Contentment

Professionals are called experts for a reason. They know what they’re talking about. They’ve experienced failure and success, making them knowledgeable in their field. However, information quickly changes, making it irrelevant. But the ancient information found in the Bible is still relevant to us today. For instance, one of my favorite adages from the Old Testament is Ahab’s reply to Ben-hadad in 879 B.C.

And the king of Israel answered and said, Tell him, Let not him that girdeth on his harness boast himself as he that putteth it off (1 Kings 20:11).

Smiling.

Though Ahab wasn’t exactly a role model, I like to keep that scripture in mind when starting a new project because it keeps me on my toes!

Biblical truths never become obsolete. So when I feel the thorns of discontentment, I turn to the epistles. Paul is at the top of my list for expert advice on staying balanced amid troubles and trials.

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

Was Paul an expert, or was he a fly-by-night charlatan selling unconfirmed data? It’s easy to boast in things we know nothing about. Ben-hadad did. Of course, it’s a whole different matter when you’ve been initiated by experience. Let’s look at the word contented.

Contented: feeling or showing satisfaction with one’s possessions, status, or situation

Merriam-Webster

In Second Corinthians, we read Paul was beaten with rods three times, stoned once, shipwrecked multiple times, and spent a day and night stranded in the sea. He suffered hunger, thirst, nudity, and cold. He was familiar with pain and fatigue. If anyone had the right to feel discontented with his situation, Paul did. But he didn’t complain. Instead, he told the Philippians that he’d learned contentment no matter his circumstances.

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

I’m sure Paul would rather have been on the mission field than stuck in a Roman prison. But his mind and heart were content because he knew God’s grace was sufficient for his needs. He trusted God’s strength to carry him through it all.

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 4:12-13).

Experience taught Paul contentment with God’s provision in the best of times and in the worst of times. He learned the dangers of judging his circumstances through his emotions and vision. Instead, he chose to think on “whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report …” 

I’ve never been beaten with Roman rods, stoned, shipwrecked, or stranded in the sea. Thank God! I am well acquainted with pain, weakness, and fatigue, however. I would prefer to be healthy, doing what I want to do. That sounds a little like self-will, but I mean it in the best way.

Unfortunately, I can’t fix me. I’m learning to focus more and more on Jesus and not on my issues. I’m also learning the difference between contentment with my circumstances and contentment due to God’s provision within my circumstances. We will never find contentment in difficult situations, but we can always find pleasure in God’s provision to see us through. Easy? You and I both know the answer to that question.

Contentment requires learning self-control by not allowing our thoughts to dwell on our circumstances but on things above. It also requires power. Therefore, we must draw our daily supply from God through Christ Jesus. Let us draw near to the Lord with thanksgiving, prayers, and supplications. In His strength, we will find contentment.

In His strength, I find contentment. #devotional #hope @GailJohnson87

Are you learning contentment? Want to learn more? Check out Paul’s letter to the Philippians.

Growing In the Hard Places

Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:7 KJV)

Butterfly couple

I have lantana growing next to the deck surrounding my pool. Last month, I noticed a branch straining against the lattice.

Lantana

Later, that same branch pushed its way through the opening in the lattice to enter the darkened world beneath the deck.

lantana 2

It remained hidden until last week when it popped its head up between the decking and the new multi-colored blooms burst forth in the sunlight.

Although it is now in the scorching heat of the last days of summer, I’m not worried about it. The roots run deep beneath a patch of shaded wet earth that shields it from drought. As you can see, it’s flourishing. I should cut it so I can paint/stain the deck, but I won’t because I know how hard it worked to reach the sunlight.

Sometimes we have to change positions to get where we’re going. We may have to stretch or even shrink to fulfill God’s purpose for our lives.

Either way, growth isn’t easy. To grow, we must choose. Do I stay in my comfort zone where I am secure, or do I brave the unknown and seek the treasure God has in store for me?

Perhaps you’re squashed against a boundary with nowhere to turn.  Maybe you’re facing dark nights of uncertainty with the hounds of hopelessness nipping at your heels. Perchance you’re reaching as far as you can reach in prayer, but still, you can’t feel the touch of the Master’s hand. Take courage, dear one.

You are stronger than you think for your strength comes from our Lord Jesus Christ. His power gives us the ability to endure everything.

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 4:11-13 KJV)

I do not believe that we can learn contentment without experiencing growing pains. Therefore, I have to believe that we can grow in the hard places if our roots are clinging to the Rock of Ages. He is our Bread and Water supply.

So I encourage you, dear reader, keep reaching heavenward. Soon, the darkened valley will give way to an expanse suffused with sunlight. Then, the Lord will unveil your beautiful colors for His glory alone.

Click to Tweet: Sometimes we have to change positions to get where we’re going. We may have to stretch, or even shrink, to fulfill God’s purpose for our lives.

Thank you for visiting and reading. You are appreciated more than you know. 🙂

 

 

Light, Salvation, and Strength

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1

During the past month, I’ve received prayer requests from family and friends. I’ve also read several prayer requests on social media. It seems we’re all experiencing one thing or another. This morning I wanted to take some time to encourage you. As I pondered on how to do that, my thoughts kept drifting to David’s words in Psalm 27.

Lighthouse matthaeus unsplash

Photo by matthaeus on Unsplash

When I read this scripture, I felt as if the Lord had spread a table before me. I love to feast on the Word. Don’t you? I hope the scriptures below are as sweet to you as they were to me.

In Strong’s Dictionary, we find several words for light, salvation, and strength.

Light

Words for light are illumination, luminary, and light

Illumination

For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light. Psalm 36:9

Salvation

He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved. Psalm 62:2

Words for salvation include the following:

Liberty

Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 2 Corinthians 3:17

Deliverance

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. Luke 4:18-19

Prosperity

But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. James 1:25

Strength

Words for strength include fortified place, fortress, force, rock, strength, and stronghold.

Strength

The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. Psalm 18:2

Rock

Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort: thou hast given commandment to save me; for thou art my rock and my fortress. Psalm 71:3

Fortress

I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Psalm 91:2

Stronghold

The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him. Nahum 1:7

Though our circumstances may seem dark, we are called children of the day because He has called us into His marvelous light (1 Corinthians 3:17). We are not children of the night or the darkness. Yes. We may experience dark nights or even seasons of darkness, but we need not fear. God will deliver us from every situation.

He is Light, Salvation, and Strength.

He is my Light, my Salvation, and my Strength!