It’s Spring in Iowa. Actually one might even think it’s been Summer with temperatures in the 70s and 80s for over a week instead of 30s and 40s. All of the plants and trees have been budding and bursting forth their beauty. I’ve been working in a garden center and am blessed that the owners allow me pretty much free reign of the property to take photos. Every where I turn something else seems to herald its praises to God.
When I see how God has blessed me throughout my life, how can I keep from shouting His praise? Funny, as I’m writing this, Chris Tomlin’s How Can I Keep from Singing? is playing in the background. God’s timing is so incredible. I turned on Chris Tomlin’s CD this afternoon after I needed a spiritual remake and a lifting up of my spirits. I ran into some people who pretty much are able to only see the glass of life as half empty. They’ve had many difficulties in life, but after talking with them I just felt so sad and sorry for them. When I got home, I knew I could wallow in their self-pity or I could crank up the music and praise God for all He has given to me. These friends have been stuck in the past dreading the changes life offers. Now I don’t like change either, especially when it comes with trials – chronic illnesses, infertility, floods, tornadoes, broken water pipes, health concerns, etc.
But then I look at these beautiful plants and flowering trees. They’ve been hibernating over the Winter after dying off in the Fall just to be able to withstand the harsh winds, snow and ice. Then when the sun comes out, temperatures warm and the Spring rains come, they burst for their glorious color and intricate beauty. Look at this Magnolia blossom, it’s beautiful before it even opens. The white, pinks and purples all gracefully coming out of the base of the bud. There’s not even leaves of the tree when the bud is showing off it’s glory. It doesn’t care if the sky is cloudy and overcast, it’s ready to praise its Maker. It’s not worried about any possibility of weather changes and even the “danger” of frost. It just obeys God’s command to glorify Him.
My heart grieves for these friends who are struggling to see God’s beauty in their lives. I am so grateful to be deeply content in You alone, for You have been there for me through all of the trials and blessings of life. Help me to keep these words in my heart and mind:
How can I keep from singing Your praise? How can I ever say enough, how amazing is Your love? How can I keep from shouting Your name? I know I am loved by the King and it makes my heart want to sing! ~ Chris Tomlin
So abundantly grateful for the blessing of being able to give praise and glory to God! ~ Faye
Christmas is the time for celebrating, anticipating, hoping, baking, cookies, presents given and received, special worship services and parties with family and friends. The holiday season can be a wonderful time with many blessings. But for some it is a time of loneliness, stress, tension, broken relations, unmet expectations and/or loss.
As Satan tries to steal my joy during this holy season with concerns over family relationships and dynamics, I have to continually counterattack him with reminders from God’s word that God knows my hurts.
Think of it. God grieves when His creation sin. He loves us so much and yet we willingly turn away from Him. God sent His Son to suffer, die, be rejected by his earthly family and while in the depths of hell His heavenly Father. He had to deal with loss and betrayal of friends so He could save us and give us eternal life. Jesus knows personally the pain that comes from broken relationships and sin in this world.
When Satan attacks your heart and tries to steal your spiritual JOY, make sure you turn it around – remember how much God the Father and God the Son LOVE you and understand where you are. God wants to have His children talk to Him, rely on Him, bring their hurts to Him. He will pour out His gracious blessings from His abundance.
When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. Romans 5:6-8 NLT
During the difficult times of the holiday season, I pray you will be filled with the abundance of God’s gracious blessings so that you are deeply content. Rely fully on God so that nothing can shake you.
I am blessed by a quote of Nancy Guthrie in her new book, Abundant Life Day Book.
“In the midst of the trouble and struggle and sorrow, you find yourself deeply secure, profoundly content and happy in [God.] To know [God], walk with [Him], and share life with [Him] – that is the essence of blessing.”
Praying you enjoy God’s abundant blessings of grace and peace ~ Faye
I just finished my Bible study of 1 John. God loved us so much (even before we were born) that He sent His one and only Son so that we may have eternal life. The Apostle John is so persistent in wanting us to know this that he repeats it in John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” 1 John 3:16a – “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up His life for us. …” 1 John 4:9 – “God showed how much He loved us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him. This is real love – not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.”
John wants us to know all we need to do is believe in Jesus Christ, God’s Son, as our Savior and Redeemer. We will be saved. And one day, we will receive the gift of eternal life.
Advent is also a time of anticipating Christ’s coming again.
I was studying the bride of Christ recently and learned the future groom comes to the future bride’s father and gives a dowry as a betrothal that is a vow/covenant with the promise that he will come again to claim his bride. The man then returns to his father’s house to prepare a home for his future bride. Not until the man’s father says everything is ready for the bride does the groom return. He doesn’t even know when until the Father tells Him.
Comparing the church to the bride of Christ, it struck me that even Christ is anticipating His return. Christ has to wait – actively because He is preparing rooms for each one of His believers when He brings them home to eternal life. Christ has to wait because He doesn’t know when He will return, only the Father does.
Our waiting should be active as well. I think one of my favorite and goal-setting verses from 1 John is 4:17 – “And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.” I CAN’T WAIT to see my LORD face to face. And I want to be able to boldly and confidently approach His throne because I have lived for Him filled with His love. There are many days I’m afraid I would be ashamed if Christ returned at that moment. However, if I remain in /abide in /belong to Him, I will live for Him and like Him. That will allow me to be bold and confident to approach His throne because I am filled with His love and humility.
Too often I find myself worrying about tomorrow or thinking of regrets in the past. I need to live in today loving and serving my God and King. I am being challenged by several readings lately to be content. A quote I read recently said “Contentment is a hallmark of living fully in the present, not in the past or future”. At first I totally agreed, especially if looking at the past involves regrets or the future worries. But I believe God has been challenging me to be content in all times.
Content in the past – It’s done. I continue to learn from what has happened.
Content today – Because God provides for all my daily needs.
Content in the future – even with all its uncertainty because I know Christ will return. I live with the anticipation from Psalm 27:4, “One thing I ask of the LORD and this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek Him in His temple.”
Praying you may be blessed while you wait with anticipation for Christ’s return ~ Faye
I’ve been struggling lately with worrying about tomorrow. Recently some symptoms have been showing up that have me concerned that my rheumatoid arthritis is progressing and treatment isn’t working like it has in the past. Having been down this road a few times, I’m ready to let my mind race ahead, search the Internet for what the symptoms might mean. Many of us live with chronic progressive illnesses that mean continual drug and treatment changes. Often it seems like the professionals are only guessing what will happen. Our bodies change frequently in ways we don’t want them too. Life gets very frustrating.
Some of us live with financial stresses. The paycheck doesn’t go far enough to meet the bills these days. Unexpected car repairs. Job layoffs and cutbacks. How can we be thankful when it’s so hard to get through each day? How in the world are we ever going to have a fun Christmas if we can’t pay what we have already?
God’s word tells us in Matthew 6:25-34
25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
Matthew reminds us that God Provides for ALL our needs. He makes sure the birds and lilies are provided for. Imagine how much more God who loves those who believe Him will provide for us. Psalm 23:1 says “The Lord is my shepherd; I have ALL I need.” I have all of my NEEDS met. I will rest on that promise, assured that He has today and tomorrow in His hands. He’s bigger than anything that I face in the future.
I find I’m singing the old song – His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
Why do I feel discourged? Why do the shadows come? And why does my heart feel lonely, And long for heaven and home? When Jesus is my portion; A constant friend is He. His eye is on the sparrow, And I know He watches me. I sing because I’m happy. And I sing because I’m free. His eye is on the sparrow, And I know He watches me.
Enjoy the day remembering God provides for all your needs ~ Faye
I seem to be surrounded with this topic this past week from Bible study, to worship planning, to family questions. So thought I’d share what I think contentment means to me. A quote from Dr. Billy Graham reminds us that we can be content within, even when everything seems to be very difficult:
The happiness which brings enduring worth to life is not the superficial happiness that is dependent on circumstances. It is the happiness and contentment that fills the soul even in the midst of the most distressing circumstances and the most bitter environment. It is the kind of happiness that grins when things go wrong and smiles through tears.
The Apostle Paul says he has learned to be content whatever the circumstances (Philippians 4:11-12). Those words sound simple, but look at Saul/Paul’s life. He spells out some of many things that have happened to him (2 Corinthians 11:23-30 – imprisoned, beaten, left for dead, stoned, shipwrecked, always in danger, hungry, sleepless), yet later he says he’s learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
But is it always that easy? My nephew asked a questions this morning on Facebook, “Why doesn’t God heal amputees?” There is no easy answer. God does what He decides in His timing. But when we rely on Him, we are filled with a calm assurance He is in control. He knows the bigger picture about what is best for us. Not necessarily what we want or desire, but what we need to help shape us into the person He wants us to be.
I think too often I focus on me, my pain, my discomfort, my fatigue. I don’t step back and look at the bigger picture – my faith has grown during my life, but it has really GROWN during the deepest trials. I’m not content with the trial, but I am content knowing that God is with me. He’s living in me, guiding me ahead each day, giving me strength for what comes next.
My husband is a men’s quartet fan, and so we have listened many years to the Cathedral Quartet. Years ago, George Younce read this poem by Red Foley
Today, upon a bus, I saw a lovely girl with golden hair,
I envied her….she seemed so gay….and wished I were so fair.
When suddenly she rose to leave, I saw her hobble down the aisle.
She had one leg and wore a crutch; but as she passed….a smile!
Oh God, forgive me when I whine,
I have two legs. The world is mine!
I stopped to buy some candy. The lad who sold it had such charm.
I talked with him. He seemed so glad. If I were late, t’would do no harm.
And as I left, he said to me, “I thank you. You have been so kind.
It’s nice to talk with folks like you. You see,” he said, “I’m blind.”
Oh God, forgive me when I whine.
I have two eyes. The world is mine.
Later while walking down the street, I saw a child with eyes of blue.
He stood and watched the others play. I stopped a moment,
When I said, “Why don’t you join the others, Dear?”
He looked ahead without a word, and then I knew he could not hear.
Oh God, forgive me when I whine.
I have two ears, the world is mine.
With feet to take me where I’d go, with eyes to see the sunset’s glow,
with ears to hear what I would know….
Oh God forgive me when I whine.
I am blessed indeed. The world is mine!
After the poem, they would end with We Are So Blessed, by Bill and Gloria Gaither
We are so blessed, by the gifts of Your hand we just can’t understand why You loved us so much. We are so blessed, we just can’t find a way or the words that can say, “Thank You, Lord, for Your touch.” When we’re empty You fill us ’til we overflow. When we’re hungry You feed us, and cause us to know. We are so blessed, take what we have to bring, take it all, everything, Lord, we love You so much.
We are so blessed by the things You have done, the victories we’ve won and what You’ve brought us through. We are so blessed, take what we have to bring, take it all everything, Lord, we bring it to You. When we’re empty You fill us ’till we overflow. When we’re hungry You feed us, and cause us to know. We are so blessed, take what we have to bring, take it all, everything, Lord, we love You so much.
A lot of contentment is just about perspective. Take time to see how God is pouring out His abundant blessings on you today. Have you seen Him? Please share, I love His divine appointments, encouragements, acts.
God’s abundant blessings ~ Faye