Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Contentment in All Circumstances

Chuckle:  "Most people gain weight by having intimate dinners for two -- alone." 

Quote:  "Sweet are the thoughts that savour of content; The quiet mind is richer than a crown."  --Robert Greene


     ". . . . for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. . . . I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength"  (Philippians 4:11-12 NIV).

Two little teardrops were floating down the river of life.  One asked the other, "Who are you?"  "I'm a teardrop from a girl who loved a man and lost him.  But who are you?"  The first teardrop replied, "I'm a teardrop from the girl who got him!"  Life is like that.  We cry for things we can't have, but we might cry twice as hard if we had received them.  Jesus spoke often of qualities that produce contentment and peace.  Are you content with your life?  Do others think of you when they name contented people? 

I am convinced that it is a greater challenge to be content while having much and using it properly with a Christ-like spirit, than it is while having little.  Often it seems that the more we have, the more we want -- never quite satisfied or content.  Notice that Paul said, "I have learned the secret of being content."  Contentment is not a trait that comes to us naturally -- it is a supernatural condition available to the Christian who has learned its secret. 

Learning to be content is a process which takes time.  You can't expect to master skiing or golf the first time you try.  You must learn.  Paul said he had learned to be content even while in prison chains.  His  contentment did not depend on external circumstances.  In 2 Corinthians 11:24-27, he noted the terrible circumstances in which he learned how to be content.  His tutor was the "God of peace."

Contentment doesn't mean you necessarily like your circumstances -- it means you have confidence that God is involved with you in them.  It's the surrender of yourself  into his care.  We have to accept the fact that God is in control not us.  We must move from "my timing, my way, my outcome" to "God's timing, God's way, God's  outcome."  It's all about Christ.  With Christ we can learn to say, "I can do everything (including being content) through Christ who gives me strength."  It is Christ's power that lets us to rise above our worrisome, frustrating circumstances and say, "It is well with my soul."

"A story is told of a king who was suffering from a mysterious ailment and was advised by his astrologer that he would be cured if the shirt of a contented man was brought for him to wear.  People went out to all parts of the kingdom looking for such a person, and after a long search they found a man who was really happy.  But he did not have a shirt." 

Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Listening For God's Voice

Chuckle:  "The toughest part of a diet isn't watching what you eat.  It's watching what other people eat."

Quote:  “I think that if ever a mortal heard the voice of God it would be in a garden at the cool of the day.”  --F. Frankfort Moore


    "When he (shepherd) has brought out all his own (sheep), he goes ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice" (John 10:4 NIV). 

Many have a problem with the concept of hearing the voice of God.  One can be branded as strange if he claims to have heard God's voice.  I heard a pastor present a wonderful message on this subject, and I will share some of his thoughts, as well as my own, to hopefully shed some light on the subject. 

First:  It is possible to hear God's voice.  In our first passage, Jesus uses the analogy of a shepherd and his sheep to make a point about our relationship to Him, the Good Shepherd.  His sheep (followers) know Him and they recognize His voice. "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me" (vs. 27).  Some lyrics from the old hymn, "In The Garden," come to mind.  ". . . and he walks with me and he talks with me, and he tells me I am his own.  And the voice I hear falling on my ear none other has ever known."  Yes, it is possible to hear God's voice.  And we should keep in mind that God speaks to us in various ways: His Word, prayer, life's circumstances, and other people. 

Second:  It is normal to hear God's voice.  In John 15:15 NIV, Jesus refers to His followers as "friends." "I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business.  Instead, I have called you friends, for everything I have learned from my Father I have made known to you."  What is more normal than a conversation with friends and family -- to let them hear your voice?  As believers, we are the "children of God" (John 1:12), and "members of God's household" (Ephesians 2:19).  The Old Testament is replete with reference to God's people listening for and hearing His voice.  It was a perfectly normal part of their relationship with God.  This should be true for us today.   

Third:  It is expected that we hear God's voice.  "If only you listen obediently to the voice of the LORD your God, . . ." (Deuteronomy 15:5).  "Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me" (Revelation 3:20 NIV).  God wants and expects us to listen intently for His voice; but often we are not listening because our hearts are turned away from Him -- perhaps because we fear He may ask us to do something we don't want to do.  Or, He might say something we don't want to hear.  Then, God could be screaming at us, but we don't hear.  "But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shall be drawn away to worship other gods and serve them . . ." (Deut. 30:17 KJV).

If we want to hear God's voice, we must listen intently.  We should always be leaning forward toward God in anticipation while "cupping" our spiritual ears, so to speak, for fear that we might miss something God wants to say to us.

Love, Jerry & Dotse