The Secret Every Baby Knows

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My Musings – To be content is to accept or to be satisfied with ones circumstances.  Perhaps the best image of contentment is that of an infant or small child in the arms of their mother.  No matter what else may be going on around them, they feel safe and secure – content.

Paul is writing from prison.  Death is imminent by execution.  One would think he had little to rejoice about, much less greatly.  To reassure the Philippians, who were concerned about him, Paul related to them that he (in jail and facing execution) had no needs.  He had, in fact, learned to be content whether in need or in plenty – whatever the circumstances.

Of course, whether we are in want or when we have plenty – each circumstance presents its own challenges to being content.  When we have, we have a tendency to want what we do not have, leaving us discontented.  When we have not, it seems only natural to be discontented.  Yet often those in need are more likely to be contented than those who want.

So what is this big “secret” that Paul had learned?  Do not focus on the circumstances (“in need” or “have plenty“), focus on the relationship (“through Him who gives me strength“).

My Advice – One might be tempted to think that Paul, being a giant in the faith, couldn’t possibly understand our circumstances.  Think again.  Better yet, read the following written by Paul.  “I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?”  (2 Corinthians 11:23–29, NIV 1984).

So, if he can, we can.  But not in our own strength, but in Him who give us the strength to be so.

Today’s musing was inspired by Pastor Kevin Rutledge’s sermon on November 24, 2019. Check it out at https://www.fbcsycamore.com/sermons. If you live in or are visiting the area, come and join us Sundays at 10:30 a.m. We’d love to be partners in the Gospel with you.

High Anxiety

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My Musings – Anxiety is an uncomfortable feeling of nervousness or worry about something that is happening or that might (or might not) happen.  Anxiety can rob us of happiness, because happiness is usually dependent on circumstances. When difficulties arise, happiness fades away.  But these difficulties need not rob us of joy, because joy often happens despite circumstances.  If that joy is in the Lord, we need not be anxious about anything.  In everything (all circumstances), we can petition God to drive out the anxiety and replace it with peace. When this happens, it surpasses understanding because having peace and joy in the midst of all kinds of adversity (in everything) is incomprehensible.

My Advice – When faced with oppressive anxiety, pray.  When faced with oppressive anxiety, rejoice (count your blessings) in the Lord.  When faced with anxiety, focus on “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8, NIV 1984).  Put this “into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:9, NIV 1984).

Today’s musing was inspired by Pastor Kevin Rutledge’s sermon on November 17, 2019. Check it out at https://www.fbcsycamore.com/sermons. If you live in or are visiting the area, come and join us Sundays at 10:30 a.m. We’d love to be partners in the Gospel with you.

 

 

Where Can I Go?

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My Musings – I see two possible reactions to this – Indescribable peace for those who are resting in Him and uncontrollable anxiety for those who are resisting Him.  We are either relieved by His ever-present watchfulness over us, or disquieted for our inability to escape His presence.  Comfort or conviction.  Nothing to fear or everything to fear.  Love or loathing.  There is no neutral ground of indifference.

My Advice – Seek peace, rest, relief, comfort and love.  Perfect love drives out fear.

The Pursuit of Happiness or Contentment?

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My Musings – Can one be Godly without being content?  Or, content (really content) without being Godly?  I cannot imagine the first, and find it hard to imagine the second.  Paul measured his contentment by being satisfied with the bare necessities of life, food and clothing.  Apparently he modeled his contentment after the Master (who owned no place to lay His head), as he did not even list a place to stay as a requirement.

Why would Paul be content with Godliness?  Food, clothing, possessions – we’ll leave this world with none of these.  Godliness, character, fruits of the Spirit – they’ll come along for the ride.  These are treasures to “lay up” for ourselves.  Treasures in “clay jars.

My Advice – What are you working for?  Will it bring contentment?  Or once you have it will you find yourself asking “is that all there is?”  Don’t become addicted to “things,” that only leave you craving your next “fix.”  Pursue the only way to Godliness with content – a relationship with Jesus Christ.

I Can Do It Myself?

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My Musings – Like most “sound bites” from the Scriptures it is important that this verse be read in context so we do not read into “do everything,” what was not intended.  Paul has just finished saying that he has learned the secret of being content whatever the circumstances (and boy has he been through plenty of circumstances), whether in need or in plenty.  What Paul is actually saying is that he has strength to face all these things, through Christ who provides the strength.  Elsewhere, Paul recounts being told by Christ that His grace is sufficient.

My Advice – This is not just a Paul thing.  God’s grace is sufficient for all of us no matter what the circumstances.  The problem is, we frequently do not draw the strength from Him, preferring to tackle things on our own.  Draw from His strength.  The “well” never runs dry.

What Are You Pursuing?

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My Musings – We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. – Preamble to the Declaration of Independence.

God gave us life and liberty (freedom to make our own choices).  The pursuit of happiness is a bit more problematic.  Man has a tendency to find (or think he can find) happiness in all the wrong places and with all the wrong things.  More often than not, these rob us of the very thing we are pursuing.  We would be better off pursuing joy (which is not dependent upon things or circumstances) rather than happiness (which usually is dependent upon things or circumstances).

Better yet, as the above verse states, we should pursue righteousness and love, which results in life, prosperity and honor.  We need to remember, however, that an abundant life is more about quality than quantity, lasting prosperity has little to do with an abundance of “things” (which moths and rust can destroy) and honor has more to do with our character than it does with how much fame an adulation we can achieve.  And how ironic it is, that when we get it backwards (we pursue long life, prosperity in things and honor absent humility), righteousness and love (and happiness) often eludes us.

My Advice – Let’s make sure what we pursue is not only worth the chase, but is also worth catching.

What Can Man Do?

Hebrews 13:5, 6 –  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?” (NIV 1978)

My Musings – We have because God has given it to us. We do not have, because God has not given it to us. Either way we can and should be content. Because God will never leave us or forsake us.

My Advice – Work hard to achieve and attain, but do not let it consume you. Be content with however God blesses you, whether with much or little.