How to Have Abundance

We are people who are always looking for life. We turn to material things or relationships or careers or hobbies. The biggest lie is, “You can have it all!” or “Make this your best life now!” Advertisers know this. The color and smell of a new car. The bigger house with a pool. The trip to an exotic land where you can live like someone else for a while. All these things promise us life, happiness and the satisfaction of our souls.

We don’t give our best to these things. We know them to be imposters of happiness. If we don’t have them, we stay content anyway. Why? Because we have Jesus. He is what we need all the time. Faith is the ongoing movement toward Jesus everyday. He satisfies us with his presence and care. He gives us better food to eat in his Word. He takes us by the hand and gives us rest. He knows us and loves us and delights to call us his friends. And one day we will see him face to face in the new heavens and the new earth.

We can wait for that.

In the meantime we stay busy telling others how wonderful he is.

Talk to me.

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A Warm Embrace

Praying is hard.

I fail at keeping a warm devotional life.

I forget what I asked God for as soon as I pray my requests.

How about you? embrace

I know a few Christians whose gift is prayer and really love it, but for the rest of us, prayer is a struggle.

Our hope, however is knowing that our prayers don’t have to be perfect to please the Lord.

They can be downright messy.

And having a poor prayer life doesn’t mean God doesn’t love us anymore.

He can’t possible think that, and neither can we.

Here’s why:

1. We are never going to be perfect in this life because we still wrestle with remaining sin in our lives.

2. All our prayers, our good works, everything in our lives is mediated through Christ and he makes them perfect and therefore acceptable to God.

God does not find fault with us because we are in Christ.

So prayer instead of being an excruciating exercise is instead a conversation with our Father in heaven who loves us.

Remember that next time you pray.

You come to a Father who is eager to hear you.

Talk to me.

messychristians@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

Rest

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You have been given Christ, and in being given Christ, you have been given life.

  • You don’t need to search for meaning and purpose.
  • You don’t need to search for identity.
  • You don’t need to look for something to give you the inner sense of well-being that every person wants.
  • You don’t have to wonder if you’ll ever be loved.
  • You don’t have to worry that your life and work will result in nothing.
  • You don’t have to wonder if you’ll have what you need to face what will be on your plate today.
  • You don’t have to worry about your future.You will never be left to the limited range of your own resources.
  • You will never, ever be left alone.
  • There is always someone who understands you and offers you the help that you need.
  • You don’t have to worry about whether your wrongs will be forgiven and your weaknesses greeted with patience and grace.
  • You don’t have to worry because you have a Savior who has invaded your life with his grace and has made you the place where he dwells.
So you have been freed from the endless quest for life that consumes so many people. So many look for life where it cannot be found. They hope their marriages will give them the happiness they have not yet found. They look to their jobs to give them identity. They look to people and possessions to give them peace. They don’t know it, but they are asking the situations, locations and relationships of everyday life to be their saviors. Sadly, they’re drinking from wells that are dry and eating bread that will never satisfy. The situations, locations and relationships of daily life are wonderful to enjoy, but we must understand that they will never, ever satisfy our hearts. For that, we have been given a true Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
So instead of wasting your time on that endless quest for life, you have been invited to enter into God’s rest for the rest of your life. Rest in your identity as his child. Rest in his eternal love. Rest in his powerful grace. Rest in his constant presence and faithful provision. Rest in his patience and forgiveness. Rest.
– from New Morning Mercies, a Gospel Devotional by Paul David Tripp

Condition Alert!

Have you struggled like me with knowing how to respond to the circumstances in your life? How you’re never prepared really even if you think you are? And how shocking sometimes they can be and you ask yourself the question, “How did I get here?”

Well, you’re not alone. The Apostle Paul faced the same thing, but he didn’t stay stuck there. He learned some valuable lessons. He said, “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:10-12 ESV

Martyn Lloyd-Jones in his book Spiritual Depression says, Van Gogh2

“Paul had come to learn this great truth by working out a great argument. I think that the Apostle’s logic was something like this. He said to himself:

“1. Conditions are always changing, therefore I must not be dependent upon conditions.

“2. What matters supremely and vitally is my soul and my relationship to God – that is the first thing.

“3. God is concerned about me as my Father, and nothing happens to me apart from God. Even the very hairs on my head are all numbered. I must never forget that.

“4.God’s will and God’s ways are a great mystery, but I know that whatever he wills or permits is of necessity for my good.

“5. Every situation  in life is the unfolding to some manifestation of God’s love and goodness. Therefore my business is to look for this peculiar manifestation of God’s goodness and kindness and to be prepared for surprises and blessings because ‘His ways are not my ways, neither His thoughts my thoughts’. What, for example, is the great lesson that Paul learned in the matter of the thorn in the flesh? It is that, ‘When I am weak than I am strong’. Paul was taught through physical weakness this manifestation of God’s grace.

“6. I must regard circumstances and conditions, not in and of themselves therefore, but as a part of God’s dealings with me in the work of perfecting my soul and bringing me to final perfection.

“7. Whatever my conditions may be at this present moment they are only temporary, they are only passing, and they can never rob me of the joy and the glory that ultimately await me with Christ.”

It took Paul a lifetime to learn this and it will take that long for you and me, too, but we can trust God to teach us this secret of contentment while the chaos swirls around us.

Talk to me.

messychristians@gmail.com

 

 

From Slave Trader to Singer

I know. This makes two quotes in a row. This one is outstanding, too and so I wanted you to have it.  John Newton

“We want victories without conflicts and the crown without fighting for it. And while we lament many evils, we overlook the chief of all – the impatient workings of self, which wants everything it’s own way. We are, we must be, sinners while we remain here, but if we are sinners believing in Jesus we may rejoice and sing. We must fight, we may be wounded, but we cannot be overcome. We may complain to the Lord, but when we write or speak to our fellow Christians, we should encourage each other and say, ‘Let us love and sing and wonder.'”

– John Newton (1725-1807)

 

 

Exile No More

This is so good, I must share it with you.

“He spares not His Son, but sends Him in quest of the exiles. He comes into the land of banishment, lies in an exile’s cradle, becomes a banished man for them, lives a banished life, endures an exile’s shame, dies an exile’s death, is buried in an exile’s tomb. He takes our place of banishment that we may take His place of honor and glory in the home of His Father and our Father.  photo(43)

“Such is the exchange between the exile and the exile’s divine substitute. Though rich, for our sakes He becomes poor. Though at home, He comes into banishment, that we may not be expelled forever.”

— Horatius Bonar

A Bottomless Pit of Longings

I spent an hour with a friend who was mourning the loss of a love in her life.

The pain she was experiencing was real. photo (14)

She was also depressed because God did not give her what her heart longed for.

I’ve been through that many times.

It’s called discontent.

It resides in the heart, and only the gospel can change it.

Here’s the real truth about you and me in times like these:

We have God and having God we have enough.

We belong to God and God belongs to us.

Since we have everything in Christ, we are rich in companionship and love with Jesus by our side.

What is showing in my friend’s life and in mine are the sins of ingratitude for all the blessings God has showered us with in Christ.

Every blessing comes from his grace, not our works.

We are surrounded by God’s lavish gifts.

“Enlarge our hearts, Lord to know you better and love you more deeply! Amen.”