Being Humbled

If you asked me, “Who is your favorite Disney princess?”  I would probably say, “Belle.”  On that note, I haven’t seen the movie (cartoon) in a long time and still have yet to see the live action version (so the word favorite is loosely used).  But that aside, there is an attraction at Disneyworld called “Enchanted Tales with Belle.”  And this attraction has children and adults surprise Belle with the story of how she and the Beast met.  Children get a picture with Belle and it is a fun way for them to get up close.

While in Florida we went to Disneyworld and saw many princesses and went on many rides, trying to do those things we thought our children would enjoy (4, 2, and 3 months).  They also told us several things they wanted to do!  When we went over the “Enchanted Tales with Belle” we realized the fireworks would be starting soon so we left in order to get a good spot for the fireworks.  When we returned after the fireworks my wife found out the ride closed at 9pm.  I was a bit disappointed and awaited the complaints of my daughters.  Our oldest said without hesitation, “That’s okay. Maybe we can go on another ride.”  Here I was disappointed and a little upset that this attraction closed before the rest of the park and my daughter showed a content heart.   Amazing how God uses the very one’s I am commanded to bring up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (see Eph. 6:4) to teach me.  Amazing and humbling!

Paul writes, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content” (Phil. 4:11).  The Puritan Thomas Watson said, “A gracious spirit is a contented spirit.”  When we are discontent, ungratefulness is certainly close by.  But not only is ungratefulness close by, we are actually discontent with God and His Sovereignty over this world and our lives.  God has placed us where we are at and He is good, always acting in perfect wisdom.  What was the secret Paul had learned in order to face plenty and hunger or abundance and need (see Phil. 4:12)?  The answer, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:14).  Now this verse gets quoted for lots of reasons, like the rallying cry of a football team going up against a much stronger foe.  But the truth of it is practiced when that team gets demolished and they still have a content heart.  This verse speaks first and foremost as the secret to contentment.

We should also look at the life Jesus lived.  God in the flesh and yet He did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, or used for His own advantage (see Phil. 2:6).  Indeed Jesus Christ was in a low position, “taking the form of a servant” (Phil. 2:7a, even doing a servants job like washing feet, see John 13:1-20).  When was He in a high position on earth?  As He hung upon a cross bearing the penalty of all the sins of all who would ever believe in Him.  And then His exaltation came three days later when Christ was gloriously and triumphantly raised up from the grave!  Christ lived a life of contentment and it is through His strength that you and I can too.

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You Are What You…

Have you ever heard the expression, “You are what you eat”?  No doubt this is something maybe you have said before or heard someone else say at some point.  If you constantly eat ice cream and nothing else, and I happen to really like ice cream, your body is likely to show it soon enough.  Of course, you won’t literally become an ice cream cone, and good thing.

In a similar sense the psalmist says, “You are what you worship.”  This is a paraphrase of what we read in Psalm 135,

“The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; they have eyes, but do not see; they have ears, but do not hear, nor is there any breath in their mouths. Those who make them become like them, so do all who trust in them” (vv. 15-18, see also Ps. 115:4-8).

The psalmist reflects upon the fact that those who fashion idols become like them, and so do those who trust in these idols.  In America you won’t find as many idols made of silver or gold but one idol is silver and gold.  Such a person talks and thinks about money all the time.  They find it difficult to have a conversation about anything else, or at least they don’t desire to have conversations about other things.  Of course, just like the ice cream, in being made like money they don’t literally become money.  Although there is some truth to the one who worships money becoming like cold hard cash, emphasis on cold and hard.  Jesus says, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24).  The fact of the matter is you cannot serve God and anything else.  He alone deserves our total and complete allegiance, no one and nothing else.

How is it true of the Christian, “You are what you worship”?  For this is the will of God, your sanctification (1 Thess. 4:3a).  We are to grow in Christlikeness.  This is God’s will for the one who has trusted in Christ rather than in idols, what they or others have fashioned (in their minds or in their hearts).  We also see this as Paul speaks to the saints (aka believers) in Rome,

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Romans 8:28-30).

God has predestined believers to be conformed to the image of His Son, to make them like the One they worship!

Tuesday Tunes

Here is a song I have not heard for some time until just the other day.  It is called “While I’m Waiting” by John Waller and is one of the songs on the Fireproof soundtrack.  The video below includes scenes from the movie for those of you who saw it and liked it.  If you didn’t see it or didn’t like it then just take a listen.  Psalm 130:5-6 says, “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.”  While we wait for the Lord (found a number of times in the Psalms) we ought to serve and worship Him still.  Enjoy!

How Are YOU Serving?

Summer is in full swing which means BBQ’s, camping trips (which my wife and I just had), swimming, fishing, baseball, and other favorite summertime activities.  We enjoy the warmer weather and having a cold glass of Arnold-Palmer, lemonade and iced-tea mixed.  While Fall seems miles away let me take a moment to remind you of what else is going on.  During this time of year there is lots of planning and anticipation for ministries starting up again or new ones which will be launched.  While reading in 1 Peter a couple of things stuck out to me in chapter four.  Peter is sharing in the first half of the chapter how the body of Christ is to presently live for God with the end in mind (v. 7a).  Praying (v. 7b), loving each other deeply (v. 8), and offering hospitality (v. 9) are a few of the ways we do just that.  1 Peter 4:10 then says, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”

  1. We have all received some gift(s) from God.
  2. We are to use our gift(s) to serve others.
  3. We are being faithful stewards of God’s grace by using our gift(s) to serve others.

First, for the believer who has some “beef” with the church and is not interested in trying to get connected this verse is talking to you.  You are unable to use your gift(s) to serve others if you refuse to connect yourself to a local body.  Certainly no body of believer’s is perfect but her Savior is perfect and to say you do not need the church is like slapping Christ in the face.  Know that you are integral to the body of Christ.  It is quite selfish to say I can do this on my own, and quite dangerous too.

Second, God has gifted each of us differently.  Many times people say they do not know what their gift is.  Two things I would encourage you with if that is you.  First, what do you like to do?  The things you enjoy doing very well might be what God has gifted you to do.  Do you enjoy giving, teaching, serving, or being hospitable?  Certainly this is not a hard and fast rule since it is possible you may enjoy doing something but not necessarily be gifted at it.  That is why the second point is important.  How are you serving right now?  If your answer is, “Nowhere,” than let me encourage you to volunteer to serve somewhere before Fall ministries kick-off.  You might serve as a youth leader for a year and find out you love it…or don’t.  That’s ok.  Serving in various ways, without exhausting yourself, is another way to find out what gift(s) you have received.  At the same time you have others who are working alongside you affirming gifts they see in you.

We are the body of Christ and it is important to make sure we use the gifts graciously given to us by God to serve one another.  “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).  How awesome it is that one of the ways we serve Christ and show our love for Him and for all He has done for us is by serving one another.  “To Him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen” (1 Pt. 4:11b).