There is a sweet breeze blowing through the trees this morning. It is predicted to be another hot day, but right now it is still cool and gentle, and there have been wonderful rains. A weekend of precious family time passed, and I woke up this morning feeling rich and deeply thankful.
This blog has a counter, which reflects the "hits" on a graph each day. I am always amazed at the peaks on this graph. I sit and stare at them and think: "Just imagine - all these people chose to take time to read what I have written". And then a warm feeling flows through me and I thank God for another good and perfect gift.
But this morning I want to thank each one of you. For choosing to take time in your busy days to read what I write. Faithfully. I understand that we live in a time when one is bombarded with so much information, so many messages on social media, so many people sharing "stuff". Some good, some less so and some just downright ridiculous and not worth paying attention to.
So thank you. From my heart. For reading. For encouraging. For making me feel that even from my secluded hill-top seat, there is a way to reach into people's hearts. For Jesus not only makes crooked paths straight. He makes paths. Anywhere and everywhere.
As I do not have a specific message in my heart this week, I have borrowed from something I read recently (a sermon by John MacArthur), summing up how acceptance can grow into contentment and ultimately into joy “in every circumstance”.
I am hoping that it may stir a longing (in me also) to lean closer to Jesus, read His Word, hear His Voice and feel satisfied in whatever circumstance we are in.
1. Learn to give thanks in all things. Thankfulness is first of all a matter of obedience (1 Thess 5:18), but it is also a characteristic of a Spirit-filled believer. (Eph 5:18-20).
2. Learn to rest in God's providence. If we truly know God, we know that He is unfolding His purpose in our lives. He has sovereignly determined each part of His plan for us so that we'll be benefited and He'll be glorified (Rom 8:28). We should not be surprised or ungrateful when we experience trials, because we know that God sees perfectly the end result (1 Pet 4:12,13).
3. Learn to be satisfied with little. Better a little with the fear of the LORD than great wealth with turmoil. (Prov 15:16) Paul understood that covetousness and contentment are mutually exclusive.
4. Learn to live above life's circumstances. That's how Paul lived. In 2 Cor 12:9-10, he wrote, "Most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
Paul didn't take pleasure in the pain itself, but in the power of Christ manifested through him in times of infirmity, reproach, persecution, and distress. We also can learn to take pleasure in the power of Christ in times of distress.
5. Learn to rely on God's power and provision. The apostle Paul wrote, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Phil 4:13); and Jesus said He will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb 13:5). We can learn to rely on Christ's promise. He faithfully infuses every believer with His own strength and sustains them in their time of need until they receive provision from His hand (Eph 3:16).
6. Finally – look toward the well-being of others. This mindset is summarised in Phil 2:3-4, where Paul wrote: "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others."
A self-centered person is a discontented person. But those who live generously, those who live for the interests and benefit of others, to bring glory to the Kingdom of God, will find blessing upon blessing in their lives (Prov 11:24-25, 19:17, Luke 6:38, 2 Cor 9:6).
It is not a magic self-help formula. It is merely a few pure and simple and Scriptural truths, placed there to draw us back to the simplicity of living in the presence of God in all we do.
With love and gratitude