When I travel to New Orleans, there’s a certain homeless person I like to say hello to. He always makes me smile and he never asks me for anything. He’ll say, “It ain’t gonna cost you nothing to come say hello. I ain’t gonna rob you!” I then walk over and say hello and he puts a smile on my face. Except on a recent trip he called me over and said, “You know I never ask for nothing, but could you go in there and buy me an orange juice and sandwich? I’m about to curl up on my cardboard and I’m hungry.”
When I handed him his dinner, he hugged me and thanked me. He then asked, “You know what I’d change about the world?” My mind began to think of any number of answers. No more homelessness. No more hunger. No more devaluing people. No more selfishness. But before I could decide on an answer, he grabbed my shoulder, looked up at the sky, smiled a big toothless grin, and said, “Absolutely nothing!” He laughed, thanked me again and walked away.
I thought about his answer as I walked back to my hotel. Here’s a man, for whatever reason, is sleeping on a cardboard mat on the streets of downtown New Orleans and is exposed to the elements constantly, and he wouldn’t change a thing. Even though he has absolutely nothing to his name, he has found a way to be content. He’s learned to choose joy instead of bitterness over his situation. It’s a lesson we all could learn.
Paul learned that secret and told us about it in Philippians 4:12. He said, “I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little” (NLT). That secret is choosing the joy of contentment with where God has you. That joy gives us the strength to endure whatever comes our way. It takes us from being a victim of life to a victor over our situation. Don’t try to change your world. Change your attitude. The next verse tells us we can. “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”
Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
If you grew up in church, you’ve heard the phrase, “Rejoice in the Lord.” You’re probably not sure what it is, how to do it or why, but the Bible consistently tells us to do it. It simply means to find your contentment in the Lord no matter what you’re going through. I believe it’s one of the greatest tools God gave us to fight with when the enemy attacks your mind. His goal is not to get you to worship him as much as it is to create discontentment between you and God. If he can get you to blame God for the bad things in your life, then you won’t rejoice in the Lord. Paul said it best in Philippians 4:12, “I have learned this secret, so that anywhere, at any time, I am content” (GNT).
You don’t have to pretend that you like your situation to rejoice in the Lord. You have to recognize that all things work together for your good, and that God can use anything to develop and grow you. There is purpose in pain, strength in struggles and peace in the unknown when you’re content with God. To rejoice in the Lord during those times, I play praise and worship music constantly and I spend time praying and reading the Bible. That helps me to focus on God instead of my problems, and that strengthens my relationship with Him. It’s not easy to rejoice in the Lord sometimes, but it is necessary.
Here are some Bible verses on rejoicing.
1. Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, take pleasure in Him]; again I will say, rejoice!
PHILIPPIANS 4:4 AMP
2. My beloved ones, don’t ever limit your joy or fail to rejoice in the wonderful experience of knowing our Lord Jesus! I don’t mind repeating what I’ve already written you because it protects you.
Philippians 3:1 TPT
3. I will be glad and rejoice because of your constant love. You see my suffering; you know my trouble.
Psalm 31:7 GNT
4. But insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, keep on rejoicing, so that when His glory [filled with His radiance and splendor] is revealed, you may rejoice with great joy.
1 PETER 4:13 AMP
5. Yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
One of the dangers of social media is that it can create internal discontentment. What I mean by that is you can spend time looking at what other people are doing, eating or where they’re going and think your life is boring by comparison. You can look at the happy pictures they post and think that they’re always happy and never have trouble. The problem is what people are putting on social media is the life they want to show you. It’s not their whole life. What we end up doing is comparing our whole life to these snippets of their life and that creates discontentment in us and in who God made us to be.
God created you and uses life to sheep you more and more into a person who can have a greater impact on others. When we remove the lens of social media, and look at our life through God’s lens, we can see He has given us a unique ability to reach people who can’t be reached by others. I don’t think social media is bad, but we can’t use it as the lens through which we view our lives. We have to be content with how God created us, the personality He’s given us and where He’s placed us. That kind of contentment is truly trusting in His plan for you, and when we trust Him that much anything is possible.
Here are some Bible verses on being content.
1. You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
Matthew 5:5 MSG
2. I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:10 GNT
3. Don’t be obsessed with money but live content with what you have, for you always have God’s presence. For hasn’t he promised you, “I will never leave you alone, never! And I will not loosen my grip on your life!”
Hebrews 13:5 TPT
4. Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.
Philippians 4:11 NLT
5. But godliness actually is a source of great gain when accompanied by contentment [that contentment which comes from a sense of inner confidence based on the sufficiency of God].