Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Contentment, Thanksgiving, and Will



Lately God has been teaching me a lot, and I wanted to get all the thoughts swirling around in my head down in an organized fashion.  Here is what came of that:

For starters, I wrote the following on the closed Facebook Group “Building Up” back in mid-November 2013.

“I have been thinking a lot about contentment lately. I am thinking that it must have to do a lot with thankfulness. I am wondering if one chooses to be thankful to God in every circumstance, then contentment would follow.

I have also been thinking about Paul saying he "learned" to be content (Phi. 4:11). How does one learn something? My husband & I were discussing this. Some ideas we came up with are: one learns how to do something by continually trying (also known as practice), or by being taught by someone who already understands what you are learning about, or as a process of perhaps trial & error. Neither of us figured a person could learn something in an instant, or that it "stuck" forever in a moment of trust or a moment of decision; that learning is something more gradual.

So I am curious as to how Paul learned contentment, and I would like to ask him if he learned it by choosing to be thankful to God in every situation, or perhaps he learned it by choosing to trust God that He knew what He was doing in every situation and had everything under His control.”

Paul goes on to say he has learned the secret of facing both good times and bad (vs. 12).  And then in verse 13 he says “I can do all things though Him who strengthens me.”  No doubt it was God alone who gave Paul the strength to be content.  Perhaps Paul’s secret to the ability to face every situation with contentment was God Himself being Paul’s strength – and placing no trust in his own ability.

There is no doubt, though, that we are instructed throughout Scripture to continually be thankful to God.  And why would God give us an instruction that would not cause contentment if followed?  Not necessarily a life of ease as the world sees it, but an inner contentment that circumstances cannot sway.

“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.  My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad.  Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together!”  Psalm 34:1-3

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!  Serve the Lord with gladness!  Come into His presence with singing!  Know that the Lord, He is God!  It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.  Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise!  Give thanks to Him; bless His name!  For the Lord is good; His steadfast love endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations.”  Psalm 100

“…giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…”  Ephesians 5:20

“Through Him [Jesus] then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name.”  Hebrews 13:15

These are just a fraction of the verses that tell us to praise God!

I would like to make a side note on the last verse, Hebrews 13:15.  Note that we are to acknowledge God’s name.  It can seem very noble to decide to have a “positive attitude” or to try and look for the good in everything.  But unbelievers try this all the time.  We are to be different.  We are to acknowledge God in our praise.  After all, without Him we would have nothing to be thankful for!

The following verses really confirm to me that thankfulness to God is one of the things that brings about contentment and peace in a Believer.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.  Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.  The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”  Philippians 4:4-9

Now I would like to look at 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

I recently read a book lent to me by my brother’s father-in-law, a man I am really thankful to God for placing in my life.  It is titled His Banner Over Us Is Love by Muriel Rae.  It is the story of a missionary couple to China in the 1930’s.  In it Muriel shares the thoughts her husband, Bill, had on 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

“In giving of thanks to God, you are acknowledging His perfect will, and when you can do that, you are prepared to withstand any obstacle to Christ’s cause, because you will view every circumstance from God’s vantage point.  Remember it is “in” the circumstance, not “for” it that you are to give thanks.  But always take into account, too, that God permits the circumstance, and it will not always be a “sacrifice” of praise.  It will become a spontaneous outpouring of your being to God.  Then you will enter on a new plateau of your Christian experience…The secret of service lies in an unreserved commitment to Christ, letting the beauty of Him shine through your life.  And thanksgiving is the Royal Road to Victory.  Acknowledge God’s sovereign will, and yours will become one with His.”   

Much of this book had an impact on me, but this particularly did.  The only point I am a little uncertain on is if we are to praise God for everything or not, because although it does not indicate so in these verses, it does in Ephesians 5:20 (see above).  But I am not sure how major of a point that is or not.  As Bill Rae says, when we give thanks to God and in so doing acknowledge His perfect will, our praise will become a spontaneous outpouring to Him, perhaps even for, and definitely in, the circumstances He allows.

I find it hard to put this clearly, so I hope you can follow, but it seems God has lately been showing me that my desire needs to be for His will to be done, and not for my will to be done – but even more than that, that in desiring His will, my will will become His will.  If that was not clear, perhaps I should just use Bill’s last sentence:  “Acknowledge God’s sovereign will, and yours will become one with His.”  And I believe the way to do this is summed up best in his first sentence, “In giving of thanks to God, you are acknowledging His perfect will…”

So, to conclude, I believe what God has been teaching me in the last while is that contentment in a Believer’s life comes through relying fully on God’s strength instead of one’s own perceived strength, praising God continually and living a life of thankfulness to Him in every circumstance, and acknowledging His will in everything, always desiring not one’s own will, but His.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Lists with Friends - 3

You can learn a lot about a person from their Pinterest!  Here are my boards and how many pins I have in each.  It's pretty telling as to where my interests lie :)
  • Cute Animals 238 (this is mostly cats)
  • Food 142
  • Adoption/Family 134
  • Funny Things 130
  • Beautiful 123 (mostly God's creation, like scenery)
  • Crafts/Cards/Scrapbooking 87
  • Christmas 86
  • Paths, Boardwalks, Trails 70
  • Food - Sweet 68
  • Quotes/Bible Verses 67
  • Baby Shower 66
  • Christmas Cards 58
  • Daisies 57
  • PMDD 51
  • Colours 46
  • Wedding Cakes 44
  • For Baby 44
  • Husband 42
  • Everything Seashore/Beach/Cottage 41
  • Fashion 39
  • Friendship 37
  • Blue 33
  • Yellow 32
  • Camping/Road Trips/Picnics 30
  • For the Home 30
  • This Is So Me! 30
  • Nursery 29
  • Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy 29
  • Misc. 26
  • For Future Child(ren) 26
  • Gardening/Flowers 25
  • Nail Art 25
  • Exactly!! 21
  • White 19
  • Love Languages 17
  • Happy Things 14
  • Organization 14
  • Project Life 14
  • Regal Gifts 13
  • Everything Nautical 12
  • Favourite Kids' Books 11
  • Fitness 4
I also have 4 secret boards, about vacations we hope to take, hairstyles I may try, and gift ideas for people.

I have a link on the side to my Pinterest if you've noticed some of your interests match up with mine :) 

Which Pinterest board of yours has the most pins?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Motherhood Month - 5

Progress:  Valentine's Day was exactly 9 months since we were approved to adopt and started waiting for the call.

Mood:  Reaching the 9 month point naturally brings about some thoughts like if I had actually been pregnant these last 9 months, and not "just" paper pregnant, we could potentially have a baby by now.

Cravings:  Currently, nothing.  But that would probably be because I just ate a plate full of nachos.  I should give you my recipe!

Thoughts about our child:  Hubby and I recently had a really good conversation about how we hope to raise our future child(ren).  And of course I'm just always looking forward to meeting Baby.

Thoughts about our child's expectant mom:  Just curious about her personality and what we'll have in common; what will trigger her picking us.

Most recent baby purchase/gift:  I ordered some adorable leggings from babyleggings.com during one of their promotions but they have not arrived yet.

This month God:  Has been teaching me so much and I am just trying to remember it all!  Love it.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

So Much Time to Think

One thing I have found with having to wait so long to have a baby (about 6.5 years since I started wanting to start TTC; 9 months since we were approved) is how much time I have to think.  Worry, doubt, get scared, etc.  I'm guessing that for those who get pregnant as soon as they want to (or even before they want to) they don't have as much time to think.  For example, to me the thought of being given the responsibility of keeping a tiny, precious, human being alive can sometimes be rather overwhelming.  How do you know exactly what to feed him?  I've peeked down the baby aisles in the grocery stores - intimidating!  How much?  How often?  What do you do when she's sick?  How do know when it's serious or not?  What about SIDS???  I also sometimes doubt myself as a parent, if I will be able to do a good job for my child(ren).  Yes, I've read some books (The Mother of All Baby Books and The Happiest Baby on the Block) and many articles online.  I've quizzed my sister, sister-in-law, mom and mom-in-law.  But how will I retain all this "book knowledge" without hands-on practice?  Some people say it will just be instinct.  But I don't know.  Others say I'll learn as I go, but I don't want my newborn to be a guinea pig!  I'm not spending all my time worrying, but I have definitely found that when given a long length of time like those of us who are adopting, it gives me a lot of time to think, think, think.  

"The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."  Philippians 4:5-8

Monday, February 3, 2014

Lists with Friends - 2

 

A list of (mostly) frivolous, random things I love:

  • kittens
  • chocolate
  • corn on the cob
  • bbqing
  • hugs from my nieces
  • guacamole
  • a good TV show enjoyed with loved ones
  • a medium-point blue PaperMate pen and lined paper
  • pizza
  • a glass of good-tasting water
  • happy surprises
  • spending time with loved ones
  • doing something
  • giving & receiving gifts
  • nature
Which one(s) of the above things do you love, too??