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Church Night (Wednesday, January 22, 2014)

Proverbs 30:7 Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die:

8 Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:

9 Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.

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Having Food and Raiment (Tuesday, January 21, 2014)

1 Timothy 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.

7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.

8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

 

Introductory Thoughts

True contentment only flourishes within the lives of committed followers of God’s word. Three important truths aid in fully comprehending scriptural contentment: (1) Man was born into this world with nothing (1 Timothy 6:7), (2) Upon death, man leaves this earth with nothing (1 Timothy 6:7), and (3) God declares that man should be content when provided with food and raiment (clothing) (1 Timothy 6:8). Understanding and accepting these three truths helps cultivate a true sense of godliness and contentment. This is why the Bible defines godliness combined with contentment as “great gain” and warns those who will be rich that they fall victim to temptations, snares, and many foolish and hurtful lusts (1 Timothy 6:9). Interestingly, the Bible warns the covetous man that all of his earthly possessions during a lifetime of accumulation will be left behind for someone else to enjoy (Ecclesiastes 2:17-21). Contrariwise, the contented man with few possessions has his possessions enlarged into “great gain.”

 

Devotional Thoughts

  • (For children): Name a few things that you have eaten today. Are you wearing shoes or socks or a shirt right now? Let’s take time to thank God for giving us these necessary things.
  • (For everyone): Has God blessed you with food and raiment? Has God blessed you with more than simply food and raiment? Why do you think that even with these necessities, we tend to murmur for more things?
  • What things do you most desire? Will you take these things with you once you die? How long do people generally live? Compare that to the length of eternity. Should your time, strength, and life focus on things that will last a few years or those that will last forever? (Meditate for a moment on the eternal rewards in heaven and the souls of men, women, boys, and girls on earth.)

 

Prayer Thoughts

  • Ask God to help you spend time labouring for the eternal rewards.
  • Thank the Lord for your food and clothing.

SONG: Must I Go, and Empty-Handed?

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Better Is Little (Monday, January 20, 2014)

Proverbs 15:16 Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith.

17 Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.

Introductory Thoughts

Most people have heard the familiar cliché that “money can’t buy you happiness.” In fact, the greatest treasures of life cannot be purchased at all. Yet, accumulating treasures and eating the finest of foods are the prized possessions of life for far too many people. The Bible says that these things fade away in comparison to the spiritual blessings derived from a life devoted to the Lord. In fact, nothing in this world compares to a healthy, biblical fear of the Lord. The love and peace possessed by faithful Christians offers lasting fulfillment while the combined riches of the world simply flee away. When a man fears God, combined with the love of those around him, a dinner of herbs (unsatisfying to the discontented) satisfies his appetite while the blessings of God satisfy him wholly. The Bible repeatedly declares spiritual blessings far superior to any worldly possessions. Men would be wise to choose God’s blessings over the world’s accolades.

 

Devotional Thoughts

  • (For children): With whom would you rather play: a friend who has lots of the newest toys, but treats you mean or one who only has a couple of toys, but is very nice to you?
  • (For everyone): Do you find yourself constantly complaining about the things that others possess but you don’t have? What are the most important things in this life? Do you have those things? If not, what could you do to obtain them?
  • If you knew you could, would you want to be wealthy? What if you knew that by becoming rich, you would lose much of the love and joy you now experience? Would you still want that wealth regardless of the cost?

 

Prayer Thoughts

  • Ask the Lord to help you to be content.
  • Ask God to help you ask for only the things God wants you to have.

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Church Day (Sunday, January 19, 2014)

Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

Sunday, Day 22—Church Day (no devotional)
Monday, Day 23—Better Is Little
Tuesday, Day 24—Having Food and Raiment
Wednesday, Day 25—Church Night (no devotional)
Thursday, Day 26—Take No Thought
Friday, Day 27—I Have Learned to Be Content
Saturday, Day 28—Without Covetousness

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Trust God with the Balance (Saturday, January 18, 2014)

Proverbs 30:7 Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die:

8 Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:

9 Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.

 

Introductory Thoughts

A balanced life should be the quest of every believer, especially as it relates to material possessions. Proverbs 30:7-9 describes the heartfelt desire of avoiding extremes. The man expresses his two requests to the Lord: not to be rich and not to be poor. Most people have no desire for the latter but would love to be showered in riches with need of nothing. Yet, Agur in the book of Proverbs provides wise reasons for desiring neither extreme. He feared that being rich would tempt him to forget the Lord. Yet, being poor might cause him to steal and thus take the name of God in vain. His desire focused rather on one necessity and that involved feeding him with food convenient for him.

 

Devotional Thoughts

  • (For children): What would happen if your mom or dad gave you too little or too much to eat? We trust our parents to give us what is just right. We need to trust God that same way. He will give us just what we need. Do you trust the Lord every day?
  • (For everyone): Who knows best what is convenient for you in this life? Why do you think we fret about things that are so obviously within the Lord’s control? What actions should true faith produce?
  • Do you find yourself spending more time expressing thankfulness or more time complaining? If honesty compels you to answer complaining, do you see that the problem is a matter of lacking faith and contentment?

 

Prayer Thoughts

  • Ask God for the faith you need to trust Him more and more each day.
  • Ask God to help you be content with the balance He provides for you.

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Thou Hast Lacked Nothing (Friday, January 17, 2014)

Deuteronomy 2:7 For the LORD thy God hath blessed thee in all the works of thy hand: he knoweth thy walking through this great wilderness: these forty years the LORD thy God hath been with thee; thou hast lacked nothing.

Introductory Thoughts

Far too many times, the list of the average person’s wants is unending. Yet, an honest child of God recognizes that he has never lacked anything of necessity. Evidence of this truth exists in Deuteronomy 2:7 as the Lord expressed His care for Israel during the forty years of their wilderness wanderings. Very few people would consider the wilderness a place of plenty, yet the wilderness was the place where God furnished Israel “a table” (Psalm 78:19), “brought streams also out of the rock” (Psalm 78:16), and kept their shoes and clothes from deteriorating (Deuteronomy 29:5). God could honestly say to His people, though they wandered in a barren land, they “lacked nothing” (Deuteronomy 2:7).

 

Devotional Thoughts

  • (For children): We have enough food to eat, shoes and clothes to wear, and a house in which to live. Let’s thank the Lord for being so good to us.
  • (For everyone): Think about all the good things God has given to you. What necessity do you lack? Is there anything that you have really needed that God failed to provide a means for you to obtain it?
  • Think about times in life when it seemed as if all hope was lost. Do you remember the joy you sensed when God provided for your need? Did you take the time then to thank Him for His provision? If not, let’s do so right now.

 

Prayer Thoughts

  • Ask the Lord to help align your wants with His will.
  • Thank God for His bountiful provisions for you.

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A Caring Father (Thursday, January 16, 2014)

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

Introductory Thoughts

Since God is responsible for man’s possessions or the lack thereof, some Christians question why God gives a man some things while He withholds from others. Romans 8:28 contains one of the answers as it points out that “all things work together for good.” This does not imply that everything in the believer’s life is enjoyable or good. It means that everything combined results in good. God works in every piece of a believer’s life. He combines all things so that even the supposed bad things result in what is “good” according to the will of God. So long as God is at the controls, contentment teaches man how to be satisfied. Man’s conditions, circumstances, and possessions are appropriate because God has worked everything together for the good of that man.

 

Devotional Thoughts

  • (For children): Most children like to play out in the street. Why would parents not allow their children to play on a busy street? Why would Dad insist on his son only using a sharp knife when he is supervised? Girls love to help their moms cook, yet why do moms insist on removing the food from the oven themselves? These actions reflect the nature of God; He allows or doesn’t allow things for our good and well-being.
  • (For everyone): Knowing that God is your Father and that He cares for you, how do you think He feels when a Christian displays discontentment?
  • Look back over your life and think about some of the things that you have desired but never received. Would all of those things have been good for you? What would have happened if God gave them all to you?

 

Prayer Thoughts

  • Ask God to help you yield every aspect of your life to His care.
  • Ask God to help you be content in the areas in which you struggle.

 

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The Lord Gives and He Takes Away (Tuesday, January 14, 2014)

Job 1:20 Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,

21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.

22 In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.

Introductory Thoughts

Seemingly, Job possessed many of man’s most treasured possessions: health, wealth, and a strong family unit. Suddenly, he lost them all. Job lost his health, his possessions, and his children. He also lost the esteem and approbation of his wife and friends. These events very easily could have devastated and embittered him. Yet, rather than expressions of doom and gloom, Job’s words offer a profound glimpse into the depths of his contentment. In the midst of his heartache, Job exhibited an extremely important truth. A Christian’s material and physical blessings, all of which are completely within the Lord’s control, should never influence one’s relationship with the Lord or others. Job also pointed out that man will depart this world in the same condition in which he entered: without one shred of material wealth. Ultimately, a Christian’s possessions or the lack thereof reflect God’s provisions; therefore, a lack of contentment reflects an unwillingness to trust in the Lord.

 

Devotional Thoughts

  • (For children): What is your favorite toy? If you were asked to give that particular toy away, how would you react? How would the Lord want you to behave? Why is it so very important for us to do what God wants us to do?
  • (For everyone): If God is responsible for all that we have or do not have, what does complaining about our current possessions or conditions reflect about us?
  • In the midst of the many things he lost, Job also lost his children. Through it all he was still able to reflect contentment. Can you imagine how difficult things would be if the Lord allowed something like this in your life? Why do you think Job was able to lose so much and still serve the Lord? Could you have continued to serve Him?

 

Prayer Thoughts

  • Ask the Lord to teach you how to be satisfied with what you have.
  • Ask God to meet your needs according to His timing and will.

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What is Contentment? (Monday, January 13, 2014)

Philippians 4:10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.

11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

Introductory Thoughts

The words content and contentment infer that one is satisfied with life’s present conditions (Genesis 37:27; Exodus 2:21). Living contently is the opposite of wanting (Philippians 4:11) and covetousness (Hebrews 13:5) and is strongly associated with godliness (1 Timothy 6:6). Interestingly, contentment is a learned behaviour that believers must put into practice on a consistent basis throughout life. No one is born into the world content. Yet, once learned and practiced consistently, Christians will experience contentment in spite of any circumstance faced. Unfortunately, far too often, Christians exhibit no more contentment than non-Christians. In fact, believers seem to desire and covet the things of the world more and more with each passing year. This covetousness combined with a lack of contentment amongst Christians results in less godliness and a closer association with worldly pleasures.

 

Devotional Thoughts

  • (For children): God wants us to be happy with those things with which He has blessed us. Name some things you have that you really like. Are you happy with these things or do you find yourself always wanting more stuff? How could you learn to be more content? Why and how would this please the Lord and your parents?
  • (For everyone): Ponder for a moment your life. Are you satisfied with your conditions and possessions or do you find yourself increasingly dissatisfied?
  • Meditate for a moment on the things God has provided for you that are not directly associated with money. Can you name some specific examples of things that God has taken away from you that would have been harmful to you or others you love?

 

Prayer Thoughts

  • Take some time to thank God for His manifold blessings upon your life.
  • Ask God to give you a greater desire to willingly sacrifice and to be zealously content

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