Are You Getting a Break or a Breakthrough?

Have you ever visited the Hoover Dam? I have heard some amazing things about this National Historic Landmark that forms the border between the state of Arizona and Nevada…even though I haven’t personally visited it. Drawing nearly a million visitors a year, Hoover Dam is considered to be the world’s largest dam and an engineering marvel at the time of its construction in the 1930’s. This concrete arch-gravity dam straddles the Colorado River and brings much needed water and power to the Southwest.

What truly amazes me is how this dam has the ability to hold back so much water! Its reservoir holds 9.2 trillion gallons of water and produces 2.8GW of power, roughly as much as 3 nuclear power stations! And then I think, wow! …What if something goes wrong and the dam can’t hold back all this water? (I know…not the most positive mindset!)

Even in our world of modern technology and design, there have been times in our history that various dams throughout the world have been breached. A breach is a breakthrough of a dam caused by various reasons such as erosion, geological instabilities, human error in design, etc. I can’t imagine just how much water pressure is formed and built up just before the breach or breakthrough of water!

Just as the water pressure builds so greatly in a faulty dam, we too can experience this in life as the  pressures and challenges of obstacles building in our lives are so great…so great that they may bring us to a point of giving up!

Whatever the obstacles we face…whether we have pressures or struggles in our finances, health, marriage, families, relationships, jobs …don’t we all just want a break sometimes?

We pray, “Lord, just make it stop or go away. I can’t take it anymore!” You may feel tired of hurting…tired of fighting….tired of believing…just flat out exhausted…exhausted mentally, physically, and emotionally!

We have all faced difficult obstacles…and we may be facing one right now and we just want out. We pray and cry out “Lord please take away the stress…please take away the pain…please take away the burden…please remove this obstacle…please make things peaceful!”

Have you ever felt this way?

So do you think God will give you a break? ….Or a breakthrough? …Because there is a difference.

The dictionary defines break as “disruption of the regularity, uniformity, or continuity of, end”

And that is exactly what we sometimes pray for…for our struggle or difficult situation to end. Just make it stop. God just give me a break!

And yes, God can certainly give you a break….I certainly won’t deny His ability to do so! But…

The dictionary defines breakthrough as “an act of surmounting an obstacle, obstruction or restriction” Another definition I found interesting for breakthrough is “an offensive thrust that penetrates and carries beyond a defensive line in warfare.” Keep this one in mind as I will speak on it later.

Now if we look further at the word “surmount” used in the definition of breakthrough, it means “to get over or across, to prevail over or to overcome. To get to or be on top of”

God wants us to get over or across, to prevail over, to overcome our challenges and obstacles in life…not feel defeated and give up. I know…easier said than done! But He wants to give us breakthroughs in our lives…not just a break! Why?

Because He knows that the road to your breakthrough will draw you closer to Him, make you more dependent upon His power and strength, and help you grow in your faith and relationship with Him!

The Lord is known by many names in the Bible and His names reveal His character. In 2 Samuel 5:20, we see that the Lord is a “Lord of Breakthroughs.”

When the Philistines heard that they had anointed David king over Israel, all the Philistines went up to seek out David; and when David heard of it, he went down to the stronghold. Now the Philistines came and spread themselves out in the valley of Rephaim. Then David inquired of the LORD, saying, “Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will You give them into my hand?”

And the LORD said to David, “Go up, for I will certainly give the Philistines into your hand.”

So David came to Baal-perazim and defeated them there; and he said, “The LORD has broken through my enemies before me like the breakthrough of waters.” Therefore he named that place Baal-perazim. 2 Samuel 5:17-20NASB

This battle with the Philistines comes at a critical point for David and marks the moment which Jerusalem became a royal city. David had started his work as king at the age of 30 and had already reigned over Judah seven years and six months from Hebron.

This ‘breakthrough’ marks the beginning of his reign at Jerusalem, where he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years. David’s move to Jerusalem brought the Philistines against the city, and it was prayer to God which gave David the confidence to fight and win.

And David came to Baal-perazim, and David smote them there; and he said, Jehovah hath broken mine enemies before me, like the breach of waters. Therefore he called the name of that place Baal-perazim. 2 Samuel 5:20 ASV

“Baal-perazim” means “The Lord of breakings through”… “The Lord who bursts through.”

Breakthroughs in life are not necessarily always about God as they are about us…

Yes, God is able to open doors that no man can open…He is able to provide a way out when there seems no out….He is able to do the supernatural when the natural doesn’t look too favorable….Yes, He can do above and beyond what we can ever think or imagine when we face obstacles in life! Yes, God is the “Lord of Breakthroughs!”

But it is before and through our breakthroughs that we draw closer to Him…grow more intimate with Him… develop a stronger relationship with Him. And if God just gave us a “break”…we would not experience this growth and intimacy with Him.

When I say that breakthroughs are about us, I want to refer back to the 2nd definition of the word breakthrough… “an offensive thrust that penetrates and carries beyond a defensive line in warfare.”

There is nothing we could ever do to force God’s hand behind his back and make Him do what we want, however, there are some things that we can do that please God when we are seeking a breakthrough. There are some things that we can actually do “offensively”…and not just sit back and expect God to give us our breakthrough.

Prayer is a powerful “offensive” weapon that we have…not just to ask God what we need…but also to include and accompany our prayers with some very powerful aspects that truly please our God.

In 2 Samuel 5:19, we see that David went to God in prayer which gave him the confidence to fight and win and receive his breakthrough.

So what powerful aspects of prayer lead to our breakthroughs?

1)      Prayer and Petition

It is so important to petition God in our prayers when we are trying to overcome obstacles and need breakthroughs in our lives.

The bible says we must “petition” our requests to God… Petition/ supplication (another word for petition) is a form of prayer in which you make a humble or earnest request to God.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6 NIV

The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. James 5:16b NLT

2)      Prayer and Praise

There is also great power in praising and thanking God!  The bible actually says we should enter his gates with thanksgiving and courts with praise.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4

There is an incredible story in Acts 16:22-26 of how praising God brings breakthrough. Paul and Silas were in prison and chained in stocks. They prayed and praised God singing hymns and suddenly the prison doors flew open and everyone’s body chains were broken! A literal breakthrough! You got to check this one out for yourself!

3)      Prayer and Fasting

There is so much power…breakthrough power… in prayer and fasting!

The bible is filled with many individuals who prayed and fasted to receive breakthroughs.

One such example is King Jehoshaphat. With his nation faced with disaster, he prayed and fasted for deliverance from opposing armies. (2 Chronicles 20:1-5)

For more on fasting, check out my blog called “Why Fast?”

4)      Prayer in Faith

Praying in faith pleases God and is another component in receiving our much needed breakthroughs. You may have heard the saying… “Prayer is the key, but faith unlocks the door.”

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6 NIV

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11.24 ESV

5)      Prayer and Patience

Sometimes…many times…our prayers must be accompanied by patience…Because we know that God’s timing isn’t our timing as much as we would like it to be! This can certainly be challenging when we feel that we just can’t wait anymore for a breakthrough.

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; Psalm 130:5 NLT

Yet I am confident I will see the LORD’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD. Psalm 27:13 NLT

So the LORD must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and      compassion. For the LORD is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help.Isaiah 30:18 NLT

I know that we can experience great stress and pressures when facing obstacles in life…sometimes more than what we can bear! But be encouraged that just like the pressure that builds so greatly before the breakthrough of a dam, so too it is with us!

The pressure and stress may be increasing but the breakthrough is coming…don’t give up…keep hanging on…keep praying! God is pleased by your breakthrough prayers and will see it through for you!

Reflection Points:

1)      Are you facing any obstacles in your life? Do you feel like giving up?

2)      Are you looking for a break? Or a breakthrough?

3)      Are you acting on the offensive or just sitting back and expecting God to give you a breakthrough? Are you praying by petition, with praise, with fasting, in faith, and in patience?

Action points:

1)      God doesn’t want you to give up! He may not just give you a “break”, but He will lead to your breakthrough!

2)      If your prayers haven’t incorporated the important aspects mentioned above, begin today! What have you got to lose? If you are at the point of giving up, give these aspects of  breakthrough prayer a try…It is better than giving up and you will be strengthened and encouraged and God will be pleased!

 

 

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The Comparison Seed

I went through a season in my life when I was single where I struggled financially and had a hard time with the salary I was getting paid for my job. I had gotten my bachelor’s degree from UCLA and received my master’s degree from A.T. Still University….accumulated a lot of debt in school loans because of these degrees…and couldn’t get past how much…really how little…money I was actually making!

I looked at some of my friends around me in different occupational fields and they were making more money than I was…and didn’t have nearly the degrees that I did! As I continued to focus on comparing myself and my job to others, I began to grow discontent and jealous.

Do you ever compare yourself with others? Do you compare your life with the life others have? How do making these comparisons make you feel?

Comparison is defined as “the examination of the similarities and differences of two or more things, ideas or people.”

As women…even Christian women…we can so easily get caught up comparing ourselves with others! We live in a world that is saturated with people and images of what the world says we need to look like, what the world says we need to have, and what the world says we need to be.

We compare ourselves to what other women look like…what other women have…and who other women are!

We compare ourselves as wives and mothers…our accomplishments/ abilities or lack thereof…our marriages…our families…our husbands…our children…even their accomplishments/abilities! We compare our homes…our jobs…our education/ degrees…our shoes and our purses (yes I am being facetious, but there is some truth here too)…just about anything!…The list of what we women compare with others is endless!

Comparisons are not necessarily bad…but especially as Christian women, let’s not be fooled or deceived about this!

If comparisons go unchecked and you begin to focus on them, they can consume you…pull you away from who you really are…pull you away from who God uniquely created you to be…and pull you down an unhealthy and even destructive road.

I am calling this blog “The Comparison Seed” because comparison is like a “seed”…a deeply planted seed that grows…and if not dealt with, the seed can grow into discontentment, jealousy, hatred …sin. If this comparison seed can be prevented from taking root in our hearts, then we can stop these negative feelings from developing and even consuming our lives.

When I was going through the season I described above, I read a passage in the bible that gave me a totally different perspective about making comparisons and specifically for me…comparing my job and earnings to others.

 It is called The Parable of the Vineyard Workers (Matthew 20:1-16).

20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denariusfor the day and sent them into his vineyard. (FYI…a denarius is a Roman silver coin in the days of our Savior and Apostles worth about 15 cents. It was the pay for a day’s work.)

“About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went.

“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’

“‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.

“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’

“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’

“The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’

13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Now this passage is actually a teaching about salvation and God’s grace and generosity. However, what really spoke to me was the comparison that the first vineyard workers made with the other workers who did not work as many hours as they did. These first workers expected to get paid more even though they agreed to the initial amount of one denarius. They began to grumble and complain showing discontentment and jealousy when they turned their eyes upon the other workers and what they were getting paid.

And did you catch Jesus’ reply? So convicting and eye opening to me! Jesus states that He is not being unfair and asks if the workers are being envious because of His generosity.

God does not want us to be jealous of what He has given another person. He wants us to focus on His gracious gifts to us and to be thankful for what we have. When we compare ourselves with others, it can be a form of jealousy that results from not trusting in the Lord’s love and fairness.

There are a number of instances in the bible where the comparison seed has taken root in the hearts of men and women and consequently the seed has grown into feelings of discontentment, jealousy, and even strong hatred.

1)      Saul became jealous of David for his success as a soldier in his army.

This made Saul very angry. “What’s this?” he said. “They credit David with ten thousands and me with only thousands. Next they’ll be making him their king!” So from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David.1 Samuel 18:8-9 NLT

2)      Joseph’s brothers became so jealous of him…to the point of conspiring to kill him.

These patriarchs were jealous of their brother Joseph, and they sold him to be a slave in Egypt… 7:9

3)      Rachel was jealous of her sister Leah because she couldn’t bare their husband Jacob children and Leah could.

When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!” Genesis 30:1 NIV

What does the bible say about comparisons because clearly even bible folk weren’t immune to this comparison seed taking root in their lives.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud… 1 Corinthians 13:4 

Oh, don’t worry; we wouldn’t dare say that we are as wonderful as these other men who tell you how important they are! But they are only comparing themselves with each other, using themselves as the standard of measurement. How ignorant! 2 Corinthians 10:12

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.             Galatians 1:10 NIV

Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. Galatians 6:4 NLT

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2 ESV

So why do we as women struggle so much with comparison and how can we prevent this “comparison seed” from taking root in our lives?

1)      Know that God has made you fearfully and wonderfully inside and out (Psalm 139:14) …uniquely created you with unique gifts and a unique purpose for your life! …Not to be compared to anyone else!

[Sisters] think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him. It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let him who boasts boast in the Lord. 1Corinthians 1:26-31NIV

2)       Know that your contentment and security lies in an unchanging God…nothing in this world will satisfy or fulfill you…only Jesus! Comparison many times stems from our own shortcomings and insecurities.

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21NIV

And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? Matthew 16:26 NLT

3)      Fill yourself with God’s word and what he says about you as His daughter …know and accept who you are in Christ!

…Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as [daughters] through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will…Ephesians 1:4-5 ESV

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9 NIV

If we can focus on becoming who God created us to be…instead of who we think we should be or who the world wants us to be….instead of what we need to have or what the world wants you to have…instead of how you think you should look or how the world wants you to look…We can experience a sense of peace and security that will enable us to resist focusing on what everyone else around us is doing. And then we can focus on the God who wants to fulfill His purpose and destiny in us and through us by using the abilities and gifts that he has uniquely blessed each of us with!

Today, my prayer is that you and I can live our lives walking in the fullness of God, recognizing the unique abilities and gifts he has blessed us each with, and knowing…and knowing …and knowing… without a doubt in our minds…whose we are…and who we are in Christ!

Reflection Points:

1)      Do you compare yourself to others? Why?

2)      How does comparing yourself to others make you feel?

3)      If it causes negative feelings to develop, then you must realize that the comparison seed can be taking root in your heart.

Action Points:

See points above about how to prevent the comparison seed from taking root in your life.

Believe God

On our wedding day, I remember the promises that my husband Billy and I made during our marriage vows. We both shared the traditional vows that went something like …I, Taleen, take you, Billy, to be my lawfully wedded husband…to have and to hold…from this day forward…for better, for worse…for richer, for poorer…in sickness and in health…until death do us part.

Thousands of men and women make these promises to one another each year and unfortunately statistics have calculated that 50% of marriages end in divorce…and this is true among Christian marriages as well! Statistics that are certainly unfortunate and that truly sadden me!

Whether you are married or not today, we are all accustomed to promises. We are accustomed to not only seeing promises made but also seeing promises broken. If we were to reflect on our own lives, I am quite sure we have all made promises that we may have not kept.

There may be a number of reasons why this is true. We sometimes forget…we sometimes are negligent…we sometimes don’t take the promise seriously…sometimes it just may be due to circumstances beyond our control and the list can go on. We may have good intentions of keeping our promise when we made it, but for some reason or another we just end up not fulfilling it.

I have been around a number of brokenhearted women who had expectations of being married but their wedding was called off. And I have heard them say… “But he promised to marry me!” And the answer that usually comes back is “Yes, but he changed his mind”. Yes, people do change their minds….and unfortunately they do break their promises too.

Has someone broken a promise they made to you lately? Have you broken a promise you made to someone lately?

We may live in a world where unfortunately promises are broken…but as Christians we serve the God of promises…a God who not only promises but also fulfills His promises!…a God who never lies or changes his mind!

God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? Numbers 23:19 NIV

Did you know that there are over 3,000 promises recorded in the bible? Wow! Promises for you…and promises for me! Promises that God wants to fulfill for us and through us in our lives!

Promises of love, joy, peace, hope, provision, guidance, healing, protection, power, eternal salvation, His presence…just to name a few!

The question I have for you today is not about the specific promises God has for us… Because really? There are thousands of them and they are awesome! But the question I have for you is…

Do you believe God? …or do you just believe in God? Do you believe God and His promises for you?…or do you just believe in God?

Catching the difference that one tiny little word like “in” can make, will make a tremendous difference in your relationship with God!

You see believing in God is believing He exists which of course is important…but many people believe in God…believe in His existence…even demons! …demons also believe in the existence of one God!

You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder. James2:19NIV

On the other hand, believing God is believing what He says in His word…believing His promises…and believing He is able and willing to fulfill them!

Many people believe in God….believe in his existence…but there are many…yes Christians… who don’t necessarily believe Him….believe what He says…believe His promises….and believe that He has the ability and willingness to fulfill His promises.

As Christians, if we want all that God has for us, it isn’t enough to just believe in God…we must believe Him!

Believing God and His promises for us can be difficult if we have experienced hurt, betrayal, and disappointment by broken promises in our lives. But first and most importantly we must look at the God who is making these promises…

God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? Numbers 23:19 NIV

Man/woman will lie….God does not….Man will change his mind….God does not…Man will speak and not act….God speaks and acts….Man will promise and not fulfill….God promises and fulfills…God is faithful and trustworthy! We must believe Him and trust Him!

You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. Isaiah 43:10 NIV

One commentary states…“But God’s people know the power of his grace, the sweetness of his comforts, the kind care of his providence, and the truth of his promise.” Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

Believing God is more than just believing in your mind …it is believing in your heart. Because when you believe in your heart, your behavior and actions change. When you believe something in your heart, you will speak and act according to that belief. When you believe God and what He says, you will speak and act according to His word and His promises for you!

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Proverbs 4:23 NLT

As a child of God, we must speak and act in our lives like we believe Him. We must speak and act out our faith and trust in His promises. Our hearts determine our behavior and actions…the course of our lives.

Believing God requires us to believe 2 things in our hearts…

1)      God is able to fulfill his promises

2)      God is willing to fulfill his promises

Both of these points require faith and that faith means for us to see with our hearts.

God is able

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Ephesians 3:20 NLT

We need to see with our hearts that God has the ability to do what He says beyond what we may think…He has the power, sovereignty, and might!

Being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he promised…Romans 4:21NIV

Fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Romans 4:21 ESV

Abraham was fully persuaded …fully convinced…that God had enough power to fulfill his promise.

We need to trust …be fully persuaded…be fully convinced that God is able to fulfill His promises to us!

Are you fully persuaded or partially persuaded that God is able and has enough power to fulfill all his promises?

God is willing

Do you believe that God is able but struggle to believe that he is willing to fulfill His promises to you?

Many times we get stuck with this one…What I mean is that we can grasp the point that God is able but we struggle with the point that God is willing.

Believing that God is willing is sometimes harder for us to understand and accept. We may see God fulfilling his promises and answering prayers for others but don’t trust and believe that he will do the same for us too. The way I have learned to look at this is… “Wow God did that for you! That just shows me and encourages my faith that He will do it for me too!”

And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. Hebrews 11:11 NIV

God is faithful! He will fulfill His promises to us…He is both able and willing!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

 This scripture is clearly showing us that trust comes from our hearts and not from our minds. It even encourages us to not lean on our understanding.

So where are you today? Do you believe God or just believe in God? Do you believe God is able and willing to fulfill His promises to you?

Don’t let the broken promises of this world discourage you from believing a God who loves and cares for you and wants to fulfill all His precious promises in your life! Believe Him today!

Reflection Points:

1)      Do you believe God today? Or do you just believe in Him? Why?

2)      Do you believe God is able and willing to fulfill His promises to you?

3)      Do you struggle with trying to understand in your mind so much that it holds you back from having faith and seeing with your heart that the Lord wants to bless you?

Action Points:

1)      Begin believing God today.  He will not disappoint you as the world may. He is not man…He is God!

2)      Read God’s word to learn the promises He has for you. The more you read the more you will trust and have faith that God is able and willing to fulfill His promises to you.

3)      Stop trying to figure it all out in your mind…see and trust with your heart. Speak and act like you believe God.

The Secret to Contentment

Last September my oldest son Connor turned 4 years old. I always get so excited to buy my boys gifts for their birthdays…some gifts that I just want them to have (mostly gifts that are educational…not usually what they request) and other gifts that they may have requested.

Now many of you may know that Connor loves trucks….mostly construction trucks and garbage trucks. He has all kinds of trucks at home from previous birthdays or Christmases. So before his 4th birthday, I just figured he might want something else…not so much. He requested another garbage truck and an excavator (now if you don’t know what an excavator is…don’t worry, I didn’t either… but I have learned the name of every construction truck that exists due to his great love for trucks!)

I tried to explain to him that he already has both of these trucks but it didn’t seem to matter to him. He was not satisfied with the ones he already had. He wanted more.

As I raise my little boys, I am learning each day how many things bring about discontentment in their little world!  They are not satisfied with the amount of toys they possess or the amount of chocolate syrup I pour on their ice cream sundaes or how long they get to play outside or what shoes I would like them to put on or how many books my husband and I read with them before bed…and the list goes on and on and on! They continually want more because in their eyes more is better!

More may sometimes seem better in my eyes too as I am also learning about how many things bring about discontentment in my own life. I want more counter space in my kitchen to cook…which is something I love to do! I want more closet space… our small master closet  is so jam packed that we have had 2 of our shelves fall down because they couldn’t bear the weight of all the clothes. I want to lose the last 5 lbs of my post baby weight…I workout and workout and eat healthy… I snack on carrots when I really want some chips… just to try and lose the last few pounds which keep me dissatisfied.

Now, these things that bring about dissatisfaction or discontentment are not necessarily bad or sinful desires…but if nothing ever changed in the above situations or circumstances, would I be ok with that?

Whether it’s the little things in life or the bigger things in life, we can so easily fall into the trap of discontentment. Whether it’s how we want to look, what corporate ladder we are trying to climb, how much more money we need to make…whether we are a working mom wanting to stay at home or a stay at home mom wanting to work…whether you are single wanting to be married or you are married wanting to be single( and yes…there are many out there unfortunately)…whether you want more understanding and love from your spouse or you want to have more children and your spouse does not…whatever it is that you are wanting different in your life, not satisfied with, or wanting more of that causes discontentment…

Is there anything in your life that you are just not satisfied or pleased with…that brings about discontentment? Do you feel that “more” will bring you contentment?

Wanting more is not necessarily bad but if it consumes you and has you convinced that it is the key to contentment in your life, then it may be time to re-evaluate some things.

Contentment is defined as “the state of being pleased and satisfied with what one has or is… the state of not needing more.”

The Greek word for contentment is autarkeia which means a condition in life in which you have sufficient supplies for the needs of the moment.

From these definitions, we can see that contentment is not only not wanting more but also not needing more. The difference between wants and needs is a subject for another blog as I would like to focus on contentment here which according to the definition doesn’t depend upon either being met.

True contentment is not determined by having our wants and needs fulfilled. Contentment is a state of not wanting more or needing more!

Are you living a life of contentment? If you are not, what is the secret of being content?

In the bible, the apostle Paul is a great example of someone who discovers the secret of being content. His joy and contentment was not dependent upon having his wants and needs met.

I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for 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. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:10-13 NIV

What is amazing about Paul is that he is saying this from prison! I can think of a number of things to be discontent about if I were in prison, can’t you? Just how was Paul content while in prison?

To first give you more info about verse 10, Paul is rejoicing and referring to a gift that was sent to him from the Philippians, but he then clarifies some things. He is basically saying that while he appreciates their gift, he’s not dependent upon it or motivated by it. He would still rejoice and be content even if they hadn’t sent him a gift.

One commentary explains…“The apostle was often in bonds, imprisonments, and necessities; but in all, he learned to be content, to bring his mind to his condition, and make the best of it. Pride, unbelief, vain hankering after something we have not got, and fickle disrelish of present things, make men discontented even under favorable circumstances. Let us pray for patient submission and hope when we are abased; for humility and a heavenly mind when exalted. It is a special grace to have an equal temper of mind always. And in a low state not to lose our comfort in God, nor distrust his providence, nor take any wrong course for our own supply. In a prosperous condition not to be proud, or secure, or worldly. This is a harder lesson than the other; for the temptations of fullness and prosperity are more than those of affliction and want.” Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

In verse 11, Paul says something very profound…He says that “…I have learned to be content.”

Contentment is a learning process…it is not something we are just born with or discover one day…it is learned. So how like Paul do we “learn to be content whatever the circumstances?” How do we find “the secret to be content in any and every situation” like Paul did?

True contentment comes from having the right perspective, having the right priorities, and connecting to the right power source.

1)      Perspective

2)      Priorities

3)      Power Source

Perspective

Contentment comes from having the perspective of the eternal, not the temporal.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2Corinthians 4:18NIV

For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? Mark 8:36 NASB

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5NIV

 Priorities

Contentment comes from having the priority of godliness, not gain.

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 1Timothy 6:6-7 NIV

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. Matthew 6:33 NIV

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2 NIV

 Power Source

Contentment comes from being connected to the right power source…God.

The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Isaiah 58:11 NIV

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; 2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 NIV

I heard someone once say …“The gospel doesn’t obligate me to contentment; it equips me for contentment.”

As I reflect on my own life and the things that make me discontent, I pray that I am able to learn the secret of contentment as Paul did…whether or not my wants and needs are met!…And my prayers for you too is to grasp this secret and have a life marked by contentment!

One pastor defined contentment:  “Contentment is not having all that you want. True contentment is wanting only what you have.”

Reflection Points:

1)      Do you have discontentment in your life? Is there anything that you are not pleased or satisfied with?

2)      Are you always trying to obtain more, achieve more, do more or be more?

3)      When you reach that “more” level, are you finally content?

4)      If not one more of your needs or wants were met, can you still be have contentment in your life?

Action Points:

1)      We must first realize that true contentment does not come from having your wants and needs met.

2)      We must begin with the right perspective, right priorities, and rely on the right power source…God…not us… to have a life marked by contentment.

3)      Begin to have an eternal mindset, put God first above everything else…all your wants and needs….and finally rely upon his power and strength to live in contentment.