November 28, 2003

Encouragement for Today

 

The Secret of Contentment

Mary Southerland

 

Key Verse: 

 

The LORD says, "I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.  Psalm 32:8 (NLT)

 

Devotion:

 

When my daughter, Danna, was a toddler she and her daddy had a favorite game.  Dan would place her in some high spot then stand back, hold up his arms saying, “Jump to Daddy!”  I hated this game but Danna loved it.  She would always jump into his arms, laughing and giggling!  But one day Dan put her in a spot that for some reason Danna thought was just a little too high.  She did what I do when I get scared.  She closed her eyes.  When her dad said, “Jump!” she said, “I can’t!  ‘Cause I can’t see you, Daddy!” Dan said, “It doesn’t matter, baby.  I can see you!”  With a smile on her scrunched up face my daughter bailed off into the strong arms of her Father, secure in the knowledge that he would catch her just as he always had. 

 

The apostle Paul understood and lived by the truth that God is constantly at work in and around us, monitoring every circumstance.  Paul writes in Philippians 4:10, “I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.”  There is a truth in this verse that is easy to miss - the truth that God is always at work around us. Paul’s circumstances did not show that God was working.  But Paul knew! He was secure in the belief that help was on the way so he stood firm and began watching for God to show up!

 

He examined every circumstance, understanding that it had already passed through His Father’s hands with His permission!  And God came through!  To find real security and contentment we must learn to search for the handprints of God in the every day circumstances of life.

 

Life is not a series of accidents but a series of divine appointments made by our heavenly Father, designed to prove that He loves us and orchestrated to illustrate His provision for us.  That interruption we complain about or that intrusion we resent may well be a window of opportunity sent by Him!  God is our provider.  The word “provider” comes from two Latin words, “pro” which means “before” and “video” which means, “to see”.  In other words God will take care of it beforehand. God caused the church at Philippi to become concerned about Paul’s needs and it came at the time when Paul needed their love the most!  He always comes when we need Him the most! It is a picture of the Good Shepherd meeting every need of every sheep. 

 

John 10:4 After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they recognize his voice.  (NLT)

 

The Shepherd is always ahead of his sheep - out in front which means that any attack upon the sheep has to take him into account first.  What peace and security we can have knowing that God has gone before us through every valley, across each mountain of life. He knows what tomorrow holds and will give us everything we need to face it.  When we begin to understand and walk in the truth that God monitors every circumstance, we will also understand and walk in contentment.

 

You may find yourself in a frightening place filled with darkness and doubt.  Your fragile heart may be wondering if God knows where you are. Let me assure you my friend - He does.  Even if you cannot see Him He can see you.  And when it comes right down to it, I really prefer that God be able to see me rather than insisting that I be able to see Him!  We think that because we cannot see the hand of God or sense His presence, it means that He is not working.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  God is always at work in our lives. Now that is real security and the cornerstone of a life of contentment.

 

My Prayer for Today: 

 

Father, I confess that when the darkness comes and doubt invades, I sometimes complain that I don’t understand and cannot see Your hand at work.  Forgive me, Lord, for my demanding and faithless attitude.  Forgive me for not trusting You and help me, by the power of Your Spirit, to trust You completely.  Amen.

 

Application Steps:

 

By faith, accept the truth that God is always at work in your life and thank Him for His steadfast provision.  Look back over the last few days, weeks and months of your life.  Now praise Him for the things He has done.

 

Reflection Points:

 

Identify the people or things that you tend to think of and rely upon as sources of security and contentment in your life.

 

Take some time to record past circumstances in which you could not sense the presence of God but can now see how He met a need, opened a door, prepared you for a trial or guided you down the right path.

 

What situation is present in your life today that gives you the opportunity to trust God completely?

 

Read Proverbs 3:5-6.  What are the steps listed in this passage that – when taken – will produce contentment?

 

What hedges of protection can you put in place today that will prepare you to face tomorrow with security and contentment?

 

 

Power Verses:

 

Deuteronomy 32:4 He is like a rock; what he does is perfect, and he is always fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong, who is right and fair.  (NCV)

 

Proverbs 3:26 For the LORD is your security. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap.  (NLT)

 

Proverbs 19:23 Fear of the LORD gives life, security, and protection from harm.  (NLT)

 

Jeremiah 33:6 Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.  (NIV)

 

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ, because He gives me strength.  (NCV)

 

Additional Resources:

 

At Home with God by Sharon Jaynes

http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/athome.html


How to Have Healthy Relationships by Mary Southerland

http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/healthyset.html


Unleashing the Power of God in My Life
by Mary Southerland

http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/powerset.html