Friday, February 3, 2017

GRATEFULNESS
and
CONTENTMENT



On any given morning, you will probably find me
sitting at the desk in my room, next to the window
overlooking the neighbourhood and a myriad
of backyards and rooftops.
As I read and study and pray,
I am reminded of God's goodness.

I see a corrugated iron fence, covered in graffiti.
I see a backyard, so overgrown,
the rusting car sitting in it is almost invisible.
I see fences overgrown with vines.
Power lines blocking the view of the sky.
I hear bats screeching, an air conditioner
rattling on the side of the house.
But then I start to look past all that and
tune my eyes and ears to the sights
and sounds around me. Parrots are having
a grand conversation. Birds are chirping.
The wind is rustling the leaves of the trees.
The sunlight is filtering down through
the branches and lighting up the
passionfruit vine hanging on the fence.
The grass is green because of recent rains.
The sky is a beautiful blue with puffs
of white clouds floating by.
And I thank God, for letting me live here.

Despite my longing for a house in the country
surrounded by bushland, with no neighbours in sight.
No noisy all night parties and views of
10 backyards from my upper story lookout.
God has been so good.

My reverie is suddenly broken by a youth group kid
walking by, and singing out, “Mrs Holmes!”.
I am then reminded again of the reason
God put us here.
Right smack bang in the middle
of this crazy neighbourhood,
in an 'upstairs' house, as it is known here.
He put us here to be a light in a dark world.
A candle on a candle stick. Not under a bushel.
I continually remind myself, that if we hadn't
moved to this particular house in this particular
suburb, we would not have met all the kids in our
neighbourhood that we now have the privilege
to work with in Youth Group and Sunday School.
We are surrounded by families that need the Lord.
And no amount of advertising,
would have made up for all the contact
we have with parents and children that live
within a very short distance of us.
God put us here and said,
“Here is your missionfield. Be good stewards.”
Wow! What an awesome responsibility.

Too often, we as Christians, bemoan our
circumstances and we forget to look beyond
them and see what God has for us
in the bigger picture.
We know the phrase,
'bloom where you're planted',
but it has become so overused,
that it means nothing to us anymore.

So how about we just 'get grateful!'
Start looking at the positives in our situation.
Don't dwell on what we don’t' have,
and focus on what we do have!

We often say,
“Well, under the circumstances, I'm doing okay”.
BAH! Who says we should live UNDER our circumstances?
We should rise above them!

The Lord has a special plan and purpose
for all of us as Christians. And we know, deep down
in our hearts, that many people are a lot
worse off than us, but we don't want to
face that reality.
We'd rather wallow in our misery.
It gives us something to talk about
on Sundays after the service. Ha!

No, seriously, gratefulness and gratitude
don't just come naturally. We have to work on it.
Just ask my family. For a long time, I might as
well have had a sign on my forehead that read,
“Little Miss Pessimist'.
But the more I study God's Word,
the more I learn about the importance of being content.

Philippians 4:11 is a verse that I am
working towards being able to wholeheartedly say.

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
'In whatsoever state I am' is a pretty big ask.
But if we look at verse 13,
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
therein lies our help.
In Hebrews 13:5 we have a command to not be covetous, but be content. And again a promise, 'I will never leave thee'.
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
Another verse that has been an encouragement and a goal worth achieving is Philippians 4:8.   
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things
Whenever I find myself dwelling on my negative circumstances, I reach into my mind and heart and pull up this verse from my memory bank and remember what things I SHOULD think about. True. Honest. Just. Pure. Lovely. Good. Praise. Virtue.          
Think on THESE things.
Being content has to do with being satisfied and gratefulness has to do with being appreciative and thankful. So, if we're content (satisfied) with where God has put us, and the circumstances he has allowed us to be in , then, we're going to be grateful (thankful) and it's gonna show!
Too often we fill our lives with 'stuff' and as a result, we become ungrateful and discontent. In 1 Timothy 6:6-8 it says to be content with 'food and raiment'.
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
Well, I can tell you, that I haven't seen many Christians in Australia, walking around skinny and naked! So, we must have 'food and raiment'. We just need to quit our bellyaching. Trust God. Be content and praise God!
Gratefulness is not going to come by getting things we don't have, but rather, by appreciating the things we do have.