I seem to be surrounded with this topic this past week from Bible study, to worship planning, to family questions. So thought I’d share what I think contentment means to me. A quote from Dr. Billy Graham reminds us that we can be content within, even when everything seems to be very difficult:
The happiness which brings enduring worth to life is not the superficial happiness that is dependent on circumstances. It is the happiness and contentment that fills the soul even in the midst of the most distressing circumstances and the most bitter environment. It is the kind of happiness that grins when things go wrong and smiles through tears.
The Apostle Paul says he has learned to be content whatever the circumstances (Philippians 4:11-12). Those words sound simple, but look at Saul/Paul’s life. He spells out some of many things that have happened to him (2 Corinthians 11:23-30 – imprisoned, beaten, left for dead, stoned, shipwrecked, always in danger, hungry, sleepless), yet later he says he’s learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
But is it always that easy? My nephew asked a questions this morning on Facebook, “Why doesn’t God heal amputees?” There is no easy answer. God does what He decides in His timing. But when we rely on Him, we are filled with a calm assurance He is in control. He knows the bigger picture about what is best for us. Not necessarily what we want or desire, but what we need to help shape us into the person He wants us to be.
I think too often I focus on me, my pain, my discomfort, my fatigue. I don’t step back and look at the bigger picture – my faith has grown during my life, but it has really GROWN during the deepest trials. I’m not content with the trial, but I am content knowing that God is with me. He’s living in me, guiding me ahead each day, giving me strength for what comes next.
My husband is a men’s quartet fan, and so we have listened many years to the Cathedral Quartet. Years ago, George Younce read this poem by Red Foley
Today, upon a bus, I saw a lovely girl with golden hair,
I envied her….she seemed so gay….and wished I were so fair.
When suddenly she rose to leave, I saw her hobble down the aisle.
She had one leg and wore a crutch; but as she passed….a smile!
Oh God, forgive me when I whine,
I have two legs. The world is mine!
I stopped to buy some candy. The lad who sold it had such charm.
I talked with him. He seemed so glad. If I were late, t’would do no harm.
And as I left, he said to me, “I thank you. You have been so kind.
It’s nice to talk with folks like you. You see,” he said, “I’m blind.”
Oh God, forgive me when I whine.
I have two eyes. The world is mine.
Later while walking down the street, I saw a child with eyes of blue.
He stood and watched the others play. I stopped a moment,
When I said, “Why don’t you join the others, Dear?”
He looked ahead without a word, and then I knew he could not hear.
Oh God, forgive me when I whine.
I have two ears, the world is mine.
With feet to take me where I’d go, with eyes to see the sunset’s glow,
with ears to hear what I would know….
Oh God forgive me when I whine.
I am blessed indeed. The world is mine!
After the poem, they would end with We Are So Blessed, by Bill and Gloria Gaither
We are so blessed, by the gifts of Your hand we just can’t understand why You loved us so much. We are so blessed, we just can’t find a way or the words that can say, “Thank You, Lord, for Your touch.” When we’re empty You fill us ’til we overflow. When we’re hungry You feed us, and cause us to know. We are so blessed, take what we have to bring, take it all, everything, Lord, we love You so much.
We are so blessed by the things You have done, the victories we’ve won and what You’ve brought us through. We are so blessed, take what we have to bring, take it all everything, Lord, we bring it to You. When we’re empty You fill us ’till we overflow. When we’re hungry You feed us, and cause us to know. We are so blessed, take what we have to bring, take it all, everything, Lord, we love You so much.
A lot of contentment is just about perspective. Take time to see how God is pouring out His abundant blessings on you today. Have you seen Him? Please share, I love His divine appointments, encouragements, acts.
God’s abundant blessings ~ Faye
God’s blessings are so wonderful. I am so grateful I was able to enjoy so many of them in the past 24 hours.
Friend 1 – cancer is “only” Stage 1. So much better than spread throughout the body. Now the planning and preparation for the treatments begins.
Friend 2 – treatments have helped in treating the cancer. Spreading out the follow up tests and treatments.
Friend 3 – heads for surgery to remove a portion of the cancer. They, too, are rejoicing it’s not more extensive.
My heart breaks for them all as they have to face more treatment, but God has answered a multitude of prayers to make these cancers be on the treatable side. Now prayers will continue for them all in the days and months ahead.
Thought I’d be a blessing to the church secretary by filling in for her a couple of days so she could enjoy some vacation time. God is SO Awesome! While cleaning old files, I went down memory lane of the church’s 39 year history. I saw how far God has brought the church and scattered so many people who have worshiped with us throughout the United States and even the world.
I ended up being richly blessed by conversations with several people who came through the door. What incredible gifts God blesses us with – smiles, eye contact, touch, hugs, tears and laughter. God has made us so incredibly wonderful.
Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet each other with Christian love. 2 Corinthians 13:11-12
How wonderful it is to stand and receive the multitude of blessings showed upon me from God today!
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13:14
Enjoying God’s Abundant Blessings ~ Faye
Esther. What a great reminder of God’s providential care!
Here’s some points of God’s Providence:
- Queen Vashti is deposed when she refuses to appear before King Xerxes.
- Esther, a worshiper of God, is chosen as Queen.
- Mordecai overhears a plot to kill the king and saves his life.
- Mordecai doesn’t bow to Haman and so Haman plots to kill the Jews.
- Xerxes can’t sleep and wants to read a story, out of all the history books, it’s the one which records Mordecai’s saving the king’s life. The king remembers Mordecai wasn’t rewarded and asks Haman how to reward such a wonderful man.
- Esther appears before the King and is welcomed instead of killed.
- There’s special timing of Queen Esther’s two banquets and Haman’s plans to kill Mordecai.
- Mordecai ends up being honored and first Haman is humbled, then killed on the gallows intended for Mordecai.
- The Jews survived and overthrew their enemies.
We’ve heard the passage from Esther 4:14, where Mordecai asks Esther “…And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” What about us? Are we willing to be used by God in whatever way He has planned? Do you ever wonder what God has planned for you – in the future? today? this hour?
Jeremiah 29:11 says:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Before Haman even had the idea to wipe out the Jews, God had placed Esther in position to be used to save His people. She didn’t know it. She had to go forward in trust to King Xerxes.
She prepared herself before she did that by fasting and prayer.
In the Bible study book Following God-Women of the Bible – Esther, the authors write, “God wants to accomplish His purposes through us, but if we do not cooperate, His plan will still be carried out. He will simply use someone else to do it. “ It takes listening to God, spending time in His word, talking with Him, and once again, listening to God’s leading.
To the unbeliever hearing the story of Esther, they would describe what happened as amazing coincidences, but the believer sees the hand of God’s providence through the timing, people, places, circumstances.
Coincidence … when God chooses to remain anonymous.
Have you seen God’s abundant blessings through His providential hand throughout your life? He’s always there. Make sure you take some time to look for Him today!
God’s abundant blessings ~ Faye
What a blessing to have been in the fellowship of believers yesterday. I say that mostly from hindsight. I started the day so tired, the cold weather affecting my body with fatigue. I was on the worship team and usually have an increased energy that only comes from the Holy Spirit, but yesterday I was drained. I was grateful we had planned another leader and the pastor to take the majority of the service, because I couldn’t get my mind out of the Fibro fog. Yet I ended leaving the church filled with the blessed love of God’s grace given to me by others.
When love happens in the framework of Christians, an amazing thing happens. God’s presence flows from one person to another. It may be with a look, a hug, laughter, or tears. Encouragement comes from people who are listening through God’s ears. Even people that we don’t always get along with, that we’ve had major disagreements with, can be seen through the eyes of love. Because as a Christian, we are looking at others through Christ’s eyes of compassion.
1 John 3:11 & 12 (NLT) says, “This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another.” My first thoughts were, “I agree. Love One Another. Good words.” Then I read vs. 12 – “We must not be like Cain, who belonged, to the evil one and killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because Cain had been doing what was evil, and his brother had been doing what was righteous.” I found myself thinking, “I’ve never killed anyone. So this doesn’t apply to me.” WRONG! Ok, I’ve never physically taken someone’s life, but how often have I struggled with my temper, anger, or a desire to get revenge. I have caused pain to others by what I’ve said or done. I’ve torn hearts apart by not looking at someone with the eyes of God’s love.
I have a card I keep posted in my office. I wish I would remember these verses more often:
“You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the LORD forgave you, so you must forgive others. And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are all called to live in peace. And always be thankful.” Colossians 3:13-15 NLT
I was recently out taking photos of the changing leaves. I came across a park where the differences of colors blended and added a beauty that seemed to enhance the other trees in the area. As I reflected on yesterday morning’s blessed friendships with other believers, I realized that’s what I was seeing in my fellow Christians. When we are reflecting God’s love to someone, we help God’s love shine through them to us as well. We live in a harmony of colors.
One of the best things that happened yesterday was seeing how God has been at work in a relationship where there was hurt in the past. Once we opened our hearts to forgiving each other, God poured out His love and grace on us. We have been able to encourage each other and laugh with each other.
Love One Another – three simple words with such important meaning.
Praising God for His blessings from my sisters and brothers in Christ ~ Faye
Reading 1 John 3:1-3 this morning (following www.goodmorninggirls.org Bible study), and I was truly excited to read John’s opening words – we are God’s children, precious, valued, prized, loved. What a way to go into the day.
1 John 3:2 says, “Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but He has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He really is. And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as He is pure.” – New Living Translation
What a glorious thought that we will be changed to be like Christ when appears/returns. 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 (NLT) says,
51 “But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! 52 It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed.”
When Christ returns we will be made to be LIKE HIM. If we live a life with the EAGER EXPECTATION, we will live a life that honors Christ. We will make it a priority to keep ourselves pure. I like how The Message describes it: “All of us who look forward to His Coming stay ready, with the glistening purity of Jesus’ life as a model for our own.” Glistening purity of Jesus’ life – I can’t even come close to describing what that will be like.
Seeing Christ as He really is when He appears to us at His second coming is just mind boggling. Knowing that we will be transformed to be like Him in an instant! How amazing. However, did you know Christ appears to you right now? I’ve gone through some disappointments and unmet expectations, especially living with a chronic, progressive disease; and recently have spent a lot of my time taking walks and talking with God. In the past when disappointments and unmet expectations have come, I’ve been quick to talk with family and friends, hoping in doing so it will help resolve the situation or make me feel better. In my times with God, I’m finding that there are times when Christ appears today too. The other day it was not at all in the way I anticipated. I thought He’d have used someone close to me to fill the need I had. But recently Christ has made it very real that He has been walking beside me listening to my heart’s longings, and when I am resting and trusting in Him, He gently guides me closer to Him so I can come along side His desire for my life. He is constantly shaping me to be like Him. I’m really looking forward to the quick transformational change that will happen when Christ returns again. I don’t like the long, drawn-out, painful process that He uses daily to transform me into His image. But I’m very grateful that He walks with me and talks with me when I choose to share with Him my heart’s thoughts. I’m so grateful to have a glimpse of His appearing this side of Heaven and His Second Coming.
May you enjoy the abundant blessing of God walk with you today
I saw a glimpse of His working in someone’s life today and was so blessed. This person has struggled with being hurt and angry and unable to forgive the callous acts of some people. From my perspective, I’d say the person was definitely justified by their reactions after being falsely accused of misdeeds. But I saw first hand God’s grace and peace working through that person as they were kind, compassionate and caring to some of the individuals who had spread lies and rumors about them. The incredible thing is this person is not a professing Christian. God was answering my prayers for this person’s life, and they were seemingly oblivious to them. Fortunately, God wasn’t.
How often have I prayed for this person? Almost every day for the past several years. Have I seen God answering those prayers for opportunities to share my faith, witness that person be changed and transformed by the saving grace of Christ – not yet. Some days it seems so strange to continue to pray for them when God doesn’t seem to allow them to hear His call. But God is so good. When I least expected it, basically while the person was in the very presence of his enemies, God blew me away by the transformation I saw in this person. The person volunteered to be of assistance in the future if needed, answered questions to help the individuals proceed, and best of all, left the meeting calm and filled with a peace that they would not normally have had given the circumstances. Even more surprising, I was there as a friend and hadn’t spent time specifically praying for the meeting today, yet God answered previous prayers for healing and blessed several people.
Psalm 77:11-14 says, “I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember Your wonders of old. I will ponder all Your work, and meditate on Your might deeds. Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God? You are the God who works wonders; You have made known Your might among the peoples.”
I’m praying and hoping I remember this day of the LORD’s deeds for I saw His transforming power. It has given me renewed courage and strength to continually pray for this person’s faith and relationship with God. It has encouraged me to continue to pray for a wayward loved one. Everything is in God’s timing, not mine. Even though I don’t see an answer to my prayers right away, God hears them, and in His perfect time, He will answer the prayers of a persistent heart. I encourage you to think about God’s deeds in your life from today and in the past. Write down a few of them. Share them with others to encourage them in their walk of faith. Tell your children of the ways God has blessed you. Help others remember the mighty deeds of the LORD.
God’s richest blessings ~ Faye