Being Content

In my Bible Journaling this month I’m reading about “Being Content”. This is one of those things I have struggled with my whole life. That, and coupled with being a worrier, and having anger issues, it’s a lot of issues that I need to deal with and get resolved. Today’s verse is Matthew 6:31-32, “Do not worry then, saying, ’What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.”

As I said, this is one of the big things I struggle with. Part of it is the old, “keeping up with the Joneses” attitude. The problem is, I was a Jones! So, if everyone is trying to keep up with my family, it’s like there is this thing that says, “You have to keep up appearances for the rest of the world.” The only problem with that is, we weren’t wealthy, didn’t have every latest thing that came along, but we managed. Even though I was reared in a Christian home, it was by no means perfect! I have a lot of issues to weed through from my past. So, in thinking through all of this today, my mind went back to yesterday and the sermon our Pastor delivered. The title of his sermon was, “What Were You Thinking?” He spoke from the Scripture passage, Philippians 4:8-9, “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.” It was a tough sermon to hear, because it hit you square in the face. It was one of those kinds of sermons where there wasn’t a peep in the sanctuary because people were deep in thought over what Pastor was saying. Usually, our services are filled with “amen” and “yes”, and periodic applause at something Pastor has said that we agree with. But yesterday, it was like God was saying, “Listen up! I want you to know this, I want you to do this!”

I pondered the sermon for most of yesterday. God was dealing with me. I began to think that maybe this is my time to get this settled, because not only was my study for this month on contentment, but yesterday’s sermon was about where this all starts. In my thoughts! Pastor asked us, “What do you spend your day thinking about?” Wow! It never occurred to me that what I focus on in my thoughts dictates my actions and attitudes. He said that what consumes our thought life will develop our character. Ok, so for me, I guess one of my issues is appearances, or how others perceive me. My hubby has observed that about me. I’m worried about what other people will think if I do something, or how my house will look to other people, whether they will like it, or me, or not. My Dad used to say that I shouldn’t worry about what other people think, even him. I tried all my life as a kid to make my Dad proud of me. Sometimes he would tell me, other times I never was sure. It left me feeling like I wasn’t good enough, that I needed to do something else to gain his approval. I’m sure that is the basis for my worry about how things appear to others. I need to remember that the only person I need to be concerned about what they think of me, is God! My job is to please Him!

The Scripture in Matthew plainly says that we are not to worry! That’s a command, not a suggestion! God already knows what we need, so why are we so consumed by acquiring money, food, clothes, and the things of this world? Part of the issue is what we spend time thinking about. In today’s society, we have television, radio, and advertisements all over telling us that we NEED the latest and greatest whatever it is. We can see and hear these things for so long before it begins to overtake our thoughts. Then we start seeking our WANTS instead of our NEEDS. The news on TV and radio nowadays is filled with negative reports of all kinds of things, and that leads to us worrying about our safety, will something happen to us that will cause irreparable harm? That leads to a lot of “What if’s” that most likely will never happen.

What are we focusing our thoughts upon, the things of this world or God’s Word? Pastor also said that the enemy wants to get our minds away from our focus on God. That means we must be aware of his traps. Trusting God for everything begins with keeping our minds upon Him and His Word. Another thing my Pastor said yesterday was, “The Word of God is a discerner of your thoughts.” God knows what we think about, whether it is good or bad, worth the time to think on or not. Therefore, if we keep our focus on His Word, seeking His opinion rather than others, praying and trusting that He will “work everything for our good” (Romans 8:28) then we have no cause to worry or be discontent with our situation.

In case, my readers think I’m pointing fingers, this is as much a preaching to myself as it is an encouragement for you. For me, this is a long journey, not a sprint, but a marathon. I have a lifetime of issues to resolve. It took a lifetime to develop them and it will take a lifetime to conquer each one of them. I hope this has been an encouragement to my readers, and that you will keep your mind focused on God and trust Him for all of your needs and desires.

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Great Are You Lord

Once in a while God wakes me with a song. This morning He woke me up with a song our church has been singing for a little while now. The song is called “Great are You Lord”. I did some background checking on the Internet to see what Scripture it was based on and I found an article of an interview with the writers of the song. They talked about the passage in Ezekiel 37 where God told Ezekiel to speak to the bones in the field and God breathed life into them and they rose up to be a great army. The part of the song that keeps running through my mind is, “All the earth will shout Your praise, our hearts are stirred, these bones will sing, Great are You Lord.”

This song has been running through my head all week, and when I got to this part of the song, I wasn’t sure I was singing it right, because bones singing just didn’t make sense to me and I thought I was remembering it incorrectly. Then as I actually looked at the words of the song and found that the song says that, that’s what caused me to look into what the composers were thinking when they wrote that lyric.

As I read the article, the composers spoke about a message they heard where the pastor stated that, “Worship is when we give God His breath back.” The song says, “It’s Your breath in our lungs, so we pour out our praise to you only.” Then as I read Ezekiel 37, it says that God breathed into the bones. Can you imagine being a great army that had been killed in battle, and then all of a sudden being made flesh and blood and breathing! I bet those bones were praising God with all their might!

Then I began to think about our Spiritual life…. sometimes we need a little breath breathed into us! Sometimes we become like dead men walking, there is no life in our walk with the Lord, for whatever reason. Worship and praise to God helps revive that life, we are giving God His breath back and He in turn breathes back into us to revive us.

Worship is our love song to Jesus. It has many benefits. The Bible says that God inhabits the praise of His people. (Psalm 22:3 KJV) When we lift our voices in praise to God, He is present, right there with us! So, as we lift our voices He draws near to us, we can feel His presence, and especially in dark times, His presence gives us strength. We find that we are more able to fight the battles, and we are encouraged. Life begins to swell in us and grow, making us stronger in the Lord.

I love how the song begins. It says, “You are life, You are love, You bring light to the darkness!” We are given life when He breathes into us physically, and Spiritually! He is the source of life! We praise Him for giving us life, love, and light to our spirit!

The past few weeks our church has gone to a whole new level in worship! God has really made His presence known. As I stand on the platform with the Worship Team, I look out over the congregation, and I see people praising God with tears streaming down their faces, there are shouts of praise, people walking the aisle with their hands raised, it’s the most phenomenal thing to see! There have been times when, while I’m playing my flute, I find it difficult to play because I’m on the verge of tears. God’s presence is so heavy on the platform, that it’s almost hard to breathe. It’s His breath in our lungs that gives us life, and we praise Him clear to our bones!

Count it All Joy

I’ve been on vacation for the last month so, I haven’t had an opportunity to blog or do my Bible Journaling. I must say, I have missed this time of getting into God’s Word and sharing with you. Today’s Bible Journaling is from James 1:2-3, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” (KJV) Divers temptations can be defined as trials, those hard situations that we go through in life. They can also literally be temptations.

Patience! Boy that is a big one for me. I am really bad about being patient. That goes along with my issue of anger. They kind of go hand in hand. I think this is a life-long struggle…I am more like my earthly father than I am my Heavenly Father, and that is something that bothers me, especially in this area. As a kid, I vowed I would never be like my Dad. He had a hair trigger temper, and I’m just like him. It makes me angry at myself because I don’t want to be like that. As hard as I try, every time something happens that sets me off, I automatically go to my default of being angry or being impatient.

James says that the trying of our faith works patience….so that means the only way to gain patience is through trials. Now, trials can be anything from life happening, hard situations, to our own expectations of how things should be. I have to admit, sometimes I do better with hard things like the death of my first husband, as hard as that was, than I do with everyday irritations. As I was doing my journaling today I realized that it’s the everyday stuff that seems to trip me up. Dealing with people that seem to have a knack of finding my “buttons” and pushing them just to see me blow. Sometimes it happens so quickly I don’t realize it until the storm is already passed, or the words are already out of my mouth. The counting to ten thing before speaking just doesn’t seem to work for me. I can’t seem to get to that point of even starting with one. It’s an automatic reaction to get angry or become aggravated.

While I was journaling the page, I had to remind myself that I need to “count it all joy”, and the realization came that there is joy in trials. Maybe we don’t realize it as we are going through it, but after we have had a chance to look back, we can see periods of growth in our lives, and those growth periods come during trials. There are times when the hard stuff comes that we can be glad we went through it, but we wouldn’t want to go through it again. We learn things through those hard struggles in life. If you are like me, we find ourselves going around the same mountain trying to conquer the same thing, over and over again. God tends to keep us there until we learn our lesson. I have a tendency to be hard-headed…so God has to practically beat me over the head to get me to learn anything. I feel sorry for Him …. how patient He is with me! My desire is to have that same patience. I am definitely a work in progress.

Trials are a necessary part of life. They take us from one level to another. The struggles we face are in preparation for the next level, where we need to use what we have just learned. They also show us God’s faithfulness. We can see that if He brought us through this trial, He can, and will, bring us through the next one. He doesn’t leave us to struggle alone, He walks with us, encouraging us, and helping us get through the trial so that we can come out victorious on the other side. And, in the meantime, we learn something as well.

If you are disappointed with yourself like I am, just remember, we are a work in progress, and even though we don’t want to go through those struggles, they are placed in our lives to help us grow and become more like our Heavenly Father. Be encouraged! Remember, He will never leave you to fend for yourself, He is always with you.