December 2, 2012   Philippians 4:10 – 13  Being Content 

     What a great and awesome character trait we can learn from God and that is to be content.   We do not see much of that in the world do we?   We do not see much of that in the nation and sometimes we do not see that in the church.   Certainly there is unrest and lack of contentment in the Middle East.     There is growing discord and a lack of contentment in our nation that I noticed in the last election.   There is always the request for more money.   There were 2 winners in this last jack pot of over 500 million.  It has been said that a lot of folks that win those lotteries that it ruins their life.   Better never to win it.   And it is Christmas time and maybe we need to consider this topic today of contentment.   The children will certainly want more gifts and more electronics and more toys.   Often the soft packages get thrown to one side.  Some parents would do well to teach their children to appreciate what they have and not seek for more.   Children are fun at Christmas time and birthdays though.  Grandson in PA.   I was very poor as a child and we always got early on Christmas morning – I think usually by 5 AM.   People spend money to buy gifts for loved ones which I do not have a problem with.   But sometimes we want much more than we need and much more than what is good for us.   True contentment is sometimes just appreciating what we have.  And at this time of year it is good to revisit what we are giving to the Lord.  

      Listen to these words by Jason Lehman:  It was spring, but it was summer I wanted, the warm days, and the great outdoors.   It was summer, but it was fall I wanted, the colorful leaves, and the cool, dry air.    It was fall, but it was winter I wanted, the beautiful snow, and the joy of the holiday season.     It was winter, but it was spring I wanted, the warmth, and the blossoming of nature.     

     I was a child, but it was adulthood I wanted, the freedom, and the respect.   I was 20, but it was 30 I wanted, to be mature, & sophisticated.   I was middle aged, but it was 20 I wanted, the youth, & the free spirit.   I was retired, but it was middle age I wanted, the presence of mind, without limitations.   Then my life was over, and I never got what I wanted.  That is kind of sad isn’t it?   Life is far too valuable to wish away.  I wish it things were different.   I wish and I wish and I wish.  What do you wish for today?   What do you want for Christmas?   Have you been asked yet?   The early shoppers are out there with their eye on getting the shopping done.  

    Steve Malone shared this illustration.  A pilot always looked down intently on a certain valley in the Appalachians. "What’s so interesting about that spot?"   Asked a fellow pilot. "See that stream?   Well, when I was a kid I used to sit down there on a log and fish.     Every time an airplane flew over, I would look up and wish I were flying... Now I look down and wish I were fishing."   That is pretty well the way it is, isn’t it? - Sometimes even though we do get what we want - we still can’t be satisfied.   Everyone wants more.    A little child wants more toys and more TV time; A Teenager wants more clothes, more freedom, and more popularity.    Most adults want more also; a nicer house, a newer car a better job, more prestige..... 

     And often we do get more – we get a new car and we are content..... for awhile.    We buy a new home - it’s the home of our dreams and we are content.....for awhile.   The job we always wanted comes knocking at our door - great pay, incredible benefits - and we are content.....for awhile.     One of God’s prophets wrote the following words to God’s people about 2,500 years ago   "You have planted much but have harvested little. You eat, but you do not become full. You drink, but you are still thirsty.    You put on clothes but you are not warm enough.   You earn money, but then you lose it all as if you had put it into a purse full of holes...You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little."   - Haggai 1:2-6.    Why was the issue with them?   Because they were not doing what God wanted them to do.   And God says in that passage you brought home money but I blew it away.   God can do things like that.  He does do things like that. 

    Let’s consider some scriptures on contentment because God speaks to us about it.   God does speak into our life.  The bible more than any other book speaks into our life I believe.    I timothy 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.      For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.     But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.      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.     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 griefs.      But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.     Hebrews 13 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,   "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."      So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.    What can man do to me?"   And in II Corinthians 8 for you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.   We are rich in Jesus.   We are blessed in Jesus.  We are forgiven and complete in Jesus.   Colossians tells us our real life is in heaven and in Jesus.  It is up there and not in the stuff down here.  2 Co 9:8  And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times; having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.   Did you hear that?   God will provide everything you need to abound in every good work.  

    Paul in this passage is not complaining.   He is not groveling and feeling sorry for himself.   He is not being miserable or angry.  He is not looking at all the things that he does not have.  His happiness, joy, self worth does not come from the things around him.   His life does not revolve around whether he has a lot or a little, whether he is full or hungry.   Verse 10 he says I rejoice greatly in the Lord.  He is in jail when he is writing this.    He is thankful and he is rejoicing.  Part of his rejoicing is that the Philippians are going to be blessed because they gave.   The Philippians opened their heart and gave to him and God is going to bless them for doing that.   They opened their hearts and they opened their wallets.   Paul is bringing God glory.   He is pointing others and us to Jesus.   Sometimes in life and in ministry it is too easy to be negative and to look at the things that we want.      He is giving thanks for their support.   He is honest with them and tells them that he has experienced need and he has experienced having plenty.   You and I have probably been in the same place.   Jesus was hungry and in need at times.   Paul said he has learned to be content in every situation.  Sometimes it is easier to be content when we have needs.   Those times we go to the Lord.   Lord help me I have this need and we find contentment in Jesus.   Paul said if that thorn in the flesh brings glory to God then bring it on.   If that pain in my life is from the Lord I accept it.   Kristi is like that.   She rolls herself on the Lord and accepts whatever comes her way. 

      It is when we have much and plenty that we can get ourselves in trouble.   Those are the times when we can stray from God.   In Revelation it is the church of Laodicea that thinks they are rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing.   It is the American mega church in many ways with their coffee shops and restaurants and muli million dollar buildings.  I am not saying that all of them are like that but it certainly tends to do that.   We can get our eyes off our brothers who are starving and our Christian brothers and sisters that don’t even have a bible.   Sometimes Christians get passionate about the wrong stuff.   We tend not to get passionate about the starving and those who do not even have a bible.   Because if we get passionate about that it will cost us something.   It does not mean anything if it does not caost something. 

     Paul in this passage said I can accept all things and I can do all things and in verse 18 I have all things or in the NIV translation I am amply supplied.    He is one of these folks who did not need to be patted on the back.   He did not need to be recognized.   He was simply thankful for what God provided for him.  

    Was Paul totally and completely content at all times?   Should you and I be content at all times?   Should this church be content?   Should I be content as pastor of this church?   These are interesting questions I think.    That is probably something we should think about.   We have had 4 decisions at VBS this summer.   God is so good to us.   And I have led 3 others to the Lord this year.   I am not sure one of them is walking with the Lord.   Is that OK?   We know that is not OK.   Was Paul content?   I think he was content with the things that he possessed.   But in his walk with the Lord and in ministry I see something else.   In Philippians 3 Paul says I want to know him.  I want to be like Jesus.  I want to suffer like Jesus suffered.  There was a continual striving for more of Jesus.    In Romans Paul writes I wish I could be accursed if it would save my fellow countrymen.  

    We are here to love God to love others and to share the gospel and make disciples.   We are to have a passion for that.   I think what I see often is that in those things we are content.   We are not content with others things but we are content with those things.  We become content with the wrong things.   Some would think well I go to church and put a few bucks in the plate.  I read the bible some and I pray and that is all I need to do.   I am OK and you are OK as the book title says.   Many do not labor with whether others know the Lord or not.   Some make a passing stab at sharing Jesus if it is right in front of them but many Christians are afraid and do not know how to share the Lord.  The sheep say it is the pastor’s job and the pastors say well sheep reproduce sheep.   It is my job to train them.   Well it seems to me that Jesus said follow me and I will make you fishers of men.  I think we as pastors have to do it to produce it.   God has told all of us to go and make disciples.  Are you making disciples?   Are you content if you are not making disciples?     In the spiritual world you have to follow someone before you can lead someone.   You have to learn submission.   Those that have total control and dictate become monsters – David Koresh and the rest.  Many folks will never make disciples because they have not learned to submit.  

     Loving God is so very important.  I think we are in these last days.  The bible says these are the last days.  One pastor I talked with this week said he thought we would lose the national power grid.   That would mean no gas and no electricity no heat and no food.   We are living in the days where it is possible to be in a cashless society and living in days where there is a push for one world currency.    I do not know what will happen other than I am convinced that your walk with God will be challenged.   Your faith is going to be challenged.   I have heard pastors say that the church is not ready.   How are we going to respond to God when things get a little tighter?   We can say well it is not here and I would say every day is a day of grace.   Jesus said you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.  

       I will close with this illustration by Michael G. Moriarty, Simplicity is the answer for people tired and weary.   Simplicity is marked by a contented lifestyle that rests in God’s grace.   It is the commitment to clear out, scale down, and realize the essentials of what we truly need to live well.  The intimate search for wholeness is not found by accumulating more things, but by entering into God’s presence every single day.    And I would say let’s not be content until we are resting in his presence day by day and moment by moment.   I think we all can say amen to that.