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“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances…” Philippians 4:11 

Will I ever be happy again? It’s all I could think of after I got out of the hospital and wheeled through the front door of my home. Doorways were too narrow and sinks were too high. I sat at the dining room table, my knees hitting the edge. A plate of food was placed in front of me, but my hands remained limp in my lap. Someone else—at least for the first few months—fed me. I felt confined and trapped

My confinement forced me to look at another captive. The apostle Paul had seen the inside of more than one small room from which there was no escape. For over two years, he was shifted from “pillar to post” until finally he arrived in Rome where he remained under house arrest. When Paul wrote to thank the church in Philippi for their concern, he reassured them with the words of today’s verse.

Paul became my example in my own “prison;” I learned—and am still learning—the secret of being content. The apostle writes about this secret in Philippians 4:13, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Contentment in confinement has an internal quietness of heart that gladly submits to God in all circumstances

~Joni Eareckson Tada in “Confined Contentment,” October 3 Daily Devotional

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Green-Eyed Girls

“For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh
and behaving only in a human way?”

1 Corinthians 3:3

Christian women should be the sweetest people on the planet. But you know as well as I do that the sad truth is…

We’re not!

In fact, oftentimes, we’re downright nasty toward each other. Catty is the term my mom used to describe the behavior I have in mind—cold, unkind, gossiping, subtly insulting, competitive, cliquish. 

Identifying The Reason for the Claws

Although I wish I could say I’ve only observed such undesirable behavior in others, I’m ashamed to admit that I’m capable of batting my claws with the best of them (figuratively speaking, of course). When I examine my motives to understand why I’m prone to view my sisters in Christ as competitors instead of as companions in my walk with the Lord, what I often find is that my green eyes are to blame. 

In other words, I’m jealous—I want what they have, and I want it so badly that I’ll allow myself to sin against them in response.

Are you prone to act like a Green-Eyed Girl as well? Here’s a quiz to help you discover the answer…

She’s getting married and you’re not. Do you:

A. Go to the wedding

B. Sit home watching romantic chick-flicks

She’s having a baby, but you can’t get pregnant. Will you:

A. Offer to help decorate for her baby shower

B. Trash the invitation and make sure you’re busy that day

She gets asked to lead the Ladies Bible Study instead of you. Do you:

A. Offer to lend some of your Bible study resources to help her prepare

B. Let others know how surprised you are that she would be chosen

Her home always appears immaculate. When you visit, do you:

A. Ask her to share her housekeeping tips

B. Search diligently for any flaws you can find

Her seemingly perfect children finally melt down in public. Do you:

A. Feel compassion for her

B. Secretly rejoice inside that you were there to see it

She looks beautiful, as always. Do you:

A. Compliment her on her taste in clothing

B. Zip your lip; you’re sure she already has a big head

Everything she cooks tastes delicious. Do you:

A. Ask if she’d mind sharing recipes to help you improve your cooking

B. Vow that she’ll never set foot in your house for a meal

Her husband often brings her flowers, just because. You see them and:

A. Feel happy to think that she is so well loved

B. Imagine that he were your husband instead

So how’d you do? Do you have more in common with the Gracious Woman reflected in choice A or the Green-Eyed Girl of option B?

Getting Rid of the Green-Eyed Monster

Although issues like jealousy, envy, and covetousness can produce complex consequences in our lives (James 3:16; 4:1-3), the solution to overcoming these sins is really quite simple. We need gratitude and we need love.

First, if you’re truly grateful for the undeserved blessings God daily pours out in your life, there will be no space in your heart for jealousy to grow. Gratitude will choke it out.

Second, if you truly love other women like you love yourself, you’ll want their children to behave, their husbands to be loving, their ministries to succeed, and their cooking to taste great. When your concern is for their good, rather than your own, you’ll be free to rejoice when they rejoice (Rom. 12:15) instead of comparing your life to theirs to see how it measures up.

Bearing the Family Resemblance

What will it be, ladies? Green eyes or gratitude and love? The change won’t occur easily or instantaneously, but there’s really only one option for sisters within the family of God.

Let’s begin changing the way we look at one another today.

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Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:25-26) 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to say with the psalmist, “God, I am full! I’m stuffed full of blessings and I can’t think of anything else I desire on earth besides you.” Oh, to be that satisfied.

When you become satiated in Christ, it is evidence that contentment has the definite upper hand in your heart. When Jesus says to you, “I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to me will never go hungry,” he is talking about gratification of the soul (John 6:35).

To be satisfied in Christ means being full. Never wanting more. We need not ever be hungry for “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3). The role of the Word of God is to feed faith’s appetite for Christ. 

Contentment consists not in great wealth, but in having very few wants in this life. A divine arithmetic for contentment is to subtract your earthly wants so that something of greater value can be attained: satisfaction in the Lord.

~Joni Eareckson Tada in “I’m Full,” Joni and Friends Daily Devotional, July 23 2012

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Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 6:6 that “godliness with contentment is great gain.” What do we gain? We gain a sense of calmness, quietude, a certain independence from our circumstances that will guard our hearts from coveting anything more or anything else.

Contentment allows us to abandon our will and cheerfully embrace God’s will. Contentment means that our emotions are not ruled by our environment. We gain peace of mind no matter what our circumstances (Philippians 4:11-13). Personal communion with God is the garden in which godliness with contentment grows because God is so worth having. As it sprouts, we learn more and more how to abandon our own will and embrace our Father’s. And that is great gain.

Contentment opens up for us the experience of Hebrews 13:5: “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'”

God’s presence is enough. No more nail biting, no more chafing, no more restless nights. You see, our real need is not more things, but God himself.

~Jani Ortlund in Fearlessly Feminine

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Your greatest need is not your financial situation. It’s not your health situation. It’s not your marriage situation. Our greatest need is not to be delivered from our circumstances as the Jews were hoping to be delivered from the Romans.

Our greatest need is to be delivered from our sin, from spiritual captivity. It strikes me that if we have been eternally redeemed from our sin, then we will have the resources of God at our disposal to deal with any circumstance that comes into our life. Because any circumstance that you could describe that would trouble or concern or unsettle you today is, at most, temporal.

God says our greatest need is for eternal redemption. Having that through the blood of Christ shed on our behalf, having been eternally redeemed—we can, with the indwelling Christ, with the power of His Spirit and the power of His grace, face any circumstance.

~Nancy Leigh DeMoss in “The Payment

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Contentment is attainable. We know it is attainable because in [Philippians 4:13] Paul has attained contentment. We might be tempted to think, “Well, Paul was an apostle; he was on a higher spiritual plane than I am. He may have attained contentment, but I can’t.”

But Paul did not attain contentment because he was a spiritual superstar. He says, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” The same God who strengthens Paul also strengthens all who believe in Christ.

Philippians 4:13 is sometimes taken out of context and used in ways it was not intended to be used. Some take it to mean that there is nothing a Christian cannot do, because God is strengthening him or her. It almost becomes a motivational, self-help verse, in which people grit their teeth and say, “I can do this because God is strengthening me.”

But it is important to recognize that when Paul says “all things,” he doesn’t mean that God gives you the ability to do whatever you want, even good things that you desire to do. Instead Paul is referring to God’s empowering His people to acquire an important Christian virtue, namely, being content wherever God leads them. While growth in holiness does require effort and struggle on our part, ultimately we grow because of the power of God at work through his Holy Spirit within us.

The good news is that in the midst of your current struggles contentment can be yours. As you wrestle with a chronic health problem, a difficult job, or troubled relationships at home, you can have contentment as God gives you grace.

~William Barcley in “Why Am I Not Happy?

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When I used to ride horses, I had a special relationship with my thoroughbred named Auggie. Because I fed him, brushed him, and exercised him, he knew me and trusted my judgment when I guided him through fences in the show ring. It was the joy of his heart to do my will because he trusted my wisdom.

Well, First Peter chapter 4 says, “…those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” To commit ourselves to our Creator is to trust Him; to do good is to obey Him.

Trust and obey! Oh, that we would be like a simple horse and trust the wisdom of the one holding the reins in our lives. If we’d only take the time to really know our Master (like my horse knew me), we’d trust Him and obey Him more easily, more faithfully.

Join me in yielding to the One who holds the reins. 

~Joni Eareckson Tada in “Trust and Obey

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So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. -1 Corinthians 10:31 

One early spring day I went to visit Corrie ten Boom, the survivor of the Nazi holocaust who shared her story in The Hiding Place. In her latter years, she lived in southern California. My friends and I were able to help Pam, her companion, learn basic things about Corrie’s disability and her wheelchair. After our short training session, we sat in Corrie’s backyard, admiring her early spring flowers, and enjoying the warm sun on our backs. 

The day was filled with activity, yet relaxed and slow-paced. After we enjoyed the flowers, we went into the kitchen for tea and chocolates. After tea, we read the Bible and prayed. Then we retired to the parlor and talked. I was amazed how quickly the day flew by, yet how peaceful and stress-free it seemed. Pam explained, “Tante Corrie and I never do lots of things at once. We don’t sit outside, read and enjoy tea and chocolates. We space everything out so we can truly appreciate the individual pleasures of each activity.”

That day I witnessed the glory of God in watching spring flowers bob in the breeze, in savoring the taste of dark chocolate, in smelling the fragrance of Earl Grey tea, in listening to an elderly saint pray, and of discovering new insights in God’s Word. All because I lived the day at Corrie’s pace…

Galatians 5:25 says, “…let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Often the Spirit takes very slow steps. Push the pause button and find a way you can slow down today. Enjoy God’s glory in every small thing.

~Joni Eareckson Tada in “One Thing at a Time,” Joni and Friends Daily Devotional, March 16, 2012

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Encouraging others is really important. But as women, we need to be careful not to encourage men in inappropriate ways.

The foolish woman we read about in Proverbs 7 finds a young man and invites him into an immoral relationship. She says, “I came out to meet you, diligently to seek your face, and I have found you.” This married woman is feeding the young man’s need for admiration. She sets him up for moral failure.

Further, when a woman looks for things to admire in a man other than her own husband, it can make her feel discontented with her own marriage. It may even make her more likely to leave what she considers to be a lonely relationship.

Ladies, as you use your words to encourage others, ask God to give you wisdom and restraint in how you encourage men. Ask yourself: Is this the type of admiration that should come from his own wife?

~Nancy Leigh DeMoss in “Feeding Discontent

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When God puts tough circumstances in our lives, we either worship or we whine. I’ll admit that way too often I find myself whining. I guess that’s why I love Mary of Nazareth.

Her world was disrupted when an angel came and told her she was going to bear God’s Son. She could have argued, complained, or whined. But instead, she responded in worship. She said, “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46-47).

That began one of the greatest hymns of praise of all time as she worshiped God for His wonderful acts and His mercy and thanked Him for choosing her to be a part of His plan.

You may be facing a difficult circumstance today. Have you been responding with worship or with whining? Why not take a moment right now to say, “My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior”?

~Nancy Leigh DeMoss in “Mary Was a Praising Woman

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like people who are able to turn a headache into a hallelujah. That’s why I love the story of David in the Old Testament. I mean, one minute this guy is flat-on-his-face in sackcloth and ashes, the next, he’s dancing before the Lord in joy. In the space of just one psalm, David cries, rants, teeters on the edge of doubt, then does a complete turnabout, confesses, repents, and ultimately rejoices in praise. And that’s why he’s my kind of guy.

I can identify with someone for whom obedience does not always come easy. I remember when a broken neck took me on a roller coaster of doubting then trusting; trusting then doubting. But those ups and downs eventually got me seriously thinking about Christ’s lordship in my life. And I’m still learning. So keep seeking after God’s heart today and turn your headaches into hallelujahs! 

~Joni Eareckson Tada in “Headaches into Hallelujahs

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If you’re in Christ, the riches of God in glory are yours. That is why…we are not to be preoccupied with what we eat, drink, or wear. Instead we are to “seek first His kingdom, and His righteousness; and…not be anxious” (Matt. 6:33–34).

Attack anxiety in your life by applying what you have learned about contentment. Be confident in God’s sovereign providence, and don’t allow your circumstances to trouble you. Instead of giving in to panic, cling to the promise of Romans 8:28: “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God.” Regard that verse as a spiritual lifeline for the rest of your life.

Also, buck the tide of our materialistic, selfish society by being satisfied with little and more concerned about the spiritual welfare of others than your material needs. Be obedient to God’s Word and confident in His power to meet all your needs. May our Lord keep all these principles in the forefront of our minds that we might be content—and free from anxiety! 

~John MacArthur in “Contentment Comes from Giving

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Thanksgiving brings contentment.

Many people seem to be looking ceaselessly for amusement, for some alleviation from boredom. Dissatisfied and restless, they fritter away their lives, wishing to move from what or where they are to what or where they aren’t.

“My people have committed two sins,” says the Lord in Jeremiah 2:13. “They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, cisterns that cannot hold water.

Discontentment dries up the soul

To love God is to love His will. It is to wait quietly for life to be measured out by One who knows us through and through. It is to be content with His timing and His wise apportionment.

~Elisabeth Elliot in “To Offer Thanks is to Learn Contentment

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A spirit of calm contentment always accompanies true godliness. The deep peace that comes from deep trust in God’s lovingkindness is not destroyed even by the worst of circumstances, for those Everlasting Arms are still cradling us, we are always “under the Mercy.” Corrie ten Boom was “born to trouble” like the rest of us, but in a German concentration camp she jumped to her feet every morning and exuberantly sang “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus!” She thanked the Lord for the little parade of ants that marched through her cell, bringing her company. When Paul and Silas were in prison, they prayed and sang. It isn’t troubles that make saints, but their response to troubles

Everything about which we are tempted to complain may be the very instrument whereby the Potter intends to shape His clay into the image of His Son–a headache, an insult, a long line at the check-out, someone’s rudeness or failure to say thank you, misunderstanding, disappointment, interruption. As Amy Carmichael said, “See in it a chance to die,” meaning a chance to leave self behind and say YES to the will of God, to be “conformable unto His death.” Not a morbid martyr-complex but a peaceful and happy contentment in the assurance that goodness and mercy follow us all the days of our lives. 

~Elisabeth Elliot in Keep a Quiet Heart

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Cancer & the Cosmic Battlefield

“For he delivers the needy when he calls,
the poor and him who has no helper.
He has pity on the weak and the needy,
and saves the lives of the needy.”

Psalm 72:12-13

One year after completing chemotherapy as part of her battle against breast cancer, Joni Eareckson Tada shares the lessons God taught her during that intensely difficult experience. Once again while watching this video I had to marvel at how clearly the image of Christ is reflected in Joni’s life!

Please take 10 minutes to listen to Joni’s testimony and think about how you can apply the truths she shares to the trials you’re currently facing in your own life. I have no doubt you’ll be tremendously blessed if you do.  

Dealing with quadriplegia and chemotherapy was not easy. There were times I thought, Lord, this really is too much… this cross, this wheelchair pain, cancer  and the rigors of chemo… are you sure you know what you’re doing? Where you’re leading me? The path on which you’re taking me? Yet Father I knew the answer – for who have I in heaven but you and there is nothing on earth that I desire above you; where would I go anyway? Where else would I turn? You are the one with the words of life; without you, I can do nothing. You’re the Bread of Heaven and Living Water. So soul why art thou downcast? Put your hope in God your Savior. He will come to rescue you, for He rescues the weak and the needy.

~Joni in “It’s Not Too Much

 

Visit Joni’s blog HERE.

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