23 May 2011

True Joy Is Found When We Are Content in All Circumstances


Phil 4:10-23

What would be your reaction if you were a resident of Slave Lake? Seriously! What would be your reaction if you lost everything in a fire? What would be your reaction if you were a resident in the path of the flood zone here in Manitoba? Seriously! What would be your reaction if you lost everything to a flood? What would be your reaction if you lost everything because of your lost your job? What would be your reaction if you held your 3 year old son for the last time because he was hit and killed just outside your house? I guess what I'm trying to say is! WHAT MOTIVATES YOUR HEART TO FIND JOY?

• Is it material things?
• Is it success?
• Is it money?
• Is it good health?

BECAUSE WHAT IF I FLIPPED THE QUESTION THIS WAY!WHAT DOES IT TAKE FOR YOU TO LOSE YOUR JOY?

• Is it the loss of material things?
• Is it loss of success?
• Is it losing money?
• Is it failing health?

True joy can only be found in a relationship with Jesus Christ! Not the temporal joy the world offers as genuine joy! SEE IT COMES DOWN TO THIS ONE QUESTION! I’m I content with whatever the Lord allows in my life? Think about that question for a moment!IF THE LORD CAME AND TOOK IT ALL AWAY WOULD I (YOU) BE ABLE TO STILL BE JOYFUL? This requires you to really search your heart because Jesus said....... Would your heart be content if you lost everything and you were only left with Jesus Christ? THE APOSTLE PAUL WAS A MUCH FULFILLED, A CONTENTED MAN ACCORDING TO SOCIETY!He was once a high Priest, A Pharisee (elite),he was rich, wealth, famous, he was a fulfilled man.................. But those things never made him really content or happy! (Phil 3:7-8) "But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ" None of these things brought him joy or contentment even when I was persecuting the church. None of these things brought him any closer to the Lord. Many people still today think that if they go a little further up the corporate ladder.............Get a higher education, and try to fulfill personal goals that will make them content. BUT THAT’S NOT TRUE! Look around at people you know.......look at the media......look at the sports and entertainment stars! Look at Tiger Woods....Arnold Schwarzenegger.....Britney Spears........Do they display genuine contentment of joy in their lives? A true contented life is a life that looks to Christ as all they need! Jesus must be the expressing image of our joy and when Jesus is at the center of our joy we will always be able to be content with our situation in life! Paul understood this better after the Lord dealt with him! What do I mean? Paul wrote this! “Though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Cor 12:6-10. Contentment means: not disturbed; having a mind at peace; easy; satisfied; to satisfy the mind; to make quiet, so as to stop complaint or opposition; to settle; to make easy in any situation.This is what Paul was trying to teach the church as he penned this letter from a Roman’s prison cell! True joy will always be found in a contented heart that is in love with Jesus Christ!Martin Luther said "Next to faith this is the highest art to be content with the calling in which God has placed you." One writer put it this way “The secret of contentment is the realization that life is a gift, not a right." The Hebrew writer also told us to content!“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have.” Heb 13:5-6. Jesus is all we need!..........Not! Jesus plus this, that, or the other! Jesus is sufficient for me in all circumstances of life. If you think money brings you joy! Then you truly don’t understand what Biblical joy looks like. If you think possessions bring you joy! Then you truly don’t understand what true joy is. TRUE JOY COMES FROM A DEEP ROOTED RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS CHRIST! It’s saying “Christ is everything as you watch your house go under water." It’s saying “Christ is everything as you watch your house or land go up in flames.” It’s saying “Christ is enough as you hold your dying child in your arms for the last time.” This is what a true contented home or Christian life looks like! Why? Because they are completely satisfied in Christ!Finding all your joy in Him alone! Because the closer you are to the Lord the more content you will be in any situation of life. BUT THIS CAN ONLY HAPPEN WHEN WE ARE SUBMITTING TO HIS LEADING IN OUR LIVES! I like how Lecrae puts it! (A Christian performer who wrote this in his song “Background”)

I had a dream that I was captain of my soul
I was master of my fate, lost control. and then I sank
So I don't want to take the lead
Cause I'm prone to make mistakes.
All these folks that follow me gon' end up in the wrong place.
So, just let me shadow You, and just let me trace Your lines.
Matter of fact just take my pen.
Here, You create my rhymes.
Cause if I do this by myself I'm scared that I'll succeed.
And no longer trust in You, cause I only trust in me.

The reality of joy and content only begins and ends with a close and personal relationship with the Lord and depending on Him for everything. PAUL GIVES US SOME ENCOURAGING WORDS AS HE COMES TO A CLOSE IN HIS LETTER!

1. LET US DAILY WALK LOOKING UNTO JESUS (v10)

“I rejoice in the Lord” A contented life is a rejoicing in life in Christ.....not in what this world can offer me! It’s looking to Him for instruction and comfort despite my present situation! It’s rejoicing despite what is happening! This only comes from being rightly related to God and trusting in His sovereign loving, purposeful providence in your life. It’s looking past the hurt......the sorrow that you are presently going through looking on Him and not your finite understanding. John13:7 it says “Jesus answered and said to him, "What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this." You may not understand why you are going through these difficulties but look unto Him and He will see you through this time in your life! “The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and His ears toward their cry.” Ps 34:15. A joy of contentment always begins when we are looking onto Jesus.

2. LET US DAILY WALK LEANING ON JESUS (V11-V13)

“I can do all things through Christ” no matter what happens I will always lean on the Lord to help me get through life’s challenges. Paul was completely content as he says “...I know how to be abased” Abased (means); to depress; figuratively to humiliate (in condition or heart), to bring low, to humble (self). Paul knew what it was like to be brought low.....humbled!Paul was so humbled (brought low) he even requested to share in Christ’s humiliation! “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death.” (Phil 3:10). Paul also went on to say “...and I know how to abound” Abound (means) to superabound in quantity or quality, be excessive; abundance, exceed, excel, increase, to remain (over and above). Paul knew how to get along with humble means (food, clothing, and daily necessities). Paul knew how to live with an overflow of abundance......Paul knew how to be content with much and with very little.....Paul knew where all of his strength came from.......the flowing mercies of Emmanuel’s veins. Paul knew how to deal and raise above all his trials by leaning on heavenly things were Christ Jesus is. We are to set our sights on Christ! “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden (secure, protected, access to the Holy One) with Christ in God.” Col 3:2-3. Paul was strong enough to endure anything ‘ through Him (Jesus Christ) that strengthen me” (v13). Paul was saying we get our physical and spiritual strength from the Lord. God’s power will bring contentment to those who have no strength of their own. There are no short cuts to having a contented life it MUST! It must come by the strength of the Lord. Jeremiah Burroughs said “Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God's wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.”

3. LET US DAILY WALK IMITATING JESUS (V14-17)

“you shared in my distress” The Philippians church was an imitating church! They imitated Christ and exalted His name so much! Paul spoke of them to the church in Corinth in his second letter! “We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.” 2 Cor 8:1-5. They comforted Paul as he sat in that lonely prison cell. (v14-18). There joy was to their service for Paul and to bring him encouragement! We are to imitate Christ to one another and to those around us! That’s why Jesus said “.........."Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise." Luke 3:11. A great example of this found in Zacchaeus! “And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold." And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." Luke 19:8-10. Zacchaeus did the exact opposite of someone who thought stuff would bring them joy and true contentment! (Like the Rich man who went away weeping!)

4. LET US DAILY WALK TRUSTING IN JESUS (V18-V20)

 “my God shall supply all your needs” that statement alone should be enough for us to be content and happy........even in the midst of suffering..... persecution........or whatever your situation might be!

• God is the creator that spoke everything into existence for His glory.
• God is the giver of life to all things breathing
• God is the one who sent His only Son to die for our sins
• God is the only one who we are to worship
• God is the reason we are here today
• God is everything to the Believer
• God is all I need!

Our whole existence.....our incomplete lives.......our secured salvation are all gifts from God the Father...the Son and the Holy Spirit! The Triune God keeps...They hold you in the palm of their sovereign hand! Paul wrote “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us for adoption as sons (a child who is unloved by the world but loved by God and He comes to take you to his home! How?) through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of His will, according to His purpose, which He set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth. In Him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will,” Eph 1:1-11. I can trust that whatever happens He will always be with me through thick and thin. Whether I have abundance or whether I have nothing!Remember what Paul said in (v19) “He will supply according to His riches not yours!” The Pmalmist said “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.” Psalm 37:4-5

PAUL HAD A CHRIST-CENTERED CONTENTMENT WHICH BROUGHT HIM JOY! We are to do the same in every situation of life!We are to remind ourselves each and every day that “I’m sufficient and content not because I’m independent, but because I’m totally dependent upon Christ!” Remember contentment is rooted deep in the eternal God rather than in the temporal self! You have to choose one! What’s it going to be? Is it going to be in the things of this world which leads to destruction? OR ..........Is it going to be in Christ which leads to peaceful contentment?

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