Friday, January 20, 2017

Christ: The Key to Contentment


Philippians 4:6-7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.    NIV   Bible Gateway.com

   While in prison, Paul penned precious words about the sufficiency of Christ. We tend to attach the idea of contentment to beach vacation spots and mountain retreats, but the apostle wrote that we are not to be anxious anywhere or at any time because we have the Lord's peace.
   Contentment is the believer's birthright. Peace is part of the spiritual fruit that's ours when we trust in the Savior ( Gal. 5:22); it is an inward serenity that passes all understanding (Phil. 4:7). Jesus lived through conflict with a sense of inner quiet, and because of His indwelling Spirit, that remarkable calm belongs to God's children, too. That is important because there are times when we come across a problem that has no earthly solution. In situations like those, we learn that self-sufficiency is a lie. We cannot cope alone, but Christ is all we need.
   Here is the flip side of the coin: "'There is no peace for the wicked,' says the Lord" (Isa. 48:22). Modern culture slaps the word wicked onto only the vilest actions and people, but God's definition is much broader. The wicked are those who willfully reject His right to forgive their sins and take Lordship over their life. If you are not a believer, you cannot experience true and lasting contentment.
   When we are born again (John 3:3-8), we become children of the living God and rightful heirs to every good thing He has to offer. This includes the deep inner peace and joy that can withstand any trial. What can man do to the one who belongs to the Lord (Heb. 13:6)? 
Stanley, Charles F, "Christ: The Key to Contentment," In Touch: Daily Readings For Devoted Living September 2016. Atlanta: In Touch Ministries. page 27.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Obstacles to Contentment

Matthew 6:25-30

Do Not Worry

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?  NIV  Bible Gateway.com
Anxiety is a thief. The combination of fear and uncertainty robs many believers of the peace that the heavenly Father intends for them to have (John 14:27). But anxiety does not fit who we are in Jesus Christ. By putting our faith in Him, we have placed our life in the hands of a sovereign God who wants the very best for His children. What do we have to fear when we trust in Him?
   Believing in the Lord doesn't mean that we will never experience uncertainty. What it should means is that we choose to let go of anxiety and instead trust Him to provide for our needs in His time and His way. When we don't, fear and doubt can become entrenched in our thinking and develop into a stronghold. Then Satan will dig in and use every resource he can to build our apprehension. That is what sinful anxiety looks like - a sense of fear that overwhelms faith.
   Faith can be besieged and toppled when its foundation is weakened by unbelief. I'm not implying that an anxious believer isn't truly a Christian. However, in saying "I know God is capable of dealing with the problems in my life, but I'm not sure that He will," uncertain saints may look for ways to fix the issue themseles instead of waiting patiently for the Lord to act on their behalf.
   Th Lord sees the beginning and the end of every situation that we face. He knows the root of our anxiety, the best way to calm our heart, and how to turn our weeping into joy. He will do all of this without leaving our side, because He loves us deeply and desires to bless us richly. 
Stanley, Charles F. "Obstacles to Contentment." In Touch: Daily Readings For Devoted Living September 2016. Atlanta: In Touch Ministries. page 26. 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Getting Rid of Anger

Ephesians 4:26-32

26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.      NIV Bible Gateway.com

    The apostle Paul wrote extensively about the character and conduct of believers. He said that as Christians, we are to "walk in a manner worthy of [our] calling" (Eph. 4:1) and to "be imitators of God" (Eph. 5:1). In his letter to the church at Ephesus, he explained what it meant to live a godly life.
   First of all, we must curtail some of our old habits and behaviors and replace them with new ones that are acceptable to God. The acts of the flesh are no longer to be a part of us - we now have a new nature and must conduct ourselves accordingly. Galatians 5:19-21 lists 15 specific behaviors that have to cease. These include enmities, strife, outbursts of anger, disputes, and dissensions. Notice the role anger plays in each of these. It fuels disagreements and inflames antagonism. And second, if we get angry, we need to apologize quickly (Eph. 4:26).
   The fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) should replace ungodly thoughts and actions. If we have been quick-tempered, then we need to gain patience. If our anger runs hot, then we are to become peaceful people. Foolishness in speech must give way to the wisdom of Christ. Change is possible because sin's power over us has been permanently broken. We have been set free to live in a way pleasing to God.
   We all struggle with some form of ungodly behavior, but happily, we need not continue in it. As new creations, we no longer have to be defined by who we were before salvation (2 Cor. 5:17). To exhibit the righteousness that is yours, cooperate with the Holy Spirit's transforming work. 
Stanley, Charles F. "Getting Rid of Anger." In Touch: Daily Readings For Devoted Living September 2016. Atlanta: In Touch Ministries. page 18.