The Gratitude That Influences

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Last week I mentioned over-dramatic kids complaining, “I’m starving!” Or people with expensive phones complaining about a slow internet connection. We’re really good at expressing what we want, aren’t we? In fact, we’re really good at loudly letting everyone around us know that we want something. 

But here’s a good question: Are we just as quick to loudly express our gratitude?     

It’s innate human nature to behave this way. No one has to teach a child to express their desires—loudly! But we do have to teach our children to say, “Thank you.” And sometimes it takes even more prompting to get them to say it loud enough for others to hear, and sincere enough for others to believe that they are truly grateful. 

So why would we expect it to be any different just because we happen to be older? That’s why we’ve noted that the attitude of gratitude is a great attitude, and it’s also an attitude that makes the grateful person stand out from the crowd. 

G.K. Chesterton noted, “In life you can take things one of two ways: you can take them for granted or you can take them with gratitude.” Sadly, it seems that “for granted” is what is typically exhibited. In fact, I think the granted-to-grateful ratio is 10-to-1. 

Luke alone tells a story in his Gospel about ten men with leprosy (Luke 17:11-19). All ten lepers had no problem calling out their need for healing “in a loud voice.” And they called out to the right Person, as they called Jesus “Master.” This word shows that they believed He could do something no one else could do. Indeed, Jesus shows His authority over leprosy with just the word, “Go” and “as they went, they were cleansed.” 

All ten were quick to loudly express their desire for healing and to call on the authority of Jesus, but only “one of them…came back, praising God in a loud voice.” Both Luke and Jesus affirm that all ten men were cleansed on the outside—their skin no longer showed the ravages of leprosy, but only to the one grateful man did Jesus say, “Your faith has healed and saved you” (v. 19 MSG). 

The Greek word here is sōzō. This is the same word used for the eternal salvation that Jesus alone can bring. Check out John 3:17, John 10:9, Acts 2:21, and Romans 10:9. This is better than just physical cleansing, it’s wholeness that lasts for eternity! 

E.M. Bounds wrote, “Gratitude and murmuring never abide in the same heart at the same time.” Sadly, the ratio of grumblers-to-praisers is only going grow as we move closer and closer to the end of the age, culminating in people who have the outward appearance of godliness (like the nine cleansed lepers) but ignore the true power of God for salvation (see 2 Timothy 3:1-5). 

In this take-everything-for-granted, focus-on-the-outward culture, those 1-in-10 stand out. Those who have gone beyond skin-deep cleaning to soul-deep salvation, and who loudly express their gratitude, are the ones the apostle Paul declares shine brightly and influence those around them (Philippians 2:14-16). 

The origin of the word influence comes from a power people thought those bright stars had to affect the lives of humans. So your consistent gratitude is influencing those around you, and giving them a star to chart their course, more consistently than almost anything else you can do. 

So shine on! Praise God loudly, quickly, and sincerely for what He has done for you! Be the 1-in-10! And then watch your influence impact everyone who encounters you.

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series The Great Attitude of Gratitude, you can find a list of all of the messages by clicking here. 

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Magnifying God

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible.

No one likes to be around a complainer! 

Complainers, ironically, find things wrong everywhere else but with themselves. Complainers know how everyone else should raise their kids, run their businesses, operate their government, lead their sports teams to victory, but they seldom apply their so-called wisdom to their own lives. Complainers find the one thing that’s wrong in an otherwise perfect situation.   

Complaining is easy because it comes so naturally. What do I mean by that? Take a look at the magazine covers at your grocery store—do they have good news or complaints? Take a look at the lead news stories—are they celebrations or complaints? Those magazines want to sell copies. Those news stations want viewers. Those websites want clicks. They wouldn’t promote the complaints if they didn’t get them the attention (and the advertising revenue) they desire! 

Let me see a show of hands on this: How many of you want to be around complainers? 

I noticed no one raised their hand, so I need to ask a follow-up question: Why do you complain? If you don’t like to be around a complainer, why do you do what others obviously don’t like either? 

I think we complain because we think our situation is unique—no one has experienced anything quite like what we’re going through. We often make a list to “prove” to everyone that we have earned the right to complain. This is what Job did. Check out his list in Job 7:1-11, and then notice his conclusion where he says, “Therefore I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.” 

But we need to be careful because the Bible makes it clear that complainers make God angry (see Numbers 11:1; 1 Corinthians 10:10-11). Why? I think there are two reasons. 

First, I think God gets angry about complaints because of how quickly they spread to everyone around them—like cancer cells they destroy the whole body. 

Second, complainers take everyone’s eyes off God and point their attention to the lousy situation about which they are complaining. 

On the other hand, grateful people stand out because they can find the one thing worthwhile in an otherwise lousy situation. Being a grateful person takes discipline to overcome the downward pull of everyone else’s complaints. 

Paul wrote a letter to the church at Philippi that is bursting with thankfulness! We only have to get three verses in when he says, “I thank my God every time I remember you” (Philippians 1:3). 

Paul stood out because of his great attitude of gratitude. Consider what happened the very first time he visited the city of Philippi. He and Silas were wrongly accused, beaten, and locked in prison. Paul didn’t start a petition, he didn’t give the jailer a bad review on Yelp, he didn’t organize a rally, he didn’t call the Roman governor. Instead, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God while the other prisoners listened in (Acts 16:16-25). 

In a lousy, unfair, dark situation, Gratitude says, “God is still God, and He is still worthy of abundant praise!” 

So in the middle of his letter to the Philippians, Paul instructs these Christians to: Do all things without murmurings and disputings (Philippians 2:14 KJV). Murmurings are the vocalizing of the faults we have found. Disputings, though, are internal. In the Greek, this word almost always refers to complaining and grumbling thoughts, and many times it’s translated as “evil thoughts.” 

When the complaining comes out of our mouths, that is just the ugly weed. The root of that complaint is in our hearts. We don’t need a vocabulary change, we need a heart change. 

When we praise God, we magnify Him. That doesn’t make God bigger because He is infinite. But it does put a “telescope” on Him. Telescopes bypass everything that is close by and focus on something majestic. Our praise—like Paul and Silas’ song from prison—invites others to look through our telescope to see the God we are magnifying. 

Gratitude can start with one person, and then it can spread. Gratitude can counteract the cancerous complaints. Will you be that one grateful person at this Thanksgiving season and beyond? Will you be the one that says, “No matter what, God is still God, and He is still worthy of abundant praise”? Will you be that one that sings praise at the exact moment everyone else expects complaints? If you do, your gratitude will entice others to want to worship this all-good God too! 

Follow along with all of the messages in our series called The Great Attitude Of Gratitude by clicking here. 

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Links & Quotes

Shepherds individualize their care. Good shepherd leaders don’t have a one-size-fits-all approach for everyone around them. Good shepherd leaders know how to individualize the care that each and every person needs. Check out my book Shepherd Leadership where I go into more detail about these kinds of leaders.

“The Bible really seems to clinch the matter when it puts the two things together into one amazing sentence. The first half is, ‘Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling’—which looks as if everything depended on us and our good actions: but the second half goes on, ‘For it is God who worketh in you’—which looks as if God did everything and we nothing. I am afraid that is the sort of thing we come up against in Christianity. I am puzzled, but I am not surprised. You see, we are now trying to understand, and to separate into water-tight compartments, what exactly God does and what man does when God and man are working together. And, of course, we begin by thinking it is like two men working together, so that you could say, ‘He did this bit and I did that.’ But this way of thinking breaks down. God is not like that. He is inside you as well as outside: even if we could understand who did what, I do not think human language could properly express it. In the attempt to express it different Churches say different things. But you will find that even those who insist most strongly on the importance of good actions tell you you need Faith; and even those who insist most strongly on Faith tell you to do good actions.” —C.S. Lewis, on Philippians 2:12-13

“My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals Himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.” —Albert Einstein

The safest place to vent our hurts and frustrations is in God’s presence. He is not going to fall off His throne when you tell Him what’s really in your heart (because He already knows!). But it can bring healing to your hurt when your ears hear what’s really going on in your heart.

More Than Worth The Wait

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Our cravings are implanted by God and are fulfilled solely in our relationship with Him. Sometimes the journey seems long. If you have been in the car with kids, you know they are infamous for asking, “Are we there yet?” just a couple of minutes into the trip. We adults aren’t much better. Perhaps we have a little more patience but if we’re honest we may find ourselves asking, “How long is this going to take? It seems like it’s soooo long!”  

We’ve discussed that a maturing attitude shift for us is exchanging “have to” for “get to.” This is when we begin to understand that something good—something far better than what we have now—is coming. This is the starting point to help us to wait well, to not get frustrated and bail out. 

Jesus did this: “For the joy set before Him He endured the Cross” (Hebrews 12:2). He could see what was coming so He wouldn’t accept any lesser substitutes. But that same verse also calls us to be “looking away from all that will distract to Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2 AMP). 

This attitude exchange helps us in three ways: 

  1. Maturing self-control 
  2. Understanding the rewards of delayed gratification 
  3. Having a joyful expectation of both what’s coming and what’s happening now 

Self-control, delayed gratification, and joyful expectation are also the key components of a satisfying relationship. These then allow me to make another important exchange: “don’t” for “won’t.” 

For example, in my relationship with my wife Betsy, no one has to tell me, “Don’t speak to her unkindly.” I won’t speak to her unkindly because that would damage our relationship. No one has to tell me, “Don’t flirt with other women.” I won’t do that because I know that would jeopardize our relationship, perhaps causing me to look elsewhere to satisfy my craving for a meaningful relationship. 

In the book called Song of Solomon, the word “lovely” is used frequently between lovers who only have eyes for each other. Paul uses this keyword when he talks about us only having our eyes, and heart, and mind on Jesus—“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8). 

David, who is described as a man after God’s own heart, wrote several psalms expressing his longing to be in God’s presence both now and for all eternity. Especially in Psalm 16 and Psalm 37, David shows us the don’t-for-won’t exchange (Psalm 16:1-11; 37:1-4). 

Sometimes we will experience some lovely things here on earth, but those are nothing compared to the eternal rewards awaiting us. C.S. Lewis wrote, “Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.” 

Even if we experience unpleasant things here, the apostle Paul reminds us, “But what of that? For I consider that the sufferings of this present time—this present life—are not worth being compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us and in us and for us and conferred on us!” (Romans 8:18 AMP). 

The marshmallow test is a famous experiment. Kids were given the choice to eat one marshmallow immediately or be rewarded with a second marshmallow if they waited. Researchers found that those who practiced self-control, delayed gratification, and joyful expectation faired much better later in life. 

So I would encourage you to keep your marshmallow somewhere you will see it often. It will harden, but it will not mold or spoil. Every time you look at it, let it remind you that what’s coming is so much more than anything you could ever find here! Let this reminder help you exchange don’t for won’t as the Holy Spirit helps you keep your eyes only on Jesus. 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our Craving series, you can find a list of all of those messages by clicking here. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

God’s Pleasure In Our Relationships

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Last week we talked about God’s pleasure in our good work ethic and our good attitude about work. We have a God-implanted craving to do excellent work because God is an excellent Worker. 

We also said that although we would all like to have the job that was wonderful, even the crummy jobs deserve our best attitude and our best effort.  

This is very much the same for our relationships. We would all love to only have relationships in our lives that are energizing, fulfilling, and win-win. But the reality is that many of our relationships may be the exact opposite of this. 

Jesus said our love for others would show the world that we are His disciples. Oh yeah, and the love we show is supposed to be a “10” on the Jesus Love Scale (John 13:34-35). Why? Because that’s how Jesus loved us:

Now it is an extraordinary thing for one to give his life even for an upright man, though perhaps for a noble and lovable and generous benefactor someone might even dare to die. But God shows and clearly proves His own love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us. (Romans 5:7-8 AMP)

Remember we said that God is Love? But love needs to have both a lover and beloved—someone reaching out and someone receiving. God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit so God is Relational. The Father loving the Son and Spirit, the Son loving the Spirit and the Father, the Spirit loving the Father and the Son. All loving and promoting the Other. 

God is also Happy in this Relationship. 

Because we are created in God’s image, we have a God-implanted craving to love and to be loved, to have meaningful companionships (Genesis 1:26; 2:18). 

Remember that Jesus was all-in for us so that we could have this love relationship with God.  This same passage calls us to have the same attitude as Jesus had. But we can also back up just a couple of more verses to find out what fuels the relationships that satisfy our craving for companionship and please God (Philippians 2:1-11). Those characteristics include:

  • being like-minded in striving to find agreement with others 
  • having the same love as Jesus demonstrated  
  • being one in spirit—this unique Greek word reminds us we all have immortal souls. As C.S. Lewis reminded us, “It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one of these destinations.”
  • being one in purpose  
  • giving up selfish ambitions as we trade “me” for “we” 
  • not indulging in vain conceit, but thinking more highly of others 
  • being humble 
  • always striving to find the win-win 

When Alexander Dumas wrote The Three Musketeers his Musketeers have been given a famous line: “All for one and one for all, united we stand divided we fall.” This is actually quite biblical because the Bible only has saints in the plural form, never in the singular. And the apostle Paul reminds us, “And if one member suffers, all the parts share the suffering; if one member is honored, all the members share in the enjoyment of it” (1 Corinthians 12:26 AMP). 

God is pleased when our attitude about our fellow saints is all for one and one for all—when all the saints love and nurture the individual saint, and when each individual saint loves and supports all the other saints. 

We were created for this. We crave this. God is pleased when we live and love like this. And this is the only way we will experience the joy of God’s favor on our relationships.

If you’ve missed any of the other messages in our series called Craving, you can find a list of all of the messages by clicking here. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

God’s Pleasure In Our Work

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

A couple of weeks ago I asked a question about a fictitious job. Which job would you rather have: a job that’s (a) boring, not utilizing your skills, where you’re treated as a cog in the wheel, or (b) energizing, calling out your best talents, a place where you are making a difference? 

As a follow up I asked, “Which of those jobs are you more likely to be happy to go to? Which job is going to inspire you to give your best work ethic?” 

We all want that ideal job, but the reality is that in this fallen world there are no perfect jobs, so it’s very likely that we’re going to have the challenging jobs. Even when we have that kind of job, Christians are called to work with excellence and to find joy in that work (Colossians 3:23). 

Work originated with God. At the conclusion of every day of Creation, God looked at His magnificent handiwork and pronounced it good. When God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, He gave them instructions to work, and even after their sin, He repeated the call to work (Genesis 2:15, 3:17-19). 

Whether we are called to be gardeners or evangelists, plumbers or salespeople, teachers or doctors, we are to work well. William Tyndale wrote, “There is no work better than to please God; to pour water, to wash dishes, to be a cobbler, or an apostle, all are one; to wash dishes and to preach are all one, as touching the deed, to please God.” 

Let me give you two examples of good workers. 

The first is Joseph whom we meet in the first book of the Bible. Out of their jealousy of their father’s preferential treatment of Joseph, his brothers sold him into slavery. Joseph ended up in Egypt working for a man named Potiphar. I don’t think anyone would have blamed Joseph for grumbling about his condition and giving the least effort possible, but instead, Joseph so excelled in his work that Potiphar promoted him over all his household. 

After being framed for a crime he didn’t commit, Joseph found himself in prison. Once again, this innocent man could have sulked and complained and shirked his work responsibility. But once again, Joseph did such excellent work that the warden promoted him to a trustee position over all the other prisoners. 

Eventually, Joseph was promoted to second in command in all of Egypt, where he continued to do excellent and innovative work. Joseph’s good attitude and impeccable work ethic allowed God to place him in a position where he could save his people from starvation (see Genesis 39-50). 

What about the example of Jesus? He was fully God, yet He gave up His divine prerogatives to work as a carpenter and to eventually perform the most important work of all: the willing sacrifice for the sins of all humankind. Paul describes the servanthood and willing attitude of Jesus in Philippians 2, adding an important “therefore” when he tells us that the excellent work of Jesus allowed God to place Him in a position where He could save His people from eternal separation from God (Philippians 2:6-11). 

But Paul also has an important word for us in the verse preceding this passage: “Let this same attitude and purpose and humble mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus” (v. 5 AMP). 

I may not be able to choose my job, but I can always choose to have a God-glorifying attitude about my job. When I choose this attitude and live it out with an excellent work ethic, God is pleased. 

So allow me to give you four attitude-checking questions about your own work ethic:

  1. Do I feel like I have to go to work? I should so crave God’s glory and God’s rewards that I have a get to attitude about my work. 
  2. Do I complain about my work? The Bible makes it very clear that God disapproves of grumbling, and uses our good attitude to point others to Himself (Numbers 11:1; 1 Corinthians 10:10; Philippians 2:14-15). 
  3. Am I “quiet quitting”? This should never, ever be said of Christians! Our work ethic should be as exemplary as Joseph’s and Christ’s (Ephesians 6:5-8).
  4. Am I living for T.G.I.F.? We shouldn’t be focused on just getting things done, but we should make the most of every day of work that we have been given. We should be living out T.G.I.T.—Thank God It’s Today (Psalm 90:12, 17)! 

Let me repeat an important principle: I may not be able to choose my job, but I can always choose to have a God-glorifying attitude about my job. When you have this kind of attitude, you will experience the joy of a fulfilled craving that God has put in all of us—the desire to do meaningful and God-honoring work. This is the attitude and work ethic God delights to reward. 

If you’ve missed any of the other messages in our series called Craving, you can find a list of all of those messages by clicking here. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

God Longs For You

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

There’s a misconception that many people have about God’s laws: they think that they are intended to rob us of enjoyment, that they restrict our lives and remove our pursuit of happiness. 

In actuality, the exact opposite is true. God is love (1 John 4:8). That means everything God does is rooted in His love for us. Including the laws He gives us. He loves us and wants us to stay in the place where we don’t experience the heartache, pain, and disappointment of missing out on His blessings. 

God is also happy. Paul calls it “the glory of the blessed God” (1 Timothy 1:11). The word “blessed” can easily be translated as happy. God is happy and He wants us to share in this ultimate happiness. 

Consider the blessings that are in first and last of the Ten Commandments: 

  • The first commandment says there is only one God. Far from this being restrictive, it’s a huge blessing. I don’t have to search and compare, I don’t have to make a list of pros and cons and then settle on the best option, but I can enjoy the one and only true God. 
  • The tenth commandment says I don’t need to crave anything outside of what God has given me. Again, this is a huge blessing because it tells me that my loving Father has given me all that I need, that He alone satisfies my cravings. 

John Piper gave the essence of idolatry in this line: “Preferring other things above God.” This is why God delights for us to delight in Him. When we do, He is our sole focus. When He is our focus, we enjoy Him immensely and we reject anything that would remove our gaze from Him. 

That’s why there is a continuous linkage in all 176 verses of Psalm 119 between God’s laws and our delight—between obedience and satisfaction. When we obey God, we experience His happiness. 

The apostle Paul called Christians to live this way: “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:27). Gospel literally means “good news.” What good news are we supposed to proclaim? The good news that God is happy and that He wants to say to us, “Come and share your Master’s happiness” (Matthew 25:21)! 

When I was a kid I struggled with this question: Do I love God just because He first loved me? I thought, “That seems like a cop out. Am I really saying that the only reason I have for loving Him is that He went first?” But then I realized it couldn’t be any other way. How could I love an angry God? How could I ever expect to approach a God who knew all my sins and had the final say on my punishment, and was just waiting for a chance to get His hands on me? 

I can only love a loving God. I can only love Him because He first loved me (see Romans 5:8). 

In a similar way, I can only crave God because He first craved a relationship with me. Otherwise I’m setting myself up for unimaginable heartbreak and disappointment! 

Jesus said it was His Father’s “good pleasure” to reveal Himself to us. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son. Our heavenly Father craved a relationship with us, so He revealed His Son Jesus to us so that Jesus could reveal the Father to us (see Matthew 11:25-30; John 14:7).

Just as we could only love God because He loved us first, we could only crave a relationship with God because He craved a relationship with us first. It was always His plan to adopt us into His family—this is what gives Him great pleasure (Ephesians 1:5). Then God works in us to fulfill His craving for us, which empowers us to find our deepest longings satisfied exclusively in Him (Philippians 2:13). 

Sometimes we get a small taste or experience of earthly pleasure that quickly fades away. C.S. Lewis reminded us, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” 

Our craving for God is only satisfied in the knowledge that God first craved a relationship with us. Only the intimacy of our Savior will fulfill our cravings. Anything else will end only in utter disappointment. 

If you have missed any of the message in our series called Craving, you can find a list of all of the messages by clicking here. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

Contented To Intercede

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

There is a sportswear company called ActiveFaith. I have a warmup shirt I wear sometimes in preparing for my workout. The front of the shirt says, “I can do all things,” and on the back it says, “through Christ.” I think that phrase is supposed to help me muscle through when I want to back off in my workouts. Perhaps reminding myself, “I can do all things through Christ” will help me persevere. 

As we continue our series asking, “Is that in the Bible?” we have come to statement #8—I can do everything through Christ. Is that in the Bible? Yes, but.…  

Yes, this verse is in the Bible in Philippians 4:13, but we need to as what exactly is the “everything” Paul is referencing. 

Remember that context is king, so we need to look at this whole letter to the church at Philippi, and especially the verses surrounding this statement. Let’s consider verses 10-19. 

In verse 10, Paul says he is glad that the Philippian Christians have had an opportunity to meet his material and financial needs again. This church was famous for its generosity (see 2 Corinthians 8:1-4), and when they heard Paul was in prison, they wanted to help. 

Prison was actually house arrest for Paul. He wasn’t allowed to leave the house, but he was responsible for all of his living expenses. Quite simply put: no money, no food. Epaphroditus brought the necessary funds from Philippi to Rome. He so invested himself in this mission to help Paul that he nearly died in the process (Philippians 2:25-30). 

Paul expresses his gratitude for the way these friends supplied for his needs, and he tells them twice that he has learned contentment during this ordeal. He says that he knows what it is to have plenty, and he knows what it is to have nothing. 

Did you catch that: Paul says that contentment is a learned attitude. It is learned through appetites satisfied and appetites thwarted, it is learned by looking back to recall God’s past mercies and then reassuring an anxious mind—that may become a discontented mind—that God is still God and that His future grace has not diminished one iota (see Philippians 4:4-7).  

Bottom line: Contentment is learned by being assured (or reassured) that I can get through this season of life by my unwavering faith in Christ’s ability to supply my needs. So Paul concludes, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” 

I like the way the Amplified Bible translates this verse: I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me—I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency. 

Contentment is keeping my eyes on Jesus regardless of the circumstances. Contentment brings an assurance to my heart to keep trusting God regardless of my circumstances. And contentment then helps me pray for others. 

How does contentment help us pray—or intercede—for others? 

Before I answer that, let me have you consider another “Is that in the Bible” statement. Statement #9—My God will meet all my needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Is that in the Bible? No! 

Paul is not praying for himself, but for his friends. Listen carefully to the pronouns in this verse: And my God will meet all YOUR needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). 

So back to my earlier question: How does contentment help us intercede for others?

It’s hard for me to pray for others to be blessed and have their needs supplied when my heart is discontented, isn’t it? When I have learned contentment—especially when I learned it by having all my needs supplied in a time of want—then I know how to both empathize with my friends who are in need and how to intercede for them. 

To the church at Corinth Paul said, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, SO THAT we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). 

The Holy Spirit teaches me contentment through these difficult circumstances SO THAT I am strong, and SO THAT I can pray for that strength for others in their difficult circumstances. My contentment helps me empathize and intercede for my brothers and sisters. 

To check out other “Is that in the Bible” phrases we have explored, please click here to check out the full list. 

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Dehydrated

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

I just came back from California where drought-like conditions cause residents a lot of concern—wildfires, crop failure, what happens if too much rain falls too quickly? Being dry causes people a lot of stress. 

Most people live under-hydrated, if not dehydrated. Depending upon the size of the person, the amount of water in the human body makes up 55-75%. That means that when we don’t get enough water, many complications can arise. So if you struggle with…

  • …headaches, don’t take a Tylenol, but trying drinking more water 
  • …bad breath, don’t swish mouthwash, but trying drinking more water 
  • …being tired, don’t guzzle caffeine, but trying drinking more water 
  • …gut problems, don’t pop an Alka-Seltzer or milk of magnesia, but trying drinking more water 
  • …bags under your eyes, don’t get botox, but trying drinking more water 

The introduction to Psalm 143 only says, “A psalm of David,” but nothing about his actual predicament. But we can see the things that were weighing heavy on David: 

  • he pleaded for mercy, which means not getting the punishment he deserved (vv. 1-2) 
  • enemies were pursuing him (v. 3) 
  • he felt faint in spirit and dismayed in heart (v. 4) 
  • he had a failing spirit (v. 7) 
  • he was lost, asking God to “show me the way” (v. 8) 
  • he prayed for God to “preserve my life…bring me out of trouble” (v. 11) 
  • he felt the slander of his enemies (v. 12) 

All of this must have led to David feeling emotionally and spiritually—if not even physically—dehydrated. 

We have said there are three definitions for Selah, but I think the context of this chapter clearly limits it to just one definition: a pause to reflect. David’s Selah in this psalm is actually a quadruple Selah! A dehydrated David reminds himself and us to…

  • remember or recall to mind 
  • meditate or speak to yourself (also see Psalm 42:5-6) 
  • consider—some translations use the word “muse,” a word meaning an inner conversation, including airing our complaints 
  • Selah—the call to “pause and calmly think of that,” as the Amplified Bible defines that word  

All of these things pressing in on David were getting his full attention, so he forgot to drink deeply of the Living Water of God. As a result, David was dehydrated. This is why he calls for that quadruple Selah to be refreshed. 

But what if there are so many problems around us that we cannot even think of anything that we can “drink” from God? What if there are so many troubles that we don’t know what to thank Him for? 

Let me point you to a tiny preposition: IN in vv. 8, 9 (and also in Psalm 42:5-6). David is not saying he has to get a drink, but that he has to go IN to the Source of Living Water. 

Rejoice IN the Lord (Philippians 4:4) and Trust IN the Lord (Isaiah 26:4). As a result, God will then keep us IN His peace (Isaiah 26:3; Philippians 4:7). [Check out all of these verses by clicking here.]

This is what I think David spoke to himself in his remembering, meditating, and considering—in his inner conversations. Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust IN You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I entrust my life (Psalm 143:8). 

When you’re dehydrated, it’s hard to think of things to be thankful for, but we can look to the unchangeable attributes of God. David did this and it helped him with his actions and attitude: 

God’s love is unfailing so we can rely on Him (v. 8a)
God’s omniscience is infinite so we can trust His leading (v. 8b)
God’s omnipotence is unmatched so we can be secure in Him (v. 9)
God’s sovereign wisdom is unrivaled so we can confidently obey and follow Him (v. 10)
God’s eternal glory is unending so we can have eternal hope (v. 11)
Again David notes that God’s love is unfailing so we can continue to fearlessly serve Him (v. 12), which takes us right back to the opening two verses of this psalm

The Selah time allowed David to make these connections, or rather, it allowed him the quiet time to drink in the Holy Spirit’s reminders of these attributes of God. David always knew who God was, but in his time of dehydration his Selah re-reminded Him of who God was to him. 

When we are feeling dehydrated, we must Selah to drink deeply of the Living Water. This Selah pause plunges us INTO God’s presence and allows us to make His attributes personal.  

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our Selah series, you can find the complete list of them by clicking here. 

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Medical Science And The Bible

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

I just love it when science catches up with what God has already pronounced in the Bible!

I’ve blogged previously about psychology, archeology, and astronomy uncovering truths that have already been stated in the Bible, but there are also numerous recent medical discoveries that confirm what Scripture has already been telling us. 

Like the fact that there is a healthy way to relieve stress, and that retaining the stress hormone cortisol in our bodies for too long has serious implications. The apostle Paul tells us to not “be anxious about anything” but to enjoy “the peace of God which transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:4-7). 

Or that getting the right amount of sleep is so beneficial to long-term health. The Bible tells us that God “grants sleep to those He loves” and we can have the assurance that “when you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet” (Psalm 127:2; Proverbs 3:24).

And then there is this finding that my YouVersion friend Shelly pointed out. “A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing, but a broken spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22 AMP). 

In a WebMD article, medical science confirms this truth of dried-up bones resulting from depression. They wrote, “Even mild depression may significantly increase a woman’s risk for developing osteoporosis. … The level of bone density loss attributed to depression in the study was similar to that previously associated with other well-known osteoporosis risk factors, including smoking cigarettes and getting little or no exercise. … Bone mineral density testing revealed that 17% of the depressed women showed evidence of bone thinning at a particularly vulnerable area of the thigh bone, compared to 2% of women who were not depressed.” 

The Bible is God’s inspired Word to humankind, which means it is never out of date. The principles God has shared with us stand the test of time and are continually verified by the brightest scientific minds. 

So here is my challenge to you: Take God at His Word, and apply the principles He has given you. I think you will find how much better your life will go when you live God’s way.

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

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