Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Ice Cream Man

I have a confession to make. I hate the ice cream man. He takes a nice content moment and turns it into cravings for something my children don’t need and can’t afford – and turns contentment into discontentment. But there’s an awful lot of ice cream trucks out there, aren’t there? They don’t all go around with children’s music piping out of their speakers – but they can make us feel discontent no matter what we have.

For me they are things like “For sale” signs in front of homes we can’t quite afford, classified ads for cars that are nicer and newer than what I drive, going to people’s homes where they have much nicer furniture or really cool home stereo systems. Just as worry and anxiety can steal our joy and keep us from living a fulfilled life, discontentment can do just the same thing. If we want to be joyful, somehow we’ll have to discover a way to find contentment in our present situation.

Want some good news? No matter what is happening in your life, you can know contentment. God’s word tells us how to do it:

First, He tell us that Contentment is a Learned State. Contentment is not something that comes naturally. Paul said that he had to“learn to be content”

Secondly, Contentment is Not Found in Possessions or Circumstances!
“ know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.”
Scripture declares that regardless of our circumstances, whether we have money or not, whether we have abundance or are in a very strained circumstances, we can still have contentment because the secret is something other than what we do or do not possess. Paul tells Timothy that we start with nothing and we end with nothing. So contentment is not about what we accumulate, it is about living with satisfaction one day after another. “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have….”

Third, Contentment Comes From Learning To Appreciate What We Have in Jesus Christ.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” True contentment comes from living life understanding that everything pales in comparison to knowing Christ.

Consider this: US News and World Report did a study on the American Dream. The story said that for Americans with household incomes of under $25,000, polls showed these people believed it would take $54,000 to fulfill the American dream in their lives. The same survey also showed that for those who make $100,000, they’d like to make about $192,000 for their version of the American dream.

In other words, the American Dream usually lies nearly twice the distance away, at least financially.

So if the secret to being content is not in amassing personal wealth or getting everything you want, how can we know contentment?

What is the secret? “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Paul echoes the teaching of Jesus, when he said "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

It doesn’t get much clearer, does it? Apart from Christ we can do nothing of lasting value in our lives, but we can do everything through Christ who gives us strength. One of those “everythings” is finding contentment in all situations.

Whether we are experiencing plenty or want in our life right now – the secret to being content is staying connected to Jesus. It is HIS strength that will provide the contentment we need. It is HIS power that will help us find hope even when the cupboards are bare.

When we spend time on a regular basis praying to Jesus, studying God’s Word, and surrendering our life to the power of the Holy Spirit, we discover that no matter what else is going on in our life – we feel more content. Why? Because when we’re living our life connected to Jesus Christ, we come to understand that nothing happens to us without His knowledge. Nothing that happens, either good or bad, can take us away from God’s love, and He has our final destination in mind!

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