odds n' ends

my strength

Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want – but the realization of how much you already have. Apostle Paul put it this way:

I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content….I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:11, 13

Have you ever been in a difficult season over which you had NO control? How much did you rely on yourself? I’ve been there. Paul has too. But, as hard as those seasons were, there were valuable lessons in them. Learning, as the children of Israel did, to humble oneself and rely on the Lord God Almighty isn’t easy in our world today. We’re taught, early and often, to rely on ‘number one’ and trust me when I say, that is so not God’s plan. And..and, that is not God’s best for you.

And you shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments, or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know; that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but that man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.

Deuteronomy 8:2-3

There is research out there on what brings contentment: “if people strive for a certain level of affluence thinking that will make them happy, they find that on reaching the goal, they very quickly become habituated, and at that point begin striving for the next level of income, property, or good health.” Conclusion? Getting more stuff won’t make you happy. In our modern world, happiness, it seems, is always just a little beyond our reach.

Paul figured that out during his travels spreading the Gospel. While he was a prisoner of Rome, writing to his church planted in Philippi, he talked about joy, rejoicing, happiness and contentment. Read his little scroll for yourself. As you do, highlight the word he uses over and over: mind.

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any incentive of love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.  Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,  but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.   Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:1-12

My point then? The secret of contentment, the strength if you will, is found in the way I’m thinking. It is never in the way I feel, because my emotions are up and down, and all over the place during one of “those” seasons. If I base contentment on my feelings, I’m basing it on what I’m thinking!

“The good life begins not when circumstances change, but when our attitude towards them does.”

Max Lucado

In His letters, Paul wrote about pleasure and pain, health and illness, strength and weakness. He was loved by some and hated by others. But he learned, as I have, Contentment does not come from conquering the circumstance. Instead it comes from learning to praise God IN them.

My prayer for you today is that you will think of yourself IN Christ; forgiven, loved, and set free from the things that make you unhappy, fearful, and discontented. There you will find His strength.

No more looking back. Give yourself and all you have ever met a fresh start. Forget their sins and failures and your own. Remember no prayer goes unanswered. You will see lives you never touched altered, laws made, evils banished. God longs to use you. Your ability to help others will bring its own delight. Consciousness of Jesus opens your whole nature to Him and that brings relief. Relief brings peace. Peace brings joy. Have no fear of the future. Be quiet, be still, and in that stillness comes strength. The Lord will never leave you. There is no bond on earth that compares to the union between a soul that loves Jesus and His Holy Spirit.  Seek diligently for something to be glad and thankful about in every happening and soon no search will be required.

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