Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Art of Contentment

I am currently blogging from Los Angeles, California!

I will do a full update on my trip once I am back in Texas next week, but for now I wanted to share about a sermon Alex and I heard on Sunday morning. I really love his church here and feel like this message spoke strongly to me. The sermon was titled "I Just Want to be Happy" and was part of a series he is giving about finding happiness in a city like Los Angeles. He spoke primarily about the art of contentment and referenced this scripture:

Philippians 4:10-14
"I rejoiced in the Lord greatly
that now at length you have revived your concern for me.
You were indeed concerned for me,
but you had no opportunity.

Not that I am speaking of being in need,
for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.
I know how to be brought low,
and I know how to abound.
In any and every circumstance,
I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger,
abundance and need.
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble."

This hit home for me for so many reasons, because like so many, I am caught up in playing the "if only" game-- "If only I made more money," "If only I were married," "If only I had this," etc. There should be no "if only's," because our souls will never be satisfied with anything in this world. By playing the "if only" game, we are saying there is something that can satisfy us more than Jesus. That is hard to swallow, but the reality is that the worst possible thing that God can do for us is to give us everything we want. The pastor also spoke about remembering God's providence and to trust Him while we wait. As someone who likes to plan everything, I have a hard time with this. Don't I know what's best for myself and what will make me happy? I realized that I do not. God has never led me astray in my 23 years. Everything has come together for good to give me this wonderful life I have, and I have to continue to trust Him while I wait for things that are to come.

The pastor gave us ten little things to keep in mind when we are trying to achieve the art of contentment. Most of them don't need explanation, but I have given more context on several at the bottom and mixed it with my own thoughts. I plan to print this out and put it on my bathroom mirror as a reminder.

Art of Contentment
1. Better than I deserve
2. Count your blessings
3. Embrace today
4. Think about heaven
5. Think of all those who suffer
6. God is faithful
7. This is possible
8. Admit you need help
9. Contentment is found in Jesus, not "Jesus plus"
10. Draw down today on the gospel

A little background:
1. Better than I deserve. The pastor said he had an old friend whom when asked how he was doing would reply "Better than I deserve." No matter how hard we try, we all fall short of being free from sin. God sent his perfect son to save us all, and therefore, just being given salvation allows us to be better than we deserve. It is easy to forget this among all our trivial daily complaints.
2. Count your blessings. This explains itself, but I try to literally list my blessings in my prayers and thank God.
3. Embrace today. We have no chance to be content during yesterday, and tomorrow is not here yet. We can only be content today.
4. Think about heaven. Our earthly suffering and difficulties will mean nothing when we are in eternal glory with our Savior.
5. Think of all those who suffer. The world is full of people who face daily horrors. Pick up the newspaper, watch a sad movie--you will feel better about your own circumstances.
6. God is faithful. He will provide, we just have to trust him.
7. This is possible. We can achieve the art of contentment.
8. Admit you need help. Sometimes all we can do is cry out to God and ask him to help us.
9. Contentment is found in Jesus, not "Jesus plus." Our greatest heart's desire has to be Jesus, not Jesus plus something else, because that something else is more important to us.
10. Draw down today on the gospel. Focus on the good news and blessings in the present.

How are you doing today? I am better than I deserve.

1 comment:

  1. Julie, I loved that list and it came at such a good time for me to read. I totally relate...As humans, sometimes it's easier to just allow yourself to get caught up in earthly "issues," but as Christians, there is such a peace that comes with simplifying our lives and stepping back to let God truly lead us. It's that whole "stepping back" part that's so tough : )