Today the message in my church had a great deal to say about being content. The Bible advises Christians to be thankful in all circumstances. To me that is one way of saying be content. For those who claim to be followers of Christ, being content and thankful cannot be avoided in all honesty. Having had the penalty for our sins paid for by the sacrificial blood of Jesus as an expression of His love should bring life to the concept of thankfulness and contentment. He has given us something that cannot be equated. If we have a loving relationship with Him, grumbling for more worldly things goes out of the picture. Nothing should mean more to us than His love. Jesus promised that if we would seek His kingdom and His righteousness he would provide everything else that we need. Need, not want! Unfortunately, getting older makes one think more along these lines. I can testify to that. I’ve got more clothes in my closet than I’ll ever wear in the few remaining years (or days) of my life. That is just one example. I confess that I am guilty of thinking how good it would be if I could just have this or that thing–things that I don’t need. I’m supposed to be reflecting the light of Christ in a dark world, not wanting more of this and that. When non-believers observe Christ followers they should see people who are thankful for the blessings that God had poured on them, people who are content with their lives, dependent on God, not on the stuff at the Mall. In addition to that, a lack of content can bring trouble. For example, getting into debt. I’ve been there and done that. Looking back, I know it didn’t make my life any better. Be thankful; be content. I would be more content if I could sell more copies of the book I wrote (more money), but if someone is helped by what I wrote, I am more than satisfied and very thankful.
Yesterday I heard something that really struck me as being the key to the Christian life. It not only confirms the truth, but challenges us to live as Jesus said. We were created in God’s image and lost it, but God’s desire is to restore us to that position.
A little girl went to Sunday school. The teacher taught that God is bigger than we are. After Sunday school was over she went to the church service with her parents. Included in the pastor’s teaching was the statement that God lives in us. The little girl was confused and when they got home she asked her mother how God can be bigger than we are and at the same time live in us. Before her mother could answer her she said, “If God lives in us and is bigger than we are, then people should see Him.” How much more is there to say?
I have heard or read about anxiety being just a normal thing we have to put up with now and then. According to the Bible it is not normal. At least, it shouldn’t be. Anxiety for many reasons breaks into our thinking often, I agree, but it doesn’t have to rule over us. My book, Transformation The Servant’s Heart–A Life of Faith speaks to this problem. A lesson I prepared for my cell group lead me to write the book. It begins with the solution for anxiety, fear and worry. The key is belief and trust in God. That might worry some, but it shouldn’t. Philippians 4:6, 7 tells us not to worry about anything–that’s right–not anything! There is an alternative. In every situation that may cause worry, we are to turn to God in prayer and supplication. That requires a relationship, one that is open to anyone who desires it. God invites us to bring the problem to Him. There is another key word. Come to Him with thanksgiving. In other words, come to Him in trust. Believe He will do what He says and thank Him for it. The result is peace of heart. This may sound strange, but God’s peace is described as being beyond our comprehension. A lot of God does is beyond our understanding, but He is trustworthy. The part of Transformation that talks about this subject goes deeper, laying a foundation for a knowing God and knowing Him better. God bless.
“Breathes there a man with soul so dead, who never to himself hath said, ‘This is my own, my native land.'” I don’t know if you have to be as old as I am to remember this poetic beginning. At my age I find myself having trouble remembering things, but this first liner I have never forgotten. In this age of confusion, contradiction and division it is something that everyone should cling to. It should be the foundation of how we feel about America. In spite of the endless trouble it is still our own, our native land. The meaning of the sentence is vital. Are we so dead that we have given up the positive possibilities? We may feel like we are standing on the edge of a rocky cliff, but is it more difficult to believe that we are on the edge of many good things that are happening everywhere? If you can’t think of anything else, pay attention to the generosity of the people who live in Magic Valley and in the rest of the State of Idaho too. Food by the tons are donated for families that are in dire need. Many organizations collect presents for children who otherwise might receive even one gift. The numbers are many. Give thanks, not just on the yearly holiday, but for the gifts we all receive in one way or another. The Bible says to give thanks in all circumstances. Some might wonder how that is to be accepted, but there is a God who cares about every human being on this planet and gave the greatest gift of all to any one who will accept it. Gifts aren’t worked for, and this one is far beyond any labor that could be added. Thank you.
I have been selling my book Transformation The Servant’s Heart — A Life of Faith at the local Farmer’s Market each Saturday morning for most of the summer. It hasn’t become a best seller, but I’m pleased with the sales. Each morning I pray that if it be God’s will, I sell at least one book. Today was the final day of the market. Yesterday it poured rain all day and into the night. The weather man said today would be sunny and nice with a little breeze. I wasn’t sure I wanted to take the chance. Following our Friday cell group, the men usually agree to have coffee together on Saturday morning. I decided to drop the Farmer’s Market if the guys invited me to have coffee. They didn’t, so I decided to go by the actual morning weather. I packed the car with the canopy, tables, etc., just in case. This morning’s sky was laden with stars, no breeze, and not too chilly. In the last hour of the market I sold two books. I also sell wooden items that I turn on my lathe. I’ve sold a lot of them, as amateurish as I am, and I know I have a long way to go to reach really good quality products. An elderly man stopped and looked at the wood items and began to talk about turning wood. He used some of my items to demonstrate how to do it better. I knew the problems he was talking about, and learned much by listening to him. He introduced himself. I knew of him and his many talents, but didn’t know he was a professional wood turner. He invited me to call for help and instruction any time. Another man stopped by and wanted to know something about my book. It is a Christian focused book and I was sure he wasn’t a Believer. He wondered how someone could write a book. I told him that God did most of it, because He answered my prayers when I lacked a word or an idea–every time. The man asked, “Is it some kind of meditation?” I explained that it was communication with a caring God and listening for His response. I felt I had told him something that made him think. Maybe a seed planted? Anyway, isn’t it amazing how the Lord works things out. What a day of blessing this has been!
Today my son and I delivered a piece of furniture that my wife and I had sold. The address of the buyer was four miles south and 3.23 miles east of a town that is 30 miles from where we live. We left assuming that my son’s GPS would tell us how to get there. It failed for some reason and we had to follow the road signs. We got there OK. It reminded me of something that I have been involved in for a few weeks. My pastor asked me to fill in for him by doing two sermons on the Wednesday night service. The first was based on the word, “assume” and several similar words that mean about the same. Notice that I said that we “assumed” that the GPS would get us where we wanted to go. It didn’t. The assumption failed. The second sermon was based on ” living by faith” and how God works in those who have faith in Him. The two kind of fit together. We trusted the GPS by a presupposition of faith in a technical device that didn’t work. As it turned out we could depend on an old, non-technical method of finding our way. Trusting God is like watching the signs. It’s simple, but trustworthy. He demonstrates that we need not trust in something that may not work, but that we can always depend on Him. He taught me that when I was writing the book Transformation The Servant’s Heart–A Life of Faith. I found that I couldn’t rely on myself. When I put things in His hands, He filled the empty spots.
My wife and I have belonged to a Christian cell group for many years. It began as a specific church, but now is composed of people from four different denominations. We also participate in a prayer group which is an extension of Franklin Graham’s Decision America. People from five different denominations meet together every week. I belong to a group of men who meet each week for breakfast. In our cell we fellowship together as friends and brothers and sisters in Christ. We worship and study the Bible together. In the prayer group we focus on the future of our country. In the men’s group, we not only enjoy each other’s company over breakfast, but we discuss the gospel, how to live for Christ and share our troubles and blessings. We have a time of prayer. In every case we may not agree with each other in all our beliefs, but one thing is certain. We all believe in the truth of our salvation by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. We believe together in the essentials of the gospel. We do what I believe God wants us to do: think about His Word and all that it means to us and share with each other. We pray together. We meet in a fellowship of love in each group and in all the circumstances of our lives. In every case we try to follow Ephesians 4:2-6–Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit–just as you were called to one hope when you were called–one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of us all, who is over all and through all and in all. We’re not perfect, but God blesses each group in many ways. Shouldn’t we all strive for that unity of love, especially in the times that we find ourselves?
Thomas told the other disciples that he would not believe that the resurrected Jesus had appeared unless he saw the nail marks in His hands and the wound in His side. When Jesus came a week later and Thomas saw and touched the wounds, his response was, “My Lord and my God.” Jesus commended those who believed without having seen. I have a friend in a prison thousands of miles from where I live. He has been in prison for 28 years. For 22 of those years he has been a follower of Christ. I have never seen him, but I know him. I know him because of the words he has spoken to me by phone or letter. He shares his life with me, and I with him. Jesus is doing the same thing with both of us. He shares Himself with us through His Word, the Bible. He speaks to us in various ways. I don’t need to see my friend to believe in him anymore than Thomas needed to. We know and cherish our friendship without seeing each other. One of the nicest things he has said to me was his response to my book, Transformation The Servant’s Heart–A Life of Faith. He calls it a “forever” book, because the three subjects: Anxiety, Hypocritical Love, and Pride are really a matter of relationships–with God and with each other. I want to know Jesus more and my friend more and that’s a forever thing. Jesus is always there, although I can’t see Him. My friend in prison will always be there and I can’t see him either.
A few days ago I was mowing our lawn for the first time this spring. I had waited too long and the grass was tall and wet. The mower kept jamming and I kept getting tireder getting in going again. When I was near the neighbors house, a woman I didn’t know watched me trying to no avail to restart the motor. She was sitting in the patio having a smoke while I was yanking on the starter cord. She got up, came over and said, “Maybe I can help”. After a couple of pulls, the motor roared. I thanked her and she walked away. After a few minutes a thought crashed into my head. That lady had been looking at me and seeing an old man. She was right. I usually think that I’m no older than I feel. In fact, I view a lot of people I know as being older than me, and they are far from it. It’s easy to deceive ourselves, but we need to face the facts, whatever they may be. I have trouble remembering names, even of people that I know or have known in the past. I learned that it is best to admit to the fact and just ask that person what their name is. Admit to the truth. One of the greatest facts of my life is the number of old friends I have. What a blessing, whether I remember their name or not. The best fact of all–to me–is the friend I have in my Savior and Lord, Jesus.
Today I was listening to a pastor on a Christian radio channel and he stated that many pastors today don’t mention the blood of Christ in their sermons. The reason is that they don’t want to offend or upset their congregations by talking about blood in a bloody culture. To some extent, to tickle their ears. Talk about the love of Jesus, but don’t mention His blood. Without His shed blood, Jesus’ teaching has little if any value. It was the expression of His love for people who don’t deserve it. Soon after that I listened to another pastor talk about love. His focus was that love is a choice. I was glad to hear that because that is the focus in my book, Transformation The Servant’s Heart–A Life of Faith. God’s love is reflected through us if we choose to allow it. It isn’t based on feelings, although feelings may occur from the choice of loving God, people, even our enemies. The first pastor said to avoid listening to those who refuse to bring Christ’s blood to the front. Without it, Christianity vanishes and feelings take over. Burn with the love of God and be light in a dark and dismal world.