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March 5, 2021 12:00 am
Secret I've learned the practice over all these years. By the way, is not a secret about the put it in the prayer, put it in black and white.
It's for everyone.
Every believer, here's the secret I can do all things through him that is Christ who strengthens me the inside scoop the growing disciple learn, acquiesce to Christ abandon Christ. Whatever you attempt, I can do all things times of you heard or read that verse. I'm guessing it's many today on wisdom for the heart Stephen Davies going to help us understand the context of that passage so that we don't mess what God is trying to teach us our theme today is contentment. Do you ever struggle to be content and satisfied with what you have, do you occasionally feel like you have quite enough.
The apostle Paul learned the important principle of being content and you can to stay with us for this message. Called in Thomas Watson, the Puritan pastor of 350 years ago, wrote the discontent just locates the soul.
It dries the brain.
It corrodes the comfort of life and it wastes the spirit away in his very personal letter to his beloved friends at all. Apostle doesn't really have very long before he nears the end of his life as he is indeed when he writes it. He speaks to the subject of contentment even informs them that he is found the secret to overcoming this easily cultivated discontent.
So take your copy of the New Testament in their newsletter again. Philippians chapter 4 where we left off in our last study at verse 10 Philippians chapter 4 and verse 10, read the paragraph and will go in and sort of pick apart okay. All right.
But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly.
And now, at last, you have revived your concern for me.
Indeed, you are concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.
I know how to get along with humble means and I also know how to live in prosperity in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction I will want to go and pull from this text for words by way of observation and give four principles that Paul lays out here. If we could summarize it. Sure this challenging this rather allusive this guy believe this, but to her virtue call contentment that is so slippery is the first word is gratitude and the first principle is this appreciate whatever you have appreciate whatever you have now. Paul is already told Philippians if you go back up to verse four. He's commanded them in the series of imperatives to rejoice in the Lord. And again I say rejoice. But optional not incidental, it's intentional now down in verse 10.
I watch them practice what he preaches is going to verse 10, but I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, and maybe you would wonder what in the world is Paul have to rejoice greatly over his chain to praetorian guard on either side of them is under house arrest.
He's eating a rationed meager diet. He's without many friends. The church in Rome is effectively abandoned him any rights but I rejoiced in the Lord greatly. Why because Paul is focusing is will learn on what he had not what he lacks and what does he have noticed further at last. You provide your concern for me. Indeed, you are concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. In our next session. I want to explore their support as a church for Paul a little more carefully because of what it will teach, but for now you need another pattern goddesses arrived in Rome with a financial gift to meet Paul's needs. Prisoners in this day under house arrest, and even those and imprisoned had to have their relatives or friends provide their food in the things they would need. So Pepperdine is arrives with a little money for Paul's needs and and and Paul rejoices over this gift, but he's rejoicing more than that over what it represented in their care for him. Paul actually describes their concern here with the word translated revived notice you have revived your concern for me. The word form revived refers to flowers blooming again. In other words to Paul. Their gift was like a fresh bouquet of blooming flowers were blossoming and all the beauty and Paul begins to greatly rejoice in the Lord because for Paul here in these rented quarters where he's under house arrest. He saying that that your gift is effectively turn this room into a garden in full bloom.
I couldn't help but think that Adam and Eve lived in a garden and I wasn't enough. And Paul is living in chains and it has become to him a garden. This is a contented man says that you lacked opportunity to help earlier and by the way doesn't mention why they lacked opportunity to go over the second chapter. It is possible that they were having their own severe trials. They were impoverished. It could have been the Paul's imprisonment in Rome made him inaccessible to the Philippians, it could have been that the Roman believers when helping them what they wanted to do when I told me that it very well might be just knowing calls were coming to know the Paul is simply choosing to write the best and to think the best of them, as if to write here.
I know you would've sent help earlier, but I'm sure wasn't possible. I'm sure you didn't have an opportunity but that's okay thinking what he could have written majored on his suffering and the silence and the lack of support burden and the abandonment of the church in his personal deprived nation and is a long long wait for a word or help from them. He could have begun at verse 10 to write something more like this. It's about time to time something like the person with the discontented heart is usually convinced that everything he does for God's way over the top and that everything that God does for him is too little and usually too late.
Paul is every reason to believe all you watching her demonstrating contentment by choosing to rejoice in whatever he had gratitude. Second word that comes to my mind as I study this with you is the word responsibility and here's the principle that only should we appreciate whatever we have we should apply whatever we learn we should apply whatever we were look at look at verse 11.
Not that I speak from want. That is, or need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am I have learned to be content. The verb Paul uses informs us that he has learned it by means of personal experience over time, which means it. Paul had to apply God's truth that he learned to do whatever he experienced in his life, which means that Paul did not reach contentment automatically. Which means we don't automatically become contented in our lives. Just because we've been saved, which means that if Paul had to learn contentment. So do we. Paul grew over a lifetime as he faced one adverse situation after another and finances and health and relationships. He's learning to apply the truth of who God was and and what God said, no matter what he faced, he learned a great visit work tightly not his expectations. What ought to happen but gripping tightly to the grace of God in the midst of whatever happened.
The word Paul uses here for content I have learned to be content is a Greek word that refers to someone not follow this someone whose resources are within him so that he doesn't depend on the substitutes around him say that again contented person is someone whose resources are within him so that he doesn't have to depend on substitutes around. In other words, your contentment cannot be created by your salary.
Your contentment cannot be created by a title or relationships or health or popularity. The it doesn't hang on your retirement plan or the fact that you got kids who are smarter than others. Or, you got he had a big garage door. A well-stocked tool shed. Those are external, those are substitutes and they haven't produced any more contentment in families today didn't have a washing machine or an automobile or a cell phone than those families. In 1900 that had not. Those are external and they come and go like the oceans tied Christ centered contentment. One author wrote on this text is not preinstalled in our hearts like a software program that's preloaded into the new computer you by you had to add it to the computer you added to your like that's your responsibility that the apostle Peter writes along these lines as he encourages the believer to apply all diligence and add to your faith moral excellence pursuant add to moral excellence knowledge add to knowledge, self-control add to self-control, perseverance, and on and on and on. First Peter chapter 1.
These are things we learn by the spirit of God and the grace of God apply to our lives, taking on the full responsibility to refuse to excuse ourselves and we don't keep in mind that the idea of learning the pulses I learned with the rewrite a little bit of this term arrives and in biblical terminology. Learning is never related to simply learning the truth, but in applying the truth. Learning in terms of translating knowledge into wise living is why in terms of the opposite of wisdom is not stupidity.
The opposite of wisdom is disobedience refusing to apply what you're in the process of learning in a very real sense is dangerous to learn one more thing from the Bible and thus were willing to apply this is something that according to Paul's on testimony that he's learning over a lifetime of practice and that's our responsibility to practice it as well to make sure doing the homework but let let's make sure were not skirting the assignment. Let's make sure you're getting the lessons right.
One pastor wrote recently that he was wanting to teach his children contentment and also financial stewardship and so he taught them the envelope system. Maybe some of you do it as well. When he said we gave them their allowance, they would put in the envelopes marked give some of the money and save some of the money and spend the money spent right so I thought I was teaching them that life is more than money. I thought they were getting the lesson until one afternoon I came home from work and I had a Band-Aid on my arm. My daughter was a bright second-grader asked me daddy why do you have a Band-Aid on your arm. I didn't want to alarm her, but I thought she was certainly old enough to get an explanation. So I told her that I got the medical exam that day selected by a life insurance policy she asked, what's a life insurance policy. I explained will daddy loves you so much and loves are our children and mommy so much that the that if anything were to happen to me, it would provide immediately $250,000 prize got really wide. I knew she was worried but then she looked up at me and asked a piece of real and that lesson get to a dead here's a lesson I contentment. It isn't a gift. It is something to be learned and assignment is something you fight for as you wage war against the temptation to reach for that one more thing to compare your lives to another to to NVA to fixate on one author says the uncomfortable or the inconvenience or the wrong that surrounds you and done to you. Contentment is the art, another author writes of keeping a light touch on what were calling these external substitute, but cannot satisfy, we apply Ephesians 1. It means that we keep a strong grip on the grace of God that has been lavished on every one of us already. We know we have a grip when were grateful for what we have and were applying what we learn Charles Spurgeon's morning and evening is an enjoyment to me and perhaps the many of you in your own devotional reading when he got to this particular text he wrote this contentment is not something that may be exercised naturally but a science that is acquired gradually brother and sister hush that complaint as natural as it is and continue on as a diligent student in the College of contentment that could stay in school practice. The assignments of gratitude do the homework of responsibility. There's 1/3 word that comes to my mind from this text that is the word accept them. Not only should you appreciate whatever you have and apply whatever you learn. Thirdly accept wherever you are noticed further in verse 12 he writes. I know how to get along with humble means by the way, that refers to a humble status in society.
The same word used of Christ became a servant I not get along in a demeaning units or the bottom of the food chain status. I also know how to live in prosperity. This word means to literally overflowing with things we know he came from an extremely wealthy family was able to be tutored by Gamaliel, the leading scholar of his day in law.
I know enemies have everything he says.
Notice in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, and others I know is I can be stuffed with food and I know it is like to be starving. Both of having abundance and suffering need.
I doesn't expand on this here, but I want to go to another letter, just briefly got to turn there and just give you a little bit of the details of his own personal testimony and the extremity of the circumstances, just read is expanded journal in his testimony to the Corinthian believers were. He gives the details of hunger and thirst being beaten and being homeless treated you could paraphrase it as the scum of the earth segment in chapter 4 where we Paul writes later learned he says we as servants of God, experienced afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, sleepless nights and hunger segment is chapter 6. Still later Paul writes five times I received 40 lashes -15 times his back was covered with permanent scars. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned with stones. Three times I was shipwrecked.
I get that one is enough for me. How about you get back on about. I would've avoided the harbor three times shipwrecked. He writes in the night and the day I was adrift at sea and night and a day adrift at sea on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people danger from Gentiles danger in the city danger in the wilderness in toil and hardship in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure segment is Chapter 11 who among us would like to live the life of the apostle Paul in shy away from describing the challenges of the Christian experience, he writes to thank you for your gift I'm rejoicing in God greatly Amana my under intense pressure, but you love hearing from someone speaks with realism like that is Artie mentioned in his letters, tears, and at the same time as joy. How does he do that by developing the practice over time of gratitude accepting the responsibility to apply and accept wherever got displaced appreciating whatever you have.
Applying whatever you learn accepting wherever you fourthly would be the word dependent dependence principle is this abandonment to Christ. Whatever you do, did you notice Paul added something in this text.
Earlier he had simply said, I have learned, but now he adds. I have learned the secret. This is the secret. I've learned to practice over all these years as an initiate in the gospel, by the way, is not a secret because I'm about to put it in the prayer, put it in black and white.
It's for everyone. Every believer, here's the secret verse 13 I can do all things through him that is Christ who strengthens me. There is the inside scoop for the growing disciple to learn content acquiesce to Christ abandonment to Christ. Whatever you attempt to do something I can do anything you something I can do everything he saying I can do all things through him who strengthens me a what are those all things is all things he just described. I can suffer hardship, and persevere. I can handle it. Overflowing cup with balance, I can hold the humblest lowest status on the food chain without resentment. I can be stuffed with food and starving for food the bitterness I I can be content in all things. How through the strength of the indwelling Christ within.
Here's the promise God is effectively promising to give us the strength to do what ever he wants us to do. So what is God asking you to do where his he placed you today what challenges are you going to start phasing tomorrow early on your mind today with pressures overwhelm you with losses, grieve your heart today.
What abundance do you need to handle with humility and wisdom Planned all of that and he can empower you as you depend in your weakness upon his strength and your inability on his ability. Does this first promise the Christians can do anything they wanted. No, here's the secret. God promises that you can do everything he calls you to do as you depend on his indwelling person in power I can do all things through Christ is really the same thing as saying I can do nothing without Christ, the great missionary and explorer David Livingstone's biography is worth reading served in Africa from 1840 until his death in 1873. On one occasion he arrived at the edge of a large territory that was ruled by a powerful tribal chieftain there in central Africa, he would need this man's permission before he could move forward.
According to tradition the chief with his entourage would come out and meet Livingstone following well. The visa would be free to travel, but in exchange would be made first. According to custom, the chief would would come and inspect all of his belongings and he would lay it all out for him is closing his clients.
His books is watch on this one occasion he did all of that and laid out as Watson's books of his clothing and and and and his goat upon which he depended for milk because he struggled with intestinal problems always flared up with the ever had to drink the local water at all spread out into his dismay, the chief chose his goat.
And then, as was custom, he gave to David Livingstone something to belong to him and he handed in his stick. Livingstone writes how disappointed he was. He didn't need a walking stick wasn't long before he was complaining to God about this tradition and his chief in this ridiculous he said, and useless walking stick. Could he ever do with it, compared to the goat. He wrote the captain well in his digestive system working properly as they travel along one of the local men came to him and explained to him what you have been given is not an ordinary walking cane. It is the king's very own scepter. This is scepter and with it you will find entrance to every village in our country. The king has honored you greatly short of central Africa opened up to following him would come the missionaries gospel reach that land. According to Paul. If I can take that illustration and bring it into here as we wrap this up. God has not given us a walking stick. In fact, he hasn't even given us a royal scepter. He has given us himself king himself resides in us.
We have in Christ enough. Isn't that powerful. I sincerely hope that you found that to be true.
The principal we've learned today is that we have enough because we have Christ the world tries to sell us on the idea that we need more so I hope this time in God's word today has helped you.
This is wisdom for the heart with Stephen Devi. If you struggle with contentment and find it hard to believe that you have enough, you might want to listen to this lesson again. But even more than that you can access the PDF file of Stephen's manuscript that he wrote when he first delivered the sermon visit the home page of wisdom. Online.we post each day's message right there and you can listen or read the manuscript free of charge. If you own a smart phone.
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