Contending…

Posted: November 4, 2013 in Contending..., Podcasts
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PLEASE CLICK ON THE PLAYER OR THE LINK TO LISTEN.

A.W. Tozer said, “Perhaps it takes a purer faith to praise God for unrealized blessings than for those we once enjoyed or those we enjoy now.”

Today I have found a quiet, yet possibly overwhelming issue which has made its way into my life, the Body of Christ and the hearts of many believers. It’s acceptable and as American as hot dogs and apple pie. It is encouraged and rewarded in our daily lives yet undetected for what it is and the dangers of embracing it. My busy everyday life, my pride and the seemingly fulfilling accomplishments that come from it keep me from seeing the facts that would bring it to my attention. It’s described in a single word… discontent.

To contend is to strive in rivalry, to compete. The rivalry is between being discontent and content. The difference for me is in being more thankful than unthankful. Change my mind, everything changes. As part of my desire to live life intentionally my mind needs to be focused on thankfulness instead of the worlds point of view of “what have you done for me lately.”

dis·con·tent: A restless desire or craving for something one does not have, A restless longing for better circumstances, Absence of contentment. Showing or experiencing dissatisfaction or restless longing, A longing for something better than the present situation.

On the flip side.

Con-tent-ment: Happiness or satisfaction with one’s situation in life.

Easton’s 1897 Bible Dictionary says, “A state of mind in which one’s desires are confined to his lot whatever it may be (1 Tim. 6:6). [And it is, indeed, a source of immense profit, for] godliness accompanied with contentment (that contentment which is a sense of inward sufficiency) is great and abundant gain.”

So where exactly do i live… discontent, with a restless desire for something i don’t have? Or… with my desires confined, and content with that being my great and abundant gain? The real answer is probably dependent upon the week, day or the hour. So the  truthful answer is probably somewhere in between.

Colossians 4:2 Be earnest and unwearied and steadfast in your prayer [life], being [both] alert and intent in [your praying] with thanksgiving.

One of the problems in discussing this topic is that it is subject to individual perceptions. The determination is made by our own values, our character, our life experiences and our relationships. I can’t count the hours spent in pursuit of whatever (work, church, family, etc.) and come to a conclusion based on the total. This issue is of the heart and it can only be addressed with God. There will be a day when i will answer for the intents of my heart. This won’t be out of a judgment executed by God but by my own heart.

Yet this is an issue which few and i for one am not sure that i have the discernment or wisdom to acknowledge and deal with on my own. James spoke of it as that which wars within us, as i am longing and striving within myself to obtain what i do not have. i “do all these things and cannot obtain” (Jas. 4:2). I (Ed) “fight and war” within myself. Sometimes secretly while other times not so secretly desiring those things which i believe will improve my life. i have been deceived in believing that i have been in full, or at least at some high level of pursuit of contentment in the things of God. All the while i am actually fighting for contentment outside of the God-ordained path to a satisfied, fully convinced, free heart, which can only be found through a life of prayer and fasting.

Paul was a man who was content in any and every circumstance, “Not which I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need” (Phil. 4:11-12).

How did Paul learn such a thing? How did he come to be content regardless of the circumstance?

Paul learned to set his mind on things above (Col. 3:3) rather than on earthly things, having fully owned the truth that this world was not his home – but that his citizenship was in heaven (Phil. 3:19-20).

He was settled in his identity and had a deep sense of assurance that God would withhold no good thing from him, and he sought for his heart to be rooted and grounded in this confident trust through the love of God (Eph. 3:16-19).

He kept his mind set on the one true thing which was real and worth giving his life for, rather than finding comfort in the things of this world which could never fully satisfy.

I am not promoting a lifestyle of poverty. I’m not proposing a life of lack and sacrificial giving of all i posses. I’m not suggesting that i give up all my dreams or that i abandon all my gifts, talents or passions.

I am suggesting that if I am going to be consumed by anything let it be my thankfulness for my personal. intimate, eternal relationship with God.

Harry Ironside said, “We would worry less if we praised more. Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction.”

The world is consumed with self-improvement in almost everything but the things of God. Let God find my life lived in contrast to the world. Let Him find me “contending earnestly and unwearied and steadfast in my prayer [life], being [both] alert and intent in [my praying] with thanksgiving.

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Comments
  1. Gold Price says:

    This event should drive each of us to our knees in repentant prayer and pleading to God for His mercy. We pray for all those suffering from this seemingly “senseless” act of depraved indifference. We pray for God’s peace and comfort for all concerned, and that He would use this occasion as an opportunity to turn hearts to Him. We pray that God would use this incident to humble us all once more and help us to see how we are indeed poor, miserable sinners, and then once more turn to the Cross where the Lord of Glory died, apparently a senseless, tragic, violent death, in a manner that was an expression of depraved indifference to His holy, innocent life.

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