Tag Archives: contentment

1 Kings 10-11; 2 Chronicles 9; 1 Timothy 6

Three very interesting portions of Scripture for our consideration this morning. I am struck by a phrase that is used in 1 Kings 10 and 2 Chronicles 9. These are words from the Queen of Sheba about what she sees in King Solomon’s Kingdom, 8 Blessed be the Lord your God! He delighted in you and put you on his throne as king for the Lord your God. Because your God loved Israel enough to establish them forever, he has set you over them as king to carry out justice and righteousness.” (2 Chronicles 9:8 [Christian Standard Bible]).

(By the way while I was reading this passage I was listening to a classical station and they were playing The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba by Handel. Click on this link and listen to it while reading the rest of this post: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KLee4Kgr_E&t=6s)

This concluding remark by the Queen of Sheba had to do with what she saw as a by product of Solomon’s wealth and wisdom. He had to have been the richest person in the world at that time. One scholar’s calculations put his wealth in today’s terms at about 100 billion dollars. He humbled himself and asked for wisdom and God gave him both wisdom and wealth. As a result the Queen of Sheba states, “he (God) has set you (Solomon) over them as king to carry out justice and righteousness.” When wisdom and wealth are used in a right manner the people are happy and contentment, justice and righteiousness prevail.

Yet as we read on in 1 Kings we see Solomon drifting from his commitment to God. Along with that came a degrading of that justice and righteousness and Solomon started worshiping other gods. And in the end his heir lost the bulk of the kingdom. I wonder what the world would be like today if each of Solomons heirs governed like he started. The world would be an entirely different place and perhaps justice and righteousness would prevail.

So the Apostle Paul paints a dire picture of a person who persues wealth for wealth’s sake. He writes to his protege Timothy the following: 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out. 8 If we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. 9 But those who want to be rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs (1 Timothy 6:6-10 [CSB]).

Money used or desired in the wrong ways only leads to grief and heartaches. I’ve known of many who have wandered away from the faith and have found themselves in these situations.

So what about us. I believe we need to focus on verse 6 above. If we focus on godly living and being content with that no matter what our economic standing is, we will find great contentment.

Father God, pursuing a relationship with You is where we find our greatest contentment. I pray that we would all be doing that as we grow in You. In Jesus strong name we pray, Amen!

Florence, Italy: Lorenzo Ghiberti’s Gate of Heaven. Solomon receives the Queen of Sheba, the gate panel

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Numbers 6-7; Hebrews 13

I remember the first time I left the kids with a sitter–the instructions, the notes, how to reach us. A friend did that with me too, when she and her husband were taking a trip and wanted me to care for some things at their home. A list: remember, remember, don’t forget.

Words in Hebrews cause me to pause and reflect. Keep on, remember, remember, don’t forget. These are reminders of things that matter. What are words that I would want to impress upon someone for their success and perseverance? How would I encourage others in perspective and purpose? And how would my words align with what God says?

20 Now may the God of peace—
    who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus,
the great Shepherd of the sheep,
    and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood—
21 may he equip you with all you need
    for doing his will.
May he produce in you,
    through the power of Jesus Christ,
every good thing that is pleasing to him.
    All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.

22 I urge you, dear brothers and sisters, to pay attention to what I have written in this brief exhortation. (Hebrews 13:20-22, NLT)

I have a dear friend who, at the end of our coffee dates, walks me into the parking lot, puts her hand upon my shoulder and prays for and over me. She is an example of precious community. I am fortunate to know others who do the same.

God of peace, thank you for friends who pray and point me back to you and what matters. Thank you for your word in my hands, scriptures that remind me of who you are–unchanging, powerful–all glory to you. Thank you for words like keep on, remember, remember, don’t forget, to encourage and remind. Because sometimes I’m discouraged. Sometimes I forget.

Courtney (66books365)

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Ecclesiastes 3-5; Psalm 45; Matthew 15

I think of the scraps that fell from the table: could meager remnants become a feast? I sat on a bench one year and considered the crumbs and thought of this woman in Matthew 15 and her perspective.

24 Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.”

25 But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!”

26 Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.”

27 She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table. (Matthew 15:24-27, NLT)”

She taught me something profound that day about my own heart. About contentment. About gratitude. About the Lord. About enough.

The Pharisees had their expectations of what life would look like, and how purity would be recognized, and a protocol for how things would be done. I think on how my own expectations, perceptions, and protocol have kept me sour, hurt, angry, or disappointed.

Ecclesiastes marks time like seasons for war and peace, tearing and mending, silence and speech. Couldn’t it show on the calendar? On (this day), you will cry. You will grieve. But in a few turns of the calendar pages, you will laugh. You will dance. Would the wait feel long?

Here, I linger:

What do people really get for all their hard work? 10 I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. 11 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. 12 So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. 13 And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God (Ecclesiastes 3:9-13, NLT).

The injustices of life. The advantages of companionship. The futility of power and wealth. The importance of integrity. Read slowly. Everything, beautiful. Even in the becoming, beauty, in the wait. A scope of His work.

17 Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry.

18 Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. 19 And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. 20 God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past (Ecclesiastes 5:17-20, NLT, emphasis added).

I did a quarterly evaluation in areas of my life from 1-10: work, health, friendships, etc. Goal books and podcasts preach a level-10 life. What would it look like, I wondered. And slowly I realized–I was already there. I have all I need. And maybe living out level 10 didn’t mean what I was making it (nebulous as it was). Maybe it didn’t look like anyone else’s vision of ten. Maybe, in some cases, it had to do with letting go of hurts and expectations, with looking forward and sowing into a future than looking back and carrying past burdens. Maybe my disappointment stemmed from exceptions and restrictions and expectations I placed upon things, a schedule I overbooked, a relationship I overestimated. For community that was never going to be what I hoped it could be. For the friend who never agreed to be who I needed her to be. What if I let go of my own restrictions, instead of wrestling with a past I couldn’t change, and people I wished who would? Seems like chasing the wind.

Lord, thank you for meeting me that day on the bench, bringing that woman’s story to mind. Thank you today for reminding me of the scope of your story. Thank you for gifts from you: good things from you, and the health to enjoy them.

Courtney (66books365)

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Genesis 28-29; Mark 11

I don’t know a lot about Leah–just these few things: older sister, no sparkle in her eyes (and later, she is an unexpected bride, child bearer, and her words lament). Leah, didn’t you see you were part of a plan?

I think about Leah and wonder what happened in all the years that stole her sparkle. Her words groan, “Notice me.” “Hear me.”

She doesn’t see how she fits–mother of nations. She doesn’t even know.

***

I imagine Jacob, young, with a head full of hope and promise, setting out. He has a dream:

13 At the top of the stairway stood the Lord, and he said, “I am the Lord, the God of your grandfather Abraham, and the God of your father, Isaac. The ground you are lying on belongs to you. I am giving it to you and your descendants. 14 Your descendants will be as numerous as the dust of the earth! They will spread out in all directions—to the west and the east, to the north and the south. And all the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants. 15 What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.”

16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!” Genesis 28:13-16, NLT.

Jacob knew there was a plan and he was a part of it. His father sent him off with a blessing. And knowing he was part of a plan (or maybe it was just love!) makes the years and waiting fly by.

18 Since Jacob was in love with Rachel, he told her father, “I’ll work for you for seven years if you’ll give me Rachel, your younger daughter, as my wife.”

19 “Agreed!” Laban replied. “I’d rather give her to you than to anyone else. Stay and work with me.” 20 So Jacob worked seven years to pay for Rachel. But his love for her was so strong that it seemed to him but a few days. Genesis 28:18-20, NLT.

***

Did Leah always feel unloved?

Her pursuit to be noticed, accepted, and loved leads her to praise.

***

The reality of broken relationships, love or friendship disregarded and unreturned–they wound. There are situations I can’t fix, or don’t know how to fix, and if I focus my thoughts there, it drains.

Father, I want to focus on your presence and your plan–that whatever the role it is you give me is a piece you selected just for me. Let me praise you for your love, and let me walk this path knowing that you are with me. You are father, you are friend. You are in this place.

Courtney (66books365)

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Ecclesiastes 4-6; 2 Corinthians 10

Contentment.

18 Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. 19 And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. 20 God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past. Ecclesiastes 5:18-20, NLT.

After reading about the oppressed; the success-driven from neighbor envy; the lonely; the rejected; the futility of wealth; the chasing of wind … I land here on such a simple thought, possibly a key to happiness: enjoyment. In the very basic of things–eating, drinking, enjoyment of work. Enjoy appears four times in three verses.

I can clearly remember times in the sometimes-struggle (and that struggle is different for each of us), where hurts overwhelmed. Too much time was spent stuck in that pit. My focus became narrow and intentional, out of necessity–to enjoy a cup of coffee … the warmth of wooly socks on my feet … the fragrance of summer in a field of cut grass. It took time to climb out, but my view was broader, and my world a feast–friends over for play dates … company around the table for dinner … woodsmoke smells from the fireplace. My kids began to notice, commenting once at a park, “Mom, don’t slow us down by looking at the pretty flowers.”

Those hurtful things, the ones that wounded so deeply five years ago–I’d rather be defined by God’s grace to me, than imprisoned by things in the past. I will enjoy those momentary sunsets from my dining room window, the woodland chorus in summer, and his perfect timing for many other things.

10 Everything has already been decided. It was known long ago what each person would be. So there’s no use arguing with God about your destiny.

11 The more words you speak, the less they mean. So what good are they?

12 In the few days of our meaningless lives, who knows how our days can best be spent? Our lives are like a shadow. Who can tell what will happen on this earth after we are gone? Ecclesiastes 6:10-12, NLT.

Thank you, Lord, for your very good gifts. I look for you and find you everywhere, and you don’t disappoint. You show me how my problems are temporary, and help me to take thoughts captive.

4 We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, NLT.

Thank you for your Word–a weapon, and peace that comes through gratitude and contentment. I have not always known that, but now that I do, I don’t want to let go.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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