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Monday, November 28, 2011
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"Learning The Secret Of Being Content"
"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 4:12).
Today is Cyber Monday, a newer marketing term used since the early days of internet-based shopping to connote the special deals available to online shopping the Monday following Thanksgiving. Of course the day after Thanksgiving is referred to as Black Friday, a day known for mobbed stores. Stories abound of the bizarre demonstration of greed that takes place every year on this date. This year we heard, among other sordid stories, of a mother, whose children were with her, pepper spraying other shoppers in order to get a cheap game.*
These two days mark the "official" start of the Christmas shopping season, at least here in the USA. However both of these days also highlight an ancient problem the human race has dealt with since the time of creation; "Greed". Greed can impact us regardless of how wealthy or poor we consider ourselves to be. The Lord Jesus Himself warns, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed" (Luke 12:15).
This week we will share a series titled "A Prescription for Contentedness". Contentment certainly can’t be found among the material gifts available this year, so you won’t hear a sales pitch on a television commercial nor will you read about how to purchase it in the newspaper. Nevertheless it is a treasure that will be of greater value than any wrapped gift you might find under your tree this year. The teaching of Scripture is always relevant on this topic and every other topic.
In today's text the apostle Paul states, "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty." What an interesting perspective and one which most of us share, though likely not in the same degree as Paul.
"I know what it is to be in need." Paul doesn't specify the degree of need here but elsewhere we read of his ministry experiences, "I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure" (2 Corinthians 11:27). Some of our readers may have experienced need to this extent but I suspect most of us have not. Quite honestly in my life so often being in need would mean not getting what I wanted and later this week we will have a study that asserts a key to contentment is properly distinguishing between needs and wants.
"I know what it is to have plenty." It's a little bit harder to find a reference to this in the Scriptural record but I consider a brief association that Paul had following a shipwreck with a man named Publius who had lands and was a leading man on the island of Malta. Publius entertained Paul and his traveling companions for three days. I believe it's reasonable to assume that Publius was a man of great wealth and for these several days Paul knew what it was like to have plenty. When they departed the island we read, "They also honored us with many marks of respect; and when we were setting sail, they supplied us with all we needed." (This account is in Acts 28.) Most if us know what's it's like to have plenty but the tendency to compare ourselves with those who have more may blind us to this!
Paul completes this verse by stating, "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." Fundamentally, the state of contentment is not based on what we have (or lack of it). Nor is it based on how much we have (or how little)!
Beginning tomorrow our study through the rest of the week will be an exposition of 1 Timothy 6:6-10 which lists four vital focuses we must have to experience contentment. I believe God wants us to take proper steps to develop and nurture godly contentment so that we will find true and lasting satisfaction, in times of plenty and in times of dearth.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily Prayer: Father, help us to prayerfully apply Your Scriptures so that we can learn to be content in any and every situation. A godly contentment will fill our hearts with peace in place of an anxious heart that keeps us in angst as we struggle to obtain the newest or latest gadget or comfort. Help us to fix our eyes on You, not others as we pursue holiness. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Today's text in the Amplified Version: "I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want."
Note: Due to work on our home a message was not prepared this last Friday.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
* Pepper spray incident referred to in message
"Godliness With Contentment Is Great Gain" Video A song based upon 1 Timothy 6:6 written and sung by our friend Mike Book. We find it so helpful when Scripture is set to music and in many cases this becomes the basis for memorization.
"My Faith Has Found A Resting Place" Video A stately version of a traditional hymn by Bobby Michaels. "It is enough that Jesus died and that He died for me!"
"I Need No Other Argument" Video A nice version of the above song by Todd Agnew.
"Learning The Secret Of Being Content" A brief video challenge
A highly recommended read:
Nearing Home: Life, Faith, and Finishing Well
By Billy Graham / Thomas Nelson
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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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