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Point of Reference

    by Fred Price

Surviving Hard Times
Date Posted: January 13, 2012

The ability to find contentment even in the midst of hard times is a character trait that every Christian should and can possess. I’m not talking about being resigned to our fate and making no effort to improve our circumstances, but cultivating the ability to recognize what we legitimately can and can’t do. And that encompasses doing all we can, while accepting the fact that we have no direct control over any number of things that occur to and around us; realizing in the end, His will will be done.

In our rights-conscious, materialistic world, contentment can be hard to find. Developing a heart for God and a like-minded attitude toward others will however, nurture a sense of peace as we do our best to work through the issues we are confronted with. Paul advising Timothy that, “…godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” Because, “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.” (And even if our investments and possessions aren’t inherently harmful, wouldn’t it be something if we used a financial windfall such as a bonus or promotion as an opportunity for ministry, investing in the lives of others as opposed to buying a new car or building a more expensive home – just because we can.) “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many grief’s.” 1 Timothy 6:6-10

Jesus assured us that if we, “…seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,… all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33 Hebrews 13:5 encouraging us to, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have,…” As God has promised, “Never will I leave you’ never will I forsake you.” The problem we often have is in determining the difference between being led through hard times and being shielded from them. We will experience both and in no instance will we be forsaken; our preference being a shielding from all inconvenience, which is easier – but often not as beneficial.

We safeguard ourselves in part by setting priorities, realizing that a large bank account can disappear in a matter of days, but the treasure we store up in heaven through a good attitude and righteous living can’t be touched by anyone. Jesus instructing us to, “…not work for food that spoils, but for food (representing all that sustains us) that endures to eternal life,…” John 6:27 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

Paul further advising Timothy to “Command those who are rich in this present world (Which by comparison would include most in the U.S. today) not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way, they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” 1 Timothy 6:12-19

This does not preclude having a savings account, an investment portfolio or a retirement plan, but that as in all things we need balance in our lives. Jesus warning that, “ is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:23 Why? In part, I believe, because we all tend to be greedy, always wanting just a little bit more than we have at the moment. And we certainly want to keep what we’ve got, needing to maintain it at peak performance or replacing whatever we have now with a newer, quicker, better model. Which means we have to work longer and harder, leaving less opportunity for family, friends and especially church. That’s why scripture advises us to, “…not wear yourself out to get rich, have the wisdom to show restraint.” Proverbs 23:4 Jesus specifically warning us to, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12:15

As is often the case, it boils down to priorities and trust. Who – or what – do we ultimately have faith in and who – or what – is of utmost importance to us? The Bible advising, “…let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight.” Jeremiah 9:23,24

We must work and work well, but not merely to get rich, but rather “…as one working for the Lord, not men,…” Colossians 3:23 Paul in particular expressing a very dim view of those who fail to provide for their families appropriately. (See 1 Timothy 5:8 & 2 Thessalonians 3:10) Jesus summing up the chief priority that will bring us peace and joy while fulfilling his will as, “…seek(ing) first (God’s) kingdom and his righteousness,…” Matthew 6:33 The result being blessing – not always with all our wants but certainly all our needs provided for “…immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,… Ephesians 3:20

As a result, we will be able to proclaim with Paul, “…I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (For) I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11-13

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"Point of Reference" from Fred Price

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Biography Information:

Fred Price - married (48 years), father of two grown children, grandfather of six.

Fred retired earlier this year after 42 years as a factory worker.  He has always had a heart for young people and the challenges they face today.  Over the years Fred has taught Discipleship Groups for High School and college students.  

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