Summary: Contentment and Confidence. God`s Christmas Presents.
I was absolutely amazed when I heard it! It was ten years ago, and I was watching a program on Television in the build up to Christmas. A toy-maker was being interviewed and he was saying: "The British public aren`t spending as much as usual this year. They`re going for toys that cost £10 or £20, rather than the £50 or £60 they spent last year"! As I say, I was absolutely amazed.... £50 or £60 on a toy....... ten years ago". I wonder what they`re spending today?
As he said it, my mind went back to previous Christmases - our children opening their presents. I don`t know whether it was like this with YOUR children, but often, with ours, it wasn`t the elaborate presents which caught their eye - it was the very simple ones!
I even remember my youngest spending ages playing with the string and wrapping paper that her presents had come in, rather than the presents themselves!
I also remember that the Magazine "Which" points out that the product that`s sold for the highest price isn`t always the best in its class - and an old song which said, `The best things in life are free`. I go along with sentiments like that. In fact I`d like to offer you two presents today, five days after Christamas, which cost NOTHING, yet I suggest they will be far better than any of the presents you were given five days ago. The presents I am offering you are "CONTENTMENT" and "CONFIDENCE".
A man once wrote, "I have learned to be content in whatever state I am". The man who wrote it was in prison at the time, in danger of losing his life. He was being attacked by people who were trying to destroy his reputation and the work of years. Yet, he was able to say, "I have learned to be content in whatever state I am". How did he find such contentment? It certainly wasn`t in having a great deal of money, for just a few lines later he wrote, "The love of money is the root of all evil". When men think they haven`t got enough they become unhappy, not content with what they`ve got. Yes, it breeds a deep discontent within them which goes on to poison all their relationships.
In another letter from prison, this same man wrote about his "confidence".What was making him so content, what was making him so confident? He had found a purpose in life. He had found a friend who accepted him as he was, and loved him deeply. That friend had assuired him that he would never be abandoned or fogotten. He had promised him a strength that would overcome anything that life might throw at him. In prison he discovede it was true. This man was Paul, we know him as St. Paul, and his friend was Jesus.
Paul could have sat down and grumbled at his lot in life. "What a mess I`m in. Fancy Jesus letting me be imprisoned. He`s let me down". I`ve said things like that when times were hard. But Paul didn`t grumble. He said, "I know Jesus. I know He can be trusted. I know that His work won`t be stopped by my being here in prison. I`ll take whatever opportunities come my way"..... and he DID!
In prison Paul was able to write to his friends some of the richest thoughts in the New Testament, full of strength and joy. Today you and I are still able to read those words and be inspired by them - so are Christians all over the world. We might not have had them if Paul hadn`t been put in prison. We might not have had them if Paul had sat down and moped there. In prison he was chained four hours at a time to two Roman soldiers. He used the opportunity to tell them the good news about his friend Jesus. They were a captive audience! And thousands of Roman soldiers became Christians because of it!