The Secret Every Baby Knows

Screenshot (1475)

My Musings – To be content is to accept or to be satisfied with ones circumstances.  Perhaps the best image of contentment is that of an infant or small child in the arms of their mother.  No matter what else may be going on around them, they feel safe and secure – content.

Paul is writing from prison.  Death is imminent by execution.  One would think he had little to rejoice about, much less greatly.  To reassure the Philippians, who were concerned about him, Paul related to them that he (in jail and facing execution) had no needs.  He had, in fact, learned to be content whether in need or in plenty – whatever the circumstances.

Of course, whether we are in want or when we have plenty – each circumstance presents its own challenges to being content.  When we have, we have a tendency to want what we do not have, leaving us discontented.  When we have not, it seems only natural to be discontented.  Yet often those in need are more likely to be contented than those who want.

So what is this big “secret” that Paul had learned?  Do not focus on the circumstances (“in need” or “have plenty“), focus on the relationship (“through Him who gives me strength“).

My Advice – One might be tempted to think that Paul, being a giant in the faith, couldn’t possibly understand our circumstances.  Think again.  Better yet, read the following written by Paul.  “I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?”  (2 Corinthians 11:23–29, NIV 1984).

So, if he can, we can.  But not in our own strength, but in Him who give us the strength to be so.

Today’s musing was inspired by Pastor Kevin Rutledge’s sermon on November 24, 2019. Check it out at https://www.fbcsycamore.com/sermons. If you live in or are visiting the area, come and join us Sundays at 10:30 a.m. We’d love to be partners in the Gospel with you.

Carried On To Completion

Screenshot (756)

My Musings – “I thank my God every time I remember you.”  Really?  Well, family  certainly.  Friends, possibly.  Partners in the Gospel?  Well, maybe not every time.  But you see they don’t always share equally in the partnership.

In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy.”  With joy?  All, all, always?  Well maybe not all my  prayers.  Maybe not all of them.  Maybe not always with joy.  But you, know, some times they disappoint me.

Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.”  Confident?  But you don’t know them like I do.  They’ve wandered.  They’re inconsistent. They’re far from complete.

Always Thankful – We have the family, friends and partners in the Gospel that God put in our lives.  And He put us in theirs.  If we are not thanking God every time we remember them, maybe it is us who are not sharing equally?

Always Pray With Joy – In all our prayers, if we don’t pray for them with joy, maybe we aren’t as thankful as we should be.  If we were, wouldn’t we always be joyful when we prayed for them?

Confident of Completion – If God did begin the good work, He will bring it to completion.  If we lack confidence in this we are focusing too much on the wandering and inconsistency and not enough on the “author and perfecter of our faith.

My Advice – Always thank God when you remember the people in your life.  They are a gift to you and you are a gift to them.  Pray with joy in all your prayers for all the people in your life.  They may not always make you happy.  Don’t let those periodic lapses and disappointments rob you of your joy because of them.  Place your confidence in God. That He will complete what He started in their lives.  Don’t let their temporary detours cause you to lose confidence in their ultimate destination.  Be encouraged.

Read the text again.  Wouldn’t you like to have people in your life that are like Paul?  Then why not “do unto others what you would have them do unto you?”  What would our family, friends and Gospel partnership relationships be like if we did?  Talk about thankfulness. Talk about joyfulness.  Talk about confidence.  All wrapped up in a passion for Christlikeness.

Today’s musing was inspired by Pastor Kevin Rutledge’s sermon “Fueled Relationships” on September 8, 2019.  Check it out at https://www.fbcsycamore.com/sermons.  If you live in or are visiting the area, come and join us Sundays at 10:30 a.m.  We’d love to be partners in the Gospel with you too.

 

 

A Mind Full

Screenshot (522)

My Musings – Carl Sagan wrote, “There is nothing unusual about the earth. It’s an average, unassuming rock that’s spinning mindlessly around an unremarkable star in a run-of-the-mill galaxy – ‘a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark.'”  Yet on this “unassuming rock” in this “great enveloping cosmic dark” God placed the crown-jewel of His creation – Man.  We know (Carl Sagan notwithstanding) this, because of all His creation only man was made in His image.

All of the other “work[s] of [His] fingers” are beyond our comprehension, because our finite minds cannot comprehend the infinite.  And yet “these are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him! Who then can understand the thunder of his power?” (Job 26:14, NIV 1984).  Who indeed?  Incomprehensible to us, yet still “how faint the whisper we hear of Him!”  The infinite is still merely the “outer fringe of His works.”  Try and wrap your head around that!

Which brings us back to the Psalm above, which is attributed to King David.  In the midst of all that has just been so inadequately described, “what is man that [He] is mindful (Attentive; regarding with care; bearing in mind; heedful; observant) of Him?”  That my friend, is a mind full indeed!

My Advice – “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” (Revelation 7:12, NIV 1984).

Joyful Prayer in All Circumstances

1 Thessalonians 5:16Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – If we continue in prayer, through the good times and the bad, if we thank God for the good and thank Him for being with us in the bad, we can learn the secret of being joyful always.

My Advice – Don’t let the pursuit of happiness be your primary motivation. It will disappoint you because happiness depends upon circumstances. Rather let the pursuit of joy be your motivation. You can have joy despite the circumstances.

Dancing & Crying

screenshot (351)

Luke 7:31-36“To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other:

“ ‘We played the flute for you,
and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
and you did not cry.’

For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners.” ’ But wisdom is proved right by all her children.” (NIV 1984)

My Musings – Sometimes my Sunday text, leads me to a comic to help illustrate it.  Other times, like the comic above, I find a comic that amuses me and I search out a text to go along with it.  I liked this week’s comic, but finding a text was challenging.

I wonder if sometimes my readers find my Sunday diversions into the “comic section” amusing or offensive?  Maybe some think I should stick with the “editorial page.”  I like to think we can find a word from God in both sections.  I, for one, am thankful that God blessed us with the ability to laugh now and then.

My Advice – Life has plenty of moments when we have to sing the dirge and cry.  Let’s take the opportunity when it comes to play the flute and dance.

Thanks(and)giving

Screenshot (300)

Deuteronomy 8:10When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God.  (NIV 1984)

My Musings – We are celebrating Thanksgiving in the U.S. (I have readers and followers from other countries).  It originated with the Pilgrims as a harvest festival, and has been celebrated nationally on and off since 1789, following a proclamation by the country’s first President George Washington (after a request by Congress no less).  Its celebration was intermittent until the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, when Thanksgiving became a federal holiday in 1863, during the American Civil War. Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” (Wikipedia)

As a nation, we have so much to be thankful for since that first Thanksgiving when the future might not have look so bright.  To a large extent, we (but not all) eat and are satisfied.  We’ve (but not all) built homes and settled down.  Our (but not all) bounty has increased and multiplied.  But perhaps also to a large degree, we (but also not all) have become proud.  Perhaps we’ve (but not all) forgotten Who is responsible for our blessings.  I think maybe (maybe not all) Congress has.

My Advice –  Give thanks to God, not just on the fourth Thursday of November, but every day.  Not just when we eat and are satisfied, but when we are in want.  Not just when we are settled in nice homes, but when we are left “out in the cold.”  Not just when our bounty is increasing and multiplying, but it is dwindling away.

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11-13, NIV 1984)

And when we are satisfied, when we are settled, when things are bountiful, let’s not forget that after the thanks comes giving.  For there are many, in our country and many more abroad, that have little to nothing to eat.  They have no shelter over their heads.  They have nothing to multiply (zero times infinity is still zero).

If one of your countrymen becomes poor and is unable to support himself among you, help him as you would an alien or a temporary resident. (Leviticus 25:35, NIV 1984, emphasis added).

God’s blessings to all my readers.

Though

Habakkuk 3:17, 18Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vine, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – Even if we have nothing, we have everything. Nothing we gain in this life can add value to what we have in Christ. Nothing we lose in this life can take away from our inheritance to come.

My Advice –  Thus far, you have lived a fairly privileged life. Good health, never in real want and the best education money could buy. Nevertheless, hard times may come to you at some time in your life. They are, in fact, quite common in the early years of being on your own. You are not alone in these times, God is with you. You can always rejoice in that and be joyful despite being in ne