Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Week Thirteen - Continually


“…the goodness of God endureth continually..”  Psalm 52:1

I was just reading along as normal during my morning devotion and this verse simply jumped out at me - continually.  The word means always continuing, devoted to, constant, or unbroken.  That day God showed me that his goodness is not just something I can read about in Scripture.  It is not just something that happens when we perceive a blessing or aid.  It is there all the time.  Constantly, God is good.

You know the phrase, “God is good all the time”?  Well.  It is right.  But then, I got to thinking about the word endureth.  This has the idea of waiting with patience-to hold out under stress.  I had to laugh at the image in my mind.  There is God, with all his goodness, waiting on us to realize how good He really is as we struggle along on this planet acting as if no help or care were available.

Surely God has an immense amount of patience with his children.  We get to feeling sorry for ourselves, or fretting because things aren’t going our way.  We fall in and out of church and in and out with God.  We are not consistent.  We are not devoted.  We are not good as a matter of fact.  But God is always consistent.  Always devoted.  Always good. 

He was good in the past…you can read about that.  He will be good in the future….you can read about that.  And, he is good right now. No matter my circumstance, no matter my mind-set, God is good.  And He will remain to be good….continually….forever!

Praise His name.

Can you see the goodness of God in your life?  Can you trace His steps of goodness in the past, the future, and the present?  Why not stop and praise Him for this trait and thank Him for his patience with you?


“Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort…  Psalm 71:3

So the next day I was reading again and this word was there again staring me in the face.  “…continually resort…”.

How nice it is to have a place where we can get away from all the noise of this life and the pressures of our society.  My prayer closet is one such place.  I can always go there and find rest and comfort.

But the verse isn’t talking about a physical place like we would go on holiday.  It is referring to the personal knowledge and spiritual understanding that God is that refuge.  I may be standing in the midst of a storm, but I can go to God and find that continual refreshment so necessary to being able to stand.

The word, resort, has the idea of a place of abiding- a place to enter and do life. It begs the question:  “Do I take advantage of my resort?  Do I know God to be my strong habitation?”

When the word continual is added to resort we get a description of a wonderful place that is always available to us.  We can go over and over and never tire or use up the resource.  God never tires of us coming to Him.

What about you?  Do you know God in this way?  Do you lean upon Him continually so that you find your habitation in Him?  Do you know the pleasure of resorting in Him?


“But I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more.” Psalm 71:14

And before I could finish the 71st chapter of Psalm the word appeared again…”I will hope continually.”

God’s Word is amazing in that it is alive and can speak aloud.  That particular day I was sadly fretting over various challenges around me.  I was wondering how things were going to work out and if I should to do anything about the situations.  I was quickly losing my hope and falling into that abyss of despair.

God said, “You can hope continually in me.  Not in the situations, but in Me.  I will never let you down.”  And I heard him.  There is such comfort of mind when the Spirit speaks.  I was able to lay down my concerns before His feet and walk away into the day without the restraints of fear.

Over and over that day I quoted this simple phrase and reminded myself of the goodness of God and kept returning to my resort, my habitation.  God continually lifted my soul and brought rejoicing to my heart.

Hope is a wonderful thing.  It makes everything look possible.  And you know what?  It is possible…because with God all things are possible.  They are continually possible…so we CAN hope continually.

Are you losing hope?  Why not lay it down at the cross and walk away with a different attitude?  Steps of faith bring praise.


“…I am continually with thee….”  Psalm 73:23

By now you can tell that I am reading through the Psalms.  It is a great book and always encourages my heart.  However, this is the first time that I have seen this word!  And here it is again.

Psalm 73 is the psalmist lament over the prosperity of the wicked and his own lowly state.  He comes down to verses 23 and 24 to claim some wonderful promises.

“Nevertheless I am continually with thee; thou hast holden me by my right hand.  Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.”

Just look at these two verses.  I am continually with God.  No matter how the wicked prosper, they can never claim that promise.  No, they are not with God.  They have the wrath of God upon them.  But I have God beside me at all times.

God holds me by my right hand.  He is so interested in my protection and welfare.  I am His child and he cares for me.

He guides me with his counsel.  His Word is there for me.  As I read and listen it gives me guidance.

He will receive me to glory.  I have the promise of a home in heaven.  God is waiting for me there.  He is anxious to have me home.

Yes.  I am continually with God.  And so are you.  Do you know this sweet fellowship and have this calm assurance?


“I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth..”  Psalm 34:1

I had to go back to find this one, but it a great place to end our meditation on this word, continually.

His praise shall continually be in my mouth….continually.  There is no place for angry words, for words unbecoming to a Christian, for lying words, or hurtful words.  Praise should be coming from our hearts and rolling off our tongues.

As a little child we sang, “Oh, be careful little mouth what you say. Oh, be careful little mouth what you say.  For the Father up above is looking down in love, so be careful little mouth what you say.”

I would sing this over and over along with the other verses.  It always reminded me to be careful what I say, do, walk and hear.  As adults we need to keep these simple teaching in front of us.  It is too easy as an adult to make excuses for our outbursts and upsets.  We let life dictate to us and we allow our moods to determine our speech.  This does not match the attitude of the Psalmist.

I wish I could tell you I had found the secret to never uttering an unkind or thoughtless word.  I have not.  I will have to claim James 3 and agree that the tongue is very difficult to tame.

However, I do know that praise is a much better choice and yields better results. I can discipline myself to think before I speak and I can, by God’s grace, improve my speech.

And you?  What comes out of your mouth?  What words would you retrieve if you could?  Could you make continual praise your goal as well?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Week Twelve - Content


“But godliness with contentment is great gain.” 
I Timothy 6:6

Solomon with all his wisdom and wealth came to the same conclusion in Ecclesiastes when he wrote:  “There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour.”  (Eccles 2:24)  This same conclusion is repeated throughout the words of Solomon.  See Eccles 3:12, 13, 22 and 9:7-10.

So the Word of God is telling us to get in there and enjoy what God has given.  Stop allowing your desires to wander and start fixing yourself on what is before you.  Be thankful, count your blessings and leave any increase to God’s discretion.  Relax.  Be content.

Solomon gives a final conclusion in 12:13  “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”  This comes with a serious warning….”For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” 

We will be judged for how we use what God has given us.  Are we being good stewards of what we have or are we discontent and unthankful workmen?  Are we being wise servants or are we wasting our Lord substance on riotous living?  Are we thankful and recognizing God’s blessings to us, or, are we ungrateful and grasping ignoring what true blessings the Lord has given us?

What is the prevailing attitude in your life?  Contentment or greed?   Judge yourself.


“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”  Hebrews 13:5

In the 1600’s a man named Jeremiah Burroughs wrote a book called The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment. It is an amazing in-depth look at the different facets of contentment and discontentment.  In Chapter Eight he is discussing the evils of a murmuring spirit.  He says that God will work to “disengage the heart of a person from all creature-comforts.”
The Bible word “covetousness” is just a big word for greed, meaning desiring things for oneself, or, we might call it desiring creature-comforts.  The lives of so many today are totally built around making themselves more comfortable. Be it in bigger houses, cars, more clothes, fame or beauty, our generation seems bent on self satisfaction and that is the total value system.  Yet God repeatedly calls us to look to higher, eternal things and not to love this present world.  These things are temporal.  They have no eternal value, yet, we struggle to live on that higher plain.  We place so much value, attachment and esteem on our fixtures that we forget that our soul is the only eternal thing we possess.
Mr Burroughs states, “…it is a sign your heart is glued to the world, that when God would take you off, your heart tears….if you can part with ease without tearing, your heart is not glued to the world.”
I liked this challenge.  What do I possess that would tear my heart if it were taken from me?  Not counting friends or family, what physical thing do I possess that I just would grieve to be without?  That thing just might be an indication of where my heart truly lies and why I feel discontent in my heart.  Is my heart is fixed on a temporal idol.  Hum? 


“And they gathered themselves together against Moses…and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the Lord?”  Number 16:3

Yes, I know.  The word “content” is not is this verse.  Jude 11 refers to this as the gainsaying of Korah.  There is strife here.  Why?  Because Korah was discontent with his lot.  He felt that all of the children of Israel were holy and so all of them were equal with Moses and should be allowed the privileges of Moses office, i.e. to lead!

A discontent heart leads us to many miseries and misjudgements.  Burroughs lists six.

  1. You lose a lot of time in wandering, self-focused thought instead of God-honouring meditation.
  2. It unfits you for service because you are distracted.
  3. It causes wicked risings in the heart and spirit against God, others and self.
  4. Unthankfulness reigns.
  5. It causes a shifting of spirit – confusion and instability.
The Spirit of God enables us to amplify good things and avoid evil things.  The devil does the contrary.
  1. It takes away what comfort you do have.

It would be good to take time to think through these six traits.  Start by apply them to the situation with Korah.  If you don’t know the story, go and read it in Numbers 16. 

Then, look at situations in your own life.  Where are you demanding your own recognition?  What distracts you and leads you to wicked risings and thoughts in your heart?  Can you see that the real source is a murmuring, discontented and unthankful spirit?  Don’t allow it to take the comfort you do have.  Why not cast it off and choose a thankful spirit?


“I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content”  Philippians 4:11

Content no matter what the situation – that is an amazing strength of character.  I certainly don’t possess it yet, do you?

We are so prone to try to make life fit to our own demands that we fight against anything that makes us uncomfortable.  Don’t try to push us out of our comfort zone. Our generation is so self-focused that we believe that life is supposed to make us happy and satisfied at all times. 

Contentment of a richer sort is a learned spiritual art.  Burroughs defines it:  “Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.”

Every condition?  Yes.  Paul went on in Philippians to say that whether he had sufficient or was lacking, he knew how to be content.  That takes real strength of grace.  Can we keep a steady way and our head about us when things go wrong?  Or do we through our hands up and verbally despair at our situation?  Can we see the hand of God in our circumstances and content ourselves that He is in control and has our best interest at heart?
Burroughs said, “…the hearts of men who are full of themselves, and hardened with self-love, if they receive a stroke (an affront to self) they make a noise, but a self-denying Christian yields to God’s hand and makes no noise.  When you strike a woolsack it makes no noise because it yields to the stroke; so a self-denying heart yields to the stroke and thereby becomes to this contentment.”
Surely this is a mystery of godliness.  Lord, teach me to be content.


“Fret not thyself in any wise to do evil…” Psalm 37:8

I know, again the word “content” is not in the verse, but please indulge me once more. Burroughs makes a point that cannot be missed in our meditation on contentment.  Think about this:

“Contentment delivers us from an abundance of temptations…The Devil loves to fish in troubled waters.  Troubled, unsettled spirits are vulnerable to temptations and prime candidates for the Devil’s work.  Temptations will no more prevail over a contented man, than a dart that is thrown against a brazen wall.”

We might think that contentment is a passive state where we simply allow anything and everything to wash over us.  That is hardly the case.  Contentment is a solidness of soul that steels the Christian and becomes a great protection.  When we are content and settled in our acceptance of God’s will and provision, there is little place for the Tempter to draw us away.

The unsettled, discontented Christian however is always vulnerable to uprisings in the heart and mind.  They are always looking around for offenses to come and for strivings.  They are pessimistic, envious and ungrateful for the most part.  They have not tasted of the graciousness of God and have not yielded their will to Him.  They fret stew and wind up angry and more discontent.

God’s will is for all of us to enter into the rest of contentment.  He wants all of his children to know that He is a good Father and has prepared every step of the way.  There is no reason for his children to be whimpering or crying out.  His should be a peaceful family full of love, graciousness and confidence.  Contentment is a protector and it comes by knowing you can trust your Heavenly Father implicitly. 

Are you a fretter?  Is your life full of strife and trouble?  Maybe it’s time to surrender your will and content yourself with His love.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Week Eleven - Confidence


“And now, little children, abide in him, that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.”  I John 2:28

Do you remember that feeling that came over you when the schoolteacher would call upon you to give an answer publically?  Fear would grip your heart as you began to choke.  Did you know the answer?  Well, if you had done your homework and studied, as you should, the answer came easily, but if you were slacking in your studies you could only venture a guess and hope for the best. Either way, nerves probably tried to get the best of you.
Confidence before the returning Lord will be similar.  When he returns and we stand before him we will all be awe struck, but those who have made Him their abode here on earth will be able to stand confidently.  Those who have wasted their “study time” will be weak-kneed and struggling to give an account.
Confidence is built through knowledge, experience and familiarity.  That is why we are instructed to abide in him.  The more we are with him, the more he is involved in our lives, and the more we apply his Word, the more confident we will become.  God is trying to raise confident children.

This isn’t just bravery or cockiness; it is a calmness of soul.  It is a secure knowledge that we are in the right place and doing the right thing.  Confidence brings us into a stronger relationship and an abiding peace.  It gives us stance.  It gives us influence.  It makes us more usable.  It is a Christ-like characteristic.

Are you abiding or slacking?  If he came today would you be ready to give an answer?


“Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.”  I John 3:21

My children know that I love them.  They have no problem being themselves around me.  The love we share holds no darkness or fear.  It is open and free.  We know our individual quirks and yet those do not deter or determine our love.

Here in chapter three of I John is an honest contrast of open love with no condemnation (guilt), as opposed to love with conditions and darkness, which results in evil, hatred and murder.  The chapter calls on us to evaluate our love toward others.  We need to be searching our hearts and our motives to weed out negative attitudes that will result in unloving actions.  We need to be honest with ourselves and with God about hurts in our lives that cause us to hold grudges or withhold love from our brethren or family members.  God knows our hearts.  There is no reason or place for pretence in love.
If our hearts are free from guilt in our love toward others we can have confidence toward God.  It literally means boldness.  We can come boldly to the throne when we need help.  It is interesting to note that the way we treat others is directly proportionate to the type of relationship we have with our Lord.  Truly, we cannot genuinely love God unless we also love his children.
As a child of God, do you believe solidly in his love for you?  Are you free and guiltless in your love for others?  Are you harbouring hurts and grudges?  Are you open and honest?  Or, are you false and two-faced?  Does your heart condemn you?


“…and this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us…”  I John 5:14

The rendering in this verse means boldness; the solid assurance of entrance or acceptance.  We can come boldly.  But the focus here is on where that confidence lies.  Like when a child says, “My daddy said…”, or “My mommy said…” He is placing his confidence in another person, not in himself.

The previous devotions on I John 2:28 & 3:21 based confidence on our own actions.  The actions were described as justification for our boldness/confidence.  But here the confidence is based solely “in Him”.  The actions of God, his love, his faithfulness, his sacrifice, all go together to give us confidence that He will perform what He has promised.  He will keep His word.  He will hear us because He loves us. 

He wants us to have confidence in Him; so, by His actions He plants that trust and proves Himself worthy.  Not because He has to, but because it is His character.  We then, can have confidence in that character.  He will hear us, of that we can be confident, because He has promised to do so.  He said so!  He does love us, we can rest assured and confident in that, because He said so.

Like the children’s song,  “Jesus loves me, this I know.  For the Bible tells me so.”  Our confidence in His love, provision and care are all based on His ability alone.  It is faith in action and it brings forth the confidence in prayer to believe that as I pray, all of my prayers will be answered by a limitless Power who grants my requests.  I can pray and leave the rest to Him knowing confidently that He is working on my behalf.

Are you this confident in the Lord?  Are you this bold? Are you confident enough in prayer to truly believe that you can ask anything according to his will and He will answer?


“Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint.”  Proverbs 25:19

“It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.”  (Psalm 118:8)  This time, the word confidence means trust or security.
Ever have a friend let you down?  Ever pin your hopes on someone and have them be dashed?  The writer of Proverbs describes it as the pain associated with toothache or a sprained ankle.  There just is no relief.  You are always reminded of the hurt every time pressure is applied.
It’s not that we should never trust others, but that our ultimate trust must be in God, or else, when others do let us down, (and we all have failed in this area at some time in our lives), we will be left without strength.  We will feel the pain of a disappointment.
Alternately, trusting God, while working with men, means that we can rest and be confident in God’s sovereignty in all circumstances and avoid letting the failures of men cause us to be resentful and mistrusting.  We will know that our trust in Christ is never misplaced and when men fail, our confidence in Christ will override the hurt.
Wisdom also dictates that we would choose carefully those whom we would trust.  It is foolish to keep putting our trust and hopes in those who cannot be a support or who have proved to be unfaithful.

Have you felt the pain of a less than trustworthy friend?  Is your confidence based in people or in God?


“Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward.” Hebrews 10:35

We’re back to that boldness and openness. Hebrews 10 is a discussion on the changes from the law to grace.  It establishes the ”better-ness” of the new covenant and comes to verse 34 with the brethren knowing that they “have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.”  So, verse 35 is an admonition to not let life’s circumstances cause them to waver from that knowledge.

Life can get long and tedious.  The obstacles and challenges of life often wear us down, but the writer of Hebrews encourages us to not throw away our faith or hope.  He says to stand in our confidence, our assured boldness and hope in Christ. 

Because?  It holds reward. Great recompense of reward.  Like a payment of wages, we will be rewarded for our utter confidence in God and in his Word.  Isn’t that encouraging?  There is a final eternal reward for those who do not throw in the towel.  For those who know that the reward is there for faithfulness.
“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”  Philippians 1:6  This is the promise of God.  He is doing a work.  We need to allow Him time to do so.  According to this verse…it may take some time!  Some of us might be hard to mould, but He is confident that we are worth the effort!

Have you been tempted to throw it all away?  To cast aside your confidence?  Hold on a little longer…it will be worth it in the end.  Persevere, dear saint.