Learning Contentment

A mark of a maturING saint is one who when he realizes he is in a trough begins to praise God in anticipation of the blessings which are coming! Even the most mature Christian you know hasn’t “arrived”; we are all a work-in-progress. Going through the dark nights is one way God helps mature our understanding of contentment. 

You know the differences between a need and a want: a need is something vital, something I require to survive; a want is something that would be nice to have. 

In good times I can convince myself that my wants are really the same as my needs. In the bright, sunny times a lot of wants mistakenly get called needs. But in the dark nights, this confusion is quickly clarified! 

In Philippians 4, Paul explains what he has learned about needs as he went through some very challenging, dark times. When he says he knows what a need is, he isn’t exaggerating a bit (see 2 Corinthians 11:24-28). And yet the Amplified Bible has Paul saying, “Not that I am implying that I was in any personal want.” 

That’s because Paul was learnING contentment. The verb tense here means I have learned, I am learning, and I will keep on learning. It was an ongoing process that helped him clarify needs from wants. The word Paul uses for content is unique in all the New Testament and it means independent of external circumstances, or as the Amplified Bible says, “satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted in whatever state I am. 

Paul uses another unique word in verse 12 when he says “I have learned.” This is a different Greek word from the previous verse. This time it means disciplined by experience to know how to respond. In other words, Paul disciplined himself to reflect on the lessons he learned in the night. The cliche “Experience is the best teacher” isn’t necessarily true. Lots of people go through experiences and never learn a single thing. Instead, we should say, “Evaluated experience is the best teacher.” That’s exactly what Paul is saying here: “I have learned lessons in my time of meditation after going through a dark night.” 

The English dictionary defines contentment in two important phrases: 

  1. Satisfied with what I have. In Psalm 16, David learned that he had everything he needed in God, and Jesus reminded us that “your Father knows what you NEED before you ask Him” (Matthew 6:8).
  2. Satisfied with who I am. Paul knew that “God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by His grace, was pleased” (Galatians 1:15). God made Paul on purpose and for a purpose, and Paul was satisfied with who he was in Christ. God made you on purpose too! 

Our relationship with Jesus is a maturING one. It’s only IN Christ that I can be satisfied with what I have, and satisfied with who I am. It’s only IN the night that my wants get separated from my needs, by learnING contentment.

I can be thankful in the night because I am learning contentment. 

If you’ve missed any of the other messages in this series called Thankful In The Night, you can access the full list by clicking here. 

Saturday In The Proverbs—Relationship Builders And Killers (Proverbs 27)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

Do not boast… (Proverbs 27:1).

This proverbs has some noteworthy relationship builders and relationship killers. 

Relationship Builders

  • Humility (v. 2) 
  • Confronting in love (vv. 5a, 6a)
  • Contentment (v. 7)
  • Minding your own business (v. 8)
  • Giving good advice (v. 9)
  • Investing in family friendships (v. 10)
  • Exercising wisdom (v. 11)
  • Using foresight (v. 12a)
  • Investing in yourself so that you can invest in others (v. 17)
  • Serving others (v. 18)
  • Honest self-assessment (v. 19)
  • Good work ethic (vv. 23-27) 

Relationship Killers

  • Boasting (vv. 1, 2)
  • Provoking a foolish argument (v. 3)
  • Jealousy (v. 4)
  • Unexpressed love (v. 5b)
  • Insincere flattery (vv. 6b, 14)
  • Ignoring the signs of impending trouble (v. 12b)
  • Cosigning a loan (v. 13)
  • Arguing (vv. 15, 16)
  • Envy (v. 20)
  • Not handling praise humbly (v. 21) 
  • Not listening to correction (v. 22)

To keep our relationships strong and vibrant, let’s kill the killers and build the builders! 

Saturday In The Proverbs—God Is Sovereign (Proverbs 16)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

…from the Lord (Proverbs 16:1).

God is Sovereign, which means He has supreme authority. 

The sooner—and more consistently—I acknowledge this, the more joy I can experience! According to Proverbs 16, acknowledging God as Lord and Master means: 

  • having the right answers (vv. 1, 24)
  • living with a clear conscience (v. 2)
  • thinking better thoughts (v. 3)
  • not getting swept away in judgment (vv. 4, 5)
  • experiencing mercy, truth, and atonement (v. 6)
  • peaceful living (v. 7)
  • contentment (vv. 8, 16)
  • divine direction (v. 9)
  • righteous living (vv. 10-12, 31)
  • favor among kings (vv. 13-15)
  • avoiding stumbling (v. 17)
  • avoiding pride (vv. 18-19)
  • happiness (v. 20)
  • having prudence (v. 21)
  • getting better understanding (vv. 22-23)
  • eternal life (v. 25)
  • satisfaction in my work (v. 26)
  • avoiding evil people (vv. 27-30)
  • self-control (v. 32)
  • seeing God’s providence at work (v. 33)

Not a bad list! 

What Does It Mean To Be “Worldly”?

A lot of Christians struggle with what is considered “worldly,” trying hard to avoid such things. In our last Q Series, this was a question that was asked by a couple of people: what exactly makes something “worldly”? Check out this short video clip…

In the video I reference the following Scriptures:

You can check out some other topics that we addressed in the Q Series like an apologetic for the Bible, parables, end times events, and prayer.

Saturday In The Psalms—Do The “Dos”

…because of evildoer… (Psalm 37)

Not one person on earth can escape from having an evildoer cross their path. The question is not IF we’ll have to deal with them, but HOW we should deal with them. For the one who follows God, here is what David writes to us.

Don’t

  • Fret over evildoers
  • Be envious of them
  • Get angry because of them
  • Do evil things back to them

Do

  • Trust God to handle them
  • Do good to them
  • Find your delight in God’s goodness
  • Commit your lifestyle to God
  • Rest in God’s grace
  • Be patient with evildoers
  • Be content with where God has you
  • Extend mercy to evildoers
  • Keep on following God’s way of doing things

The bottom line for those doing the “Dos”—And the Lord shall help them and deliver them; He shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in Him.

When evildoers cross your path, don’t just avoid the “Don’ts” … do the “Dos”!

Thursdays With Oswald—Becoming Bread

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Becoming Bread

     It is the plough that prepares the ground for sowing the seed. The hard way through the field is the same soil as the good ground, but it is of no use for growing corn because it has never been ploughed. … 

     “The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly corrupt: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). The way through the field which has been battered hard by men’s feet is an illustration of the human heart. The human heart should be the abode of God’s Holy Spirit, but it has been trampled hard by passions until God has no part in it, and the plough has to come into the desecrated place. … 

     Standing corn has to be cut down and go through the process of reaping, threshing, grinding, mixing and baking before it is good for food; and sanctified souls must be told that their only use is to be reaped for God and made into bread for others. It is time we got away from all our shallow thinking about sanctification. … 

     The sound of millstones is music in the ears of God. The worldling does not think it music, but the saint who is being made into bread knows that his Father knows best, and that He would never allow the suffering if He had not some purpose. … 

     “Be content, ye are His wheat growing in our Lord’s field. And if wheat, ye must go under our Lord’s threshing instrument, in His barn-floor, and through His sieve, and through His mill to be bruised, as the Prince of your salvation, Jesus, was (Isaiah 53:10), that ye may be found good bread in your Lord’s house” (Samuel Rutherford). … 

     When by the sanctifying power of the grace of God we have been made into bread, our lives are to be offered first of all to Jesus Christ. … The saints who satisfy the heart of Jesus make other saints strong and mature for God. 

From The Sacrament Of Saints

Do you want to be useful for God? Then you must let Him prepare you to be bread that He can use to nourish others. Chambers reminds us that this preparation process entails the painful processes of ploughing, reaping, threshing, grinding, mixing and baking. But God knows best! He only allows this pain so that He can use you to bless others.

Poetry Saturday—Which Tent?

Max LucadoAll men live in one of two tents: Content or Discontent 
In which tent do you live? 

The contented man looks beyond his circumstances and sees a better day.

The discontented man looks at his circumstances and sees no other way.


The contented man understands the purpose for which he was born.
The discontented man looks at others’ success with a face that’s filled with scorn.

The contented man has surrendered to a purpose that demands his very best.

The discontented man selfishly hoards much, and grasping for more, will not rest.


The contented man has placed his values on things that will forever last. 
The discontented man has placed his values on things which will soon be passed. 

The contented man is anchored to clear goals and hardly is ever swayed. 

The discontented man has no goals that anchor him, and many times has become dismayed. 


The contented man counts his blessings, and names them one by one. 
The discontented man counts others’ blessings, and thinks he has no fun.

All men live in one of two tents: Content or Discontent. 
In which tent do you live? —Max Lucado

Bernard Of Clairvaux On Discontentment

Bernard of Clairvaux“It is natural for a man to desire what he reckons better than that which he has already, and be satisfied with nothing which lacks that special quality which he misses. Thus, if it is for her beauty that he loves his wife, he will cast longing eyes after a fairer woman. If he is clad in a rich garment, he will covet a costlier one; and no matter how rich he may be he will envy a man richer than himself. … No matter how many such things one has, he is always lusting after what he has not; never at peace, he sighs for new possessions. Discontented, he spends himself in fruitless toil, and finds only weariness in the evanescent and unreal pleasures of the world. In his greediness, he counts all that he has clutched as nothing in comparison with what is beyond his grasp, and loses all pleasure in his actual possessions by longing after what he has not, yet covets. … They wear themselves out in vain travail, without reaching their blessed consummation, because they delight in creatures, not in the Creator.” —Bernard of Clairvaux

Links & Quotes

link quote

“What does ‘every need of yours’ mean in view of Philippians 4:19? It means ‘all that you need for God-glorifying contentment.’ Paul’s love for the Philippians flowed from his contentment in God, and his contentment flowed from his faith in the future grace of God’s infallible provision.” —John Piper

“Sometimes we get into the habit of shutting our eyes to difficulty; that will not do: faith is not a fool, faith does not shut her eyes to difficulty, and then run head-foremost against a brick wall—never. Faith sees the difficulty, surveys it all, and then she says, ‘By my God will I leap over a wall’; and over the wall she goes.” —Charles Spurgeon

Here is a good way to stop the spread of pornography, child exploitation, and the sex slave trade: Be aware of what companies are on the Dirty Dozen List (these are companies that profit off of porn).

In light of the recent Supreme Court decisions (and some more on the way), Rev. Tim Dilena has a dead-on-target word for our judges.

I love the infographics and study tips that The Overview Bible Project prepares. Here is the latest one on Hosea. Do yourself a favor: go to Overview and subscribe!

[VIDEO] John Piper reminds us of the importance of getting into our Bibles—

11 Quotes From John Maxwell In “Success 101”

Susscess 101John Maxwell’s 101-series of books are a great introduction to some of his other more in-depth books. As I like to explain it, the 101-level introduces you to the topic, and the 301- and 401-level classes/books take you deeper.

I am in the process of reading The Complete 101 Collection (I’ll post my review of this shortly). In the meantime, here are some quotes from Success 101 which I found thought-provoking.

“You cannot achieve what you have not defined. The problem for most people who want to be successful is not that they can’t achieve success. The main obstacle for them is that they misunderstand success.”

“What does it take to be a success? Two things are required: The right picture of success and the right principles for getting there.”

“Success is a journey rather than a destination. No matter how long you live or what you decide to do in your life, you will never exhaust your capacity to grow toward your potential or run out of opportunities to help others.” 

“Without a dream, we may struggle to see potential in ourselves because we don’t look beyond our current circumstances. But with a dream, we begin to see ourselves in a new light, as having greater potential and being capable of stretching and growing to reach it.”

“The bottom line in managing your emotions is that you should put others—not yourself—first in how you handle and process them. Whether you delay or display your emotions should not be for your own gratification. You should ask yourself, What does the team need? not, What will make me feel better?

“The greatest enemy of good thinking is busyness.”

“Successful people face the danger of contentment with the status quo. After all, if a successful person already possesses influence and has achieved a level of respect, why should he keep growing? The answer is simple: your growth determines who you are; who you are determines who you attract; who you attract determines the success of your organization. If you want to grow your organization, you have to remain teachable.”

“Few things gain the appreciation of a top leader more quickly than an employee with a whatever-it-takes attitude. That is what successful people must have. They must be willing and able to think outside of their job description, to be willing to tackle the kinds of jobs that others are too proud or too frightened to take on. These things are what often elevate successful people above their peers.”

“Good leaders…find a way to succeed with people who are hard to work with.” 

“Successful people admit faults but never make excuses.”

“If you are successful where you are, I believe you will be given an opportunity to succeed at a higher level. … Leadership is a journey that starts where you are, not where you want to be.”

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