Reasons to Be Content

Here’s another great devotional about contentment,
this one from John MacArthur’s daily devotional email series
.

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Reasons to Be Content

“‘For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?’” (Matthew 6:25).

Worry is the opposite of contentment, which should be a believer’s normal and consistent state of mind. You should be able to say with Paul, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need” (Phil. 4:11–12).

A Christian’s contentment is found only in God—in His ownership, control, and provision of everything we possess and will ever need. Since God owns everything, what we now have and what we will ever have belongs to Him.

Daniel understood the Lord’s control of everything: “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him. It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men and knowledge to men of understanding” (Dan. 2:20–21).

And if we hadn’t heard it from Daniel, we should know it from one of the ancient names of God—Jehovah-Jireh, which means, “the Lord who provides.”

Whatever the Lord gives us belongs to Him. Therefore, it is our responsibility to thank Him for it and to use it wisely and unselfishly for as long as He entrusts us with it.

Ask Yourself

What keeps “enough” from being enough for us? How do we define the level of property or possessions we need in order to feel satisfied with our supply? Why are these measurements so often faulty and skewed away from sound biblical understanding?

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From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610
,www.moodypublishers.com.

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How to be Content, Part 2

Contentment is difficult to attain and maintain when we’re going through some very tough times. Here’s another great piece about contentment, from David Jeremiah’s Turning Points daily devotional magazine. Please visit Dr. Jeremiah’s site to find more wonderful articles.

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Popular Verses

Be anxious for nothing,
but in everything by prayer and supplication,
with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
and the peace of God…will guard your hearts and minds.

—Philippians 4:6-7

Recommended Reading: Philippians 4:4-9

What’s the most popular verse in the Bible? Last fall, the retailer Amazon released a list of the most popular passages from its most popular books, and the most commonly highlighted portion of the Bible was Philippians 4:6-7. Readers of e-Bibles underlined that passage more often than any other in Scripture.

When we look around at our anxious world and our fretful lives, we can understand why people are drawn to the promises of Philippians 4. But notice the context of the passage. The Lord tells us here to rejoice in Him (verse 4); to be gentle in our dealings with others (verse 5a); to remember how near He is to us (verse 5b); to pray earnestly about our concerns (verse 6a); to count our blessings with thankfulness (verse 6b); and to focus our minds on what is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, and praiseworthy (verse 8).

What a wonderful description of the life of faith! When we trust the Lord like this, we don’t have to fret about the small details of life. We can rely on God with issues both big and small.

Worry is a cycle of inefficient thoughts whirling around a center of fear. —Corrie ten Boom

Read-Thru-the-Bible: Judges 1-3

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Happy Blogiversary!

Happy-2-Year-Blogiversary…..
Yup, it was two years ago today that I started this blogging journey. Thank you to all who have stuck with me whether I’ve been here or not. You guys rock!

Two years doesn’t sound like much but I have struggled off and on a lot in these short two years, especially lately. I know I’ve been MIA for too long but I think I’m back … at least part time. As I wrote a close friend the other day, I’m not going to set myself up for a disappointment by planning something I may not be able to complete.

Life for me this summer has been, um, unmanageable at best. During my worst times, I felt like my head was going to blow apart. Most people love summer and everything associated with warm/hot weather. Not me. As June approaches, I get this feeling of dread because I know the combination of hot temperatures, the constant fluctuation of barometric pressure due to our summer monsoon storm systems, and the high-pitched screaming of the cicadas will serve to drive me bananas.

[Side note: I know people who love the “song” of the cicadas, and if that’s you, please forgive me for dissing them. One of my fibromyalgia symptoms is extreme sensitivity to lots of things including bright lights, certain chemicals and odors, tastes, medicines, and yes, high-pitched sounds. Although we don’t have trees around our home, we are surrounded by trees that are home to a certain breed of cicada that appears in mid-summer and don’t leave until sometime in October. There are literally thousands—if not millions—of these creatures in the trees around us, and the extremely high-pitched noise they make starts at around 7:30 am and doesn’t stop until 7:30 pm when it is dark out. I can’t even enjoy my patio without having to wear foam earplugs, which keep out most of the high-pitched noise created by the cicadas while still enabling me to be able to hear and carry on a conversation with my hubby or whoever happens to be sitting out there with me.]

The other day I finally snapped, and I’m not proud of it but to keep things real here, I want to share some of that with you. I’m sure you know people who “suffer in silence”—I guess I’m not very good at that. Oh, I’ll go along for awhile without telling anyone how awful I’m feeling, but toward the end of summer, that gets thrown out the window. Last week, I started stomping around here grumbling out loud about how unfair all this is. Why is it that on top of daily unrelenting migraines do I have to be surrounded by trees that house those awful creatures whose extremely high-pitched cacophony causes me to run for my foam ear plugs? And I’m talking about hearing them even though our windows are all shut!

On that particular day, I grumbled to myself, to my hubby, to God. And of course, every single small thing irritated me, in addition to my pounding head. I kept dropping things and had trouble concentrating, and finally I yelled to my sweet hubby, “This is what my life is like now! I can’t do anything right and those stupid insects are driving me bats!”

God bless my calm, ever-loving hubby’s heart. He listened to my ranting and then calmly changed the subject. Gotta love a man who knows when not to try to fix things!

Oh, but God was working in my heart all that day, and had been for several weeks. I know He patiently listened to all my grumbling and complaining but kept trying to show me how blessed my life is—no matter what I’m going through. The same night I had seemingly reached my limit, this question came to my mind: Why are you kicking against the goads?

Huh? Where had that come from? I recalled reading that in the Bible a few times over the years but couldn’t place exactly where. The next morning I immediately looked it up and found it in chapter 26 of the book of Acts, where Paul is explaining his story to King Agrippa. This is only a small portion of that story (verses 12-15) [emphasis mine]:

12  “On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. 13 About noon, King Agrippa, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. 14 We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’

15 “Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’

“ ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied.

According to my Bible commentary, an oxgoad was a sharp stick used to prod cattle. “It is hard for you to kick against the goads” (oxgoads) means, “You are only hurting yourself.”

Wow, did that ever resonate with me! All my grumbling, complaining and whining was doing nothing but hurting me! And more importantly, it was beginning to hurt my relationship with my Savior because the more I complained, the more I was moving away from Him rather than toward Him.

Beloved, have you ever found yourself in such a situation? I was crushed that I had allowed myself to wallow in my misery for so long and immediately asked God to forgive my complaining and whining. And here’s the clincher: not only did He forgive me, but He forgot right away and we’ve moved to a whole new level in our relationship! If this is hard for you to believe, read this:

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Psalm 130

Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.

If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve you.

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.

Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.
He himself will redeem Israel
from all their sins.

Oh, how thankful I am for God’s unfailing love and forgiveness! How about you, Beloved?

AnnaSmile…..

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The Good Old Days

In keeping with my 2013 enough theme, today’s post is taken from The God of All Comfort: Devotional of hope for those who chronically suffer, by my friend, Judy Gann. This book was published in 2005 and I believe this particular devotional will shed more light on my journey with chronic pain illnesses.

Judy and I met in 2003 at the annual Christian Writers’ Conference in Mt. Hermon, which is outside Santa Cruz, California. We got to know each other a bit as we shared our personal and writing stories. Later on, she asked me if she could use some of my story in a book of devotions she was writing, and I said yes.

Side note: the following devotional refers to Rick’s and my wedding taking place in a sanctuary, but we were actually married in the beautiful home of my close friends, Donna and Dub Baker. Here is a photo from that special evening. Those are my children, Alan and Kathy, with us in the photo.

Wedding photo w-Kathy&Alan

The God of All Comfort is a wonderful book filled with devotions describing people who live with chronic illness with comfort and joy because of their faith, hope and trust in Jesus Christ.

Please visit Judy’s site to read more about her and her writing projects.

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The Good Old Days

For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. —Philippians 4:11-12

Rick and Anna stood at the altar, surrounded by family and friends. As they exchanged marriage vows, their future seemed as bright as the candlelight illuminating the sanctuary.

Two years later, the onset of Anna’s troubling physical symptoms cast a shadow over their plans. Assaulted by muscular pain, most days, Anna’s energy reserves wavered between low and empty. Although the diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia gave a name to her symptoms, Anna’s fragile health encroached on the life she and Rick had envisioned.

Soon, Anna yearned for the “good old days.” She craved the limitless energy she’d enjoyed only a few years earlier. Anna’s mind churned. I wish Rick had known the younger, healthier Anna.

The apostle Paul was familiar with the “good old days” syndrome. Surely in the midst of beatings, shipwrecks, hunger, thirst, and imprisonment, Paul indulged in moments of discontent. Contentment wasn’t an automatic response for Paul—something he could muster up for himself.

Good-Old-Days

In Philippians 4:11, Paul stated that he “learned to be content” through the experiences God allows in his life. Bombarded with difficulties, he realized that circumstances do not define contentment. Paul’s secret for true contentment of the heart was found in his relationship with Christ. In Christ, Paul found the strength to accept and meet the challenges of each situation. Regardless of the circumstances, for Paul, Christ was enough.

The Lord taught Anna lessons in contentment, too. The words of her favorite Scripture verse, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart” (Proverbs 3:5-6), gave Anna the courage to embrace the reality of her “now.” As she trusted in the Lord, she gained a new appreciation for all she and Rick possessed in Christ. A thankful heart and trust in the Lord’s sufficiency replaced dwelling on her life before the illness.

Unfilled longings are scattered across this imperfect, earthly life. Living with illness is a harsh reality. But as we find out sufficiency in Christ and not in our circumstances, we will experience true contentment. Contentment far richer than we had in the “good old days.”

Lord, thank you that you are sufficient for every need. Sick or well, may I, like Paul, find contentment in you.

1Tim-6-6

“Godliness with contentment is great gain.” –1 Timothy 6:6


[From The God of All Comfort. Copyright © 2005 Living Ink Books, an imprint of AMG Publishers]

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