BENEFITS OF BEING CONTENT

What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? – James 4:1

What does contentment provide us? There are tangible benefits of contentment.

First, contentment allows us to enjoy where we are, rather than where we want to be.
My wife and I go on vacation every year usually to see our kids and grandkids. The closer it gets, the more I think about it. “In five months, I will be there.” “In three months, I will be there.” “ ln two weeks, I will be there.” Finally, the day comes. We get on the airplane and arrive at our destination. And you know what? My first thought is, “I only have ten days left here.” Then I start counting down. “Only nine days left.” “Only eight days left.”

We all suffer from what people call “destination sickness.” We think, “When I get to a certain place, then I will be happy.” But it never works out that way.

Second, contentment allows us to appreciate rather than resent other people. James asked a penetrating question: “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you?.” (4:1).

What causes people to feud and fight? What causes a man to leave his wife after 30 years of marriage? What causes a
Christian to instigate a lawsuit against another Christian? What causes a church to split over styles and tastes? Most conflicts,

James says, are due to “your pleasures that wage war in your members” (4:1).
Most conflicts arise from a lack of contentment.

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STOP RUNNING AND START RESTING

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28

Somebody said, “Every morning in Africa when the sun comes up, a gazelle awakens and knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will perish. Every morning in Africa when the sun comes up, a lion awakens and knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle or it will go hungry. It doesn’t make any difference if you are a gazelle or a lion-every morning in Africa when the sun comes up, you had better be running.”

That is the tenor of our age, isn’t it? We have to keep chasing the things we think will make us happy. But instead of running, wouldn’t you rather be resting? ln Matthew 11:28, Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”

Too many Christians read those words and think, “I know that one day when I go to Heaven, I will be able to rest for all eternity. But, Jesus, You don’t understand my life right now. I have to keep running just to keep up.”

Jesus says, “You don’t have to wait until you die to rest. Stop chasing the money. Stop chasing the title. Stop chasing the relationship, the dream that will never satisfy. Instead, learn the secret of contentment.”

“I have held many things in my hands, and have lost them all;
but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.”

Martin Luther

“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.” Philippians 4:12

Contentment is being satisfied with what God has given you, realizing that God has given you everything you need to enjoy life.

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The Resurrection: What It Means

For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. —1 Corinthians 15:22

What does the resurrection of Jesus mean to you? What does it mean to me?

First, it assures our future resurrection. Because Jesus both died and rose again, we will be raised like Him. 1 Corinthians 15:20 says, “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” The word “firstfruits” speaks of a sampling, a foretaste, a glimpse. Jesus is the firstfruit.

Jesus has died and has risen, so we know that our resurrected bodies in some way will resemble His resurrection body. To what extent, we cannot be certain. But if they were completely like His, it would mean that we would be clearly recognizable.

Second, the resurrection of Jesus is a proof of future judgment. Now that may not sound all that exciting, but it’s something we need to know. We live in a society, and indeed a world, in which justice is often perverted and neglected. We look at things that happen and say, “How can that be? How could that happen?” The Resurrection means, among other things, that God’s justice will ultimately prevail.

Third, the resurrection of Christ gives us power to live the Christian life.

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. – Romans 8:11

Certainly the Bible does not teach that we will be sinless in this physical body we now live in. On the other hand, we can sin less, not by our own abilities, but by the power of the Spirit.

Christ can make us altogether different kinds of people. We must believe that. “Old things have passed away . . . all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). God can give you the power to live this Christian life. Won’t you trust Him today?

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TRUTH On A Donkey

This is Holy Week, and around the world Christians are celebrating the incredible events that took place in Jerusalem over 2000 years ago. Although there are many things that separate us doctrinally, here is one thing about which all Christians agree. Holy Week stands at the center of the Christian faith. For eight days the differences of language, culture and race are forgotten and laid aside.

And what a week it is, eight days that traditionally begin with Palm Sunday and end with Easter Sunday. Two momentous events bracket Holy Week–the Triumphal Entry on Palm Sunday and the Resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday. Without controversy, it is truly a Holy Week because it encompasses the most sacred events of the Christian faith. All the things that we hold most dear were proved to be true during this great week in Jerusalem.

Today we focus on Palm Sunday, which by the way most likely took place on Monday. Support for a Monday triumphal entry is found in the Mosaic requirement that sacrificial lambs for Passover were to be selected on the tenth day of the first month and kept in the household until sacrificed on the fourteenth (Ex. 12:2–6). In the year Jesus was crucified (whether taken as A.D. 30 or 33), the tenth of Nisan was the Monday of Passover week.

John MacArthur states, “If Jesus entered Jerusalem triumphally on Monday, He was received into the hearts of the Jewish people as a nation much as a family received the sacrificial lamb into the home. In so doing our Lord would have fulfilled the Passover symbolism even in that small detail, being received by His people on the tenth of Nisan. Continuing that perfect fulfillment, He was then crucified on Friday the fourteenth of Nisan, as the true Passover Lamb sacrificed for the sins of the world.”

Of all the events of Holy Week, the Triumphal Entry is the most-overlooked and least-understood. On Palm Monday, the Truth rode into Jerusalem on a donkey’s back. Although the crowds cheered the Truth, beneath the surface a conflict raged. In Matthew 21, verse 10 they asked the question, “Who is this?”.

“And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”
Matthew 21:10–11

The majority did not want the Truth that day, nor have they wanted the Truth on any day since that day. Christ comes again and again to the human heart. Each time a verdict must be rendered. Look! He’s coming down Main Street. Your King has come. What will you do? Will you join with those who crucified Him or will you join with those who cry out “Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna!”?

Our greatest need is for courage to make the right choices. When the time comes to take sides with Jesus, all you need is enough courage to do the right thing. The Palm Sunday invitation is not to believe but to be brave. The brave join the little children who praise Him gladly while the timid are left to dream about what might have been.
What is your choice?

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THE HUMILITY OF A SERVANT

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.
Philippians 2:5-6

In Philippians 2:5-11, Paul described qualities of servanthood we need to learn if we are going to develop a serving heart.

To be a servant, we need humility. Paul said,

“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped”
Philippians 2:5-6

Humility means to have a proper evaluation of yourself. People can go to one of two extremes when they evaluate themselves. Some people think they are God’s greatest gift to the church.

In Romans 12:3, Paul had a word for people who thought that way. He said, “Through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment.”

Other people go to the opposite extreme. They think less of themselves than they should. In some churches, after every worship service, the preacher stands at the back of the auditorium while people file by and say, “Pastor, that was the greatest message I’ve ever heard.” The pastor says, “Oh, I am nothing but a lowly worm.”

God’s Word says we ought to think of ourselves realistically. Don’t think more highly of yourself than you should think. Don’t think more lowly of yourself than you should think. Understand who you are in Christ.

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IMPROVING YOUR SERVE

Do not merely look out for your own personal interests,
but also for the interests of others. – Philippians 2:4

Servanthood comes neither naturally nor easily. From the time we draw our first breath, we are programmed to think, “Me, my, and mine.” It is part of the DNA we inherited from Adam to be selfish. After all, you don’t have to reach a child to be selfish, do you? And this proclivity we have for “me, my, and mine” doesn’t get any better as we get older.

In Philippians 2, Paul told us how we can become better servants. The way we do that is by watching and imitating the life of Jesus Christ. That is what Philippians 2 is all about. The church at Philippi was divided by doctrinal differences and personal conflicts. So Paul wrote these words to the church:

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).

Paul was saying, “Learn to put the needs of others above your own needs.”

How do you consistently put other people’s needs above your own?

Paul spelled it out beginning in verse 5. He said, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus” (2:5).

Do you want to know how to become a servant? Look at Jesus. Read the Bible and watch His actions. Imitate them in your own life, and then you can learn how to improve your serve.

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A LIVING SACRIFICE

I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. -Romans 12:1

What does it mean to be a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1)? Most of us will not be called upon to make the kind of sacrifice that Jesus did for us on the cross. Nevertheless, there are sacrifices we are called upon to make for the benefit of others. For us, becoming a servant may mean sacrificing our pride and going to that person and admitting we were wrong. For you, sacrifice might mean giving up that money you set aside for some special purpose in order to meet a need of a family member or somebody in the body of Christ. Sacrifice might mean giving up your to-do list in order to be interrupted and meet the very real need of somebody God brings into your life.

Think about the life of Jesus.

He was on the most important mission of all time. Yet He was constantly interrupted. He allowed interruptions to come into His life so that He could take care of the woman who was bleeding uncontrollably and the coworker’s mother- in-law who fell ill and the guy who literally dropped in during one of His messages.

To be a servant means that you sacrifice your rights in order to meet the needs of other people. Jesus’ life illustrates that being a servant requires sacrifice – the willingness to give up something that is important to us to meet the needs of others.

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JESUS CAME TO SERVE

The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life
a ransom for many.
– Mark 10:45

In Mark 10:45, Jesus said, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Jesus says that above all, the thing He wants to be remembered for is not His majesty, and it is not His glory. He wants to be remembered as the One who came not to be served but to serve other people.

Servanthood is an important quality to the Lord Jesus Christ. Consider a few things Jesus said about serving others.

In Matthew 20:25-27, He said, “But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave.”

And in Matthew 23:11-12, the Lord said, “The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

When we cut through all the peripheral issues of Christianity, what is it that God really wants for us? He wants our lives to resemble Jesus Christ in our thoughts, our attitudes, our affections, and our actions. And we are never more like Jesus Christ than when we put the interests of other people above our own interests – when we learn to serve others. So how is your service to the Body of Christ?

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A SERVING HEART

The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted. – Matthew 23:11-12

Epitaphs attempt to reduce somebody’s life to a sentence or two on a slab of stone. If you had the opportunity to create your own epitaph, how would it read? Which words would you use to describe your life? Perhaps you would choose some outstanding achievement for which you would like to be remembered. Maybe you would include some character quality you think is appealing to other people. The thought of creating your own epitaph is a bit morbid, isn’t it?

Let’s change the question a bit. What if you had the chance to create the epitaph for the empty tomb of Jesus Christ? If you had to reduce the Lord’s life down to a sentence or two, how would you describe Him? Perhaps you would choose “King of kings and Lord of lords, the Alpha and the Omega.”  Maybe you would use a phrase from Colossians 1:16 “AII things have been created through Him and for Him.”

Certainly, each of those phrases denotes something of the majesty of the Second Person of the Godhead. But those words were written by somebody other than Jesus. I have a sneaking suspicion that if Jesus were to describe Himself, He would use words similar to those in Mark 10:45, in which He said, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Jesus says that above all, the thing He wants to be remembered for is not His majesty, and it is not His glory. He wants ro be remembered as the One who came not to be served but to serve other people.

When we cut through all the peripheral issues of Christianity, what is it that God really wants for us? He wants our lives to resemble Jesus Christ in our thoughts, our attitudes, our affections, and our actions. And we are never more like Jesus Christ than when we put the interests of other people above our own interests when we learn to serve others.

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WHAT THE BIBLE CANNOT DO

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4

When you receive your mail, I’m sure you open the letters that are addressed to you personally before opening a letter addressed to “Occupant”. The Bible is not like a generic piece of mail addressed to “Occupant.” No, the Bible is a first-class communication from God to you. It is the primary way you and I discover God’s will for our lives.

But as wonderful as the Bible is, there are some things it cannot do for us. In fact, the Bible is helpful only when we use it in the way it was designed to be used.

First, the Bible cannot predict your future. You cannot pick out a random Scripture verse and claim it as the outcome of your particular situation. That is misusing Scripture, an attempt to try to make God do what you want Him to do. Do not try to use the Bible as a sanctified horoscope to tell you what is going to happen in your particular circumstance. It was never meant to predict your future.

Second, the Bible cannot answer every question you have about your life. Some people try to use the Bible as a theological encyclopedia to answer every question about life in general or their life in particular, such as, “Why did God allow my boss to fire me? Why did God take my mate? Why did God allow my child to be killed? Why do ungodly people prosper while godly people suffer?”

God rarely answers our “why” questions, but His Word does remind us that He is in control. That He the sovereign God of the universe Who created us and all we enjoy around us in this present world.

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