Source for this image here.
"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
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.
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
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.
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Phillipians 4: 8 - 13).
It may not be quite as gloomy outside today as the scene in that picture by the 16th Century painter Brueghel, but it is definitely not a day for spending much time outside! Instead I have been busy doing some decluttering and general organising, in preparation for Christmas. Although we live in England where Thanksgiving isn't widely celebrated, we like to have a special meal around about this time, in the run up to Christmas, so I am making plans for that, and this morning as Papa Bear had a day off work, we went to the supermarket and did our big Christmas food shop.
We collect savings stamps all year so that when we want to do the Christmas shop, it doesn't cost us so much money! This year we were very pleased indeed with our final bill - 8 big bulging bags of shopping for £10! We were even more delighted when we were standing in the queue at the checkout, and the lady in front of us asked us if we would like to use a money off coupon that she had - which cut our bill by even more. We thanked God for her generosity, and for making it possible for us to get everything on our list - and more - with so little money! It feels so good to have everything stowed safely away, ready for the big day next month.
As I put all our shopping away, and tucked the Christmas goodies that I don't want the cubs to find just yet, I felt very happy and cheerful. It's so easy to forget to be glad about what we have. Our society is geared towards encouraging us to feel discontented, always wanting more, and to feel that if we don't aspire to bigger and better things we are underachieving. However this is counter to what the Bible tells us. This passage in 1 Timothy 6 explains what our hearts should be telling us -
But Godliness with contentment is great gain.
For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. (1 Timothy 6: 6 - 11).
Yes, Godliness with contentment is great gain! We must learn to be glad for what we have - not coveting or being tempted by the offerings of the world. I thought of this as I put all our shopping away, and made a list in my mind, of all the reasons I have to feel cheerful today - despite the gloomy weather outside!
Today I am cheerful because ...
- My family and I are all in very good health - despite some of us having ongoing and chronic illnesses that we live with every day.
- We have enough to eat - more than enough - and I have many lovely cookbooks to guide and inspire me, when I am planning our meals!
- Our home, though small and certainly not beautifully furnished or decorated, is warm and cosy, and full of lovely things - and happy memories.
- Our 6 sweet birds make me smile every day and are such good company.
- Our lives may be simple - but they're peaceful, and every day we have time to enjoy being together, and to thank God for all the blessings He sends us.
- I have lots of different crafts and activities I can enjoy whenever I please.
- ... and lovely books to read, too.
- We live in a country where we are free to practise our faith and to share our beliefs with others.
- We have so many fun things to look forward to in the coming weeks!
- And so many tranquil days to take stock and be peaceful too.
I could go on - but instead why don't you think about your reasons to be cheerful - and start writing them down? Just seeing my list is so satisfying. We don't need much to make us happy - but we do need a cheerful heart.
"Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." (Matthew 6: 31 - 34).