When I was asked to be the Sunday preacher at our recent ministry staff retreat, a topic kept surfacing in my mind. It was a subject I knew God was instructing me in and the appropriateness of the message seemed to be confirmed in the staff discussions leading up to Sunday morning.
You are likely familiar with the statement, "The grass is always greener on the other side." Is it really, or do we just think so?
As I prepared to leave 2011 and enter 2012 and another phase of ministry, I found myself struggling with contentment, or rather the lack of it. Was I going to go through another year being single? How long would God keep me in this season, with no apparent changes on the horizon?
My unsettled heart was put in the spotlight when I received a Christmas gift from my parents - the book "The Resolution for Women." In encouraging women to make Christ-centered "resolutions," the book's first section focused on contentment and how to be "Surprisingly Satisfied." Ouch.
Discontentment can be like a plug on the spring of blessings which God desires to pour through our lives - blessings meant for His glory and the benefit of others. We are meant to be "channels of blessing," but discontentment can dry up our supply.
In my studying I discovered that when I am focused on what I do not have I do not appreciate what I do have, and am stingy in sharing my resources because I believe they are limited and must be rationed. In focusing on "green grass" elsewhere, I also do not appreciate the fertile field I presently am in, and shortchange myself in present blessings, relationships and opportunities. And can God continue to pour in and through me, when I won't release the flow?
Basically, discontentment is telling God that what He has provided for me right now is not good enough. Imagine saying that to God's face? Yikes.
Conversely, contentment "is the faith-filled belief that what God has bestowed now is worthy of gratitude and appreciation, not merely because it is enough, but because it is good.” - "The Resolution for Women"
My sermon was on how to "cultivate contentment" and here are the highlights:
1. Remember Who is in control.
· God is control of the world and my place and days in it.
· Psalm 103:19, Proverbs 21:1, Psalm 37:23, Psalm 139:16
· God is fulfilling His purposes, not mine. He has chosen, called and equipped me to be part of His plan to bring blessing and extend His kingdom. Thus, He has set me in particular seasons.
2. Focus on God’s conclusive promises. (They leave no doubt!)
· Hebrews 13:5, Philippians 4:19, Matthew 6:25-33, Psalm 37:25, 2 Peter 1:3, 2 Corinthians 9:6-12, Luke 6:38
· These are among the promises of God’s presence and provision as we trust Him for our needs. God also promises blessing as we are generous with others (not rationing our resources).
· These are only a few of the countless promises of God’s presence, protection and provision.
We serve a wealthy, loving and caring God!
3. Remember my own contemptible/corrupt state.
· I am not deserving of anything, let alone God’s incredible blessings.
· Contemptible: “Deserving of contempt (to be worthless, to be despised).”
· Paul recognized he was unworthy. Ephesians 3:8 (“least of all the saints”), I Corinthians 15:9 (“least of the apostles”), I Timothy 1:15 (“worst of sinners”).
4. Keep in mind the conclusion.
· This world is not our home and we are not made for it, therefore we should feel some discontentment amidst the pain, suffering, death and trials.
· Thus, we are to “strive for the prize,” live for eternity, and lay up treasures in heaven.
· Our present afflictions are light compared to future glory.
· Philippians 3:7-14, 2 Corinthians 4:17-5:10.
My discontentment may likely reveal that I am seeking satisfaction in other people or things. If you are struggling with the big "D" and are seeking the big "C," go to Christ and ask Him to search your heart and reveal the truth.
Contentment is “embracing (not settling for) my situation and circumstances at this moment, believing God has provided everything I need, and beyond so I may generously give to others.”
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