Sermon Follow Up - Week 21, 2022
“I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:10–13 ESV)
The freedom of contentment in our lives will only come from being increasingly captivated by the Lord.
If there is a blessed life before we come to heaven, it is the contented life. And why not be contented? Why are you angry, and why is your countenance fallen? Man, of all creatures, has the least cause to be discontented. Can you deserve anything from God? Does he owe you anything? Why do you give way to this irrational and hurtful sin of discontent? May the good Lord humble his own people for nourishing such a viper in their breast as not only cuts out the bowels of their comfort, but spits venom in the face of God himself! Oh, Christian, if you are overspread with this fretting leprosy, you carry the man of sin about you, for you set yourself above God and act as if you are wiser than he, and would sassily prescribe to him what condition is best for you! Oh, this devil of discontent which, whenever it possesses a person, makes his heart a little hell” (Thomas Watson)
1. What in the world is divine contentment?
Godly contentment is an inner sense of rest or peace that comes from being in right relationship with God, enjoying his spatial presence now, looking forward to the promises of the new heavens and new earth, knowing that He is in absolute control of everything that happens to us.
I do not know of any ornament in religion that more bespangles a Christian, or glitters in the eye of God and man more, than this of contentment. Nor certainly is there anything wherein all the Christian virtues work more harmoniously or shine more transparently than in this orb. Every grace acts its part here. This is the true philosopher stone which turns all into gold. This is the curious enamel and embroidery of the heart which makes Christ’s spouse all glorious within. How should every Christian be ambitious to wear such a sparkling diamond! (Thomas Watson)
2. How in the world do we acquire divine contentment?
The freedom of contentment you can experience comes when you become captivated by the Lord as the Glorious Sovereign One who is worth surrendering to.
Everything is necessary that he sends. Nothing can be necessary that he withholds. (John Newton)
The consideration that there is a decree determining, and a Providence disposing, all things that [happen to us] would work our hearts to holy contentment. The wise God has ordered our condition. If he sees that it is better for us to abound, we shall abound. And if he sees that it is better for us to want, we shall want. Be content to be at God's disposal. (Thomas Watson)
The freedom of contentment you can experience comes when you become captivated by the Lord as the Beautiful Savior One who is worth serving.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33 ESV)
Jesus was teaching that if we will put our focus on the kingdom he has called us into, resting in, and being captivated by, his forgiveness and enjoying the record of his perfect righteousness that has been given to us, serving Him and growing in righteousness by the power of the Spirit, enjoying his spatial presence with us, we will find that God does, in fact, take care of us. If our focus is on our Savior, on trusting him, believing him and all his promises, and walking in obedience by the power of the Spirit, and honestly finding Jesus to be the treasure of all treasures then we will grow to be content with what he provides and what he withholds.
The freedom of contentment you can experience comes when you become captivated by the Lord as the Wonderful Sufficient One who is worth trusting.
Illustration: George Müller
George Müller proved the sovereign faithfulness of God in the matter of finances. He lived in 19th century Bristol, England, where he founded an orphanage. He and his wife had taken literally Jesus’ command to give away all their possessions (Luke 14:33), so they had no personal resources. Also, he was firmly committed to the principle of not making his specific, daily financial needs known to anyone, except to God in prayer. He was extremely careful not even to give hints about his own needs or the needs of the orphanage from day to day. The children of the orphanage never knew about any financial difficulties, nor did they ever lack good food, clothes, or warmth.
But when you read any of the biographies written about him, there were times when his faith was tried, when the Lord took them down to the wire before supplying the need. Let me recount this one well known account:
“On February 8, 1842, they had enough food in all the orphan houses for that day’s meals, but no money to buy the usual stock of bread or milk for the following morning, and two houses needed coal. Müller noted in his journal that if God did not send help before nine the next morning, His name would be dishonored. Late in the afternoon 9 plum cakes arrived, baked by order of a kindly lady. Encouraging—and no doubt tasty—as these were, the situation was still grim as Müller retired to bed that night. He finished that days journal entry with the words: ‘truly we are poorer than ever; But, through grace, my eyes look not at the empty stores and the empty purse, but to the riches of the Lord only.’ The next morning Müller walked to the orphanage early to see how God would meet their need, only to discover that the need had already been met. A Christian businessman had walked about a half mile past the orphanages toward his place of work when the thought occurred to him that Müller’s children might be in need. He decided not to retrace his steps then, but to drop off something that evening. But he couldn’t go any further and felt constrained to go back. He gave a gift that met their need for the next two days (George Müller: Delighted in God! by Roger Steer).
Müller knew many instances like that where God tried his faith.
Three ways to position yourself to experience the presence of the Lord. Listen to the last 10 minutes of the sermon to hear more.
- Repent. The church in Ephesus was a wonderful church that grew captivated by something other than Jesus. So Jesus wrote them a letter with this final word of exhortation and warning:
““To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘…I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.’” (Revelation 2:4-5 ESV)
- Live in the good of the gospel by growing in thankfulness for what the Lord has done at the cross.
Take up reading a gospel again. Perhaps it’s shutting the tv/phone/tablet off, putting work away, and reading a book, or listening to a book that tells you more about what Jesus has accomplished. Consider going to one of the following links and search for one of the many testimonies that are available to listen to. To see the activity of God in other’s lives and to gain a fresh awareness of the activity of God in your own life.
- Live in the good of the gospel by growing in thankfulness for how the Lord has provided over the years.
Take some time, every day, to write out how you’ve seen God provide for you each day.
- Live with eyes lifted up, knowing the Lord is spatially present with you as you await his return with patient trust and hope.
Listen to the promise of Jesus to the church in Ephesus if they listen to their sovereign, sufficient, Savior…
“… To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’” (Revelation 2:7 ESV)
And that promise will stoke the fires of your first love and stir deep contentment that not only is all well now even amid the worst situation, but that all will indeed be well on that final day.
Psallos Recording - Philippians