After hearing Sunday’s sermon, The Characteristics of a Contented Heart; I have been challenged and convicted. Am I a content person? I would say that I am… well, most of the time. Being content is not my natural propensity. It’s probably not yours either.
As I reflect to recent times when the circumstances of my life were a bit challenging, I’m not sure I was living with a contented heart. I was in the midst of a painful process. Our God is the God of the process, but often I don’t like the processes He chooses for me! Regardless of how I feel, I do believe God uses circumstances to grow us and refine us; making us more like Jesus.
What God has recently revealed to my heart is that even when circumstances are challenging, when the roller coaster of life takes you on a ride you’d rather not be on, He is near. He doesn’t waste our pain and trials. Our Father in Heaven wants to reveal Himself to us as ENOUGH in whatever circumstances we find ourselves in! Paul was writing the book of Philippians, a thank you letter, from prison, for goodness sake!
Paul said, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:11-12
Paul’s admission that contentment was something he had to learn indicates that at one time he did not know how to be content. But as he wrote the book of Philippians, he had learned how to be content, even as a prisoner in Nero’s dungeon. He remained a learner, a student in the School of Christ, his entire life, and so must we. We are students, and lessons about contentment take time and experience. Are you willing to learn?
Now I must admit, some of the lessons I have learned have been difficult. You might remember the show on TV called “Are you Smarter than a Fifth Grader?” Well, in the School of Christ, more often than not, I feel like the answer is “NO! I am not smarter than a fifth grader!” Sometimes I feel as if I must still be in preschool in the School of Christ! Lessons I think I would have learned by now keep coming up for retesting, if you catch my drift.
The one thing I love about this school we’re now enrolled in is that the Teacher is the best! He is so kind and gentle… so patient with His students. He knows me so well, and He knows exactly what I need in order to learn.
My Teacher has my best interest in mind! Just a few of the wonderful things He desires for me (and you) are: to learn to come and rest (Matthew 11:28), to listen to His voice (John 10), to follow Him alone, and to learn to be content, like Paul.
Paul didn’t beat around the bush when it came to declaring how the learning process was possible. He proclaimed, “I can do all things through Him (Christ) who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:13 NIV)
Jesus is the key to a contented heart. He is enough!
Yes, “the secret of being content” Paul was referring to was, and still is, the power of God available to us through Christ Jesus! I love how this verse reads in the Amplified version.
“I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]” (Phil 4:13 AMP)
Supernatural power is accessible to all who will surrender to, and cooperate with, Jesus. He will reveal Himself powerfully and personally to us as we trust in His sovereignty. Trust in His process, and He will infuse you with inner strength and a confident peace in all circumstances.
Contentment is one of the precious flowers of Heaven, and if we desire it, it must be cultivated. It will not grow in us naturally, for it is the new nature alone that can produce it. Yet even then we must be especially careful and vigilant to cultivate and maintain the grace God has sown in us. ~Charles Spurgeon
For the full podcast, “Characteristics of a Contented Heart,” click this link: http://www.painesvilleag.com/painesville-ag-messages/?enmse=1&enmse_sid=2
Still learning… fellow student in the School of Christ,