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THE SECRET OF CONTENTMENT (WEEK 2 OF 2 WEEK STUDY)

I LONG TO BE CONTENT

TO PUT AWAY GRUMBLING

PAUL SAYS THERE IS A SECRET TO CONTENTMENT

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A SECRET TO BEING CONTENT IN PLENTY

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OR IN WANT

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I understand why we would need the secret for times of want

and it humbles me to see Paul’s contentment in a prison pit.

But plenty?

We need the secret of contentment in plenty?

Yes. Perhaps more.

Philippians 4:4-13 gives us a three-fold secret: Thinking, Thanking, and Loving. (See last week’s blog if you have just joined us.) Watch this story of a man who faced great loss but was able to have contentment despite it all. See if you can see how Horatio Spafford practiced this three-fold secret:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jy1bd0EfiNM

Our own Chris has endured such suffering and has come out like gold. For those of you who haven’t seen this, you must — and for all of us, it is a good reminder of rock solid truth that can help us in times of sorrow. (Sorry it appears twice!)

Sunday/Monday Ice-breakers

1. What stands out to you from the above, and why?

2. Do you agree that perhaps we need the secret more in times of plenty? Why or why not?

Tuesday: How Spafford practiced the three-fold secret:

2. Click here to see the lyrics of It Is Well With My Soul and find evidence that Spafford practiced:

A. Thinking

B. Thanking

C. Loving

Wednesday/Thursday: Free Keller Sermon

3. Listen to the Keller sermon and share your notes: link

4. Apply thinking, thanking, and loving to a situation you face right now.

Friday: Philippians 4:14-23

5. Read Philippians 4:14-23

A. Remember that Paul is in prison, which was a pit with no bathroom facilities and no food, except what friends supplied. How, according to verses 14-17, were the Philippians exceptional?

B. What does Paul see will happen in their lives as a result of their giving from a pure heart?

C. What promise is given in verse 19? Do you believe this?

Saturday:

6. What is your take-a-way concerning these two weeks on contentment?

7. What do you think you will remember, in a year, from our study of Philippians?

Next week we head into a new study. Pray for me, pray for us, that He will quicken all of us.

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254 comments

  1. 1. What stands out to you from the above, and why?

    I had heard the story of Horatio Spafford and “It is Well with my Soul”. He truly had a Job-like experience. I wonder how his wife did. I’ve never heard her journey after this. In listening to Chris’ testimony, a few comments stood out to me: “It is very strange that walking through such suffering could leave me with a deeper sense of God’s love for me than I ever thought I would have”: “… really beginning to take in that He loves me” and “I’m so less sure of myself and so much more sure of my Savior than I was before”. I haven’t been on the blog to have walked this whole journey with Chris but I am moved by her honesty and faith. God bless you and your family Chris as you walk through this next phase of the journey.

  2. I have to say that the direction of our study is, I can’t find the right word, maybe marvelous. I marvel at how with God things work so opposite of the world, at how He becomes large and near at times of loss.

    In the Spafford clip and also in Chris’ testimony it stands out to me how God is able to come near and sustain us in the face of unbelievable loss. It makes me think of His name, I AM. Tragedy and loss bring us face to face with Him in a way that plenty does not. I think plenty is distracting. I tend to lean on my plenty rather than on God. It makes me think of the laser focus we talked about a few weeks ago. It does seem that loss brings focus.

    1. This is so true, Anne, “I think plenty is distracting. I tend to lean on my plenty rather than on God.” But “It does seem that loss brings focus.”

  3. 1. What stands out to you from the above, and why?

    Being content in plenty, and Horatio and Chris’ testimony.

    I hadn’t thought about needing the secret more in times of plenty-but I have to say that could be the most tempting time to forget Him and not be thankful-and get so concerned with maintaining it you forget others and are not loving well.

    2. Do you agree that perhaps we need the secret more in times of plenty? Why or why not?

    I am becoming convinced the answer is yes. We can forget our very lives came from him in times of plenty-we can be tempted to think because of all our hard work, we have this and we can grow contented with and easily cling to the ease in life and comfort we have. When our eyes are set on our comfort and we cling to it-we forget Him and are not thankful and it can cause us to be self focused and not love others well.

  4. I wanted to add some things about Chris’ testimony, but I need to get ready for church. I have watched it about four times in the last two days and again just now. SO love her. I keep hearing new gold nuggets..Will come back and note the things that stood out to me-that God is using in my life.

  5. I missed part of last week, so I will have to go back and read through the chains that I missed as it is hard to follow the responses by email alone (miss the context at times). Chris, Diane and Krista, Elizabeth and others, was hard to read, then I saw an update about young Jay and was overjoyed to read such good news. The parts that I was able to follow made me realize that the things that I am dealing with are minor by comparison, but I also know that when I look past my “stuff” and focus on the Lord, then it doesn’t matter whether it’s big stuff or small stuff, He controls the outcome.

    1. What stands out to you from the above, and why?
    The story of Horatio Spafford. I love that Hymn and I think I knew about his story, but watching it again brought tears. All throughout it seemed like the story of Job again. If it was me going over the spot where my children had perished, I think I would have broken down completely into grief and yet he went back into his cabin and penned a Hymn that continues to move people.

    2. Do you agree that perhaps we need the secret more in times of plenty? Why or why not?
    Absolutely, 100% yes I agree. I see this has played out in my own life. Although I am getting better at leaning on the Lord in all times (much and little), I have found that when I have much I had a tendency to lean little, however when I have little I had a tendency to lean much. I am also learning that the signs in my body that I used to attribute to “stress” (and from a certain perspective they are) I think are more of a sign that I am leaning little. The more I lean I notice that the less those stress signs in my body are…although I still have a ways to go, since those stress signs are still here, not as much as I think they would have been 10 years ago, but still here nonetheless.

    1. Mary, I love this:

      “I have found that when I have much I had a tendency to lean little, however when I have little I had a tendency to lean much.”

      So true….

  6. 1. What stands out to you from the above, and why?

    There is so much here. The parallel of Chris’ story, especially the words the pastor read at the hearing, and Spafford’s trials—such evidence of God’s peace that is “beyond understanding”. Both were strengthened by the assurance of one day being reunited with their children, in the presence of the Lord.

    Spafford said “I am glad to trust the Lord when it will cost me something.” That is a maturity of faith, a selflessness I cannot yet imagine—I want it, and yet the struggle of fear, and at the same time the realization that we have nothing to fear in Him. He will never leave us nor forsake us.

    2. Do you agree that perhaps we need the secret more in times of plenty? Why or why not?

    In our study a few weeks back, Dee said these words that have stuck with me: “I must remember when life on earth is so sweet that I want to cling to it forever, that my real home is in heaven, therefore the wise person sets her affections on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. I must live thankfully, but in holy moderation, for this life is only a sliver of the real story.”
    “Holy moderation” is such a rich phrase. I must be thankful, but hold loosely to the gifts He has given rather than try to make what is temporary—permanent. Our gifts here are temporary—and I can’t try to shellac them, or fix the good things in cement so I can never loose them. Funny—it makes me think of idol statues. Set my heart on what is eternal—loving others, living for the One Who died for me, awaiting the day I will go home.

    1. Elizabeth-Loved this..Holy Moderation stuck out to me too-it is rich- that we must live thankfully but in holy moderation for this life is only a sliver of the real story. It was wonderful how Spafford did enjoy God’s blessings but with Holy moderation. He didn’t long for them-or make his peace or happiness dependent on them.

      I am wondering if clinging to the reality of the future NOW enables us to be thankful, and able to have Holy Moderation in good times. I wonder if as we massage the truth of the Gospel past present and future in deeper, God enables us to be thankful and content while in pain when tragedies hit as well as in good times.

      So loved your contrast: trying to shellac or cement the good things in life or the gifts-basically longing for them-setting our hearts on them like idols as opposed to setting our hearts on what is eternal-loving others, living for the One who died for us, awaiting the day we will be home. So so so good.

    2. This is tough for me and a struggle I hope I finally get through. My inclination is to want to see my kids grow up, get married and to know what it is like to be a grandmother. I think God wants that for us, to know the phases of our lives. I have also been contemplating this for a few weeks. In fact, an older woman at the rehab a few days back mentioned that God is coming soon. She asked isn’t that good? I quickly (and ashamed to think I said this now) said, I’m not sure of that. Wow. How embarrassing, but that is what I am feeling. I would like to have the same earthly pleasures that others have enjoyed, then again, our lives are so different. Not everyone has their dad die at 13, or get in a horrible car accident, or whatever. Tough thoughts today.

  7. Sick this weekend so didn’t go to church. I’m listening to Rick and Kay Warren, their first weekend back at Saddleback since their son’s suicide. That also is very relevant to this study. I’ve never listened to them before, but saw it on FB. They’ve talked about how WHAT THEY KNOW has impacted them.

    1. Renee, so sorry you are sick! Glad God met you there while you were sick through Rick and Kay-oh the painful journey they are on right now.

  8. 1. What stands out to you from the above, and why?

    Yes, this is worth pondering. It is easy to look at those who have plenty and be envious. But, it does not matter whether we are in want or in plenty. Being content is a matter of the heart and our trust in God. I have been in want and I know I can be miserable, but being in plenty brings it’s own kind of misery. Just look at the movie stars. The world lies to us telling us that plenty will bring happiness and that poverty will bring misery. I have lived overseas and some of the poorest people seem so content, I was amazed.

  9. Here are the snippets that stood out to me in Chris’ Testimony-golden nuggets I won’t forget:

    She said before this happened her level of spiritual understanding was enough-after it happened she was forced to look deeply at what or who she was trusting.

    She desperately wanted relief from the pain-to make sense of it but then she thought of Peter saying “where else would I go?”

    She started gazing more and more on God and less and less on the pain-doesn’t mean the pain or loss went away. She learned that He is not managing things as they happen, nothing surprises him, he is in complete control. She began to rest in the mystery of not knowing why and she stopped asking why.

    She became more content while in pain-“If I believe He is good, sovereign and loves me I don’t need to know, I can just trust Him.”

    She is growing more content because she is letting Him be the lover of her soul and He is stilling her fears, and helping her to stop striving so hard. Her contentment and peace doesn’t rest in her circumstances, it rests in the truth of the Gospel past, present and future-Her contentment rests in Him. She has a hope that all His promises are true, and now has a longing for heaven.

    She said, “I am so much less sure of myself and so much more sure of my savior.” -(This is one of my favorite nuggets) God actually helped me this morning with that thought as it came to mind when we visited a church.

    And Chris is loving well: She wants to serve Him and lay down her life for her friends.

    1. Such good nuggets, Chris and Rebecca!

  10. I’m sorry you are sick Renee…hope you get to feeling much better soon.

    I loved the story about Spafford again and never tire of it as it humbles me and shows his great faith he had in God.
    Spafford said….
    “I am glad to trust the Lord when it will cost me something”, like Elizabeth just said shows his “maturity in faith and selflessness”, and that just amazes me. I wish I was there, at the point where I could say that and mean it.

    I also like the pictures of the tree in full bloom and the tree that is stripped of its leaves and looks dead. “A SECRET TO BEING CONTENT IN PLENTY OR IN WANT”. This reminds me of a favorite verse of mine in Philippians 4:11, “Not that I complain of want; for I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content.” I often pray for the Lord to just give me enough…that’s all I need…..in different situations.

    The video of Chris is one I treasure too, because I feel her deep pain and suffering (so much it brings me to tears) and yet she leans heavily into the Lord and her faith becomes stronger and stronger. Our dear sweet Chris…I lift you and Bill and your family up in prayer everyday~

    1. Thanks, Joyce. I’ll get better — have been sleeping a lot during the past couple of weeks. I know this is stress and exhaustion. I’ve waited to take vacation to deal with some stuff at work, but there still hasn’t been closure.

      Later this week, I’ll leave town (finally!) for a semi-working vacation (closure or no closure) — hope to still be on here, but my only Internet access will be via cell phone unless I drive into some town.

  11. Anne says: July 28, 2013 at 7:40 am
    Nanci, I am just now seeing this. I can only tell you what listening prayer is as I understand it and how it works for me. I try to be still and quiet before The Lord waiting for Him to speak to my heart in whatever way He chooses. He impresses things on my heart or brings pictures to my mind. The important thing for me has been to wait on Him because it is easy for me to either be mistaken or to carry it in the direction I think it should go. If an impression or direction is from Him, He will follow it up in His time. Most times impressions do not make sense to me until He begins to clarify.

    Hi Anne…just wanted to say thank you for your guidance…do you use some sort of “breath prayer” (e.g., breath in…Lord Jesus, breath out…have mercy) to focus and quiet your mind to be receptive? How do you handle it if your mind wanders?

    1. Nanci, I don’t say anything. I try to listen to whatever comes to mind, asking The Lord the clarify. If your mind wanders perhaps you could ask The Lord if there is something about those thoughts that you should pray about.

      1. Thanks Anne…good suggestion…typically when my mind wanders in prayer rather than asking the Lord if there is something about those thoughts that I should be praying about, I get irritated with myself for being distracted.

      2. Anne
        Thank you for this, like Nancy when I try to just listen, my mind also wanders and I too get frustrated and annoyed at myself with the distractions. I will try your suggestion of asking the Lord if there is something about those that I should pray about. I think I will try it when I am trying to go to sleep as well, that may help. Thank you.

        1. Mary, that is a great idea. Sometimes things bother me at night too. They need closure that The Lord can bring.

  12. Thanks for sharing the story of Horatio Spafford. I had heard it before but only remembered bits of it. It is comforting and something I need to hear and ponder.

  13. God has used “It is Well with my Soul” to encourage me for decades. And it was re-engrained (?!?) in my mind in “the God of All Comfort” study.

    “Thinking” is powerful, both for good and for bad. This afternoon, I went in a “bad” direction thinking about Spafford. He underwent tremendous loss and penned a powerful song. Yet, if he got off track later in life, what hope is there for me?

    Now, I’ve listened to “It is Well with my Soul” several times, the last time reading the lyrics. The following verse, in particular, jumped out at me:

    Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
    Let this blest assurance control,
    That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
    And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

    I’ve been exposed to plenty of “fear-factor” Christianity, and as a result, I’m not likely to see demons behind every bush. But sometimes I err by refusing to acknowledge or label evil when it is present.

    Last week, Chris shared the news story about Daniel’s death in which evil was SO evident. Though the experiences are not even remotely comparable, someone has used the term “evil” to describe someone (and actions) that I recently have challenged. I’ve tried to write it off as stupidity, ignorance, etc. I periodically feel helpless because I don’t know if the bigger picture will change. The verse above reminds me that in my helplessness and sin, Christ died for me. “He shed His own blood for my soul” and “it is well with my soul.”

    When I put my hope in a situation changing or in having someone believe me, I am subject to feeling hopeless quickly. My hope is in Him. But I am happier when I can trust people around me (I’m not leaning in the “trusting people” direction now) — and I’m not sure where trusting people fits into the bigger picture. The well-being of my soul isn’t dependent on the trustworthiness of others, and I usually have a pretty good sense of who is not trustworthy. But I can’t always avoid those people, and I don’t want use their behaviors to “win” at all costs. Maybe I’m still putting too much hope in people and systems that condone or ignore evil???

  14. What stands out to you from the above, and why?


    Sorrow became hope in the Spafford video stood out to me, the why is because it has been true for me too.

    Brought to mind:
    Romans 5:3-5

    “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”


    2. Do you agree that perhaps we need the secret more in times of plenty? Why or why not?
    

I agree, it is easy to lean on my own understanding when all is well, I am not plumbing the depths of scripture like I am when I know I can not make it on my own. 

    In times of trouble Gods promises are lifelines to me. Ease can bring me the illusion of self sufficiency.

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      1. test 2

  15. I’m not “getting” this 3-fold secret, partly because it begins with “thinking.” Thinking is WORK (in multiple ways, including my job). When my thinking starts (and continues) a process, it’s a recipe for disaster. This morning, I grabbed the Living Bible and read Phil 4, and I re-read the passage in other versions online.

    It looks to me that “right thinking” is a product of God’s peace. Rejoicing, prayer, thanksgiving come first in the “list” (if it’s meant to be a list??). Then “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (v. 7) i.e., I don’t want to be thinking unless the peace of God is guarding my mind and heart. In v. 8, “thinking” is preceded by “Finally.”

    Rom 12: 1-2 also came to mind. The phrase, “be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” is preceded by “present yourselves…”

    I’ve had plenty of practice at monitoring my thinking, focusing on what is right, etc… and it does help me feel better. I had good therapists! Focusing on who God is also helps me be more content. But God is God, whether or not I am able to think straight.

    One of the best “gifts” I’ve had was being too sick to think. Even now, I often need severe reminders that my best attempts at thinking won’t fix my life — even when I’m trying to follow vs 8. I want to believe that contentment and peace are gifts from God. Sure, my thinking can increase/decrease my sense of contentment and peace. But if the peace of God is dependent on my thinking, any illness or medication that impacts my thinking has horrible implications. I know that personal preference isn’t the best way to interpret Scripture, but I prefer to believe that when I have given Him control, He will guard my mind. Otherwise, my personal and family medical history is too scary.

    Granted, I may not be understanding “thinking” in this series of steps, and I DO BELIEVE that thoughts are important. I don’t mean to be obnoxious — I’m just not getting how thinking, even about God, comes first. Seems that He comes before my thoughts about Him. Anyhow, that’s the perspective of someone who has been locked up for thoughts. Looking forward to listening to the sermon to see if that helps me understand.

    1. Renee, I can relate to your issues with thinking. Often it can be a confusing roundabout for me. In those times I find it good to back out and remember that God is sovereign and He loves me.

    2. Renee,

      Wow, I’m so glad you were honest in this post. I too get overwhelmed at my responsibility to renew my mind. I don’t know if others find it so exhausting but I do and I have a family history as well that definitely puts me at a disadvantage. I’ve been talking to God about this lately. So this post is very timely.

      “My best attempts at thinking won’t fix my life” – love this! You really made me think!!!

      1. Thanks for your encouragement, Laura. I just listened to the sermon (posted below); Keller didn’t seem to be defining thinking as I was. I’m not sure exactly how he was defining it OR how I was defining it, but what he said seems better than one more thing on my “to-do” list that I will do wrong.

        1. Funny, I’m trying to spend little money this summer (I don’t get paid and usually work) so I searched for a free sermon on peace a couple of weeks ago. I got this sermon! I have listened 4-5 times and will listen again 🙁

          I thought Keller was saying we go to doctrine to think. We find something in the doctrine that backs up how we should think about a topic. For example, my children are beginning to see it’s time to leave home (for good). I went to see how we (my husband and I) should react to the challenges of all the details. I will admit, it seems like I didn’t find too much, but then again I’m not well versed in the text. I found things like, “…raise up your children…..” which talked about how to raise them. I found things suggesting we be calm (!) when dealing with them (how true!). Still searching, and I AM thinking as I am doing it 🙂

  16. I was curious to see if there was a copy of the original song in Horatio’s hand writing. I think I found it.

    I could be wrong-I searched to verify if I was reading his handwriting right but I couldn’t find anything. Anyway, from what I could see the last line of the song is different on the original but I love it..It says, “A song in the night-oh my soul!”

    It is here: http://spaffordhymn.com/

    1. That is beautiful Rebecca! The Lord came to him in the dark night of his soul with a song!

      1. Anne, Yes-He sang over him: Zeph 3:17 “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.
        He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

        Did you get a chance to look at it-is that really what he wrote? It is kind of hard to read so I want someone to verify it. Honestly, I am blown over by it, been thinking about it all morning!

        NOW, I am not sure if this is totally accurate because it is Wikipedia but it said his church believed it was a divine punishment from God-so the Spaffords left the church and started their own-went to the middle east and loved on and served the orphans, homeless-served in soup kitchens etc..

        1. Rebecca, that is what it looks like to me so the last line must have been changed at some point. There is also something in pencil but I can’t read that. The last 2 words look like my soul.

          The last years of their lives are interesting if true. It seems that their suffering changed their perspective, even their view of the world.

          That is sad about their church. How they mirrored Job!

      1. Dee, I do too! I love the original so much more!

    2. Thanks for that Rebecca…it is awesome. But I can’t read the writing!

      1. Joyce, I know-I struggled at first reading it too.

    3. Thank you for posting that Rebecca, reading this, from his daughter , wow:

      Father wrote to Aunt Rachel
      On thursday last we passed over the spot where she went down
      in mid-ocean, the water three miles deep.
      But I do not think of our dear ones there.
      They are safe, folded, the dear lambs, and there,
      before very long, shall we be too.
      In the meantime, thanks to God,
      we have an opportunity to serve and praise Him
      for His love and mercy to us and ours.
      I will praise Him while I have my being.
      May we each one arise, leave all, and follow Him.

      To Father, this was a passing through the “valley of the shadow of death,”
      but his faith came through triumphant and strong.

      Reading the wikipedia information, seeing that they lost another son, born after the shipwreck, to scarlet
      fever, and that the church decided they were being punished, oh my.

      This was a link at the bottom of wikipedia, to a conversation Elizabeth Eliot had with Spafford’s daughter:

http://www.backtothebible.org/index.php/Gateway-to-Joy/God-s-Assignment-and-the-Grace-to-Accept.html



      This grieved me so much, how it must have haunted her:
      
‘’Mrs. Vester, who was not born until after the disaster, told me how her mother had described that terrible, black night when she and her four little girls were flung into the cold sea. Frantically, she had tried to save them. Barely she had been able to touch just with her fingertips the hem of the little gown of one of her babies, but she could not grasp it. She herself had been miraculously rescued as she floated unconscious on a piece of flotsam.”

      1. Chris, WOWOWOW…I love this.

  17. 2. Click here to see the lyrics of It Is Well With My Soul and find evidence that Spafford practiced:
    A. Thinking, He acknowledges that circumstances change, but that his identity is secure, he has been redeemed, he is willing to suffer, he knows where he is bound.

    This stood out to me:
“The sky, not the grave, is our goal”


    So often I have wished to die right now, I have said to my husband and he has nodded in agreement, ‘can’t we just die now?’

    I am still so sad sometimes, but I feel more ready now, more trusting that God will make us able to give a reason for the hope that is in us, and that maybe our hope will spill over onto others, to the glory of God.



    Thanking , These lyrics make me weep too:
    


    
“Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
 And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
    My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought! 
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!”

    

Reminds me of Psalm 51

    The desperateness that loss brings, makes one intensely look into what one has placed hope in.

    Loving

    The whole hymn, it swells with love, there is such passion, a desire and a hope that really does eclipse the terrific grief.

    
“Christ has regarded my helpless estate and shed his own blood for my soul”
    
“For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live”
    
“Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!”
    
“Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul”

“Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight”


    1. Chris, love how you are continually pressing into him-spending time in His presence-desiring to be with Him more than anything else.

    2. “The whole hymn, it swells with love, there is such passion, a desire and a hope that really does eclipse the terrific grief.”

      So beautifully, perfectly put.

  18. Thank you for this Bible Study Blog my words cannot echo that gratitude and humility. I have not found adequate words. except Thank you.

    1. Welcome Gerrie! I hope you can join in our fellowship here on the blog, we would love to have you! My family is from Arkansas-I love Arkansas. 🙂

    2. SO TRUE. THANK YOU, DEE!

      WELCOME, Gerrie!

    3. Welcome Gerrie!

    4. Welcome Gerrie

    5. Glad you have joined us 🙂

  19. 1. What stands out?

    I’ve been thinking a lot about the last few studies on this blog, and what I’ve been learning has caused me to really challenge my views of God as a Father who gives good gifts. While this is true, Jesus says we will have trouble in this world. There is this great tension in Scripture between God blessing us in the land of the living and us learning to be like Him through suffering. And Paul learns contentment in both. Awesome. Now how do I get there?

    One take away from this blog in general is that we need to see gifts for what they are and not demand from them what they cannot give. So for me, the secret of contentment starts when I am living in the plenty. In plenty, the key is to see the gifts for what they are and what they are not; otherwise I risk idolizing them. When I idolize them, and then they fade or disappoint like all earthly gifts do, I become easily depressed and devastated. If I can see the gift as both good and yet not my reason for living, my contentment can come from Jesus being the center of my life, not the gift. My contentment can never come from the gift. So then in times of want, when the gifts are gone, nothing changes; Jesus is still at the center and I go on. It all hinges on whether I love God for the gifts He can give me or I love God for Him. I do love God for who He is; I also love His gifts. But I can choose not to stop loving Him when the gifts stop coming.

    I agree with Dee that living in plenty is hard because there is the temptation to choose the gift over the Giver.

    1. Yes, so true! I do not want to choose the gift over the Giver. What a good point. I, too, felt like we can make our blessings an idol in the place of God. It’s such a fine line. I think it’s because we get our eyes off the Real prize because we get tastes of all sorts of wonderful little prizes (that HE gives us) along the way.

    2. This is rich Laura.

  20. 1. What stands out to you from the above, and why?

    I think I am in awe, not only of God’s ability to be more than enough in the dark hours of both of his children above, but in awe of Horatio and Chris to let Him be more than enough. I think I have a hard time reflecting on such sorrow because, although we each have our own struggles in life, I have not endured anything that comes close to the pain which comes from losing a child. Now, a new mom, I feel I have even less of a right to respond because I cannot imagine the strength it takes to give such incredible testimonies. Chris…to understand God’s sovereignty even more now…I thank the Lord He has created you with a heart that loves Him and accepts His love. Perhaps you are nearer to God than ever before and that is why you have a peace which transcends all understanding. You are a most amazing woman. You have been in my thoughts and prayers so much…

    Also…I was intrigued by the thought of finding contentment in days of plenty. Although I am sure I have read these verses hundreds of times in my life, I never really listened to this challenge. To be content in good times. I wonder, why do we need to seek contentment during these times? Maybe so we don’t fall into the “never satisfied” mindset…always having more but it never truly being enough? That is a problem I have. I eat more even when I am not hungry. My high expectations of others and myself and just life often leave me disappointed easily. There are some good things for me to think about, for sure.

    2. Do you agree that perhaps we need the secret more in times of plenty? Why or why not?

    Wow. I didn’t see that question coming! Maybe we can get so caught up in the plenty of life that we can forget to stop and wait for His peace and presence. We can be so in control of all we need to do that we forget that what we truly need is to give total control to Him in all that we do. I need to yield my life to the Lord in times of plenty and in need because He will save me from my problems in times of woe and save me from myself every other time. I feel blessed that God has been giving me the realization that I need to stay more plugged into Him because I am just so overwhelmed by His goodness and blessings. Again, I feel I get what I don’t deserve. Just like at the Cross. I need the secret now because otherwise, I will elevate other things in place of God.

  21. 1. What stands out to you from the above, and why?

    Such pain and sorrow and such faith in our Lord.

    2. Do you agree that perhaps we need the secret more in times of plenty? Why or why not?

    Probably; we forget because we are enamored with life and the things that go along with it. We get wrapped up in the material world and don’t focus on what is good and true and right for our lives; Jesus Christ. Lord, help me to not forget you in my day to day goings on.

  22. 2. Do you agree that perhaps we need the secret more in times of plenty? Why or why not?

    I’m not sure we need it more but it is so easy to lose our contentment in times of plenty. In my own experience, in times of plenty, I can become complacent on one hand and anxious on another. Complacent that I start to believe that I can make “the plenty” happen, either by hard work, sacrifice or my own cleverness (LOL). Anxious because I know in my heart that these times will end somehow and I must do all I can to save up for the future.

    1. Jill, I am right there with you-I can and have done and I am sure will do the same! It frightens me just getting a glimpse of the depth of my heart-even a glimpse is scary to me-oh my..but it so helps to remember-like that song-“you see the depths of my heart, but you love me the same-you are amazing God..”

  23. 2. Click here to see the lyrics of It Is Well With My Soul and find evidence that Spafford practiced:

    A. Thinking

    When He says, “Though satan should buffet, though trials should come, let this blest assurance control-That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate, and hath shed His own blood for my soul.” That Jesus blood covers his sin, “not in part but the whole, his sin is nailed to the cross and he bears it no more”..He calls that ‘a blissful, glorious thought’. Through the whole song he thinks upon the beauty and the truth of the Gospel present and future-but he is living it all in the present.

    B. Thanking

    “When peace like a river attendeth my soul, when sorrows like sea billows roll”-His life proves he really does thank God in times of plenty and smooth waters-I think because he lived massaging the Gospel in deeper-he was able to live in holy moderation. As a result of this when the waves hit-he was able to think on the Gospel and when he did-the reality of his soul being held by and covered completely in Jesus blood-he comes out in praise.

    Then he looks to the future when Jesus will come and the trump will sound and Jesus will descend-he sees this as His song in the night-a balm to his soul in the middle of tragedy. Perhaps this truth has never sunk in so deep as it did after the tragedy. I think it went in so deep he was changed even more after ward.

    C. Loving

    I think he lived the Gospel in the present before all the tragedies struck-praising God for his blessings and not clinging to them. I think when the fire happened-he was more concerned for the welfare of others than himself-Jesus love came out of him. I think before the tragedy of losing his daughters-when he had plenty, he was loving others and after the tragedy he abandoned himself more loving others.

    1. SO after listening to Keller-I have changed my answer for C. 🙂 Yes loving others does come out of loving and gazing on Him, but that isn’t what the passage is teaching about when it says ‘whatever is lovely’..Spafford showed throughout the whole song that he was enamored with the Beauty of Jesus Christ-He saw Jesus as lovely, and He loved God supreme over anything or anyone else, so much so that He longed to be face to face.

  24. I need to mull over things so bear with me, but this whole new thought came to mind. Is the reality of the future with Him a song in the night to my soul when I am distressed? When things go wrong and I worry instead of cling to Him? If I worry I have to wonder if i massage the glorious Gospel into my soul in good times-has that become the habit of my soul?

    The cool part is that since God has freed me by showing me how much he deeply loves me-I can freely ask these questions and if the answer isn’t what I like-and it isn’t-:) It is okay-actually wonderful because it is Him opening my eyes and shaping me. He won’t forsake me when I do stumble and forget. Isn’t that beautiful?!? Because of His blood the future is a song in the night to my soul-may not be massaged into my heart as deep as it needs to be yet-but i trust in the future it will because He loves me.

    1. He kissed me through your words this morning, Rebecca “He won’t forsake me when I do stumble and forget. ” I needed that-thank you for listening to Him and sharing it–it ministers to me.

      1. Elizabeth-He is so good-how he comes. He has so deeply ministered to me through you as well.

        There is still that tension inside it seems-at least I sense it. Even yesterday and last night I forgot- I responded to a relational situation with my husband poorly!

        My soul needs to practice massaging the truth of the Gospel in..yet this natural bend away-I have grown to hate clinging to it-yet I can so often in good times and bad times..I have seen that especially with good times I can be fooled with circumstantial peace!

        I want to know more the reality of being with Him-His presence-and that isn’t me..that is what is so weird yet beautiful. I think Spafford, Chris and Paul’s faith isn’t spurred on by them-but by Him-and they respond..and that gives me hope that He will change my heart and grow me..and I want-when the waves hit-to have Him move in me in such a way that the Gospel is a song in the night to my heart-truly-deeply.

        1. “I want Him to move in me when the waves hit!” That is beautiful Rebecca. I want that too. Very well put.

    2. I like this too, Rebecca. How when we ask these questions and we see we are wanting in these areas, it’s not to beat ourselves up or think now God is mad at me…but to see it as God opening our eyes and shaping us.

      1. Susan, I like how you said, “God is mad at me”..that is so true-that is what we can think. I know that is what kept me in that lonely dessert time-it is easy to bend that way. I think I might be the ‘chief’ at beating myself up-it is sad-but true! When Dee took us to the passages of His love-That is how He broke through.

  25. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

    The two videos. The one about Spafford was very moving, and then to hear Chris…I’ve seen this several times before, yet every time I am struck. This time my mind was seeing parallels between Spafford and Chris. When Chris talked about feeling like she’d been led into the wilderness and left there, and then how she had to look more deeply at what she believed about God, I thought of Spafford staring into the depths of those icy waters-his wilderness, the overwhelming grief and sorrow. Yet God came to both Spafford and Chris. Chris expresses how she is more sure of God’s love for her, and Spafford had a revelation on that ship, too, that led him to pen those words.
    I am amazed, really, there aren’t words for it, at the depth and substance and maturity of Chris’ faith.

    2. Do you agree that perhaps we need the secret more in times of plenty? Why or why not?

    Yes…I find that when things are going smoothly and no trials are in sight, I slide into the lie of self-sufficiency, of not needing God. I had the privilege of hearing Joni Eareckson Tada speak several years ago. She said she actually felt sorry for the person who can hop out of bed and jump in the shower in the morning and get going into their day without ever spending any time with the Lord. In their mind, they don’t “need” Him. But Joni has to lie in her bed and wait for her friend to come and bathe, dress, and get her up. She is completely helpless and dependent upon someone else. Some days, she says she doesn’t even have a smile for her friend, so she has to pray hard for Jesus to give her a smile. The truth is that we are just as dependent upon God as a helpless quadriplegic, but we don’t see it as being true.

    Secondly, our culture constantly fuels the feeling that even what we have isn’t good enough – we need more or better than what we have. It’s so easy to feel a sense of entitlement which is the opposite of being thankful.

  26. 2. find evidence that Spafford practiced:

    A. Thinking – this is thinking about the doctrine of the Lord. His words. Spafford says, “you have taught me to say, and though Satan shall buffet (try to steer us off course), and there will be trials, as well as, my sin is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more.” He says that his pain is not his in life or death, surely he found that in Scripture. He references that his home is in heaven and the angel will announce the Lord’s coming; all scriptural.

    B. Thanking – Spafford thanks the Lord many times; He says “it is well with my soul,” and “praise the Lord!” he is also thankful for the peace God brings him.

    C. Loving – There is much love here (as well as thankfulness):

    “That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
    And hath shed His own blood for my soul.”

    He asks to live like Christ, and he waits earnestly for the Lord to come so he can be with Him. I love the picture these words bring to mind:

    “And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
    The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
    The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
    Even so, it is well with my soul.”

    “When my FAITH shall be SIGHT” and “the clouds be rolled back as a scroll.” lovely word pictures.

  27. I have wonderful news to share! GOD HAS SMILED UPON ME! I went for my appointment with the thoracic surgeon today. He made a drawing on his dry-erase board in the examining room, showing me how my sternum looked after the accident and then again at the time of the second CT scan. The first showed something that looked like a nick out of the sternum, the second showed a distinct bulge. He examined me and found no bulge through the skin, and he pressed all over my sternum, and it brought me no pain. He said if he did surgery, it would only improve the appearance of my x-ray, and would not improve how I feel. He felt I should just live with my “ugly x-ray.” He has no inclination to do surgery on me. HALLELUJAH!! Thanks to all of you who have been praying for me, and thanks be to God!! Oh, and another thing — he told me I can drive now!

    1. Deanna, I’m so happy for you! Glad you didn’t feel pain during the exam — I guess there wouldn’t be too much point in doing surgery just to make an x-ray prettier 🙂 Praying you continue to feel better. Congrats on driving.

    2. Great news, Deanna!

    3. So thankful for your wonderful news! Sounds like you saw a very good surgeon.

    4. Deanna,
      Doing a Happy Dance, this is such awesome news.

    5. Deanna, i’m so happy to hear this good news!! I’ve been praying for a miracle and I think you got one from God!!

    6. I’m happy for you, Deanna – no surgery required – YEAH!!

    7. Oh Deanna, such good news!

    8. Yay!! I am celebrating with you Deanna!

    9. Deanna, yeah! Such wonderful news! 🙂 🙂

    10. Thanks to all of you sisters for rejoicing with me!!

  28. I just listened to the sermon, and the 3 disciplines make more sense to me, although I may need to listen a few more times to completely “get” what he is saying. Keller defines “thinking” differently than I was thinking! I haven’t taken notes yet (will do that when I listen again). If I am remembering right, he talked about thinking of the implications of who God is, i.e., “it’s all going to be okay.”

    When I thought about “thinking,” I thought about focusing on what is true, right, etc (the part that came after the “finally”). If I think about what is right or just and if my current situation is wrong and unjust, I see the discrepancies and want to go into fix-it mode — not on the same end of the continuum as peace.

    I can trust who God is, that He is Sovereign, and that “everything will be okay.” I can’t completely trust my thinking, though, even if I attempt to focus on good stuff.

    If my outcome depends on my thinking, I am in big trouble. I need God’s peace (and to know that everything will be okay) even if I have brain damage, dementia, or something else that leads to mixed up thoughts.

    After he talked about the 3 disciplines, he talked (but not very long) about the secret to peace: Jesus/the cross. Not sure I have absorbed what Keller said, but right now, I am seeing two implications of this “secret:” 1) thinking about it does help me realize (overwhelmingly) what Jesus gave for me; it will be okay, and 2) Jesus’ death and His resurrection, His victory over sin and death, are facts, facts that aren’t changed by my thinking.

    Still pondering here because I have suspected that some of the emphasis on cognitive aspects of Christianity are related to time, place, and culture. I’m so entrenched in the “mind” part of Christianity that I may be missing other areas that would lead to a more accurate view of God (See what thinking does to me 🙂 )

    1. Renee,

      I’m just blown away by these posts! Seriously, you have such great insight on the cognitive side of Christianity! I am encouraged to explore this issue further with God.

      1. Yes, Dee, I loved that part of the sermon!

    2. Renee,

      Now that I have listened to the sermon, I wanted to comment again on your post.

      I agree that Keller defined “thinking” differently than I did. I always thought that the cognitive side of Christianity was really about taking negative thoughts captive. This is the exhausting part for me. Also, I had no idea what type of “right” and “true” things I should think about. I love that Keller said that these are related to doctrine. In other words, we are to think and re-think and then think some more about the gospel. This doesn’t overwhelm me as much.

      “I can’t completely trust my thinking, though,…” I absolutely agree! Thoughts need to be checked and rechecked with the Word of God.

  29. 2. Find evidence that Spafford practiced:

    A. Thinking-he remembered the gospel. What an overwhelming sea his thoughts must have been yet he centered himself by thinking of the gospel.
    Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
    Let this blest assurance control,
    That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
    And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

    B. Thanking-for the gospel. No matter what happens or how little we have, we always have that most precious gift.
    My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
    My sin, not in part but the whole,
    Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
    Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul

    C. Loving-yearning for the day he will be with The Lord.
    But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
    The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
    Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
    Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!

    The ending was changed as we talked about above. I love the original and also have some thoughts about the current ending. The last line, even so, it is well with my soul. When I think about that great and terrible day of The Lord I know that it will strike fear into the hearts of men. It will melt hearts that are not prepared with the gospel. Spafford knows that ‘even so’,though that day comes for every man, he has peace. He is saved from it and secure.

  30. 3. Listen to the Keller sermon and share your notes:

    Peace

    Morally trained vs Supernaturally changed hearts

    Character of Peace

    Opposite of Peace is anxiety 

Peace, inner calm and equilibrium no matter what the circumstances
    

Paul was in prison and had peace, he had learned it, it was not natural to him
    
Not just the absence of fear, he had a strong sense of being protected


    Christian peace is not expelling negative thoughts, but the sense presence of God enables you to triumph over how bad things really are

    Disciplines of Peace

    Thinking
    True Noble Right = Doctrine
    
If you want peace think about what you know about God, ponder big stuff


    This is not worldly wisdom

    If you don’t believe in God
    
1) There is no right or wrong
    
2) You are no more significant than an animal
    
3)You get your peace from NOT THINKING

    

For believers the opposite is true, we get our peace by looking at the whole story of God
    

Stupid peace- not thinking, drown your sorrows
    

Real peace- really thinking about Christian truth brings real peace





    Thanking
    
Thank Him as requests are made

    Be content by acknowledging life is in His hands and thanking Him for what He is going to do

    God has a plan to redeem creation, we are being woven into a story for our good & His glory

    Friends of Jesus at the crucifixion would not have believed that God could bring good from that, though they were looking at the greatest thing God had ever done to redeem us

    Just because we do not understand the circumstances doesn’t mean things are not working out for our good, even the terrible things that are happening to us are for our good ultimately

    Loving

    Whatever is lovely, attraction, love

    
Augustine, aware of the problem in Greek Philosophy, Stoics … how to live a life of contentment…Don’t love the wrong things, success, family, dont give your heart to anything you cant control of, be in love with your own virtue, be the person you want to be


    Augustine knew that virtue is not under ones own control, you are fragile, you can fail.

    Only love of the immutable will bring tranquility, that which can not change, the worst circumstances bring more of it, the presence of God, the face of God, the beauty of God
    

God alone is the place of peace that can not be disturbed

    God will not withhold Himself from you, unless you withhold your love from Him


    If you love God supremely, you find the other things you love are actually in God 



    
Secret of Peace

    Loving the immutable is difficult- God feels like, a term, an abstraction



    Put your heart in Christ Jesus, find Him lovely

    

Isaiah 57:20 “But the wicked are like the tossing sea;
    for it cannot be quiet,
    and its waters toss up mire and dirt.
    21 There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.”

    
If you love anything more than God, your life will be like a tossing sea, a house built on the sand with constant cave in’s


    Deep restlessness is the consequence of building your life on something other than God

    
Jesus took our anxiety, He lost all of His peace, He died screaming, so that we could have peace



    Spafford, a man dealing with his grief focused his whole mind on Jesus, Look at the cross, look what He did for us, He was punished for us, God has lost a child too, voluntarily for my sake.

    Thinking, Thanking, and Loving brought Spafford peace, it brought Paul peace, it will bring me peace

    1. Wow, Chris! Your notes on Keller’s sermon are fantastic. I listened to the sermon multiple times, and I’m not sure I can add much more. Thanks!

    2. That was beautiful Chris.

    3. Thanks, Chris! WONDERFUL notes; I appreciate them more than I can express.

  31. I am going to try to participate even though I have a technological handicap. I cannot access videos on this blog. The videos just look like plain black squares. This began two weeks ago. However, I went to you-tube and found a video about Horatio Spafford, and I have heard one video by Chris-Swan in the past. I would have liked to have listened to Chris again, however.

    1. What stands out to you from the above, and why? Both Horatio Spafford and Chris-Swan have made very unnatural and faith-filled responses to extremely tragic events in their lives. Their stories bring tears to the eyes and are very inspiring!

    2. Do you agree that perhaps we need the secret more in times of plenty? Why or why not?
    I do not agree that we need the secret of contentment more in times of plenty, but we don’t need it any less. One would think that we would more easily find contentment in good times, but that does not necessarily follow. However, I know that personally I lean more on the Lord during the bad times, and I am a bit ashamed to admit that. We need the secret of contentment constantly!!

    2. Click here to see the lyrics of It Is Well With My Soul and find evidence that Spafford practiced:

    A. Thinking “Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul.” “That Christ has regarded my helpless estate, And hath shed His own blood for my soul. My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought! My sin, not in part but the whole, Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more…”

    B. Thanking “Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!”

    C. Loving “For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live.” “But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait…”

    1. Deanna, I had a brief time where the videos came up black as well. I waited a bit, closed the web browser and then opened another session with the blog. The videos were still black but I clicked on one to see if it would respond and voila! It did. Not sure what that was all about, but hope it helps 🙂

  32. 3. Listen to the Keller sermon and share your notes.

    I absolutely loved the Keller sermon. My big take-away was this: the peace of God is a discipline that must be practiced. I always thought we were to wait for the peace of God – like it was this gift or blessing that God gave at any given time. While I do believe the peace of God is dependent on grace (everything is dependent on God’s grace to me at any given moment!), I now see it as something that can be sought after and attained through practice. This is good news!

    “Christian peace comes from thinking out the implications.” I love this! The gospel isn’t something that saves us and then is of no use to us believers. We must retell ourselves the gospel, “think big picture” as Keller says, throughout our entire lives, in order to be at peace. THE GOSPEL BRINGS PEACE! God is the gatekeeper through which everything must pass before it enters our lives, and if He allows it, I can be at peace with the fact that He will use it to remake me into the image of His Son.

    “Only love of the immutable can bring tranquility. Our problem is we love mutable things.” Any time we put our hope in mutable things, we are going to live in a state of constant anxiety because deep down we know that this thing could give out on us at any second. It’s when we put our hope in the Rock that our peace is secure. “If you love anything more than God, you will have deep anxiety.” This is just pure logic.

    Thinking, thanking, loving. I love the “loving” part of this equation. “Fall in love with Jesus,” Keller says. He doesn’t say sacrifice your life for Jesus or submit to religion for Jesus because these things will burn us out eventually. We can’t live under sacrifice. We can’t live under religion. The only way to sustain our relationship with The Lord is to fall deeply in love with Him. Let me practice. I love Jesus because He is humble and gentle, and because He came not to bring religion but freedom and joy and peace. He came to set captives free. He came with a yoke that is easy and burden that is light. He ate with sinners. He is a faithful and merciful high priest who intercedes for me always. He doesn’t tire of me. He loves me enough to suffer for me. I love Jesus because He first loved me. And He promises not to quit on me but to finish the work He started.

    I have to share with everyone one thing I read this week on the peace of God. It was in reference to the gospel story where the disciples found themselves in a terrible storm and Jesus was asleep in the boat. “How are we to interpret Jesus’ slumber during the storm? We should not see it as a sign of His absence or as a mark of indifference. Rather, it was evidence of His peace. We usually think of the peace of God as something we experience. We see it as a peace that we receive – the peace that ‘transcends all understanding’ (Phil 4:7). It is that, but our experience of this peace must ultimately have its origins in God’s own peace. This was the significance of Christ’s slumber. Christ was not anxious or afraid. He was certain of the future.” We can be at peace with our circumstances because we know God is not on His throne biting His nails, on the edge of His seat waiting to see what will happen next. He knows the future; He has a sovereign plan in place. He is at peace.

    I know this post is getting long but I would love to ask a question that I have been pondering this week. Have you ever been in a situation where you are going through something and you trust God with the outcome but you don’t really trust yourself with how to get to that outcome? I am constantly asking myself, “Have I done everything that I need to do in order for God to make this turn out the way He wants it to?” I trust Him but the anxiety comes from not trusting myself and the steps I need to take to allow God to work in my life. How do I surrender this anxiety?

      1. Thanks Dee. It does make sense and I think it is easier to do with others, as in the example of your daughter where the only thing you really can do is pray.

        Here is an example from my own life. I really want to be a good steward of my money. I know the Bible lays out plenty of principals to achieve this. The anxiety comes from questioning whether I can trust myself to follow these principals. Or raising kids. Again, lots of great stuff in Scripture but I can feel overwhelmed at applying these principals to my life.

        I often get anxious about not being able to discern where I think God is leading me. I think, “Oh but what if God was really telling me something else? What if I screwed it up?”

        I know there is error in this thinking but I don’t really know how to reframe these thoughts. Perhaps I have made God too small and think He can only accomplish His will in my life if I always discern His guidance.

    1. Laura, I read your post last night, I thought about it in the night.
      Yes I can totally relate to not trusting myself to do all I ought, I am a fellow over thinker!
      I have made strides in this area, as my trust has grown, I endeavor, when I begin to strive, not to stop thinking, but to be childlike in my faith. I don’t know everything I can’t see everything but my Father can.
      I ask Him to guide my thinking, and guard my heart, and I thank Him for being trustworthy and in control.
      I ask Him to make what He would have me to do plain to me. When the anxiety comes that begins to choke me with fear, I know now that is NOT my Father’s voice, but the voice of my enemy.

      I thought of this study on the blog as I read and thought about your post:

      http://deebrestin.wpengine.com/2012/10/the-secret-of-living-the-sabbath-rest/

      And this free sermon I thought would be helpful too
      http://sermons2.redeemer.com/sermons/work-and-rest

      1. Thank you Chris for these resources! I’m very excited to read/listen!

        1. I am glad, it was interesting to me that Isaiah 57:20 was referenced in the sermon this week and the one I remembered and gave you the link for.

  33. Please pray… needing and practicing this right now. If I were face to face, I’d be spilling my guts and bawling my eyes out, but I can’t post details.

    I am SO THANKFUL for God’s Sovereignty and that HE KNOWS the big picture. My desire to confront injustice and the best evidence won’t “fix” anything (especially when I don’t have the opportunity to share it!). Totally blindsided today by accusations — and someone who treated others unfairly and did some unethical things was defended (I hadn’t even brought up the topic; but because those “unethical things” had contributed to a bigger problem, I had evidence that no one wanted to see).

    I’ve had enough experience in sick systems that when I sense something might go bad, I keep the right people informed and keep a paper trail (definitely don’t waste time doing it regularly). Except for feeling defensive, I’m fine — and the person who made accusations doesn’t even know what she is talking about (that’s not being rude; she just wasn’t trained in the area; she probably felt more defensive than I did).

    I do know that “It is well with my soul.” But I am sick from observing wrong painted as right, and right accused of being wrong — and other people’s reputations being trashed, just to preserve power and image.

    Was just thinking that I should go to future meetings with an attorney, but then I realized that I do have Someone with me and protecting me all the time 🙂

    1. This sounds really hard, I will pray for you Renee, that you might be a light in the darkness.

      John 16:33
      “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

    2. Sorry you are having such injustice at work. Praying for you.

      BTW, Renee, so glad to see you back posting this week. I appreciate your insights about “thinking” even though I have not had time to post comments. I have had Krista and the boys here with us for the last week and life has been busy. I am looking forward to listening to Keller’s sermon. It sounds great from the reviews.

    3. Renee, I am so sorry about things at work. This is so hard! I wonder if my blessing might also bless you. This evening I was in knots over something at work and The Lord brought me to Psalm 25:1-15. It was a balm to my wounded soul. Especially this.
      My eyes are always on the Lord, for He will pull my feet out of the net. (Psalms 25:15 HCSB)

    4. Thank For Prayers, Everyone. Internet Only On Cell For Awhile And Obviously I Can’t Type On Here. No Idea Why Words Are Switching To Capital Letters. I’m Here But Will Spare You My Typing Until I’m On Computer 🙂

      1. Sorry for all the tumult you are going through at work, Renee…hope we can bear some of the burden with you by our prayers!

        1. Will pray for you too, Renee

  34. 3. Listen to the Keller sermon and share your notes:

    I have listened to this all week-every time I hear something I didn’t hear before. I love this sermon! (I want to say it is his best-but I said that last week!) :))

    I do love how Keller said over and over that thinking is CONTINUOUS pounding in of what we know about life and God as listed below. So this is daily, and Paul said it is ‘learned’-it isn’t natural. This is where learning it comes in. I have to choose to pound what is true about life and God in daily. Yet that isn’t enough-Paul says I also need to thank Him in the middle for what He is going to do with it-but if I am truly pounding in what is true about life and God then I can thank Him because I know He is unchanging the same God who is using everything from the beginning of time to work out for my good and His Glory in the future. He will work my life circumstances out for my good and His glory and trust He will give me what is best for me because HE knows everything, I don’t-and if I did I would have asked for what He gave me. Finally, I should love God supreme over everything-love the face of God-dive into His beauty-see Him as lovely. Only the love of the immutable can bring tranquility-that which cannot change. God alone is the place of peace that can’t be disturbed.

  35. 4. Apply thinking, thanking, and loving to a situation you face right now.

    
Thinking: 
Though this world seems so messed up, so out of control, I know that God is at work, He has a plan for redemption which He has made known, He has tenderly called me, He has purchased my peace, my pardon with Christ’s blood and torment. His work is complete and finished, my obedience or errors do not change my identity, my life is hidden in Christ with God, I can set my mind on things above.

    
Thanking: 
I am so relieved to let God be Sovereign, to trust that He is good, that He IS love, that I can cast all my cares on Him because He cares for me. I am thankful that He is not willing that any should perish, that He leads me not into temptation. I can trust that He is pulling hard on my children, that He loves them more than I do, that even if more hard things happen, He is in control, He is allowing what will ultimately be for the best. I am so filled with the hope of heaven, so abundantly grateful for the promises that the old order of things will one day pass away and everything will be made new.

    Loving: 
As I think of God being tender and personal with me, I confess this is still the hardest part for me, Thinking and Thanking come easily.
 There is a persistent clinging desire to hide myself.



    A friend sent me a message on July 17, it came at just the right moment:


    “I just read about the compassion of Jesus the other day… Very interesting.
    In the gospels it often says that Jesus “felt compassion for them” referring to the many who came to Him… sick, blind, disabled, demon-possessed, poor, hungry, abused, rejected, lonely, stories if despair, crushed hopes, shattered dreams…
    He was never annoyed. It wasn’t an inconvenience to Him. It moved Him. It broke His heart.
    Normally when the word ‘compassion’ is used, we are saying that we feel badly for that person. To say that Jesus had sympathy or felt sorry for the people, however, doesn’t even begin to describe what was going on inside of Him.
    Matthew (in Matt. 9:36) used a word which literally described a pain in the intestines, the deepest part of you, the kind of pain that’s so unbearable that something must be done immediately for relief.
    The Latin word from which we get our English word ‘compassion’ means “to suffer with,” to literally participate in the suffering of another person.
    When Jesus looked at the crowds, He didn’t just feel sorry for them. Their pain became a deep anguish in His own heart.
    Our pain becomes His pain… because His love for us is so deep. He desires His children to know and rest in His love. Because in His love we find peace… In His love we find joy… In His love we find freedom… In His love we find life.
    Pain and heartache will not be the end of the story.”


    She said she felt led to share that with me, I was weak in the knees as I read it.
    Then the map Dee used here on the blog, such personal touches from God to me, yet instead of allowing myself to feel loved and drawn, I confess my fleshly reaction is to hide and cover myself.

 it make me feel stupid to even write this.
    Though I am so much better, I still have a way to go here girls if you would pray for me, I still need and long for release in this area. I need to rest in His love and find joy, freedom, and Life.


    It is hard to confess these things, I am glad Christ is patient, but I don’t want to miss out on what He wants for me because I am hiding.

    1. Thanks for sharing this, Chris, and be assured I am still praying for you. Sometimes hiding is part of the process. I am very glad we can hide in His love. Let Him cover you.

      “He hideth my Soul” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PtZsYsBbsI

      “Our pain becomes His pain… because His love for us is so deep. He desires His children to know and rest in His love. Because in His love we find peace… In His love we find joy… In His love we find freedom… In His love we find life.
      Pain and heartache will not be the end of the story.”

    2. Chris,

      I struggle with the same thing. The recording in my mind tells me I am unlovable, I am not special enough to be personally kissed by God. And these are perhaps the most dangerous lies of all because as you said, it’s His love that brings freedom and joy and peace.

      You are loved. Praying for you.

    3. Oh Chris…I’m praying!

    4. Chris, You mean so much to me…I weep with you.

    5. Diane, Laura, Joyce, thank you

      1. Praying this again for us all

        “14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

        20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

        1. Thank you, Chris

        2. How we need this rich prayer from Paul, to “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ…” And to add, and this from Rebecca’s post, how fierce is His love for us.

    6. Sitting shiva dear Chris, and praying for you as well.

    7. Chris, I saw your post and quickly perused it yesterday, but didn’t have time to really read it thoughtfully, but I wanted to, so I returned here today. All your words have the beauty of a faith tested by the hottest of fires. YOU are a beautiful woman, Chris. You reflect the beauty of Jesus.

      I identify so much with you in this, “As I think of God being tender and personal with me, I confess this is still the hardest part for me…there is a persistent clinging desire to hide myself.” I really wish I could get to the bottom of what is behind this – I’m sure much of it is Satan’s voice whispering lies; Laura described it as a recording in the mind telling us we are unlovable. I wonder, too, if past experiences of rejection are a part of it. For me, I think also it is living almost daily with criticism aimed at me. It’s hard to believe in truly unconditional love.

      I love the message sent to you by your friend, how Jesus suffers with us, feels it deeply.

    8. Chris, I missed this post until now. I am amazed at how sometimes things are hidden from my eyes until just the right time. I really appreciate your transparency for you have ministered to me. It is hard for me also not to run from intimacy. While I thought I was alone in this I see from the responses that I am not. Light is shining in on us. Amen to Paul’s prayer for us.

  36. In Keller’s sermon, he says the peace of God is a discipline that must be practiced. This seems evident in Phillipians 4. I was reading 2 Thessalonians 3:16, which suggests peace is something we are given:

    Now may The Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way.

    I wanted to know your thoughts on this. Is peace, in your experience, practiced or received or perhaps both?

    1. I think it is both, it has been both for me.
      Sometimes one prayer, one surrender, stills me, sometimes it feels like it takes a long fight of clinging to truth during a storm, remembering the Gospel and holding fast.

    2. Until recently I didn’t realize (duh) that I could “practice” peace. I think I always thought peace came to me when my life is going well. In the past few months I gave my worries to God by praying and releasing them. When it happened, I felt such peace! That made me want it more! So I gave more worries and felt more peace. Woo-hoo! My life is calmer; I am practicing peace.

      1. Awesome Laura!

  37. #3 Notes on Keller’s sermon:

    There is a difference between the morally restrained heart and a supernaturally changed heart.

    Keller focused on three main points: The character of peace, the discipline of peace, and the secret of peace.

    The opposite of joy is sadness. The opposite of peace is anxiety and debilitating worry.

    Peace is inner calm/equilirium.

    Paul didn’t say he could do this because he is a tough cookie; he says he “learned” it. People say “stop thinking about negative things.” Peace is not just the absence of fear, but the presence of something — it is the presence of God’s peace. You get something that lifts you up and over the facts.

    If you want peace – think about what God is like. Christian peace comes from thinking out the implications. God made us and placed us in a perfect world. He wantd to live with us. It all went wrong. Then God sent His son to save us, and is making a new heaven and earth.
    If you are a Christian and you believe all of that and don’t have peace — then you aren’t thinking!

    Thanking: Make requests to God with thanksgiving. Thank Him as you are making the request. Acknowledge that life is in His hands and thank Him for what He will do. God has a plan (Romans 8:28). He will put it all together for your good.

    At the crucifixion you would have thought there was no way God could bring any good out of it, and yet it was the most important thing that God ever did to redeem us.

    Loving: St. Augustine was completely aware of the problem in Greek philosophy. Stoics said, “You are loving things you are not in control of…you love all the wrong things (success, family, etc) They said you should set your heart on your own virtue. St. Augustine said “You have miseed the boat!” To say that the most important thing is “that I live according to my principles,” that is just as uncertain as family or success.

    Only love of the immutable can bring tranquility, the presence of God, the face of God.
    God alone is the place of peace that cannot be disturbed.

    On the cross, Jesus did not have peace. Jesus took all of the sin on Himself, and Jesus died screaming. Most crucifixion victims were exhausted and unconscious for a long time before actually dying. The cry of dereliction is that of unfathomable pain.

    We should never feel we are being punished — Jesus took all of the punishment for us.
    We should never feel abandoned — Look what He did for you!

    1. “Only love of the immutable can bring tranquility, the presence of God, the face of God.
      God alone is the place of peace that cannot be disturbed.”

      This was so powerful. I also was very intrigued by the use of the word immutable (unchangeable) in connection to God and peace in our lives.

  38. I’ve got a prayer request (again)…my son Adam is travelling to Colorado; flight leaves early Friday morning…and he’s informed me that he and his friends are going white water rafting while there (more gray hairs). Please pray for his safety!

    1. Praying Susan!

    2. Glad to pray Susan. Adam is quite adventurous.

    3. So glad Adam is enjoying life to it’s fullest! I will pray for safe travels and safe adventuring. I will pray for mom to be calm and trust the Lord is near 🙂

      1. Laura, I have to tell you…Adam and I were texting as he was waiting at the airport in Denver for his flight to Colorado Springs. Before he left, he’d told me of the white water rafting – Class 4/5 rapids, no less – and of course my reaction was the worrying…”do you know people can drown…you’ve never done this before…it’s dangerous…” So as we were texting, I thought of your post, “So glad Adam is enjoying life to it’s fullest!” and your picture on here where you were out west on your trip and your love of nature…so I told him that even though I worry some, I’m really glad he has the opportunity to see and experience new things and I am happy for him, and I will just trust God to take care of him. And I told him to take some pictures of the mountains to show me!

        1. Susan, what a great response to Adam!

  39. 2. Click here to see the lyrics of It is Well With My Soul and find evidence that Spafford practiced:

    A. Thinking – I see thinking right in the beginning as Spafford thinks back over his life, to peaceful times (when peace like a river attendeth my way) and then to the present grief in his life (when sorrows like sea billows roll). Though being buffeted by Satan and enduring great trials, he chooses to think on the gospel truths, that “Christ has regarded my helpless estate, and hath shed His own blood for my soul”. He thinks about how his sin was fully paid for by Jesus and this thought releases a sense of bliss.

    B. Thanking – I see him thanking God in the midst of his trials, “Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, it is well, it is well, with my soul”. He chooses to thank God in his grief. I see his gratefulness that in his helplessness, Jesus took notice of him and rescued him by dying for Him. “Praise the Lord…o my soul!” He is thankful that his sin has been completely taken away.

    C. Loving – I think his love for Jesus is evident in the entire hymn, because he really doesn’t make his own suffering the focus of the hymn but rather it’s all about Jesus and what He has done-His sacrifice on the Cross and His promise of the resurrection and His return.

    1. So good Susan!

  40. Susan. Good Morning! I see we are up at the same time.

    5A. Remember that Paul is in prison, which was a pit with no bathroom facilities and no food, except what friends supplied. How, according to verses 14-17, were the Philippians exceptional?
    The Phillipians shared with Paul in his time of need not only when he was in prison but they had a history of generosity. From what Paul is saying I have the impression that God increased their gift. By that I mean He took it and added of Himself to it so that Paul was blessed in every way.

    B. What does Paul see will happen in their lives as a result of their giving from a pure heart?
    Profit will increase to their account. Wow, these are banking words. Interesting.

    C. What promise is given in verse 19? Do you believe this?
    I love the wording in verse 19. God will supply ALL of your needs out of the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus. These are riches indeed. Ephesians 3:16 refers to His riches strengthening the inner man.

    1. I was up because Adam had to leave for the airport at 3…flight left at 6:00 for Denver! Wow – you get up early for work!

      1. Yes but the time here shows an hour earlier. My difficulty is getting to bed early enough.

  41. 5. Read Philippians 4:14-23
    A. Remember that Paul is in prison, which was a pit with no bathroom facilities and no food, except what friends supplied. How, according to verses 14-17, were the Philippians exceptional?


    They were first to support Paul and at first the only church to support him, their support was generous & ongoing

    B. What does Paul see will happen in their lives as a result of their giving from a pure heart?

    That profit will increase to their account, and God will supply all of their needs, according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus
    What promise is given in verse 19? 


    I liked the Message here:
    You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, his generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus.

    Do you believe this?

    I do, though I know am like a child sometimes, thinking I know what I need. I can acknowledge that I am probably often blind to what I really need, what is best. I am too prone to thinking my wants are needs.

    
It is curious, my knee jerk reaction to name it and claim it types is to disconnect giving and blessing, but here it is clearly linked. 
God taking care of EVERYTHING I need, is all encompassing, spiritual and physical needs.
    
If I seek first His kingdom and His righteousness everything I NEED will be supplied, glory pouring from Christ Jesus.
    
I suppose seeking God’s kingdom is what the Phillipians were doing by sacrificially giving to Paul.

  42. 5. Read Philippians 4:14-23

    A. Remember that Paul is in prison, which was a pit with no bathroom facilities and no food, except what friends supplied. How, according to verses 14-17, were the Philippians exceptional?

    They were exceptional because they were a giving people. They shared their food and supplies with Paul and he was thankful. He was kept alive because of their generosity.

    B. What does Paul see will happen in their lives as a result of their giving from a pure heart?

    They will receive Gods blessing because their needs will be met.

    C. What promise is given in verse 19? Do you believe this?

    Yes, but shouldn’t we be careful here? It seems like works to me. “If I do good things then God will bless me.” I don’t think I should focus on that. I should focus on the doing good things because it is the right thing to do; help each other when it is needed. Jesus said when we help those in need we are helping Him.

    Example, I came to my mom to help cook and exercise and whatever. I wasn’t too excited. I came and did the “dirty deeds(!)” and have been GREATLY blessed (so unexpected!). “Needs are met,” and so overjoyed for the time with my mom 🙂

    I am thinking of another aspect of this as well. Economically. Maybe these people couldn’t afford to give their food and supplies away, but did it anyway. In this manner, God will meet their needs even though they are seemingly giving their wealth away to help Paul. I TOTALLY believe this is true. I have seen it happen in my own life. God will always provide; I need not worry.

    1. Oh Laura, I remember how you struggled with the decision-it was difficult-to leave home for several weeks and go to your mom. I know it was hard for you to leave your husband and two sons and all the housecleaning you had planned to catch-up on. But this time you have with your mom (and Sarah) you will treasure always! I know that when school starts again and you go back to work and your time will be more constrained, you will never, ever regret spending this time with her. I know you are already sensing and experiencing this as you write of the unexpected blessing and joy for this time with your mom!

  43. 4. Apply thinking, thanking, and loving to a situation you face right now.

    Please forgive me as I am still meditating on this as of this morning so this is long. 🙂

    Yesterday morning right when I finished doing question 3 another emergency happened-expensive emergency. I am not at liberty to discuss but it REALLY made things harder.

    Thinking: Even though I really really struggled with worry-I turned to Him and here is how He came to me: This morning I woke up with a thunderstorm and my mind went to the cross-but a new layer emerged. As the thunder cracked loud-this picture of the scene of the crucifixion emerged. For the first time I sensed the FIERCENESS of His love. The darkness of the cross-the deepness of the darkness, Jesus’ wailing-God’s grieving heart-yet He voluntarily did this! Here is the exploding power/fierceness of His love-His grieving as the earthquake rumbled-the veil tore-yet the tenderness of Jesus on the Cross thinking about Mary-forgiving us. I am not sure I could handle the reality all at once-but He showed me a glimpse-and I am certain He wants to show me more which is exciting-He is lovely-This is His loveliness-the Gospel!

    So in this brief moment HE showed me another faced of the Gospel diamond-HE willingly forsook Jesus. He was willing to dive into that deep, dark hell of a reality of losing His son for me-and He felt that wail and tasted it-voluntarily. THIS is FIERCE, PASSIONATE, PURSUING LOVE-AND HE IS UNCHANGING. HOW CAN I THINK HE WILL CHANGE AND BECOME INDIFFERENT and ALOOF TOWARD ME IN MY VALLEY?

    Thanking: I can easily ‘feel’ like God is aloof in times like these. Yet I know HE isn’t-but knowing it and having it sown into my heart are two different things! His love is helping me to learn to be content-and just peeling back the layers-oh. I am growing more thankful-not for the trials and setbacks really because honestly I hate them, but I am “LEARNING” to trust He is going to work this out for our good and His glory-my same God of fierce love isn’t ‘just managing things in my life as they happen’. There are some parts of it that are indeed a mystery as to why so I have chosen not to go there anymore-but to pray that He would intervene in His way and timing somehow because this has gone on too long in my time frame, but until then I need to walk in faith trusting He is weaving this into our story-His story. And trust Him for every decision and step. He is lovely and in control.

    Loving: What Keller said is true-God never turns His face from me-I turn mine from Him, but oh when I turn my face to Him-He is here and oh. He is my redeemer, daily, minute by minute..I am the one who disrupts the intimacy stream when I don’t press into Him! He gives me grace upon grace by even coming to me as He did this morning and giving me a small but sweet sense of His presence in the thunder! He IS security-yet HE gave up His security on the cross at that dark moment as He was rejected-the trinity torn apart so He can be my security. His face is lovely.

    1. This is so good Rebecca, how can we not trust Him?
      I was impressed this morning and even more as I read your post, I need to fix my eyes on Christ, not me.

      This song came to mind:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpJQvdAhcmk

      I stand amazed in the presence
      Of Jesus the Nazarene,
      And wonder how He could love me,
      A sinner, condemned, unclean.

      O how marvelous! O how wonderful!
      And my song shall ever be:
      O how marvelous! O how wonderful!
      Is my Savior’s love for me!

      He took my sins and my sorrows,
      He made them His very own;
      He bore the burden to Calvary,
      And suffered and died alone.

      When with the ransomed in glory
      His face I at last shall see,
      ’Twill be my joy through the ages
      To sing of His love for me.

      1. Chris, love this! Yes-He Has us-is the One who calls us His beloved..And when He has made us His, how can we not trust Him- our Protector? (Even when all has been stripped, like Corrie Ten Boom-He still has us and is our protector. Life is so much more than what we experience on this Earth. My trusting Him shouldn’t be determined by my circumstances-or the outcome of my circumstances. His protection of me doesn’t necessarily mean things will turn out as I like-or my issue will be fixed or costly things will stop breaking down-or my boys will be safe from anything bad happening to them. But I can still say He is protecting me even when all is stripped-because of the Cross-I am His-He is mine..what else, or who else should garner my affections other than Jesus Christ? Life in Him is so much bigger because He is bigger!)

        1. Love this … “My trusting Him shouldn’t be determined by my circumstances-or the outcome of my circumstances. His protection of me doesn’t necessarily mean things will turn out as I like-or my issue will be fixed or costly things will stop breaking down-or my boys will be safe from anything bad happening to them. But I can still say He is protecting me even when all is stripped …” Hard to pound in, but true. Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!

    2. What a powerful kiss from the Lord for you this morning in the thunderstorm. “As the thunder cracked loud-this picture of the scene of the crucifixion emerged. For the first time I sensed the FIERCENESS of His love. The darkness of the cross-the deepness of the darkness, Jesus’ wailing-God’s grieving heart-yet He voluntarily did this! Here is the exploding power/fierceness of His love”.

      When a tornado touched down in our area a few weeks ago, a similar thought occurred to me about God’s power to do whatever He wants. He is fierce, yet tender at the same time. How amazing that we continually doubt Him. How much we need to be reminded of His fierceness.

      Praying for you in your trials!

      1. Diane, and to think His love is as intense as a Tornado too! Wow, what a metaphor.

    3. This is really good Rebecca! I’m sorry for the trial, but how the Father has come near! Our loving Father who gave His beloved son for us. We can trust Him with our sons.

    4. Rebecca, I am honestly blown-away by your entire post. Ever since I’ve known you, I must say that you are so expert at taking the gospel, thinking on it, grasping it, and then the most important part, applying it to your life-DOING it. You are a DOER OF THE WORD, not just a hearer. I so admire and respect you for these qualities, Rebecca. I know how impactful your testimony was/is in Idol Lies, how you turned away from your comfort idol and eating every night and put a plan of action into place, replacing that time with reading Christian books or the Bible and spending time with Him instead.
      I love how you describe the fierceness of God’s love. I’ve never thought of it like that before. This is so good – THIS IS FIERCE, PASSIONATE, PURSUING LOVE-AND HE IS UNCHANGING. HOW CAN I THINK HE WILL CHANGE AND BECOME INDIFFERENT AND ALOOF TOWARD ME IN MY VALLEY?

      1. Susan, you are such an encourager-thanks so much. I so love you and your sweet, sensitive heart.

        I must tell you I did stumble after I wrote that. I don’t want you to think I have anything ‘down’ because I sure don’t! My husband dropped another possible bomb last night when he called in regard to one of his jobs-I felt like God was far off-abandoning me-then I got frustrated-I ran to some chocolate covered raisins-I knew I shouldn’t have bought those! :/ I forgot He is involved in every detail of my life and He cares and He loves me fiercely. I don’t think the penny has fully dropped to my heart yet! I truly am a ragamuffin-but so grateful that I am His beloved, and I am not saying that to sound holy-or falsely humble or anything-it is just true. Maybe that is why I am drawn to broken people like me who don’t always do everything perfectly-I don’t know. 🙂

        1. Oh Rebecca…I would never think of you as being falsely humble or false in any way! I can relate to the ‘having a breakthrough’ and then stumbling. At the end of last week, I really felt some kind of a feeling that I’d describe as ‘momentum’, like maybe God was ready to move me forward…then this week, another ‘wrench’ to make me feel stuck:)

  44. I have been rather “hit and miss” this week…I am reading (rather that the perusing) comments of the blog this morning; I have been blessed by some wonderful “golden nuggets”…just a sampling…

    Rebecca/Chris…
    “She (Chris) started gazing more and more on God and less and less on the pain … She (Chris) learned that He is not managing things as they happen, nothing surprises Him, He is in complete control. … rest in the mystery of not knowing why and she stopped asking why. … ”If I believe He is good, sovereign and loves me I don’t need to know, I can just trust Him.” … “I am so much less sure of myself and so much more sure of my savior.””

    Laura…
    “need to see gifts for what they are and not demand from them what they cannot give. … If I can see the gift as both good and yet not my reason for living, my contentment can come from Jesus being the center of my life, not the gift. … in times of want, when the gifts are gone, nothing changes; Jesus is still at the center and I go on. It all hinges on whether I love God for the gifts He can give me or I love God for Him.”

    Rebecca…
    “My soul needs to practice massaging the truth of the Gospel in … I have seen that especially with good times, I can be fooled with circumstantial peace!”

    Susan…
    “the lie of self-sufficiency”

    Renee…
    “I can trust who God is, that He is Sovereign, and that “everything will be okay.” I can’t completely trust my thinking, though, even if I attempt to focus on good stuff. ”

    Dee…
    “we pray and do as God leads us and them simply let go and trust Him, even when it doesn’t make sense.” (Dee, thanks for the example of Beth.)

    Chris…
    “I don’t know everything I can’t see everything but my Father can. I ask Him to guide my thinking, and guard my heart, and I thank Him for being trustworthy and in control. I ask Him to make what He would have me to do plain to me. When the anxiety comes that begins to choke me with fear, I know now that is NOT my Father’s voice, but the voice of my enemy.”

    Please know that I am praying…
    Renee (your work situation sound horrendous),
    Chris (your strength and trust is inspiring, yet what “deep waters” you are wading through…my heart aches for you and Bill),
    Susan (I like Laura-d’s prayer for Adam to have safe travel and fun experiences in Colorado and for your heart to be at peace), and
    Rebecca (unsure of the additional turmoil and “layer” but know that any “additional” is more hardship).

    Keller’s sermon, “Peace,” was another God-send…Keller has been given such an incredible gift to preach/teach.

    For those of you praying for my daughter and granddaughter…many thanks. Mediation will likely take place August 19…despite the proposed parenting plans being quite inconsistent, I trust that some mutually agreeable plan will be reached. I have consulted with a professional and have read the pertinent statutes related to child custody/placement…it is likely that the agreement reached will mirror the dictates of the statutes since placement is being requested by both parents. I ask for continued prayer that my granddaughter’s well-being and best interests will be the “lenses” in which all decision are made. Diane, it was so good to see in one of your posts that Krista has the boys…wonderful…praise God for this time they have together. When did you say Krista and Jeff would be going to mediation?

    Chris, any update on Becca’s son, Joe?…is he still recovering nicely? Any update on Terri?…is recovery/healing going well?…will she need additional treatment?

    Laura-d…I continue to pray for your Mom (I’m curious, will they re-start cancer treatment if/when she recovers from all these challenges as a result of her fall and subsequent nursing/medical debacles?)…and Susan, I continue to pray for your Mom too…any updates?

    Elizabeth, I am praying for a smooth and easy move…how is it going?

    1. Ditto on liking all the wonderful nuggets … too many to comment on each one. God is encouraging and teaching me through you all.

    2. Nancy you read so carefully and remember so much it is touching.

      Joe is doing much better, Becca posted on Facebook what a difference in there was in the recent hospital visit from the last. Joe is much stronger and more independent. She seems much more positive.
      Becca sent me some lovely pink hydrangeas from her yard this week.

      Terri came home on from the hospital last week, the doctor said he had never seen someone recover from that surgery so quickly. She has a feeding tube and is very thin. She starts chemo soon.

      Praying too for your granddaughter, that wisdom will prevail and her best interest will be clearly seen.

      1. Thank you for the updates, Chris, and for your continued prayers.

        Please give my regards to Becca. I thought that Joe was living with Becca during his recovery/rehab?…did I miss something?…did he require additional surgery or have some set back? I recall you mentioning a while back that there were some concerns (that thankfully your sister-in-law was able to relieve) with Joe feeling better and maybe pushing mobility a bit more than he should have. I was also wondering if there has been any developments with Nate.

        I’m so happy that Terri’s recovery is going well…I will continue to pray for her as she continues recovery and readies herself for this next round of chemo. Has Terri reached a better place regarding salvation, heaven, the Lord’s provision?

    3. Nanci, thank you for so thoughtfully and carefully summarizing all these comments…it was good to have a “recap” of the entire week in one place! Thank you for being so faithful to pray for everyone’s needs, too. I will keep praying for your daughter and granddaughter and the upcoming mediation. Dee and Chris are right – you are so observant.

      1. Thank you, Susan. I know that you have a “full plate”…..your prayers are much appreciated.

    4. Nanci J., to answer your question regarding Krista and mediation, we do not know yet if Jeff will agree to mediation or is insisting on lawyers and a trial, even though the judge recommended mediation. Jeff is very stubborn, but we do not know how he can afford a lawyer and trial.

      Krista had the boys for the last two weeks and things went very well with them, though. They are cute and busy boys – guaranteed to bring smiles in the midst of stress even. Jeff has finally agreed to removal of “supervision”.

      If there is a trial, it will not be until next March or later due to court backlog. We pray it does not come to that. Meanwhile, finances continue to be an issue for the basic necessities for Krista and her brother, Joel, who shares her apartment. Job search continues to be unsuccessful. We appreciate continued prayers.

      1. Diane, thanks for this update. Oh, how we will beseech God that Jeff’s heart will be softened and he will agree to the mediation! And so thankful that he has allowed unsupervised visitation. I will also pray for Krista and Joel’s job situation.

      2. I will continue to pray for a softening of Jeff’s heart and that some mutually agreeable arrangement, that will keep the boys’ best interest in the forefront, can be reached without court intervention. I know first hand the potential “costs” of lawyers and a court battle. My goodness, there must be an incredible backlog…March 2014 at the soonest if court is required? I’m assuming that the custody/placement remains “as is” until either a mediation agreement is reached or some court arrangement dictated. So sorry for this continued turmoil, Diane…it is difficult to see your child(ren) hurting unnecessarily.

        I’m so happy that Krista has had the last two weeks with the boys…what a blessing!

        Jobs…darn, I was hoping that that was no longer an issue for Krista and Joel. I will pray for that as well.

    5. Thank you Nanci for your very kind and thoughtful post! As a matter of fact, she is going back to the cancer doctor on Tuesday. First time in almost a year. We will see how she is doing in that area soon enough. She is a tough cookie for everything she has been through! She is hooked up to a machine that is “helping” the pressure ulcer and it is hard to move around. I got the nurse to help me put her in my car yesterday and we took a ride around town and got ice cream! She had fun. Sarah has helped her address all the grandkids birthday cards and I am so blessed to have this time with her. Even the little things are special to me now. I am dancing 3 dances on Monday for the facility; Lord of the Dance (Simple Gifts), On Eagles Wings, and Amazing Grace. My husband sent me a dance dress, and music on iTunes saved the day! God truly has blessed me.

      BTW, I too have been blessed by keller’s “peace” sermon. I have listen 4-5 times and plan to again today. I need to focus on the “love” part!

      Will continue to pray for your daughter and grand-daughter.

      1. Glad to get this update on your mom, Laura dancer. I hope the cancer doctor’s visit goes well on Tuesday. Am so glad to hear that you are dancing for the facility. Wish I could be there to see it.

      2. Oh, I’m so glad that you were able to get your Mom out…it had to do her spirits good to get out for just a bit. What a lovely gesture, your dancing for the facility on Monday…blessed to be a blessing…:)

        Your Mom does sound like one “tough cookie”…the past 10 months or so have really been tough for her (and all that love her). So glad that you all are enjoying your time together…truly a gift. I will pray for encouraging news on the cancer front.

        Thanks for your continued prayers, Laura-d.

    6. Yes Nanci, I so agree with everyone here-you are such a blessing!

  45. oh, I’ve just missed you all too much–had to jump on in my sea of mess and say hi! I had hoped to be able to get here and participate. Our closing and move in was Wednesday–but OH. Unbelievable hurdles we’ve had to deal with! Our realtor said ours has been her most stressful process in over 10 yrs–I’ve had SOOOO many opportunities to refuse anxiety and instead pray. I used to think I wasn’t the worrier type—not sure who I was kidding?! As I continually have given each detail over, I’ve had to realize just how much I worry–usually hidden in the form of over-thinking/analyzing/planning…oh this has been a BIG lesson time for me. Still processing, but much-needed weed-pulling and growth, I hope, is happening in me.
    I have been reading each post and praying–just mostly been on my ipad and it’s too hard for me to type without the keyboard attachment 🙂
    praying for all of you–honestly…many of you come to my heart in my early morning prayers. I loved Laura-dancer on “practicing peace”–such a great reminder for me.
    Plan to go listen to the sermon now.

    1. Glad you stopped in Elizabeth! Been praying for a smooth move!

    2. Your absence is glaring here Elizabeth! You are such an important part of the fabric of this fellowship.
      So glad you been able to ‘have given each detail over”!

    3. Hi Elizabeth! You have been greatly missed and I’m glad you checked-in with us. I’ve been thinking about you and your family with the move…hope things settle down for you!

    4. Miss you too Elizabeth. Moving is so difficult. I hope you are not having too much pain.

    5. Sorry to hear that things have been stressful, but on the bright-side, sounds like you have been dealing with it well and have learned the lesson the Lord intended (“I continually have given each detail over, I’ve had to realize just how much I worry–usually hidden in the form of over-thinking/analyzing/planning…oh this has been a BIG lesson time for me.”)…good for you, Elizabeth! Take good care…I’ll keep the prayers coming…

    6. Elizabeth, so glad you are getting things going on your move and good to see how God is providing for you as well both in the house closing and in the weeds he is pulling out in your heart. 😉 Thank you for praying-so appreciate you!

      1. not sure if I should admit my self-pity-approval-idol that was at work, but after confessing it, I came here to be over-blessed by you ALL! Thank you Joyce–I pray each morning for your pain, and for Kendra. Nanci–I pray for your daughter and grand-daughter that the Lord will cover all with peace and protection; Anne I continue to pray for your sweet Joey; and Susan I pray especially for your marriage; Rebecca for your incredibly full load and financial strain; and dear Chris–words can’t express–so thankful for your example, and I pray He continues to strengthen you, protect you & Bill, and bring beauty from your pain. I can tell you I honestly pray for each of you as I wake in the morning–it is Him–He loves you so, He brings you, and many others here, to mind. You are very, very dear to me. A gift from Him. Love you all~

        1. Elizabeth, thank you so much for remembering us.

        2. We love you too, Elizabeth!

  46. 4. Apply thinking, thanking, and loving to a situation you face right now.

    I was wondering what situation to use to answer this question and was contemplating as I have been trying over the last couple of weeks to follow the comments, suggestions and have been doing okay. I have been able to be more thankful by looking at some aspect of what ever the situation is that I can be thankful about and then thanking the Lord for that part. I know I am supposed to be thankful for the entire glass, not just the part that’s half full, I should also be thankful for the part that’s half empty, but I confess this is easier said then done.

    While I was thinking I was making progress then this morning I got a phone call that has taken away my progress and I need prayer support on this.

    The situation is I think I have mentioned before is that I adopted my son as an older child. The province we live in has legislation that when he turns 18 and 6 months his adoption records can be released to whomever asks (his birth mom specifically). My son just turned 18, so in December his birth mother can request his new name, my name etc. Although I am not sure I should say alot about the history, suffice to say my son’s early life was a disaster. After he was permanently removed from his birth parents and placed in foster care, Child and Family services actually got a no contact order, which birth mom violated, twice. His former worker told me a couple of months ago that his birth mom having any sort of contact with him would be disastrous for my son. Now apparently the only way to prevent that contact would be to hire a lawyer and attempt to get a court order, which costs money that I don’t have. I was previously under the impression we could veto the release of our information, but the call I received this morning was from the government adoption registry to advise me I could not simply veto.

    I know that at some point, my son will want (or should want) to have contact with his birth mother, but I also know that if that contact is too soon, that it will not work out well for anyone. Because my son has FASD, his development is delayed. We don’t know yet whether he will ever overcome any of the difficulties he has and I am told that he will be 30 before we know for sure whether he has “caught up” or not. He does not have the ability to comprehend when he is being manipulated and thinks that the people who I see as manipulating him are actually his friends. I am aware from the history that I do have that birth mom is highly manipulative so this is a major concern. I had thought we could just veto until my son was mature enough to handle the contact, but now that appears to not be the case.

    I have been trying all morning to release this to God. I have been trying to look to the Lord and see His face to help me through the struggle I am now facing and all that does is reduce me to tears. Although I really do not know what to do, I do want to do the right thing. Right now I could really use some prayer support to be able to truly release this to the Lord and then to do the right thing (and to know if the right thing is to do nothing).

    I probably didn’t make a lot of sense and for that I apologize. I am trying not to be anxious about this and am trying to look past that to God, but right now I am being a protective mom who sees her son’s future and safety in jeopardy and helpless to do anything about it.

    The one and only thing that I do know right now is that I need prayer, lots and lots of prayer.

    1. Oh Mary, having a son who is easily manipulated and having a birth mother who is manipulative is a very difficult situation. Is there any government agency that can help you? Probably not. I assume you have checked. Now that he is legally an adult, even though perhaps not mentally, how much you can protect him will probably radically change. It is so hard to be helpless and have to just trust God. Praying for you and your son. May you know that God cares for your son even more than you. God’s peace be with you.

    2. I will pray, Mary~

    3. I will pray too Mary, for clear direction, wisdom and peace.

    4. Praying Mary.

    5. Oh Mary, I hear your mother’s heart here…”I am being a protective mom who sees her son’s future and safety in jeopardy and helpless to do anything about it.” But I see a hope here because God hears the cries of the helpless-He “zeroes-in”, you might say. He loves your son and will stand with you. I will pray that in your helplessness He will show His great provision for you.

    6. THANK YOU all so very much for your prayer support, I am grateful for that.

      Interestingly yesterday as I was walking home from the bank (another “roadblock”) I was contemplating whether I was looking at this all from the correct perspective and a thought came to me that perhaps I wasn’t giving my son enough credit to be able to deal with this situation….then I began to wonder if I was giving God enough credit to be able to deal with this situation. My head knowledge knows that God can do anything, He created the world, He closed the mouths of lions, He stayed fire, He moved peoples hearts all over the place. I know this and yet I am thinking about things from “my” perspective. By the time I got home (an hour walk) I was considering that perhaps that God has a plan that I am not privy to (go figure:)).

      I know that the prayer support that I have been receiving from all of you is starting to work through my stubborn heart that is seeing this only from my own perspective. I am praying that I see this through God’s perspective and do (or don’t do) what HE wants.

      Thank you again so much.

      1. Mary this is good insight. I have erred in both of these areas frequently. Praying for this situation.

      2. 🙂 Mary!

    7. I will be praying for your son, Mary, and for you as well…I think I will add your son’s bio Mom to my prayers too.

    8. Mary-Canada, this sounds SO hard. Praying for peace and God’s protection over all. Praying you can rest in Him.

    1. Oh, good.

    2. God answered your prayer, Dee!

    3. Dee, This is great news!

    4. Good news, I am happy for you and your daughter.

    5. Thanks for the update, Dee. I found your post explaining how you prayed to the Lord your concerns and misgivings related to Beth’s potential position, but then left it with Him, thanking Him for His provision, inspiring. I thank you for modeling this process for us.

  47. 5. Read Philippians 4:14-23

    A. Remember that Paul is in prison, which was a pit with no bathroom facilities and no food, except what friends supplied. How, according to verses 14-17, were the Philippians exceptional?

    Paul had just received financial and food gifts from them while he was in prison, but also they had a history of supporting Paul financially and in other ways. There were times at the beginning when the Philippians were the only church helping him.

    B. What does Paul see will happen in their lives as a result of their giving from a pure heart?

    They will be rewarded and blessed for their generous giving. We experience that when we give — we are also benefited.

    C. What promise is given in verse 19? Do you believe this?

    God will meet all of their needs. My Life Application Study Bible commentary says: “Whatever we need on earth he will always supply, even if it is the courage to face death as Paul did.”

    1. like your “C”, Deanna!

  48. Hi, I heard Dee speak at a conference last year about “Idol Lies” and have been following your study for several months now. Thank-you to all the ladies who participate, I’ve gained much insight and understanding from your comments. I have a response for Laura because I’ve been there and done that, at least something very similar.

    She said—
    • I often get anxious about not being able to discern where I think God is leading me. I think, “Oh but what if God was really telling me something else? What if I screwed it up?”
    I know there is error in this thinking but I don’t really know how to reframe these thoughts. Perhaps I have made God too small and think He can only accomplish His will in my life if I always discern His guidance.

    You want to be tuned-in to His voice and walk in step with the Spirit and the concern is that God will have to go to plan B if you mess up. You don’t want the Lord to be disappointed.
    I got to the point where I didn’t want to make a decision or move forward with ministry or any activities without very clear guidance. One Sunday earlier this year I listened to a message by Dr. Charles Stanley on the different types of fear in our lives. He said that when you are indecisive there is fear present. The fear is that you will make a wrong choice or a bad decision. When I heard that I immediately thought of

    1 John 4:18
    There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

    There is no need to fear, God loves you and there is no condemnation in Jesus even when you don’t always get things right.

    Romans 8:1
    There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

    He is a redeemer and his redeeming love can bring good out of everything concerning you.

    Romans 8:28
    28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

    He knows your heart and he knows your intent.
    His love, grace and mercy will cover you, you are His beloved. It’s okay if you don’t always get it right.
    There is a wonderful book, the best I’ve read on the subject of divine guidance, it’s title is “Guard Us, Guide Us” by J.I. Packer and Carolyn Nystrom.

    1. Thank you so much for that, Janet…and welcome…so glad to have you join us!

    2. Welcome Janet!

      1. Thank you Janet! I am blessed by your post!

        1. Laura, me too! Thank you Janet-I was totally blessed by your post..I read it yesterday. God touched me with the same thoughts that touched Susan. Thank you!

    3. Janet from Maryland, thanks so much for posting here. I appreciate your thoughts on fear and indecision. I really need to “hear” this today. Hope you continue to post.

    4. Janet, thank you for sharing this. This is helpful for me, too – “He said that when you are indecisive there is fear present. The fear is that you will make a wrong choice or a bad decision.” Love the counter-acting Scripture to this, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
      I so need to hear this because I often live in fear of making a certain person angry with me.

    5. Janet, I echo the greetings and thanks for your post…what excellent points you shared…how very sweet to come to Laura’s aid (and truth be known, many others’ as well). Welcome!

    6. So rich, Janet–this blessed me. And welcome, so glad you’re here!

  49. Love this song… http://youtu.be/2FxaUYjRtkc

    1. Me too Joyce!