February 8, 2017

More Thoughts

It is a good morning here in sunny and warm, Phoenix. Yes, it is sunny (as is usual), and our expected high is to be near 80. Tomorrow through Friday, the forecast calls for temps in the mid-80s. I am so NOT ready for warm weather! I know my friends who live back east would clamor to have mid-80s, but frankly, the warm weather now just means a very hot, hot, hot summertime is ahead. Still, I am thankful for the seasonal warmth, and I am thankful for the bounty of blessing God has bestowed on me this good, good day.

In truth, I am trying hard not to complain — like COMPLAIN! I was watching Joyce Meyer this morning, and she was speaking on how to enjoy your life, like really “love” your life. One of the things she said was that we must get the word, “hate,” out of our vocabulary. We are so quick to hate things, non-essential things, when the Word of God tells us what we can legitimately hate (such as lying, sinfulness, wickedness, etc.). Instead, we hate doing every day things, we hate people who don’t agree with us, and we generally have a disposition toward hating the world God made. We need to be people who embrace life, who demonstrate God’s love and goodness in the world, and one of the ways to do that is to stop complaining so much. The Word says it this way…
  • Ephesians 4:5 - Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
  • James 5:9 - Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:18 - Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
  • Philippians 2:14-16 - Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
We are reminded how important it is for God’s people to not grumble or complain. Remember the lessons from the Old Testament and what happened when the Nation of Israel grumbled against the Lord in the wilderness? Yes, they ended up wandering around for 40 years — until all the generation that had sinned against the Lord — had died. Let us not be foolish to think that God doesn’t see our complaining against His good will and way. He does; He sees us, and He ears us when we grumble.

I am guilty of grumbling, of feeling as though I deserve more than I have, when in truth, I have been the recipient of His favor and blessing. I am good today because He has made my life good. Therefore, it is wise for me to take heed, and to remember that what I have today is from His good hand. Thus, I am to take Paul’s words to heart as he was speaking to the Christians at Philippi. I am to do ALL THINGS without grumbling (murmuring) or complaining, and I am to be thankful in ALL circumstances because as he says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “This is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”


Taking Stock

So, with this in mind, I take stock this good day. I turn my thoughts toward the goodness of God, and I turn away from my former behavior, which was to complain about lack, insufficiency, and my unhappiness. Instead, I say, “Thank you, Lord, for the goodness you have freely given to me this good, good day!” I am choosing to be thankful, to generate an attitude of gratitude, as they say. I am choosing to not complain about lack, but to instead thank the Lord for His bounty, His provision, His sufficiency. He has truly met all my needs with His sufficiency, which is CHRIST JESUS. I have everything I need in Jesus, thus, my meager wants, desires, and wishes, are bountifully fulfilled in Him alone. He is my God, my King, and my Redeemer. I am settled. I am satisfied. I am good.

Today, therefore, is a new day. I am making the conscious decision to take my new attitude with me as I head into the classroom. I am choosing to bring grace, mercy, and goodness into the lives of the people I meet today. I am choosing to give thanks for my helpers, the good people the Lord has provided to assist me. I am choosing to look at my coffer (my bank account) and to see it as full-to-overflowing. I am choosing to see that I have everything I need this good day to live, to survive, and with that attitude, I am choosing to accept — willing and agreeable — to accept whatever provision the Lord chooses to send to me. This means that if the Lord desires to bring me more part-time work, so be it. If He chooses to open a door for one full-time job, I will be thankful. If He asks me to do more work, I will heartily tackle it under His management. I will do the work unto Him, and in this way, He will be honored, praised, and glorified. I will choose to accept the fact that the Lord has decided, as of now, to keep me in Phoenix. I will change my attitude about the heat, and I will give thanks for the warm weather, the sunshine, and to blessing of living in this good state. More so, I will accept the fact that while it is difficult to live here now, as in my current situation, the Lord has provided a good home for me. He has made it possible for me to help care for my parents, and He has made a good life for all of us (my son, included). Furthermore, I will accept that right now my life is full, very full, and that my work load including my dissertation is significant. Yet, I am not weighed down, overwrought, or unable to keep up with the work. Instead, He has helped me rest. I am able to get up each day, walk on, and in this way, I am carrying this heavy load without feeling as if I am going to falter. He has done this for me, and so it is my response to give Him thanks. I give Him thanks for the goodness, the good gift He has given to me.

In all, what I have come to realize is that when I said to the Lord, “Lord, I will go where you send me,” I really was saying that I would go where He sent me (so long as I liked the place). Yes, I was agreeing to go ONLY where I was comfortable, happy, and content to go. I was not willing to go to the place where I wasn’t comfortable, happy or content. In this way, I was half-way agreeing to go. I was half-way content. The Word tells us that we are to be content in all things, to accept the will of God for our lives as a good thing, not as a half-empty or half-fulfilled promise. The Father only gives GOOD GIFTS. I have come to see how my willfulness and stubbornness has caused me concern. I have not been agreeable, and thus, I have not been honest in my attitude nor in my speech. This is something the Lord has noticed, and well, now I have seen the truth.

I am turning my way around, recanting, so to speak, and in this manner, I am choosing to accept His determination. I am choosing to accept what He says is best. I may not be happy. I may not be content. I may not be comfortable — but — I can choose to be all these things by simply accepting that what God gives is good. It is always good. My life is filled with His goodness. My life is complete in His goodness. I am able to say, “He is good,” and really mean it.

I see how often I have said one thing, but in my heart, I have wanted something else. I have said, I would do this or that or not do something, but in my heart, I was not settled. I was not secure. I was not being truthful. I have caught in double-mindedness, and as James says, we are not to be like this as His children. We are not to doubt His word, His veracity, or His character. When we do, we suffer the consequences. I am suffering the consequence of doubting His character, His faithfulness, and in this way, I am where I am today as a result. Thankfully, the Lord knows that I am more apt to pay attention to the warning shot, you know — the one that comes across the bow — than the one that actually hits and does damage. I saw the shot cross in front of me, and I took steps backward to say, “Lord, I have offended thee. I am truly sorry. Please forgive my foolishness and my arrogance.”

Now, the good news is that I realize what I have done, what I have said, and how it sounded to my heavenly Father who desires that I always speak words of truth. I have run afoul of His justice, His goodness, and yes, His kindness. I have had to back up, repent, recant my words, and in this way, I have had to come to accept His judgment as good, as final, as best for my life. I am ready to accept His way — I have said this before — oodles of time, yet today, I think I am really ready to accept His way. I mean, I am ready to accept the fact that this may be my life, to remain here in Phoenix. I am ready to accept that He may be providing part-time work for the rest of my life. Yet, I do not doubt His provision, His sufficiency, or His ability to provide for me. He is my Jehovah-Jireh, and in this, I can rest in His provision for every need and every area of my life. 

I am giving Him praise today because even with my comeuppance, I am thankful that my God cares enough about me to discipline me. He cares about me, so as a loving Father would do so, He has shown me my boundary lines. He has said where I am to stand, and He has made sure I know which lines not to cross. I am listening, heeding, obeying Him, and in this way, I am safe and secure. I don’t want to offend Him nor do I want to walk in error or in disobedience. I want to live a life that brings Him pleasure, and to do that, I must be faithful, good, and obedient.

In Closing

As I sit here today, I remember that the Lord has graciously provided a way for me over the past seven years. I am working in a job I love, doing work I enjoy, and getting paid for something that brings such good into the lives of my students. He has made it possible for me to succeed in this line of work. I may not be great, but I am good. I may not be able to teach like the best teachers, but I am able to do good, practical work. Furthermore, God has given me the spiritual gift of exhortation, thus I can encourage and equip my students for success. I can encourage them. I can build them up. In this way, thus, I do both ministry and I do practical and productive good work.

My heart is set on one thing, and that is to bring my Father in Heaven praise and honor. I do this by obeying His word, keeping His commands, and living a life that is holy, good, and pure. I do this by honoring Him and others, by serving, and by being humble before those who are placed above me.

He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
Except to be just, and to love 
[and to diligently practice] kindness (compassion),
And to walk humbly with your God 
[setting aside any overblown sense 
of importance or self-righteousness]?
Micah 6:8 Amplified

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