Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Secret of Contentment

Contented Sheep in a Vermont Meadow

Psalms 95:6 & 7
O come let us worship and bow down:  let us kneel before the LORD our maker.
For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.

Whenever I come to this verse while reading the Psalms I find myself singing the song as written by Dave Doherty in 1980.  Several weeks ago I came to Psalms 95 in my Bible reading.  I made myself stop and read it in context.

Psalms 95

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD!  Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.

Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.

For the LORD [is] the great God, And the great King above all gods.

In His hand [are] the deep places of the earth; The heights of the hills [are] His also.

The sea [is] His, for He made it; And His hands formed the dry [land].

Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.

For He [is] our God, And we [are] the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His hand.

Today, if you will hear His voice:

"Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion, [fn] As [in] the day of trial [fn] in the wilderness,

When your fathers tested Me; They tried Me, though they saw My work.

For forty years I was grieved with [that] generation, And said, 'It [is] a people who go astray in their hearts, And they do not know My ways.'

So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest.' "

This Psalm is encouraging a worship that springs from deep within the heart of a contented sheep!  
It's only possible when we are focused on God as Creator, Redeemer, and the giver of every good and perfect gift.

When we meditate on God's nature and his works this kind of worship wells up in our hearts and we no longer need the exhortation to sing or shout.  Our hearts overflow with thanksgiving and songs of praise and shouts of joy.

But there is another kind of worship in this Psalm.  

It's the quiet still reverence for God as my own Maker and God.
It gets expressed in obedience to, cooperation with, and acceptance of the will of God.

Look closely at the second part of this Psalm.

How do you respond when you don't like the circumstances of your life?  Your marriage, your job, the city where you live, the current value of your house!  

The children of Israel saw God's mighty deeds in Egypt and as they travelled through the wilderness, but they would murmur and complain instead of ask and believe.  When they received divine provision they complained.

Their journey took 40 years because the first time they got near the promised land they wouldn't enter in because they didn't believe God could and would give them what he'd promised.

Do you want to be like those contented sheep in Vermont?  Embrace God's will for your life.  Quit questioning or resisting.

Do you believe God?  Take some time to find the promises he's given you and let those promises stir your faith again.  You'll find that his peace will guard your heart and his joy will fill your soul.

Your circumstances might not change at all, but you'll change.  You'll enter into his rest.

One day at a time.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Making a Difference

Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.  1 Corinthians 10:24

Do you watch NBC Nightly News?

There's a segment toward the end called 'Making a Difference'.

Your life can make a difference.  That's reassuring to know.  But will anything we do count 5 years from now?  10?  How about 50?  How about forever?

Do you want your life to count forever?  Make the good of others your goal.  A life that counts for eternity is a life that mattered to others.  Your life can bring joy, peace, and love to everyone around you.  That's actually God's will for your life.  He wants to fill you with His Spirit, with wisdom, and with His love.  Are you willing to receive and turn around and give out what you received?  

My husband began a Bible Training Center in Ghana West Africa over 10 years ago.  A story he tells from his travels to remote villages made the truth of 1 Cor. 10:24 come alive.  He had taken packages of Skittles with him and when the little children came running up to welcome he and his companions Gary gave them handfuls of Skittles.  He noticed that the children then shared them with the other kids throughout the village.  Any kind of treat is such a rarity that many will never receive even one throughout their childhood.  It really touched him that they shared so freely with others.  They didn't hoard it for themselves.  

Each one ended up with the new experience of a rare treat and the shared experience of giving and receiving a blessing.

As humans we contend with selfish concern throughout our lives.  As Christians we're commanded to make the good of others a priority.  It's what Jesus did throughout his life.  He didn't come to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom.  It's what he wants to do through your life too.  He'd like to give you the chance to share with others and help them experience the joy, and peace, and love of God.  

How about it?  Are you willing to make a difference?

One day at a time,