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Posts Tagged ‘possessions’

Contentment and Confidence

October 18th, 2018

The important things in life are not things.  

“My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 NKJV

My thoughts and comments today are about, “Contentment and  Confidence.”

Contentment is not found in how much you have, nor in how much of a surplus you enjoy. However much you have will never be enough, apart from God’s generous provision. Contentment is found in your full confidence that God is your ample provider, Jehovah Jireh. The Apostle Paul was assuring, “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 NKJV.

Years ago, I was challenged by a quote attributed to Epicurus, an ancient Greek philosopher. Nothing is enough for the man to whom enough is too little.” How much must a person have to be content? That is a sufficiently important question that every person needs to answer honestly and accurately. When is enough enough? Usually, the answer is,  just a little more. Answered correctly, your answer can counteract a latent insecurity and subtle greed that conflicts with your desire for contentment. Insecurity whispers to all of us that we need enough, and then defines enough as more than what is truly adequate.

And even when you acquire what you think are necessary resources and gather more than enough stuff, greed still suggests that you require a little more while falsely reassuring that you deserve the extra you desire. So, a never-ending cycle is created, wanting more while trying to have enough. You work to feel secure, then reward yourself with more than you need. And, the result is a futile search, a never-ending quest for more.

Otherwise, your quest reduces your joy and pleasure for what you have and dampens your gratitude for what you have already received. Striving to accumulate and store more, becomes an insufficient goal for life, ultimately exhausting to the human spirit. Such a limited, material goal misdirects your heart from seeking true wealth which is always spiritual not material. Jesus said, “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also..” Matthew 6:20-21 NKJV.

It is better to have the best of what lasts, than simply more of what is only good for the moment.  More is never enough! My wise and dear friend, Campbell, advised me years ago, The heart cannot desire what the eye has not seen.” Be selective about what holds your gaze too long, lest it fills your vision and captures your desires.

God’s Word is clear, “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.’” Hebrews 13:5-6 NIV. What God provides will always be enough. And what is the personal reward of having enough? Gratitude. Contentment. Sufficiency. Satisfaction. Freedom from the tyranny for more. Appreciating things that money cannot buy.

“Godliness with contentment is a great gain.” Read 1 Timothy 6: 6-11.  I read a sign today that said, “The most important things in life are not things.” That is good to remember. God offers you a greater return, and much more enduring, than the biggest bull market on Wall Street.

“For I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content – through Him Who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13. It is never your wealth or possessions that provide true security and contentment. Those are found only in God.

Today I pray for you to trust God, reassured that He is your source of sufficiency.

Christian Communications 2018

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Identity and Possessions

August 7th, 2018

 

Who you are is not about what you have.

“Real life is not measured by how much you own.” Luke 12:15 NLT

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“Identity and Possessions.”

Admittedly, the culture and values of my father and grandfathers’ generations were very different from ours. We were taught character building values such as: give a full day’s work for an honest wage, use cash not credit, save for the future, live modestly within your means, and always be a good neighbor.

In contrast, the current culture seems to entice you in subtle and not so subtle ways to want more than you can afford, to desire more than God provides, and to crave everything your neighbor has, and more. In their subtlety and practical application, those more recent values are inaccurate and deceiving, even seductive.

Material possessions can become a little too important, as well as becoming an inaccurate measure of success and significance. Who you are is not about what you have. God made you so much more. Your possessions, or lack thereof, should not determine your identity. Your true identity is found only in Christ.

How has this change come about? There is a false philosophy that began as early as man’s origin in the Garden of Eden, a false philosophy that proudly claims that you can have it all, and you can have it now. Read the history, Genesis 3. That was exactly how the devil seduced Eve and deceived Adam.

They had it all, except for one small thing. The fruit of every tree was theirs to enjoy, except one. “The Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.’” Genesis 2:16-17 NIV. Somehow, Eve was deceived to believe that without that one added thing, God must be withholding something good from her that she could obtain apart from God. Well, you know how the story goes from there. It does not end well.

Too many people have spiritually and financially bankrupted themselves trying to have it all now, and at an even higher price have impoverished their souls in the process. In God alone, security and contentment are found. “In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” Colossians 2:9-10 NKJ. The Apostle Paul was certain, “Godliness with contentment is great gain. 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.” Read 1 Timothy 6:6-10 NIV.

You were never intended to have it all. And it is not practical to have it all right now. Be patient and trusting for God to provide what you need. When Jesus said, “Don’t be greedy for what you don’t have. Real life is not measured by how much you own.” Luke 12:15 NLT. It was not Jesus’ suggestion; it is His continuing command.

Following the wisdom and counsel of the Word of God will spare you a lot of needless grief and worry. Meanwhile, be content and faithful with what you have. “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. “Read Philippians 4:11-13 NIV.

Our common problem is wanting things before God provides them and acquiring them without regard to their cost to our soul, now as well as later. Be grateful and content for the things you have while trusting God to provide things you want, if pleasing in His sight. You are best to live with this conviction born of God’s Word, “My God will supply all your needs from His own glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 NLT.

Greed is the enemy of contentment and can be defined as, “an inordinate, unholy insistence of wanting more than God has yet provided and attempting to gain those things however you can and as quickly as you can.” That will never work out the way you hope. “Now, may the God of peace . .  make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ.” Hebrews 13:20-21 NKJ. Amen!

Today I pray for you to be content with what you have and trust for all you need.

Christian Communications 2018-7209

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Success with Satisfaction

October 27th, 2017

Satisfaction is measured by accomplishment not reward.

“I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“Success with Satisfaction.”

God created you to succeed. And that should be your goal. A desire to succeed is common to the human heart. No one makes plans to fail but many fail to plan. But first, you need to know how you define success? Without that, how do you even measure success? It is important that you determine your personal definition of success and that should be founded on God’s Word. If you don’t have benchmarks for measuring achievement, how will you know when you accomplish it, or recognize when you fail to do so? It is tragic to allow other people’s opinions to dictate what true success should be for you.

You will invest a lifetime of effort and energy to achieve fulfillment and meaning. A good  question to ask yourself is, “When I get where I’m going and have what I’m wanting, where will I be and what will I have?” Too many people end up with full pockets but have an empty heart. Solomon offered sage advice, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23 NKJV. Success with satisfaction begins in your heart.

Will wealth and possessions be your proof of success? The applause or acclaim of others? Some time ago, I saw a bumper sticker that said. “At the end, the one with the most toys wins!” But do they? True success must be so much more than having the biggest pile of unnecessary stuff. God’s Word says, “Each one should be careful how he builds. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is. The fire will test the quality of each man’s work.” Read 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 NIV. Eternal values differ immensely from what the world values.

I think that satisfaction, and contentment with what you achieve, is a more reliable measurement of success than the weight of public opinion or the tangible and external rewards of one’s accomplishments. Success without satisfaction is a myth. Where you find your supreme fulfillment is where you will find your greater success.

“[Blessed is the man who is] like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” Read Psalm 1:1-3 NIV. What a great promise! For me, the arenas where I intend to succeed, find satisfaction, and most prize any success are in the opportunities and responsibilities of family, friends, and ministry.

As regards Family, I will evaluate success by the Godly fruit to be found in our children and grandchildren, and the generations who will follow them. I will measure the faith and values we hold in common, the times we love and enjoy one another’s company, and our family’s continued love and service for the Lord. However anyone else chooses to evaluate my success, our family is central to my definition of success or disappointment.

As regards friends, life is richer because of the example, encouragement, and fellowship of friends who share life and faith with you. Life can be lonely, even unfulfilling without people who gladly share your joys and sorrows.

As regards ministry, I choose to evaluate success based on obedience and faithfulness to God’s call and meaningful service to God’s people. I am grateful for whatever measure of outward success that we have experienced these fifty plus years of pastoral ministry, but in my heart, I know that whatever success might be attributed to us, God’s grace and people’s graciousness have been its true source.

So, I will thank God, my family, and friends, and celebrate every year of blessing and privilege extended to us. “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” Read Galatians 6:8-10 NIV. My prayer for you encompasses all you are and all you do.

“I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2 NKJV. It all starts in in your heart of hearts where, “your soul prospers.”

Today, I pray for you to not waste time on empty dreams but instead pursue God’s will.

Christian Communications 2017

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Living Generously

August 2nd, 2013

“For God loves the person who gives cheerfully.” 2 Corinthians 9:7 NLT

Generosity resides in a heart that values people more than possessions.

My thoughts and comments today are about “living generously.”

Generosity is more an attitude than your financial ability. It is about sharing what you have generously and happily because you can bless someone. It is not primarily about dollars; it is a matter of the heart. And generosity is wonderfully double-edged, blessing the person who gives as well as the person who receives. Jesus taught, “Give, and it shall be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38 NIV. The specific context of this verse is about judgment and forgiveness, but the principle embraces giving and receiving, whatever the particular currency of exchange.

First, be generous with God. Giving is about planting a seed and planning on a harvest. God is the only one who can promise you a harvest, so that would be the best place to begin. Remember it is God who provided your seed. “Honor the Lord with your wealth, and from the first of all your produce; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.” Proverbs 3:9-10. A tithe is elementary, the minimum of giving. Read Malachi 3:10. Generosity only begins with a tithe, not ends there. Some people feel that they cannot afford to tithe; I don’t see how you can afford not to do so. “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously . . For God loves the person who gives cheerfully.” See 2 Corinthians 9:6-11 NIV.

Secondly, be generous with yourself. By that I mean save and invest something for your future, out of what God provides you. No farmer eats or sells all he harvests. Some of a previous harvest is always kept as seed for a future harvest. You should do the same. A goal would be 10%, but start with at least something regularly however small that might seem now. The financial principle of compounding causes even a little to multiply over a long time, more than you might realize.

Then, be generous with others. An elementary aspect to generosity is paying your financial obligations to others in a timely manner,as you promised. It is not appropriate to owe someone yet continue building debt complicating your ability to repay the first creditor, or lavishing money on yourself without faithfully dealing with the debts you owe.

Secondly, generosity is helping others in practical and tangible ways when you see the opportunity and feel directed to do so. “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25 NIV. Look for occasions when what you have: money, resources, and connections, and what you can do: talents, skills, and abilities can ease the burden and circumstance of another.

Generosity resides in a heart that values people more than possessions; it does not require wealth. Generosity is a lifestyle that you choose, rather than an obligation or occasional occurrence. Generosity is a deliberate decision you make about your stewardship of things with which you have been entrusted, neither whimsical nor subject to emotion or mood of the moment. Read 1 Timothy 6:18-19 NKJV.

My prayer for you this day is that you live each day generously.

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Excuses, Excuses!

April 13th, 2010

“They all alike began to make excuses.” Luke 14:18 NIV

“An excuse is easy to find when you are looking for one.”

My thoughts today are about “excuses, excuses!”

People seem to hate excuses when hearing them, but love them when giving one. It seems that people have a different excuse for every occasion. I found websites devoted to offering excuses for every occasion – school, work, police, bosses, spouses, etc. Maybe you have heard this definition of an excuse, “An excuse is a lie wrapped in a reason.” Maybe calling it a lie is a little harsh, but often there does seem an unhealthy mix of truth and untruth in a lot of excuses.

Would it be safe to say that when you make excuses you are trying to persuade someone that you have a good cause for doing something that you probably should not have done, or for not doing something you really did not want to do anyway? Excuses stop your progress. It has been wisely said that “The person who really wants to do something finds a way; the other person finds an excuse.” (Author Unknown). Which of those more often describes you? May it always be the first!

My Dad was very clear about the importance of a man keeping his word. I well remember his saying, A man is only as good as his word; be sure that people can count on what you say.” Here’s what the Bible says about the person who most enjoys access to God. “Lord, who may enter your temple? . . A person who always does what’s right, whose words are true and sincere . . who always does what he promises, no matter how much it may cost.” Psalm 15:1-2/4 TEV. Out of eleven virtues God prizes in this psalm, one of them is about not making excuses. It is clear where this ranks on God’s list of qualities of integrity and Godly character.

Excuses are really not a good thing; excuses keep you from doing and being your best. The fewer of those you find necessary, the better your relationships and the more likely your success. “He that is good at making excuses is rarely good for anything else.” (Benjamin Franklin).

Jesus told a story of three friends invited to a wedding. According to the culture of that time, they had apparently accepted the honor of the gracious invitation given them, but when the date approached each gave excuses because of other matters that now occupied their time and required their attention. Their excuses were different, but the circumstance was the same for all – they now preferred doing something other than what they had said they would do. “They all alike began to make excuses.” Luke 14:18 NIV.

One man asked to be excused because of a possession. Wouldn’t it have been wiser for him to inspect his property before its purchase, rather than after? Another man asked to be excused because of business. That would not be a sound business practice, buying business equipment without knowing how well it would work. Another man asked to be excused because of his recent marriage. In the Jewish culture, even a recent marriage would have been the product of much prior time preparing a home to which he would receive his bride. All were excuses, not reasons.

I think a lot of excuses are born from circumstances similar yet today – things you want to do or have, matters you consider more personally enriching or rewarding, and people whose goodwill you regard more highly. An excuse is easy to find when you are looking for one; sometimes they may cost more than you foresee. Here’s what is eternally important: allow yourself no excuses in your relationship with God. “People have no excuse at all! They know God, but they do not give Him the honor that belongs to Him, nor do they thank Him.” Romans 1:20-21 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that you live in a way that requires no excuse to God or man.

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