You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘legalism’ tag.

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. Philippians 4:11 (New International Version)

Contentment: The feeling or showing satisfaction with one’s possessions, status, or situation.

The Bible tells us in numerous places and ways that we are to be content; have the joy of the Lord in our hearts; be joyful always; trust God in tribulation and the list goes on and on. When things are going well for us (the job is going well, gas prices are down, the teenagers are behaving and you are getting along with your spouse or significant other) it’s easy to be joyful, trusting and content.

But what about the other times? How can you be content when everything seems to go wrong around you, when God seems distant or angry with you and you feel yourself getting older and not getting better? How can you be content then?

There are many people out there that will give you three easy steps to contentment, or a product, service or program that will ‘bring you contentment’ but the reality is you already have everything at your disposal to be content!

While it’s not an easy thing to admit or practice, contentment is really about our reaction to the event around us more than it is the actual event, person or place. Contentment isn’t really about being happy! You can be content with your situation even though you aren’t happy about it. You an also be happy on the outside even though internally you are miserable. Paul tells us in Philippians he is content regardless of his circumstances because he ‘learned the secret’ to being content.

I’m not going to be one of those people who gives you the ‘three easy steps to contentment’. First of all, there is nothing easy about being content. Secondly each of us reacts to situations differently. However, here are some ideas to help you on the road to contentment.

First of all, each of us must realize that coming to the point of contentment is a process, a part of the journey of life. Paul says, “I have learned…”. Learning takes time and work and is best learned by experiencing discontentment. If you read the life of Paul you find that he was a man of extraordinary talent, wisdom and spiritual strength. But he was also a man who’d endured prison, had numerous attempts on his life and was physically and emotionally beaten.

I’m sure that the contentment the Paul talks about to the Phillippians was a contentment resulting from all the turmoil of his past. Little by little Paul saw that God provided for him in times of danger and prosperity. He had to go through the bad part of life in order to learn that God could really be trusted to take care of him.

Secondly contentment comes to us when we have a proper view of God, ourselves and others. When contentment is based on external things we are bound to be disappointed. Relationships fail. People fail. Economies and politics take different directions. Life is fluid and sometimes we end up in places we hate to be in.

Contentment based on the Soveriegn God isn’t dependent on external factors. He is always God. He is always in control. He always loves us and wants us to experience his love. Because of this, there is nothing that can effect His working in our lives.

We also need to have a proper view of ourselves. Sometimes the situations we find ourselves in are the result of choices we’ve made in the past or actions others have taken to hurt us. To live a life of contentment we need to forgive ourselves and forgive others for the things of our past. As long as we hold on to the issues of our past we will never be able to experience the contentment that God has for us.

Contentment based on relationships will fail regardless of how good those relationships are because relationships involve humans and humans fail. Sometimes we have to make the hard decisions to end relationships because they are harmful to us emotionally or physically. Ending a bad relationship, in some cases, may be the safest way to find contentment, but this must always involve forgiveness of the offending party as well. Even if trust is no longer possible, forgiveness is a requirement for your own healing.

PRAYER: Father God, there are so many things right now that are keeping me from being content. I worry about my job, my school, my friends, my family. It’s so hard for me to be content when everything seems to be falling apart around me. I realize now that I’ve been basing my contentment on external things and not the eternal and internal things you have for me. Help me to be patient and trusting as you bring the trials I must endure to learn contentment. Empower me with your Holy Spirit to trust you. Amen.

Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy. Proverbs 14:10

An old Native American saying goes something like this: “Never judge a man until you have walked two miles in his moccasins.” This saying should be the battle cry of each of us as we travel life’s journey. We should think twice, or even three times before we judge the attitudes and actions of other people. We may not like what we see. We may disagree completely with their response to events in their lives. But we should never make a judgment about why they are doing what they do.

God wired each of us differently. Parents know this. What other explanation is there for the way their children grow up? Two lives brought into the world by the same parents. Both have the same opportunities. Both have the same background experiences. Yet one child will grow up angry and the other patient and kind; one child will be a people person while the other is more of a social misfit; One will follow the rules while the other will seek every chance they get to break them; one will love and serve God while the other will reject faith.

No one reacts the same exact way to any situation. Yet we tend to expect that of people. If God works one way in your life, you expect Him to work the same way in someone else’s life. You may enjoy working with your hands while someone else enjoys office work or computer work. Is one better than the other? Is one more rewarding? To you maybe, but not to someone else.

Proverbs 14:10 reminds us of two great truths for Christ-followers. First of all, take great care in how you respond or react to someone’s actions or attitudes. You may see them as being inappropriate and they may be. But until you know the whole story, don’t assume you know the reason someone acts the way they do.

Secondly, remember that God knows your heart. Just as He expects us to be patient and understanding with those around us, He is patient and understanding towards us. He knows, better than anyone else, why you are struggling with whatever issue is troubling you today. He understands and desires to come close to you so that he can love you and encourage you.

There is a third lesson to learn from this proverb. The last phrase says: “no one else can share its joy”. There will be times when people will fail to understand why you are so happy. They may try to dispel that joy by pointing out the darkness and turmoil around you. Don’t allow them to keep you from living a life full of happiness and fulfillment. Joy isn’t about surroundings and circumstances. Joy is about inner peace that is only received through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Your Heavenly Father loves you. Others will say they understand you, but God really does understand you. His sincere and passionate desire is for relationship with you. Don’t let others rob you of all that God has for you. Focus on Him. Your troubles may not disappear, but the inner peace you gain through Jesus will empower you through life’s distress.

PRAYER: Dear God. There are so many people telling me how I should feel. They tell me they understand, but they don’t. They aren’t even close. I thank and praise you for the truth that you do love me and understand me. You look on my heart and see my every emotion. You understand why I am the way I am. Guard me from losing the joy that I have in you. Protect me from those who want to rob me of my joy. Amen.

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

Throughout history people have given their lives for freedom. Those who have been in prison or have been prisoners of war will tell you that the worst part of imprisonment was having your freedom ripped from you. Being behind bars can be demeaning, lonely and extremely painful physically as well as emotionally, but those bars are not nearly as harsh as the bars each of us are behind on a daily basis.

For every person behind the physical bars of prison there are thousands who we see on the street that are imprisoned by invisible bars, sometimes of their own choosing. Bars of anger over past hurts and abuse. Bars of the past that refuse to let us see the outside world of second chances and new beginnings. Bars of fear over the future and death. Bars of resentment towards God and others who have hurt us. Bars of want and desire driven by lustful passion for things we hope will satisfy (but rarely do). Bars that keep us from forgiving ourselves or others for past decisions. Bars of religious tradition and dogma the hinder the Holy Spirit from working freely in your life.

As a Christ-follower you don’t need to be in prison any longer. Many have given their lives to be free. Jesus already died for your freedom. Choose to follow Him. Talk to Him about the prison you are in. Be honest about how you feel about God, yourself and others. Learn from Him through His word and others who have chosen to be free in Him.

Jesus came to remove the anger, to remove the hate and disappointment, to calm your fears and fill the void of loneliness and despair in your lives. Religion won’t do that. New relationships won’t last. Having all the newest toys and gadgets can’t make you happy. Only a life sold out to following Jesus can. Many will tell you religion is too restrictive. Jesus isn’t religion. Jesus is relationship. Full, vibrant, free relationship built on love, forgiveness and second chances.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. You know better than I the prison walls I’ve built for myself. Walls of anger and guilt and despair and loneliness. I desperately seek freedom from things in life that seem to make my prison walls thicker and stronger. You say you came to grant me freedom. I ask that you would show me this freedom today. Help me to grow in relationship with you so that I can be free as you promised. Amen.

Jesus replied, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” Luke 18:27

One day, while Jesus was teaching the disciples a rich young man came to him. He was the kind of person any of us would want to be our friend. He was a moral man that could be trusted. He was most likely well liked for the Bible really doesn’t say anything negative about him. And, of course. He was rich!

But there was something missing in his life. On the outside he showed confidence, trustworthiness and strength. On the inside he was a lonely man filled with fear of the future. He was a poster child for the system he lived in but all of that was a façade. He’d done all the right things but they offered no joy, no happiness, no contentment.

Jesus gave the man a list of commands he must follow to gain peace for the future and eternal life. It was the one thing the man was lacking. The one gift he wanted more than anything…or so he thought. Jesus asked him to give up everything he had and follow him. The man went away more in despair than when he came. The cost was too high.

What Jesus asked the man to give up was more than money. It was power, it was prestige, it was status. What would others think of him? What would become of the many friends he had. Rich men always have plenty of friends because people enjoy associating with the talented, the rich and the famous. It wasn’t about money.

What Jesus wanted from the man was his heart. The commands Jesus didn’t question the man about all had to do with relationship. Relationship with others. Relationship with God. Relationship with himself. On other occasions Jesus summarized the commandments into three. Love God. Love yourself. Love your neighbor. All he really wants from us is complete, sold out, relationship.

After the man left the disciples discussed this with Jesus and one of them said in confusion, “Then who can be saved? If that is what God wants from us, what chance to any of us have? Is there any hope?”

Jesus answer to the question of who can be saved was quite simple. “No one. It’s impossible. There is no way man can be saved without God’s help.”

We can’t gain the peace and joy and contentment we seek through the things we see. Fulfillment in life comes from relationship. Success in life comes when we give ourselves completely to God and believe in ourselves because of His love for us. Don’t believe the lie that because you can’t do this or that, or don’t have the money for this project or that missions trip you aren’t important. God can do impossible things in your life because of His love for you. Not because of your strength, riches or ability.

PRAYER: Father God. I confess to you that I am much more like the rich young ruler than I’d care to admit. I follow all your rules. I do all the right things most of the time. But I have to admit that today if you asked me to give up everything I own, my money (what there is of it), my status, my reputation, my friends and my home, I’m not sure I could do it. Help me to give everything to you. To trust you with every aspect t of my life so that I can experience the peace you have for me. Amen.

Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33

It isn’t good for us to be alone. Even at creation God saw that all was good except for the fact that man was alone. He needed a companion that he could share the good and the bad with. So God created woman to stand at his side as his equal partner in life.

Today the one thing each of us still craves is relationship. We want to belong to something, to someone. We seek a cause that we can believe in and pursue because it makes us feel important. Our self worth gives us identity. It could be through a church, a relationship, a job anything that makes us feel worthy.

Jesus tells us we are to be the salt of the earth. For salt to be useful it must be in contact with the item to be salted. It intermingles, adds flavor and preserves. But salt is always salt. It doesn’t take on the quality of the item salted but enhances the positive aspects of the item salted.

Jesus also warns that salt can lose its ‘saltiness’ and become useless. It breaks down and loses its identity. Rather than maintaining its saltiness it takes on the attributes of the substance surrounding it. The salt no longer enhances the flavor or preserves as it once did.

As Christ-followers we need to be careful when we are in the world. It is too easy to get drawn into the negative attitudes about other people or those who are different than us. In an effort to reach out to those struggling with sin it seems right to downplay the sin in an effort to win the sinner.

Paul tells us in Galatians 6:1 that when we catch someone in sin we are to restore them gently, but the second part of that verse is a warning. We ourselves are in danger of sinning when we put ourselves in situations where temptations to judge, have a critical spirit or allowing pride to overtake us.

When Paul wrote to the Corinthian church he warned them that constant affiliation with those who were negative, judgmental or lax in their spiritual drive could pull us down. Are we to avoid such people? NO! We need to temper the negative with a strong drive to draw close to Jesus through our personal Bible Study and Prayer and by building a wall of positive influence around us made up of small group and corporate worship and prayer.

When we allow negative thoughts and negative attitudes to influence the way we act or think it robs us of our self esteem, our self identity and the dreams we have. Jesus’ ways are built on love and compassion not on critical spirits and verbal and emotional attacks. As a Christ-follower we are called to built up not tear down, to encourage not berate, to seek the positive in every situation and not dwell on the negative.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. I get so frustrated by seeing the way in which people abuse each other and seem to take advantage of your love and Forgiveness. To make matters worse I have found my own attitude has become negative and angry with people I disagree with. As a result I am guilty of the very thing that I detest. Forgive me for my judgmental attitude, my critical spirit and my hatred. Empower me with your Spirit to love unconditionally and forgive freely. Help to continue to build a close relationship with you and other believers so that I can live in the freedom you have given me and accomplish all you have in store for my life. Amen.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 3,759 other followers


Twitter Updates

  • RT @jccareyIV: Remember we can grow in our ability to love! We can grow in our ability to serve, we can grow in our ability to have confid… 3 days ago


August 2022
Follow Built with Grace on
%d bloggers like this: