In Search of Contentment, Pt. 1

Not far from Wilton is a yearly event held unlike anything I ever saw growing up in Southern Ohio.  The spinning of car tires, squealing of train wheels against steel track, horn of tug boats, and paddle churning of riverboats, now that, I am familiar with, but this was a very new experience for me.  Every year in the fall, the Hot Air Balloon Festival descends upon our region.  For miles and miles balloons can be seen in the beautiful Hudson River Valley in the Adirondacks.

Looking to the sky as these large balloons take shape and lift into the air is a majestic scene indeed.  The hot air generated by the flame is thousands of degrees in temperature, and the great force unleashed at the pull of a switch or push of a button is incredible to see. The sound, heat, and lift from the fire is wonderful to watch.

As the balloons begin to ascend, a peaceful, serene emotion overcomes me.  The balloon is content to follow the manipulation of the balloon pilot in the wind. The balloon has no objective of its own.  If ascends high into the sky, or if it remains grounded due to high winds, the balloon is content. Whether it is a Snoopy balloon, a turtle, a butterfly in shape and appearance, or simply the classic balloon style, it is content.  If it is folded up and kept in a trailer or is traveling hundreds of miles, it is content.  Balloons appear to me to be very peaceful.

Balloons high in the sky also offer a unique perspective.  The pilot and riders get a “bird’s eye view” of the region below.  The higher the balloon goes, the larger the perspective of the pilot and passengers.

When it comes to our personal contentment, the hot air balloon gives us a good parallel to consider.  The balloons are peaceful.  The balloons offer a greater perspective.  In the same way, contentment provides an inner peace and offers a Godly perspective on life and daily matters.

Coveting is something everyone deals with from time to time.  Being jealous of others is another common sin.  Sometimes our thoughts and emotions betray us to one of these sins even before our mouths express these sins.  For example, sometimes, without saying anything, there is already a jealous spirit in a person.  In other times, the heart is already coveting another’s position, privilege, or place in life.  It may not even be expressed out loud.  But it is in the heart.

Some men covet the jobs and paychecks of other men.  Some women covet the family life of other women.  Some men would love to trade places with another man and his place in life.  Some women would trade places with another woman if they could.  Working mothers in the workforce may long to be able to stay at home.  Mothers working at home may have a desire for a different career outside the home.

Students in school may covet the grades of others.  Some even cheat to “get ahead” in school.

At the time of this writing, a billion-dollar college entrance scheme has hit the news.  Exams were forged.  Skills, abilities, and grades were changed.  Payments were made.  The ultra-wealthy and a whole list of Hollywood stars are caught up in this scandal.  All of this is an effort rooted in covetousness, jealousy, and greed.

What does the Bible say about contentment?  Plenty.  Philippians 4:11-19 is a primary passage that emphasizes contentment.  If you are searching for contentment – here is where to find it in the Bible.

11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

12  I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

14 Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.

15 Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.

16 For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.

17 Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.

18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.

 19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

 

Please look for the next posting for PART 2…

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First Impressions That Impress

Jacob said, Lo, it is yet high day, neither is it time that the cattle should be gathered together: water ye the sheep, and go and feed them. And they said, We cannot, until all the flocks be gathered together, and till they roll the stone from the well’s mouth; then we water the sheep. And while he yet spake with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep: for she kept them. And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, that Jacob went near, and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother.  Genesis 29:7-9

Jacob has left his hometown to return to his grandfather’s home in Harran.  Rebekah convinces Isaac to send Jacob away in order for Jacob to find a wife with a similar faith background.  Marrying someone that has the same spiritual belief is such an important concept to guide you when seeking a spouse.  Another reason to send Jacob away is so that he is not murdered by his brother Esau.  The deceit, craftiness, and stealing of the birthright and blessing has torn this family apart further.  So Jacob travels.

When he sees these shepherds he realizes that he is nearly to his destination.  When they say Rachel, a young woman is coming soon to water her sheep, perhaps his mind begins to race.  He has not seen her before.  In fact, is it possible that when she emerges from the distance and he sees her that there is a “love at first sight” that is ignited?  Possibly.

The shepherds were waiting for a few others to show up before the removed the lid from the top of the well.  I have been around several open wells like this in farm settings.  When they are fenced off or covered over it is generally for safety.  Children and stray animals could fall in an be injured or die, so the liability is decreased by putting a lid or covering over the well.  These men did not want to lift more than “their fair share” or they were waiting for someone with initiative to give directions to lift the lid.  Yes, many hands make light work.

In this first encounter with Rachel, Jacob walks right over and takes the lid off all by himself.  He is attempting to make a good first impression.  I’m sure he impressed the shepherds and others standing around.  It seems that Rachel is also impressed by Jacob for several reasons.  From Jacob in this story, we can learn several good qualities that are attractive to others and that will impress them.

Keep in mind that we do not have a goal of impressing people for our own sake.  The impression that we give to others really can impact what another person will think about our God.  If we are selfish, demanding and arrogant and offer and impression of “holier than thou” – then we are giving a bad impression of God to others.

Impression Avenues include the following:

  1. Serving Others.  Jacob immediately serves Rachel by drawing water up and watering the sheep that she had with her.  He does not act with any self serving interest.  In fact, Jacob goes on to marry Rachel.  He works for seven years time.  During those seven years of work, he knows he will marry her, and yet he does not take what does not belong to him.  He does not act selfishly and have pre-marital sex.  He is demonstrating a selfless love with his service and devotion.  Laban deceives him, he marries Leah, the sister and then commits to work another 7 years for Rachel.  That is a selfless devotion of serving others!
  2. Sharing with Others.  As the narrative continues we find that Jacob has a good work ethic.  He works for a month with no pay for Rachel’s father, Laban.  He works a total of seven years in order to marry the love of his life, Rachel.
  3. Showing Up.  Jacob has a “Can Do” attitude.  When the men said: “We can’t water the sheep until…”  Jacob sees no reason to not water them.  He does not wait for others to get the lid off.  When others said” “We can’t” – he said” “I can.”

You can give first impressions that impress too!  When we show consideration to others first, everyone is impressed and God is glorified in and through your life.

 

Remembering God While Young

Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them… Ecclesiastes 12:1

Meeting God in your youth is a great way to deal with the problems that come with aging: Relationship distress, disease, disappointment, and eventually death.  The greatest moment in anyone’s life is when they come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Savoir.  This is wonderful, not matter the age or life stage of the person coming to faith in Jesus.  No matter your age today, you will be younger today than you are tomorrow.  So this is good teaching for everyone – especially the youngest among us.

Having Jesus in your heart and life can impact the handling of the disappointments of life.  Life happens to everyone.  Christians are not exempt to problems. What Solomon, the Preacher-King is saying in this passage is that when we remember God in when we are young, it sets us up for a more fulfilled, and more Biblically framed life.  Remember God in your youth means that the decision making, thought process and more are all going to be informed by the Lord and His Word.

When we have our decisions and choices informed by God, and follow His commands, we are more likely to fulfill God’s plan for our life and to achieve His perfect will for our individual lives.

A young person who does nor remember God in his youth is more likely to make bad choices and to create self-inflicted problems that will plague him for the rest of his life.  Drugs, living together before marriage, disease acquirement, job loss, injuries, relationship struggles, family problems are potential issues, just to name a few.

Know God while you are young.  Teach your kids NOW.  Then as you and your kids remember God while you are young (or younger today than you will be tomorrow) you can live a life that is blessed by God.

Bad things will still come up, but you have the Lord, His comfort, and His mind on how to handle your specific situation.

True Friendships

A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.  Proverbs 18:24

Good friends are hard to come by.  I mean, friends that know your thoughts and can even anticipate your next words and actions.   I have heard it said that you will probably have only 3-5 truly close friends in your lifetime.  If you have a handful of truly good friends, you will be blessed indeed.

Most people have “acquaintances” that they mistake for those close friends.  For example: some have thousands of connections on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but these are not true friends.  If you have thousands of followers online, it is likely that you will never actually meet these people- in person!

While you may have a lot of “virtual friends” online that are really only acquaintances, you have great potential for real life friends where you live.  Sometimes putting down the mobile devices is the best thing you can do for your true friendships.

Some husbands and wives spend more time with “virtual friends” than they spend with their spouse.  In our home, we only have one screen on at a time.  If my wife is on her phone, I am not on my phone at the same time.  I want to ensure I am friendly to her.  Not ignoring, not missing her comments, not pretending to listen.  How is communication going in your home?  You spouse, if God has called you to marriage, should be your best friend.

Back to friendship.  In order to be a friend, you must show yourself friendly.  That is where the “one screen at a time: idea comes in.  Do you show yourself a frenziedly person?  What is your everyday facial expression like?  Are you approachable?

Here is a short list of “Friendship Verses? in the Bible.  Consider how they can help you make a friend today!

Psalm 119:63
Proverbs 17:17
Proverbs 18:24
Proverbs 27:6
Ecclesiastes 4:9,10

Go and be a friend – to gain a friend today!

A Spiritual Recharge

A Spiritual Recharge

For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.  For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.  2 Corinthians 2:15-16

I enjoy collecting and using tools.  The power tools are the best.  Milwaukee produces some terrifically useful power hand tools that require a Lithium battery with 18 volts of power.  The M18 drill set I have has driven thousands and thousands of scres.  I think one charge of the M18 battery will drive nearly 300 three inch screws.  That is a good stat.

The M18 Sawsall also delivers great cutting power.  With the right blade this saw cuts through wood, metal, and plastic of all dimensions.  However, I need to change the batteries on the sawsall a lot more often than I do the drill.  The cutting motion and energy requires for the saw is substantially more than the drill.

As Paul pens the above verses, he is writing to some Christians who were enduring great difficulty.  Persecution, poor health, and other problems were tempting them to quit, give up, and stop following Jesus.  Life is tough.  Life is even tougher for the Christian who is visibly and vocally with Jesus in daily choices, words, and actions.

I like how Paul says” We faint not.”  Christian -keep on keeping on for Jesus!  But, it is not a simple as willing, or hoping to endure.  We need spiritual renewal – daily.  Like the M18 line of tools I have – we need recharged.  We need recharged on a daily basis.

Depending on the material my tools are dealing with, the battery charge is affected.  Some more and some less.  Depending on what circumstances you are facing you too will become weary and tired, perhaps at a different pace than at other times.

No matter what you are going through, good or bad times, you need to be recharged daily.  Here are some ideas to be recharged:

  1. Recharge with daily Bible reading.  Christians who are truly walking with Jesus must be Bible readers.  I know some who cannot read.  They have the Bible read to them or get it on CD or MP3 to listen to.  Read the Bible.  Like bread charges the physical body, the Word of God charges your spiritual life.  In Matthew 4:4, Jesus says, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
  2. Recharge by checking your spiritual terminals.   The batteries will not charge if not properly connected to the charging station.  If you are not properly connected to the Lord, if something is in between, or hindering a clear connection, you may come up spiritually depleted. The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 66:18, If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.  If there is any sin in your life, confess it and repent of it.  If you know something is not right, clean it up so the connection is good again!
  3. Recharge by internalizing the Bible.  Just like the battery takes power (what to us is invisible) and stores it inside the battery pack, we need to take the Bible and internalize it into our heart and life.  What I mean by this is your attitude.  Many people know the Bible in their head, but they do not know the Bible in their heart.  Some are arrogant, proud and mean spirited, but they can quote the Bible to you.  Instead of that, choose to let the Bible change you.  Humility is the mark of a person being recharged by the Lord.  1 Peter 3:4 teaches, But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.  I want a meek and quite spirit.  It is useful and attractive to the Lord.  Instead of focusing on your dress or tie, the externals, the the Word impact your insides.  There are too many people that “look good” on the outside, but are spiritual depleted on the inside.  Have a good attitude.  Choose to be happy.  Choose to be content.  Choose to rest in Jesus.

Praying, meeting with other Christians, Bible study, serving through the church, being involved, plugging in to specific ministries, and trusting God with your money, health, and decisions are all other good areas to consider.  There could be several other areas to help a person recharge spiritually.

Care to share any further ideas for being spiritually recharged???

What are your thoughts???

Please post your ideas below…

 

 

 

 

Why Did Jesus Die?

Why did Jesus Die?

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.  2 Corinthians 5:21

The stage was set.  The actors were each in their places.  The script was ready to be followed.  And yet, there were no special effects.  No unique and moving soundtracks playing in the background.

The scenes leading to the Cross on Golgotha included, a last supper, the singing of an hymn, prayer, and betrayal.  A man’s ear was cut off.  Jesus re-attached and healed the ear. Armed men came to arrest the innocent and submissive Lamb of God.   Jesus willingly went with them

After the mock trials, false witnesses, and and shuffling between leaders, Jesus was led to be slaughtered.   The people were cheering.  There was applause, laughter, and mocking.

After being beat, the bloodied Jesus carried His cross uphill to the place of the skull.  Jesus was going to the Cross as any common criminal. Sinner. Man.

Except Jesus did not deserve to die.  With

A Spiritual Renewal

A Spiritual Renewal

For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.  For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.  2 Corinthians 2:15-16

Seasons come and seasons go.  At writing, there are a few remaining piles of snow on the ground.  The snow is fighting to remain after several warm Spring days.  The birds are out and the weather has shifted once again.  The first few weeks of spring could really be called “Mud Season.”  Let’s add a fifth season, shall we?  The ground will dry out soon.

Life is much like the weather.  The seasons change and we adjust to the climate.  As life goes on, we change, the world changes, and life goes on.  We adjust.  One thing that never changes is Jesus.  His Word always remains.  He is the I Am.  The constant companion Who through the Holy Spirit is always with the Christian.

Like the season cycle of Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer, our spiritual life tends to be cyclical as well.  We can experience seasons of discouragement, even despair.  There will be times of elatedness and joy.  Other times of sadness and sorrow.  A wonderful truth is that Jesus is with us through each season.

As Paul is writing this letter to the Corinthians church, he speaks from tremendous experience.  He has endured fierce persecution, undergone physical hardships, and was weary through much travel and sickness.  He says “All things are for your sakes.”  Even the trials and difficulties we face can be used of the Lord to help us become more like Jesus.

I love the encouragement God gives us.  We need not “faint.”  We may be physically weary, but we do not need to be weary in “spirit.”  The solution is being renewed.

Spiritual renewal is my prayer for our church.  Each of us, myself included need a spiritual renewal.  We need reinvigorated in our walk with Jesus.  We need what Paul describes as being “stirred” in our ministry service.  We need a daily recharge from Jesus.

How can I be renewed or recharged?  I hope to answer this in the next post.

Ask the Lord to renew your love, passion, and service to Him today.