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Archive for February, 2012

Contentment quotes

Are you content? Need some spiritual encouragement in this area?

Take a dose or two from two well-known Puritans. Firs some quotes from Thomas Watson in his book The Art of Divine Contentment.

“Discontentment is to the soul as a disease is to the body: it puts it out of temper and much hinders its regular and sublime motions heavenward….[It] is not to be excused because it is natural, but resisted because it is sinful. That which should put us out of love with this sullen distemper is the contemplation of the beautiful queen of contentment.” [v]

“Here is the difference between a holy complaint and a discontented complaint. In the one we complain to God; in the other we complain of God.” [17]

“Murmuring is no better than mutiny in the heart; it is a rising up against God. When the sea is rough and unquiet, it casts forth nothing but foam. When the heart is discontented, it casts forth the foam of anger, impatience, and sometimes little better than blasphemy. Murmuring is nothing else but scum which boils off from a discontented heart.” [18]

“God’s Providence, which is nothing but the carrying out of His decrees, should be a counterpoison against discontent. God has set us in station, and has done it in wisdom.” [23]

“Discontent makes a man so that he does not enjoy what he possesses. A drop or two of vinegar will sour a whole glass of wine. Let a man have the affluence and confluence of worldly comforts, yet a drop or two of discontent will embitter and poison all.” [26]

“Why do you complain of your troubles? It is not trouble that troubles, but discontent. It is not the water outside the ship, but the water that gets within the leak which drowns it. It is not outward affliction that can make the life of a Christian sad; a contented mind would sail above these waters. But when there is a leak of discontent open and trouble gets into the heart, then it is disquieted and sinks. Do, therefore, as the mariners: pump the water out and stop this spiritual leak in your soul, and no trouble can hurt you.” [27]

“Thus contentment, as a honeycomb, drops sweetness into every condition. But discontent is a leaven that sours every comfort. It puts aloes and wormwood upon the breast of the creature. It lessens every mercy and triples every cross, but the contented spirit sucks sweetness from every flower of Providence. It can make something sweet out of poison.” [69]

“Discontent is the devil’s delight…Repentance is the joy of the angels, and discontent is the joy of the devils. As the devil dances at discord, so he sings at discontent.” [72-73]

“God makes our adversity our university.” [74]

And then one for good measure from another Puritan:

Labour to be spiritually minded. That is, be often in meditation of the things that are above. ‘If we be risen with Christ,’ say the Scriptures, ‘let us seek the things that are above, where Christ is, that sits at the right hand of God.’ Be much in spiritual thoughts, in conversing with things above. Many Christians who have an interest in the things of Heaven converse but very little with them; their meditations are not much upon heavenly things. Some give this as the reason why Adam did not see his nakedness, they think that he had so much converse with God and with things above sense, that he did not so much mind or think of what nakedness was. Whether that were so or not I will not say, but this I say, and am certain of, the reason why we are so troubled with our nakedness, with any wants that we have, is because we converse so little with God, so little with spiritual things; conversing with spiritual things would lift us above the things of the world. Those who are bitten or struck by a snake, it is because they tread on the ground; if they could be lifted up above the earth they need never fear being stung by the snakes which are crawling underneath. So I may compare the sinful distemper of murmuring, and the temptations and evils that come from that, to snakes that crawl up and down below; but if we could get higher we should not be stung by them. A heavenly conversation is the way to contentment.

– Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment (pp. 219, 220)

Thanks to Paul and Zach for sharing these quotes.  If you aren’t content with these quotes on contentment, click here for some more!

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Herbert’s 23rd

The God of love my shepherd is,
And he that doth me feed:
While he is mine and I am his,
What can I want or need?

He leads me to the tender grasse,
Where I both feed and rest;
Then to the streams that gently passe:
In both I have the best.

Or if I stray, he doth convert,
And bring my minde in frame:
And all this not for my desert,
But for his holy name.

Yea, in deaths shadie black abode
Well may I walk, not fear:
For thou art with me, and thy rod
To guide, thy staffe to bear.

Nay, thou dost make me sit and dine,
Ev’n in my enemies’ sight;
My head with oyl, my cup with wine
Runnes over day and night.

Surely thy sweet and wondrous love
Shall measure all my dayes;
And as it never shall remove,
So neither shall my praise.

 –George Herbert

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Tsunamis and cherry blossoms

I watched this the other day and then thought some as well on our church memory verse this week which is as follows:

As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.” (Psalm 103:15–16, ESV)

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Based on Jesus’ prayer itself and his call to the disciples to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane we can learn many valuable lessons regarding prayer.

And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him. And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”” (Mark 14:32–42, ESV)

These are somewhat paraphrased and yet the kernel truths come from James Rosscup in his Expositions on Prayer in the Bible:

1. Jesus is a great example of preparing before a crisis by praying.

2. Jesus has also left us a great command to pray.

3. Failure to pray before a temptation makes believers more vulnerable to failure in the crisis itself.

4. Jesus still entrusts us with the privilege of watching and praying with Him (Ephesians 6:10-20)

5. The Lord gives His servants repeated opportunities to snap out of lethargy and pray aggressively.

6. It is crucial in prayer to submit to God desiring what is finally best, that His will be done.

7. Sometimes urgent matters require more than just a little time with Jesus!

8. The importance of prayer necessitates we keep at it.

9. Good intentions are not good enough

10. Don’t sleep [grow lethargic] when you should be praying.

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When you are broken-hearted, you can cry out to God like this blogger counsels.

An excerpt:

Continue to pray. Cry out to God and bring Him your wailings and suffering. I suggest you do so verbally, in the privacy of your room or place you go to pray.

Many people are fearful of letting God see all that is going on within them as they wrestle and hurt. They reason that God does not want to hear their moaning and that God will not understand their pain.  They fear that to allow God to see all the emotions churning within them would cause God to be angry with them.
I would point to Jesus as our example for transparency while suffering and heartbroken.  Read through Luke 22 and 23 and Matthew 26 to see how He communicated with the Father in the midst of his sorrow at the Passover meal with his disciples and then in the garden as He talked to God about the hours to come. Jesus is not hesitant in the least to give the disciples or the Father a clear picture of his state of emotional heartbreak.
In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. Hebrews 5:7 (NASB)
Read the Psalms. There are many, many examples of suffering through heartbreak of all kinds in the Psalms! In no other book of the Bible do we see the myriad of human emotion than there. Each lamentation is open and honest and the Psalmist has no trouble pouring out his thoughts and fears and even anger to God.

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Have you ever made a wrong decision?  You blew and you wondered, “Oh no, I have ruined my life now!  Now, what is God going to do? Does he have a plan B?” Some godly counsel from Winston Smith of CCEF.

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Phil Ryken:

So what is the right way to listen to a sermon?  With a soul that is prepared, a mind that is alert, a Bible that is open, a heart that is receptive, and a life that is ready to spring into action.

Read the rest for an explanation of each point.

Thabiti Anyabwile, “A Healthy Church Member Is an Expositional Listener” (ch. 1) inWhat Is a Healthy Church Member?:

Few things are more discouraging or dishonoring to [faithful pastors] than a congregation inattentive to the Word of God. Faithful men flourish at the fertile reception of the preached Word. They’re made all the more bold when their people give ear to the Lord’s voice and give evidence of being shaped by it. As church members, we can care for our pastors and teacher and help to prevent unnecessary discouragement and fatigue by cultivating the habit of expositional listening.

HT: JT

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