Contentment is Quieting our Stormy Hearts in the Midst of our Storms

For the Lord’s Day, November 26, 2017

Dear Saints,

We continue with our devotion through Jeremiah Burroughs’, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment. The next thing he teaches us is that contentment is “a quiet frame of spirit”.  He explains:

Methinks I feel my heart heavy and sad and more than it should be; yet my judgment is satisfied.  This seemed to be the position of David in Psalm 42: ‘O my soul, why art thou disquieted?’ … This is a very good psalm for those who feel a fretting, discontented sickness in their hearts at any time to read and sing.  He says … twice in that Psalm [and a third time in the following Psalm]: ‘Why art thou cast down, O my soul? … And why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.’

Notice, the psalmists are not saying there’s no place for lament (as has been recently covered in these devotions).  Rather, they are asking, “Where and to whom will you go with your depression and what will you do with it: will you choose to wallow or rise?  That is, do you want to be consoled?” (As some have said, you can only help those who want to be helped.)  There is a way to rise above if you will take the path of contentment’s quieting.  I can testify that this is true, even in the most painful times.  Jennifer and I went to this Psalm often to seek comfort in our distress as she was dying in the hospital. It did not take away the shadow of the valley of death nor its difficulties for us, but it did bring us closer to God together and thus Him to us, and it did allow us to be able to say for ourselves our other theme verse at that time: 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (You can revisit my sermons on Psalm 42 here and 2 Cor. 4:8-9 here during those trials to get us all through together.)  The way to get through depression is to discipline ourselves into a grateful expression of praise to God and in that moment He gives us more of Himself to quiet our hearts in Him and even find joy (Ps. 61:2; 71:23; 73:21-28).

Nonetheless, Burroughs admits ” … it is a lesson that you need to learn, and that if contentment is like this then it is not easily obtained.”  Once again, that is why contentment is a “rare jewel” per the title of his book, or “an art” according to Thomas Watson in the title of his book on the same subject and theme verse (Philippians 4:11).

Burroughs goes on to explain that contentment not only is a quiet frame of spirit, but this spiritual contentment also “comes from the frame of the soul”.  He writes:

The disposition of their own heats causes and brings forth this gracious contentment rather than any external thing … For if a man is to be free from discontent and worry it is not enough merely not to murmur but you must be active in sanctifying God’s name in the affliction.

The other tough lesson we continue to learn about those who will constantly murmur as we return to Numbers tomorrow (chapter 16) should be ample motivation to sanctify the Lord in our hearts through all difficulties so as to protect us from the demon of discontent (as Rev. Ted Donnelly has called it) and rather to trust God to turn our grief to gladness (see this Thanksgiving Day’s sermon).

One last nugget I’ve been meaning to share from my recent readings that is relevant for these devotions on contentment: in his book, Reset, David Murray writes: “Contentment is a wonderful cure for insomnia.”  Again, over the last year of working through our heavy loss that has had us greatly cast down, I have learned over time to experience that this is absolutely true and that Satan cannot destroy us and Jesus truly will lighten our burden and lift us up as we cast our cares upon Him: especially if we lay our head on our pillow at night having learnt more contentment during the day’s school of difficulties.

Semper Reformanda,

Pastor Grant

Jesus Will Be Standing to Receive You into Heaven

For Lord’s Day, January 24, 2016Christiana

Dear Saints,

While my family finished the end of Book II of Pilgrim’s Progress together, we were quite moved to read about Christiana and many of her travel companions being called upon by Christ at different moments to join Him at His heavenly feast.  They were each so very gloriously happy.

This led us to read about Stephen on earth seeing Christ in heaven waiting to receive him as he was about to pass through the valley of the shadow of death.  Something stood out to us we had never noticed before: Jesus was standing.

But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. (Acts 7:55-56)

The New Testament Scriptures often speak of Jesus being exalted at God’s right hand, but any time they specifically mention His posture, He is sitting.  This image of sitting is important, because it communicates that Jesus presently reigns as King and that His salvation work is completely finished for Christians.

But here and here alone we see Jesus standing at the right hand of God, because He is about to take Stephen by the hand and into heaven.  King Solomon showed his mother honor by rising up to receive her when she entered into his earthly throne room (1 Kings 2:19).  Acts 7 reveals that King Jesus similarly stands up to receive Christians at their death as His honorable guests while entering into the heavenly throne room of God!

Let that bless our souls as we lay our heads down this evening to prepare to enter into God’s throne room with Jesus in worship tomorrow (Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 3:1-3; Hebrews 12:22-28).

Semper Reformanda,

Pastor Grant