Are you satisfied?

As I did my Bible reading this morning, I was challenged by this thought: Am I satisfied?

Now usually, we say that being satisfied is a good thing, because it is a synonym for content, and God is very clear that we are to be content when it comes to stuff (1 Timothy 6:6-8; Philippians 4:11-12; Hebrews 13:5).

So when I read Hosea 13:5-6 this morning, it made an impression, because it connected contentment with our stuff to our spiritual lives. This is God speaking to Israel:

“I cared for you in the wilderness,
     in the dry desert where no water was.

When they were fed, they became satisfied;
     when they were satisfied, they became proud;
          as a result, they forgot me!”

This is a commentary on human nature. When we get full of stuff, we say, “Look what I have!” But all to often, “Look what I have,” becomes “Look what I’ve done” or “Look who I am” – and that’s wrong. As John the Baptizer reminds us, “No one can receive anything unless it has been given to him from heaven” (John 3:27).

We are to be content with stuff. But we are not to let our contentment make us proud and lazy in our spiritual growth.

Yes, we are to celebrate growth. Yes, we are to be glad when we take our next step and reach our next level. But we’re not to ever be satisfied and say, “That’s enough.”

Even the apostle Paul said, “I’m not there yet, so I keep pushing forward.How could we do any less?

Our focus at OTCC for 2009 will be on commitment. I’m going to teach on commitment. And throughout the year, I’m going to help you stretch in your spiritual lives by asking you to make commitments to take some very specific spiritual steps.

Let’s never get so satisfied in our spirits that God says, “You forgot me!” Let’s press on.

Post-Election Post

Everyone else is doing a post-election post, so I thought I would too.

Honestly, it amazes me how many of the blogs I follow from Christian leaders who have tried to put on a good face in light of the presidential election results and have spit out some (seems to me) half-hearted spiritual platitudes.

I don’t know how many times today I’ve read, “Don’t forget – God is still on his throne.” (I imagine it with a sort of whiny, nasally tone.) Are we such a sorry bunch of people that we have to be reminded over and over again that the 2008 American election is not the end of the world?!

I’m not happy with the results either. In fact, living in northern Indiana, those in my district lost in nearly every race available. (We’ve sort of gotten use to it in our county.) Actually, I wasn’t really thrilled with our choices going in either.

Regardless, if you’re moping around because of last night – STOP IT! Yes, God is on his throne and all that, but I shouldn’t have to remind you of that. What we need to remember is what we do from here on out. Interestingly, it’s no different than what we should have been doing all along:

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except by God’s appointment, and the authorities that exist have been instituted by God. So the person who resists such authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will incur judgment (for rulers cause no fear for good conduct but for bad). Do you desire not to fear authority? Do good and you will receive its commendation, for it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be in fear, for it does not bear the sword in vain. It is God’s servant to administer retribution on the wrongdoer. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of the wrath of the authorities but also because of your conscience. For this reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants devoted to governing. Pay everyone what is owed: taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due. Romans 13:1-7 (NET)

Be subject to every human institution for the Lord’s sake, whether to a king as supreme or to governors as those he commissions to punish wrongdoers and praise those who do good. For God wants you to silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good. Live as free people, not using your freedom as a pretext for evil, but as God’s slaves. Honor all people, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the king. 1 Peter 2:13-17 (NET)

First of all, then, I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanks be offered on behalf of all people, even for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. Such prayer for all is good and welcomed before God our Savior, since he wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4 (NET)

Listen, Day 32: 1 & 2 Timothy

We are down to just about a week left in our listening program. This Sunday I’ll teach the last message in this series. I’ve had several people mention that they intend to listen through the NT again. That’s great! If you would like to listen to the weekend messages again, too, they are available on our website, or you can order a boxed set of the CDs through the church.

Saralynn wondered if the reference to giving thanks for our food had to do with Paul’s other discussions about food offered to idols. She didn’t remember that verse being there.

Dan’l:

  • So many people get caught up on whether the Old Testament Law (or which parts of it) still apply to us. The fact is, it doesn’t matter unless you’re going to break it. “The law was given to control lawbreakers.
  • In yesterday’s listening, Paul said that God punishes unbelievers as an example so people will believe. In today’s listening he said that God shows mercy on believers, also as an example. The more I read and listen, the more I hear that God really does leave the choice up to us whether or not we will accept his offer of salvation.
  • Three times I heard the phrase “married only once” in 1 Timothy (3:2; 3:12; 5:9). I cannot find that in any CEV that I have. So far the readers have done a pretty good job sticking with the exact CEV Bible text. However, they made an error in these three verses by reading their understanding into the text. Each CEV I searched (print and electronic) say “faithful in marriage” in all three spots. And frankly, that is the best translation as I discuss in my book. (I thought I was going to have to be bummed by the CEV; fortunately not!)
  • Paul refers to God as “the Savior of everyone.” Let’s be sure to note two important points: 1) that Christ himself is not the Savior of everyone and 2) that God is the Savior “especially of those who have faith.” That this is not talking about eternal life is hard for many people to accept.
  • I love the practical instructions for church life throughout chapter five – how to deal with certain widows, salary and payroll procedures, discipline, and thoughts on formal ordination.
  • People occasionally mention to me that I should be more open to different views and not as black and white in my theological understanding and what I teach. I don’t know. I think Paul is a pretty good example of being confident in his teaching. Of course, this is why it’s so important to “Understand It” in the first place.
  • Second Timothy 1 really got to me, as I was thinking this very thought earlier today and more frequently in recent days. Paul told Timothy to “make full use of the gift that God gave you.” I have to say that I don’t think I’m doing that. As Paul wrote a couple of verses later, “My work is to be a teacher.I mentioned Sunday that I don’t get to teach enough. That’s really been getting me down lately, and I was reminded of that again earlier today and then in our listening this evening.
  • How could I let chapter 2 go by without mentioning my life verse and the purpose of my life and this blog? “Tell these same things to followers who can be trusted to tell others.It’s not supposed to stop with us, and we dare not let it!
  • What a great reminder to keep being faithful to what we’ve been taught. It’s OK to ask questions; it’s not OK to walk away from the truth of God’s Word.
  • I really enjoyed hearing Paul talk about the people he had preaching and ministering everywhere. It made me think of a general talking about his troops out in the field.