October 16, 2023

Two Minute Adventures in… Sufficiency: Be Content! 
Day 11: "Comparison is the thief of joy."  -Theodore Roosevelt
One of the triggers of unhappiness is comparison. We used to refer to it as the Keeping Up With the Joneses; trying to compete with “them” materially. If “they” bought a new TV, then we needed a new, bigger TV. If “they” bought a Prius, then we needed a Tesla. If “they” rooted for the Green Bay Packers, then we had a moment to feel better about ourselves.
But social media is Keeping Up with the Joneses on steroids. And it’s not only robbing us of joy, it’s exhausting. Not only are we left wanting materially, increasingly we’re left feeling unsatisfied with our looks and self-image (this is especially true of our teen girls!) and the lives we are living when compared to the overly happy lives others post on their social media accounts.
The Apostle Paul offers a better way: I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. (Philippians 4:12-13, The Message)
As Paul discovered, true contentment begins with Jesus. Knowing whose you are, knowing you are loved, knowing you are forgiven, leads to a life of stability and grace, no matter what the Joneses have.

Day 12: The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…  (Psalm 23:1)
Another trigger of unhappiness is the drip… drip… drip of lack. Every commercial reminds you that you don’t quite have enough. You’re still lacking something… a break today… the right deodorant… a reverse mortgage… hair restorer… more testosterone…
The drip of lack takes our eyes off of what we do have. It makes us anxious. It makes us unhappy. Like comparison, it robs us of joy.
So today, immerse yourself in these words:
The Lord is your shepherd, you shall not want. He makes you lie down in green pastures. He leads you beside quiet waters. He restores your soul. He leads you in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death you will fear no evil. For God is with you. His rod and his staff, they comfort you. He prepares a table before you in the presence of your enemies. He anoints your head with oil. Surely goodness and love shall follow you all the days of your life and you will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23)

Day 13:  Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for he himself has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5, NRSV)
Nowhere does the Bible say that money is the root of all evil. It does say that we get ourselves into trouble when money becomes the object of our affections. Once money becomes the be all and end all of life, we find ourselves on the hamster wheel of discontentment. 
Money is important. Having enough money is crucial to life. You’ll get no argument from the Bible on that one.
But the God of the Bible is far more invested in your contentment than your IRA or bank account. So God invites you to build a life of contentment on the sufficiency of God’s grace… on God’s love for you. 
Earn what you can. Work hard. Be responsible with your earnings. 
But live in the promise that God has your back. 
That’s the one promise that is always recession-proof.

Day 14: If possible, sit outside and read this passage through a few times today:
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to your span of life?[l] 28 And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For it is the gentiles who seek all these things, and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
34 “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today. (Matthew 6:25-34)

Day 15:  The Key to Contentment
Wisdom has a way of surprising us by leading us to the good life down unexpected paths. In a culture driven by more, wisdom says life is found in giving. And in giving, we find we have more than enough. It doesn’t make sense… until it does. 
You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. (2 Corinthians 9:7-8, NLT)
Try it. See if God doesn’t surprise you! And fill you with cheer!

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