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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Maple in Mastersonville, PA
This beautiful maple is outside our church in Mastersonville, PA.

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"The Tyranny of Discontent"

"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.' So we say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?'" (Hebrews 13:5,6).

This last weekend we had a chaplain's conference near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Since we had meetings in eastern Lancaster County on Friday afternoon we drove on early that evening and spent the night near the site of our conference. The hotel was located just down the road from the huge King of Prussia Mall that claims to be the largest mall in America. It has seven large department stores and scores of smaller shops and restaurants. It is known as an upscale mall and many of the shops were unfamiliar to us. I have periodically passed it along the Pennsylvania Turnpike and after we checked in we decided to go over and walk through it. We'd eaten a large meal at the Shady Maple and needed to walk it off!

Malls are an interesting place to take a long walk but not nearly as nice as the country setting we are accustomed to.  The country scenes remind you of the beauty that is yours to behold – you can't buy it, you don't own it and yet it's yours to enjoy day after day without having to maintain it or pour money into it.  In contrast, browsing in the storefronts of the mall often brings about a desire to want more or a discontent for that which you already have. That is their goal, after all, or most stores would cease to exist.  

The writer of Proverbs shares a timeless prayer concerning this matter: "Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, 'Who is the LORD?' Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God" (Proverbs 30:8,9).

Crown Financial Ministries defines contentment this way:  "If money can't buy contentment and poverty doesn't provide it, what is contentment and how is it attained? Contentment, contrary to popular opinion, does not mean being satisfied where you are.  Rather, it is knowing God's plan for your life [and] having a conviction to live it…"

In yesterday's message we dealt with the preceding verse that warns of God's judgment on the adulterer and sexually immoral.  Is the Hebrews writer connecting the dots and seeing an association between lusting for that which is not properly yours – whether it be a person or money? When you're discontent with the restraints of your marital vows or your daily allowance it can lead to wrong attitudes and sinful behavior.  It's interesting that immorality and greed are often listed together in the New Testament (See I Corinthians  5:11; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5.)  Love for money will cause us to have the wrong priorities, develop the wrong kind of relationships, and hinder the generous spirit of giving that God wants each of us to have.

Contentedness is based on two foundational promises:

1) The first basic foundation of contentedness is the realization that God's presence in our lives is sufficient to meet every need.  "God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you'."  Note that the verse begins "God has said."  These are words of assurance given to Joshua in Joshua 1:5. Since God does not change these same words were applicable to the Hebrew believers some 1,500 years later and now to all who belong to Christ some 2,000 years after Hebrews was written!  Money and possessions will eventually forsake us, but God will never forsake us.  What a blessed truth to sink your teeth into!

2) The second basic foundation of contentedness is the realization that God's power is sufficient to overcome all opposition.  "So we say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?'" This also is a quote from Psalm 118:6,7.

If we really understand these promises we will experience ongoing blessed contentedness.  May the Lord help us all to do so today and all through this brief life, which will help us to overcome the tyranny of discontent!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, so many of us live in a state of discontent when we find ourselves loving things and using people.  It distorts our priorities and gives us temporary thrills with things, but leaves us with long-term dissatisfaction in ourselves and our relationships. Help us to enjoy material things but to place a higher value on greater pursuits such as growing friendships, solid marriage relations, growing godly character, giving without receiving and other worthy goals. We will be content as we rejoice in the fact that whether we are in want or whether we have plenty You have promised that You will never leave us nor forsake us.  What a treasured promise for the believer in times of need and in times of prosperity. We are content when we realize our all-sufficiency is in You, Lord. You will meet all our needs according to Your riches in glory. Amen.

* Important Note: I am aware as I write this message that our country and world are going through economic hard times. Surely many of our readers have been affected. I consider a cyber friend in Florida who had to close his business and several we know who have lost their jobs. However this message can also be an encouragement to you and I also contend that at this point anyway, even in the midst of the recession, that most continue to live at a higher lifestyle than most all who came before us.

This last April we shared two messages related to today's topic.
"The Tyranny Of The New (Part 1)"
"The Tyranny Of The New (Part 2)"

We would like to share some more photos
from our weekend trip to Valley Forge, PA.

Valley Forge, PA
This photo was taken as we drove through the
Valley Forge National Historical Park.

Rapp's Covered Bridge, Chester County, PA
We crossed Rapp's Covered Bridge over French Creek in Chester County, PA. It was built in 1866.
More info.

Saint Peters, Chester County, PA
The village of Saint Peter's, PA.
Spanning 155 years of mining and quarrying activity, the village historic district is a singular example of company-provided housing within walking distance to the place of employment.
More info.

Brown Amish buggy, Chester County, PA
We saw this brown buggy parked in the carriage shed at a Walmart near Morgantown, PA. This was interesting to me since the color of the buggy is a significant identifying feature to the Amish. I was unaware that there was a group in this area who used this color, which is used in some settlements in central and western PA.
Here's an interesting blog I came across dealing with distinctives among the various Amish groups.

Don McNeilToday's message is a bit later getting out due to a guest we had for lunch. Don McNeil played football for Alabama and the Miami Dolphins and was in two superbowls. In fact he was involved in a play that has some history in Super Bowl 17.  His missed tackle led to the winning touchdown for the opposing team!  He was able to tell this story as an illustration of overcoming. Don has a vibrant testimony for Christ and faithfully serves in his home church in Miami. Here's a video of his missed tackle, which he tells me runs every year in Superbowl highlight films!  He chuckled as he said, "And the ending always comes out the same."

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

Click on the link to open and play.

(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

"The Lord Is My Helper"
 Audio  Today's text from Hebrews 13:5,6 is set to music from the Integrity Scripture memory series. Open here and click on the "Queue" button. This entire album has a selection of songs appropriate for today. To listen click here and use the "Play all" button. I especially like this one from Psalm 103:2-5.

"Godliness With Contentment"  Audio  This song was written and sung by our friend Mike Book and is based on 1 Timothy 6:6.

"The Power Of Enough" I have appreciated Lynn Miller's perspective on today's topic and a book of his by this title. Here's a brief article by Clarence E. Rempel
that seems to draw from the book.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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