Far More Moments

But godliness actually is a source of great gain when accompanied by contentment [that contentment which comes from a sense of inner confidence based on the sufficiency of God]. (I Timothy 6:6, AMP)

This verse has always intrigued me. The premise is simple but the implications are profound: godliness and contentment are far more life! In context, this verse follows instructions for slaves to honor their masters — whether their actions are honorable or not — and is part of a warning against the lure of false teachers. If anyone is tempted to feel far more life is unavailable, I think it would be a slave bound to a wicked master! But far more life springs from what happens inside our hearts. So godliness and contentment are within the grasp of every child of God, no matter what their circumstances!

Godliness is responding as God would if He was in our place. Anyone who has accepted Jesus — and as a result has the Holy Spirit living inside — is capable of godliness. We have moments of godliness, but no human has mastered it. We all have areas where Satan’s lies and our own experiences in this fallen world trick us into choosing sin. As we recognize our moments of ungodliness, we have opportunity to obey this Biblical instruction:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2, NIV)

The key to growing in godliness is examining and changing our beliefs. As we compare what we hear and experience in this world to the principles in God’s word, we will find differences. Some beliefs are deeply buried — created by our interpretations of life at a very young age — and define our view of ourselves and God. As we renew our mind by adopting God’s truth, our relationship with and understanding of Him deepens. This naturally leads to more moments where we respond in godliness. More moments of far more life.

As the Amplified Bible explains, contentment is inner confidence based on the sufficiency of God. Contentment is: knowing God is in control (Psalm 93:1); understanding His love for us (I John 3:1); and believing He is working all things for our good (Romans 8:28). Contentment frees us from fear and worry because we know God is for us (Romans 8:31) and will provide all we need (Philippians 4:19). Contentment is a direct reflection of our beliefs about God. The Apostle Paul writes:

I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:12-13, NIV).

If we are not content, we are wise to examine our beliefs about God. He will give us strength to do this.

Every day is a collection of moments where we respond with godliness and contentment or sinfulness and discontentment. The moments of godliness and contentment are moments of far more life. A segment of King David’s life gives us a clear example of this.

In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war…David remained in Jerusalem…From the roof he saw a woman bathing…and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (2 Samuel 11:1-4, NIV)

In this passage, David is not content. He shirks his duty to command his troops and choses an ungodly pursuit of Bathsheba. Knowing she is pregnant, David continues to sin, ultimately killing her husband. When confronted, David repents of his sin (2 Samuel 12:13), but there are consequences; God declares the child will become sick and die. During the illness, David begs God to spare this son, but once the child dies David returns to normal life. His servants are confused by the sudden change, but David explains:

He answered, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” (2 Samuel 12:22-23, NIV)

In that moment, David chose far more life. He could have chosen bitterness toward God but he chose contentment, even in his grief. This enabled him to choose God-honoring actions; he comforted his wife (2 Samuel 12:24) and lead his army in battle (2 Samuel 12:29).

The Bible shares more moments — some far more life, some sinful — that weave the story of David’s life. Even though David was not perfect, Acts 13:22 describes him as a man after God’s own heart. A man of godliness and contentment. Our lives are also a collection of moments where we choose godliness and contentment and moments where we do not.

I used to be afraid my moments of ungodliness and discontent would cause God to pull away from me. It was such a relief to understand my relationship with Him is secure (Romans 8:1; I John 5:13). Now I can pursue godliness and contentment out of gratitude and love. The foundation of far more life will continue for eternity.

By doing this they store up a treasure for themselves which is a good foundation for the future. In this way they take hold of what life really is. (I Timothy 6:19, GW)

What we experience on this earth is just a small part of life. The bigger part extends into eternity with God in heaven. Each time we choose godliness and contentment we choose far more life. It is a source of great gain on this earth and for eternity.

Sisters,
Are you living in godliness? Contentment?
What beliefs hinder you from exercising godliness? Contentment?
How does the weaving of your life look?

Enjoy far more life in the moments of your day!
-Shari

Copyright 2019, Shari Damaso

Waiting Well

Wait. This is a word most of us dislike hearing. We want what we want when we want it. We may be tempted to think that having our wants met will make us satisfied with life. But in reality, waiting well for God’s perfect plan and timing is far more life.

These verses remind us of the benefits of waiting for God, why it is good to wait for Him.

We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. (Psalm 33:20, NIV)

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. (Psalm 40:1-3a, NIV)

For this reason the Lord is ready to show you mercy; he sits on his throne, ready to have compassion on you. Indeed, the Lord is a just God; all who wait for him in faith will be blessed. (Isaiah 30:18, NET)

God blesses us when we wait for Him. He helps us. He protects us. He meets our needs. He brings us happiness and fulfillment. He treats us compassionately. He delivers justice. But sometimes we think He is slow to bless. It seems like He doesn’t hear our requests. We become impatient waiting for His answer or action. Biblical writers had the same struggle.

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. (Psalm 5:3, NIV)

Lord, I wait for you; you will answer, Lord my God. (Psalm 38:15, NIV)

But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. (Micah 7:7, NIV)

We can rest assured that God always hears His children. He will always answer in His perfect timing. But His timing is not always our timing. We cannot choose whether or not we wait. We can only choose how we wait. A friend has explained patience to her young children as “waiting well.” I like the honest simplicity of that phrase. Choosing to wait well is choosing far more life.

Waiting well focuses on God rather than ourselves. It starts in the heart. Consider these Biblical descriptions of waiting well:

My eyes are ever looking to the Lord for help, for he alone can rescue me. (Proverbs 25:15, TLB)

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27:14, NIV)

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. (Psalm 130:5, NIV)

Lord, we are living the way your laws command us to live. We are waiting for you to act. We want your honor and fame to be known. (Isaiah 26:8, NIRV)

Sometimes we are waiting for answers. Sometimes we are waiting for things to happen or for things to end. We get frustrated at not knowing when our waiting will end. (Have you ever begged God, “I’ll wait patiently to find out WHAT you will do if I just know WHEN you will answer.” I have. But He — wisely — didn’t believe me.) Waiting well remembers that God knows everything: what is best for us; what we need; when we need it. Do we believe this? Do we trust Him enough to wait well?

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV)

He has a plan for us, a plan that brings good at the right time. When we don’t trust Him, we impatiently fight for control of the steering wheel. Waiting well is trusting God to be the driver in our lives. Didn’t He create us? Didn’t He already meet our biggest need through Jesus’ death and resurrection? Remembering God has already secured our eternal destination helps us trust Him with the details of our earthly journey. We can embrace far more life — waiting well beside Him — in each hill and valley we encounter. He is trustworthy.

Our expectations also keep us from waiting well. We can be like children impatient for Christmas morning to arrive; the closer it gets, the harder it is to wait well. Children anticipate the joy and excitement of discovering what is beneath the wrapping paper. They are certain what is coming is better than what they have now. We, too, convince ourselves what we have now is not as good as what is coming. We can miss far more life today by anticipating far more life will be better in the future. Waiting well looks to the future — especially our future in heaven — eagerly and expectantly while fully embracing today. Whether today brings answers or more waiting, whether it is filled with sorrow or joy, it is always an opportunity to live far more life. God has planned each day for us and as the perfect next step on our journey with Him. He is with us, giving us all we need for today. In fact, His Word instructs us:

…Make the most of every moment and every encounter. (Colossians 4:5b, VOICE)

Waiting well requires us to be engaged in today as we anticipate the future He has for us. He is working around us. He is working inside of us. Enjoying today while waiting well for tomorrow is far more life.

Sisters,
Are you generally patient or impatient?
What are you tempted to trust in besides God? Yourself? Others?
In what areas are you fighting for control of the steering wheel, not trusting God’s plans for you?
How does impatience for the future rob you of far more life today?
Praise God for this day and commit to walking in far more life with Him!
-Shari

Copyright 2019, Shari Damaso

Safe or Good?

“Aslan is a lion – the Lion, the great Lion.”

“Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion” …

“Safe?” said Mr Beaver … “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

-C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

The more I meditate on this exchange, the richer it grows. In this story, Aslan represents Jesus Christ and Susan is a child preparing to meet him. She wonders what all of us would wonder when meeting an unrestrained lion: is he going to use his strength and power to hurt me? What a vivid comparison to our concerns about God’s role in our lives!

We want God to be safe, meaning we want Him to be tame, predictable, and under our control. But this is not who God is. God reminded Job of this after listening to Job’s lament about the difficult circumstances he faced:

Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?… Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb?…Have you ever given orders to the morning or shown the dawn its place?…Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail?…Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’?…Do you give the horse its strength or clothe its neck with a flowing mane?…Does the eagle soar at your command and build its nest on high?…Do you have an arm like God’s, and can your voice thunder like his? (Job 38:4a, 8, 12, 22, 35; 39:19, 27; 40:9)

If you want to read more of this exchange, look up Job chapters 38 through 42. God’s power and knowledge is very humbling! But even this excerpt makes it clear: God is not subject to our desires and preferences. He is the Creator. He is in control. Embracing His role as King and our role as His subject is far more life.

Although God determines His own actions, Scripture assures us repeatedly that He is good.

Good and upright is the Lord. (Psalm 25:8a, NIV)

Taste and see that the Lord is good. (Psalm 34:8a, NIV)

You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you. (Psalm 86:5, NIV)

For the Lord is good and his love endures forever. (Psalm 100:5, 106:1, 107:1, 118:1, 118:29, 136:1, NIV)

You are good, and what you do is good (Psalm 119:68, NIV)

The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. (Psalm 145:9, NIV)

The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. (Nahum 1:7a, NIV)

No one is good—except God alone. (Mark 10:18b, NIV

But the fruit of the Spirit is…goodness. (Galatians 5:22, NIV)

…you have tasted that the Lord is good. (I Peter 2:3, NIV)

Because of God’s goodness, we can trust Him to treat His children lovingly. The Bible is full of accounts that prove this over and over. One of my favorites is the account of Gideon in Judges 6 and 7. God had a special job for Gideon and told him about it. Gideon was slow to believe it was really God speaking — he asked for several reassurances — and God patiently provided each one. God told him step-by-step what would happen, and it all came true. God led Gideon and his army to a great military victory, even though they were greatly outnumbered. But God, in His goodness, looked at their hearts and provided just what they needed to trust and follow His instruction.

In my own life I have seen God’s goodness through His protection. Once he protected me from physical injury when my car was struck by lightning. Another time he protected me from a financial hardship by selling our house shortly before a major mechanical failure took place. He didn’t speak to me in the way He spoke to Gideon, but I believe His goodness was at work in those situations and many others I have faced.

So why, despite evidence, do we continue to doubt God? I think one reason is because we cannot see the whole picture. From our limited human perspective, we cannot see what might have happened without God acting in goodness on our behalf. We can only see what does happen, and sometimes it does not appear good to us. And we have an enemy, Satan, who doesn’t want us to see God clearly. He tempts us to focus on the hard and bad things God allows us to suffer. When we fall for that focus we forget to thank God for protecting us from worse situations (John 17:15). And for being with us through the hard times (Hebrews 13:5) and providing all that we need (Philippians 4:19).

We live far more life in the moments we release our idea of God conforming to our definition of safe and instead embrace the truth that He, in His goodness, provides all the safety we need. As we let Him be God, we are free to notice and enjoy His provision along our journey. We will encounter valleys along the way, but His goodness — and the opportunity for far more life — is always with us.

Sisters,
How are you tempted to make God be “safe”?
What evidence have you seen of His goodness in your life?
Pray for His perspective in the difficulties you face so you can see His provision this week.
Thank Him for being with you and providing all you need.
-Shari

Copyright 2019, Shari Damaso

Far More Joy and Thankfulness

This article title jumped off the page at me: “How Complaining Physically Rewires Your Brain to be Anxious and Depressed”. Immediately this Bible verse came to mind:

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life. (Philippians 2:14-16a, NIV)

I had always thought this verse said when my mouth does not complain, others see God shining out of me. But God wants to change more than my speech:

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (I Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV)

Joyfulness, prayer, and thankfulness involve our hearts, not just our actions. And notice God wants them to be constant. Why is this His will for us? Hearts that are joyful, thankful, and connected to God are living far more life. They are transformed by the Holy Spirit and change our thoughts and actions. Not only does that allow us to be a better image of Christ to those around us, it also — according to the premise of that article — protects our brain wiring from serious consequences.

Why do we complain instead of being joyful and thankful? If I am honest, I want to be in control. I want smooth sailing — as I define smooth. When that doesn’t happen, I view the situation as troubling and am tempted to complain. But smooth sailing is an unreasonable expectation. Jesus clearly stated:

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33b, NIV)

As long as we walk this earth we should expect trouble, not be surprised by it! Far more life trusts God’s ultimate control and follows Him through the troubles and good circumstances. The Bible makes it clear God has a bigger plan for us and challenges us to have this perspective:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds. (James 1:2, NIV)

The verses that follow tell how trials mature our character until we “lack nothing”. Far more life understands trouble is a God-approved spiritual growth plan. My pastor says, “I love trials!” because he understands their purpose. We, too, can walk through troubles with joy when we believe God has a purpose for them.

Jesus faced a more difficult trial than we will ever encounter: the cross. How did He overcome temptation to resist God’s plan?

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus…who for the joy set before him endured the cross. (Hebrews 12:2, NIV)

Jesus remembered the purpose for His suffering. He looked to the future rather than His current circumstances. And He did it with a focus on joy. The Bible does not record this, but I think Jesus was grateful for the opportunity to reconcile us to God. And that perspective allowed him to do the hardest thing ever without complaints even entering His mind. We, too, can do hard things without complaining when we remember that God is using them to mature us so we lack nothing.

God never commands us to be thankful FOR everything, simply to be thankful IN everything. He doesn’t expect us to be thankful for divorce or cancer, for example. But He does want us to remain thankful as we navigate those challenges, whether we are thankful for support from others, hope for a better future, lessons we learn along the way, or anything good we know about Him or receive from Him. We also know that our character and understanding of God can grow most during our most difficult experiences; we choose whether to grow better or bitter through our troubles. Like me, you may have life experiences that you wouldn’t want to repeat but are thankful for the closeness to God that developed through them.

I was recently challenged to not complain for 3 days. And to go beyond swallowing my complaints to replacing those thoughts with gratitude. I gave my family permission to lovingly point out my complaining, which one of my teens eagerly embraced. I was surprised by the lightness in my heart as I chose to embrace a new perspective. “I am so tired,” led to thankfulness for a comfortable bed and hope for better sleep that night. “There are so many dirty dishes,” was replaced with thankfulness for my family and ample food. When chronic pain flared I was able to be thankful for the things I could do — even if I had to move slowly and carefully. During those 3 days I realized complaining makes my mind feel gray and overcast but gratefulness makes it sunny and bright. I have committed to choosing gratitude so I can continue to enjoy far more life. (And my family continues to point out my complaints!)

Will you take that 3-day challenge grow in far more life? It will be a battle! You will need to examine your thoughts and determine whether they come from a grateful or complaining heart. When you aren’t sure, ask if they fit this criteria:

“…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8, NIV)

These are the thoughts that help us constantly be joyful, thankful, and prayerful. They remind us that troubles lead to growth. They protect us from spiritual anxiety and spiritual depression. They are the far more life we crave.

Sisters,
Are you more likely to argue and complain or be joyful and thankful?
How do you respond to trouble and not getting what you want? What helps you respond with joy?
What promise can you look forward to that brings you hope and joy?
Will you take the 3-day challenge to practice thankfulness rather than complaining?
Enjoy far more joyful and thankful life this week!
-Shari

Copyright 2019, Shari Damaso