Saturday, April 29, 2006

Love does not Boast: Part 5

A Godly Boast

Love does not vaunt itself. Love does not go around puffing itself up, trying to get others to notice it. When we boast in ourselves, we are showing our poor judgment. We boast to make ourselves look better, often at the expense of others. However, there are some things that the Bible commands us to boast in. Not surprisingly, none of them have to do with us. Here are some things we can boast in without vaunting in ourselves.
“Some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the Lord, our God. They have bowed down and fallen, but we have risen and stood upright.” (Psalms 20:7-8)
If we are to boast, we should not boast in ourselves nor the things in which we trust, but rather we should boast in the Lord. All that we have, and all that we are, are from the Lord. Our strength, our victories, our wealth, and even our faith are all gifts from God. Even our relationship with God was made possible by His own sacrifice on the cross. He Himself died that we might be forgiven of our sins and reconciled back to the Father. To boast in ourselves is to forget that all these things came from God. In our boasting we take credit for what God Himself has dome. We should rather boast in God and give Him praise and honor for all that He has done for us.
“Thus says the Lord, ‘Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,’ declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24)
As Christians, it can be tempting to boast in the many good works that we have done for the Lord. We boast about how much time we spend in prayer, how often we read our Bibles, how many scripture we have memorized, how many people we have shared the Gospel with, and so on. But all these things are but the periphery of what it means to be a Christian. Being a Christian is, above all else, about having a relationship with Jesus. When we boast about what we have done we take away from the glory and honor that is due to our Lord. We also turn the attention of others onto ourselves and away from God. We should be directing others to see the Lord and not us. We should be boasting about knowing God not just about doing things for Him. For we can do many things for God but it is out of our relationship with Him that we will be changed. Apart from a relationship with Jesus, nothing else we do really matters.
“If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness.” (2 Corinthians 11:30)
Paul understood that it was in his weakness that God’s strength was shown to be strong. Paul said, “Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10) To boast in our weakness is so contrary to the ways of the world. In the world we boast about how much better, stronger, richer, and smarter we are then anyone else, but in the Kingdom we boast about our own weaknesses because we know that it is in our weakness that God will show Himself strong. I wonder how often we fail to receive God’s healing in our lives because we are too busy denying our weakness and boasting about our supposed strengths? When we boast about our strengths then we are telling others that they too must be strong for God to move in their lives. However, when we boast in our weaknesses and in how God has worked through them to become strong within us, then we convey to others that even if they are weak, and especially if they are weak, then God can work through them as well. When we boast in our weaknesses then we set others free to be weak and to experience the power of God in their lives as well.

David Robison

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Love does not Boast: Part 4

Giving up being first – Continued
“And Jonathan, Saul's son, arose and went to David at Horesh, and encouraged him in God. Thus he said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, because the hand of Saul my father will not find you, and you will be king over Israel and I will be next to you; and Saul my father knows that also.’” (1 Samuel 23:16-17)
Love delights in encouraging and participating in the success of others. By linage, Jonathan was the heir apparent to the throne of Israel. By right, the kingdom belonged to Jonathan, but by the promise of God, it belonged to David. Jonathan could have become angry, jealous, and suspicious of David, he could have demanded his right as a descendent of Saul, but instead he chose to accept God’s plan for Israel. Jonathan was so at peace with God’s plan for his life (and for David’s life) that he was able to encourage David that one day he would be king. Instead of grasping for the top prize, Jonathan was content to be David’s friend and to stand beside him as David enjoyed his own success. This is similar to the relationship between John the Baptist and Jesus. “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice. So this joy of mine has been made full. He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:29-30) John’s joy was to point others to Jesus and to see His ministry grow and His mission come to fruition.

Some people are so self-absorbed that they see only themselves. All their time and effort is spent on their own personal success. Their striving to succeed leaves little time for others. Love, however, is concerned with the life and success of others. Love gives of itself that others might succeed. As a husband, it is my responsibility to guide, mentor, and encourage my wife and children that they may grow in the things of God and find success in all that God has for them. In the church, as a leader it is my responsibility to sometimes take a seat and let others minister in God that they may learn and grow into their own calling and ministry. Love lets others be first and rejoices in their success.
“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.” (John 13:3-5)
Jesus, more than anyone else, had the right to demand first place. It was the custom in those days for the household slave to wash the feet of those who entered the house. This was considered to be a menial task, a task fit only for a servant, yet it was a task that Jesus chose for Himself. When no one else was found to wash their feet, Jesus humbled Himself and washed the feet of His disciples. In doing this, Jesus left us an example, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.” (John 13:12-15) Love understands that “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35) Love does not demand to be given to but gladly accepts the opportunity to give to others. We all have needs, but how much more blessed is it to be able to give to meet the needs of others? Love motivates us in our relationships to lay aside what we need and want that we may find ways to give what the other person needs and wants. When we love in this way we will be showing love to others in a way they can understand and experience.

More to come… David Robison

Monday, April 24, 2006

Love does not Boast: Part 3

Giving up first place

A vaunting spirit is invested in being first. It is important to the boastful person that they be seen, that others take notice of them and their successes. The boaster wants everyone else to see how great they are. They are easily offended when others take their place in the limelight. They must be first and they will not share their fame with others. This was certainly the case with King Saul. King Saul was obsessed with what others thought about him. He saw himself as preeminent among the Israelites and he wanted others to see him that way as well. So when a young shepherd boy stole the hearts of the people, Saul became greatly offended.
“It happened as they were coming, when David returned from killing the Philistine, that the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy and with musical instruments. The women sang as they played, and said, ‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.’ Then Saul became very angry, for this saying displeased him; and he said, ‘They have ascribed to David ten thousands, but to me they have ascribed thousands. Now what more can he have but the kingdom?’ Saul looked at David with suspicion from that day on.” (1 Samuel 18:6-9)
Because of Saul’s need to be first, his love for David changed to suspicion on that day. Eventually, Saul’s suspicion of David grew so deep that he would on several occasions try to kill David. The final years of Saul’s life were spent hunting down David. Instead of living life and enjoying the blessings of God, Saul was consumed with finding and killing David, for whom the women had ascribed ten thousands and Saul only thousands.

King Saul is an example of what happens to one who insists on being first, but there are other examples in the scripture of people who were willing to be second. Here are but three such examples.
“So Abram said to Lot, ‘Please let there be no strife between you and me, nor between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are brothers. Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me; if to the left, then I will go to the right; or if to the right, then I will go to the left.’” (Gen 13:8-9)
God had blessed Abraham and Lot to the point where the land could not support the two of them. Therefore Abraham decided that it was necessary that the two of them split up, one to the left and one to the right, to find larger land for their flocks and herds. Abraham, being Lot’s uncle, could have insisted on choosing first, taking for himself the best land, but instead he let Lot choose first. “Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt as you go to Zoar. So Lot chose for himself all the valley of the Jordan, and Lot journeyed eastward. Thus they separated from each other.” (Gen 13:10-11) Abraham let Lot choose first and Lot chose for himself the best land. How could Abraham so easily give up first choice and accept what was left? It was because Abraham had a promise from God. God had promised Abraham an inheritance in the land of Canaan, it was his according to promise. Abraham did not have to fight and claw for the promise land, it was already his and, regardless of who chose first, it would remain his. Abraham could let Lot go first because he trusted God for his lot and portion. His inheritance was not according to his might or strength but according to God’s promise and His faithfulness. In the same way, when we learn to trust God for our lot and portion, we will find that it is easier to let others be first, to let them have their 15 minutes of fame, to let them hear the praise and adulation of men. When we realize that it is impossible to loose what God had promised, then we can relax and let others go first.

More to come… David Robison

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Love does not Boast: Part 2

The Sin of Pride
“But when he became strong, his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the Lord his God, for he entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense.” (2 Chronicles 26:16)
Pride corrupts the heart. This scripture tells the story of Uzziah who became King of Judah at the age of sixteen. In his youth, Uzziah sought the Lord. “He did right in the sight of the Lord according to all that his father Amaziah had done. He continued to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding through the vision of God; and as long as he sought the Lord, God prospered him.” (2 Chronicles 26:4-5) When he was young and weak, he gladly sought the Lord but when he grew up and became strong he forgot the Lord who had sustained him and given him victory in battle. Instead of giving thanks to the Lord he accepted the adulation of others for what he had done as if he alone had accomplished those things. In forgetting God he lost his fear of the Lord. Without the fear of the Lord his proud heart lead him to act corruptly against God and against His Word. Uzziah entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense before God, something he was forbidden to do according to the ordinances given by God through Moses. The priests of the Lord opposed the king and warned him that it was not for him to burn incense before the Lord. This enraged Uzziah. His proud heart was greatly offended by their challenge to his actions. As the priest stood to rebuke Uzziah, God intervened and judged him for his actions. “Azariah the chief priest and all the priests looked at him, and behold, he was leprous on his forehead; and they hurried him out of there, and he himself also hastened to get out because the LORD had smitten him.” (2 Chronicles 26:20)

Pride corrupts our heart and leads us into a life that is a direct affront to God. The sin of pride is one of the few sins that actually predates the human race. In a lamentation over the King of Tyre, which is often interpreted to refer to the devil, God declares, “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor.” (Ezekiel 28:17) Further, God says of the devil, “But you said in your heart,
‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’” (Isaiah 14:13-14) When we participate in the sin of pride we are joining ourselves with the work of our enemy.

Pride sets us at odds with the Lord. Peter reminds us that, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5) In the original Greek, this verse literally says that “God ranges Himself in battle before the proud.” God sets Himself and His kingdom in full battle array against the proud. God intends to make war with the proud, and it’s a war that God is certain to win. When we give place to pride, we separate ourselves from the grace of God and invite the opposition of God into our lives, and not just our lives, but often the lives of those we love are also affected by the consequences of our pride. Pride is not just a character flaw it is a sin. We cannot afford to tolerate pride in our lives but must root it out, by the grace of God, and learn to walk in humble submission to His will.
“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling. It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly than to divide the spoil with the proud.” (Proverbs 16:18-19)
More to come… David Robison

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Love does not Boast: Part 1

The King James Version translates 1 Corinthians 13:4 as “charity vaunteth not itself.” “Vaunt” is not a word we commonly use in our modern day English, but it accurately describes what Paul is trying to convey in this scripture. Noah Webster defines “vaunt” as
“To boast; to make a vain display of one’s own worth, attainments, or decorations; to talk with vain ostentation; to brag.” Noah Webster 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language
Love does not boast or brag about one’s self. It is not puffed up with pride. It does not parade itself for others to see. Love is not focused on how great we think we are but rather on the eternal value of others. At the center of all bragging is a heart that is consumed with self. Love, however, flows from a heart that is consumed with the needs, wants, and interests of others.

The seeds of pride are sown when we begin to place greater value on what we have than the One who has given us what we have. Paul writes of those who “take pride in appearance and not in heart.” (2 Corinthians 5:12) When we focus on our outward successes rather than our inward condition, when we are more concerned about what men can see about us rather than what God sees about us, we are laying the ground work for pride to take root in our lives. God warned the Israelites about becoming satisfied with what this world has to offer.
“Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today; otherwise, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them, and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” (Deuteronomy 8:11-14)
What is it that satisfies your soul? Are you like the five thousand that Jesus feed with the two loves and five fishes that followed Him, not because they believed in Him, but because they were feed and satisfied? Are you satisfied merely with what the world has to offer or is there a deeper hunger with in you that can only be satisfied by Him? Speaking of the nation of Israel God recounts that “as they had their pasture, they became satisfied, and being satisfied, their heart became proud; therefore they forgot Me.” (Hosea 13:6) When we become satisfied with what we have we face the danger of forgetting God. We become proud in what we have achieved and what we have amassed but we forget that everything we have has been give to us by God.

All that we have are gifts from God. James tells us that “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.” (James 1:17) Yet when we forget the giver, when we forget the one who have given us every good and perfect gift, then we will transform the good things from God into pride. “They transformed the beauty of His ornaments into pride, and they made the images of their abominations and their detestable things with it; therefore I will make it an abhorrent thing to them.” (Ezekiel 7:20) Right now, stop and conceder the many good things that you have, and remember the one who, in His love, has given you all these things. Instead of being prideful in what we have, let us rather boast in the giver of all things, Jesus Christ our Lord!

More to come… David Robison

Monday, April 17, 2006

Love does not Envy: Part 5

The Ultimate Answer for Envy
“Then it happened in the spring, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him and all Israel, and they destroyed the sons of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed at Jerusalem.” (2 Samuel 11:1)
From the beginning, the story does not bode well for King David. It was the time of year when the kings would lead their armies out into battle, yet King David decided to stay home and send one of his generals instead. David’s place was with his troops. He should have been leading them into battle and seeking the Lord for His strategy and plans for war. Instead, David was at home in his palace with too much time on his hands and too few people around him to hold him accountable.
“Now when evening came David arose from his bed and walked around on the roof of the king's house, and from the roof he saw a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful in appearance.” (2 Samuel 11:2)
The woman’s name was Bathsheba which literally means, “Woman taking a bath.” Ok, it really does not mean that, but it should. This was not an innocent glance, nor did David quickly turn away once he saw her, but he gazed on her and saw that she was very beautiful. The story goes on to tell how David inquired about her, sent messangers and took her, and laid with her. David’s adultery lead to a pregnancy, and David’s attempt to cover up his sin lead to a murder. More than nine months would pass before God would send the prophet Nathan to rebuke David for his sins. God rebuked David for taking what was not his.
“It is I who anointed you king over Israel and it is I who delivered you from the hand of Saul. I also gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your care, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added to you many more things like these! Why have you despised the word of the Lord by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of Ammon.” (2 Samuel 12:7-9)
The ultimate answer to envy is found in God’s statement, “and if that had been too little, I would have added to you many more things.” God is not a God who delights in withholding from us the things we want. God desires to bless us and to give us the desires of our heart. David, however, instead of going to God with his desires, reached out and took what he wanted. Instead of trusting in God to provide for his needs, David used his kingly position to simply take what he wanted, no matter what the cost to others. If David was lacking, God would have given him more, but David was not content to wait for God, he wanted what he wanted and he took what he wanted.

When we set out to take what we want instead of asking God to give us what we want, we start down a path that leads to strife, anger, and conflicts. James put it this way, “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel.” (James 4:1-2) Many of our quarrels and conflicts have their root in our striving to take what we want to satisfy our lusts. However, James shows us that our problem with envy is quite simple, “You do not have because you do not ask.” (James 4:2) The ultimate answer to envy is to go to God with our needs and desires, to ask God for the things we want and need. Even if we ask amiss, we can trust God to work in our hearts while we are before Him asking, to bring our desires into conformity with His. Jesus wants us to ask, He wants us to come to Him with our requests, and he wants to answer us and give us the desires of our hearts so that our joy may be full.
“Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.” (John 16:24)
David Robison

I'm back

Well, my new computer is finally here and its unpacked and ready to go, so let's fire it up and see what it has to say...

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Say a prayer for my computer

HELP! My computer has died and its 4 weeks until my new one comes!!! This may get interesting...


Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Love does not Envy: Part 4

Getting what you want

Part of the problem with envy is that we usually are envious for things we cannot have, such as, our neighbor’s wife, our neighbor’s money, and our neighbor’s Sebring Convertible (opps, that’s what my wife envies). When we desire things we cannot have, it produces a striving inside us. James tells us, “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel.” (James 4:1-2) Many of our quarrels and conflicts are the result of unfulfilled envy; we want and we cannot have. What if we could have what we want? The key is to change our desires. There are many things that God has promised to give us and, if we choose to desire those things, we will have what we want. Changing our desires is not easy, but it can be done over time. Jesus, speaking of “new wine” reminds us that, “no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better.’” (Luke 5:39 NKJV) We may not immediately desire the new wine, but it we persist in tasting and drinking it, in time our desire for the new wine will be greater than our desire for the old. The longer we desire the things of the kingdom, the less we will desire the things of the world. Here are some things that God tells us to desire.
“His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for Your house will consume Me.’” (John 2:17)
Jesus had a burning passion for the Father’s house. The Father’s house was where His presence resided. We should desire and be passionate for the presence of the Lord. Our passion should cause us to shun everything that distracts from and diminishes the value of His presence. Our zeal should burn against dead religion and for the very presence of God. Our zeal for His house will not go unrewarded. James assures us to confidently “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8)
“Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.” (1 Corinthians 14:1)
In several places, Paul commands us to “earnestly desire” spiritual gifts. This is the same word that is often translated as “be zealous.” It is not only our privilege, but also our responsibility to operate in the gifts of the Spirit. Our desire is not for our benefit, but for the benefit of all. Paul tells us that “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:7) Our desire for spiritual gifts is motivated out of our own realization that, without His Spirit, we have nothing to give, but with the Holy Spirit, we have power. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
“For I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the Macedonians, namely, that Achaia has been prepared since last year, and your zeal has stirred up most of them.” (2 Corinthians 9:2)
We should be zealous to share with others in need. We should realize that our provision has not been give to us for ourselves alone, but to be shared with those in need. To some God gives abundance that they might supply the needs of those who have little. “For this is not for the ease of others and for your affliction, but by way of equality -- at this present time your abundance being a supply for their need, so that their abundance also may become a supply for your need, that there may be equality; as it is written, ‘He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little had no lack.’” (2 Corinthians 8:13-15)
“For I am zealous for you with zeal of God, for I did betroth you to one husband, a pure virgin, to present to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:2 YLT)
We should be zealous to see others come to know Christ and to walk in His ways. Our zeal should motivate us to pray for them and to share God’s good news with them. In our zeal we should leave behind judgments and instead seek to serve others in the meekness of humility.
“Who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.” (Titus 2:14)
We should be zealous for good works. We should be ready for and looking for opportunities to express the love of God through good deeds done for others. Paul reminds us that it was for this very purpose that we were created. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
“Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.” (Revelation 3:19)
We should be zealous for rightness with God. When we sin, we should be quick to repent. We should value our relationship with God as of greater value than anything this world has to offer. Paul put it this way, “More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:8)

More to come… David Robison

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Love does not Envy: Part 3

Avoiding envy

Here are some keys from the scripture to help overcome envy.

Empty Yourself

“But emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:7-8 NASV)

Often times, we are so full of ourselves that we have no room for God or anyone else. We are so full of our own lives, goals, and dreams that we rarely stop to consider our spouse, our family, or others. We need to learn how to lay aside our own goals and plans in order to help others to achieve theirs. One thing I've noticed about my children is their need to be first. They have to have the biggest and the best of whatever anyone else has, especially when it's their brother or sister. Part of emptying our selves is to be willing to come last. To be willing to let others come first, to consider others as more important than ourselves. Abraham understood this when he and his nephew Lot were about to separate. Instead of demanding the best of the land for himself, he let Lot have first pick.

“So Abram said to Lot, ‘Please let there be no strife between you and me, nor between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are brothers. Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me; if to the left, then I will go to the right; or if to the right, then I will go to the left.’” (Genesis 13:8-9)

Abraham knew that he had an inheritance from God. He knew that no one could take that inheritance away from him. He trusted God that, no matter what happened, God's promise to him would come true. Because of his faith, God rewarded him and gave all the land to Abraham.

“The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, ‘Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever.’” (Genesis 13:14-15)

Abraham did not insist on being first. He did not place his desires above others. He placed others first and, in the end, God gave to him more than he could have ever imagined.

Hold Things Loosely

“Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.” (Philippians 2:6)

The Greek word translated as “robbery” in the King James Version can also be translated as the lesser used English word “rapine.” Rapine refers not only to the seizing of something, but also the retaining of what was seized. It refers to the taking of anything we deem to be a prize and then holding fast to it. The Scripture teaches us that Jesus held fast to nothing. Even being “equal with God” was not so dear to Him that He couldn't lay it aside to do the will of the Father. Jesus held everything with an open hand. He was willing at any moment to lay it all aside if it be His Father's will.

We need to be people who have open hands. We must guard our hearts from grasping for the things of this world, lest we find that we have let go of the things of God. Jesus taught us that when we hold onto our lives and our possessions we often end up loosing what we have been trying to hold onto.

“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:25)

The secret of gaining our lives is learning to lose them in the service of others and of God. It is like the parable of the seed that must die and be planted before it yields any fruit. If we allow God to put to death our selfish ambitions, if we allow our lives to be planted the field of service, then God will raise us up and grant to us His ambitions and desires that we might bear much fruit. Only by dying can we find true life.

Be Content

“But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.” (1 Timothy 6:6-8)

It is possible to be rich in the things of the world yet poor in soul. Often we find ourselves desiring things that have no real eternal value. Jesus Himself said that there is no profit in gaining the world and at the same time, loosing our soul. True treasure is that which enriches the soul. The greatest gain the soul can know is to become rich in godliness and contentment. Contentment means that we begin to value our lives by a different standard; we begin to see our lives in consisting of more than the things we possess.

“And He said to His disciples, ‘For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.’” (Luke 12:22-23)

Contentment also frees us to consider the needs of others. It frees us from being self-absorbed and introspective. Our needs no longer take front stage. We are able to walk in the kingdom of God without “regard to our need.” Paul learned this when he said, “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” (Philippians 4:11)

The secret to contentment is realizing that we have not been left alone; there is one who looks us cares for us. Jesus said that He would not leave us as orphans, but rather, we now have a heavenly Father who cares about our needs. “Make sure that 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 ever forsake you.’” (Hebrews 13:5)

More to come… David Robison