Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – January 30, 2017
I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Philippians 4:12-13, NLT
My father-in-law and brother-in-law’s 130 acre farm has enjoyed 30 years of meticulous care: barbed wire strung tighter than guitar strings, sturdy fence posts replaced when suspect of any deterioration and flowing fescue whose greenery and purity rival a manicured golf course. Also ever consistent is the super abundance of cow patties from 100 strong head of cattle. Our children, and now grandchildren, four wheel across the roughly contoured landscape, laughing and spinning manure all over their backs. At the end of the day—from head to toe—they are caked with the distinct aroma of dung; dirty but mostly delighted in the middle of their mess!
Paul makes the vivid and compelling contrast to his friends and followers of Jesus that he has experienced plenty and next to nothing—but neither opportunity nor simplicity bring him happiness; it is only in intimacy with Christ that true contentment is found. The secret to living in every situation is not striving for more, but being satisfied with less. Gaining too much too soon can become a distraction to doing God’s will. Focus on Christ energizes us to enjoy life now.
“There was a certain man—without a dependent, having neither a child nor a brother, yet there was no end to all his labor. Indeed, his eyes were not satisfied with riches and he never asked, “For whom do I labor and deprive myself of pleasure?” This too is vanity (a wisp of smoke, self-conceit); yes, it is a painful effort and an unhappy task” (Ecclesiastes 4:8, AMP).
Life is messy with more or with less—more can mean a mess of dysfunctional family relationships that require an abundance of prayer, patience and grace. Less can mean the mess and stress of seeking to get by with a budget that doesn’t seem to stretch far enough, so a monthly shortfall becomes a financial drain leading to debt. What is your current mess? Circumstances swirling out of control, a rogue child, a hostile work culture, an insensitive friend or a health issue? Whatever your mess, your Master Jesus will meet you in the middle and guide you.
Look for happiness in the reassurance of your heavenly Father’s face, not in the false expectation of some future fantasy. Hope in Christ and His control of ultimate outcomes feeds contentment and starves a need for stuff to bring joy to your heart. When life happens messiness occurs, so accept your imperfect house as evidence of love—you are available for those in your home. And celebrate an uncertain work culture as an opportunity to encourage the fearful. Those who embrace the unclean experience the cleansing and purifying power of God’s mercy and grace. Seeds of joy germinate in the soil of messiness—after all, manure does make things grow!
“Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:4-5).
PrayerHeavenly Father, I pray my faith and joy flourish in the middle of my messy situation.
ApplicationWhat messy relationship do I need to engage in while modeling patient love?
Related ReadingJob 36:11; Psalm 131:2; Matthew 5:12; Hebrews 10:36, 13:5
Post/Tweet todayHope in Christ and His control of ultimate outcomes feeds contentment and starves a need for stuff to bring me joy. #WisdomHunters #happinessinmessiness
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