Resolutions 2008: Contentment

You have a lot of choices when it comes to New Year’s resolutions. You could pick the usual culprits, lose weight, eat better, control anger, get up earlier, exercise more, read you bible more, pray more, saving money, and etc. But what if you did something different?

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.”So we say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5-6

What if you decided to be content with everything you have in 2008? Everything? I mean everything.  Here is a list of things to be content with,

How much money you have, the things you own, house, car, clothes, shoes, your job, friends, family, your kids, your spouse, your sex life, how about pets or your lack of pets, your looks, and ultimately yourself.

I am not talking about grudgingly accepting your lot in life. I mean really learning to be happy with what God has provided and how God has created you. Remember, He gives good gifts and He loves you.

I have seriously considered trying to get through 2008 without buying any stuff. No new clothes, no car, no major new purchases of any kind. I would limit my spending to food, shelter, and family. Think you could do it? Think for just a minute about all the things you were thinking of getting for yourself next year. Just think about it.

But godliness with contentment is great gain. 1 Timothy 6:6

God bless. Think more. Be content.

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The Eyes Have It

I know you have heard all the time management gurus tell us, “He who fails to plan, plans to fail.” If we do not have a goal to complete, a target to hit, or a destination to go, we will fall short of what we hope to achieve. This is true in sports, business, and also in our spiritual walk.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3

No one plans to sin? We do not go out looking for entanglements? Ever want to fall and flounder around? We do not want to fail. But do you have a target? If it is anything but Jesus the race will be hard to finish.

Jesus kept his eyes on his goal. He let nothing keep him from completing His plan. He set his heart on doing the will of God and endured the cross. His reward, the right hand of the throne of God.

Keep your eyes on Jesus. And you will not grow weary and lose heart.

God bless.

You Might be an Older Brother: Hard Heart

It has been a while since I wrote about the older brother. The book of Hebrews has many themes that relate to the problems the older brother had. First and foremost is about heart conditions. The older brother definitely had a serious heart condition. It was hard.

Symptoms of a hard heart include, apathy, hate, judgmental attitudes, stubbornness, and worst of all spiritual blindness. Individuals diagnosed with a hard heart include, Pharaoh, the Apostles (from time to time), Pharisees, and of course the Older Brother. One diagnosis came from Jesus while speaking to a group of people.

Then he turned to his critics and asked, “Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” But they wouldn’t answer him.

He looked around at them angrily and was deeply saddened by their hard hearts. Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored! At once the Pharisees went away and met with the supporters of Herod to plot how to kill Jesus. Mark 3:4-6

The Pharisees in this account refused to answer Jesus’ question because they could not bring themselves to acknowledge Jesus’ authority. They refused to answer the question because they knew they would be exposed. Just too stubborn to change. To hard to be molded into the image of God.

The author of Hebrews warns his readers too.

Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ. Hebrews 3:12-14

Warning: Check your heart condition, not evil and unbelieving, typical symptoms of hard hearts. Hearts deceived by sin and hardened against God. The result of a hard heart, turning away from God.

Encouragement: TODAY! Hold firmly to your faith, trust God. Be careful because sin (something we might claim to be able to control) will lead us away and deceive us.

Want to share in all that belongs to Christ? Sure you do. Start working on your heart. Sprinkle a little heart softener around. Faith in God, hold to what you believe, resist sin, trust God.

God bless. Stay soft.

What Pleases God?

Have you ever felt like you were working overtime to please someone but end the end found out you had no idea what would make them happy? Confused?

How often have you bent over backwards trying to do something for someone else and they never ever appreciated what you did for them?

It happens all the time. We work hard, sacrifice the things we want, spend time with people we do not want to, obey unwritten rules, and basically make ourselves miserable trying to get the next promotion, win a mate, satisfy a friend, or _______. You fill in the blank.

Unfortunately the world is doing the same thing with God. Stop and think of all the ways, methods, rules, and groups worshiping God. The funny thing is, there is only one Bible that tells us about God and what he wants. I just cannot imagine that God ever intended it be so complicated.

Know what? It is not complicated.

Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God. Hebrews 13:15-16

Have you ever stopped and asked yourself, “What does God really want?” The world’s religions are looking for the perfect sacrifice to appease God. AND all he really wants is for us to do good and to share. Christians the world over could do no better this Christmas than to proclaim allegiance to God and offer to him a sacrifice of praise, good works and share.

I am reminded of what God said through Micah,

No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

Stop sinning and stop loving the wrong things. Walk, walk humbly with God. Know Him, love Him, rely on Him. Glorify Him.

God bless. Be simple.

Free From Money

Do you feel as enslaved to things and money as I do? I really wish I could be content with what I have. Not wanting another thing. Free.

Impossible you say? (I am there with you.)

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5-6

The practical implication of these verses is fantastic! Never left alone, God as my helper? Can this be true?

Question: Will you trust him? Really trust him?

Answer: Pray

Lord, teach me to trust you.
Open my heart and my eyes.
I want to see your presence in my life every day.
Forgive my unbelief. Amen.

God bless. Pray like your life depends on it.

Don’t Give Up

How long must we endure? When will Jesus’ promised rest come?

Welcome to the faithful few who wait. The recipients of the Hebrew letter did not know how long they would have to wait either. Not knowing how long you have to wait makes the wait even longer.

It is one thing to wait in a line that is slowly shrinking. It is entirely another to stand in a stagnant line waiting another move.

God has always wanted to test his faithful. He wants to know we will wait. That is what Hebrews 11 is about. Faithful heroes who died waiting for their promises to be fulfilled. In Hebrews 10, the Christians are called to persevere.

So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.

“For in just a little while,
the Coming One will come and not delay.
And my righteous ones will live by faith.
But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.”

But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved. Hebrews 10:35-39

We must not be like those who turned away. We must keep our eyes on Christ. Then we can enter Christ’s special rest.

Now if Joshua had succeeded in giving them this rest, God would not have spoken about another day of rest still to come. So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall. Hebrews 4:8-11

I know this is heavy stuff. I also know how nearly impossible it is to remain faithful, practically unattainable. I have no secret power, no great knowledge. I only know what remains.

God bless. Faith, hope, and love. (1 Corinthians 13)

An Old Prayer To Pray

Now may the God of peace—
who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus,
the great Shepherd of the sheep,
and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood—
may he equip you with all you need
for doing his will.
May he produce in you,
through the power of Jesus Christ,
every good thing that is pleasing to him.
All glory to him forever and ever! Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21

This is the concluding prayer from the Author of Hebrews. A prayer worthy of our lips today.

God bless. Pray.