Revive Me #39– Be Content

Revive Me, Week 39–A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Be Content

Discontentment keeps us from being satisfied.

  • The job you were thankful to land is no longer good enough.
  • Stay-at-home moms resent being stuck at home.
  • Moms who work outside the home grumble about never having enough time to get things done at home.
  • Preachers’ wives and elders’ wives resent the demands on their time or the time their husband gives to others.
  • Bible class teachers resent being stuck in the same classroom for years.

What once were viewed as blessings or opportunities to serve can become sources of disgruntlement!  Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that we are God’s people and that should satisfy us (Psa. 65:4; Prov. 19:23).

Discontentment blinds us to the blessings found in Christ.

  • Hope and glory (Eph. 1:18)
  • Grace (2 Cor. 9:8)
  • Strength (Eph. 3:16)
  • Love and fullness (Eph. 3:17-19)
  • Might (Eph. 1:19)
  • Peace (Phil. 4:7)

Those who are focused on self find the flaws and see only inadequacies.  Even these blessings are no longer good enough.  Contentment reflects a heart that focuses on God’s blessings and trusts Him with the rest.

Discontentment is a sign of a weakened spiritual state.  In the passages that command us to be content, we see a direct correlation between our level of contentment and our relationship with God.

  • Heb. 13:5- Make sure your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He himself has said, “I will never desert you nor will I forsake you.”  Contentment is based on God’s promise to be with us.  He will never turn His back on us, and that should be enough.
  • Phil. 4:11- I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  How could Paul do that?  By relying on Christ’s strength (v. 13).  Discontentment happens when we try to rely on our own strength.
  • 1 Tim. 6:6ff- Godliness with contentment is great gain…If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.  Paul goes on to write that those who long for more have wandered away from the faith.

Be content.  Who are you most drawn to…those who find fault and are never satisfied or those who are grateful and content?  When we choose to be content, we lift up the cross and draw others to Christ (John 12:32).  When we give in to discontentment, we keep the world from seeing the blessings of being in Christ (Rom. 10:12).

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits:

Who forgives all your iniquities

Who heals all your diseases

Who redeems your life from destruction

Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies

Who satisfies you with good things.

–Psalm 103:2-5

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  List the blessings found in these verses:  Rom. 15:13; Eph. 1:7,8; 2:7; 3:20; Psa. 119:165
  2.  If discontentment has taken root in your heart, determine the cause.  Have you become self-absorbed?  Have you allowed bitterness to color your thinking?  Are you caught up in the world’s mindset of always wanting more?
  3.  Read Rom. 12:2.  How is this verse tied to contentment?
  4.  As a parent or grandparent, focus this week on teaching contentment.  Be mindful of ways you might be inadvertently encouraging discontentment.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

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Revive Me #38–Don’t Let Satan

Revive Me, Week 38– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Don’t Let Satan

Have you ever mishandled a situation and ended up hurting someone’s feelings?

Have you ever given bad advice that turned a minor incident into full-out drama?

Have you ever felt inadequate to the task or overwhelmed by your responsibilities?

Have you ever felt too immature?  Have you ever wondered when you’ll gain the wisdom that’s supposed to come with age and experience?

And have you ever had one of those weekends where you felt ALL of those things at once?

If you’re anything like me, perhaps you then start wanting to retreat.  That’s it…I quit.  I’m obviously not the right person for the job.  What was I thinking?  When those types of thoughts start swirling around, we need to remember the source.  How does the song go?  “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.  Don’t let Satan…..”

Of course we’re going to make mistakes and demonstrate immaturity or lack of wisdom.  When those less than stellar moments happen back to back, it can be tempting to walk away.  We might think we’re doing it for the greater good (“Someone else can do a better job”) but we need to remember that sometimes it takes humbling events to catch our attention and cause growth.  Just do better next time.  Learn from it.  Pray for wisdom and spiritual maturity.  When we feel frustrated and idiotic, we have a choice.  We can allow Satan to blow out our light or we can trust God to help us do better next time.

For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers (1 Tim. 4:10).

Suggestions for the Week:

1.  If you’ve messed up somehow, do what you can to remedy the situation.  Do you need to ask for forgiveness?  Do you need to consider the big picture?  Do you need to help clean up a mess you’re partly responsible for?

2.  Pray for patience with yourself.  Pray for wisdom.

3.  Don’t indulge in a pity party.

4.  Open the Word.  Study passages that have to do with spiritual maturity and determine to apply them to your life.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

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Revive Me #37- Fight for Relationships

Revive Me, Week 37– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Fight for Relationships

Perhaps you’ve seen some status posts or memes that convey a “that’s their problem” mentality.  They’ll say things like:

Sometimes you have to move on without certain people.  If they’re meant to be in your life, they’ll catch up.

I’m tired of fighting.  For once I want to be fought for.

Life is short.  Only surround yourself with people who get you.

Relationships are worth fighting for but not if only one is fighting.

These comments are sad, aren’t they?  They reveal a short-sightedness that comes from thinking like the world.  Relationships are worth fighting for.  They’re important to God and should be to us as well.  I’m not talking about relationships that are unwholesome (1 Cor. 15:33).  I’m talking about:

  • Being willing to swallow our pride to work through hurt feelings with a sister in Christ
  • Drumming up the courage to form friendships with our neighbors
  • Continuing to be kind to those who have been thoughtless or mean
  • Honoring our parents even if they’ve let us down
  • Putting our spouse’s needs before our own, every day
  • Giving ourselves, offering our time, opening our hearts to our church family without burning out or getting huffy if we don’t feel our efforts are being reciprocated

God wants us to fight for good relationships.  He wants US to make the first move to show others we care.  Read Romans 12:9-21.

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Break down Rom. 12:9-21 phrase by phrase.  List a practical way to demonstrate each command.
  2.  Is there a strained relationship in your life?  Have you done your part to work through it?  Pray about it and reach out again.
  3.  Check your heart.  Is pride keeping you from making things right with someone?  Have you been lazy in your efforts to show love?
  4.  Begin to form a new relationship this week.  Choose a neighbor, an elderly person or nursing home resident, a new Christian, etc.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

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Revive Me #36- Hug Like You Mean It

Revive Me, Week 36– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Hug Like You Mean It

“Let go of whatever it was that turned you into a tentative hugger, and hug like you mean it.”

I’ve been doing too much mindless hugging lately.  When my husband walks in the door, I often hug him but my mind might be elsewhere.  I can be in the middle of hugging a member of my church family but my eyes will be searching for that person I need to talk to.  And I don’t even want to think about how many hugs from my sons I didn’t really focus on.

A couple of things have caused me to think about this:

  1.  The brevity of life (James 4:13-17).  I’ve recently heard of a couple of sudden, unexpected deaths.  I imagine their loved ones are recalling their last interactions with the departed.  They probably want nothing more than to hold them one more time.  When you wish you could hug someone but you can’t, you know the value of a simple hug.  I also know of some who have a loved one entering hospice care.  Surely every hug from now on will be more meaningful, more precious.
  2. The power of a good hug.  I’ve been the recipient of a couple of heartfelt hugs lately, the kind that make me pause and think, “Oh, this is a real hug.”  Real hugs leave me feeling bolstered and loved, as if I just received a gift.  They make me smile say, “thank you!”  They convince me to be more deliberate with my own hugging.

“A hug delights and warms and charms.  That must be why God gave us arms.”

Non-huggers may be cringing at this post.  That’s okay.  You have your own form of greeting and encouraging (a hearty handshake?).  The point of this Revive Me challenge is to remind us to be “all there” when we engage with others.  Smile warmly, look others in the eye, and hug for real.  For some, it may be just the boost they need to keep on keeping on.

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Hug the stuffing out of your family members this week.  Give your husband extra doses.  Cherish every child-hug.  And especially hug the elderly in your family.
  2.  Determine to give up distracted greetings.  Give one-on-one attention to each person you meet at worship.
  3.  Go out of your way to hug the unhuggable (not the ones who don’t like hugs…that wouldn’t be very nice).  Look for the insecure, angry, or rebellious.  Help them understand God’s compassion by offering a warm hug.
  4.  Never let a gathering go by where you don’t hug the widows and widowers.  For some of them, it may be the only contact they enjoy during the week.
  5.  Just for fun, do some research into the science of hugging to learn some of the health benefits.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

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Revive Me #35–Help Others Stay Faithful

Revive Me, Week 35– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Help Others Stay Faithful

“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another,

because love covers a multitude of sins.”

(1 Peter 4:8)

In a lesson for women entitled, “When My Love for Man Grows Weak,” I shared this verse and said, “Sincere love for one another is what keeps our relationships intact despite our shortcomings.  But yesterday I heard a different application.  Brett Petrillo, our youth minister, said that when we show love to a brother or sister, we are keeping them from going wayward.  That really caught my attention!  The point of his whole lesson was that when we all work together we can accomplish much.  If one of us demonstrates love to a fellow Christian, that’s good.  But if we ALL do our part to actively love that same Christian, he or she will be less likely to wander off into the world.

Doesn’t that add an even greater motivation to love others?  And it makes perfect sense.  If we’re loving like we should, we will be patient and kind (1 Cor. 13:4).  We will gently warn those who seem to be drifting and will help bear their burdens as they struggle (Gal. 6:1,2).  We will be with them through their bad times (Prov. 17:17).  We will give of ourselves (1 John 4:10,11).  And from our text (1 Pet. 4:8), the next verses tell us how to show that love that covers a multitude of sins.  “Be hospitable to one another” (v. 9).  “Serve one another” (v. 10).

What better way to grow closer to the Lord than to do our part to help others stay close to Him as well?

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  There are members of your congregation who might be growing weary in their work, who feel lonely or left out, or who feel like the odd-man-out because they’re single or divorced.  Choose one of those individuals or couples and have them into your home this week.  Focus on them.  Let them know you’re paying attention.  Pray with them.
  2.  Keep your eyes open when you meet with the saints.  Seek out those you don’t get to speak to as often.  Ask how they’re doing in a way that invites specific answers.  Listen to them and hug them.
  3.  Send a few “for no reason” cards to let brand new Christians, teens, or struggling members know you care.
  4.  Who hasn’t been to worship in a while?  Call them and let them know you miss them.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

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Photo credit: May Busch

Revive Me #34–Pray for the People of God

Revive Me, Week 34– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Pray for the People of God

I’m at Polishing the Pulpit this week and was able to attend a powerful lecture by John Moore (of Dripping Springs, TX) on the subject of prayer.  He said if our prayer life is like the apostle Paul’s, then:

  1.  We will place a high value on prayer- Eph. 6:18
  2.  We will speak and talk about prayer with others- Phil. 1:3-11
  3.  We will be constant in prayer- 1 Thess. 3:9-13
  4.  We will extol the nature of God (“extol” means “to speak in a positive way about enthusiastically”)- 2 Thess. 1:3-12
  5.  We will center ourselves upon the Christ of God- Col. 1:13-20
  6.  We will concern ourselves with the people of God (see verses below)

It is this last point that I want to share with you.  Brother Moore pointed out the different ways in which Paul prayed for God’s people.

Let us concern ourselves with the people of God.  Let us pray that…

  • They will be filled (Col. 1:9)
  • They will walk worthy, pleasing God and bearing fruit (Col. 1:9,10)
  • They will increase in the knowledge of God (Col. 1:10)
  • They will be strengthened with all power (Col. 1:11)
  • They will give thanks (Col. 1:12)
  • They will not do anything wrong (2 Cor. 13:7)
  • Their faith will be perfected (2 Cor. 13:9)
  • They will have wisdom that they may know hope and the greatness of God’s power (Eph. 1:18-22)

As Brother Moore said, “Satan doesn’t want Christians to see these things!”  Imagine the impact we can have on strengthening the Lord’s church if we all began praying these same things.  Oh how we need to unite and stand strong in our current culture!

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Pray these things for God’s people every day.
  2.  Pray these things for your family every day.
  3.  Look up the Scripture references and read Paul’s original prayers.

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(Photo borrowed from Bear Valley Bible Institute collection)

Revive Me #33– Grow Through Change

Revive Me, Week 33– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Grow Through Change

In my personal life I’m in the midst of four major changes.  Change is a natural part of life.  I know this fact but I’m a chicken.  I wrestle with fear, insecurity, and just saying goodbye to what used to be.  While I may be the only chicken, I know I’m not the only one facing change.

Our Nation Changes.  From the leadership to the values it upholds, our nation is not the same as it used to be.  I imagine we have more changes to come.

Our Church Families Change.  The kingdom will stand (Dan. 2:44) but the makeup of each body fluctuates.  Neal and I were just discussing all the changes that have occurred in the ten years we’ve been here.  Several members have gone on to their reward, various leaders have come and gone, and dear families have moved away.

Our Homes Change.  Children come into the home and then before you know it, children leave the home.  Aging parents or others may need to live in your home.

Even Our Bodies Change.  Aging.  Enough said.

While the items I mentioned aren’t all negative, they are definitely changes.  How can we face them gracefully?

  • Remember the One who never changes.  “For I am the Lord; I do not change” (Mal. 3:6).  His promises stand regardless of shifting circumstances (2 Pet. 1:1-4).  His love for us is constant (Rom. 8:37-39).
  • Turn the changes into a challenge.  Who doesn’t love a good challenge?  It can be invigorating and life-giving.  When fear threatens, remember that growth comes from being stretched.  Facing challenges builds strength and confidence through Jesus Christ our Lord (Phil. 4:13).
  • See the Blessings.  Those who have experienced change will probably tell you that some good came about as a result (James 1:2-4).
  • See the Opportunities.  Times of change can be the perfect time to try new things, to test yourself, to walk through open doors that you’ve been hesitant to before.  God has work for us always (Eph. 2:10).

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  To prepare for changes in our nation, pray for courage.  We all need to stand up for what’s right and shine for Christ regardless of threats, persecution, or personal cost.
  2.  For changes in the church family, pay attention to who could use some love.  New members?  Recent widows?  Help those who are most affected cope by being their source of encouragement.
  3.  In your own family, thank God for any who might be in your care now.  It is always a blessing.  Open your heart to those who may need your care.  Don’t be hesitant to let go and let God (*pointing to myself big time here).
  4. Concerning your body, keep up with time.  Work to keep it in good condition so you can serve to the best of your ability.  Exercise more, make better food choices, drink plenty of water, and don’t become crotchety.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

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Revive Me #32–Light Up Your World

Revive Me, Week 32– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Light Up the World

This year’s theme at Higher Ground was “A Dark World Needs Bright Lights,” but it’s easy to get discouraged when we think in terms of the whole world.  It’s big, dark, and seemingly determined to reject God.  There are some simple ways, though, that we can light up our world.  We can make a difference in all the places we are this week…our homes and our communities.  And imagine the difference it can make when  we’re all lighting up our own little corners together!

We can light up our world by smiling.  Such a simple thing, really, but what an impact!  I have to remind myself that my face doesn’t naturally fall into a joyful expression.  Instead, it looks rather annoyed, or “long,” as someone recently pointed out.  But I know many who are smiling every time I see them.  It lifts me up, and makes me want to smile in return.  I imagine all who come in contact with them are blessed, simply because the joy in their heart is reflected on their face (Phil. 4:4; Psa. 16:9; Prov. 10:28).   I can smile more.  Surely I can do that.

We can light up our world by having a positive outlook.   You probably know someone like this.  Their life isn’t easy, but you wouldn’t know it from their words.  They talk (and post) about the good in life, and the Source of their blessings.  They keep looking up.  Their trust in God permeates their attitude and demeanor.  Because of their serenity, others are drawn to them, and want to know the secret to their peaceful confidence.  How are they living brightly?  Their lack of pessimism and complaint stands out, and points the way to Christ (Phil. 2:14; 4:11).  If being optimistic helps others see Jesus, what does my grumbling do?  I need to remember that.

We can light up our world by encouraging others to see the Word.  I’m thankful for the people in my life who do this.  Their posts contain Scripture.  They turn their life experiences into  teaching opportunities.  They remind us why we’re here, what the Bible has to say, and how we can make it real.  With all of the worldly messages swirling around us, I am especially grateful for those who combat it with glimpses into the eternal, hope-giving Word.  We can never get enough of that.  They shine by turning simple, daily rituals into opportunities to plant the Seed (Mark 16:15; Psa. 96:3; Rom. 1:16).   What if each day I look for at least one way to share the Word.  Will it make a difference?  Oh yes.  God’s Word is living and powerful (Heb. 4:12).  All I have to do is remember to help others see it.

None of the three ways I’ve mentioned involve money or a great deal of time.  There’s no fear of embarrassment or persecution, usually.   It’s just letting God’s love shine through the darkness in simple ways.

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Smile.  Smile at your spouse and your children.  Smile in the checkout lines.  Smile in traffic.  Smile instead of scowl.
  2. No complaining, grumbling, mumbling, or sharing aggravations in the office, at the ball field, or on social media.  Just don’t do it, at least for this week.  Remember, your goal is to light up your world not sound like your world.
  3. Share, post, or tweet each day something about God’s Word.
  4. Become a name-dropper.  God’s name, that is.  In your casual conversations, look for ways to insert ways that God blesses, protects, and strengthens.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

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Revive Me #31– Get the Message

Revive Me, Week 31– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Get the Message

About 6 weeks ago, I bought a little bracelet and I’ve been wearing it nearly every day since.  Just yesterday morning in Bible class, I discovered that it has something written on the underside.  It says, “Never forget how much you are loved.”  I was so surprised and couldn’t believe I never saw it before then.  All this time that bracelet has been right there on my wrist yet I had no idea that sweet message was waiting for me.  Now I like the bracelet even more!

I wonder how many other things I’ve missed out on because I wasn’t paying attention?

  • Bible study.  I always have a Bible nearby.  I try to read it daily.  But am I paying attention?  Am I examining it closely and focusing on the details?  Am I seeing God’s message?
  • Relationships.  I have family and friends all around me.  But am I paying attention to them?  Do I see their cues, hear their hints?  Have I been so distracted by my own schedule or constantly checking messages that I’ve been missing the needs of those most dear to me?  Have I missed out on some friendships because I’ve been blind to efforts to reach out to me?
  • Blessings.  They’re everywhere, everyday.  But have I taken them for granted?  Have I even seen the blessings, big and small, that God sends me so that I will get His message, “Never forget how much you are loved”?

“Oh taste and se that the Lord is good” (Psa. 34:8).

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Study the Bible intentionally.  Look closely.  Examine each word.  See how sweet and dear God’s message is for you!
  2.  Notice every thoughtful gesture by the people around you.  Acknowledge them.  Recognize it as yet another proof of God’s love and care for you.
  3. See the blessings, physical and spiritual.  Help others see them.  Ask God to help you keep your eyes open to them.
  4. Put your phone, laptop, iPad, whatever away.  Instead of looking down at your device, look around and SEE people.  Smile, connect, and see their messages.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

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Revive Me #30–Love the Unlovable

Revive Me, Week 30– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Love the Unlovable

I spent the past week with 50 teen girls at a Christian Bible camp.  During one lesson, they were asked to come up with a specific way they would be willing to shine their light.  One young lady wrote, “I will love the unlovable.”

The 50 girls were from different states and had different backgrounds.  They didn’t all grow up in sweet Christian homes.  They weren’t all at the same level of spiritual maturity.  And yet by the middle of the week, there was a unity taking place that was beautiful to behold.  They were reaching out to each other.  They were (mostly) patient with each other.  They were drawing in the shy, the awkward, and the scared.  They even managed to soften the one or two with a chip on their shoulder.  By the end of the week, as we sang in a big circle holding hands, they were family.

Most of us encounter many people each day.  We know we are commanded to love them (Mark 12:31) but not all of them will be easy to love.  Some will be prickly or grouchy or mean.  Some will look unapproachable.  Some will simply reject any attempt to reach out to them.  While we won’t be thrown into a camp situation where it will be easier to grow to love others, we must still determine to love the unlovable.  The outgoing, warm, friendly, happy people around us are probably receiving love and good attention.  It’s the ones who are edgy, odd, or giving off “leave me alone” vibes who most need us to show them the love of Christ.

“Let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.”

(1 John 3:18)

“The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

(1 John 4:8)

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Pay close attention to outsiders.  Reach out to them in a specific way.
  2.  Show warmth in your smile and your words to those who are not nice.  They need it the most.  Remember, “hurt people hurt people.”
  3.  If you are afraid, ask God to give you courage.
  4.  Don’t give up if your first attempts to reach out are rejected or even ridiculed.  And definitely don’t react in a hurt or indignant way.  That’s what they expect.  Instead, smile and try again at first opportunity.
  5. Pray for those who are unlovable.
  6. Instead of mentally tagging others with harsh labels, identify them as lost souls or lonely and outcast.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

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