being content

A Content Life

In a 2010 interview, Eunice Sandborn, age 114, said she had a happy life. She didn’t have any complaints. She believed complaining was a choice, and in her 114 years, there were times she had to choose not to complain. Eunice was content as she celebrated her birthday making her the oldest living person in the world.

The Search for Contentment

It seems Eunice had found contentment. We all search for it. Some look for it in a big home, there are those who look for it in how many cars they own, and still others search for contentment in a bank account balance. Being content is a desire we all share, and Scripture encourages us to find our contentment in the Lord.

Hebrews 13:6 says, “Don’t love money. Be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”

Finding Contentment

Life has seasons of plenty and seasons of need. The writer of Hebrews reminds us the Lord is with us in both seasons. We may even find the most contentment in the leanest of seasons.

The words of Hebrews 13:6 point to the complete reliability of God and his promises. God’s people can count on him no matter what comes.

Remember, wherever you are in life today, the Lord is saying to you, “I will never fail you. I will not abandon you.”

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Pressure Cooker of Life

Life is a pressure cooker.

Good cooks, which does not describe me, know a pressure cooker can be a useful tool. It can turn the toughest cut of meat into a tender dish. The heat and pressure help cook the dish perfectly. You need just the right amount of pressure though, or you end up with ketchup on your kitchen ceiling. Pressure cookers are useful as they reduce cooking time, and a well-versed chef can use the tool to create delicious food.

Life can be described as a pressure cooker. Each day is filled with stresses which cause our anxiety levels to rise. The decisions we are forced to make can be overwhelming. We have more bills than income, deciding how to keep our families safe amid a pandemic, and juggling our home being the center for work, school, and everything else. The pressures of life can certainly come from all directions.

The pressures of life may cause us anxiety, but we are not alone. Others have had the same experience including the writer of Psalm 119. In verse 139, the writer states he is overwhelmed with indignation. He feels insignificant. Perhaps nothing is working out in the way he planned. Pressure is increasing, yet the Lord is still there.

Psalm 119:143-144 says, as pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands. Your laws are always right. Help me to understand them so I may live.”

Though he was in the pressure cooker of life, the Psalmist kept his focus on the Lord. The challenge for us is to follow the Psalmist’s pattern.

Amid stress and anxiety, remember…

  • The Lord is with us.
  • The Lord is trustworthy.
  • Jesus asks us to trust him. He says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me” (John 14:1).
  • The Lord sees the big picture and is a master chef at using life’s pressure cooker. He knows when to release the pressure so the ketchup doesn’t end up on the ceiling.
  • Christ has promised he will come and take us where he is.

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Salt & Light

Happy World Kindness Day!

Jesus tells us to be salt and light.

He says in Matthew 5, “You are the salt of the earth, but what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled under foot as worthless. You are the light of the world, like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead a lamp is placed on a stand where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see so that everyone will praise your Heavenly Father.”

Salt was used for the preservation and flavoring of food. Salt helped society. The same is true for light. It had its obvious implications of illuminating the darkness, providing safety, and offering heat. Society would be in a worse place if not for salt and light.

It seems Jesus’ point is clear. Christians are to be salt and light; we are to improve society by being the true hands and feet of the Lord.

Annually, World Kindness Day is celebrated November 13. It is a day designed to unite humanity through kindness. I believe the challenge for Christians is to extend kindness beyond one day a year to every day. Are we truly the salt and light of the world? How well do we model Jesus’ behavior?

  • Jesus treated others the way he wanted to be treated.
  • Jesus loved and prayed for his enemies.
  • Jesus was compassionate. He empathized with those who were hurting.
  • Jesus always offered an encouraging word.
  • Jesus was gracious. He did not throw mistakes in a person’s face, but offered grace to the person.

Be salt and light!

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A Deliverer Has Come

A deliverer has come.

Isaiah had many bad things to say, but he had many hopeful points as well. He speaks of a coming deliverer.

Isaiah 9:6-7 says, “For to us a child is born. To us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace, there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it, with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The seal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.”

In Isaiah’s day, they had to wait for this deliverer to come; however, you and I do not have to wait. He came on Christmas Day. This deliverer is Jesus.

We need only to accept his offer of grace and mercy to enjoy the benefits of his kingdom. Christ offers hope in an otherwise hopeless situation. Amid the darkness of Isaiah’s prophecies, the light of a coming deliverer – the hope of Christ coming – shined brightly. For those searching for hope, the light is still shining brightly, and Christ is still offering hope.

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Christ is Hope

A Better Day is Coming

Isaiah had many horrible predictions, but he also had some glorious predictions to offer hope in a seemingly hopeless time.

Isaiah 11 states out of hopelessness will come one baring hope. Isaiah 11 says, “He will delight in obeying the Lord. He will not judge by appearance, nor make a decision based on hearsay. He will give justice to the poor and make fair decisions for the exploited. The earth will shake at the force of his word and one breath from his mouth will destroy the wicked. He will wear righteousness like a belt and truth like an undergarment. In that day, the wolf and the lamb will live together. The leopard will lie down with the baby goat. The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion. And a little child will lead them all.”

These words of Isaiah paint a glorious picture, and for us, Christ provides hope. For us, he was the one who came out of hopelessness baring hope. He judges based on our hearts, gives justice to the poor, and works on behalf of the exploited. Christ brings much hope.

How do you find hope in Christ?

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Hope in Unsettling Times

Darkness doesn’t prevent the Lord.

Isaiah is a prophet who brought some shocking news to God’s people. Israel was going to fall into the hands of Assyria; they would have difficult days ahead. The time would seem unsettling and dark, but God would not forget about his people.

Today may be an unsettling time. COVID19 is still present in our lives causing interruptions. Other problems have reached a boiling point. It does not seem good headlines exist in the news, but God has not forgotten about his people.

In chapter 8, Isaiah says, “The Lord has given me a strong warning not to think like everyone else does. He said, ‘Don’t call everything a conspiracy like they do, and don’t live in dread of what frightens them. Make the Lord of Heaven’s armies holy in your life. He is the one you should fear; he is the one who should make you tremble. He will keep you safe.”

He promises to keep those who are faithful safe. Isaiah goes on in verse 16, “Preserve the teaching of God, and trust the instructions of those who follow me. I will wait for the Lord, who has turned away from the descendants of Jacob. I will put my hope in him.”

Isaiah recognizes God is the one constant hope. Hope in anything or anyone else is fallible, but hope in the Lord is unfailing. Isaiah was living in an anxious time, but he centered his hope on the Lord.

“Look to God’s instructions and teachings,” Isaiah encourages in 8:20-21. “People who contradict his word are completely in the dark. They will go from one place to another, weary and hungry, and because they are hungry, they will rage and curse their king and their god. They will look up to Heaven and down at the earth, but wherever they look, there will be trouble and anguish and dark despair. They will be thrown out into the darkness.”

The next time life seems hopeless and you are plagued by yesterday’s mistakes, try looking to the hope and grace offered by the Lord. Partake in his grace, and allow it to wash over the feelings of hopelessness and despair you may be encountering. Isaiah’s promise is as good today as the day he originally prophesied.

The Lord offers hope to his people even in the most unsettling times.

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Hope Yestterday, Today, and the Future

There has always been hope.

Hope is not a new idea to the Lord. From the first dark day on earth, the Lord knew his people would need hope, and he provided it.

Adam and Eve did not follow the rules for living in the Garden, so they were kicked out. Hope was then needed, and the Lord provided hope and a glimpse into his plan for the future.

Speaking of the coming Messiah, God says in Genesis 3:15, “And I will cause hostility between you and the woman. And between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heal.”

Many years later, Isaiah was stating some unsettling times were about to occur. Israel was going to fall into the hands of Assyria, but the Lord offered hope amid the anxiety.

Isaiah 7:14 says, “All right then. The Lord himself will give you a sign. Look the virgin will conceive a child. She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel, which means God is with us.”

Many years later, John’s Gospel says hope came. John 1:14 says, “So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness, and we have seen his glory – the glory of the Father’s one and only son.”

The hope needed in the Garden in Isaiah’s day, and that came in John’s day is still with us today. Christ is that hope; his grace and mercy are still available today. If you are in need of hope today, give him a chance to offer it to you.

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Hope

The one and only constant hope.

Hope is easy when we do not really need it, but when circumstances around us seem hopeless, we truly discover where our hope can be found.

Friends who say call if you need anything may or may not mean it. Politicians may promise hope, but they are not able to deliver a true hope. Hope in money can eventually run out. The Lord, however, can provide a true, constant hope in the most hopeless of situations.

The Lord can give hope to the hopeless. In the darkest of hours, he can be a ray of light that changes everything. Where is your hope placed today?

The Whirlwind of Life

She experienced a whirlwind of emotions.

She was a widow, with a son, in the middle of a famine. Provisions were almost expired; enough was left for one last meal. She was gathering the wood for the cooking fire when Elijah entered her life.

Elijah asked the widow to bring him a drink of water and a piece of bread. She responds in 1 Kings 17:12, “As surely as the Lord your God lives, I don’t have any bread, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son that we may eat it, and die.”

Can you imagine? The widow is in a desperate situation, and she may feel hopeless. But here comes hope.

Elijah encourages her to do as he has directed, and promises the Lord will continue her provisions until the end of the famine. 1 Kings 17:6 records the widow and her son having enough to survive until the famine ended. This storm ended, but another rain cloud was on the horizon.

Some time later her son died. Amid the storm, the widow went to Elijah so he could act on behalf of God. This would have been an emotionally draining whirlwind for the widow; hard times followed by okay times only to be replaced by hard times again. Sadness giving away to happiness only to be broken down by grief. The winds of life tossed and turned the widow.

Perhaps this sounds familiar to your experience. Don’t lose the big take-away of the widow’s story.

Her faith pushed her forward.

It was the widow’s faith which compelled her to feed Elijah and go to him upon the death of her son. Her faith steadied her as the winds swirled around her.

You and I have a friend in Jesus who sticks closer than a brother. His compassion wiped the tears of the widow and held the hand of the man with leprosy. His power was victorious over death. There’s nothing in life that is a match for him.

Allow the Lord to be a part of your storm today.

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Looking to the Future

The future is coming.

Well, the future is coming. It may be unsettling, but we can not stop it from coming. The good news for Christians, the future will be glorious. At the end, the Lord will be victorious.

Isaiah had many unsettling things to say, but the Lord promised through Isaiah, a future of peace and rest.

Isaiah 4:5-6 says, “Then the Lord will create, over all of Mount Zion, and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night. Over everything, the glory will be a canopy. It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain.”

Israel did not fully experience this when they returned out of exile, nor have we fully experienced it today. But the Lord promises he will create for us an eternal dwelling of peace and rest. The toil of this life, for Christ’s followers, will give way to peace and rest in the future.

The future is coming. We can’t stop it, but we can rest assured it will be a time of peace and rest.

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Encouraging & Inspiring