Friday, November 20, 2009

The Journey Toward Contentment

Last week I began a little series on contentment, (The Journey Toward Contentment) seeing how we were entering the seasons of Thanks-giving and Gift-giving, I thought it would be an appropriate topic. My texts last week were taken from the Psalms of Ascent, (Psalms 120-134) and we talked about having the correct priorities, the correct people, and the correct places aligned as we took this journey toward contentment. I am not sure how the sermon went over, but a group of us did have a good discussion in my study afterwards as we sought to discuss the practical implications of the journey.

As we continue on the journey this week I am focusing upon the giving of thanks, and the Apostle Paul's directive to "give thanks in all circumstances." (1 Thessalonians 5:18) This directive, along with those that surround it (1 Thessalonians 5:12-28) are easily read but difficult to apply. I mean really, give thanks in all circumstances?!

Well, being one who believes in the triune God, and who believes that His Word is true, I guess I must believe these declarations are true as well, even if I find them hard to apply. What I have discovered is that thanks-giving in all circumstances is more Whom you are thanking, and what you are thanking Him for, rather than the present circumstance in which you find yourself.

One thing that I have personally discovered is that as I place my focus upon God and upon others, my thankfulness in all circumstances increases.

This past week my family and I went to watch Disney's newest installment of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" (You must see it in 3D to really appreciate it!) Therein I was once again reminded of the importance of contentment and difference wrought in old Ebenezer Scrooge once he got his priorities, people and places in correct order. He learned that contentment was not to be found in hoarding, but in handing out, not in getting but in giving. And that is why once again this Christmas season I am promoting the ministry of the Advent Conspiracy, who are asking the question, "Can Christmas still change the world?" (Nice follow-up t my recent sermon series on "Changing Our World for Good.") I believe we can!

That is why I am encouraging my family, friends, blog-readers(?), to give a gift to the least of these. (Matthew 25:31-46) Rather than spending time and wrapping paper for a gift for _____________ (fill in the blank), give a gift in their name to a ministry of compassion like, Living Water or Food for the Hungry or __________________. Give a gift that blesses God, blesses those who receive the gift, those in whose honor it is given and blesses the giver. Now, there's a way to spend Christmas that will increase our thanks-giving in all circumstances and move us toward contentment.
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