Have you wondered how it is possible to be content in this chaotic, sin-sick world? This is a wonderful piece by Sam Storms. Please visit his Enjoying God blog to read more great articles.
The Secret of Spiritual Contentment
By Sam Storms
What could the Apostle Paul possibly mean when he says that he has “learned” to be “content” in whatever circumstance or situation he’s in? Here is what he writes:
“I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:10-13).
Key verse from this article:
The issue for us all is resting and rejoicing in Jesus to such an extent that neither poverty nor prosperity has any affect on us, whether for good or ill.
Read the rest here.
Please pray for our nation!
Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant
is praying in your presence this day.
—1 Kings 8:28
Please pray along with me:
Heavenly Father, our nation has strayed so far from our Christian roots. We seem to have forgotten that kingship belongs to You alone. You are the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and deserve all of our worship and praise.
Please forgive us for all the times we have not first looked to You for guidance in everything we say and do. Forgive our country for the willful disregard and hatred of You and all You are to us, for not trusting You enough, for not believing completely in the saving grace of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Please renew the faith of those who love You and glorify You as we watch and pray for a nation in the midst of tremendous turmoil.
Father, we love You, although we don’t always show it. And though we don’t deserve it, please don’t abandon this country. We plead with you to turn the unbelieving and untrusting hearts of a nation intent on setting standards that go completely against Your will for us, into a country that once again seeks to follow Your ways. Please protect those who love You, and keep us close to You.
All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before you.
For kingship belongs to the Lord,
and he rules over the nations.
I wrote this post last week and scheduled it for today. However, as you must know by now, the people of Nepal and Kathmandu are in great need of prayer because of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake which struck central Nepal this past Saturday, April 25th. Some of those affected include the Bridge of Hope centers that I refer to in the original post I wrote which follows this news release I received in an email from Gospel for Asia:
More than 1,000 Dead, Survivors Struggling After Nepal Earthquake
A 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck central Nepal, less than 50 miles outside the capital city of Kathmandu, just before noon Saturday, killing more than 1,000 people in Nepal, India, Tibet and Bangladesh. The death toll is expected to rise.
Rescuers in Nepal are searching through the rubble for survivors. More than 1,700 have been injured, and hospitals are overwhelmed.
Gospel for Asia has 450 churches and 20 Bridge of Hope centers in the region. Some churches and some centers have been destroyed by the quake.
Between 30 and 40 of Gospel for Asia’s missionaries serving in Uttar Pradesh, an Indian state bordering Nepal, are headed toward the destruction to help.
This is estimated to be the worst earthquake to hit Nepal in 80 years.
Read the rest here. Beloved, thank you for praying about this.
When Little Ones Pray –
The Power of the Meek
I often post about prayer. There is nothing else like prayer. It blesses us and God to pray for others. Our hearts become one with those for whom we pray. And God uses our prayers for our good and for His glory.
At the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus preached the Beatitudes. This is one of them:
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. —Matthew 5:5
K. P. Kohannan is the founder and president of Gospel for Asia, and his wonderful book, No Longer a Slumdog, tells the story of how the children (the meek) of Asia have learned to pray. They daily use the power of prayer to affect their lives and those of their family and neighbors.
From the Gospel for Asia’s No Longer a Slum Dog site:
When you teach a child that the God who loves them unconditionally answers prayer, miracles can happen. Sagan and his friends learned of the power of prayer from watching their Bridge of Hope teachers. Soon they were praying for those in need, while watching God answer. See what happens when they hear of a young boy with a terminal condition in a neighboring village.
Beloved, please take the time to watch this 5-minute video. You will be touched by the faith of these little children that God is using to change lives in Asia. Click here to get a free copy of No Longer a Slumdog.
A FEAST OF JOY
“The cheerful heart has a continual feast” (Proverbs 15:15). Joy is a perpetual, delicious smorgasbord of delight, an avalanche of dazzling power that encompasses the heart and soul. Joy is exhilarating, lavishing our lives with zeal. Joy captivates behavior, illuminating a smile or a deep sustained laugh. Body language conveys our emotions with a sparkle in our eyes, spontaneous hand-clapping, or a little jumping up-and-down.
The exchange of wedding vows amplifies hearts with love, flooding them with joy. In such instances, joy owns the gamut of our emotions, rendering us incapable of passively managing surges of jubilation. Because the occasion is so anticipated and celebrated, our hearts stagger under the load, making us feel as if our epicenter of joy will actually implode. The Psalmist expresses it well: “My heart leaps for joy” (Psalm 28:7).
God’s Word is replete with examples of people whose joy knew no bounds even under the most profoundly challenging circumstances. Miriam, sister of Moses, unabashedly rallied the Israeli women to sing, using tambourines and dance to exuberantly express joy and gratitude to the Lord following His miraculous delivery of the Israelites from generations of slavery in Egypt. The women converted their sorrow and mourning into enthusiastic singing to God for His spectacular victory over the pharaoh and the Egyptian army.
David, King of Israel, was ecstatic that the ark of the covenant, the representation of God’s throne on earth, was returned to Israeli’s possession after many decades of absence following its seizure by the Philistines, who considered it no more than a lucky talisman. Rallying the people in a Jerusalem street parade, “David danced before the Lord with all his might, while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sounds of trumpets” (2 Samuel 6:14-15). It was a time of tremendous rejoicing of national impact. David’s dance was one of true worship, explicitly demonstrating extraordinary love for his Lord.
Job, an Old Testament character, was “blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil” (Job 1:1). Job’s dilemma still raises the quintessential question of why the righteous suffer. Job was steadfast regarding his innocence, though his friends accused him of liability for his suffering, determined that Job had caused his own demise by sinning. Job’s wife was so repulsed and discouraged with Job’s all-encompassing body sores, she advised Job to curse God and die. Having little hope for a cure and grieving the loss of his ten children and all of his possessions in one day, Job knew his joy could be deferred as he anticipated eternal life in heaven. Thus he admitted, “Then I would still have this consolation—my joy in unrelenting pain” (Job 6:10). In light of heaven, Job could readily rejoice, knowing he had remained true to God throughout his long ordeal on earth.
Paul and Silas were captured by the Roman authorities, then stripped and beaten with a whip made of several strips of leather into which were embedded bone and lead at the end. Once severely flogged with the whip, they were thrown into an inner cell in the dark, dank, malodorous prison with their feet fastened in stocks. “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God and the other prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:25). Suddenly a violent earthquake shook the prison, opening the cell doors and loosening prisoners’ chains. The jailer, responsible for all prisoners, was startled from sleep and assumed the prisoners had escaped. Paul and Silas intervened before the jailer committed suicide with his sword, and presented the Gospel to the jailer and his family. The jailer was then “filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole family” (Acts 16:34). What unusual events were set in motion by a God who was honored and worshipped in spite of life-threatening conditions! When we trust in God, joy reigns supreme, regardless of adverse situations!
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the epitome of joy. He who was sinless during his entire life on earth, acknowledged His ultimate goal was to glorify His Father by offering His life as a perfect sacrifice, to redeem sinners of this world. When the soldiers burst into Jesus’ reverie of quiet prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane to take Him by force, Jesus succumbed to the Roman authorities, willingly complying with their orders. “Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, scorning its shame, and set down at the right hand of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:2-3). Jesus obediently chose to die; otherwise no one would have had the power to kill Him.
The peace Jesus exhibited during his brutal trial and agonizing crucifixion ordeal is beyond our finite understanding. Though Jesus was exhausted and hurting on all levels, He rejoiced spiritually because He was accomplishing the goal for which He had given up His glory in heaven for a season to live on earth—that of becoming the perfect sacrificial Lamb to atone for sin. Jesus’ joy was powerful and zealous; the bounds of Christ’s joy were immeasurable.
If the man, Jesus, could prompt any amount of joy while confronting a terrifying, heinous crucifixion, it was only because He spent quality time with His heavenly Father in prayer, who strengthened Jesus’ commitment to His life’s goal. Utter joy is only possible for us because through Jesus’ death and resurrection, He guarantees our inheritance, providing hope for a life of joy on earth and a glorious eternity in heaven.
When Jesus appeared to His followers after his resurrection, He revealed to them the crucifixion wounds in His hands and His side. The disciples were so ecstatic to actually see Jesus alive, their joy was contagious, extending throughout the centuries to our current generation: “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy” (1 Peter 1:8). Indeed, we are commanded to rejoice. The Apostle Paul, himself frequently plagued with hostility and extreme suffering, taught: “‘Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!’” (Philippians 4:4). Christ was the source and secret of Paul’s joy.
One of our life’s objectives is irrefutable: we are to be defined by worshipful joy in which God’s entire creation participates. “Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy” (Psalm 96; 11-12). Since all of nature responds to His authority, God accepts joyful worship from everything He creates. On that premise, let us assess the amount of joyous adoration our Redeemer receives from us. “Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. How awesome is the Lord Most High, the great King over all the earth” (Psalm 47:1-2).
Joy is not passive, but animated, manifesting praise and thanksgiving. Miriam and David unapologetically sang and danced before God Almighty. Like them, we eagerly worship our Savior, passionately reflecting His character with effervescent expressions of joy. It is God’s desire that we live triumphant lives, for which joy is one of the important components. Jesus said, “‘I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly’” (John 10-10, KJV). Let our words and actions be saturated with bountiful joy!
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD. —Deuteronomy 6:4
The four letters of YHWH are often referred to as the Tetragrammaton, which literally means “four lettered name.” Vowels were later added to the Tetragrammaton to make the name YAHWEH, which is most commonly transliterated as JEHOVAH. When a Bible translation has LORD in all caps (actually capital L and small capital letters), it signifies JEHOVAH. 1
“One of the oddities of history is the loss of the proper pronunciation of the Hebrew word YHWH, the personal and covenant name of God in the Old Testament. ‘Jehovah’ is a spelling that developed from combining the consonants of the name with the vowels of a word for ‘Lord’ (Adonai). ‘Yahweh’ is probably the original pronunciation. The name eventually ceased to be pronounced because later Jews thought it too holy to be uttered and feared violating it. It is translated ‘LORD’ in this version.” 2
Recently I saw a video titled YHWH. It is a powerful presentation of what our YHWH should mean to us, especially during this time of year when we contemplate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
This video was a project started by Dan Stevens in which many people worked to put together an awesome video. The final product—the video below—will cause you to praise God, our LORD, for His many attributes. He is indeed our great I AM.
2 THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Great is Your Faithfulness
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. —Lamentations 3:21-23
How often do we do things that disappoint the people in our lives?
Maybe we’ve made a promise that later we found we can’t keep. Perhaps we raise our voice in anger again even though we don’t mean to. And how about the times when a friend or family member tries to sympathize with our pain? They mean well, but you’re certain they just don’t understand. I’m sure you’ve wanted to tell them, “You have no idea what it’s like to be in this kind of pain every day.”
At this point, we have two choices: to dwell on our misery or get on with the business of life.
We can moan and groan about our circumstances so everyone is aware of how much we are hurting, or we can demonstrate God’s presence in our lives by rejoicing in the knowledge that He is faithful to be with us through our tough times.
I have a very close friend (you know who you are!) who is a good example of one who lets God shine through her in spite of her constant pain. She once shared her feelings about pain with me this way:
“It is just pain. It could be worse. I could be suffering with pain and dying. It is only pain. I can still live and make the most of my life, to extend myself as far as I can go, to reach for the stars, to do the unimaginable. The pain will still be there. So, why not celebrate?”
This dear friend is such an encourager. Her positive attitude is a beacon of light in the darkness of pain. Quite simply, she makes me smile no matter how awful I’m feeling.
Beloved, the Lord is our only hope! He knows exactly what our pain is like and He will help us through it “every morning; great is [His] faithfulness.” He understands how constant pain can undermine a positive attitude and make us feel hopeless. But He’s always with us, ready to offer His love and comfort: “therefore I have hope.” Won’t you please pray with me?
Heavenly Father, sometimes it’s so hard to be cheerful and hopeful when I’m feeling so rotten. It’s easier for me to just give up and let the pain take over. But, Lord, I know that You love me too much to let me feel this way. Thank You for what You are teaching me through these trials and for being with me always. Help me to let Your joy flow through me to touch the lives of others who may also be suffering. You are great and greatly to be praised! Amen.