Tag Archives: Christian character

Knowing the One Who Satisfies

I was frustrated with the way my life was going. At the time, if anyone had asked me to describe my state of mind in three words, they would have been “discontented,” “disappointed,” and “discouraged.” I felt I had done all the right stuff, but nothing was changing for the better. All I could think about was how things were not as they should be.

In the middle of that mess, the Lord revealed Himself to me as “the God Who Satisfies.” He asked me to focus more on my Promise Keeper than on the promises He had given me. And He highlighted several Bible verses to help me shift my attention off my frustrations and onto Him. One of them was Jeremiah 31:14: “… And my people shall be satisfied with My goodness, says the Lord.”

All of us could come up with something we’re not happy about — some of us more than others. Many Christians are frustrated and miserable, feeling there must be more to life than they are experiencing. There is a gnawing sense inside of a greater destiny, a greater purpose, but it eludes them. Maybe for you it’s not destiny, but more down-to-earth desires:

If only I had a husband (or wife). If only my marriage were better.
If only I had the job of my dreams.
If only I were doing that ministry God showed me.
If only I had children. If only my grown children paid more attention to me.

God is eager to give us many things our hearts long for. He is extremely generous. This is why He has put thousands of promises in His Word — and He wants us to have them all! Here are a few which specifically mention satisfaction:

Psalm 91:16With long life will I satisfy him….
Psalm 103:5Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Psalm 107:9For He satisfies the longing soul and fills the hungry soul with goodness.

As much as the Lord wants to give us things we desire, finding satisfaction in Him needs to come first. He knows the longings of our heart. He is keenly aware of the difficult places we are in, with no relief in sight, and He is compassionate toward us concerning them. But He wants to give us light, peace, joy — even contentment — in the middle of our situation, as we learn to know Him as the God Who Satisfies.

The apostle Paul understood this truth. He told Timothy, “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6). In Philippians 4:11, he said, “I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content. I know both how to be abased and how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” Notice that he had to learn it. It was a process for Paul.

It was a learning process for Abraham as well. Putting our satisfaction first in God does not come naturally to us. In Genesis 15:1, God approached him with this wonderful statement: “I am your shield and your exceedingly great reward.” Abraham didn’t even respond to that. He headed immediately into, “But, what will You give me, seeing I am childless …?” (v. 2).

Abraham did not at that point value intimate relationship with the Lord as much as he would later on. Yet, God was gracious toward his mindset and entered into a marvelous covenant with him. However, He also took Abraham through years of getting to know Him before the promised son arrived. In the meantime, Abraham matured to where God honored him by calling him “the Friend of God” (James 2:23; Isaiah 41:8). Becoming the friend — learning to be satisfied in the Lord — came before the other desire was fulfilled.

One of the highest honors we could ever hold is being thought of by God as His friend. There are varying levels of this. We can be a friend among many friends, who are loved and yet not particularly close to Him. Or, we can be the type of friend Abraham became — near to God’s heart, putting Him above our wants. This is the intimate friendship reserved for those who have learned to pursue Him as our deepest, most abiding satisfaction. When we do that, peace and joy rest inside us in the greatest measure possible. “All these things shall be added unto you” becomes the by-product rather than the goal (Matthew 6:33).

If you are feeling discontented or unfulfilled in some area of your life, I encourage you to ask the Lord to reveal Himself as the God Who Satisfies. He will not disappoint you, and you may be amazed at how much rosier life looks, even in the midst of your present circumstances.

Bible study

 

River Life: Entering into the Character of Jesus,
by Lee Ann Rubsam
(A Bible study for adults)

 

names of God

 

 

The Names of God,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

How’s Your Social Media Image?

While at a social media site a few days ago, I noticed a post by a well-known worship songwriter. In it, he used profanity. It disappointed me at the time. I marveled at the disconnect between writing songs which glorify the Lord and using language which was so far from how Jesus would speak.

This is not by any means the first time I have seen such language coming from people in ministry. It seems to go on quite a bit, in fact. Maybe in some circles it is considered “hip.” However, I doubt if it is hip in the Lord’s eyes.

I wonder how many of us realize that we are constantly exposing the true condition of our hearts via social media. The things we personally say, “like,” and repost there clearly reveal to everyone the depth of our intimacy with Jesus.

Do we ever stop to consider who might be scrutinizing our witness of Him? Are we perhaps causing other believers to stumble through what they see us promoting? Does it make someone think, “It must be OK, if he’s doing it”? (Or maybe they just struggle with judging us, based on what they see.) How about the nonbelievers’ reaction? Do they say to themselves, “I see that Christians are no different than the rest of us. Why should I even consider becoming one?” Who are we, in our thoughtlessness,  disappointing or grieving?

The apostle Paul spoke on these matters two thousand years ago. He said, “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20). Ambassadors act and speak on behalf of the higher authority who sent them. When we don’t do well at accurately representing our Savior, we hurt His cause, even to the point of driving others away from Him.

The Bible gives us guidelines for how believers are to speak:

Do not let any corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth. Instead, speak what is good, for the purpose of building up, so that it may minister grace to those who hear it. — Ephesians 4:29

Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. — Ephesians 5:4 (ESV)

If anyone speaks, he should do it as one who speaks the very words of God, … that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ …. — 1 Peter 4:11

My purpose is not to suggest that we all point the finger at those who use vulgar language or do anything else inconsistent with Christ. Rather, it is about each of us taking an honest look at our own heart. May we not fall into the trap of smugly accusing our brothers and sisters. Romans 14:4 warns against that: “Who are you to judge another man’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Yes, he shall be held up, for God is able to make him stand.” With those we know well, perhaps the answer is to talk with them about how their speech affects us. For the rest, we can always pray for them when we see something amiss. Prayer changes people; judging them does not.

When I come before the Lord in the day described in 1 Corinthians 3:12-15, I want to have as little wood, hay, and stubble showing up as possible. I have no desire to provide the materials for the mother of all bonfires! I want to have my actions, words, and thoughts increasingly line up with what Jesus would do, say, and think. The route to doing that is keeping close to Him through prayer and the Word, so that I become more and more like my best Friend.

We have been promised a future “inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, which will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4). Speaking of that day when Jesus appears for His own, 1 John 3:3 sums up how we should conduct ourselves in the meantime: “And every man who has this hope in Him purifies himself, even as He is pure.”

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Lord Jesus, may we endeavor to be the best ambassadors for You that we can be. Help us to guard our words and actions carefully, so that we might elevate all those who observe us into a higher attraction toward You.

River Life: Entering into the Character of Jesus

The Truth About Character Building

Volume1So, I write character building resources for children and adults, for parents to help their children grow in godliness, for churches to instruct new believers in becoming Christlike, for individuals hungry for holiness.  Will studying character building books make you a model Christian?  Will they solve your integrity issues?  Here’s the truth: NO.

Christlike character is not something that can be gained from a book.  It is not something you can discipline yourself into achieving.  If we are not careful, we can become legalistic about good character in ourselves and in others.  You see, godly character cannot be applied from the outside-in.  It starts in the heart and spreads outward.

Volume2As I see it, Bible-based character building resources are meant to be tools to make us aware of Who God is and to spark a desire to be like Him as we see Him for Who He is.  They provide a framework, a guideline, to get us to think about His purity, to drive us to gaze at Him, so that as we gaze, we are transformed into His image.  They are not self-help materials that promise, “Do it this way and you will be perfect.”  They are not a set of rules.  They are not the answer.

Jesus is the answer.  True godly character comes from being with Him, in His Presence, spending time in love relationship with Him.  As we do that, Holy Spirit, Who dwells inside of all believers, begins to transform us into the image of Jesus.  He starts to nudge about this and that thing in our lives that He wants to make better.  Most of the time, when we are so close to Him, we don’t even notice the transformation taking place in us until after the fact.

RIver Life TeacherWhen I was first baptized in the Holy Spirit, I had a terrible temper.  But that melted away, because He was living in and through me, until one day, I discovered with shock, “I haven’t had a temper tantrum in the last six months! How or when did that happen?”  Today, it would be a totally foreign thing to me to blow up in anger.  Why?  He just did that in me.  It didn’t come by me striving for it.  Sure, there are times we must consciously exercise discipline over things we see in our lives that need to be different, but by and large, it is His transforming work from the inside-out that makes a genuine change.  We just cooperate with Him by staying attuned to Him and yielding ourselves — kind of like letting Him lead in the dance while we follow.

When we get hold of the truth of just letting Him re-form us, rather than striving to do it to ourselves (or to our children), we have freedom and joy in our Christian life.

So, how do you really come into having good character, excellent integrity?  Hunger after Jesus.  Listen for His whispers.  When He speaks, yield to Him.  He’ll get you where you need to be.  You are His workmanship, not your own. 

Full Gospel Family Publications