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<< Encouragement for Today

Encouragement For Today - April 21, 2005

  • 2005 Apr 21
  • COMMENTS

 

4/21/05

Encouragement for Today

 

“Learning Contentment”

Glynnis Whitwer, Senior Editor P31 Woman, Proverbs 31 Ministries Speaker Team Member, editor@proverbs31.org

 

Key Verse:

 

Philippians 4:12. “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.” (NIV)

 

Devotion:

 

My middle son, Dylan, worked for over a month on his 2004 Christmas list.  After identifying many gift ideas, he then put them in the order of what he wanted most.  At the top of this 11-year-old’s list was an I-Pod.

 

It was a short shopping trip once we learned what an I-Pod costs.  But after talking with some in-the-know, 20-something friends, we learned Dylan could achieve a similar goal with a less-expensive MP3 player.  A few bargain-hunting trips resulted in a version we could afford, that would enable Dylan to download about 50 songs.  Certainly, we reasoned, that would be more than enough.

 

Fifty songs were enough for Dylan until he learned that his friend Jeremy had 300 songs on his I-Pod.   It wasn’t long after that when I discovered my deal-making son had written up a contract signed by both his brothers that would enable him to get an I-Pod.  The contract stated that both of Dylan’s brothers would give him a portion of their monthly allowances to help him save for an I-Pod.  The tradeoff? When Dylan had enough money, little brother would get the “old” MP3 player, and then Dylan would help his older brother save for something big.

 

When I found out about the plot, I addressed the issue with Dylan.  I was hurt that the three-month-old gift, which cost quite a bit of money, was now unacceptable.  More than that, I was concerned about his lack of contentment with something he’d been given.

In Philippians 4:12, Paul tells the believers in Philippi that he has “learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.”   This statement is amazing in itself, but it’s even more incredible when you know that Paul was under house arrest while writing those words.  How does a man in this situation learn to be content?  How does an 11-year-old learn to be content?  How do we learn it?

 

I believe the secret Paul alludes to is simple. It’s not believing your situation will improve, or comparing your situation to others who might be worse off.  It’s not hoping that in a few months you’ll get the gift you really want.  We learn from Paul that the secret to contentment is making the most of what you have.  Throughout his letter to the Philippians, Paul refers to what he has:

 

He didn’t have freedom, but he did have the love of the believers in Philippi.

 

He didn’t have lots of money, but he did have the ability to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

He didn’t have the freedom to roam the city, but he did encourage others to preach Christ more courageously.

 

He didn’t have status, but he was united to Christ in humility.

 

He didn’t have confidence in the health or strength of his body, but he did have confidence in the power of Christ’s resurrection.

 

Paul sums up the source of his contentment in verse 13: I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”  Paul didn’t have a lot in terms of material things, but he focused on what he did have, and that was Jesus.

 

Using that Scriptural truth, Dylan and I talked about how he could make the most of what he had, and learn to be content.  He decided he could take the money he had saved and invest in some Christian cd’s and then he would take the time to switch the songs loaded on his MP3 player.

 

That was a good start, but we also talked about the heart issue.  We discussed how everything we have is a gift from a loving God.  Just as my feelings were hurt at Dylan’s discontentment, I imagine God’s feelings are hurt when any of His children are unhappy with what they have.

 

It was more than a lesson for an 11-year-old boy; it was a lesson I needed to learn as well.  The next time discontentment threatens to sneak into my heart, I’ll remember the “secret” and focus on what can never be taken away from me – the love of Jesus.

 

My Prayer for Today:

 

Heavenly Father, I praise You for Your faithfulness and never-changing character.  Lord, we can trust You to help us learn to be content in all situations.  Forgive me for the times I’ve been discontent with a gift You have given.  Thank You for caring for me so generously.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Application Steps:

 

Identify one situation or thing about which you are discontent.  Acknowledge that it is a gift from God.  Determine how you can make the best of what you have.

 

Reflection Points:

 

How do you think Paul learned the secret to contentment?

 

What outside force is most likely to upset your contentment?

 

How can you guard your contentment?

 

Identify one area of your life in which you experience the most discontentments.

 

What are some specific steps you can take to invest in that area, and make the most of what you have?

 

Power Verses:

 

Hebrews 13:5, “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.’” (NIV)

 

Psalm 111:3-5, “Glorious and majestic are His deeds, and His righteousness endures forever. He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and compassionate.  He provides food for those who fear Him; He remembers His covenant forever." (NIV)

 

Proverbs 19:23, “The fear of the LORD leads to life: then one rests content, untouched by trouble.” (NIV)

 

I Timothy 6:7-9,  For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.” (NIV)

 

Hebrews 12:28-29, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” (NIV)

 

Additional Resources:

 

Radically Obedient, Radically Blessed by Lysa TerKeurst

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

 

Becoming a Woman Who Listens to God by Sharon Jaynes

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

 

Who Holds the Key to Your Heart? by Lysa TerKeurst

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

 

Frugal Families by Jonni McCoy

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

 

 

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