NovelSisters

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The Secret of Contentment

I was reading one of my favorite books in the Bible this week and had a few conversations with friends about life and work and well I just kept thinking about contentment.

Paul says in Philippians 4:12 “I have learned the secret of being content in every circumstance.” Isn’t that amazing! Just think about it. Any circumstance, whether you’re stuck in a job you hate, have had inadequate sleep, are dealing with emotional traumas, or are depressed or anxious, or bored, or whatever else you can think of. No matter what situation you find yourself in, Paul says there is a secret to being content in it.

Paul goes on to write, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” The secret isn’t spa treatment, or taking deep breaths, or being able to control what happens, it’s Jesus. He can give you His strength in whatever situation you are facing, and as you rely on Him, you find contentment.

I’ve seen this happen over and over in my life. And it’s something I have to be reminded of again and again. When I give my worries, fears, frustrations, concerns, hopes and dreams to Jesus, I find contentment and peace.

Even when the situation doesn’t end, or the problem doesn’t go away, it’s easier to face it with Jesus by my side. And that’s why it’s so important to spend time with Jesus every day. Without His help, my life quickly becomes all about me and what I want. And then I get frustrated and discontent when things don’t go my way.

But when I spend time with Jesus, I get to let go of all those things and trust Him with the circumstances I’m facing. Suddenly it doesn’t matter where I work. or how tired I am, or what I’m dealing with, because I know He is bigger than all those things and able to work in them.

But it’s hard to remember that if I don’t purposefully stop and spend time with Jesus. One of the students I work with shared recently about how he could see such a difference when he spent time with Jesus. It really does change your attitude and perspective.

Another man I spoke with who has been mentoring men in prison told me he tells all the guys he mentors if you have a quiet time (time alone with Jesus to read and pray and be with Him) I guarantee you will never go to prison again. I think what he meant is all the frustrations and temptations and problems lose their power when Jesus is around. They might be too strong for us to handle, but they aren’t too strong for Jesus and He gives us His strength.

So anyway, all that to say, I’ve been reminded this week of how important it is to be with Jesus and rest in His strength and find my contentment in Him. Circumstances may change, but He never will.

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Being With Jesus

Study, Read, Book, Bible, Koran, Torah, Religion

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So first off, I’m sorry for not posting last week. July has been a crazy month for me, full of vacations, Bible Clubs and my birthday. But during all the hubbub God has been teaching me something that is really important and I thought I’d share it.

To give some context, I’ve been reading through Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book The Cost of Discipleship and also reading through Luke and several of the New Testament Letters this month. That’s part of where I’ve been learning from God. But I was also heavily involved in my church’s outreach called Great Adventure which involves Bible Clubs (similar to Vacation Bible School for those who don’t know what that is). And in the craziness and busyness of it all I realized that I was focusing on all of the little details of a club: how presentations went, if the leaders were connecting to kids, and if the kids were having fun or bored. One day I was focusing so much on all these details and what could have gone better, that I realized I was missing the point.

That night I read in Philippians about all the things Paul did that he now considered rubbish.

“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ… I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ-“ Philippians 3:7-9

And in the next chapter he says,¬†“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”¬†Philippians 4:4

I had been so focused on works that I hadn’t remembered to rejoice in what God was doing. So I changed my perspective, and instead of looking at all the problems, I looked for all the ways God was at work. He was connecting students to kids, teaching students that He answers prayer, and showing us all that it wasn’t our effort or work that mattered, but His power.

But God wasn’t done with me. As I was reading in The Cost of Discipleship, Bonhoeffer dug deep into this passage:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'” Matthew 7:21-23

Just as Paul said his works were worthless, these great deeds of casting out demons and healing people were worthless. My own efforts in doing Bible Clubs would be worthless too, if I missed the whole point. Why am I doing these things? If I’m not doing them with Jesus, for Jesus, and because of Jesus, then they are worthless.

Fast forward to this morning and I found myself reading Luke 10 and the last section jumped out at me:

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

I know God isn’t impressed with my works but all of these passages really reinforced that message. Jesus doesn’t care how much I do for Him, how many Bible clubs I help with, how many times I share the Gospel, how many people I serve and love. Those are all great things, and following Jesus does mean doing these things, but the whole point is being with Jesus, loving Jesus and knowing Jesus. If I forget that, it’s all meaningless. So I thought I’d share that with you today. Don’t forget to be with Jesus today.

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