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The Poverty of Discontentment

But godliness with contentment is great gain.

— 1 Timothy 6:6

Unless the discontented person learns the secret of contentment, he is never going to be happy, because he is never going to get enough. Whenever he gets one thing, the devil is going to let him know there is something else—a newer car, a bigger house, a boat—that is going to make him happy. But he never will be happy.

I remember reading about a man who was very, very rich. I think he had about $900 million dollars, an extraordinary amount of money at that time. A TV interviewer asked him, “Are you satisfied, contented, with what you have?”

“Well, not yet.”

“How much would it take for you to be content?”

“Just a little more.”

Do you see the truth in that? If you are discontented, then even if you had $10 billion, you would still need “just a little more” to be satisfied.

Ben Franklin said, “Who is rich? He that rejoices in his Portion … . Content[ment] makes poor men rich; Discontent[ment] makes rich Men poor.”

Not only is there a great sorrow involved in discontentment, but we also need to realize the sin of discontentment. Discontentment leads to grumbling, complaining, and unhappiness.

To be content in such a discontented culture is to shine for God, because little is much when God is in it.

Question to ponder:
Have you noticed how thankfulness and trust drive away discontentment?

Delighting in the Lord

Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.

— Psalms 37:4

We live in a culture where people are profoundly dissatisfied; we have an unrelenting lust for “more and more.” However, we are encouraged by the Lord to present our needs to Him, and He has promised to provide for us. To be satisfied by little or much, to learn contentment—this is a Christian virtue. The key is to delight ourselves in the Lord.

Thanks be to God! There is an antidote to covetousness, and that antidote is found in Jesus who brings peace and joy and rest to our hearts. To rest in Jesus is to find the answer to all of our desires.

The most astonishing thing that happened to me in my conversion was that God reached down and changed my “wanter.” Suddenly, all of the things I had always wanted and never had enough of, I did not want anymore. I saw them for the lies and deceits they really were. Suddenly, my affections were set on Someone above, and the things of this world grew strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace. At last I found contentment.

Christ gives us new desires, new affections. He sets our affections on things above, not on things here below. That is why Pilgrim, when he comes to Vanity Fair in Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, passed through without being enticed by all of the baubles therein.

Question to ponder:
How can you delight yourself in the Lord today?

The Alchemy of God

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me.

— Psalms 138:8

Alchemy, the precursor to chemistry, stands in relation to chemistry somewhat the same way that astrology stands to astronomy. The great quest of the alchemists was to transmute the base metals into the noble—to change lead into gold. As you may surmise, they failed in their quest. However, God is the great cosmic alchemist who never fails. Romans 8:28 is the alchemy of God. He changes the lead of our lives into gold.

What is the great comfort in our lives? Ultimately, it is His divine deliverance that is our great comfort—all things that come to us He is able to turn to our good. No matter what it may be, Christ can deliver us. What a marvelous promise this is—even from the greatest tragedy, the tragedy of death—Christ can deliver His people.

If Christ can turn to good even death itself, how much more can He take the problem we are facing today and bring resolution? It seems like life presents one problem after another, whether it is our health, our finances, our relationships, our work, our family, or our loved ones. As soon as we solve one problem, another presents itself. Jesus never promised a problem-free life; but He did promise that things will work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose. If we are His, He will make all things right in the end. He has given us beauty for ashes.

Question to ponder:
What problem are you facing today for which you need divine deliverance?

In the Ark or Not?

By faith Noah, being divinely warned about things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark to save his family …

— Hebrews 11:7

In Noah’s day, vast multitudes were invited to come into the ark. As many as would, Noah invited to come and join him, but they would not. However, when the great fountains of the deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened, and the floodwaters came upon the earth, I am sure they beat upon the sides of that ark and cried out to be admitted, but God had shut Noah and his family in, and there was no opening the door then.

There is a day coming when the period of grace shall be irrevocably and irretrievably ended. Now the sun shines and the day of grace is still upon us, and all that will come into the ark are invited to come. But we must make the decision.

While you are deciding whether to surrender your life to Jesus Christ, you have two options: reject Him or accept Him. Nevertheless, in truth, you may have already taken the option of having rejected Him, for until you accept Him you have done precisely that. “He who is not with Me,” said Christ, “is against Me” (Matthew 12:30).

There is no middle ground. There is no fence upon which to sit. We are either the friends of Christ or we are His enemies and adversaries; we either gather in or we scatter abroad. There is no third choice.

Question to ponder:
For Christ or against Him: what were some of the factors that helped you respond to His call?

On the Side of Truth

My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

— 1 Corinthians 2:4-5

There are many arguments for the Christian faith, for the Bible, for the existence of God, and for the resurrection of Christ. And I am very thankful that I am not afraid to talk to anybody or debate anybody on these matters, because I know that the truth is God’s and that God is truth. The truth is on our side, which makes it far easier to win a debate.

In every debate I have ever seen between a Christian and an unbeliever, the Christian has won because truth is on our side. Wonder of wonders, when that Logic was incarnated in human form, it was Love.

The truth of Christ stands—but not because the messengers are eloquent and wise. The Truth is eternal and strong, in spite of the messenger. We do not win debates because we are better debaters. We win because we have the Truth.

At times, it might seem that we fail by human standards, but God incarnate—Truth with a capital T—is Jesus Christ. He is the Logos that came into the world and even though we are weak and stammering, the message is true, eternal, and mighty.

Question to ponder:
Can you think of a time when your words felt completely inadequate, but God used them anyway?

A Great Light

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them the light has shined.

— Isaiah 9:2

Jesus came into this dark world of sin, yet even more wonderful to tell, He is willing to come into the dark world of our hearts—our hearts of sin—bringing a light that will never go out. Christ brings the light of life to those into whose hearts he comes. Behold, they that “sat in darkness saw a great light” (Matthew 4:16).

We as Christians are called “children of light.” In one sense, the sun, warmth, light, and day are all symbols of God, and pictures of all that is good. We have all been called out of the darkness into light.

Because the light of the world has come, we have hope. In The Inferno of Dante’s Divine Comedy, the famous inscription over the Gates of Hell reads, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”

Without hope, we have nothing. Hopelessness, darkness, and despair are tools of the devil to keep people away from God, away from Jesus Christ and His marvelous light. Jesus is the light of the world, and without Him, we walk in darkness. Jesus has come and He has brought light and life to our dark world.

Question to ponder:
What is the connection between physical and spiritual light?

To See the Savior’s Face

They shall neither hunger any more, nor shall they thirst any more; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and He lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

— Revelation 7:16-17

For believers, death is only a transition, a glorious step into His world and our eternal home. However, millions who do not know Christ are afraid of death. Woody Allen once made light of it by remarking, “I’m not afraid of death. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”

We see death symbolized as the caped skeleton with his bony finger beckoning us to go where we don’t want to go. This is captured dramatically in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol when Scrooge is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Future, who shows him his own grave.

To many, death is indeed the King of Terrors. But the Christian need not be afraid of death. Afraid of death? Afraid to see the Savior’s face? Ah, my friends, there is no tragedy, no pain, no suffering, no depression or disconsolation that Christ cannot heal. One of my favorite hymns states it this way:

Come, ye disconsolate, where’er ye languish,

Come to the mercy seat, fervently kneel.

Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish.

Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.

This is what we have to look forward to—the healing of all our hurts, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Total healing and perfection: that is what Jesus Christ wants for us and that is what He has in store for us.

Question to ponder:
What major hurt in your life has Jesus healed?

The Final Step in Salvation

… and those whom He justified, He also glorified.

— Romans 8:30

The final part of our salvation is glorification. This will take place when we are finally home in heaven and made perfect through Jesus Christ.

I have always known that in glorification we would be perfect. I knew that we would have perfect bodies; we would never be sick; we would never be weary; we would never tire nor need sleep. All of that, of course, is true but I never thought about the face being perfect. I thought that if we were perfect we would all look the same. Of course, that is not really so. Each one of us is a certain type that God has made. We are unique like snowflakes, but each one of us also is marred: a little twist to the nose, or bulge to the ears, or a crook to the teeth, or whatever it might be. Just think, however, what would happen if all those imperfections were corrected: perfection, paradise, a perfect body in a perfect environment—forever. All compliments of Jesus Christ!

That is just the physical part of our glorification. Our darkened mind will be sharp and perfectly able to function at top capacity. Our will shall finally be free from all evil influences and unable to rebel again. Our emotions will be healed of all hurt and pain. Most of all, our souls will be sinless and sin-free forever.

Question to ponder:
Think of your own glorification. What do you look forward to most?

The Great Unmentionable

The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.

— 1 Corinthians 15:26

Death is something that causes the human mind to recoil. We do not like to think about it. The great English poet and dramatist Ben Johnson said that man spends all of his life in one effort after another trying to avoid the thought of his own mortality.

The great English preacher Charles Spurgeon, however, would call us to look upon it. He said that the time comes, erelong, when these shining orbs by which I look out upon you and through which you look into my very soul, will become a “carnival for worms.” This body of mine will be inhabited by loathsome things, the brother of corruption—the sister of decay. These cheeks now flushed with life will soon be sunken in death. Beneath the skin there will be going on such activity that, could we look upon it, we would recoil in horror. This same death of the body is the condition of our soul as we come into this world.

Ultimately, the Christian need not have the same fear of death that the non-Christian has. Because Jesus conquered the grave, we have new hope in the face of death.

Question to ponder:
Is death still our enemy?

The Addictiveness of Sin

For the good that I desire to do, I do not do, but the evil I do not want is what I do.

— Romans 7:19

One of the tragic things about sin is that it is addictive. It doesn’t matter what kind of sin a person gets into—not just alcohol or drugs—all sin is addictive. The more we do a particular sin, the stronger becomes our addiction and the more its chains hold us, and the greater our desire for that sin. Some of you know exactly what I am talking about; you have been there or you are in bondage right now. The good news is that every shackle is broken at Calvary.

There on the Cross, Christ having been affixed, hand and foot, for us, broke the chains that bind the captive to sin—and He can set you free. You can go to that fountain, which has been opened at Calvary’s Mount, and you can be washed and cleansed. You can be clothed in the perfect righteousness of His white robes of purity and become whiter than snow. You can be in-filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and delivered from the bondage and addiction of sin. Only at the Cross is there hope for a sinful world.

I invite you in His name to come to the Cross to find forgiveness, to find a new life, to find the purity and freedom you desire. Come and find the truth and the love of Christ, and the life abundant and everlasting.

Question to ponder:
Have you surrendered your life fully to God? How does it make you feel to know you are cleansed and forgiven?