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Monday, April 14, 2014

Situational Contentment and CCD

I hear the term 'situational ethics' thrown around with scoffing tones.  And I'm sure there's good reason for this.  But I'd like to highlight something that is far more common, more subtle and more agreeable to our collective palates.  Situational Contentment.  That contentment, shalom, peaceful calm, serenity, blissful reverie that finds it's joy in the situation at hand.  I don't want to knock it - no, we can rightly enjoy the stuff of life - money, houses, land, nice weather, vacations, health, well-being, relational harmony - because they simply ARE enjoyable.  The problem comes when we can only be content if these things are all fine and dandy.  When we can define each area of our lives with glowing, gushing, delightful phrases that make people wonder if we live the realm of normal.

Today I read Psalm 16.  Let's go through it together, shall we?  (It's the cure for the common contentment disorder.  Otherwise known as CCD, it is known to strike the most robustly healthy of individuals who struggle to source their joy on the True Joy Giver).  I, too, struggle with CCD.

16:1 Preserve me, O God, for in You I take refuge.

Stop right there.  It says 'In You.'  Notice what it doesn't say: In my bank account.  In my friends.  In my status.  In my reputation.  In my family.  In my health.  In my own strength.  No - we take refuge in GOD.  Not in the stuff of life.  Money troubles can beset us.  Friends can let us down.  Family can be a pain in the neck.  Health can suffer a blow through no fault of our own.  My own strength and ability to control things in life can be hindered.  None of these things can be the source of our security, refuge or hope.  Only God can do that.

16:2 I say to the Lord, "You are my Lord; I have no good apart from You."

What is a 'Lord'?  It is one who rules, who is sovereign, who has the right to authority.  If I say to God, 'You are my Lord,' I am declaring that I willingly submit to His rule.  That's a hard prayer to pray.  I dare you to.
As for that second line: 'no good apart from You.'  Can you say that and mean it?  Here David is saying basically that the stuff of his life is nothing.  Apart from God everything else is just stuff.  I take no value in my ministry, accolades, giftedness, knowledge, abilities, wisdom.  These are all temporary.  God is not.  Let's be sure to value Him more than all else.

16:3 As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones , in whom is all my delight.

Since God is our everything we will naturally gravitate towards those who share the same sentiment about God - those who value Him above all else!

16:4 The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names on my lips.
16:5 The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; You hold my lot.

I will trust God to give what He deems that I need.  Note that I said 'what HE DEEMS I NEED.'  Sometimes our list of what we think we need is not on God's list for us.  Part of trusting Him means we look to Him to tell us what we need rather than us just going to Him and saying, "By the way, I NEED  fully outfitted brand new ___________"  (car, cellphone, house, wardrobe, etc).  Submitting to Him as Lord means we also submit to HIS ideas of what we truly need.  That said, in His grace He often even gives us above and beyond our needs and provides our wants.  Such grace!

16:6 The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

The language of 'portion' 'lot' and 'inheritance' speaks to the financial realm (maybe indirectly).  These indicate he is thinking of physical provisions.  The amazing thing is that the psalmist has already told us what his inheritance is: God.  God is my inheritance.  He is beautiful.  God tells Abraham, "I am your very great reward."  Would you rather have Jesus than silver or gold?  Would you rather have Him than have riches untold?
You have a beautiful inheritance.  Far greater than wealth, houses or land.





16:7 I bless the Lord Who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.

Sometimes I'm prone to think others are my source of counsel - and Proverbs does commend this.  However, there is a place for simply receiving counsel from the Lord and even the ponderings of our Spirit-filled hearts.  When God lives within us by His Spirit, even the thoughts of our hearts can counsel us (unless our thoughts direct us to something against what Scripture teaches).

16:8  I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

What is 'shaken'?  In my mind it relates to anxiety, fear, worry, stress.  All of these are things that have tripped me up - often.  When I find CCD (Common Contentment Disorder) striking I start to WAF.  WAFfing is my acronym for Worry Anxiety and Fear.  Often CCD and WAFfing go together.  Why am I shaken?  Probably because I haven't set the Lord always before me.  How could I WAF when I have my eyes set on the King of Kings?  How could I shudder with anxiety when HE owns the cattle on a thousand hills?  Are you shaken these days?  Set the Lord (the sovereign, rightful ruler of your life) always before You - recognize He is near (at your right hand even!) and you will not be shaken!  This is not a formula.  It is a habit of the heart.

16:9  Therefore, my heart is GLAD! and my whole being REJOICES! my flesh also dwells SECURE!

Why does he reference 'flesh'?  Go back to material provisions!  He isn't saying this is just some great spiritual exercise - this thing of putting God before us!  He is saying there are actual physical benefits to this choosing-God-as-my-portion.  When he says 'whole being' do you think he means 'just my inner spirit.'??  Noooo...  Every part of him rejoices because He is filled to overflowing with joy because God is all he needs.  Do you sense your need of God that much?  When we sense our need for Him, and realize He has met this need, and goes on meeting it, we have joy in our whole being.
This is the antidote to anxiety.

16:10  For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.

The psalmist is confident in God's faithful sustaining presence even through the end of his life - all the way to the grave and beyond.  What hope!  What assurance!

16:11  You make known to me the path of life; in your presence is fullness of joy;
               At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Knowing how to live when our situation is glum, difficult, mediocre, sad, frustrating, or hopeless seems to be a challenge.  Who teaches us the path of life?  Who gives us fullness of joy?  The Psalmist is confident in God shepherding him through life.  God is the source of joy.  God's presence is the fountain of life.



Take a look at Psalm 16 and tell me if it isn't the cure for CCD and WAF.

I dare you to try.


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