It’s funny that I am charged to write this month about contentment when I myself have been feeling a stirring of unsettledness lately. Now, it doesn’t help that at this moment, the world is beginning a season of Christmas frenzy, a sheer display of a world yearning for contentment and looking in all the wrong places. It’s the yearly dash to fulfill something that we can’t quite place our finger on, but for a fleeting moment amidst the shopping, eating, and preparations, we think we may actually have found it.
Just for a moment…
Perhaps a bit of it has rubbed off on me as I can’t quite place my finger on the unsettledness. As a writer who constantly talks about Jesus being our everything, yes, even I succumb to the battle at times. We all do. No one is immune to discontentment.
Recently, I was reading Ecclesiastes and it sums up the whole thing. Man is constantly toiling and searching, yet the end result is the same for us all. Death. We all seek what is never truly found on this earth.
“Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done
And on the labor in which I had toiled;
And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind.
There was no profit under the sun.”
Contentment is only found in Christ
The only answer for our unsettledness or discontent in this life is Jesus.
Without Him, it is as the writer of Ecclesiastes says…a life is lived for vain purposes. But with Him, our life is complete. We can’t base our contentment on what we have, or what we do, or the circumstances around us. We will only ever find true and lasting contentment one day apart from this earth.
Psalm 23 tells us the Lord is our shepherd and we shall not want. But we live in a world that tells us just the opposite. We will live in a culture full of wants. How do we remedy this?
Look at Eve. She was discontent. That is why she sought for more than she was already given. Not satisfied that God was all she needed, she stepped out and sought something apart from Him. And frankly, we all do at times. No matter how much we know that our contentment is in Christ, since we are not in heaven yet, we easily fall into the trap of dissatisfaction and looking to things around us to provide fulfillment.
That is why it is imperative to stay in the Word, cling to Jesus, and keep our gaze heavenward anticipating the day we see Him face to face.
Designed to Be Fulfilled in Him
For now, the knowledge of that day needs to be enough to fill us and to make us stop the endless pursuit of earthly vanities. And live for Him alone.
We live in a world that is on a continuous search but know that you don’t need to. You already have what they are looking for. The Creator of the universe designed you to be fulfilled in Him alone.
Praise the Lord, it doesn’t end with death for us, and it doesn’t end with a life lived in vain toil. The last portion of Ecclesiastes sums it up:
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all.”
Stand in Awe
Here we are told to fear God, meaning to stand in awe of Him. In a world that stands in awe of the latest celebrity, the latest gadget or technology, or the latest fad and fashion, we are to fear God and be awestruck. Then everything else around us will become a little bit less desirable, for we know it is all temporal. Only He will remain.
So yes, fear God, love Him above everything, and stand in awe of Him.
Lord forgive us for the times we look for contentment part from you. May we know that we don’t have to search, toil, or strive for anything. You have provided all we need, and You are our very life itself. We look forward to the day when we stand face to face, worshipping you forever, fully complete and filled with lasting joy. Amen.
We all desire to fulfill a purpose. We all want to feel accomplished and worthy. Often, we spend our whole lives seeking after our purpose, yet still, wind up with emptiness. We seek our worth in our achievements, yet still, end up feeling unworthy. The futility of it all catches up to us eventually.
But, as a Christian, our purpose is to glorify God.
Isn’t it ironic then, that our purpose and our worth is actually not based on anything we have accomplished? We do not have to toil or chase to attain it. The work has been done. And our job is simply to glorify the One who has completed the work.
Talk about turning your world upside down!
Our culture teaches us that we must pursue greatness. We must push harder to attain more and we must do all we can to achieve and advance. We are taught that our worth comes from what we accomplish. The focus is on ourselves. And we think within ourselves we will find our purpose.
Yet, the Bible tells us we exist first, and foremost, to glorify God. That is our true purpose.
“Everyone who is called by My name, And whom I have created for My glory, Whom I have formed, even whom I have made,” Isaiah 43:7
We were created for His glory. And the truth is, no accomplishment achieved without giving glory to God, is worth achieving. And nothing we do apart from Him can be for good.
Much of the reason so many folks end up empty, even though they strive, is because they are searching for purpose in the places that do not provide it. They keep trying to attain a purpose that is self-glorifying rather than God-glorifying.
Our purpose is found in worshipping, exalting, praising our Lord, and making Him known.
It is that simple.
Furthermore, there is freedom in knowing our true and only purpose. We finally stop chasing the wind and ending up empty-handed.
The knowledge that we do nothing apart from Him and our whole existence is because of Him, frees us. We no longer chase the unattainable.
Purpose in All Things
Sometimes in the mundane moments of the day, a mother feels like she has no purpose. She has been wiping spills, doing laundry, wiping noses, breaking up arguments…and it all seems to be on repeat day after day.
Is this really what she was created for?
However, when that mother stops and realizes she was created to glorify God, in all things, each mundane moment becomes a holy moment. Each moment, big or small, is a chance to glorify her Savior and a chance to point the next generation to Him.
There is no greater purpose.
Recognize today that all you do is for the Lord. True worth is found in Him and each and every task you do is all for His glory.
Dear Heavenly Father, We come to you today asking for forgiveness for the times we have sought purpose apart from you. Because apart from you, there is no purpose. Help us to live out our true purpose each and every day. To know you, to exalt you, and make you known. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Before we can understand hope, we must look at hopelessness. Many of us have felt the sting of rejection and the heartache of sadness. We have even felt despondent at times. But hopelessness? It encompasses pain on deeper levels. It is dark. And helpless. There is no way out.
Hopelessness is true despair with no glimpse of help. There is not one ounce of light shining in and all seems lost. There is no future to look to and no peace in the present.
And, before Christ, we were all hopeless.
Yet, Jesus steps in and gives us hope – for a future, for a present, for a life.
Hope brings light into the darkness. It brings redemption and a future to look forward to. There is hope where there was once hopelessness.
I have been in that utter despair and darkness. With no light beams reaching me. It was truly a pit. Yet, He stepped in, and first a little pinhole of light poked through that darkness, and I saw it. I was changed by just that little glimmer of goodness and glimpse of a future that wasn’t so bleak. And that light grew and reached further into the crevices. It was like the rising sun out of a black night.
I waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me,
And heard my cry.
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,
Out of the miry clay,
And set my feet upon a rock,
And established my steps.
He has put a new song in my mouth—
Praise to our God;
Many will see it and fear,
And will trust in the Lord.
The light grows and broadens until it is penetrating each area that was once so dark. A once blackened room at midnight is filled with radiant light come morning.
And with each beam of light, hope grows.
And a future is promised. The present is lighter. The peace and joy that come only from knowing Him surpasses all else.
Therefore, hope is more than a feeling or a wish. It is a true anchor for our souls that offers a future of glory. It is what Jesus offers and the world can never give us. Because without Him, there is absolutely no hope. The only way to eternity is through Jesus. He is our hope. He is the One who lights our path into eternity.
So, dear friends, are you feeling helpless? Hopeless? May we look to Him in these times that sometimes feel lost and dark. Because we are never truly hopeless. There is always hope. In Jesus.
Dear Heavenly Father, May we all look to our One and only Hope each day. May we never waiver in knowing the truth that sets us free, sets our feet on a rock, and gives us a plan for a future. A future filled with glory far beyond this world. Far reaching into every dark and dreary corner is a Light that will shine and give us eternity. Amen.
Remember as a child when your mom told you to say you were sorry to your brother for that mean way you treated him? And you half-heartedly responded, “Sorry.” And your brother may have muttered back, “It’s OK.” And you were both expected to go forgive and go on your merry ways.
Neither party involved really was feeling sorry or much like forgiving.
And that is because we are usually so self-focused in the moment as children (and as adults) that we only care about how we feel at the time, not really about the other person.
In that moment we feel justified for our behavior. And the one we hurt doesn’t feel very much like forgiving.
What would happen though, if we took our eyes off ourselves and looked after another’s interests?
Whether we are the offender or the one offended, we need to pray through forgiveness.
We can pray for the Holy Spirit to give us the strength not only to apologize but to really mean it. Because in our flesh, “I’m sorry” are just words. And usually, they are said in an effort to just “do right” But are we truly repentant?
And forgiving takes just as much prayer. We may respond with, “It’s ok.” But are we still holding a grudge in our hearts? Do we still remember it the next time the offender hurts us? Are we keeping a record of wrongs and letting bitter roots grow?
Again, praying and asking the Holy Spirit to help us forgive in His strength, and not our own is necessary. Because in our flesh we want to keep a record and make that person pay for what they did to us. We want justice.
But God is just. He knows both the offender and the one offended inside and out. He will deliver justice, and our job is to do as the Bible instructs.
“…and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Matthew 6:12
“Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. Matthew 5:23-24
As we seek to live like Christ, we can approach forgiveness from both sides, but always as Christ. We must remember the One who ultimately gave His life for us. How can we look inward when He set the example of true forgiveness? And how can we not be filled with sorrow when we offend another?
Take our eyes off ourselves and look unto Him, and ultimately we will understand forgiveness.
Dear Heavenly Father, Please help us to live like Jesus. Help us to give forgiveness and to ask for it from those we have hurt. Give us the humility to set aside our pride and give us the supernatural desire to forgive as well as to repent.
In Your Name, we pray. Amen.
A few summers ago I started a ladies prayer time in my home. It is open to all women, we meet weekly, and each time women from different parts of my life come. Sometimes no one shows, and even then I still commit to sitting on my porch for that hour and praying. This weekly practice has been such a sweet blessing.
Even though all different women may join me, often with very little in common, it is a beautiful time of fellowship because we are all united in Christ. It doesn’t matter much about who we are: moms, grandmas, young adults…we all join together to pray.
And the amazing thing is that each woman often ends up finding a common thread with another. God truly unites us.
Remember the “why”
It is good to remember why we pray. It is not to get together and present our list of wants. It is about uniting our hearts with God, so ultimately His will becomes our will. Prayer changes us. It links us with those we are praying with and for, and ultimately the act of prayer unites us with God.
Prayer is an absolute necessity and should be an integral part of our life. It is our communication with the Lord. We are to live a prayerful and prayer-filled life.
It’s always difficult when a prayer doesn’t get answered the way we want it. Yet, God is God all the time. And ultimately, prayers are all answered by Him, His way. I wouldn’t want it any other way. And that is where prayer changes us.
How do you see prayer? Do you see it is a time to just ask for things? Or a time to sync up your desires with God’s desires?
I encourage you to let prayer change you. Seek to unite with God intimately through prayer. Submit and surrender all to Him in prayer and watch as prayers get answered, even if not your wish, in His will.
There is no place I would rather be.
“…your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Dear Lord, Help us to commune with you through our prayers. Let us not use our prayers as a self-motivated way to get what we want, but as a spirit-filled time to align our hearts with your will. Thank you for the gift of prayer and that you hear us and you answer us. Amen.
Provision. That word has a special place in my mind and soul. So many times in the past, I feared not having enough. Three job losses. New babies. Always fearing that we would not be provided for.
Yet God, in His grace, always, always provided. He always met our needs. He always sent others to bless us. We never went without. And even though we knew that we really needed very little material things to truly be provided for, the fear always remained. What if we don’t have enough?
Over the years God taught me about this word, provision, far beyond the material things. Yes, even in the very lean years we were physically provided for. But what I learned most was that His spiritual provision was far beyond compare.
When you hear the word provision do you immediately think of “things?” Me too. Yet, today I encourage you to look beyond the temporal provisions and look to the spiritual. Those are the things that will matter far beyond this world.
Provision is about so much more than God giving us “things.” Often those things are a tool to either strengthen or hinder our walk. Sometimes though, those things get in the way of seeing what we really need.
In my fear of not having enough, God took away much, so I could see Him more. So the truth is, less physical provision brought about more spiritual provision. Does that make sense?
When we have less things, we can clearly see what is most important for this life.
He already has provided all we really need. The work of the Cross.
That is provision.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13
So ask yourself today, “Do I feel provided for? Do I truly have enough in Jesus? Do I crave more of this world or more of you?”
“Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.” Psalm 73:25
Father, we pray for provision today. But we pray for provision far beyond what we think we need here on earth, and for our treasure in heaven. Let us purpose to fix our eyes on things above. Help us to grasp the truth of our true provision- the work of the Cross.
The world is searching for peace, but it seems to be looking in all the wrong places. We want order and we want stability and we think we will find our peace there. In our homes, we strive to be organized, to keep up, and to create a system that is well managed. We search for better ways and more efficient ways. We think once we get there, we will have peace.
For a time I was always looking for peace to come from having the right system in place. I searched all over for the next best method that would give me the order in my life I was craving. Yet, it was never about the system. It was about me. Sure, things could be more organized and helpful, but I was looking for the “be-all-end-all” that would create order and peace in my home. I wanted to feel in control of my life and was constantly searching for the next best way. I wanted the pretty bins, the color coded life, where everything was orderly and in neat little boxes.
Yet, that isn’t life.
I was looking for more than a method, I was looking for a (false) sense of control.
I wanted peace and order. And that, my friends, is never found outside of Christ.
True peace and order come from knowing the Lord, reading His Word, and following Him.
Without Jesus, we will never attain that true peace. It is not about a perfect system or well-managed day. We can still have peace even in the midst of difficulty and even chaos. Peace is not a circumstance. It is a fruit of the spirit and a gift that transcends temporal surroundings.
It is what God supplies to us. Seek Him. It is there, and only there, where you will find true, simple peace.
Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.
Dear Lord, Today we sit at your feet and simply ask for peace. Not the peace that we think we will find once we “have it all together,” but the peace that comes from You alone. The peace that transcends all circumstances and fills us and sustains us no matter what the circumstances. Help us to keep our eyes on you, and to cease striving to find peace in the wrong places. Amen.
Am I humble? Why, yes. I like to think so.
” If you think you are not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed.” C.S. Lewis
Oh, how prideful I am. I lack humility!
We can waiver back and forth like this between pride and low self-worth. One minute we are puffed up and the next we are self-loathing. Deep and true humility though is something only God can produce in us, because in our flesh we think of ourselves too often, whether it be in a prideful way or a self-loathing way, the focus is still on ourselves.
The more we try to make ourselves humble, really the less humble we are. Because we focus inward.
We can’t make ourselves more humble, but our humility naturally develops when we look to the Cross.
How can it not? How can we not fall on our knees in humility when our eyes are on the Cross?
God is Holy. He alone is worthy. He alone is Majesty. He alone deserves any praise. No human deserves any of that.
Human praise produces pride. Humility, though, points it all to Him. We can be praised for what we do, but it all goes back to Him, because, without Him, we do no good thing. Anything we are, have, or do, is through Him alone.
Humility seeks to glorify God and not myself. Humility seeks to serve others and not myself. And humility doesn’t desire praise.
For the Christian, this is a struggle. We daily fight our flesh that seeks approval and praise to define our self-worth. But our worth comes from Jesus. Our life depends on His sacrifice on the Cross.
And that truth is what makes us bow down in a humble spirit to Him every moment. Then, and only then, we can live and serve others in true humility.
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. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Philippians 2:4-8 (ESV)
Won’t you pray with me…Oh, Lord, empty me of myself and my desire to seek praise apart from You. Let me constantly think of others above myself, and You above all. Help me to walk in humility daily, with my eyes firmly fixed on You, the only One worthy of all praise, for You alone are Holy.
We hear this phrase often as Christians. It seems so obvious. So easy. Like it should be second nature.
Just have faith.
Yet, have you been in the grips of fear? True fear that verges on full-blown panic and anxiety? The battle is real, and for those who have suffered from fear, it can be a struggle.
Why can’t I just have more faith? Why do I struggle with trust? Why do I let fear consume me?
We tell ourselves we need to work harder to have more faith. If only we could increase our faith, the anxiety and fears would dissipate.
I was one of those people and, sometimes, I can still slip very closely to returning to that place.
He is the author of faith. He is the giver of faith. He has already supplied us with faith.
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith..” Hebrews 12:2
I simply need to look to Him. Fear abounds when my eyes are on circumstances or what I am capable of.
But when my eyes are on Him and not the circumstances around me, I demonstrate faith. When I recognize that faith comes only from Him, I am fearless.
It isn’t about me doing more in order to get more faith. It isn’t about willing myself to have more faith.
Faith is a gift from Him. He supplies us with it.
“That your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”
In human terms, we think of faith as something we need more of or we need to try harder to increase our amount of faith. We think the reason our fears consume us is because we just need a stronger faith. We need to strive to be better.
In God’s terms, He is the provider of our faith that makes our fears disappear. He supplies us with the gift. We don’t have to try harder for more. It is our possession and He is the giver.
It is not about what we do, but about what He does.
Erasing fears and embracing faith means we don’t have to work for more, but can rest in Him, realizing fears are a human fault and faith is a God-given gift. He alone can give us the faith we need to surpass our fears.
We have it. We own it. God supplies all we need.
So the next time you are in a place of fear, don’t just succumb to it. Don’t just pray for more faith. Praise the Lord for His gift of faith, and then own it. Walk in it. Know that it far surpasses your fears.
Dear Lord, help us when we are in the grips of fear to call only our name and hold fast to our faith. You have given us this gift, and let us know that faith only flows from a life surrendered to you. Thank you, Jesus, for your love and your gift of faith.
Recently a flu-like virus was rampant in my home. It was horrendous. Starting on a typical Monday afternoon with a child slightly coughing and warm to the touch, it quickly turned into five of us down with high fevers, body aches, and all the other unpleasantries of flu.
I was simply amazed at how quickly it spread. This was obviously a very contagious virus. It took over the body of each person in its path, and it was unrelenting.
Oh, how I wish the same for the contagious joy of Jesus! Too often, we look at something that is contagious as a bad thing, but let’s refocus our lens for a bit and think about how we can be contagious in our joy! Because if I could have something spread through my family as quickly as that flu, let it be for Jesus!
The Bible says,
“Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. – Psalm 126:2-3 (NIV)
We are filled with joy as a response to who God is and what He has done. When we look to the cross, we have joy. When we look to our Father’s love, we have joy. When we look to our eternity, we have joy. No matter what our circumstances, there is always joy in Jesus.
“My friends, do not be surprised at the terrible trouble which now comes to test you. Do not think that something strange is happening to you. But be happy that you are sharing in Christ’s sufferings so that you will be happy and full of joy when Christ comes again in glory. When people insult you because you follow Christ, you are blessed, because the glorious Spirit, the Spirit of God, is with you. – 1 Peter 4:12-14
In a world where sin and darkness and cynicism abound, and those things seem to spread like wildfire, let our joy be known among all. When those around us see our joy, they will naturally be attracted to it. Let that joy be spread to all those around us!
Joy is a result of the Spirit at work in us.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
Dear heavenly Father, fill us with your Spirit that produces joy. Let our joy spread through our homes, our communities, and our world. Let the joy that comes from knowing you, be evident in our lives, so that others may come to know you and the joy that comes from Jesus.