The Secret to being Content
How can accept the things that happen in this life? Pastor Jacob looks at a popular verse to help us understand.
Sunday November 8th, and there are just a few announcements before we let loose the kids to Sunday School
Our operation Christmas Child boxes are due today, so if you brought yours, come see me after Service:
If you forgot yours, that's ok, you still have time to get it turned in, but NEXT Sunday is the absolute deadline
In a few weeks we will be taking donations for food boxes to hand out to families in need in the Community.
Our last announcement, is that after Service today we will be having 2 Baptisms Matt Bates and Moses Martinez have had their souls brought to life by our Heavenly Father--------- but instead of the 0degree water of Lake Ontario, we’ll be going over to the Baptist Church that is across from Fastrac.
And the kids are dismissed.
Today----were going to be talking about being content….and we’ll be looking at a pretty popular verse to help us learn about it.
Philippians chapter 4, verses 10-13. Which says:
10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 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. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
( → → Opening Prayer ← ← )
NOT---- about ignoring everything going on in our life
NOT ---- about being sufficiently satisfied
NOT ----- about powering through the rough times in our life, no matter how long they last or hw rough they are
So...one of our verses this morning, is very well known-----
(some versions says):
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
It has been used to explain soccer and football and baseball and hockey and all other sports----- victories
It has been used to explain accomplishments in people’s personal lives
When someone starts their own company
Or gets a promotion
Or achieves some milestone in their hobby
It has been used in a million different contexts ------- about a million different contexts
However, if you have heard me preach before, you’ll know that there is only one Context that matters---- The Bible
What does The Bible say? -------- what are these verses actually talking about?
When Saint Paul says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”------ what is he talking about?
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me---
Which means I can jump off of a cliff and….fly?
I can eat shards of glass without bleeding?
Or maybe those are obviously too extreme?
Perhaps it's: I can write a Novel?
I can learn to play the Piano?
I can hit a homerun the next time I am up to bat
I can get that promotion at my job
Those last ones seem plausible right?
They're in the realm of possibility?
It's not tooo far out, right?
If God is living in me, and Philippians 4:13 says I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me…..
Then that means I can score that touchdown
Learn to play that new instrument
Or get that job, confront that person at work, mend that relationship
I can do ALLLLLLL things through Christ who gives me strength
Well, my answer again is: “What is the context of Paul saying this?”
What is going on in the sentences directly before and after?
What is the context? → let read that first verses again to see the context
10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.
Why didn't they have an opportunity?
Does it answer it in that verse? If it doesn't, we need to look further back in the book.
And when we do, we can see the context in chapter 1 verses 12-14:
“12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.”
Saint Paul is writing a letter to a Church --------- from a Prison cell.
He is writing a letter from Prison, to the Church that is in the Roman colony of Philippi. He could have opened his letter by saying: Dear Philippians, prison sucks. Because:
this isn't a modern day Prison
There are no college classes // There is no heat or air conditioning
There are no magazines or tv or weight equipment
There is no cafeteria or yard time
It’s a literal underground stone room
In fact, that room he was in, is still there ------ you can go and visit it -------
You can book a flight to Rome, and go visit it if you want, it's right there for everyone to see.
I actually have a picture of it, for those of you who aren't getting on a Plane to Italy anytime soon.
There ya go. That's what a Roman Prison cell looked like in the year 64.
That is where the Book of Philippians was written.
As well as several other books of the New Testament
So now Paul is in prison in Rome, and he is writing a letter to this Church.
You can read everything he has to say by going through the whole book------
But here we are, at the end of his letter, and this is how he closes it.
He doesn't say:
He says thank you for your gift, and that he is content.
This Church that he started, sent him some kind of a gift to ease his time in prison, and he's thankful for it
----but then he expounds even more by saying he has learned to be content
He is in prison, and he is content
He is an underground stone room, going to the bathroom in a whole in the floor, with a tiny window above him for sunlight------ and he is content
How can someone in a prison cell ------ be content?
Is he trying really really hard, and gritting his teeth----
Is he content because of how HOLY he is----
Maybe he is just so holy and so special and he is some kind of super christian that us poor folk could never be-----so THAT'S why he’s content?
Or maybe he’s content because this situation that he is in, is one he has been in before and he is just really good at being in rough places----
so he makes jokes
Hardens his heart
And becomes this impenetrable person who NO feelings, either good or bad, can get through to?
That last one might be it-----
Because Paul HAS been in some crappy situations.
2nd Corinthains 11:23-27
I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. 24 Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. 26 I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. 27 I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.
The apostle Paul has gone through some horrible situations-----
I've never been shipwrecked
I've never been whipped or stoned
I've never been adrift at sea
So has he learned to be content because of all the other stuff in his life that he has been through?
Because that is the human tendency, isn't it?
We say to ourselves:
I have been in this kind of situation before, so I know that I can deal with it
I've gone through rough stuff----
I've been through hell and back again so I know that I have the grit and determination to deal with whatever life throws at me!
Look at my past------
Look at what I have gone through-----
I am an island and nothing can shake me or break me because I have been shaken and I have been broken----
I am strong
I am mighty
I can handle anything that comes my way
Until something big comes, and then we scramble to pick up the pieces of our life all the while saying we are still strong------
Or-------- we do the opposite, right?
We say, I have never been through stuff this bad before------because of how good I am
I am a champion when it comes to turning bad situations into good ones---
I am above all that grime----
I am above all the dirt and decay of this world----
I am so far removed from all that dirty stuff that life throws at people----
I am not one of THOSE people----
Some of us even look down our noses at the people who have gone through rough times, and use our own privilege as evidence that we are above the hurt of this world, so we are content when any kind of hurt comes to us because we sit high in our mighty castle, looking down at all the peasants going through the rough patches in their life----
So….is that what Paul is saying here?
Has he learned to be content because of his past experiences?
Is he using all the good and all the bad, as the fuel needed to remain content?
Is he saying look at the bad stuff i've gone through?
Look at the good stuff I've gone through?
Is he saying: “My past is the reason why I am no content”?
I'm going to read our verses again, and pause and give a little bit of an explanation after each one---- and see if we can shed some light on how he is able to remain content, through all of the things that he has gone through.
10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.
11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
12 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.
13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
He is not content in his prison cell because he is super strong
He is not content because he is holier than other people
He is not content because his past has hardened him
He is content because the God of all creation lives within his heart
So if you are hearing this this morning, and life has thrown a curveball at you---
If life has hit you
Beaten you down
If the events that have been brought before you threaten to break you down and leave you as nothing but an anchorless boat adrift on the seas of despair----
If life has hit you, and hit you and hit you again, and this time you dont think you’ll be able to get back up again-----
Not because you have gone through things before ----- and this is just another crappy situation in your life-----
Not because you are good---
Not because you have memorized all the important Bible verse---
Not because you are some kind of holy super christian---
Take heart because our experiences do not define us----
We are not our hurt
We are not our suffering
We are not our pain
The things we have gone through in this life-----
though they may be big---
Though they may be powerful---
Though they may be the worst or the best things that have ever happened to you---
Do not define you
You are not your mistakes
You are not your sin
You are not your hurt
No matter how good or how bad the events of your life may be-----
That is not who you are -------- IF---
Your mistakes, and your bad choices----- are not who you are …… IF
Your SUCCESSES and achievements ---- are not who you are….. IF
The things in this world - if they are good or bad----- do not define you ----IF---- the Holy Spirit lives within your heart
If you have repented of your sins and believed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then you are a CHILD of the most high God
You see, that is what Paul is saying----
He is saying that regardless of whatever this life may throw at us, be it good or bad----- that is not our definition
This world will throw storms at us----
Life changing, life altering storms----
Thunderous crashes of suffering and trauma---
Lighting bolts of pain and hurt---
Great swells of happiness and success---
But nothing in this world can change who we are if God lives within us.
We can weather ANY storm
We can survive anything----because the God who lives inside of us has survived everything
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What can this world throw at us? What can stop us?
Political unrest? Civil War?
Nations rise and fall yet our God remains
Pain and suffering?
Our God gives meaning to our hurt and direction to our pain
We are the sons and daughters of the God of all creation
We are princes and princesses
There is divine gold flowing through our veins into all areas of our life and nothing can stop us.----- because the unstoppable God of all reality lives inside of our hearts.
But hear this, that doesn't mean-----
We won't feel sadness----
Sadness and loss are a part of THIS world
That doesn't mean-----
We won't feel joy
That doesn't mean that there won't be trauma and sorrow that upend us and shake our entire world into ashes and tears----
But---- our God--- is bigger---- than this world
We will bend without breaking
We will break and be put back together
We will lose without being lost
We will be lost and He will find us
We can grieve with hope
We can mourn with joy
We will cry unending tears of sadness and He will collect every single one of them and place them upon the mantles of heaven.
Because it is only through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that we can be content through whatever this world throws us.
In closing-----why does this matter?
Why worry about being content?
Why not just let the waves of this world push me in whatever direction they want to push me in?
It matters, for 3 reasons.
The first--- is for others: That verse I read from Chapter 1 said this: (and it's a bit of a preview for next week's Sermon)
12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.
How we react to our suffering ----- can point people to Christ
They can see us hurting but being content------and wonder what gives us strength?
They can see us being afraid and in pain ---- but standing as strong as we can, even if it’s not very strong
They can see God use that which has ruined our life as a tool to REMAKE our life
They can see us being content in our eternal salvation, not being tossed about by the winds of this world ----- and ask about God.
They can see us not wavering to and fro ----- and wonder who it is that provides such peace and love
When we are content through the hurt in this life------because we know that this life isn't all that there is---------
Other people can come to know God
SECOND, it matters because of something that an old timey preacher named Thoams Watson once said:
“Satan loves to fish in the troubled waters of a discontented heart.”
When we are everything BUT content ----- we are vulnerable to the attacks of our enemy
When our heart and our life moves in whatever direction our pain sends it in ------ we fall -----more and more ------ easily to our sin.
When we look at this world, and let worry control us----
When we look at our past, and let our regret control us----
When we look at our hurt, and let our loss control us----
When our heart is in a constant state of discontent------ that is when and where our enemy strikes.
He attacks those areas in our life where we have the hardest time trusting in God
Those areas in our life, where we have the hardest time in trusting God, are the exact same areas where our enemy will tempt and attack us.
LASTLY, it matters because of who you are
Who cares ----if I just float by?
Who cares ----if the winds of joy and sadness push me around wherever they want?
The answer ----- is me
I personally care about you
We personally care about you
Christ Community Cares
Your brothers and sisters in the faith care
Other Christians care
The church as a whole ----- cares
If the highs and lows of this world, wear you down and wear you out, look for help from the family of God
Do your spirits just travel whichever way the winds blow?
Others will help you stand strong, pick you up, dust you off, and point you to Christ
So stand up against your enemy ---- I have your back
Stand against your pain ----- We have your back
Have the events of your life stopped you from being content?
Then we are here for you to help and support and guide and teach and instruct and love
It matters because we love you and want to see you grow in your relationship with Christ more and more everyday.
We want to see you:
Read your Bible, every single day so that you can know God as intimately as possible
We want to see you:
Spend specific time in prayer, every single day, so that you can know God as closely as possible
We want to see everyone:
Repent of your sins and believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and so you can be content REGARDLESS of whatever life throws at you
We can be fed or hungry ---------- High or low---
Abused or loved-----------Happy or Sad----
We can experience death and loss, birth and life----
We can be barely holding it together --------- or thriving beyond understanding
Whatever the case may be-----
We can be content through all of it ----- because we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.
( → → Closing Prayer ← ← )