Contentment

We brought a new family member into our home last summer. Mo is everything you might expect a young black Labrador retriever to be…a bundle of lightening, curiosity, sweetness, mischief and love.

And we’ve treated her like we would a new baby. We’ve ordered special beds. We’ve bought her “indestructible” chew toys. We’ve tried fancy dog treats and stimulating exercise toys. Her happiness has been our goal.

But you know what? Out of all the toys and comforts that we’ve provided- Mo’s most treasured item is a basic yellow ball.

A $2 ball.

She’ll play fetch for hours with that ball. She’ll lay it beside her head for a nap. It’s the first thing she searches for in the morning. That basic retrieving ball is never far away from Mo. It brings her happiness, comfort and joy. Contentment.

Contentment is difficult to find. We often find ourselves looking for that next item…the next toy…to bring us happiness and joy. But we rarely obtain the satisfaction and peace we are searching for in our lives.

I’m guilty of it. I look at the cars, the homes, the jobs…the lives of those around me. Instagram and Facebook show happy families and good times. Vacations and retreats. Confident, content and happy people. I then look in the mirror and see brokenness in my own life.

Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 1 Timothy 6: 6-8

In reality, I need to focus on my blessings. Instead of the outward comparisons, I should focus on those gifts that are right in front of me. My wife. My children. My health and job. A wonderful community to call home and good friends who stand by me when I need encouragement.

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

Jesus has given us all we need to find contentment. Giving our hearts…our lives…to Jesus means eliminating the distractions that society places in our way. We brought no material wealth into this world and can’t take anything with us when we die.

How do we find it?

  1. Count your blessings. Often. Yes, it’s an overused phrase. But have you done it lately? Write down the things you are grateful for in your life. Your parents. Your spouse. That friend you can always call when times are tough.
  2. Pray over your blessings. Acknowledging these gifts and thanking God for your blessings is another way to increase the awareness of what you “have” instead of focusing on what you “don’t.” Do this often. Prayer grounds us and allows us to focus on what’s important.
  3. Be a blessing to someone else. The best way to have peace in your heart is to invest in someone else. Check on your elderly neighbor. Call your friend who’s going through a divorce. Cook dinner for someone who is hurting.
  4. Get in God’s word daily. Read the words and study the actions of Jesus in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). Read the words of Paul. Study the Psalms. The Bible gives us a wonderful roadmap for peace.

My prayer this week is to find peace in my own life. I want to discover my own yellow ball.

And please let me know how I may pray for you. God bless you.

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What to Do when your Christmas is Blue…

‘Tis the season.

The holidays are a wonderful time of year for many people.  For others, it can be a difficult season.  One recent study reported that 45% of Americans dreaded the holidays.

Some believe that the end-of-year triggers a state of reflection…a time to think about the inadequacies of life or sad memories from the past.  Other studies have shown that shorter days and the absence of sunlight can contribute to the holidays blues.  Whatever the reason- we know that the holidays can be difficult for some.

Maybe its difficult for you.

What can we do to prevent the holiday blues?

Take some time off.  Take some time during the holidays to focus on yourself.  Exercise.  Read.  Spend some time in the morning in prayer or reflection.  Just 30 minutes a day of quiet time can recharge your batteries and keep you energized for the rest of the day.

Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!  Psalm 46:10

Give back to a good cause.  Get out of your own troubles by helping someone else.  Volunteer at a homeless shelter.  Participate in an Angle Tree program.  Deliver meals to the elderly.  Do what you can to engage with others who are in need.  Helping others gives you a fresh perspective on life and your attitude toward the holidays.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Philippians 2:4

Reconnect with someone from the past.  Think about someone who has made a difference in your life.  Take 5 minutes and send them a hand-written note.  Call the distant relative who has been struggling with health issues.  Drop by and visit your former teacher who is now in assisted living.  Text your college roommate that you’ve not seen in five years.  Relationships are important.  The people that you contact will love the effort, and these holiday communications will benefit you as much as the recipient.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Always remember- this year and every year- Jesus loves you.

We often reflect on the birth of Jesus at this time of year.  I’m happy to celebrate his birth, but it’s equally (perhaps more) important to reflect on his sacrifice and death on the cross.  He gave His life up for you and me.  He allowed himself to be crucified so that we may be free from sin- and have eternal life in Heaven.  Jesus knew we would be broken…sinners.  But he loves us anyway.  No matter what we do- Jesus never leaves.  Draw near to him this holiday season.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.  Matthew 11:28-30

Let’s pray for those who may be hurting this holiday season.

And as always, please let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

 

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