Contentment: a learned attitude

Posted Nov 25, 2017

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Daily Scripture

Philippians 4:6-7, 10-13

6 Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. 7 Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.

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10 I was very glad in the Lord because now at last you have shown concern for me again. (Of course you were always concerned but had no way to show it.) 11 I’m not saying this because I need anything, for I have learned how to be content in any circumstance. 12 I know the experience of being in need and of having more than enough; I have learned the secret to being content in any and every circumstance, whether full or hungry or whether having plenty or being poor. 13 I can endure all these things through the power of the one who gives me strength.

Reflection Questions

Many Bible students call Philippians Paul’s “epistle of joy.” From a prison cell (cf. Philippians 1:13), he wrote a letter “known for its emphasis on joy…. Believers have this gladness because they know that having problems, or even enduring harassment, doesn’t mean God has deserted them.”* But we need to observe that the apostle didn’t say his joy grew from a naturally grateful, upbeat disposition. Quite the contrary—“I have learned the secret to being content in any and every circumstance” was his testimony in verse 12.

  • Robert Emmons’ research bears out Paul’s testimony: “Emotional venting without accompanying insight does not produce change. No amount of writing about the event will help unless you are able to take a fresh, redemptive perspective on it. This is an advantage that grateful people have—and it is a skill that anyone can learn.”** What life experiences and choices have already helped you learn to live life from a more grateful point of view? What additional steps do you want to take to learn this important spiritual and life skill?

Prayer

Dear Jesus, if the aggressive, angry Pharisee Saul could learn to be the apostle who wrote an epistle of joy from prison, then I can learn, too. Guide and teach me in the ways of gratitude. Amen.

Family Activity

Gather as a family and bring paper, markers, magazines, glue, pens, scissors and envelopes. Together list at least seven people you would like to thank in some way. Consider family members or friends, firefighters, teachers, church staff or volunteers or police officers. Spend time creating thank you notes for each person. Older family members might write notes. Younger ones might draw pictures or cut pictures out of magazines. Have everyone in your family sign their name to each card. Place each card in an envelope, then address and stamp them. Pray over each one, giving thanks to God for each person. Pile in the car, head to the post office to mail the cards and stop for ice cream or hot chocolate along the way! Continue to pray for those receiving your thank you notes!

* Jerry L. Sumney, Introduction to Philippians in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 373 NT.

** Robert Emmons, “How Gratitude Can Help You Through Hard Times,” syndicated from Greater Good, Sep 12, 2013 at http://www.dailygood.org/story/532/how-gratitude-can-help-you-through-hard-times-robert-emmons/.

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Ali Sloop

Ali Sloop

Ali Sloop is a homeschooled sophomore and worships at Resurrection Blue Springs. She is active in rezlife student ministries, works in KiDSCOR and is participating in the Leader Collective student mentoring and leadership development program.

Today’s scripture (Philippians 4:6-7, 10-13) really resonated with me. Verses six and seven tell us not to be anxious but instead pray and God will give us peace. I know I get anxious about a lot of things--school, meeting new people, or even reading Scripture in front of the congregation on Sunday mornings. Even though I know God is with me all the time sometimes I need reassurance.

I go to the Blue Springs campus and  went on my first mission trip this June with some teens from Leawood. Although I was really excited to meet new people and go to Chicago to help people, I was kind of nervous before I left. Days before leaving for my trip I prayed a lot, and God really gave me this deep sense of peace that's almost impossible to describe. The mission trip ended up being really fun and I met so many great people.

The second part of todays Scripture tells us God is concerned for us. I don’t know about you, but for me, knowing that the creator of the universe is concerned about me is awesome! Also, in verse 12 Paul says: “I know the experience of being in need and of having more than enough; I have learned the secret of being content in any and every circumstance, whether full or hungry or whether having plenty or being poor.” Are you always content in every single situation in your life? I know I’m not. Wheneven the slightest thing happens to set me back I get upset. One thing I have tried to do is every morning I wake up and I tell God, “Whatever happens today I will be content because I know you are in control.” This has helped me a lot, but obviously I still get upset with minor setbacks. I’m not perfect but I try to remember God has a plan for me. I just can’t see the whole picture yet.

One final thing I love about today's Scripture is the inclusion of Philippians 4:13. It is one of my favorite verses and I’ve had it memorized for a long time. I love this verse so much because when I feel like I can’t do something or I’m not good enough, I say this verse in my head and it helps me a lot. When I played sports I would say this verse. Before trying something new I would say this verse. I think one of the best things to remember when you’re scared to try something new or you think you’re going to fail at something is to remember: “I can do all these things through Him who gives me strength.”

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