Thursday, December 31, 2020
The Real Me
The writer, David, begins to describe how blessed it is for a man to confess his sins before God. In one part, David describes his turmoil of keeping his sin a secret. He writes, “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.” As I read that, I remembered all the times I’ve kept secrets and all the times I put on different faces and tried to keep up certain pseudos to co-workers, family members and friends.
I thought of all the times I was filled with anxiety because of the lies I was juggling, about the times I couldn’t look my friend in the face because I wasn’t living how I knew I should, and all the times I felt insecure because no one knew the real me. Just like David I know the agony of not being an open book. I know how it feels to pretend, be a liar, and to hate myself.
It’s heavy to keep up pseudos and I was emotional this morning because I was thankful- thankful that I don’t live like that anymore. Just like David, I realized that to be fully awake and to be fully loved, I must open up and show people the real me, warts and all.
Jesus thought this was important, too. In Luke chapter 18, Jesus tells a story about two men. One is a tax collector and the other is a religious leader. Jesus says both of these men approached the temple to pray. The religious leader went first and said, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.” Even if that wasn’t a lie, how arrogant.
Here is this “holy man”, filled with religious pride, thanking God for something that was not true. This man was blinded by the appearances he was trying to keep up. And this isn’t just speculation. Jesus often rebuked the religious leaders in His day and for doing the very thing this guy prayed he didn’t do.
This religious leader was not open before God. He was not truthful about who he was and the sins he committed. Isn’t that what happens to us? We keep up appearances so much that we actually don’t know how to have a healthy relationship? We can’t even have a conversation without lying or exaggerating the truth. We don’t know how to put our walls down, even before God?
Next up was the tax collector. These guys were known for swindling and lying to people to get what they wanted. They were known for ripping people off and getting away with it. But this man’s prayer was much different than the religious man. Jesus goes on to say this about the tax collector, “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his chest and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
Jesus finishes His teaching by saying, “which man do you think was accepted by God?”
He was teaching people about being open before God. Jesus continues to teach that God does not look at the outside of man, but at the heart of man. If a man would humble himself before God and confess, God would accept him.
Isn’t this true with people, too? Aren’t people more inclined to accept someone who is open and truthful rather than someone who is fake? Without this quality, it’s impossible to experience true love.
Doesn’t true love see the good, the bad and the ugly and still say, ‘I accept you’? I’m glad I have relationships like this. That I’m not hiding who I am, but I’m loved, quirks and all. I’m fully me and I’m glad I’m fully known.
I often ask myself why I used to live life like this. Why did I pretend that I had money when I didn’t? Why didn’t I tell the truth when I was hurting? Why did I lie about my shirt size? Or about how much I weighed? So many things I’ve lied about or hidden from people that was unnecessary.
I realized that this tactic wasn’t protecting me the way I thought it would. I was fooled by my insecurities that if I opened up and shared with people how I truly felt, what I truly thought, or how I truly lived, no one would love me. But all it did was bury my sense of worth.
In the book of James, it says, confess to your brothers so that you may be healed. Today, stop hiding behind the fear of what people think. Stop hiding behind the idea that God doesn't want anything to do with you. Let people see who you really are.
Outreach and Men’s Pastor
Tuesday, December 22, 2020
What I Owe You
It’s not what you owe me, it’s what I owe you.
This phrase popped into my mind while processing a betrayal with a friend. The betrayal was real and, by all accounts, the friend had every right to take their pound of flesh in exchange for the wound received.
Of course, living the Jesus way means this kind of vengeance is unacceptable. We know that. But living it out is another thing entirely.
Something about the way this particular phrase came to me, struck a chord.
It's not what you owe me,
but what I owe you.
As humans we love to think in terms of who owes what. It helps us know our place. Are we the lender or the debtor? We love to keep accounts in our relationships, carefully measuring whether we have given more or received more and whether it has been too long since "they" have made a deposit!
Personally, I don't like to be in another's debt. — I scramble to get out of it. I'll beg forgiveness. I'll pay extra to make it right. I'll go out of my way until I feel that the deficit has been sufficiently back-filled.
The problem is that it is a totally wrong way to live.
Because it’s not about what you owe me, but what I owe you.
The Apostle Paul said it well, “Let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt to love one another.”
There is one bill that can never be marked zero. One bill that can never be sufficiently back-filled no matter how much remorse, regret, or relief I give. Measuring how much I have given is meaningless!
The reason we have an open debt is because of what Jesus did for us. On the Cross, He covered our debt with God the Father. He made a way where there was no way. He opened the door that no man can shut. He invited us into heaven to spend eternity with Him.
And He did that before we even knew Him. We certainly didn’t deserve it! If His gift was based on our deserving it, we wouldn’t have a chance. This kind of love is almost impossible for us humans to understand. It is a love that gives the best even when others do their worst.
And that is why we have to ask Jesus to help us to love others in this way. It is only through His power that we can do it!
Who do you owe forgiveness?
Who do you owe patience?
Who do you owe a second (or a 100th chance)?
Who do you owe a listening ear or a kind response?
I owe, I owe, so it’s off to work I go!
Friday, December 18, 2020
It’s The Little Things...
Often, the smallest things grow into something HUGE! Whether it’s a habit, a routine, a legacy, a tradition – they all begin with one small step.
You probably have Christmas traditions that you have created and practiced over the years. They may have even started with your parents or grandparents or several generations of your family.
In our family, we have some familiar ones:
· We go to Christmas Eve candlelight service together.
· We open one gift on Christmas Eve.
· We bake a ‘Happy Birthday, Jesus’ cake.
· We try to stay in our pajamas all day long and do as little as possible and just be with one another.
None of these traditions are handed down. We created these ourselves – little by little, over time. We started by doing them once, enjoying the experience, and repeating it again year after year. I am certain many of these will stay with my kids as they raise their own kids.
The same is true of our relationship with God. You may have some pretty solid habits in place when it comes to worshiping and serving Him. Or you may not even know where to begin.
Someone recently shared this quote with me about God and becoming aware of His presence:
“He does not ask much of us, merely a thought of Him from time to time, a little act of adoration, sometimes to ask for His grace, sometimes to offer Him your sufferings, at other times to thank Him for the graces, past and present, He has bestowed on you, in the midst of your troubles to take solace in Him as often as you can. Lift up your heart to Him during your meals and in company; the least little remembrance will always be the most pleasing to Him. One need not cry out very loudly; He is nearer to us than we think.”
It is from a book of teachings entitled, “The Practice and Presence of God”. These are teachings from Brother Lawrence, born Nicolas Herman, a 17th-century friar. The basic theme of the book is the development of an awareness of the presence of God.
This struck me as a very pleasant sentiment about our interactions with God. Whether we don’t know Him at all, find ourselves too busy, or have a great habit of spending time in His presence, it is nice to hear that He is always near and any little thing we give is pleasing to Him.
This is an encouragement to begin a new tradition with your friends or family or even just for yourself. Begin a holiday tradition that includes God. It can be any little thing. A prayer before a meal, a quick ‘thank you, Jesus’ before opening gifts, a reading of Jesus’ birth in Luke 2:1-20 or may even bundling up and joining Koinonia Church outside, under the stars, for a quick candlelight service.
Do these things as a way to connect and celebrate the birth of the Savior.
Perhaps it will become the small thing that becomes a big tradition that you want to continue for years to come.
It’s the little things. These sayings exist because they are SO TRUE! It IS the little things! It is the small things that add up to become something incredibly wonderful.
I pray your Christmas is full of love and peace. I pray that you draw closer to the one who created you. I pray that you begin, or continue, doing a little thing that adds up to a big wonderful thing.
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy…” -Psalm 16:11
Connection and Development Pastor
Friday, December 4, 2020
In 2012, the show, “Doomsday Preppers”, debuted and introduced the American mainstream to the prepping lifestyle. You’ll find preppers all over America and I’d bet there is probably at least one in your own neighborhood right now. Preppers are people who are actively preparing for the worst. If the power grid goes out, they’re ready with portable solar panels. If the city water plant fails, they’ve got water in their garage and kits to filter out even that nastiest bacteria. If anarchy breaks out, they’ve got a backpack that is ready to go at any moment so they can bug out and head for the hills.
2020 has been such a strange year that it has made us all feel insecure about the future. Maybe things aren’t going to melt down completely, but I have to be honest there have been days when I’ve wondered if I should have my own bug out bag packed and ready to go!
What I am 100% certain of is that all of us need to think about what is in our spiritual bug out bag.
Whether the economy swings up or swings down, whether we go into another shutdown or we change tiers from purple to hot pink, you need to think more about what you have in your spiritual locker more than anything else. Because the time you take to pack your spiritual toolkit will make the difference the next time you and your family hit a bump in the road.
It’s nice to have an extra roll (or 10) of toilet paper (and most of us have made sure that we do), but even more critical is having something to offer to your teenager who is struggling with suicidal thoughts or your neighbor who just had their spouse walk out the door or your best friend who is so deep in debt that they don’t even know where to begin. The answer to all of these challenges is more spiritual than physical. And if we haven’t packed correctly, we won’t be of much value in times of crisis.
The Apostle Peter encouraged his audience to “always be prepared.” He wanted them, and he would want us today, to be ready for the questions, the needs, and the challenges that come our way. Being prepared doesn’t happen by accident; it requires time and attention.
I believe he would challenge each one of us to spend time making sure that our spiritual bags are packed so that we can be of use when the time comes.
How are your spiritual bags? Many of us are unprepared. We’re holding on by a thread. The good news is that you don’t have to stay that way!
Preparation begins with acknowledging that you need to make a change in your life. Perhaps you need to open yourself to the God of the universe and invite Him to speak to you. Perhaps you need to turn off the screens, the social media, and the noise and tune into a more heavenly channel? Packing your spiritual bags means taking care of spiritual business: saying yes to God more often than you say yes to the lower parts of your nature.
Like everything else, it all begins at the beginning. The pastors of Kings County are always available to help you pack the right things in your spiritual bags! If you need help getting started, check the series, “Preppers: Are You Ready?” at kchanford.com/preppers
Tuesday, November 24, 2020
Struggling For Perspective
I’ll be honest, I’m frustrated.
But maybe not in the ways you might think. Sure, I’m feeling the stress of the pandemic and of the state of U.S. politics. And, of course, my heart breaks for all the division, hatred, and ugliness we’ve seen around us. It’s been taking a toll on me, affecting my disposition, and sometimes making me cynical or hard-hearted.
And that’s what frustrates me. But I’m not frustrated with the things that are causing me to feel this way. I’m frustrated with myself for letting them.
Because as a follower of Christ, my hope, my joy, and my peace are not dependent on the circumstances around me. At least they shouldn’t be. So why am I struggling to keep my perspective? Why are these temporary things living rent-free in my heart and mind? Why are they becoming the biggest, most significant things to me?
The answer is simple, even if it’s hard to admit. These things are determining my emotional health because these things are where I have placed most of my focus. Do you see now why I’m frustrated with myself?
I’m the one who chooses what I will fill myself with each day. And whatever I put in will determine how I feel and how I function. It’s no wonder I’m angry, cynical, and hopeless. All I’ve been doing is looking at the here and now. And yeah, things aren’t so great. But what does the here and now have to do with my hope for the future? If I keep myself filled with God’s word by reading my Bible, and I keep myself filled with His Holy Spirit by spending time alone with Him, then my perspective becomes much bigger than all that.
The things of our Father’s eternal Kingdom should make up the majority of what we consume and dwell on. But it’s so easy to get out of balance because of the sheer volume (in this case, meaning both the quantity and the loudness) of competing sources. And it’s not enough just to say “well, I’ll have to read my Bible a little more” because when I look at my phone’s battery usage statistics I can see that as of 12pm today I’ve already consumed almost an hour and a half of the world through news websites, videos, and social media! Have I prayed or read my bible for 90 minutes today?
I don’t think we even realize how much we’re taking in. It’s deceptive because it comes in small doses divided over multiple sources and spaced throughout our entire day. But there’s no way we can bring it into balance simply by upping our time with God. We also need to silence a huge amount of the other stuff, or we’ll never keep up in this battle. And make no mistake, this is a battle - for your time, your attention, the condition of your heart, and the health of your mind and emotions. All of these things are what ultimately determine the course of your life, the closeness of your walk with Jesus, and the fruitfulness of your faith.
Where is your focus? And how is it working for you?
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.” Philippians 4:8
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:2
Friday, November 20, 2020
Knock Down Ginger; Nicky Nicky Nine Doors
These are Canada’s names for ‘ding dong ditch’. Others are ‘ring run’ and ‘knock-a-door-run’. Remember when you used to ring someone’s doorbell and run away before they could answer? Was that just me? It was definitely before doorbell cameras. In America, we call that ‘ding dong ditch’.
And that is the premise of my holiday season plans. I am ready to have some fun – good old, clean, childhood fun! My plan is to combine ‘ding dong ditch’ with blessing someone’s socks off during the 2020 holiday season.
In the midst of this lock down, distanced, mask-wearing culture, I am planning a coup (cue evil bwahaha laugh).
I’m tired of complaining. I’m tired of all the ‘don’t’s’. I’m tired of the negativity and divisiveness. I just don’t care for any of it, any more. But, most of all, I’m tired of just hanging on, waiting for it all to pass. I am on a mission to be the light of the world during this holiday season . . . or at least on my block. I am about to turn this pandemic on its tail and become counter-cultural!
Here’s my plan:
1. Set my goals:
- Have fun
- Bless my neighbors
- Be contagious (in joy, not the other stuff)
- Make myself available to my neighbors
- Involve my young adult kids (the toughest part)
2. Brainstorm ideas:
- Who are my neighbors?
- What can I do for them that is safe, helpful or fun?
- How do I let them know that I’m here for them whether it’s for a cup of sugar, to store their kids’ presents until Santa comes, or for some needed prayer?
3. Develop a plan and a schedule
4. Buy or make the things
5. Implement the plan while dragging my kids along
Simple enough. Now to follow through. That’s actually why I’m writing this in a very public place. I need the accountability because it’s way too easy to have good intentions that lead nowhere.
My real motivation is that I really care about people AND I really want to make a difference in my small world AND I want people to know me as their Christian friend – even if they don’t know what that means. You know . . . be a good neighbor.
We live in a small enough community where we actually have the power to make a difference. Jesus REALLY cared about people (to the point of death). He certainly made a difference (for all eternity). He was extremely intentional about making Himself available to others who needed a friend or a neighbor. He particularly cared about the lowly, the disenfranchised, the forgotten, the lonely, the sick, the widowed, the orphaned, the lost.
When challenged by an antagonist about the most important thing to God, He said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and most important command. And the second command is like the first: ‘Love your neighbor the same as you love yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37-39 ERV)
Seems simple enough. I’m going to focus on those two things. I’m going to minimize everything the world is trying to push on me and make this my daily priority.
I can set my agenda. I can determine my attitude and priorities. I can choose joy and kindness. I can choose to not be a victim of my circumstances. Anyone else want to be counter-cultural with me? I hope to look back on January 1, 2021 and say to myself, “THAT was fun. THAT was meaningful.”
Don’t just be a neighbor; be a good neighbor.
Pastor of Connection and Development
Friday, November 6, 2020
How To Pray For The Sick
My mom used to keep a tattered and worn piece of paper near her phone that had a list of people on it that she was praying for. I always knew that if I needed an answer to prayer, all I had to do was ask mom to get involved. I used to tease her that she must have God by the ear because she seemed to have a direct line to him. The truth is that we all have a direct line to God through prayer.
Prayer might seem like a tedious chore. We might have memories from childhood of being told to say our prayers at bedtime. “Now I lay me down to sleep…”. We recited all the things we wanted God to help us with, including asking for prayers for a sick cat or “God, please make sure I get a bike for Christmas.” That last one was my prayer for a couple of years.
Nowadays, we seem to be surrounded by friends, family and acquaintances that are in desperate need of prayer, especially in the area of sickness. Not only are we concerned about COVID-19 but we all probably know someone battling cancer or other illnesses. Their diagnosis might seem insurmountable and praying for them might seem useless. The truth is, that God hears every prayer from the faithful and God will heal. He may not do it in the way that we expect. There may not be an obvious miracle, but God hears our prayers and answers every single one.
So, how can you pray for the sick without letting your logical mind interfere with the supernatural? Here are some simple guidelines to keep your focus on God and his plan for healing:
Pray with Faith
My favorite story about praying with faith is found in Mark, chapter 9, verses 14-27. The disciples have been unable to cast out a demon in a young boy and Jesus has them bring the boy to him. The boy’s father says to Jesus, “Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.” “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?”, Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help overcome my unbelief!” (emphasis mine)
When a friend is given a terminal diagnosis or is battling a particularly terrible illness, it can be difficult to pray with faith for a complete physical healing. The truth is that we know that God can heal in that way. The other truth is that evil is in the world and we are all going to die someday. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t still pray with faith and ask God to help us when there is that little niggle of doubt in our hearts. We put our focus on Jesus and his healing blood from the cross. He died for our sins and by his stripes we are healed! (Isaiah 53:5)
Pray with Thanksgiving
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6 (NLT)
There’s that little phrase between two commas: “with thanksgiving”. I actually love that part of praying for people who are sick. I enjoy thanking God for them, telling him how grateful I am that I can pray for them and that I can trust him to comfort them and heal them. I thank him for their life and all the things that he has called them to accomplish. I praise and thank him for all the good things that come to mind about the person I’m praying for. Praying with thanksgiving causes a supernatural joy to bubble up and it will bolster your faith as you pray.
Pray with Authority
We have been given powerful authority in Christ. Whenever Jesus prayed for someone who needed healing, he was pretty quick about it and spoke with tremendous authority. You might say, well, of course he spoke with authority! He is God! Yes, this is true. But he also told us in John 14:12 “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done…”
When you read through the gospels, you’ll see words accompanying Jesus’ healings such as rebuke, command, reprimand, and instruct. Jesus was full of action and sure authority because of his relationship with the Father. Because of Jesus and his death and resurrection, we have that same authority and certainty when we pray for healing. We are doing battle against the evil of this world and praying with authority is essential when praying for the sick.
Prayer takes our faith to an entirely different level. Through prayer we transcend the physical world and enter into the supernatural. Our faith will grow from the tiniest mustard seed into a strong tree that flourishes in God’s presence.
Matthew 14:14 is a passage that is indicative of Jesus and the multitudes that he healed during his ministry:
“When he went ashore, he saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick.”
Paula Aiton is a member of Koinonia Church worship team in Hanford, CA and a freelance writer, musician and artist. Her blog, ‘God’s Glory Girl’, can be found at godsglorygirl.com.
Wednesday, October 28, 2020
When God Says “No”
I haven’t met very many people who enjoy hearing “no” to their requests. Especially when we are convinced that our request is reasonable! “No’s” hurt our pride, our sense of justice, and our ability to control the world around us.
When God says “no” to our prayers, we can be sure He does it for good reason! We have a hard time believing that truth. But if He is God and we are not, then we can be assured that He has a bigger perspective and a better plan than we do.
God sees more and He knows more. We have to remind ourselves of that over and over again. Because the moment I focus on the thing that I need to happen in my life, I forget how small my perspective is in comparison to God’s.
We are stuck in time—God is not.
We are stuck in our mind—God is not.
We are stuck in a body—God is not.
God knows everything and sees everything. Often when He says “no” or “not yet”, He does so because He knows that a “yes” answer might make us happy for a moment but it wouldn’t be the best.
We have to remember that God’s plan is always what is best for us or for the entire world. He is working things out. He is bringing as many souls into heaven as possible. He is pushing back darkness and shining the light. But sometimes that means that what we think is best, is not actually what is best.
God’s plan is to grow us and make us look more like His Son, Jesus. Jesus was perfect and sinless. He brought healing and life to everyone He came into contact with. If we are to become more like Him, we are going to need God to say “no” to us sometimes so that we can grow up.
Right now, our world is upside down in so many ways. And we may not see it or understand exactly how, but God is at work. It feels like many of our prayers are getting a “no” or “not yet” answer and we are so frustrated and angry. Like a child who stomps her foot when told “no”, we are doing our fair share of foot-stomping right now.
Are you frustrated, angry, or depressed with the state of our world right now? You’re not alone! All of these emotions are normal in a time when all of our normal routines have been disrupted. But if you stay there, you will find more and more reasons to be frustrated, angry and depressed.
Instead, give God permission to say “no”.
Now, I understand that God doesn’t need your permission. But giving permission means giving up control. And many of us think we still have control. The last thing we want to do in an uncomfortable situation is to release the last bit of control that we have (even if it is only an illusion of control). But until you let it go, you haven’t fully let Him be God.
When we finally let go, we will discover that the thing we have been holding onto has only kept us from holding onto His hand. And once we are fully in His hands, we can be assured that He will take care of us. He always does. His way is always the best.
Lead Pastor at Koinonia Church
Sunday, October 18, 2020
Are You A Good Friend?
Do you consider yourself to be a good friend? A good friend is often considered someone loyal, accepting, and one who invests time in others. In my life, I have had friends that were good friends for only a season and I also have friendships that have survived years and difficult seasons. Looking back, I realize that many of the friendships that didn’t last were simply superficial.
I desire to be a good friend to those in my life, so I looked to scripture to help me ground my friendships in Biblical principles. Jesus spent most of His 33 years on earth living among the people and He had friends. You know that verse in the Bible that simply says, “Jesus wept.”? He wept because his dear friend, Lazarus, had died. Jesus lived and loved people on earth and I want to learn how to be a good and loving friend from His example, not the world’s.
Put Your Friends Before Yourself
“Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” -Philippians 2:4-7
Jesus came to earth and spent His time here humbly serving others. We need to humble ourselves in our friendships and have hearts to serve our friends. Often, many look at friendships as a transaction. What can I get out of this? How can this friendship make me happier? This approach is the opposite of what Jesus embodied. Pray for your friends and serve them with no expectation of return.
Love Unconditionally and Fully
“When Jesus knew that His hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.…[He] rose from supper… poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet.” -John 13:1, 4-5
What could be a greater act of unconditional love than to humble yourself before others as Jesus did at this moment? He deserved to be exalted and yet He washed His disciples’ feet. Not only that, He washed the feet of those present who He knew would betray Him and deny Him. Can you say that you serve and love others this fully? Especially those who do not benefit you?
“…she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.'” -Luke 10:40-42
Martha felt justified in her complaint to Jesus about her sister. She was doing all of the work and she was frustrated! Jesus sweetly corrects her and points out the flaw in her motivations. Martha worried about the things of this world but Mary knew the time spent with Him was more important. Jesus could have shamed her or admonished her sharply but He chose to lovingly correct. We are also called to lovingly (keyword) correct our friends. This does not involve running to others to complain about how they’ve got it wrong. It involves doing the hard work of taking the time to build a relationship and a safe place for correction. This also involves being secure enough to take correction from friends who do it lovingly with Him in mind.
The world shows us a superficial view of what friendships should look like. The Word shows us that friendships should be selfless, loving, and a place to build each other up. Friendships grounded with these traits will not be superficial and will be pleasing to Him.
Children’s Ministry Director
Content In All Circumstances
Several years ago, I wrote an article about contentment. Recently, the issue came to mind again. This may be God prompting me to check myself.
I honestly don’t mind conversations with others about how coronavirus is impacting their lives. I am truly interested. Sometimes it even includes things that we can laugh and joke about. I just hope that I’m not complaining more at a time when I should be contemplating more.
Contentment is defined as a state of happiness and appreciation. The antidote to discontent is thankfulness.
Discontented is a horrible way to go through life. It brings depression, stress, and ugly attitudes.
Contentment, on the other hand, brings about health and happiness. We have to want it! We have to fight for it!
The book of Philippians in the Bible contains only 4 chapters, but is powerful and chock full of wisdom for us today. Written by the apostle Paul as a letter to the church in Philippi, he writes this letter from prison because he has been arrested for preaching about Jesus. Paul was one of the biggest persecutors of Christians before he encountered Jesus. From that point on, he couldn’t stop telling people about Him – even to the point of imprisonment and ultimately, death.
Paul thanks them for their concern and their support of him. He states, “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. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (4:11-13)
Did you catch that? “…in whatever circumstances I am.”
When I wrote about contentment in 2017, our circumstances were much different than in 2020. So, how do I find contentment TODAY in the midst of all this?!? The Word of God is clear. It never changes. It is alive and beneficial for yesterday, today and whatever tomorrow holds. Here’s what God says is the key to contentment . . .
“Always be filled with joy in the Lord. I will say it again. Be filled with joy.” (4:4 ERV)
”Let everyone see that you are gentle and kind . . . Don’t worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks for what you have. And because you belong to Christ Jesus, God’s peace will stand guard over all your thoughts and feelings. His peace can do this far better than our human minds.” (4:5-7 ERV)
This is good stuff! He tells us to be filled with joy. He says it again, “Be filled with joy.” Great advice but easier said than done, right? He then goes on to tell us how to be filled with joy . . . even in 2020.
“Brothers and sisters, continue to think about what is good and worthy of praise. Think about what is true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected. And do what you learned and received from me—what I told you and what you saw me do. And the God who gives peace will be with you.” (4:8-9 ERV)
It bears repeating: Contentment is a state of happiness and appreciation. The antidote to discontent is thankfulness.
Two things you can do today:
1. Every time you find yourself grumbling or complaining – in your head or out loud – immediately begin thinking about what you have to be thankful for and appreciate.
2. Read Philippians 4 often as a reminder of the secrets to contentment. (If you don’t have a Bible, Google it in an easy to read version.)
Pastor of Connection and Development