Psychologists say that you can test the IQ of young children by giving them a marshmallow. As they munch that marshmallow, tell them that they can choose:

1. to receive one more marshmallow right now! OR…

2. to receive two marshmallows in one hour.

The theory is that the more intelligent children will choose option #2. They’ll wait for the two marshmallows. Then, they’ll ace the SAT’s, sore through Med school, and have balanced successful lives.

I thought about that scenario as we studied contentment this week, thinking that Christians are in a similar position as those bright children. In this case though, its our faith that is being measured, not our IQ. When we believe God’s promises, we can enjoy the gifts He gives us today and eagerly anticipate all of the gifts that He has promised to give us in the future. Just as the kiddos’ stomachs probably rumbled and their cheeks salivated just thinking about the promised marshmallows, so do our hearts groan and long for the promised renewal of all things. But, we are content in that longing because we know that God’s promises are certain and are fully ours.

This week, in order to understand God’s desire for our contentment, we took a close look at its opposite: covetousness. Remember the tenth commandment from Exodus 20? Yep, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” If you dig beneath the surface, can you see God’s desire that we not hunger and thirst for anything else but Him alone?

Psalm 16 declares that God is completely satisfying to the human soul: He is our joy and pleasure. When we are fully satisfied by Him, we are not casting longing glances at our neighbor’s material or immaterial possessions because we have everything we need.

We savored Ephesians 1:3-14, which reminds us that we have every spiritual blessing. As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 9:8, we “always have everything we need.”

Mostly, we can be content because Christ was perfectly content for our sakes and He has sent the Holy Spirit to help us live like Him. Inspired by Philipians 2:5-11 and Hebrews 12:2, I wrote a prayer about Jesus’ contentment:

Jesus, you were content when…

You were born as a human.

You were content when you were born to a human.
You were content when you were cared for by an earthly father and mother.
You were content when you submitted to your parents.
You were content when you turned water into wine, healed the sick, and drove out demons.
When you were baptized by your cousin.
When you fasted for 40 days and nights.
When you were tempted by the Devil.

Jesus, you were content when you forgave sinners.
You were content when you cried over Jerusalem.
When you stayed up all night to pray for your disciples,

and taught stubborn and thick-headed people.
You were content when you fed thousands of people, and
when you held children.
You were content when you woke up early to pray.
When you travelled many miles on foot.
When you mourned with Mary and Martha.
When you raised Lazarus from the dead.

You were content when you were not married.
When you didn’t have children of your own.
When you celebrated the Passover with your disciples.
When you were betrayed.
And denied.
And when you wore the crown of thorns.

Jesus, you were content when you carried the cross.
Even when you couldn’t carry the cross any longer and Simon carried it for you.
You were content when you were thirsty.
When you were abandoned.
When you died.

You were content when your body was buried.
When you rose again.

When you ascended into Heaven, and
when you sat down at the right hand of God.
You were content when you sent the Holy Spirit to live in people.

Jesus, you are content as you long for the perfection of your bride and the joy of your wedding feast.

Thank you. Your contentment is mine.

Help me to be content, too.

Posted in The Resolution for Women | Comments Off

A small group of women from my home town are gathering together every week to read The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer. When I’m able, I prepare an additional lesson from Scripture to accompany our discussion. I’ll share my thoughts with you, too.

The first week we met, I felt that it was important to explore where we’d get the power to keep the 13 noble resolutions. Even I can admit that when it comes to habits of the heart, checking off boxes on a colorful chart does not guarantee success. Besides, the results of a “try harder” attitude wouldn’t be ideal.

If we were glowingly successful, we’d reap pride.

If we were dismal failures, we’d reap depression.

There must be something more. We read Ephesians 4: 17 – 24 and talked about how Paul is constantly talking about putting off the “old man” and putting on the “new man”. He’d love Shirer’s new book; he’d love our resolve to live more like Christ. But he’s also the same guy who wrote Romans 7 : 21 – 25: he knew that none of us could exert enough effort to be that “new man” by ourselves. After expressing his frustration that we cannot make the choice to live godly lives, Paul concludes with the definition of hope: Thanks be to God for rescuing me! I can live a holy life because Jesus Christ already has lived it for me. 

We cannot change ourselves. Jesus is the one who changes us, and He does it through the Holy Spirit. His entire life – from conception to ascension – took place by the power of the Holy Spirit to show us that we are to live in precisely the same way. From our spirit’s first renewed breath to our last, we can – no, we must – live without sin by the power of the Holy Spirit. Above all, we must remember that the “old man” is  me. The “new man” is not “a better me”. The “new man” is Christ himself.

We’ll be memorizing Romans 8: 13 – 15 as we read the book so that we do not forget that the motivation and the power to live holy lives rests wholly in Jesus. As we resolve to be content, compassionate, courageous women, we will often feel a desperate need for help! That’s been God’s plan all along. So, we call out “Abba! Father! Please help me, Holy Spirit!” and He does.

“I am crucified with Christ therefore I no longer live; Jesus Christ now lives through me.” Galatians 2:20

Are you reading The Resolution for Women? Would you share your ideas to complement the reading?

Posted in The Resolution for Women | 3 Comments