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Striving For Pandemic Contentment

Randall Caselman

Bella Vista Church of Christ

08/30/2020 A.M.

 

Striving For Pandemic Contentment

Philippians 4.10-19

 

We’re growing tired of our situation...

My first thought on waking up was... “What Day Is It?”.... Sunday... Saturday... Thursday... Followed by “Who cares?... What difference does it make?"

COVID–19 with all its uncertainty is still hanging over us...

• Its restrictions are still in place...

• We can’t gather with friends and family...

• Can’t go out to eat...

• For those with an elevated risk... They can’t get out of the house.

• This working from home sounded so good... Now it stinks!

• We’re tired of…Virtual Church... Live-Streaming... Church-By-Zoom is not our favorite way to worship... Something is lacking… This is not what God had in mind!!

 

I’ve gotta tell you...

• I am struggling with the constant Caution...

• Wearing the mask....

• The social distancing...

• Hand sanitizers...

• And the paranoia.

Of these uncertain times.

 

We are struggling with discontent.

But we are not the only ones... Biblical Greats struggled with Distancing & uncertainty...

• Noah in the ark...

• Abram intents...

• Joseph in prison...

• Moses alone with sheep in the Sinai Desert...

• David in a cave...

• Jonah in the belly of a fish...

• Jeremiah in a cistern...

• Daniel with the lions...

• Esther in the strange land of Susa.

 

Well... Just what is this thing called contentment?...

And how do we make it ourS?

 

Webster says Contentment is...To be satisfied... To be pleased...To be at ease... To have peace of mind.

 

Christian contentment is the... Sweet... Quiet... Gracious... Frame of spirit which freely submits to and delights in God’s Presence and promise whatever the situation or circumstance.

 

Romans 8.28 tells us that He is with us... And is working on our behalf regardless of the situation... In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

 

When Paul was struggling with his Thorn-In-The-Flesh... God told him His Grace was sufficient... That in his weakness... God’s power and presence would make him strong. Paul acknowledged his content by saying... 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 I am content with... Weaknesses... insults... hardship... persecutions... and calamities. For when I am weak... He makes me strong.

 

The Greek is auto-arks... 

• Auto means SELF...

• Arks speaks of a DISCIPLINED SUFFICIENCY.

 

So...Contentment literally means that... With God’s help... Through His strengthening us... We can discipline ourselves to be…

• At peace…

• Sufficient…

• Satisfied…

• Pleased…

With what we have... That portion of life given us... Regardless of the circumstances.

 

Vine in his Dictionary of the New Testament Greek says our word means Adequate for any and all occasions.

 

adequate for any occasion?... What does that mean??

Let me rehearse four New Testament narratives which...

Demonstrate genuine contentment...

 

Go with me to the Garden... The night of Jesus’ betrayal.

We’re not looking at a man who is moaning in loneliness.

He says to His Apostles... I want you to share in… My joy… My glory… Of this hour.

 

Here is a man who knows that He is going to die on the cross for the sins of the world… And He is thinking and praying for others.... That’s contentment!!

 

Look beyond Jesus to Acts seven... To a man named Stephen.

He is lying on the ground... Stones are hitting him in the face and on the head.

He’s dying... Yet... He looks toward heaven saying... Father forgive them!

That’s contentment!... A satisfying peace in a painful uncertain time.

 

Next...We go to a... Cold... Damp... Dark... Jail cell in Philippi.

Paul and Silas are... Fastened in stocks… Both hands and feet.

Every muscle and bone is racked with pain... Tomorrow is full of uncertainty.

 

What are Paul and Silas doing in this time of uncertainty and suffering?... SINGING!

 

Contentment!... Contentment!

 

The Apostle John has been banished to an island sixty miles off the coast of Asia Minor.

Nothing more than a rock pile in the Aegean Sea... Zip code 00000…

Bu this Christianity is red hot… As he writes the apocalypse that closes our New Testament.

 

The Book of Revelation vibrates with the excitement of living for Jesus in spite of grueling persecution.

• I want to live like that!…

• I want to live life... Above the ordinary… Above the common… Above the mediocre.

• I want to have this kind of contentment… Amen?

 

OK... Set these thoughts aside...

Let them soak as we see what Scripture says about contentment...

 

First from Philippians 4... I am not saying this because I am in need… For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 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. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

 

1 Timothy 6... 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. Pursue... Righteousness…Godliness… Faith… Love… Endurance… and Gentleness Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

 

And Hebrews 13.5... 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.

 

Church...With these scriptures... Is there any doubt that God desires... Even commands us to pursue contentment?... Even in the age of COVID-19?

 

OK... How can we do it?

How can we have such contentment?

 

First...We must be willing to accept help from other people.

Do you see this in verse 10?... I rejoice in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. You have been concerned… But you had no opportunity to show it.

 

We hear people say... I’m not gonna take a handout...

 

Paul was not so proud that he would not accept financial aid... Strength... Encouragement… comfort… From others.

 

You see... God helps us through people.

• His hands are people hands...

• His feet are people feet...

• His spirit... His heart… Is found within His people... Or should be.

 

So...Are you sick?...

Are you lonely?...

Frightened about testing positive?...

Is there uncertainty in your life?...

Maybe the pandemic has you in financial trouble!...

Are you depressed... Down in the dumps?

Do you need some encouragement?

 

What does Scripture tell us?

• John says... We are to love one another... deeply... Fervently.

• Paul says... We are to bear one another’s burdens.

• James tells us to confess our faults one to another… And pray for one another.

Genuine Contentment... comes from leaning-on-one-another learning one-anotherness!

 

Let people help!!... It is the Biblical way to contentment.

 

Understand that contentment is a learned discipline.

Verses 11 and 12... I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances... 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…

 

Contentment is a learned trait!

• We’re not born with it...

• We didn’t get it as a gift at baptism.

• It’s not something that’s floating in the air like a virus or bacteria.

 

Paul says... Contentment is learned

 

John says discontent is a part of our… Flesh... Worldly... Sinful... Nature... Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world -- the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does -- comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives for ever.

 

Discontent is a tool of Satan... He uses our flesh nature to bring us to this sin....

• He used it on Adam and Eve saying... You two are missing out on some great things here… By listening to God!

• It was the tool he used on Jesus... All this can be yours if only you will worship me....

 

We must be aware that discontent in our life... Is a work of the Devil... It’s his lie. He tells us we can be... Happy... Content... With just one more of… Something...Anything!

 

Paul speaks of contentment in pOSITIon.

He says... I know what it is to be in need... And I know what it is to have plenty.

 

Some of our English Bibles do a poor job of translating here.

The Greek really says... I know how to be HUMBLE.

Our King James reflects this by saying?... I know how to be... abased... Humbled.

 

Paul is talking about POSITION.

He’s saying... I can be humble... I can be elevated... I’ve learned to deal with the two without losing perspective of... Who I am... And whose I am.

 

Paul learned contentment in PROVISION.

I have learned the secret of contentment... Whether hungry or fed.

Paul knew how to be... warm... Full...Fed... And… healthy.

At the same time... He knew how to be without... Cold... Empty...Anxious... Hungry... And… ill.

 

Question!!!... Do we have this kind of contentment?

 

He learned contentment in this matter of possessions.

Paul says... I can have it all... Or I can have nothing and still be content.

Contentment is not found in...

• A new house...

• A different car...

• A bass boat...

• Designer clothes...

• A younger face or body... Etc... Etc...

Contentment is... NEVER... Never...  Based upon… The seen... Upon Things... Upon how many material blessings come our way... If it were, the rich would all be content.

 

Paul tells us to pursue the unseen… Righteousness… Godliness… Faith… Love… endurance… And gentleness.

 

Church... Know This... It are these UNSEEN attributes that bring genuine contentment... Amen?

 

Contentment allows us to be can do people.

Biblical contentment is not Passive... Contentment is not care-less-ness.

Paul says... I can do... ALL THINGS... Everything... Through him who gives me strength.

 

In Second Corinthians 8.2... Paul speaks of the generosity of the Macedonian churches... And he says... Out of the most severe trial... Their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.

 

Their contentment produced Joy... Joy motivated them to give to the Lord... Even in their severe trial... Their extreme poverty... Their financial UNCERTAINTY.

 

Indeed... Contented People are can do people!!

 

Then in First Corinthians chapter seven... Paul indicates that if we are a slave... Be content!!... But if we can gain our freedom... go for it... Don’t be passive.

 

I think we must be careful here... We need to understand that a change in circumstances will not automatically bring happiness.

 

Contentment is found in seeing God at work in our situation & Circumstance.

 

Contentment comes from knowing that God will meetall our needs.

Look at verse 19... God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

 

A lot of people today believe that... If they could just get rid of their troubles... They would be content... This is a MYTH!... Another lie from Satan.

• We were not content before COVID-19...

• We’re not content within it...

• We won’t be content when the pandemic is over.

Contentment is NOT found in circumstances.

Contentment is not found in our avoiding pain and problems.

 

Genuine contentment is realizing that God can use...

• Our pain and problems...

• Our situation and circumstance...

• The valleys we walk through

To... discipline us... Refine... Remold…remake… Us into the people and person He wants us to be.

 

Biblical contentment comes from our faith and trust in God to supply ALL our needs.

 

Biblical contentment comes from resting in the fact that He is & will work all things out... To our good... To our benefit.

 

Finally... Sin and contentment are mutually exclusive.

Church... There is no way we can be content... If we are having to contend with guilt from every sin we’ve committed.

 

Satan has lied to us saying...

• You can be happy...

You can have peace... 

You can be content…

in your sin Guilt…

 

We can’t... We can’t... It doesn’t work that way because We have a conscience.

 

But here’s the good news... We can rid ourselves of sin guilt.

We can be forgiven by the blood of Jesus.

 

If you are here and not a child of God... You can become one by... Faith... Repentance... and NewTestament Baptism... for the remission of sin...

 

In baptism... All sins are...

• Forgiven...

• Forgotten...

• Covered...

By the blood of Christ.

 

As God’s children... We can rid ourselves of sin by...

• Repentance...

• Confession...

• And prayer.

 

John tells us that... If we well acknowledge our sins... That God is just and will forgive us all our unrighteousness.

 

Let us determine to strive for Genuine Contentment... As we stand and sing this invitation song together.



Written By

Bella Vista Church of Christ

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