alan davison - april18April 29th 2018: Alan Davison

Background reading: Ezra 4:1 – 5:3
Sermon: Haggai 2:21-23

The Bible is often seen as a collection of different books which each having a separate entity. However, there is a connection between the books, for example Haggai and Zechariah were contemporaries of Ezra.

In Ezra chapter 4 we are told the temple was being rebuilt and of the opposition to this. At the end of the chapter the building stopped. But in the first two verses of chapter 5 we see a complete reversal of the situation.

The last two verses of the book of Haggai tells us this oracle recorded in Ezra is specifically for Zerubbabel, governor of Judah. Zerubbabel was of royal blood. Zerubbabel is also referred to a ‘My servant’ (Haggai 2:23). This is a Messianic prophecy (see also Isaiah 42:1 and Isaiah 41:8). Zerubbabel was chosen to be God’s means of restoring the temple. He is also seen in a Messianic role, appearing in the genealogy of Christ (Luke 3:27).

The whole of this oracle comes to a climax in Haggai 2:23, ‘“In that day,” declares the Lord Almighty, “I will take you, my servant Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel,”declares the Lord, “and I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you,” declares the Lord Almighty.”’ God will make Zerubbabel His signet ring. This shows God is restoring His favour (see also Jeremiah 22:4).

A signet ring is a mark of authority and authenticity used to seal proclamations. The value of the ring depended on the status and role of its wearer. There are three aspects of Zerubbabel’s status of becoming God’s signet ring, which also apply to us:

  • We are in God’s hands.

This can be a negative thing, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:31). This applies to those who woefully sin against God.

To be God’s signet ring is to be under God’s protection. Eternal security is guaranteed by God. “Salvation belongs to the Lord!” (Jonah 2:9). Can we undo what God has done? Can someone fall away? No! Jesus Himself declared, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of Him who sent me. And this is the will of Him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that He has given me, but raise it up on the last day.” (John 6:38-39). You cannot be lost again.

Jesus knows who His sheep are, He gives them eternal life, “My sheep know my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” (John 10:27-29). No-one can snatch believers out of God’s hands, not even ourselves. See also 1 Peter 1:3-5. We are “being guarded through faith for a salvation” (1 Peter 1:5). God works through our faith – even that has been gifted to us. We are kept, guarded and protected from our own failures. This shows the grace of God. In John chapter 5 Jesus twice states that He does the Father’s will (John 5:19, John 5:30). They are in total unity.

  • To be God’s signet ring is to be highly valued.

We are precious to Him, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” (Psalm 116:15). Why are our deaths so precious to God? The death of His saints is the promotion of them to glory. The Lord Jesus Christ was precious to His heavenly Father, ‘And behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17). Jesus is not only precious to Him but precious to us as well. God has set His seal on His Son, He has the Father’s seal of approval, “For on Him God the Father has set His seal.” (John 6:27).

Jesus’ tomb was sealed, “So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.” (Matthew 27:66). Such a seal did not physically close the opening but in order to open it, someone needed authority to do so. “And a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel.” (Daniel 6:17).

  • To be God’s signet ring is to represent God’s authority.

In our lives we will be represented in lots of different ways, for example, by MPs, sporting teams representing our nation. Spiritually, we share in the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. If a king trusts someone completely he gives them his ring. In Genesis 41:41-43 Joseph was given the Pharaoh’s signet ring so he could act on Pharaoh’s behalf.

In a sense, any Christian who has received Jesus in their lives is Jesus’ signet ring. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8). Jesus’ final words on earth show we are to act in His name in proclaiming His name to the world. How do we do this has an impact. Every true Christian is in Christ, we are heirs. We too can be used by God as His signet ring, held firmly and safely in His hands. He does this because we are all precious before Him. We are considered legally righteous before God. Jesus Himself said we are His witnesses. We are appointed by Him. The last verse in Haggai states, “For I have chosen you, declares the LORD of hosts.” (Haggai 2:23). God sets His seal of approval on all He has saved, we are all as a signet ring to God.

 

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November 12th 2017: Lawrence Mitchell

On Remembrance Sunday we listened to a Remembrance poem written by Philip Hancock and read out by John Hancock. Before observing two minutes silence in honour of those who have given their lives in battle and those who continue to serve today, we listened to a prayer written by Private William Evans, an uncle of Pearl and Alec Davies, who died serving his country 100 years ago in the Great War.

Our service was led by Lawrence Mitchell who preached on 2 Timothy 2:4

‘No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.’ (2 Timothy 2:4 KJV).

‘No soldier gets entangles in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.’ (2 Timothy 2:4 ESV).

Paul is reminding Timothy he is chosen by God to be a soldier. God Himself, as the Bible tells us in Exodus, is a great God, a mighty God. He is a God of grace and mercy. Exodus tells us God is a God of war. He was against the sins of the nations and had to punish them. God was for the children of Israel and wanted them to walk in His light. There are many battles and wars in the Old Testament. Prayers were said before going into battle. God is a God of war but He is also a God of holiness. He guided those who sought Him in prayer. Sometimes, the people would send singers before they would fight. We read of this in Judges and the Psalms. God gave victory as the people honoured Him.

Today we are going to think of a different battle.

We are called as sinners to the Saviour. He chose us before the foundations of the world. He chose men to be converted. We are called by God’s grace, it is not of us. Paul talks here to Timothy, saying he’s been chosen by God to be a soldier. Paul led this young man to God. It’s wonderful to pray for someone to come to Christ and see this happen. God is able to save, God is able to subdue, God is able to keep.

Paul says to Timothy he’s now a son in the faith and gives him a charge, ‘This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. (1 Timothy 1:18-19).

Paul warns Timothy about being entangled by the things of this world, ‘No soldier gets entangles in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.’ (2 Timothy 2:4). Paul encourages him to endure by trusting in the Lord and believing in His promises. Paul not only tells us of the choices God has made, but how we can be entangled, mixed up in the wrong things of life. Paul is instructing his young son in the faith.

Paul also brings the message not only to Timothy but to all of us; we are encouraged to endure, ‘Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.’ (2 Timothy 2:3 KJV).

‘Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.’ (2 Timothy 2:3 ESV). Paul says we must endure hardship that we come across in this life. Timothy was a great minister to Paul. The young convert brought blessings to Paul. The younger can bring blessing to the older. It’s a humbling yet blessed experience.

God’s soldiers are enveloped. There is a way out of the hardness, the disappointments and difficulties, the darkness of the tunnel. There is light for the true believer. Endure the hardness for God will guide and bless.

As soldiers of Christ we can, as John Wesley says, arise and put our armour on. We are chosen, guided, used and blessed. This is all of God, not of us.

 

September 24th 2017: John Funnell

John Funnell - Sept 17Ruth 1:1-22

The world is changing, and there is all sorts of political unrest. It is much the same as it was during Ruth’s life. She lived during the period of Judges, when Israel had no king. As a people they were fighting to survive against foreign influences, foreign gods and foreign invasion.

You will see the word “Moab” a lot in the earlier verses of our reading. “Moab”, is essentially a word for “Foreign”. Foreign means. “Bad”, “Bad”, “Bad”, “Bad”! But not in a racist way – the entire book is about how Ruth, a foreigner, is welcomed into God’s family. ‘Foreign’ here means ‘away from God and His promises.’ You can almost replace the word ‘Moab’ with ‘away from God.’

So what we see here is a tale of a man called Elimelek who takes his family away from God (which is bad) and away from their identity at the same time in history when God’s people are battling for it. Elimelek takes his family away from his people because of a famine. Essentially, he goes away from God for profit, for worldly gains. And such a decision brings complications.

We are told in these verses that in God’s land there are lots of men, but away from God, the men die. In God’s land there are women getting married and having children, but away from God, women (Naomi, Ruth and Orpah) with no husbands or children. Elimelek went away from God, left His identity and as a result he suffered the consequences for it! Death!

Naomi becomes desperate so she thought best to go back home, back to God which is? …good! As she embarks on her journey we then read ten verses of goodbye. It is like a train station goodbye. Naomi in verse 8 tells her daughters to go, and blesses them in the name of God. The daughters wished to come with Naomi so in verse 11 she reiterates further why they should go from her.

Stay with your people and find husbands.

It would appear Naomi has learned her lesson on leaving her own kin to go to the foreign land. A lesson that cost her all the men in her life!

She obviously did not want her Moabite daughters in law to suffer the same.

V13 the Lord’s hand has turned against me – Naomi says before graciously sending them away in tears.

A touching moment……or is it? If we look at the context we see Naomi is in the mire! We know from Deuteronomy, Israel had provisions for their widows.

Naomi, would have also known the shame that was ahead of her as a returning Jew, who left her people at a time of great need (famine) to go to land of a sworn enemy, Moab for profit.

So, I propose, with the context in mind, that this loving “train station” goodbye is not what it seems. I believe Naomi was in fact preparing for her homecoming! She was concerned that returning with two foreign Moabite women would cause her even more shame? “Naomi’s back and she allowed her Jewish sons to marry Moabites!”

Could this be why Naomi was sending her daughters in law, Ruth and Orpah away? Not in love, but to ease her return back to God? This knowledge changes this dialogue into an argument!Naomi’s tone changes from v6 to a desire to feed her family, to (v12) palming them off on other men!

Naomi is not pleading with her daughters-in-law to come to the God who provides for His people. No! She is clearly trying to persuade both Ruth and Orpah of the many material benefits they will have if they stay in Moab (v9) a new home and a husband!

On Ruth’s insistence to stay, Naomi’s reply in verse 15 becomes a rather coarse and short reply. Naomi clearly does not want her daughters in law, the baggage of her past shameful choices to come back with her.

But as we read Ruth remains honourable and faithful and insists (v16) that She wants Naomi’s God to be her God too! V18 ends the discourse…..“Naomi stopped urging her”. What you have here is a car ride home with a loved one just after an argument.

So how does this argument between two women, thousands of years ago help us today? We are all like Naomi. We have all disobeyed God, gone to foreign lands and done terrible things. And going away from God is always…..bad!

When we realise what we have done is wrong, we then have a desire to repent, so say sorry to God and come back to Him. Often with big ideas of how to make things right by ourselves, we often try to hide our shame, our daughters of Moab, from Him.

But God sees all and knows all and on the cross as He hung naked between two criminals, He took the shame for you, that you deserve for you wrong doing and in His resurrection He beat it!  And if you give Jesus your shame, He can turn those things that once damned you into greater blessings. He can turn a foreign daughter of Moab, Ruth, into a grandmother of Christ Himself!

Do not think that you can’t come to God until you have sorted yourself out. Do not think you have to wait to be an adult before accepting Jesus into your life. Do not try to hide your Moabite daughters’ in-law from Him as you prayerfully return!

He will accept you today for how you are – warts and all! Give yourself over to Him completely and He can turn your problems into wonders of grace for His Glory!

This is the Gospel! The good news! That God saves sinners! Of which I am chief!

Ruth in faith came with Naomi – and that faith lead to God’s embrace. As you will see if you read the rest of the book, Ruth is welcomed in and marries Boaz and her identity changes.

She has a child called Obed, who was the Father of Jesse, the Father of David!

Ruth the Moabite – the Moabite! – becomes a direct ancestor of Jesus Christ our Lord as a result of her faith! Imagine what God could have done if Naomi let Orpah came too!

Do not be like Naomi is here and let your past and present sin hinder your relationship with God today. Do not wait until your life is good enough for God, before coming back to Him, because it will never be good enough without Him.

Bring your shame (your daughters of Moab) to the cross and see God Bless you.

Come to Jesus today and instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance.’ (Isaiah 61:7)

Amen

 

 

September 3rd 2017: Norman Rees

Norman Rees-Sept 17II Kings 6:1-7

Elisha was a great man of God. Jesus refers to him in the New Testament. Elisha was used by God, he had a mighty portion of God’s Spirit resting on him. He was a teacher of students. They lived in Gilga, an important place in the Bible. This was where Joshua camped, it was where men were circumcised, where Samuel preached. There was a college in Gilga where Elisha taught the students. They sat at his feet and learnt from Elisha. Elisha loved the Lord. God used him greatly. The students were greatly blessed and grew in number. As they increased, they asked Elisha if they could move and build a bigger place.


They suggested to Elisha that they moved to the Jordan and live there. They would have water (there was a drought in Gilga), and they could expand the work and live for God, then go out themselves as prophets. The young men wanted the counsel of Elisha and asked him if they could go. He said yes, but they wanted him to go with them, ‘Then one said, “Please consent to go with your servants.”’ (II Kings 6:3). They were keen for Elisha to go with them so they could learn more from him. So Elisha moved with them from Gilga, walking 35 miles to the Jordan across rough terrain to serve the Lord.

The students cut down trees to make booths. They used axes. They were poor. One of the students did not have an axe but he wanted to join in, so he borrowed an axe. However, as he hammered away at a tree the iron axe-head flew off into the water and sank. Panic set in. The River Jordan is a fast flowing river, there was no chance of rescuing the axe-head. Yet the young man was conscious that he was responsible and needed to make good, he knew he had to pay back what he had lost. He was distressed he had lost something belonging to someone else. He was poor. God chooses poor people. We should be ready to serve Him.

The young man was part of a team – he didn’t want to let the team down. We need to be careful of the way we act. The man cried out to his Elisha, “Alas, master! For it was borrowed.” (II Kings 6:5). He went to Elisha, to the right place, to the man of God. We believe God is sovereign. We may pray in the morning, ‘I’m in your hands Lord, whatever happens today is in your control.’ God is involved in all situations, even when things don’t go our way. God sends these things that can affect our reaction. We have a conscience to admit when we’re wrong. The Lord allows these things to test us. What is important is how we react. The student went to his master, Elisha. We go to a greater Master, Christ. People view our reactions, they should see Christ in us.

Elisha was concerned for the young man. He asked, “Where did it fall?” And he showed him the place. So he cut off a stick, and threw it in there; and he made the iron float.’ (II Kings 6:6). Elisha did not tell the young man off. When things in our life go wrong, Jesus asks us to tell Him about it. He knows our situation, He knows our thoughts.

Elisha lived close to God and knew the Lord. The student showed him where the axe-head fell. Elisha then threw a stick into the water and the iron axe-head floated to the surface of the water. A miracle was worked by God through Elisha. God made gravity, God can overcome gravity – as He did when Jesus ascended into heaven. God can make the impossible possible. The situation was hopeless to humans but not to God.

We pray for the axe-heads, sinners sunk in sin. Every one of us is born in sin. We pray for people, maybe for many years, who have sunken iron hearts, sunken in sin. What is your axe-head this morning? God is the God of the impossible, the God of grace, the God of Salvation. God will bring an end to the Devil, an end to sin. Christ can save you, He saved me, He can save anyone. Elisha is no longer on the earth, he’s in heaven, but his God is still here on earth.

Whatever give us anxieties, take it to God. God is a God of the impossible. He will deliver. Be sure to glorify Him and praise Him. Praise Him more.

August 13th 2017: Peter Gleave

Peter-Glave -August 2017Luke 5:1-11 – Jesus calls the last disciples.

In 1869, Thomas Huxley, an avid supporter of Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, often gave speeches on the subject. After one of his speaking engagements, Huxley was in a hurry to catch his train to his next engagement. He took a horse-drawn taxi and assumed the driver had been informed where he wanted to go. “Hurry!” Huxley exclaimed. “I’m almost late. Drive fast!”

The driver sped away. After a while Huxley looked out of his window and realised they were travelling in the opposite direction to the train station.

“Do you know where you’re going?” Huxley asked. The driver shouted back, “No, but I am driving very fast!”

There’s no use in driving fast if you don’t know where you are going. We need to spend time away from the business of the world, and spend time knowing what Jesus wants us to do. Put the brakes on and slowly walk beside the seaside.

Imagine you’re in this passage of scripture; it’s a warm sunny morning, a gentle breeze sounds around you, the Sea of Galilee lies before you, with its pebbly shoreline.  To the other side of you, six miles away, lie the mountains. Take in the scene, where there is a crowd following a man, pressing in on Him. We move in and start to listen to what He has to say. We need to see what God has to say to Penuel Chapel, to you and me and other churches.

This was not the first time Jesus had met the disciples, He had encountered them before (John 1 & 4). It is perhaps surprising then that these men, who Jesus has already invited to follow Him, where still at their business – fishing. We too can distance ourselves, tending to our everyday business and being too busy for God. If the disciples were to answer Jesus’ call they needed to make God their number one priority. Not even family, or work in Church should be more important than God. He has to be our number one priority. We don’t need to give up work or family, but in thought we should prioritise God and make Him first in our choices.

Jesus got into Peter’s boat and the boat was pulled a little further out. ‘He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon (Peter), and asked him to put out a little from the shore.’ (Luke 5:3). Now Jesus had Peter’s attention. Has God been trying to get your attention recently? God wants you in a position so He can speak to you and you can focus on Him, draw closer to Him.

We need to hear Jesus and see Him. What better way is there then seeing Him in the scriptures? Read, search, and study the Bible. What is God trying to teach us today? Look in the scriptures, it will help you become better fishers of men. Each of us can bear testimony to the fact the scriptures are life-changing. We need to study, study, and study some more – in personal life and essential Bible study with others. Be prepared.

One way of reaching out to the community is to participate in projects such as the ‘Community Bible Experience’, in which, a church buys a little gospel for members of the community, inviting them to later discuss what they have read. This is a great way to engage with a community.

Peter lends his boat to Jesus. He used what He had and gave it to Jesus. God will bless all we do in His name. Jesus says to Peter,

Luke 5-4

Peter may have wondered why Jesus, a carpenter, was telling him, am experienced fisherman, how to do his job. However, because Jesus had asked him to do this, he did so. I wonder, has God said something to you that is counter-intuitive – something which doesn’t seem to make sense to you? Perhaps it could be to try some evangelism that in the past didn’t work. Remember Peter’s response,

Luke 5-4-5.jpg 

There was a certainty that didn’t rely on Peter’s skill but on the Master.

Has God called you to a specific evangelism in Roch? If so, then do it. Be encouraged in faith, believe God will provide all you need for a great catch. It’s not our work that changes hearts and convicts, but the work of the Holy Spirit. We’re called to do the fishing, to let down the nets. Because God says so, we will let down the nets in Roch. Against all the principles of fishing, the disciples caught so much. Imagine you evangelise and the nets are so full. Jesus sent the fish to where the boat would be. God is all-knowing and in control. If God determines to fill your nets with men, women and children, it’s a reality waiting to happen. He wants you to be where the fish are.

Such was the catch, the disciples signalled their partners to help them. “When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that there nets began to break. So they signalled their partners in the other boat to come and help them.” (Luke5:6-7). Spreading the news in the deep waters of Roch village is a job for all partners. All of you have a job. Maybe you’re not called to be a preacher or evangelist, but you’re called to use your gifts – whether it is knocking on doors, leafleting, praying, etc. You’re needed to serve God here in this church, in this community. Your role is just as important as everyone else’s. Be obedient and faithful.

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” ” (Luke 5:8). Peter became aware of his own sinfulness. He recognised Jesus, not just as Master but as Lord. The closer we are to God, the more we realise our own sinfulness, the more we have a desire to serve him. Peter could have been so preoccupied with the wealth of fish, but he was no longer focused on fish, but on the new Lord of his life – Jesus. He now realised who Jesus was and where he stood in that relationship. Have we got a sense of the presence of God, so that everything else become insignificant and Jesus become central?

Then Jesus says something unusual to Peter, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” (Luke 5:10). What fear had Jesus detected in Peter? Possibly the fear of not having enough money to pay the bills if he gave up his job to follow Jesus. Possibly not being good enough for Jesus, that his sins precluded him from future service? What fears do you have? You may have fears and failures but Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid”. If you repent, Jesus can take all your fears and failures and restore you and commission you. What will you do today- will you answer Jesus’ call, make Him the Lord of your life?

New Year’s Day 2017: Ian Middlemist

ianOur New Year’s Day service was led by Ian Middlemist, who preached from John Chapter 13:34- Chapter 14:27. Ian began asking us by saying, ‘Where are we going? Are we heading in the right direction?’. We’ve become very emotionally attached to our homes, which is quite normal, but have we become too attached to the things of this world. In John 14, the disciples were attached to earthly things. Jesus teaches them that he is going and wants them to come with him.

Ian raised three points:

  • Where are you coming from?
  • Do you want to go?
  • How are you going to get there?

 

Where are you going from?

In John 12:27 Jesus is troubled, He says: “Now my soul is troubled. And what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.” Jesus wasn’t asking for an escape route. He came to glorify God. On the night of all nights, when He needed comfort, He comforted His friends, the disciples, who were confused. His disciples had accepted Jesus, they loved Him, but then comes the total confusion of Jesus’ death. They didn’t want things to come to an end. Jesus tells them He is going to die. It’s very difficult to face change. Are you happy?

In John 14:6 Jesus says “I am the way.” Why must there be a way? Why can’t we just stay where we are? Why aren’t we there by nature? Why don’t people know God naturally? Some people may have looked at Christianity and thought it to be too stressful – turning your back on things you love. The Bible tells us a true and honest assessment of our condition; it is an unpleasant sight to behold – we are unclean and we live in a filthy world. We need to wake up to it, we need to be made clean.

Do you want to go?

You can’t stay in the condition you live in. The penalty of sin will fall away to death itself, under God’s just judgement. Our lives are so short. We need to prepare to have a fixed abode in heaven. Jesus prepares his disciples for the glory to come.  You have to uproot. That is the call of the gospel. We need to understand the seriousness of our situation. Our homes are fading, but we are involved in a rescue effort. There is something awaiting everyone, greater than our present dwelling. Look upwards!

In John 11:48 we read of spiritual blindness. The Jews are all in a panic because they think Jesus will lead people astray, the Roman authorities will come and take their place and nation. They were fixed on their spot of land and didn’t want it taken away. Jesus says he is going to prepare a place for the disciples – their homes in heaven. Do you want to go there?  Heaven is the place where the Father dwells and He is the One we need to know and have His eternal safety and security. Jesus calls us out of the mess of our lives, and into our mansions in the sky. Look to Jesus, acknowledge there is a problem and place yourselves in the loving arms of Jesus Christ.

How are you going to get there?

In some ways every human being is looking for heaven, but what they don’t realise is it’s all about God.  That’s when they have problems; they want God to serve them. Knowing God is glorious. Such low, sinful people as us, cannot reach the highest heaven. But God himself has made a way, Jesus is the way to reach God. Jesus prepares His disciples for His departure. It was always His plan that he was going. He came to go. He had to go to the cross and then He would provide the means of cleansing. Jesus is the way. We place ourselves in His care. Let Him take you to God, to the mansions above. Let Him lead you into His presence. The disciples followed Jesus apart from one who rejected Christ. In Acts, we are told the believers were called the followers of the way. Can this be said of us?

 

Contentment in Christ – whatever our situation

Do you ever think ‘What if’, ‘if only’ or ‘why me?’ I know I ask these questions and all too often! It is so easy to fall into the trap of thinking we ourselves can alter and shape the future. We evaluate our situation and if we are not completely satisfied the questions begin. As someone who is far too familiar with the ‘valleys’ in life, the doubts and questions can become burdensome. We’ve been taught that contentment is linked to our accomplishments or accumulation of satisfaction from the world. These questions can never be fully answered and since there is no end to our desires to acquire or do more, the horizon is always moving. We will never experience contentment following this line of thinking.

The true meaning of contentment is being satisfied with what you have and with who you are – right now, always being content that the Lord provides everything you need. Despite the many trials Paul went through he understood how to be content. In Philippians 4:11-13 he wrote,

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Contentment doesn’t have anything to do with external influences; rather it has everything to do with God and how He is moulding us and refining us all for His glory. The good news is that we all can learn how to become fully content with who we are, what we are, and what we’re doing.  Through our relationship with Jesus Christ, we can learn how to be content by thanking God for what we do have instead of focusing on what we don’t have.

“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Give thanks no matter what happens. God wants you to thank him because you believe in Christ Jesus.”  (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

The key is to be confident in the knowledge you can do all things through Him who gives you strength. This only occurs by faith, moment by moment.

The apostle Paul highlighted the importance of living life as we are called to do. 1 Corinthians 7 verse 17 states ‘Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.’  Paul emphatically states that God has sovereignty over all things and He has assigned each believer with a place in life, and it is from where we are situated now that the Lord will use us. Every day, God places us where we need to be in order to serve Him. Our ‘place’ in this world is not determined by chance, but has been carefully crafted and weaved into a grand design.

So what happens when we reach the valley and all looks bleak? In our own strength we crumble and cannot cope with the burdens of life, but with God everything is possible. We may feel unable to carry on, but the God of the mountaintop is still the same God in the valley.  He is able to remove us from the difficult situation, but that isn’t always helpful. There is always a reason for our circumstances – whether to learn something new or to remold us in Christ. But the most important thing, above all else, our circumstances are given to us to glorify the Lord and become trophies of His grace. God is Sovereign over all things – good and the not so good. The difficulties we experience don’t happen to us by chance, but we know that there is good in every situation. We may not see it immediately and we may ask. ‘Why is this happening?’ but during these times we need to thank God and trust in Him.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  – Jeremiah 29:11

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28