Be Content

“So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.” – 1 Timothy 6:8

Regardless of the state of our economy, we still long to have more stuff. But in our desire to acquire stuff, do we ever stop to ask ourselves when enough is enough? God’s Word tells us that when God meets all the basic necessities of life, contentment should follow. It is not hard to be content in times of plenty, but what about those times of need.

In his letter to the church in Philippi, the Apostle Paul shares the secret to being content: “ Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”  (Philippians 4:11-13)

At the time of writing the letter, Paul was living in a Roman prison. Before that, he’d been beaten within an inch of his life, betrayed, and left for dead. Through the soaring highs and devastating lows of his life, God taught Paul to keep his eyes on the prize: the salvation of Jesus Christ.  Nothing else matters.  Look at what he says next in verse 12: “I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.” Paul realized that contentment is an attitude we learn and not a thing we achieve. Paul got it. He could be content with little. He could be content with much. He had learned to be content regardless of his circumstances.

Contentment is not about our circumstances. Contentment is God doing something inside of us. The good news is that we all can learn how to become fully content with who we are, what we are, and what we’re doing.  We can learn how to be content by thanking God for what we do have instead of focusing on what we don’t have.

The truth is, contentment does not come naturally. Paul learned it. This means contentment is a trait we must develop, a discipline we should all be striving for. Paul’s secret is that he is always striving to do what God has called him to do. At the end of the day, he has done everything he could to be faithful to God’s call on his life…. There is no complacency in Paul’s contentment, and neither should there be in ours.

Erik Raymond—pastor of Emmaus Bible Church in Omaha, Nebraska – in his book, Chasing Contentment: Trusting God in a Discontented Age defines contentment as “the inward, gracious, quiet spirit that joyfully rests in God’s providence.” Real contentment is found in God. When we believe that, it will dramatically transform the way that we live.

Discussion Questions: 

  1. Where’s the balance between being content and yet trying to better your situation or solve certain problems?
  2. How does your life change when you are truly content?
  3. What can you do this week to be more content? 

Are We Making Things Complicated?

“The one thing I ask of the Lord—the thing I seek most—is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple.” – Psalm 27:4

When Charles Spurgeon was on his deathbed, he told those who had gathered with him: “As time has passed on, my theology has grown more and more simple. It is simply this, “Jesus loves me!” The Christian life is not meant to be complex. There is a blessed kind of simplicity for the Christian who understands the love and grace of God. You find glimpses of this kind of simplicity expressed in Scriptures like Psalm 27:4.

It certainly sounds good to live simply in this day and age of seemingly endless complexity. To not wake up with a thousand different priorities and things to do running through your mind. To be able to sleep soundly knowing that your heavenly Father never does. Sometimes we make following Jesus far more complicated than it really needs to be. We lose sight of a certain simplicity that comes with knowing Him and being known by Him. It is relatively easy to complicate the whole following Jesus thing. I know I’m supposed to love my neighbor, but who really is my neighbor? Certainly not the guy next door…right? I know I’m supposed to treat others the way I would want them to treat me, but what about the people who treated me badly?  Basically, we justify and rationalize. We make ourselves the exceptions and define the parameters for how much or how little of what Jesus says actually applies to us. Sometimes we spend more time coming up with loopholes on not to obey Jesus than we do at simply doing what He says. As a result, we make things more complicated than they need to be. 

On a few occasions, Jesus is asked what the greatest of all the commandments is – if He could boil down the whole counsel of God into its purest and simplest form, what would it be? His consistent response is two-fold: Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:36-40).

That’s it. Love God. Love People. Our serving, our willingness to forgive, our ability to trust His promises in the difficult seasons, all of these things and more are done in direct proportion to the extent that we love God above all and love others with all. Nothing else matters if we don’t do this first.

This is not to say that the Christian life can’t sometimes get complicated and messy. It most assuredly can and will. While Jesus has been very clear and simple in what He expects and demands of us, He never once promised that our obedience in those things would always lead to easy or comfortable places – as a matter of fact, He says more often than not things will get pretty difficult (John 16:33). But the gospel remains simple: Love God above all today. Love others with all today. Then do it again tomorrow.


Discussion Questions:

  1. What do you find most difficult about the Christian life?
  2. What can we do this week to keep it simple… love God and love others? 

The Comparison Trap

Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.  For we are each responsible for our own conduct. – Galatians 6:4-5.  

The temptation to compare is as near as your next chat with a friend, trip to the store, or check-in on social media. We also compare our children to other children. From baby names to growth charts to report cards, all parents want to know is how does my child stack up against other children? And whether you think it is a favorable comparison or not, there is simply no win in comparison. It’s a trap and not a new one. The temptation to compare our children to others is centuries old.

Consider Abraham. He and his wife Sarah were the parents of two sons, Isaac and Ishmael. Sarah favored Isaac to the point that Abraham was forced to banish Ishmael―his firstborn―from their home forever. A few years later, Isaac compared his own sons and favored Jacob. His wife, on the other hand, preferred Esau. To continue the saga of comparison, Jacob made a colorful coat for the son he preferred over all the others. In the end, his favoritism carved a pit for Joseph that resulted in separation and hardship. As Theodore Roosevelt put it, “comparison is the thief of joy.”

Why, then, are we still so tempted to match our children up to others? Part of it is that we want our children to be the smartest, biggest, brightest, and most popular. But the truth is, our children haven’t been given to us so we can enter them into a game or race, nor does it make sense to compare in the first place. God doesn’t make two people just alike. He has uniquely and precisely created each of us with specific gifts and talents to do exactly what He’s called us to do. David wrote: “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.” (Psalm 139:13-14).

David wasn’t praising God for the way He flung the stars in the night sky, set the spinning earth on its axis, or stocked the vast oceans with sea creatures of every kind. David was marveling at the magnificent masterpiece called David. Each one of us is God’s workmanship. His masterpiece — and that includes our children. 

Our children are given to us for a short time so we can guide them, nurture them, and teach them to love the Lord. They are not our creations. They are the Lord’s. Each one is a unique being, molded by the hands of a perfect Creator. It’s time we stop comparing ourselves and our children with others. God made our children. He thinks they are amazing. And so should we.


Discussion Questions:

  1. God doesn’t compare us to other people. How does that change you’re thinking about comparing your child to others? 
  2. What is one thing you can do this week to allow God’s opinion of you to shape who you are and the choices you make? 

Do As I Say, Not as I Do

“And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. – Deuteronomy 6:6-9 

As parents, we will make mistakes. Our biggest failures as parents can become the greatest opportunities to admit that yes, we make mistakes. When we admit our wrongs and allow our kids to see how we mess up just like anyone else, we give them a biblical example of humility, love, and forgiveness to follow.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 offers a roadmap for how we are to live out our faith in front of our children. What we believe must make its way into our daily attitudes, conversations, and routines.  We can teach our kids what the Bible says, but if we want them to live according to its truth, we need to live it. If we want our kids to have a growing faith and love God’s Word, we need to demonstrate its importance in our lives. A “Do as I say, not as I do” approach to parenting just doesn’t work. You can’t fake it as parents. If we don’t model a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ, there is little chance our children will grow up to possess what we lack.  

The first thing we can do is to allow them to see the importance and joy of God’s Word in our life so they too can develop a growing love for Him and His Word. They need to learn to receive their guidance for living and serving from the Bible. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”

Fortunately, in the US, we can easily obtain the entire 66 books of the Bible in our own language.  We can do no less than share it with our children, teaching them by our examples and our words to learn it, to love it, and to depend on it for direction as they grow and become responsible for their own decisions.

Give them an external perspective. Our kids have so much stuff tugging at them—the Instagram likes, popularity at school, athletic achievements, pressure to conform. But this world, and all these things that seem so important in their hearts, it’s all going to pass away. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. What can we do to ensure our kids love God’s word? 
  2. What can we do to give them an eternal perspective? 

Raising Great Kids Today

“So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up” – Deuteronomy 11:18-19.

Parenting is a much more complicated and harder job today than it was 50 years ago, yet it has never been more important. The culture has changed. The view of the family has changed. Technology has not only made the world so much different, but it has also in some ways made it more difficult to communicate with the next generation. Both parents and children now live in a cyber world that is computerized and digitalized. 

We want to give our children the best, but what exactly is the best? Are we supposed to raise good kids who pursue the American dream with some Christianity sprinkled in? There is no roadmap to raising great kids. Parents can read countless books and try endless techniques…but the truth is that kids will make their own life choices. The best thing we as Christian parents can do for our children is to point them to Christ.  

Before He ascended, Jesus commanded His followers to “go and make disciples of all nations.” Christians have rightly understood this command as a call to reach out in our world, our towns, and our neighborhoods. But it’s also a call to make disciples in our own families. Christian parenting is disciple-making, and obeying Christ’s commission should orient all we do as parents. We educate our children not ultimately to ensure they find a high-paying job, but to help them start the journey of becoming followers of Jesus. We discipline them not so they’ll make us happy, but so they’ll follow and serve Christ as adults. There are a lot of tenets to parenting, but understanding the importance of pointing your kids to God will prioritize the countless educational and extracurricular decisions in raising a child. 

What a relief to know that we don’t have to parent on our own strength and wisdom. We have all experienced that frustration. God loves each one of our children so much that He desires to love and parent them “through us” as we stay surrendered to Him. This is great news for every parent. We will still experience great challenges, but we will also experience the joys and rewards of parenting.

Is it worth it? Yes, it will be all worth it in the end. We will never be perfect parents. In fact, probably far from it. But I’ve learned that God loves me and loves my children and the best life we can hope for is following Him. Spending time, talking, and imparting truths are critical to raising our kids. Your kids will love you for it in the end.  And when they yell, stomp, scream –  just fix your eyes on the prize and know that parenting is not about pleasing the one you parent, it’s about pleasing the One who made you a parent, to begin with.

Discussion Questions: 

  1. What can we do this week and every week to be more intentional in pointing our kids toward Christ?  

Is Online Church The Way To Go?

He created the church to meet your five deepest needs: a purpose to live for, people to live with, principles to live by, a profession to live out, and power to live on. There is no other place on earth where you can find all five of these benefits in one place.” – Rick Warren

A few years ago pastors all across the country found themselves in a role they could not imagine anytime before…that of TV preachers. For months they taught to empty sanctuaries as they live-streamed sermons as Covid-19 ravaged the country. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, online worship services were an upcoming but still novel concept for many churches. In the two years since, however, churches have adapted and reached new people with the adoption of digital streaming. 

There is no question that online worship and study are convenient for the homebound — as well as for those traveling or for anyone who can’t or won’t make it to the physical church building, but there is still another benefit. The online services reach a lot of people who aren’t ready to come to church. They can kick the tires of the Christian faith in the safety of their own home until they are ready for the next step. 

The reality is that the church is reaching millions outside the building, through all types of online content. With that statistic as a background, we have to ask ourselves a question: “are internet services as good as a church?” The answer to that question is an unequivocal “no.” But that doesn’t mean you have to have one or the other mentality: Bible apps, podcasts, streaming content, worship online, and more — all are available to those who want these tools. You can always do a hybrid model, meaning you can do some things as well as attend in person.

The early church would get together weekly to worship God and at times even daily. They would also share community together in each other’s homes. Paul and the other Apostle’s letters were actually sent to these church communities that gathered in various cities to be read aloud together. Church means getting together with other believers to worship Jesus Christ, hear the Scriptures together, and encourage one another in the faith.

There is something powerful and unique when the church gathers. During the time we could not meet as a body, we learned how important it is to do life together with other believers on a regular basis. I don’t think we fully appreciate how much we benefitted from being in church every week until it was missing. In the same vein, we took for granted the opportunity to meet in small groups each week. We are made for relationships. We need each other and we need God. It’s easy to miss out on the close community when we are doing online only. 

Do not reduce the church to listening to a podcast. It’s so much more than that. It’s community. It’s worshiping with others, praying for others, hurting with others, serving others, and being involved in the lives of others.

Why Did You Doubt Me?

“Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” – Matthew 14:31)

Fear is the enemy of faith. It certainly is not our intention to let fear erode our faith, but it happens. God speaks to you during your morning quiet time and you are stoked to be about your father’s business that day. But as the day goes on, life’s troubles pop up, and fear starts to creep in and dissolve away your commitment.  You have been there. I have been there. Everybody has been there, including Peter. 

The story of Peter stepping out of the boat to walk on the water is one of the best-known passages in the New Testament. You have to love Peter. He is rash, a little impetuous, and sometimes reckless. We love Peter because we can relate to him. He loves Jesus in a way that is beautiful and powerful, but with some irrational behavior thrown in.  Picture the story in Matthew 14: 22-33:  Peter hops out and begins confidently walking toward Jesus. But then a big wave crashes close to his feet, distracting him for a second.  As he watches that wave, he notices the other waves around him.  His ears become alert and he hears the waves crashing against the boat behind him.  He hears the wind howling around him.  He shakily looks down at his feet and fear overtakes him.  The more afraid he gets, the quicker his feet begin to sink into the sea.  Sheer panic sets in as the fear of all that is going on around him overtake him. Then he remembers Jesus.  Out of desperation, he cries out to Him.  Peter is pulled back up above the water and Jesus asks “why did you doubt me?”

Jesus is basically telling Peter, “I’ve got you.  Don’t worry.  Just trust me.  You don’t have to be strong because I’m strong enough for the both of us.” Peter learned a lesson about fear and faith, one that can serve as a model for us.

Trusting Him in spite of our fear not only builds our faith, but it builds the faith of others and brings glory to God. The reality is that fear will creep in on occasion and cause us to stumble. God is with us, reminding us that He’s got a hold of us and will bring us through.

This is a great story that we can learn from. We dive into things with full faith.  Sometimes, though, the troubles of this world distract us and for a moment we take our eyes off of Him and focus on our own incapability to fix things.  It isn’t long before we cry out to Him because we can feel ourselves starting to sink.  Every time, He is faithful to reach out His hand, and walk us through.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Has there been a situation where you felt the urge to jump out of the boat? If you didn’t what kept you from jumping?
  2. Is there something today that is calling you to jump out of the boat?

God Is Our Hope

“For the believer, there is hope beyond the grave because Jesus Christ has opened the door to heaven for us by His death and resurrection.” – Billy Graham 

We all hope. We all wish. But sometimes hope doesn’t seem all that irrational, nor does it make sense, nor does it see beyond the obvious. This kind of hope is pinning my future on something over which I have no control.

In the Bible, however, we never read of hope in that way. It’s not wishy-washy. Instead, hope is a confident belief and expectation in the truths and promises of God. Hope always has a positive connotation in scripture. The bottom line is if our hope is based on God and what He says, then it is no longer wishful thinking, but a firm expectation. 

Faith and hope are closely linked, but different. Hope is a precursor to faith. While faith is believing and trusting in something that you cannot see, hope is imagining that there is something to believe and trust in. It is the belief in what could be. For example, faith is putting your trust in God to help in financial difficulty, but hope opens the door to even let yourself consider that there may be a way you are not thinking about to get out of your problem. Hope lifts our eyes. Hope tells me there is more. Hope forces me to keep walking, searching, longing, and loving…hope leads to faith.

That’s why hope is so important and should not be kept to ourselves. Putting hope or faith into action can take many different shapes. Giving hope to others won’t be quick or easy, but it is possible.  We see examples of changing people’s lives all the time. You have to choose to get involved. Hope does not mean we just sit and wait for utopia to appear. Hope motivates action. When we hope for better days for the church, we serve the church. When we hope for the conversion of our children, we are motivated to share the gospel with them. When we hope for God’s blessing on His Word, we listen to it much more avidly. Hope leads to action.

What’s occurring in our lives can affect how we respond to the situations we face. Outside pressures or uncertain circumstances can bring out the best or worst in us. And sometimes, letting out the ugly can seem a bit easier than displaying the good stuff. But regardless of how we feel, we can choose kindness and patience and use them to help others and make our world a better place.

In this world, hope still remains strong on the list of human needs. It is like a single candle during the night, it gives light for us to continue on and find our way out of the darkness.  Hope is a very necessary component of everyday life. We must never give up and never think that our goal is impossible or too hard to attain. 

Romans 12:12 says, “Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.” 


Discussion Questions:

  1. God is our strength. He’s always faithful. He’s our hope. He’s near. He’s good. And He’s full of unfailing love. Which of those attributes do you need to lean on the most right now?
  2. What can you do this week to start working on that attribute? 

The Faithfulness Of God

“God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through? – Numbers 23:19.

Numbers 23:19 describes a foundational aspect of God’s character, His faithfulness. The ESV version says, “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?” God is wholly faithful to you. No matter what you do, He will be there for you. His faithfulness isn’t dependent upon what you do or don’t do.  

The Scripture is replete with examples of God being worthy of our trust. Hebrews 11 is known as the faith chapter. It talks about people throughout Scripture and how they lived out their faith in God. More than that, you see the faithfulness of God. His protection of Noah, His plan for Joseph, the exodus of the Israelites, the battles won, and the rewards received. You can see how God moved in each and every one of their situations. 1 Corinthians 1:9 says, “God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

The reason why many people don’t have faith is that they don’t know the character of God. When you finally catch a glimpse of just how faithful God is, you’re able to. If you trust God, you can have faith in Him. And when you have faith in God, you know what He says is true. The more you get to know God, the more faith will fill your heart. In what ways do you need a fresh revelation of God’s faithfulness? He promises to be true to you. He promises to see you through any situation you find yourself in. Isaiah 54:10 says, For the mountains may move and the hills disappear, but even then my faithful love for you will remain. My covenant of blessing will never be broken,” says the LORD, who has mercy on you.

Respond to God’s faithfulness today. Let His promises steady the parts of your life that feel unsure. As you step outside today, take time to look at the world around you. Think about the things you’ve put your trust in. And remember, God promises that His faithfulness will outlast anything your eyes can see.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How would you rate in knowing and trusting God?
  2. What can we do this week to increase our knowledge and trust in God? 

Hello Alone, Meet Anxious And Afraid

Is Online Church The Way To Go? 

“God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! “ Psalm 46:1-3.

It is not uncommon to walk into an ongoing conversation where someone is talking about feeling anxious, alone, and afraid. The most often reply, certainly among Christians, is “Just trust in God” Trust Him when thou have this lump in your stomach on your morning commute. Or it’s a buzzing in your mind that keeps you awake at night when you should be resting up for a long day at work. Much of what causes us to feeling os being alone, anxious, and afraid stems from the ongoing love, and hate relationship we have with the future. 

There are times in life when the future is an exciting place. Things I’ve planned and worked for are about to come to fruition, and I watch with anticipation as they unfold before my eyes. I love the future, and even strive to speed up its arrival—as if that were possible. But in most cases, the future is shrouded in darkness and shadows and seems to hide its intentions. I can’t see what lies ahead, and it fills me with dread and fear. If you are in one of those anxious seasons remember what Davis said above in Psalm 46.  

We will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. (Ps. 46:2-3) We want to look at the future with anticipation and hope—no matter what lies ahead—knowing that God is my refuge and strength (Ps. 46:1).

To live by faith means that I acknowledge that He is God and that I am not. When I remember this, I am freed from the burdens of worry and fretting, regret and sorry.

Through all of Scripture God shows us who He is, what He is like, and what He does. He tells us that He is all-powerful; He can do things that we can never do on our own. He is loving and kind; He cannot be cruel or mean. He is faithful; He can’t go back on His word or forsake His people. He is gracious; He is filled with compassion, care, and sympathy for His people.

He has a plan. His plan is to comfort His people because, not only is His plan perfect because He is perfect, but He knows the best way to orchestrate all things so His plan will come to fruition. Knowing God calms the anxious heart.

Discussion Questions: 

  1. Knowing God and His Word allows us to face our fears with faith. Why? How can you do this in practical ways?
  2. It’s not uncommon to be anxious God when life gets hard. What does this imply about what we believe about God?