Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Pursuing Contentment

Finding God in Our Circumstances

I recently heard a great sermon about contentment that provides a sound, Biblical view on the "prosperity" gospel that is being actively preached these days.

I totally understand the propensity for Christian teachers to want to offer financial hope and encouragement to people -- especially in our American culture where we are bombarded with the need to compete and excel and to have lots of stuff to show for it. Our God certainly does care and provide for us, but not always in the way we want. It's a slippery slope for sure.

The "prosperity" message goes something like this:  "God loves me and if I have enough faith, and do certain things, He will provide really good things for me!"     ... But is that really true?

This perspective is based on persuading God to change our outward circumstances. And that, my friend, is just not a  reliable gauge of God's love for you. It wasn't for the early Church, or any of the disciples, and it's not true for us either. We get something so much better!

Change is on the way, but not how you think.

Certainly God does care about the details of our lives. The Bible clearly tells us that the "hairs on our heads are numbered" (Matthew 10:30), and He "knit us together in our mother's womb" (Psalm 139:13). And some of us who walk faithfully with Him, do indeed seem to get more than enough of the good stuff and are enjoying very good lives indeed!

But wait a minute -- even some non-believers get that! And wait just another minute -- a lot of faithful Christians in Southern India (and other impoverished lands) are barely getting by and dying of curable diseases. Where is God in all of that? Well, He is right there in the middle of it.

The only change you are actually promised is the very best kind of change:  A permanent and transforming change in your heart -- and in your destiny! 

If you are blessed with good circumstances, then be content with that and praise Him with gratitude, and demonstrate His love with generosity and compassion for the less fortunate -- because it could have been you.

"Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God." (Ecclesiastes 5:19)

But if you are not-so-blessed with the things of this world, or you are suffering from loss or disappointment, then dig deep into your heart where God's Spirit lives inside of you, and seek His comfort there. Let Him love you from the inside-out.

"You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. 
You have recorded each one in your book."  (Psalm 56:8)
"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7)

Even Jesus didn't get what He wanted -- and He begged God for it -- Twice!

Then Jesus said to His disciples before His death:  
“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me....Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will....He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” (Matthew 26:38-39, 42)

There is only one Gospel... And it must be the same for everyone in every place

God is inside of you. You will always find Him "in the midst" of your circumstances because His Spirit lives in you.

Paul tells us:
"... for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Christ who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:11-13)

We have so much to look forward to.

It's certainly not wrong to pray for a change in circumstances -- just don't use that to measure His love for you. He loves you no matter where you are, and no matter what is going on in your life. 

In John 16:22 we are told... "Therefore you now have sorrow, but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you."

Keep looking UP -- and put your faith in the 

glorious unfolding!

I have a song for everything: "He Knows" by Jeremy Camp; "Broken Hallelujah" by The Afters; "Praise you in the Storm" by Casting Crowns;"The One I'm Running To" by 7eventh Time Down; "Good to be Alive" by Jason Gray

Video Sermon "Health and Wealth?" by Andrew Farley (11/16/2014); Podcast

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