The Excuses of a Discontented Heart

TheologyGirl-ReformedWomen
Devotions From the Heart
“The Excuses of a Discontented Heart”*
September 2016

“I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Philippians 4:11**

There is an “air” of discontentedness among the brethren in all circles of Christianity today and it reminded me of the book by Jeremiah Burroughs, “The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment” and particularly my book study summary comments on Chapter 7: “The Excuses of a Discontented Heart.” I pray they will help you “think and act biblically” regarding your own heart on this important subject.  Read on…

“But godliness with contentment is great gain.”1 Timothy 6:6

As I stated in my Questions for Discussion and Reflection, this is one of those chapters that gives us a practical handle and shows us our “excusing”nature of blameshifting and excusing ourselves from responsibility for being content in “whatever state we are in.” I find this so engulfs and permeates the Christian life that there is hardly anything that it does not touch. The Bible is clear about our “sin nature” and how we excuse ourselves from responsibility for sin, obedience, contentment, and everything else. It started in the Garden when Adam and Eve blamed God, each other and the serpent and it is true of us today. We think by excusing ourselves and blaming other persons, events, problems, etc. that excuses us from obedience or contentment. But that is not the case for any of us, including those in unbelief. We are responsible to God to be obedient, content and thankful for “everything” and that includes not only the “good” things but the “bad” as well.

Burroughs is concerned that we are so focused on what is happening to us that we are not focusing on the sin of why it is happening or the sin of not being content that we miss the mark entirely. We become so caught up in the “woe is me” that we do not see the folly of the sin of excuse or discontent. He wants us to focus on reality and that reality means that no matter what happens to us in this life, it is nothing and that trials, afflictions, difficulties are always for our good and thus to focus or make excuse for why we are not content in them, makes our lives more difficult and trying. We need to smack this reality right in its face and look at ourselves and what is around us and stop excusing our discontent and focus on the contentment of a saved heart, one that is a joint-heir with Christ, one that has the joy of eternity and the privileges of royalty forever. Let’s look at this from some very practical examples and see how this plays out.

Example 1: “I don’t have enough time to read my Bible so I become frustrated and sin and I am not content because I can’t get any spiritual encouragement.”

A. Do we watch TV, talk on the telephone, spend time on the internet or in useless reading? Are we focused on “think on these things” spiritual thoughts? Are we blaming our husbands, children, homeschooling, chores, etc. so that we don’t spend time in spiritual matters because of the convicting nature of them? Are we saying that in a 24-hour day we don’t have 10 minutes to spend with the Lord? If so, we are not good time managers nor are we obedient. We have replaced the important things with the unimportant. There is always, no matter what our schedules, time for the Lord. If we are not setting aside time for the Lord, we are in sin and disobedience. That will result in a discontented nature because we are thirsty and starving for spiritual strength. It is through this medium that God strengthens us so that we are content. So, the bottom line is this, we must stop excusing and start obeying and then we will become content.

Example 2: “My husband is not a ‘spiritual leader’ in the home and so it falls upon me to lead and direct the children and my own spiritual well-being so I become discontented in my circumstances with my husband and children and therefore I am not content.”

A. What does God’s Word say about this? He says, “study to show YOURSELF approved.” That “yourself” is you. It does not say only husbands are to study but all believers so that we are able to fight the good fight of faith. The good fight of faith is trusting and believing in God’s goodness and providence in ALL things. We are to “drink of Christ” to “eat”of the spiritual food He has provided in His Word. Each believer is accountable to God for his or her own spiritual growth and progress in the Christian life. So we cannot say we are discontent by excusing our own responsibility to study and to be content. Contentment comes from understanding who God is and His providence in our lives. If we do not study, we do not learn about God in all of His glory and attributes and thus we are discontent in our circumstances.

Example 3: “I am a widow, or separated, or divorced, or single and thus because I am in these circumstances, I am discontent.”

A. The Apostle Paul tells us to “live as you are called” in I Corinthians 7. He is telling us that we are to be content “in whatever state we are in.” If unmarried, be contented; if married, be contented; we are to live “contentedly” as we are called.

Example 4: “No one has the difficulties I have suffered with my children. They will not be obedient no matter what I do so I cannot be content as long as I have these disobedient children.”

A. The Bible is filled with parents of disobedient children. We, as children of the Living God, are disobedient children. Are we free from sin? No, never. Are we called to obedience and contentment? Yes, always. So we are without excuse here. We need to look at our situation in the light of God’s Word and ask ourselves questions. Have we done everything that is obedient to God’s Word in raising our children “biblically”? Have we disciplined with “dignity”? Have we disciplined consistently? Have we shown by our own lifestyle and conversation a life of obedience and contentment before them? I believe when we look at ourselves through the mirror of Scripture, we will see our own sin and failures and thus we can stop excusing and blameshifting and get to the root of the problem. Have we done everything possible and still they are disobedient? Then we are to pray and be content and trust God for His providence in their lives.

As we can see from just these few examples, we excuse, blameshift and transfer our responsibility of being content to everyone and everything else except ourselves. As we think about this and examine our own selves, it will bring to mind those things to which we personally make excuses. It should convict and encourage us to change and that change should produce contentment. Pray for God’s Holy Spirit to bring conviction, repentance and change. Apply the theology you know to be true as to God’s providence and His refining so that you might grow in grace. You are children of your Heavenly Father and what He is doing and has done in your life is good, just and perfect. Trust Him for His guidance and care knowing that He will never leave or forsake you and that everything always and forever works for your good.

There is much more to say about this subject but I will leave it here. Again, as we see, there is no excuse for a discontented heart or spirit. We are called to “be content in all things” and that is what we must do and by the grace of God we can do it. Be diligent and press on in it.  Be content!
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Blessings in Christ
TheologyGirl-ReformedWomen

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do,forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14

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*TheologyGirl-ReformedWomen “The Excuses of a Discontented Heart” originally posted May 2006 from my Christian Contentment Study on the book by Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment .  

**The Greek word “aujtavrkh=DF” [“content; being content” ] in Philippians 4:11 means: “sufficient for one’s self, strong enough or processing enough to need no aid or support, independent of external circumstances, contented with one’s lot, with one’s means, though the slenderest.

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Our Anxiety and God’s Aseity

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“In him we live and move and have our being; as even some of your own poets have said, For we are indeed his offspring.” Act 17:28

Are you filled with anxiety about the future? About our country, your hopes, dreams, family life, eternity?  Read on….

A whirlwind of anxiety and fear surrounds us day by day with the events in our world and especially in light of the unimaginable liberal leanings of the current decisions made regarding the future of us and our country.  Man says, “Where is your God,”  “why are these things happening” and “who is in control of the world and events”?  Do not fear my dear friends and brethren!  God is seated in the heavenlies doing what He has preordained in eternity past to bring forward at this time in history.  Remember that He is the only Sovereign and He is independent of man and He alone controls all events and keeps us by His divine power.  We then must bow before Him in holy humility, recognition and submission and get our thinking “right” and heavenward and not fear the future but be humbled by His greatness and love to us in Christ.  Speaking on God’s aseity, Kuiper has said it well:

“There are certain names of God which reveal His independence most vividly, names which only God has and which the creature could never, never bear.  We have in mind “the Almighty One”, “the Highest One”, “the Lord of Hosts.”  Each of these names reveals that God is above all else, and is not dependent in any way upon anything outside His Being.  But undoubtedly the name of God that reveals the greatness, glory, and independence of God most clearly of all is the name JEHOVAH (I AM or I AM THAT I AM).  When God says of Himself, in fact names Himself, I AM, He very truthfully and confidently asserts that He rests for Being upon no one but Himself, exists before all things, and all things exist through Him.  When God says, “I AM”, He confidently asserts that He has need of nothing, but by and through and of Himself, IS!  It is true; the name JEHOVAH has tremendous significance for our election, redemption, preservation, trust in God’s promises, for all the life of the covenant of grace.  But we must understand that God reveals himself as He does in all our salvation exactly as He is in Himself, so that first He is JEHOVAH in Himself and then He is JEHOVAH in all our salvation!

We ought to be struck, now, by the fact that we creatures differ radically from God on this matter of being.  God is independent; we are always dependent, and our dependence is upon Him.  Oh, we can be so proud!  We can live sometimes as if we had no need of God, as if we were the captains of our futures and the masters of our own destinies, as if we have things pretty much in control.  We can behave ourselves sometimes as that rich and foolish man in the parable of Luke 12 who said, “Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many year;  take thine ease, eat, drink and be merry.”  In our self-sufficiency we think that we can take care of ourselves.  We make our plans sometimes without a thought of God, and without saying, “If the Lord wills and we live.”*

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Thus, my friends, we “look” and “live” because of Christ and God’s election and preservation.  Take no thought!  Look to Christ and God’s Word for comfort so that you are not “anxious about anything” but trusting in Him, our King and God!

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*/ Rev. D.H. Kuiper, “The Independence or Self-Existence of God”

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“Hear My Cry, O God”

Heavenly Notes
TheologyGirl-ReformedWomen
Title: “Hear My Cry, O God”
Author: Henry Law

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“Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto Thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the Rock that is higher than I. For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.I will abide in Thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of Thy wings. Selah.

“For thou, O God, hast heard my vows: Thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear Thy name. Thou wilt prolong the king’s life: and his years as many generations. He shall abide before God for ever: O prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him. So will I sing praise unto Thy name for ever, that I may daily perform my vows.”  Psalm 61:1-8

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ATTENTION to prayer in a season of great distress is supplicated in the experience of former mercies. Promises are remembered, and grateful service is vowed.

1, 2. Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. 2 From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

Prayer, which is our precious privilege, and should be our continuous delight, should ever be from the very depths of the heart, and in the earnest wrestlings of the soul. Can there be coldness, can there be weakness, can there be formality when we draw near to the immediate presence of our God, and pour into His listening ear our every want and our every desire? Here David is all zeal and all intense effort. He doubles expression to awaken a gracious hearing. Doubtless His need now was very great. But that need is no small blessing which raises us direct from earth and places us before our God. He was an outcast-banished from his home, from his family, and his cherished friends. Strangers and aliens were around him. But on the outstretched wings of faith he soars to a Heavenly Father’s house. He desires to be uplifted from his low estate, and his feet set on elevated ground. We have a Rock; and when standing upon it, impregnable is our position and glorious is our prospect. That Rock is Christ. May our prayer be constant that we may be kept grounded and settled on Him, and never moved away from the hope of our Gospel!

3, 4. For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings.

Experience here supplies a prevailing argument. The Psalmist could look back on many perils, but out of them all the Lord had delivered him. That arm was not shortened; that mercy was warm as ever. It had never failed; it will never fail. Therefore in his exile he had persuasion that he would be restored to the city of his God, and join again in the services which he loved. He knew that the wings which had sheltered him would shelter him to the end, and therefore his trust abided firm.

5, 6. For thou, O God, hast heard my vows: thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name. Thou wilt prolong the king’s life: and his years as many generations.

They who watch for answers to their vows will have abundant cause for joy. God’s Word is pledged in many forms that prayer shall not go forth in vain. All these promises are yea and amen in Christ Jesus; and heaven and earth shall pass away, and all the universe be wrapped in ruin, before fulfilment can be denied. The answers come, and they abound in comfort and encouragement. David realized that through faith he was heir to an inheritance which paled all earthly possessions-the heritage of those that feared God’s name. Blessings indeed are linked to this ennobling grace. It belongs to all who have found forgiveness in Christ Jesus. They love the Lord with all intensity of rapture: they love His Word and will; and nothing could induce them willingly to offend. Hence mercy compasseth them about. High as the heaven is above the earth, so great is His mercy towards them that fear Him. O Lord! implant Thy fear in our longing hearts! It will enrich us now and ever. This David fully realized. He saw that His days were coequal with the ages of eternity, and that all those days would be happiness and glory.

7, 8. He shall abide before God for ever: O prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him. So will I sing praise unto thy name for ever, that I may daily perform my vows.

He looked onward to the fulness of joy in the presence of God, and to the pleasures which are at His right hand for ever. With this bright prospect, who will not fear His name-who will not devote himself to God’s service? But all our vows and all our efforts are utter weakness unless we are aided from on high. In deep knowledge of his own nothingness, he supplicates that mercy and truth may ever be at hand for his preservation; and then he resolves that fit praises shall be rendered. Thus prayer and trust lead to everlasting joys.

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Henry Law, Daily Prayer and Praise, Volume I
[This and its companion Volume II are excellent devotional additions for your family devotions and library.]

HeavenlyNotes, TheologyGirl-ReformedWomen, originally posted 2009.