Posts tagged ‘contentment’

How Does a Christian Find Contentment?

You know those people who are just happy, bubbly all-the-time people?  Yah.  That is not me.  I tend to be an even-keel kind of person.  Conservative with my emotions, you might say…except when I am twirked, especially at my boys.  Then you are likely to see some downright fireworks!  Not really something to be proud of, but I am a sinful human.  And I do recognize that as an area I need to work on.  Anyway!

I can also tend to ride on the edge of depression.  I know.  I bet you never would guess that by reading any of my previous posts.  But it is true.  For some reason the contentment that Paul speaks of in Philippians tends to elude me.  I am not really a covetous person.  I don’t very often look at what other people have and think, oh, I have got to have that!  I am pretty content with what I have.  I don’t have a fancy house, car, boat, camper, etc., etc.  And I am totally okay with that.  I think my lack of contentment tends to be more situational.  My garden isn’t doing as well as I’d like.  My boys don’t behave as well as I would like (probably not alone on that one).  My job is not as enthralling as some people’s (shhh, don’t tell my boss!).  Those types of things.  So I live my life just a tad on the down side.  I can laugh and have a good time.  I love to tell a good story that can get a laugh out of someone.  But most of the time, I really am just ho-hum.

I realized this morning that more than mild depression, what I am really guilty of is not being content with where God has placed me in life.  I needed to confess my lack of contentment.  But then I thought, how do become content?  I went to the place that has the answers, and wouldn’t you know it, I found it…the answer to being content.  Check it out.  It is easy peasy!

Philippians 4:11-13 (NKJV) – Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content [here come the “states”…see the colon]:  I know how to be abased [humbled], and I know how to abound [be honored].  Everywhere and in all good things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both abound [have plenty] and to suffer need.  [Here it is.]  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me [even be content, no matter what].

Here is the breakdown of the paragraph.  This is what I have learned…to be content.  These are the situations in which I am content…humbled or honored, hungry or full, wealthy or poor.  This is HOW I am content…through the strength that Christ gives to me.

How can we find contentment?  Easy.  Ask Christ for the strength to be content in all things.  That’s it.  Then enjoy the peace and fullness of life that God intends for us to have.

Cutting & Pasting the Bible: What Are We Missing?

Bible Study 2

Bible Study 2 (Photo credit: DrGBB)

We cut and paste the Bible all the time.  How many verses can you quote from memory?  I don’t know nearly as many as I should.  And the ones I do know I often don’t recall where they are found.  But one thing I am discovering as I have been making my way through the Bible for the 2nd time is that many of the verses we use as our go-to verses are taken out of context, or at least not used with the full context intended.  We miss the full meaning by doing this.

Let me give you 3 examples from Paul’s letter to the Philippians, all in the same chapter, too yet:-)  As a side note, I have learned that Paul likes to make one-liner points, but throws them in the midst of a bunch of other wording.  I think we often miss the true point, so I will show you what I have seen this morning.  Watch for those italics and bold markings.

Philippians 4:4-7 (NCV) – Be full of joy in the Lord always.  I will say again, be full of joy.  Let everyone see that you are gentle and kind.  The Lord is coming soon.  Do not worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks.  And God’s peace, which is so great we cannot understand it, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

I saw 3 verses, or part verses, that are quoted all the time.  I’m sure you caught them, too.  There are two things I want to point out in this passage.  Let’s look at the bold print first.  There is a definite link between what we do, and what we receive.  What are we to do?  Do not worry.  Pray.  And give thanks.  What do we receive?  The peace of God.

Second.  Did you notice the italics?  What is that doing in there?  It totally doesn’t fit…does it?  Yes!  It absolutely does!  In fact, it is the overall point!  Allow me the liberty of expanding on Paul’s words, if you will.

Be full of joy in the Lord always.  I will say again, be full of joy.  The Lord is coming soon.  Let everyone see that you are gentle and kind.  The Lord is coming soon.  Do not worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks.  The Lord is coming soon.  And God’s peace, which is so great we cannot understand it, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  The Lord is coming soon.

In other words, the Lord is coming soon!  Keep your attitude in check.  Be joyful, don’t worry, pray, give thanks, and experience God’s peace…because…the Lord is coming soon!

Passage number 2:  Phil. 4:8-9 – Brothers and sisters, think about the things that are good and worthy of praise.  Think about the things that are true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected.  Do what you learned and received from me, what I told you, and what you saw me do.  And the God who gives peace will be with you.

Point?  This is not just “the God who gives peace will be with you.”  There is a condition to that.  First you must “do what you learned and received from me, what I told you, and what you saw me do.”  Now the example Paul set for us to follow…”think about the things that are true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected” (obviously not all-inclusive, but a good place to start…with our minds).  [I swear, Paul writes backwards!  From bottom up!]

Passage number 3:  Philippians 4:11-13 – I am not telling you this because I need anything.  I have learned to be satisfied with the things I have and with everything that happens.  I know how to live when I am poor, and I know how to live when I have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being happy at any time in everything that happens, when I have enough to eat and when I go hungry, when I have more than I need and when I do not have enough.  I can do all things through Christ, because He gives me strength.

There it is folks, the secret to happiness…contentment.  But contentment why?  BECAUSE CHRIST GIVES US EVERYTHING WE NEED  (as He sees it) FOR EVERY SITUATION!  Contentment that stems from total reliance on God.  When we are relying on God for everything we need in every situation, good and bad, we are content…and happy.  There is so much more in those verses than just a moral booster!  It is a lesson, an attitude, a way of living, and what happens when we follow it.

The next time you see a verse on a shirt,  or a framed picture, or hear it quoted, I encourage you to pull out your Bible and read the verses surrounding it.  What more is there to glean from further study?  And what message from God will you be able to carry with you for the next time you hear that verse?  God’s Word is such an amazing blessing!  But it is so important to read all of it, not just single verses that we cut and paste into our lives when we think they fit.  That is like trying to put the pieces of two puzzles together to make one picture.  Our picture and God’s picture.  It doesn’t work that way.  Take the pieces from God’s puzzle and see what picture He makes.  

May God reveal Himself to you in His Word today!

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