“True Contentment; the Long View of Heart”, from L.Willows (prayer, Eternal good, Abiding in Christ)

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A good friend brought up the subject of Contentment in a rich conversation yesterday. It gave me pause to dwell more deeply on how my own heart desires to experience feeling content with my present circumstances and rest in knowing that God is sovereign. That “all things are for my good” even if I do not presently understand the things and events that surround me in this world.

But if things are working together for good, and for his purpose- shouldn’t it also feel rather good? Or maybe not? Was Contentment ever implied in God’s goodness in scripture? I decided to explore the topic further.

Romans 8:28

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

God works all things together for good for those that love him. This is arguably a most profound verse in Romans that can take a lifetime to dwell upon. For today, I am letting a part sink in. It is the appearance of how “all things” present themselves to each of us and how perspective affects it. From a perspective, as mortal beings- we attach feelings and subsequent states of being. They then cause us to live in what we call peace and contentment or it’s opposite – disruption and chaos.

These feelings and perspectives can be called ways of Viewing Life.

When we are in what I call the “short view”, or our mortal hearts we are attached to our feelings and needs. When we are in what I am calling “the Long View”, we are seeing from spiritual vision and are aware of True Needs. We are infused with Christ’s Spirit.

Continuing with the working of “all things”, when God works in this way, we need to realize that we are receiving his promise from a mortal perspective. When we have needs and expectations they become a filter that is placed in front of our eyes like a lens. We are not able to view our true needs or even our present circumstances in the same way that God can. But we do feel them and experience them vividly. We desire to be free of conflict. We long for Contentment. We seek some kind of end to the lack of peace in our hearts.

What is True Contentment? Is it a view? A thing? A secret? An ability?

I realized that I needed to re-define Contentment. We seem to connect being content with a sense of pleasure and satisfaction but actually the biblical meaning from the Greek word “autárkeia” is (from  /autós, “self” and /arkéō, “to suffice, be sufficient”) – properly, self-sufficient; used of the Spirit-filled Christian – having all they need within through the indwelling Christ.

Phillippians 4:11-12
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 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.

We learn from this that contentment is a learned ability, not one that we are born with. Paul speaks of receiving his strength in Christ, that Christ was the source of all of his contentment. In his life he had known what it was like to have much and also to have nothing, to suffer greatly, to face the direst circumstances. He could be abased, humiliated and worse yet he remained content. His steadiness was not, as he often proclaimed from a strength of his own, it was from relying on Christ.

John 15:5
I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

When we abide in Christ, our lives bear fruit (the evidence of the Presence of His Living Spirit) for without him we can do no thing.  We are filled by him, sufficient in the strength of the Christ indwelling.

True Contentment is Sufficiency through the Indwelling Christ.

That is a different Contentment! All I need is sufficiency through the indwelling Christ. Contentment is peace through his Spirit, it is being Spirit-filled rather than world-filled. My source of sufficiency and ‘good things’ needs to come from Christ. What are the good things that I need? Well, that is a big shift in the heart.

Sufficiency in Christ is different than a feeling, it is a state of being Spirit-Filled.

Our hearts usually expect good things to come from this world. We gather our sufficiency from things that fill us up. When they fail us, we lose the sense of feeling content. Our peace is disturbed. Our needs have not been met. Here is a partial list of some of what our mortal hearts expect, our natural needs. We are born wanting and desiring to be filled up by this world. It is in our nature.

We can make a shift in the way we look at filling our Needs-

  • Fill me up with your love of me.
  • Fill me up with your approval of me.
  • Fill me up with worldly substitutes for security and belonging.
  • Fill me up with worldly substitutes for feeling protected.

But God has promised us something more.

Psalm 145: 19
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them.

Psalm 40:8
I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”

We request “All Things” through God’s Sovereign Will.

Because we are simply mortal, we usually request all these things without consulting God’s Sovereign will. We forget that there may be a “longer view” in place in our lives that only can be seen from the perspective of God’s Heart. Imagine a triangle. At the apex is God’s eye, his view. From the base point, A to B is your own journey in this life moving horizontally. We tend to see only the horizon from the baseline perspective of the triangle. Naturally, we ask from that perspective as well. Yes, even after being soaked in scripture we forget. We become immersed in what is happening in what just happened this week or yesterday. Our good intentions get swept away by a tidal wave of surprises. Life is filled with ‘good starts’.

We need to constantly get back to the High View, The Long View; to God’s Word and to place our hearts into his sovereignty even though they already are! We need to join fully into it! He is beside us, has been the whole while; loving with great mercy and tenderness. It is only our own hearts and minds that temporarily turned away. When we turn back, it is a wonderful reunion filled with tender sweetness and delight. All of the promises are there and true. For those who love God, all things work together for good!

The Eternal Good is given with His constant Presence, He is with us.

In his infinite mercy and goodness, God sees all of our hearts– both the present needs which include all of the above and the True Need- which is the Long View, the Far View of our Eternal God. Our requests are seen and answered but done with a spiritual perspective that envisions The Eternal.

© 2019 Linda Willows

The Long View, in the Sight of You- The Eternal

Father,

Help me to gain by the power of Your Spirit, The Long View, to the highest view which is in the sight of You.
A glimpse into your sovereign will for my heart, my life and a daily, hourly plan that pleases you.
Help me to let go of lesser needs that bind me,
Give me strength and help me to overcome my lesser views and perspectives
So that I see you, honor you, cherish you, choose you and value what you love
in this world and in the next.
Oh Father, pull forward from my heart what you would love to call to act on your behalf.
Make known in my life the path that calls out the truth and brings your will into being.
Let the contentment of peace of your love reign in my heart throughout the day and night.
Bring your joy into me because you love me as your own. 
Place me secured with you, beside you with a clear vision of The Eternal and set the eyes of my heart upon you in this hour and every next!
Thank you, that as your Beloved, your peace lives in my heart now and forever wherever I am.

In Jesus Name,
Amen

“Faith; Rejoicing in Grace”, from Martin Lloyd Jones (overcome, Trust God, courage)

godofhopebeloved.jpg

Martin Lloyd-Jones on Faith, Rejoicing in Grace

In the Christian life, we must “desire nothing but His glory!” nothing but to “please Him!”  The truth is, there is nothing so gracious as God’s method of accountancy.

Be prepared for surprises in this Kingdom.

The truth is, you never know what is going to happen!  The last shall be first!  What a complete reversal of our materialistic outlook – everything in God’s kingdom is upside down!

When Jesus separates the “sheep” from the “goats” on judgment day   (Mt 25:31-40), He will say to us His sheep, “To the extent that you served one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you served Me – come inherit the Kingdom prepared for you!”  We will be totally surprised by many of our acts of kindness and service. 

 This life is all of grace!  “By the grace of God we are what we are!”

The secret of a happy Christian life is not only to realize that it is all of grace, but to “rejoice in that fact!” 

Jesus asked His disciples, “Where is your faith?”  The whole issue here is the problem and question of the nature of faith.  Many believers are often troubled because they have never clearly understood the nature of faith.

Remember all believers have been given the “gift of faith,” that enables us to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, but that does not mean that they fully understand the nature of faith.

Though faith is given as a “gift,” from there on we have to do certain things about it – there is a vital difference between the gift of faith and the walk of faith or the life of faith. 

“We walk by faith, not by sight!”

God starts us off in this Christian life and then we have to walk in it – “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7).  When Jesus rebuked the disciples during the storm that raged on the sea of Galilee, He did not rebuke them because of their alarm or their terror, but for their “lack of faith.”  Jesus marveled at their “unbelief.”  The disciples had done everything they could in the storm, but it did not seem to be of any avail.

Here is a critical point: Jesus rebuked them for being in that state of agitation and terror while He was with them in the boat!   A Christian should never, like the worldly person, be depressed, agitated, alarmed, frantic, not knowing what to do. 

Paul said, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I’m in” (Phil 4:11). That is what the Christian is meant to be like.  The Christian is never meant to be carried away by his feelings, and “lack self-control” – whatever his circumstances.  That is why the disciples were so alarmed, agitated, miserable and unhappy.  

The disciple’s condition also implied a “lack of trust and confidence in God”

 – Jesus said in effect: “Do you feel like this in spite of the fact that I am with you?  Do you not trust Me?”  Remember the words of the disciples:  “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” (Mk 4:38). 

Such a response shows a lack of faith in Christ’s concern and care for us – as such, we become agitated and disturbed.  It is the same response as the unbeliever.

The issue is this: We must never allow ourselves to be agitated and disturbed whatever the circumstances, because to do so implies a “lack of faith and confidence in Christ” – at this point we simply do not believe God. 

A Trial by Faith

One might call this kind of situation “the trial of faith.”  Take the eleventh chapter of Hebrews – every one of those men was “tried.”  They had been given the gift of faith and great promises, and then their faith was tried.  Peter says the same thing: “Though you are distressed by various trials, the reason for the trials is that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, though it be tested with fire, might be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 1:6-7). 

That is the theme of all Scripture. 

Storms and trials are a vital part of life for the believer – they are allowed by God for a reason. . . our faith is being tried – proven – tested – purified.  James says, “Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials” (Jam 1:2).  Paul writes, “Unto you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Phil 1:29).  Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation; but take courage, I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33).

Likewise Paul also says, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).  When everything seems to be against us; when the Lord Himself appears to be utterly unconcerned; when we are fearful and desperate; when we may even be in danger of our lives – that is where the real trial of faith comes in. 

In just such circumstances, follow the words of the Christian poet –

                   When all things seem against us          
                        To drive us to despair,                           
                     We know one gate is open                              
                   One ear will hear our prayer.

What is the nature of “your faith”?

Observe our Lord’s response when dealing with His disciples in the midst of the storm – He knows perfectly well that “they have faith.”  The question He asks them is this: “You have faith – but where is it at the moment?” 

That gives us the “key” to understanding the nature of faith.  First, faith is not merely a matter of “feeling” – it can’t be, because our feelings change from one minute to the next; as such, our faith would be there one minute, and gone the next.  Faith involves the “mind,” the understanding – it is a “response to truth” (truth implies intelligibilia).  Faith is not something that acts automatically or magically.  Faith has to be exercised.  Faith does not come into operation by itself, you have to put it into operation.

So, how does one put faith into operation?  The first thing you must do when you find yourself in a difficult position is to refuse to allow yourself to be controlled by the situation – that was the disciple’s problem; they allowed the situation to control them.  Faith is a refusal to panic.

That is the very nature of faith – it is a refusal to panic, come what may.  Faith has been described thus: “Faith is perpetual unbelief kept quiet” – faith does not allow unbelief to surface.  Genuine faith does not entertain the temptation – it immediately rejects the temptation – by considering temptation, you allow it to “take root” in your heart. 

“Faith is perpetual unbelief kept quiet”

Believers do not have the capacity to fully consider temptation and then turn away from it, because it “engages the flesh!”  Satan isn’t stupid!  He knows if you will just “listen” to him and consider what he has to say – he’s got you!!!

Faith immediately responds to difficult situations with these words: “I am not going to entertain these thoughts!  And I am not going to be controlled by these circumstances!” Right out of the shoot, you take charge of yourself!  and pull yourself up!  and control yourself!  You do not let your thoughts wander into Satan’s territory!  You assert yourself!  Now is the time to control your thinking!  You need to remind yourself immediately of what you believe and what you know! 

Faith holds on to reason, to the foundations Truth – God’s Word.

That is faith – it holds on to truth and reasons from what it knows to be fact.  That is the way faith reasons.  The foundation stone of faith is Truth – God’s Word – Scripture.  Faith reasons, “All right, I see the waves and the billows. . . BUT (and then you remind yourself of ultimate reality – “truth” – God is God, and He is in charge).

To reiterate, one of the most critical steps you can take when faced with a difficult situation, is to “immediately reject the temptation and refuse to consider it,” and then “affirm what you know to be the truth,” including the acknowledgment of your own weakness.  Faith agrees with everything God says about reality – and that includes the need for you to be utterly dependent upon Him. 

Here is an example of what to say –

God, all things seem to be against me to “drive me to despair.”
I don’t understand what is happening, but this I know – I know
that You so loved me that You sent Your only begotten Son into
this world for me.  You did that for me while I was an enemy,
a rebellious alien.  I know that Jesus loves me and gave Himself
for me.  I know that at the cost of His life’s blood I have salvation
and that I am now Your child and an heir to everlasting joy and peace. 
I know that.

Faith logically argues “the exceedingly great and precious promises”.

Faith argues like that – it amounts to “logically thinking through what we know to be true.”  Faith reminds itself of what the Scripture calls “the exceeding great and precious promises.”  Faith says, “I cannot believe that He who has brought me so far is going to let me down at this point.  It is impossible, because it would be inconsistent with the character of God.

So faith, having refused to be controlled by circumstances, reminds itself of what it believes and what it knows to be true.  Jesus in effect said to His disciples, “Where is your faith?  You have it!  Why don’t you apply it?”  Bring all you know to be true of your relationship to God to bear upon it – then you will know full well that He will never allow anything to happen to you that is harmful. 

Remember the words of Paul: “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God.”  Not a hair of your head shall be harmed.  He loves you with an everlasting love. 

You may not have a full understanding of your predicament, but this you know for certain – “God is not unconcerned.”  God permits everything that happens to you because it is ultimately for your good.  That is the way faith works – but you have to exercise it.  You refuse to be moved.  You stand on your faith. 

“This is the victory that overcomes the world – your faith!” (1 Jn 5:4).

Martin Lloyd-Jones

David Martyn Lloyd-Jones (20 December 1899 – 1 March 1981) was a Welsh Protestant minister, preacher and medical doctor who was influential in the Reformed wing of the British evangelical movement in the 20th century. For almost 30 years, he was the minister of Westminster Chapel in London.

source: Spiritual Depression by Martin Lloyd-Jones (Chapter One)

“Faith; Rejoicing in Grace”, from Martin Lloyd Jones (overcome, Trust God, courage)

godofhopebeloved.jpg

Martin Lloyd-Jones on Faith, Rejoicing in Grace

In the Christian life, we must “desire nothing but His glory!” nothing but to “please Him!”  The truth is, there is nothing so gracious as God’s method of accountancy.

Be prepared for surprises in this Kingdom.

The truth is, you never know what is going to happen!  The last shall be first!  What a complete reversal of our materialistic outlook – everything in God’s kingdom is upside down!

When Jesus separates the “sheep” from the “goats” on judgment day   (Mt 25:31-40), He will say to us His sheep, “To the extent that you served one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you served Me – come inherit the Kingdom prepared for you!”  We will be totally surprised by many of our acts of kindness and service. 

 This life is all of grace!  “By the grace of God we are what we are!”

The secret of a happy Christian life is not only to realize that it is all of grace, but to “rejoice in that fact!” 

Jesus asked His disciples, “Where is your faith?”  The whole issue here is the problem and question of the nature of faith.  Many believers are often troubled because they have never clearly understood the nature of faith.

Remember all believers have been given the “gift of faith,” that enables us to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, but that does not mean that they fully understand the nature of faith.

Though faith is given as a “gift,” from there on we have to do certain things about it – there is a vital difference between the gift of faith and the walk of faith or the life of faith. 

“We walk by faith, not by sight!”

God starts us off in this Christian life and then we have to walk in it – “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7).  When Jesus rebuked the disciples during the storm that raged on the sea of Galilee, He did not rebuke them because of their alarm or their terror, but for their “lack of faith.”  Jesus marveled at their “unbelief.”  The disciples had done everything they could in the storm, but it did not seem to be of any avail.

Here is a critical point: Jesus rebuked them for being in that state of agitation and terror while He was with them in the boat!   A Christian should never, like the worldly person, be depressed, agitated, alarmed, frantic, not knowing what to do. 

Paul said, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I’m in” (Phil 4:11). That is what the Christian is meant to be like.  The Christian is never meant to be carried away by his feelings, and “lack self-control” – whatever his circumstances.  That is why the disciples were so alarmed, agitated, miserable and unhappy.  

The disciple’s condition also implied a “lack of trust and confidence in God”

 – Jesus said in effect: “Do you feel like this in spite of the fact that I am with you?  Do you not trust Me?”  Remember the words of the disciples:  “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” (Mk 4:38). 

Such a response shows a lack of faith in Christ’s concern and care for us – as such, we become agitated and disturbed.  It is the same response as the unbeliever.

The issue is this: We must never allow ourselves to be agitated and disturbed whatever the circumstances, because to do so implies a “lack of faith and confidence in Christ” – at this point we simply do not believe God. 

A Trial by Faith

One might call this kind of situation “the trial of faith.”  Take the eleventh chapter of Hebrews – every one of those men was “tried.”  They had been given the gift of faith and great promises, and then their faith was tried.  Peter says the same thing: “Though you are distressed by various trials, the reason for the trials is that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, though it be tested with fire, might be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 1:6-7). 

That is the theme of all Scripture. 

Storms and trials are a vital part of life for the believer – they are allowed by God for a reason. . . our faith is being tried – proven – tested – purified.  James says, “Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials” (Jam 1:2).  Paul writes, “Unto you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Phil 1:29).  Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation; but take courage, I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33).

Likewise Paul also says, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).  When everything seems to be against us; when the Lord Himself appears to be utterly unconcerned; when we are fearful and desperate; when we may even be in danger of our lives – that is where the real trial of faith comes in. 

In just such circumstances, follow the words of the Christian poet –

                   When all things seem against us          
                        To drive us to despair,                           
                     We know one gate is open                              
                   One ear will hear our prayer.

What is the nature of “your faith”?

Observe our Lord’s response when dealing with His disciples in the midst of the storm – He knows perfectly well that “they have faith.”  The question He asks them is this: “You have faith – but where is it at the moment?” 

That gives us the “key” to understanding the nature of faith.  First, faith is not merely a matter of “feeling” – it can’t be, because our feelings change from one minute to the next; as such, our faith would be there one minute, and gone the next.  Faith involves the “mind,” the understanding – it is a “response to truth” (truth implies intelligibilia).  Faith is not something that acts automatically or magically.  Faith has to be exercised.  Faith does not come into operation by itself, you have to put it into operation.

So, how does one put faith into operation?  The first thing you must do when you find yourself in a difficult position is to refuse to allow yourself to be controlled by the situation – that was the disciple’s problem; they allowed the situation to control them.  Faith is a refusal to panic.

That is the very nature of faith – it is a refusal to panic, come what may.  Faith has been described thus: “Faith is perpetual unbelief kept quiet” – faith does not allow unbelief to surface.  Genuine faith does not entertain the temptation – it immediately rejects the temptation – by considering temptation, you allow it to “take root” in your heart. 

“Faith is perpetual unbelief kept quiet”

Believers do not have the capacity to fully consider temptation and then turn away from it, because it “engages the flesh!”  Satan isn’t stupid!  He knows if you will just “listen” to him and consider what he has to say – he’s got you!!!

Faith immediately responds to difficult situations with these words: “I am not going to entertain these thoughts!  And I am not going to be controlled by these circumstances!” Right out of the shoot, you take charge of yourself!  and pull yourself up!  and control yourself!  You do not let your thoughts wander into Satan’s territory!  You assert yourself!  Now is the time to control your thinking!  You need to remind yourself immediately of what you believe and what you know! 

Faith holds on to reason, to the foundations Truth – God’s Word.

That is faith – it holds on to truth and reasons from what it knows to be fact.  That is the way faith reasons.  The foundation stone of faith is Truth – God’s Word – Scripture.  Faith reasons, “All right, I see the waves and the billows. . . BUT (and then you remind yourself of ultimate reality – “truth” – God is God, and He is in charge).

To reiterate, one of the most critical steps you can take when faced with a difficult situation, is to “immediately reject the temptation and refuse to consider it,” and then “affirm what you know to be the truth,” including the acknowledgment of your own weakness.  Faith agrees with everything God says about reality – and that includes the need for you to be utterly dependent upon Him. 

Here is an example of what to say –

God, all things seem to be against me to “drive me to despair.”
I don’t understand what is happening, but this I know – I know
that You so loved me that You sent Your only begotten Son into
this world for me.  You did that for me while I was an enemy,
a rebellious alien.  I know that Jesus loves me and gave Himself
for me.  I know that at the cost of His life’s blood I have salvation
and that I am now Your child and an heir to everlasting joy and peace. 
I know that.

Faith logically argues “the exceedingly great and precious promises”.

Faith argues like that – it amounts to “logically thinking through what we know to be true.”  Faith reminds itself of what the Scripture calls “the exceeding great and precious promises.”  Faith says, “I cannot believe that He who has brought me so far is going to let me down at this point.  It is impossible, because it would be inconsistent with the character of God.

So faith, having refused to be controlled by circumstances, reminds itself of what it believes and what it knows to be true.  Jesus in effect said to His disciples, “Where is your faith?  You have it!  Why don’t you apply it?”  Bring all you know to be true of your relationship to God to bear upon it – then you will know full well that He will never allow anything to happen to you that is harmful. 

Remember the words of Paul: “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God.”  Not a hair of your head shall be harmed.  He loves you with an everlasting love. 

You may not have a full understanding of your predicament, but this you know for certain – “God is not unconcerned.”  God permits everything that happens to you because it is ultimately for your good.  That is the way faith works – but you have to exercise it.  You refuse to be moved.  You stand on your faith. 

“This is the victory that overcomes the world – your faith!” (1 Jn 5:4).

Martin Lloyd-Jones

David Martyn Lloyd-Jones (20 December 1899 – 1 March 1981) was a Welsh Protestant minister, preacher and medical doctor who was influential in the Reformed wing of the British evangelical movement in the 20th century. For almost 30 years, he was the minister of Westminster Chapel in London.

source: Spiritual Depression by Martin Lloyd-Jones (Chapter One)