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Posts Tagged ‘Hebrews 13:5’

The Company of Friends

June 7th, 2017

Navigating difficulties requires the support of friends.

“The Father of compassion and the God of all comfort Who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“The Company of Friends.”

Trouble is a common experience. You won’t always cause it. You won’t always enjoy it. But you can and must learn from it. Trouble is never enjoyable, but it can yield a maturity of life and faith that is learned in no other way. Trouble can be faced with faith, not fear. The Bible says, “Whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow.” Read James 1:2-5 NLT.

According to James, there are three elements which develop character and spiritual growth. Trouble – on occasion, everyone experiences troubled times or troubling people. Time – you must exercise patience and endurance to rightly learn from trouble. Truth – Godly perspective brings wisdom. Trouble is something you will have; time is something you must give; truth is something you must learn and in which you must be confident.

Among the things I have learned about trouble, this is most important. Navigating difficulties successfully requires the company and support of friends. Solomon wrote, “Two are better than one . . if one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble . .” Read Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NLT. Value those friends who will accompany you in your struggles and sorrows. Everyone needs someone alongside on their journey.

When you face troubled times or troubling people, which the Bible calls, “tribulation and persecution,” there are two questions your soul ponders about friendship. Are you there for me? And, do you care for me? Prize the gift of those friends who offer their company and compassion when you struggle most. “A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need . . As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend.” Proverbs 17:17/27:18 NLT.

Jesus taught a simple yet profound truth, “Do for others what you would like them to do for you. This is a summary of all that is taught in the Law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12 NLT. Be that kind of friend to others. My Dad taught me a valuable lesson about the responsibility and mutuality of friendship. By his words and example, he taught me that, “You will have the kind of friends that you choose to be for others.”

I have learned the irreplaceable value of friendships. Friendship is a treasure not available for purchase or barter, and a treasure nothing else can replace. I am grateful for friends who have invited me to share their lives and inspired me to live the best version of God’s plan for my life.

Fortunately, even when no one else can be there for you – when they cannot, or will not – God is there! “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.” Psalm 27:10 NIV. Though the dearest of friends may not be able to be near, God can and will be there for you always. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in times of trouble. Therefore, I will not fear . .” Psalm 46:1-2 NIV. Though any circumstance and emotion may suggest differently, God is ever present. Always cares. Always there. “For God Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to be confident in God and His care for you.

Christian Communications 2017-6810

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Content or Coveting

January 17th, 2015

“Godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1 Timothy 6:6 NIV.

EDL Contentment graphic

Coveting is the enemy of contentment.

My thoughts and comments today are about being “content or coveting.”

The world surrounding you is incurably materialistic yet increasingly discontented. Commercial advertising fosters discontent, until you not only want more, you think you actually need more. Never confuse luxuries with necessities or desires with needs. Your Father promises to supply all your needs, but not all your wants. Paul was clear, “My God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 NIV. Of that you can be absolutely sure.

The complication comes when you covet what you see others have. Coveting is a wicked thing, causing you to envy others to the extent that you would prefer you were so fortunate, and ultimately that they were not. The Bible speaks wisely and practically, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with what you have.” Hebrews 13:5 NKJV. Coveting is the enemy of contentment. Contentment is the cure for coveting.

The Bible states a sure and simple truth, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1 Timothy 6:6 NIV. Paul’s reasoning is also simple; “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.” 1 Timothy 6:7-8 NIV. Know when enough is enough. Discontentment leaves you vulnerable to covetous desires, insatiably wanting what you do not have and begrudging what others enjoy. “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. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Timothy 6:9-10 NIV.

That is the reality that corrupted the bliss of the Garden of Eden, “When Eve saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eye, and desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.” Genesis 3:6. She saw; she desired; she took. That is a formula for a spiraling regression to discontent. Instead, may your heart pray, “Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your Word.” Psalm 119:37 NIV.

Years earlier, my friend, Campbell, shared a wise and invaluable lesson with me: the heart cannot desire what the eye has not seen. Looking produces longing; longing creates a need to possess. Having too little money is not your biggest problem; the real dilemma and one that touches every soul is when you covet what others have, thereby loving money as a necessity for supplying your desires without reliance on God.

When you covet what others have, you will eventually doubt God’s willingness and ability to provide your needs. “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”  2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV. It is simple; present every need to God in prayer, trusting Him to give you whatever is wise for you, consistent with His will, and in His time and manner. Paul found contentment to be a lesson learned, ”. . in any and every situation . . whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” Read Philippians 4:6-7, 11-13 NIV. Imagine your life satisfied and content.

Today, my prayer for you is that you avoid struggling to have things you don’t need.

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Economic Uncertainty

November 26th, 2012

Economic Uncertainty

Government is not the solution to economic uncertainty; God is.

“I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances.” Philippians 4:11 NAS

Economic uncertainty seems the rule and not the exception presently. Each day’s news is filled with more bad news than good as it pertains to finances, whether on the global, national, local, or personal levels. Everyone suggests a different solution; no one solution seems effective. While political parties exonerate themselves while caustically blaming one another, the economic problems stubbornly grow more ugly and personal, and individual families suffer the consequence. Unemployment is not a percentage; it’s people. Our nation, like many other nations, faces economic challenges bigger than borrowing and spending can solve. See Proverbs 22:7 NIV. Nationally, this is not the first time, maybe not even the worst. Ask your grandparents or great grandparents.

Individually is a good place to begin, rather than nationally or internationally. I would first suggest that government is not the problem; you and I are – our incessant wants, insatiable appetites for more, sense of entitlement, and unrealistic expectation all that will be at another’s expense. The origin of the current economic uncertainty is first moral and spiritual, only then financial. As citizens, we have allowed the government to tax unfairly, spend unwisely, borrow indiscriminately, and grant government favors at public expense. But we are the government, by means of duly elected and appointed leaders. In the closing words of his Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln vowed, “. . that Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.” 1863. Of, by, and for the people remains the guiding principle upon which any government governs.

Likewise, the government is not the solution; God is. The problem of resolving personal economic uncertainty begins with each individual. The Bible’s counsel is this: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:6-9 NASV.

No one in today’s increasingly secular, materialistic society can avoid financial anxiety or be naturally content. Incessant advertising and irresistible marketing subtly erodes contentment. There is good news. Like Paul, you can say, “. . I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.” Philippians 4:11-12 NASV.

My Dad taught me simple, practical principles of money management, “Work hard. Remember, God is your Source. Tithe first. Never spend all you earn. Save some. Spend wisely.” That’s Biblical economics, wise stewardship, and sound money management. Hebrews 13:5 NIV/2 Corinthians 9:6-11 NKJV. And tithing, giving, and generosity are what God honors and rewards. See Malachi 3:10-12 NIV/Luke 6:38/Acts 20:33-35 NIV. Be certain of this truth, “My God will supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you know the provision and blessing of God on all.

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Contentment

May 12th, 2011

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Philippians 4:11 NIV

“If you do not have what you want, learn to want what you have.”

My thoughts today are about “contentment.”

Contentment is not easy to come by in a world where people always want something more, something else, or something they don’t already have. If it’s small, we want it big. If it’s old, we want it new. If it’s theirs, we want it ours. A man of vast wealth was asked, “How much money does it take to make a wealthy man happy?” His answer? “Just a little more!” And then people wonder why they are not happy! The reality is that most people’s wants far exceed their needs. Contentment is knowing when enough is enough. Why are we not happy with what God provides?

Long ago I heard some simple advice expressed this way, “If you do not have what you want, learn to want what you have.” “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with what you have. For He has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5 NKJV. Wouldn’t you be happier if you could do that, or maybe it’s more like, if you would do that?  That would suggest to me that covetousness is the seed of discontent. When you strongly want what someone else has even if that would leave them with less, you become discontent with what God gives you. Jesus never taught against wealth; He did, however, teach against greed and ingratitude. See Luke 12:15-21 NKJV.

I confess; I grew up in simpler times. As a child, we didn’t have a lot of things wrongly considered necessities today, but we didn’t seem to know that. Maybe that was because few if any people we knew seemed to have much either. We had enough, not much extra, but certainly plenty. More importantly, my Mom and Dad never talked or acted like that was inadequate. Our family was happy and content.

Paul wrote, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances . . I have learned the secret of being content in any and every circumstance.” Philippians 4:11-12NIV. Notice Paul’s accent? “I have learned . .” Those verses tell me several things about contentment. (1) Contentment is a process. It doesn’t just happen; it isn’t learned overnight. Each day you can learn a little more about how to be content, but along the way there are tests so you can gauge whether or not you are learning.

(2) Contentment is independent of circumstance. Paul wrote some of his most joyous words from the confinement of a prison cell. Settle this once and for all: you don’t have to have more to be happy. “Now Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.” 1 Timothy 6:6-8 NKJV.

(3) Contentment accepts the rhythms of life. There will be times when you have more and times when you have less. Both are valuable. In times of plenty, you learn to be thankful and share; in times of less, you learn to trust and appreciate.

(4) Contentment is confidence in God’s provision. “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength . . and My God will supply all (my) needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:13/19 NIV. With God, you will always have enough; enjoy all God provides and be thankful to Him and others.

My prayer for you today is: let living better, rather than having more, be your goal in life.

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The Love of Money

August 31st, 2010

“Keep your (life) free from the love of money . . content with what you have.” Hebrews 13:5 NIV

“Money is important because every day you trade a part of your life for it.”

My thoughts today are about “the love of money.”

Do you ever consider how money occupies your time, thought, and efforts? Money is important; there is no doubt about that. Money is important because every day you trade a part of your life for it and for the things it can provide, both necessities and luxuries. It is just not as all-important as you can easily allow it to become.

I have heard a Bible verse badly misquoted by people who say “Money is the root of all evil.” That is not what the Bible says or teaches. Money is just a commodity, neither good nor bad, neither noble nor evil, except for how it is gained and used. You are not a better person for having more of it, nor inferior for having less; your bank balance does not define you. Jesus warned of the “deceitfulness of riches,” because money promises a lot of things it can’t deliver. There will never be enough money, because people expect money to do things it was never meant to do. You can’t fill emptiness with money; you can’t cure loneliness; you won’t find security in it; you can’t buy happiness or peace of mind.

Here is what the Bible does teach about money, “The love of money is at the root of all kinds of evil . . keep your life free from the love of money and be content with what you have.” 1 Timothy 6:6-11 NLT/ Hebrews 13:5 NIV.

Money is not the problem; the inordinate love of money is the problem, and the very real danger of elevating money beyond its place and priority. Money and the things it can supply can become a god that holds an importance and place it cannot be trusted to occupy. Reserve your love for God, other people, and yourself (Mark 12:30-31); don’t waste and misdirect your love on money.

Mistakenly, you might assume that the goal of work is to get enough money so you can afford to quit working. Productive work has a value beyond money. The Bible principle is clear, “Six days you shall labor and do all your work . . on the seventh day you shall do no work.” See Exodus 20:8-11 NIV. Work is how you serve God and others in practical, meaningful ways, as well as the means through which God meets your needs and supplies your resource for generosity.

I have heard well meaning people assume that work was the result of the curse, after Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden. Not so. Meaningful labor preceded their foolish disobedience. See Genesis 2:8/15 NIV. However, the curse of their sin caused the struggle and toil associated with their work. “Cursed is the ground because of you . . through painful toil you will eat of it . . it will produce thorns and thistles for you . . by the sweat of your brow you will eat your food . .” Genesis 3:17-19 NIV.

Here is the sum of this: money is not what your life is to be about. There is a responsibility that comes with wealth – the greater the wealth, the greater the responsibilities. Jesus said, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Luke 12:48 NIV.

Enjoy thankfully all that God provides for you, but do not let money be wrongly trusted as your source of happiness and security. God alone is your Source. “Every good and perfect gift is from above . . from the Father . . my God will supply all your need . .“ James 1:17 NIV/Philippians 4:19 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that you learn to be content with what you have.

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