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Contentment

Philippians 4:11 -“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”

Last night while driving to soccer practice, I witnessed a man driving a minivan like a sports car on a raceway. Thankfully, I don’t think there was anyone else in the car but him. However, it reminded me of this – be content.

Contentment is something unfamiliar to us in our society of want. Ask anyone, I’m sure they have a want list. I know I do. We look around us and see things that we want or think that we need. And we typically won’t be (temporarily) satisfied until we get it. 

Contentment is being satisfied with what is around you and being satisfied in the circumstances you find yourself in. Contentment is NOT laziness. Contentment is not always wanting more. Contentment is the absence of restlessness. 

So, if you are content, does that mean that you shouldn’t want to improve your life or make things better around you? I don’t believe so. But there is a difference in making your situation better and wanting things that other people have – that is coveting. For example, we have decided to do some work around the house to get rid of the weeds growing too close to our home. The neighbors all have bushes around their house to keep the weeds away. We thought about getting bushes but decided that with the sprinklers running so close to the house that installing bushes would be too much of a hassle. So we are going another direction. For me, this is an example of being content with changing the improvements. Coveting would be desiring those bushes around my house just so we can be like everyone else. Like I have said before, it is all about your attitude.

Contentment is hugely impacted by your attitude. That is why it is so important for Christ to have control of your attitude. Jesus keeps your thoughts and actions regulated so that you don’t feel the need to drive that minivan like a sports car. Jesus reminds you that it is okay that this person in front of you is driving just a bit slower than you want. That person will get out of the way in just a bit. Hold your horses. Jesus reminds you that you don’t really need those bushes around the house. You are allowed to be different. You don’t always have to fit into the mold the world has made. 

Contentment is being okay with being different. It is being okay with having a different viewpoint. It is allowing God to mellow you out to the point that people say, “Hmm, this person is different. What is it about them?” Contentment is an oddity in our world, and that is a good thing. 

So on this long weekend, be content. Don’t be lazy, be content. Be satisfied where God has placed you and what He has placed you with. Be different. Be weird, according to the world’s standard – but be God’s. Happy Friday.

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The Rock

Psalm 18:30-31 – “As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him. For who is God save the LORD? or who is a rock save our God?”

The Teen Discovery lesson tonight is about Jesus being our Rock. So, I have had various songs about Christ being our Rock in my head for a couple of days. 

Rocks. They are hard. Some are seemingly unmovable. They seem to last forever. They are useful for support. They provide a path in various places. They sometimes get in your shoe and cause terrible pain. They have been the main ingredient in many of my pea soups as a child playing outside. Some have claimed them as pets. Some throw them at others out of anger or punishment. 

Lots and lots of uses for rocks. 

But this Rock that is spoken of in this psalm is none of those things. This Rock is The Rock. This Rock is unmovable. This Rock is life giving. This Rock provides comfort and shelter. This Rock is perfection. This Rock is trustworthy. 

And though many rocks may cross our field of vision or make its way into our humble hands, no rock can possibly measure up to The Rock. 

Although rocks may not be your first choice in a source of comfort or the first thought you have when you think about life giving qualities, run to The Rock. Let Him be the source of all you need and want. 

A New Look

Philippians 4:11-13 – “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

Philippians 4:13 is one of my most favorite verses in the Bible. I have found comfort in it when the tough times are upon me. I have looked to it when I am stressed and confused. 

But the other day, I was reading it for my devotional reading and suddenly it took on a whole new meaning. I actually stopped and read the verses before it. And when I did, I was taken aback. 

Paul is speaking here about contentment – being satisfied no matter what situation or time you find yourself in. Be satisfied. Be content. 

And Paul doesn’t ask us to do this alone. He knows that he can’t. He needs Jesus to be able to make it through contentment. 

Contentment is somewhat a mystery to our culture of constantly wanting more. We are urged from a young age to work harder, do more, be the best you can be. And that’s all well and good, until it becomes an obsession and we allow ourselves to make our “wanting to be more” take over everything. And believe me, it can happen. 

So what is contentment? Here is the good,old Webster’s 1828 definition- “Content; a resting or satisfaction of mind without disquiet; acquiescence.” Dictionary.com describes it this way “the state of being contented; satisfaction; ease of mind.”  See the common word here – “satisfaction”.

But here’s the reminder – you can’t be satisfied without Jesus. What does Philippians 4:13 say? “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”  Doesn’t say “if Melissa tries real hard, she can do all things, including being content.” Nope, it says I need the strength of Jesus Christ to accomplish ALL things, including contentment. 

We sometimes think that contentment is a state of mind or just an attitude adjustment. But the more I think on it, it seems like a job because it takes work. You can’t just get up one day and say, “well, I’m gonna be content today.” Nope. You gotta work at it every moment of every day – hence the reason we need the strength of Christ to get it done. 

So, it’s Thanksgiving week and “Black Friday” is quickly approaching. One day for being thankful for what we have and the other to be greedy and demanding what we probably don’t need. A bit of a contradiction if you ask me. 

Are you going to work at contentment this week? Are you going to make it your goal to be satisfied this week? 

I’m going to try. Now watch, the devil is going to have it out for me. I’m going to need the full armor of God to make it through. But know what? I won’t be doing it on my own. I will have the strength of Jesus in my corner. Thank the Lord Almighty!

Breathe

Matthew 11:28-30 – “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Have you heard the song by Jonny Diaz called, “Breathe”? Lately, that song has been the story of my life. It is about stopping and resting in the chaos of life. It is about listening for that still,small voice to talk you off the ledge. It’s about remembering what life is really all about. 

I know I write about this often, but I feel that it is an area that we all need improvement in. Every one of us is busy. I visit elderly people in their homes for therapy and they tell me they are too busy for therapy or to do their exercises. It takes all I am not to look at them bug-eyed and say, “What? You can’t take time out of watching television to do your exercises so that you don’t have to go to the hospital?”

And sometimes we are the same way. We perceive ourself as busy when really we are just busy being lazy. 

But any way…

Jesus didn’t leave us here after we are saved to cause us chaos and trouble. He left us here to serve Him and worship Him in spirit and in truth and to joyfully share His love with others. You can’t properly do that stuff when you are running around like a chicken with your head cut off. 

Sometimes you need to stop and breathe. You (and I) need to be at peace for a bit and remember why we are here. It isn’t for the chaos. It isn’t for the busyness of life. It is to love, worship and serve the Creator of Heaven and the Master of our soul – Jesus Christ. 

So let me encourage you today to breathe. Breathe in. Breathe out. Close your eyes, thank Him and remember why you are really here. 

What’s holding you back?

Matthew 19:16-22 – “And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.”

Every person has something holding them back from serving God the way He wants us to. It might be pride or finances or fear or lack of motivation, but something is holding us back. 

For the fella in this passage, it was money. The guy kept all the commandments. He knew what God has said in the Old Testament and he executed the commands faithfully. But Jesus looked into his heart and saw what was holding him back – his love of his possessions. He liked his life. He enjoyed being comfortable. He was hungry; he got some food. His sandals were beginning to show wear; he bought more. His bed was comfortable; life was good. Jesus knew he was a “good guy” by the world’s standards. Jesus also knew that in order for him to serve Him, he needed to give up the comfort and convenience his life afforded him. 

This hits a raw spot with me. I’m comfortable. I like my life. But what is holding me back? What is keeping me from going next door and inviting my neighbors to church with me on Sunday? What’s keeping me from telling the person behind me at the store about what Jesus has done in my life? For me, I think it is fear of rejection. I want people to like me. I get torn up when I think someone is mad at me. And with that fear, it keeps me from reaching out like I should. I gotta work on that – through prayer. 

What’s holding you back?

It’s a question we all need to ask ourself. It is an area that needs to be sought out and addressed. 

We have revival at our church coming up soon. Our pastor has been challenging is for weeks to get revival going before it even starts. Well, here’s my contribution to the flame – What’s holding you back?

My challenge to you this weekend is to think about this. Think about what is holding you back. Start praying about it. Let God show you what the problem is and let Him fix it. 

We all need revival. Our country needs revival. Our family needs revival. Our communities need revival. Revival is a return to life. Revival is a renewed or more active attention to Him. Revival – What’s holding you back?

Like everyone elseĀ 

 1 Samuel 12:20-22,24 – “And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart; And turn ye not aside: for then should ye go after vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain. For the LORD will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it hath pleased the LORD to make you his people. Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you. But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king.”

A lot of verses, I know – sorry. But I felt like they were needed. 

The people of Israel had been begging for a king. They wanted to be like everyone else. They wanted a ruler they could see and touch. God had been their king but to those around them, it was weird. And they didn’t want to be weird. They wanted to be like everyone else. 

Sound familiar? Aren’t we, even as adults, the same way from time to time? We want to have similar stuff as they people around us. We want to look like the person on the magazine or in the movies. We want to know the latest trend in whatever we are interested in so that we can pursue it. We are just like the children of Israel except thousands of years in the future. 

God gave them what they wanted. However, it wasn’t without warning. He gave them all the negatives of what they were asking and they still wanted what everyone had – a king. In this passage, Samuel has just pointed out to the children of Israel, again, that this request was a sin. And they were mournful of their decision. But Samuel reminded them that was is done, is done. Now, you have to put on your big boy pants, suck it up and do what God has told you to do – follow Him and worship and serve Him only. Of course, this is me paraphrasing big time! 

But nonetheless, when we mess up and God gives us what we ask for and we finally see the error of our ways…well, what else is left to do but deal with the consequences and change our choices in the future based on what we have learned today. That’s what God is telling them to do here. You can’t change the past but you can make better choices in the future. 

And like any caught child, the people are ready to follow God wholeheartedly. They are ready to follow God and king into the future. Unfortunately, some kings will lead the people astray. But there will be others to bring them back. God always provides a way back – sometimes we just have to look for it. 

So today, remember that you don’t have to be like everyone else. God has given you exactly what you need for this moment. But if you do get what you ask for and you find that it wasn’t exactly what you expected, learn your lesson and move on by following after what God was leading you to in the first place. Choose Him over what you think you want. It may be a hard choice but it is right path to follow. 

My Time

Ephesians 5:15,16 – “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

Hello. My name is Melissa and I waste time…sometimes.

I think we are all guilty of wasting time. There are things that need to be done, things that should be done, but I just can’t muster the strength or the desire to get them done.

But here, we are warned to not let time go to waste. “Circumspectly” means “cautiously; vigilantly; heedfully; with watchfulness to guard against danger.” Most days, I don’t incorporate any of those actions into my day. I just go along my merry way doing what I think that I need to do and sometimes getting it done.

One of the many specific definitions of “redeeming” is “to save”. We are “to save” our time. We need to rescue it. Something or someone is trying to take it away – evil, sin, the devil, that is who or what is stealing our time.

What are we supposed to redeem it to? What should I be doing with my extra time? Theoretically, I should be doing something to advance the cause of Christ. Ideally, that is what I would be doing with all my redeemed time.

But you know what? Sometimes, I find that staying out of trouble is enough. Sometimes my redeemed time is used to relax and keep my heart and mind from the sin of complaining and being mean spirited. On days where I am stressed to the utmost, I treasure wasting time. I need that. And I am learning to be grateful for the unexpected opportunities to waste time.

I am also learning to appreciate how God can work in my life to provide the time that I need to get accomplished all that He wants me to do. Sometimes I stop and review my day thus far and think, “How did I get all of that done? Thank you God for giving me the stamina and the desire to get it all done!”

So, let me encourage you today to waste time but don’t waste time. Don’t let your time be used in activities that don’t honor and glorify God. Redeem it for His use – even if that use is relaxing. God knows that we all need that sometimes.