you so.” He says, “Come to me, and I will give you rest.” There is nothing degrading or shaming in Christ. If we will come to him, he accepts us as we are, he loves us into obedience, and we find by experience that obeying him really is the path of life.

Turn

proverbs wisdomFrom Ray Ortlund’s Proverbs: Wisdom That Works

“If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you.” (Proverbs 1:23) The Lord is saying, “Sometimes I’ll disagree with you, I’ll correct you, I’ll rebuke you. I don’t work with perfect people. I work with responsive people. Here is the response I’m looking for: turn.” That word “turn” is the most important word in the bible for repentance. It is not a sentimental word. It is a decisive word.