Friday, January 27, 2012


"How shall we then live?" is the title of a book by Dr. Francis Schaeffer, but it's an appropriate question for all Christians to ask. We were created to glorify God, so He cares ardently about our answer. His Word is full of His fatherly counsel on the subject, so I just wanted to share a few of my gleanings with my friends ~


The Lord is insistent that we live in the reality of His goodness (Deuteronomy 28:47-48). His glory is the reason we need to live a life that is undergirded by joy. To live otherwise is an insult to God.

The following are just a few of the blessings we receive from the Lord upon which we can base our joy:
• We have the pleasure of the Lord’s company at all times.
• We are at peace with Him; no need to fear His wrath in judgment.
• Any time we have need, we have access to His wisdom through the free counsel of the Holy Spirit.
• We can trust God to handle all things that happen in our lives for an ultimate good.

When we don’t live joyfully, it is open sin because a joyless life reflects ingratitude, a lack of trust, and a callous despising of the good the Lord has done for us.

To live “with joy and to serve God with a glad heart,” doesn’t mean that we aren’t going feel grief when a loved one dies, or that we aren’t allowed to feel hurt when someone doesn’t treat us kindly. Our emotions are legitimate. They are a product of the good gift of intelligence that God has given to us. We live on Earth, the fallen planet, and we experience that painful reality daily; therefore, living our lives with joy simply means we are not going to react to those feelings with the hopelessness and despair of those who don’t know Jesus.


If attitudes could be compared to the ingredients used in making a cake, then thankfulness would be the main ingredient in mixing-up a happiness cake. As the Word teaches us in Proverbs 23:7, “As a man thinks within himself, so shall he be,” the most effective way to increase your joy is to increase the thankfulness quotient of your thoughts. As you begin living in a state of greater gratitude, you will grow increasingly sensitized to the real presence of the Lord’s grace in your life.

Cultivating an attitude of gratefulness can be quite difficult for some people because they have spent a lifetime training themself in the opposite. We all know a few people like Eeyore, the very negative donkey from the Winnie the Pooh stories. My husband and I have one in our Growth Group right now, and though we love our Eeyore, sadly, she is never happy. Look inside yourself to see if you might be one of these people. If you are, recognize that failing to appreciate the things for which you should be thankful is sin; but don’t despair.

The Holy Spirit is the antidote for an ungrateful heart. Ask for His help when you pray. Plead with the Spirit to point out your blessings, telling Him that you desire a grateful heart, but that you have grown too dull to be able to identify them for yourself.

Becoming preoccupied with your wants, petty complaints, and minor irritations, will cause you to forget just how much happiness you already have. By focusing on your unfulfilled wants, whether of a physical or emotional nature, you will cheat yourself of the pleasures of the season that you are in.

God has given us an abundance of blessings and treasure, but it’s all too easy to brush right past these without acknowledgement. We can be a bit like children ripping through birthday presents with such greed that there is no pleasure in the gifts. Thus it is with the gift of happiness; it’s all too easy to “rip” past without noticing that you are happy, that you have what you need, you have Who you need, and that your life is good. If you live in an attitude of gratefulness, you will be less likely to: 1) misjudge your circumstances, 2) experience unpleasant envy, and 3) resent sharing.

Perhaps, the application of joyful living is most challenged in marriage. My son, Zane, a marriage and family therapist, has told me that many psychologists have come to recognize that a sense of gratitude is the magic happiness-elixir for which everyone is searching. Some researchers even suggest that gratitude might well be the antidote for falling out of love, as it somehow functions as a vaccination against infidelity and divorce.

Think about how much it means to you to be recognized for the love and care you give to your family as a spouse and parent. That’s a normal, human reaction. Despite our many gender differences, men and women are identical in this need. Receiving gratitude feels wonderful to us. Your spouse feels the very same way, so why be unkind and withhold appreciation and recognition from them? Show mercy to your mate by recognizing their good contributions to you and the family. It’s the right, God-pleasing thing to do.

When you express gratitude and appreciation for your husband or wife, do it out loud in front of the children. You will be doing what is right, and you will be role-modeling the way loving people behave toward each other. If you are a parent with an ungrateful heart, you will be teaching your children to be ungrateful people, and therefore, you will be signing them up for an unhappy, discontented future of their own.

A parent who lives with a thankful spirit will also be teaching their children good manners because ungratefulness is essentially very rude and boorish behavior. We know the ancients recognized the correlation between "gratitude" and "grace" because they share a common Latin origin, gratus. Gratus means "pleasant", a key ingredient in good manners. Never forget that your children are training for life under you. For better or worse, they are your little apprentices, and what they see in you, they will soon be reenact.


We glorify God with our contentment!

Pastor John MacArthur has explained this better than anyone I have ever heard, so I copied it down to share with you. When I first heard this message in 1981, he was teaching about the broader subject of worship and explaining how contentment is a big part of what constitutes true worship. His explanation revolutionized my thinking, and therefore my living, my concept of worship, and my prayer life. I close by offering this quote from his teaching:

“Who made you the way you are minus your sin? God did, right? So you should be content with yourself. Who put you in the situation you're in? And all of its circumstances apart from the sin in it. God did. You are what you are, where you are, because God put you there. If you're content, then, you're acknowledging God's sovereignty in your life. That gives Him glory. If you're discontent, malcontent, your real gripe is with God's wisdom. Got that? And if you sit in it, in a state of discontent, you are, in effect, blaming God. And you are questioning God's permission, which allowed that thing to happen. Contentment acknowledges God's sovereignty, and God, therefore, is glorified.

Discontent, beloved, is sin, because it robs God of glory. There is nothing, I think nothing more subtle sometimes than...than the sneaking, kind of growing vine of discontent. A discontented Christian, I don't care if you're discontent over your home, over your job, over your location, over your husband, over your kids, over whatever, a discontent Christian is a terrible advertisement for the sovereignty of God. You see? What kind of a God do we have? Can you really trust Him? Do you know that He put you where He put you and expects you to be content? Beloved, glorifying God means that you praise Him with a full heart in absolute contentment knowing that your lot is God's plan for you now, and accepting it with contentment gives Him glory.”

Sunday, January 15, 2012


The purpose of church restoration is the spiritual healing of a fallen member and the consequent strengthening of the church and glorifying of the Lord. When a sinning believer is rebuked and turns from his sin and is forgiven, he is won back to fellowship with the body and with its head, Jesus Christ. 
In His own words, here is the Lord’s perspective and instruction to the Church on these occasions:

1. The seriousness of sin:
1 Corinthians 6:12-19  All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body. Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “The two shall become one flesh.” But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

2. The immense worth of the repentant sinner:
Luke 15:4-7  “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

3. The vital ministry of restoration:
Galatians 6:1-2  Brethren, if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.

4. The need to forgive completely:
Matt. 6:14  For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will forgive you too; but if you do not forgive people, neither will your heavenly Father forgive your trespasses.

We forgive the repentant one with our hearts and restore them to fellowship when they repent. The word restore means to repair something, or bring it back to its original condition; therefore, we are to begin a whole process of relational rebuilding that helps put the life of the repentant sinner back on the walk with the Spirit that they had before they sinned. The process is to hold them up and build them up with love, forgiveness, and a humble heart, realizing that we fall, too, because we’re not exempt from the weaknesses of the flesh. Spiritual pride and vainglory have no place among Believers, as there is not one of us that is better than another.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Ever heard the ironic statement, “Be careful what you wish for, you might get it?”

Of course, the irony doesn’t lie in the possibility that we might get those things for which we are wishing; it lies in the fact that humans have so little capacity to know what’s good for them. We are just too limited in our self-knowledge to know what we should desire and what will actually be needful. While there are numerous factors contributing to this lack, there are several that deserve extra consideration:

One major contributor to our appalling lack of self-knowledge can be found in the Book of Jeremiah, which offers us an interesting insight into why we are so blind to what might truly be in our best interest. (Jeremiah 17:9 (The heart is deceitful above all things. . .”.) It is certain that the primary person the human heart “deceives” above all others is its own self. We listen to our heart, but it does not speak truth to us. The human heart is impure because pride, fear, and avarice are its advisors. Only the Lord God knows and speaks truth.

Our human judgment is also impeded by the nature of our existence in time. We dwell within the dimension of time because it is the milieu in which we were created. Both past and future are ephemeral representations that only have being in the memories and imaginings of our brain. They have no existence in the present moment, wherein we must always exist; therefore, we have no ability alter what has happened in the past and, despite our many machinations, we have only a minuscule ability to impact what will happen in times to come.

Because we cannot know the future and can only rely upon the unsure application of knowledge garnered from past, we are not qualified to know what will be necessary or best for us when future finally becomes present. With such limitations, one has to marvel as humanity stubbornly persists in the urgent push to satisfy its wants, and as it insistently pursues ill-advised dreams whose fulfillment could well turn out to be terribly distressing. It is indeed ironic that people continue to make “wishes” at all, and it is no wonder that the wisdom of the Word is continually urging us not to spend our energies projecting outcomes.

God specifically tells His people not to attempt to foresee the future, on pain of death, and the only reason He offers is, “I am to the Lord your God.”
Leviticus 19:31 - Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God.

I believe the Lord has purposely kept His explanation simple, even a little cryptic, because He wants us to consider it closely. He seems to be leading us toward a little exercise in compare-and-contrast between the reality of His power and our own limitations that might go something like this:

God is all-powerful. Am I?
God is omnipresent. Am I?
God is infinite. Am I?
God is completely trustworthy. Am I?
God is Sovereign over all times, places, and beings. Am I?
God is unlimited in His lovingkindness. Am I?

Even the quickest run through such a comparison clearly proves that God is all the sufficiency we need for our future. A person would have to be a great fool trust in themselves rather than in God; particularly since the Lord has demonstrated His immense goodwill toward us by sending His Son for our rescue. Jesus testifies to this truth:
John 14:1: Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.
John 14:27: I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

Let’s worship the Lord by beginning this newest year by laying aside all stress and worry, and purposing to live every day with a calm spirit and a contented trust in our Lord. Contentment and trust, offerings born of the faith He has given to us, are the true worship He seeks.