Monday, January 6, 2020

Content in the Moment

Content in the Moment:

"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want" Pslam 23:1

When I was a young mom and my boys were babies, I remember having my family room full of baby entertainment equipment. I had a swing, an exersaucer, a floor time mat, and a bouncy seat strategically placed ready for their awake time. My boys loved their play equipment, but they were never content for any length of time; I knew it was time to move them to another piece of equipment when they would begin crying or getting restless. Eventually they would get tired and fussy and nothing but a little lap time and would soothe them. 

There are times in my life when I felt there was something more besides where I was at in life and that would make me feel better and more content, a lot like a baby with a short attention span ready for an environmental change. My discontent has felt like frustration, boredom, and emptiness. These feelings can throw you in a pit of discontentment and hopelessness of being stuck.

God tells us He is ALWAYS with us. We should be joyful and content with what we have and where we are in life. We should not worry or want more than what God has given us if we have a close relationship with God. I'm not talking about setting goals and striving to be a better person to fulfill our purpose on earth; I'm talking about not putting hope in something or someone other than our God, our Shepard. 

If we are experiencing depression, despair, loneliness, emptiness, or frustration. . . then we may want to look at where our hope is coming from. We will never be completely satisfied if we are letting someone or something other than God shepard us. If we are letting our success in work, relationships, finances, or even our volunteer accomplishments determine our happiness, then we will never be completely satisfied. . . as Pslam 23:1 tells us . . . with God as our Shepard, we shall not want. We should be able to find contentment and joy wherever our feet currently are. We should never let someone or something other than God determine the joy in our lives. 

". . . for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." Philippians 4:11

Life may not always be what we want, and we may be going through tough times. . . but God is all we need during the good and bad. If life is not what we want it to be right now, then we need to cry out to God and ask Him what is all this chaos about. . . our God is not a God of chaos. "For God is not a God of disorder but of peace--as in all the congregations of the Lord's people." 1 Corinthians 14:33 Ask Him to give you the strength and courage to get through the tough times. Ask Him to show you the blessings and joy within the tough situation. Look for the lesson He is allowing you to learn . . . what is He cultivating good out of a situation that the devil intended for evil?

I have often been like a lost sheep . . . looking for something to give me hope or more fulfilling than my current situation. These situations may be my career, my body, my finances, or relationships. I get impatient with God and myself while waiting for answers and solutions. I begin to get too busy trying to solve my discontentment on my own. Or I look to other people to fix my problems or dissatisfaction. Why can't I just be content with my current situation? Why can't I just enjoy the blessings that I currently have. . . why do I want to strive for more. . . why do I want to add more to my plate?  

I began digging in God's Word and searching for answers about being content in the moment. . . God led me first to Psalm 23:1 "The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want". . . don't laugh, but I always wondered why this scripture would tell me I would not want the Lord as my shepherd. . .I know I know but sometimes we just read words or memorize scripture, and then one day it is like a light bulb turns on and it makes perfect sense. . . God's Word is living and speaks to us just at the right time. I started digging in a little deeper to understand this verse. All these years I have been missing the point of Psalm 23:1. Now that my mind and heart were open to hearing what God was wanting me to know about contentment, I was seeing what God was truly saying. . . God was revealing to me just at the right time. . .  if I truly believe that the Lord is my shepherd, then I shall not want anything else to truly have joy in my life . 

I had prayed and prayed during my year off from teaching while I was going through my breast cancer journey and having some "me" time for healing. I was praying that God would show me the exact job He wanted me to have and not the job I thought I needed. For the first time, I truly surrendered my wants for a career and prayed that God would use me and place me where I could be someone's solution. That was scary, but I have learned over the years that trying to do it on my own does not work. . . I was finally willing to give up my own wants to go where God wanted me. . . thank goodness God doesn't give up on us and is patient with us. I met some amazing educators and some students that completely stole my heart. My position was later cut from the school district's budget, but that was my mission for that time. I might not understand why some things or people come and go in my life, but I do know that God has a perfect plan . . . Jeremiah 29:11

Contentment is not easy with the information overload this world throws at us. It is important to keep our eyes on our Shepard.

True Contentment is Found in Trusting the Good Shepard:

1. Make the Lord your Shepard by trusting His provision in every situation of your life. . . Ask the Good Shepard to be your Lord and turn away from trying to do life on your own. With the Lord as your Shepard, you can truly be content while resting and finding peace in His Truths. 

Psalm 23:1 "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want".

2. Know that your Shepard provides everything you need . . . He provides rest, food and drink, restoration, and a guided path in the right direction. 

Psalm 23:2-3: "He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake." 

3. Know that your Shepard will walk with you through the good and bad times. . . He will provide comfort for your fear, He will fight your enemies, and He will cover you in protection so you are not overtaken from the irritations of this fallen world.

Psalm 23:4-5: "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows." 

4. You do not have to earn your Shepards love and mercy, He will be with you forever. 

Psalm 23:6: "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever." 

5. Pray to Your Shepard. . . 

Content in the Moment Prayer. . . 
Dear Lord, please help me and anyone else struggling with contentment to keep You at the front of everything we do and in front of our steps. Please do not let us take steps without You leading the way. Please do not let our minds stray from You. We do not want to want more because we accept You as our Shepherd. We want to be content and living life at a healthy pace following You! You ARE OUR SHEPHERD! Thank you for always watching over us even when we try to do life without You. Let us continue to be someone else's solution while You provide the steps and direction for the ultimate path to the solution. 

Today's Journal and Reflection: Do you truly accept God as your Shepard? What areas of your life are you currently trying to shepard yourself? Are you currently searching for something or someone to make you content and happy in life? How does Psalm 23:1-6 give you comfort? What verses of Psalm 23:1-6 do you need to study a little deeper in order to completely trust your Shepard and be content in your current situation? 

Monday, December 2, 2019

God Goes Before Us. . . Courage within Faith

"The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8

We had been trying to sell our inflatable rental business for years. We were so close several times, but the deal would always fall through. It was years of trying to sell the business, and we just assumed that God wanted us to continue with the rentals because we were able to meet new people in our community and pray for the people who we rented to. But what we did not know and completely comprehend at the time was the fact that God was going ahead of us and knew exactly when the inflatables would bless another family's finances, and ours at the same time. 

A couple that had just been relocated to our town because of a flood in their city were looking for a business to bless their family's budget. Our inflatables were able to do that for them. . . but what they did not know and what we did not know was that the money we put in the bank for savings was actually part of a bigger plan that my husband and I had no clue about. We sold the inflatables in April of 2017, and we were so excited to have money to make our Dave Ramsey three month emergency fund a reality. However, in May 2017, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Here is where I began to see just how God goes before us even when we are praying in desperation for our own timing. There were so many times I had prayed and asked, or pleaded, for God to sell the inflatables and bless our savings account with financial freedom. But God answered "no" several times because He knew that hospitals and doctors require large sums of money before breast cancer procedures and surgeries can happen. If we did not have the inflatable money at this exact time, we would have been struggling to find the money for my breast cancer surgery and treatment. God had gone before us and knew exactly what we needed before we had even come to the large and steep scary mountain of cancer. . . 

"I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron." Isaiah 45:2

Through the storm of breast cancer, I saw God's character and how God had been preparing a rainbow for me to walk across. How he had leveled the mountains so I would not have to climb the rough terrain, and He broke down the gates and allowed me to peacefully and restfully walk the journey of breast cancer. I would have never asked for a storm like this, but without it, I would not have experienced the power of God going before me, and I would not have had this opportunity to grow in my relationship with God. 

Have you ever gone through a rough time and had a friend or family member stick by your side listening to you or helping you with advice. . . and through this time you grew closer to your friend or family member and as a result shared a bond? That's what I gained with God when He walked before me, with me, and behind me during my breast cancer journey. I saw God's true character. . . and grew in my faith and courage for the next challenge in this fallen world! God does not promise life to be easy, but God does promise to walk before us and with us. 

Now, because of my breast cancer journey, I can go forth faithfully in confidence knowing that God has already been where I am going.  I learned about God's character and it is now easier to put complete trust in Him. 

I have not always had this courage within my faith. I have worried, and still do until I get my mind grounded in God's promises. Having courage within your faith takes time with God. Once you experience God's Grace and Mercy and you grow in your relationship with God, the courage will be built in your faith of walking with God. . . confidence that God has already prepared the path. This kind of confidence and faith takes lots of courage, but with that courage comes peace and rest trusting that God knows exactly how your circumstances will turn out before you even begin the journey down that road. 

Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid or terrified of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6 

Today's Journal and Reflection: Have you been praying for answers and you feel as if you are not being heard? What do you fear if your prayer is not answered on your timeline? Does God's promises help you find confidence while you wait for God to reveal His plan? Why/Why not? By staying in God's Word, you can find more about God's character and how He has worked in other's lives. . . He is the same today as He was yesterday when He performed miracles that are documented in the Bible.