January 2, Thursday

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“In Search of Contentment in Life”

Philippians 4:11-13

I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Every year I fall into the trap of making new year’s resolutions. Even though I have yet to accomplish most of them, I continue to tell myself: “I can do it; this year will be different; I’m going to do it.” I may even tell myself, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” When taken out of context, we place a greater emphasis on the “I can do all things” because it fuels our desire to be self-sufficient. It creates the illusion that Paul is talking about what we can do when he’s actually pointing us to a greater truth—the very secret to life of how we can be.

And that secret is how we can be content. Paul writes that in any and every circumstance, whether it be a season of need or a season of abundance, he is content. Oftentimes we think about being content only in times of need but notice how Paul writes he knows what it means to be content even in times of abundance. Even when things are going well, he still understands how to be content only in Christ. For Paul, knowing Christ and being in Christ (Phil 3:8-12) was far more worthy than anything else. Nothing compared to this. His contentment in Christ made him invincible to all of life’s ups and downs. Therefore, Paul could confidently say that no matter the season of need or abundance, Paul could endure all things because he found his strength in Christ alone.

In a world where we take pride in our ability to be self-sufficient, Paul always boasted about his dependence on God alone (2 Cor. 12). As one commentator said, he understood that the secret to life was not to be self-sufficient, but to be God-sufficient. Regardless of what 2020 may or may not bring, may we begin this year with this heart of contentment. As Paul learned this secret to life, may we also learn this amazing truth. May we be content in Christ alone. 

Prayer: Father, teach me how to be content in You alone. Help me not to trust in myself, but in all circumstances find my satisfaction in You. I begin this year knowing that You are more than enough for me. May my weaknesses be ever so transparent so that Your power will shine all the more in my life. 

Bible Reading for Today:  John 2 (Luke 16) 


Lunch Break Study 

Read 1 Peter 1:3-5: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 

Questions to Consider

  1. What is the living hope that Paul writes about? 
  2. How is this hope different from our common definition of hope?
  3. In what do we put our hope?  

Notes

  1. Paul, writing to a church facing constant persecution, reminds the believers that their ultimate hope is in the salvation that comes through Jesus Christ. It is a hope given by God’s mercy, meaning there is nothing we can do to earn it, or have it taken away. This hope is not just for our time here on earth, but it is a hope that leads us to an inheritance that awaits us in heaven.  
  2. Living hope is not sheer optimism. Optimism leaves very little assurance that what we hope for will actually amount to something. Proverbs 10:28 says, “The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish.” The hopes of this world will lead to nothing, but our hope in Christ will be eternal. 
  3. Personal Response. 

Evening Reflection

In describing how hope drives us, CS Lewis wrote “We are all born with desires. If I find myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.” 

Spend a few moments reflecting on what brings us pleasure. May they only point us to the true satisfaction that can only be found in Christ.

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