Today's episode of A New Beginning is brought to you by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God.
Learn more at harvest.org. And while you're there, browse our library of free e-books designed to help you grow in your faith. You cannot control what comes your way in life. I've tried, but I can control my reaction to it. I can control the way I think. The Bible tells us the rain falls on the just and unjust alike, but Pastor Greg Laurie says we have the mind of God to help us through. Paul says, I found it. I found the secret to contentment, and I want to share it with you. The secret of contentment is found in the way a believer thinks. It would seem that it's easy to be content when things are going well, and it's easy to be discontented when life has brought us to our knees. But is our contentment always tied to our circumstances? Pastor Greg Laurie would remind us that some of Paul's most encouraging words were written from a dank, dark prison cell. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg helps us see how to have a spirit of contentment no matter what life throws our way.
It's part of his series called Worldview. So let me begin with a question. How many of you would describe yourself as a happy and content person?
Go ahead and raise your hand. You are happy. You feel you are happy and content.
It's not everybody. I think there is always that thought that well I will be eventually. When this happens I will be content, but not quite yet. You know when you are single you are thinking if only I was married I know I would be content. I am so tired of being single.
I am so tired of being in the restaurant and having them saying party of one. You know. I want to get married. And then you get married.
And you understand the truth of that statement. Marriage is a three ring circus. Engagement ring.
Wedding ring. And suffering. So you say well we need kids. If we had children I know I would be content then. Then you have children and they are still living with you in their 50s and you are thinking how can I get rid of these children. I know. Maybe I just need a new wife or husband.
I need to trade mine in on the new model. And so you get remarried. And then you say oh man my old spouse was better than my new spouse.
I wish I could go back and marry them again. And then you go on a little bit in life and you say oh retirement. It is all about retirement. I know when I am retired I will be content. And then you are retired. And you are thinking man I miss work.
I need something to do. I wish I could go have my old job back again. See it is always beyond your reach. It is the if only river that separates you and your mind from the good life. If only this.
If only that. It reminds me of a story I read about a wealthy employer who once heard one of his employees say to another, if I had $1000 I would be perfectly content. So this man stops, turns around and says, excuse me I have a lot of money and I have never found contentment for my money but I want to meet a perfectly contented person. So here he goes. Pulls out his checkbook. Writes it out. $1000. Signed it. This is yours.
And as he walks away he overheard that employee say, why didn't I ask for $2000. See that is the way we are. That is human nature.
But know this. Getting more stuff will not bring happiness or contentment. There is one psychologist who did a lot of study on what brings contentment and her conclusion was quote, if people shoot for a certain level of affluence thinking it will make them happy they find that upon reaching it they become very quickly habituated and at that point they start hankering for the next level of income, property, or good health. So you know you make thousands but oh if only I were a millionaire. Then you are a millionaire. If only I were a billionaire. I read someone say the other day a very wealthy person, a billionaire. It won't be long until we meet a trillionaire. So you know it is always beyond your reach.
You are never quite there on your own. Well here is a man who writes this epistle. Philippians.
The apostle Paul who tells us he has found the secret to contentment. Everybody likes to hear a secret. Have you ever been in a restaurant. Maybe your table is close to one next to you and you are not really eavesdropping but you hear a word or two there and then one of the people says to the other, I want to tell you a secret.
Suddenly you lean in. You don't know these people from Adam's house kept them in. You want to hear the secret. Then they reveal the secret about someone you have never heard of and you don't care about but the secret. We love to know the secret. Paul says I found it.
I found the secret to contentment and I want to share it with you. What is interesting is Paul was in adverse circumstances when he wrote this. He wasn't kicking back on some beach in the Mediterranean eating a falafel. He was under house arrest. He was a prisoner of Rome. He was facing an uncertain future.
He did not know if he would be acquitted or beheaded. Yet in this epistle that he writes to the church of Philippi that we call Philippians he talks a lot about joy, rejoicing, happiness, and contentment. And we ask how is that possible. The answer is found in a word that Paul uses over and over in this epistle and it is the word mind. He uses the word mind ten times. He also uses the word think five times.
Add to that the time he uses the word remember. And you have 16 references to the mind which brings us to this simple point. The secret of contentment is found in the way a believer thinks.
It is not found in the way a believer feels. Because our emotions fluctuate don't they. You know sometimes everything is going well.
Your health is good. The bills are paid. Everything is going the way you hoped it would go and you find yourself in depression. And you are saying why am I down in the dumps right now. There is no logic to it so we don't base it on the way that we feel. We base contentment on the way that we think which brings us to our text. Philippians chapter 4 and we are reading verses 10 to 13.
Paul writes, and he says, Underline that verse. I have learned whatever state I am in to be content. I know how to be abased. I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry. Both to abound and to suffer need. Verse 13 I can do all things to Christ who strengthens me.
This is so important. We think no if I had a nicer car. If I had a bigger house. If I had a larger salary.
Or if I had a new face or a new body. Or if I had what that person is eating. Have you ever noticed that when you go to a restaurant you want what the other person has or is this just me? You know when I go out and order I was with a group of people the other day and I said, what are you ordering? And they, oh that sounds good. What do you order?
Oh I might get that. Oh what are you ordering? So then I order whatever thing I order. And then the food arrives and man their food looks so much better than mine. They can tell by the way I am looking at it. I am just staring. Would you like a bite of my food?
Yes I would. Why is it that stolen food? It always tastes better.
You know maybe you are out in a restaurant and you are trying to lose weight so you order a kale salad with tofu and dirt and rocks or whatever you are eating. And your friend orders a big fat juicy cheeseburger with all the fixings and yeah okay it is good. You sir or a glutton.
No I am kidding. You sir or a man after my own heart. That is who you are. So you order you know they order that big burger and you are just looking at it and you are saying could I have maybe one of your fries and they give you a fry and it is like the most amazing fry you have ever eaten. But then if you notice and if you order fries they are not as good.
Stolen food is better. And by the way let me just say this. I am going to tell you a story.
Something that just happened to me when I was over in Hawaii. But I want to tell you girls something. It is very important for you girls to know this. Guys don't like to share their food. Okay.
Just know that. Guys am I right. So girls you say no Craig you are wrong. My husband shares his food. I didn't say he won't share it. I said he doesn't like it. We tolerate it.
But we don't like it. We don't like your little forks coming our way. My wife will say can I have a bite of what you are eating.
I will say go ahead. And her little fork comes in and first it cuts whatever I am eating. You know a piece of chicken, fish, whatever. And then she dips it here and goes over here and grabs a little.
And it takes like years. I am just sitting there like I can't get to my food. This little invading fork is moving around. And then I will be like say eating that burger and I have got the last bite. I love the last bite of the burger. And you are getting ready to eat it and my wife says can I have a bite. I am just like.
Then I remember love your wife as Christ loves the church. Sure. My hand is shaking.
So anyway just wanted to establish that principle. Guys don't like to share food. Think of a dog eating food out of a dish. That is a man having a meal.
You go and put your hand near the dog it might get bitten off. Ok. So I am in a restaurant in Hawaii over there with our church Harvest Kumalani. I am with Dave and with Steve.
And they are friends. And so we all order. And so Steve ordered a sandwich. Dave ordered something else. So we are talking and all of a sudden Dave says to Steve, can I have a bite of your sandwich. Kind of different.
I mean. And now if a guy asked me for a bite of my sandwich I would say ok. And I would set it down. I would get out my fork and my knife and I would cut him off a piece where I had not eaten the sandwich. And I would put it on a plate and I would give it to him.
Here you go. So he says, Dave says to Steve, can I have a bite of your sandwich. And without pausing Steve says, sure. And takes his sandwich and Dave takes his sandwich out of Steve's hand. Out of his hand.
And he takes a bite where Steve had been eating. I was horrified. And I stopped everything. I said, wait. Stop everything.
You just traumatized me. They are like, what. Dave is like, good. You know. And then I said, Dave I have got to use that in a sermon. He goes, go for it. And I did.
Just like I did here. But the point is there is something desirable about something someone else has. More than what you have. And that is why we need to learn to find real contentment. What do we do if we can't change our circumstances?
How do we find contentment when life is challenging? Well, Pastor Greg answers that in just a moment. Emails, letters, and phone calls from listeners are so encouraging to us.
And they let us know the effectiveness of these studies. Pastor Greg, I wanted to relate an extraordinary experience my Bible study group shared recently. We're studying your Tell Someone online class material and had come to the fifth week called What is the Gospel? Our usual study leader was ill and asked me to lead the group of 15 or 20, which by the way, includes two very experienced pastors.
I was hesitant and felt very insecure, but agreed to fill in. Just as we were getting started, a young lady walked into the meeting room and sat down to join us. I'd not seen her at church for several years. And to my delight, she participated in the discussions and soaked in the message of the gospel as you presented it. Afterward, while we were enjoying refreshments, I noticed that our pastor and the young lady were talking off to the side. And within a few minutes, he announced to the group that she had accepted Christ right then and there.
We were able to love her, congratulate her, and welcome her. And then we found just the right resources that she might need and began to get her connected with other believers. Pastor Greg, I'm so thankful that you included that chapter as it was exactly what this young lady needed to hear. Thank you and your team at Harvest for all that you do.
What an encouraging story of how God's word touched this young woman's life. If you or someone you know have had their life changed because of the ministry of Harvest, would you let Pastor Greg know? Just drop him an email, gregatharvest.org. Again, that's greg at harvest.org. And check out all of Pastor Greg's free online courses at courses.harvest.org. Well, today Pastor Greg is helping us find real contentment, contentment that transcends what this world has to offer. You know, as I said, Paul was in difficult circumstances when he wrote this.
These are not theories from an ivory tower. This is from the school of hard knocks. Paul had experienced pleasure and health and also sickness and weakness. He had highs. He had lows. He was a hero to some.
He was a villain to others. But he learned this. Contentment does not just come because we have conquered our circumstances but rather because we have learned to live with them. Let me say that again. Contentment does not come because we have conquered or changed our circumstances but rather because we have learned to live with them. I heard about a story of a man who was very proud of his perfectly groomed front lawn.
It was flawless. But then a heavy crop of dandelions appeared seemingly out of nowhere. He tried everything he could to get rid of them and had no success so he actually shot up an email to the school of agriculture telling them of all the things that he had tried to get rid of the dandelions and he said, what do I do now?
Here was their response. We suggest you learn to love dandelions. That is how it works sometimes. Lord I want you to take this away. I want you to change it. Lord says, I suggest you learn to love them. This unruly husband.
Lord I have tried everything. Learn to love him. This wife that won't do what I want her to do. This wife that takes my food constantly from my plate. Oh learn to love her. These kids that were great until they hit the teen years and I don't know what is happening.
Oh yes. Learn to love them. Because life is going to give you those things that you cannot control.
So that brings me to point number one of your taking notes. Contentment comes when we rejoice in the Lord. Paul found contentment because he rejoiced in the Lord. Verse 4 of Philippians 4 he says, Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice.
And by the way that is a command as we pointed out in our last message. You are commanded to rejoice. It doesn't say rejoice in circumstances.
Because sometimes it is hard. But rejoice in the Lord. Studies have actually linked gratitude with a variety of positive effects in one's life. It has been determined that grateful people demonstrate less envy, materialism, and self centeredness. Gratitude enhances relationships, longevity of life, and even your quality of sleep.
If it came in a pill form gratitude would be a miracle cure. Just learning to be thankful for what you already have instead of what you think will make you happy. So Paul writes in verse 11, I have found in whatever state I am in to be content. Now think about your own life right now.
Can you learn to love what you have instead of what you don't have? Now Paul again is under house arrest. He is in a jail cell instead of having his freedom. He has four walls around him instead of a mission field. Yet he is content.
Which brings us to this point. What you have in Christ is far greater than anything you don't have in life. Let me say that again. What you have in Christ is far greater than anything that you don't have in life. You have Jesus. Therefore you have everything you need for now and eternity. That is important. And Jesus has you. And that makes all the difference in the world.
Now let's not misunderstand this. Paul is not saying that we should necessarily be satisfied with our present spiritual condition. Let me ask you a question. How many of you are happy with where you are at spiritually right now? Raise your hand up.
No. That is good. My hand is not up. I am not happy with where I am at. What? You are not happy in your relationship with God.
Very happy. But what I am saying is I have a long ways to go. I have a lot to learn.
I need to know the Bible much better than I know it. I need to be more Christ-like than I am right now. I have already shared how selfish I am with food.
No. There is so much growth I need in my life and I don't see that as a bad thing. I see that as a good thing. A true mark of growing spiritually is knowing you need to keep growing spiritually. That indicates that you really are in a state of growth. Paul writes in Philippians 3, friends I am not all that I should be. I am focusing all my energies on this one thing. Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God through Christ has called me.
No. We should not be satisfied with where we are at in that sense. But having said that we should find contentment in our relationship with God. But that is not our nature.
Notice Paul says, I have learned in whatever state I am in to be content. Some things have to be taught. Children are not naturally mannerly. They are naturally selfish and inconsiderate. And you have to teach a child manners. When I see a naughty child I attribute it to a delinquent parent. Not doing their job right. Not teaching a child you don't do that sort of thing. You don't say that sort of thing to someone. That is not acceptable. So in the same way contentment needs to be learned.
It is not natural because I am not naturally content. Take a child. Put them in a room. Give them a toy.
They are relatively happy. Bring in another child with another toy. Friction begins.
Right. Now they are fighting over one toy that they have determined is the best toy. They are pulling on both sides of it.
It could even be a little bunny. They will pull it apart if you don't stop them. They want what the other person has. That is human nature.
And we don't necessarily outgrow that. But Paul says, listen I have learned this. I have learned this secret that I want to share with you. The secret of contentment.
Point number two. Paul found contentment because he took life as it came. Paul found contentment because he took life as it came. Look at verse 12. I know how to be abased. I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry. Both to abound and to suffer need. Here is another translation.
Just listen to this. Actually I don't have a sense of needing anything personally. I have learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I am happy with little as much as I am happy with much. Or with much as I am with little.
I found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. You cannot control what comes your way in life. I have tried.
It doesn't work. But I can control my reaction to it. I can control the way I think.
I can control my attitude. That is why you learn this. You learn how to be content.
Which brings me to point number three. Contentment does not come from what I have. It comes from who I know.
Contentment does not come from what I have. It comes from who I know. Hebrews 13 five says, Let your way of life be without covetousness. The word covet means a greedy desire to have more no matter what it costs you or someone else. It is from a word that can be translated to pant.
To pant like an animal pursuing its prey. Let your life be without covetousness. But then he goes on to say, But be content with such things as you have.
For He has said, I will never leave you or forsake you. See because Christ will never leave me I can be content. It is not about what I have. It is about who has me. It is about this relationship I have with God that can bring the ultimate contentment.
That is why David wrote in Psalm 23, The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want. You know when the Lord is your shepherd you can find this perfect contentment. Contentment is found in making the most of the least. And so Paul had found this contentment in his relationship with God. Great insight today here on A New Beginning. Pastor Greg Laurie is showing us the Bible's prescription for finding contentment no matter what's going on in our lives. And there's more to come as Pastor Greg continues this study.
It's called The Biblical Worldview on Finding Contentment. You know Pastor Greg when I get in the car you know I buckle my seat belt adjust the mirror look behind me as I back out of the garage then shift into drive and look both ways before I pull out onto the street and you know frankly I just don't give that a lot of thought. But back when I first learned to drive which was right after cavemen invented the wheel every little thing required maximum concentration. It was exhausting. Some people are trying to live the Christian life that way you know nothing is easy everything is exhausting.
Is something wrong? Well I think that it's just a whole new world you're learning a whole new lifestyle you're learning a new language everything's new but think of this as new in a really good way. You know the Bible says if any man be in Christ he is an altogether different kind of person old things have passed away behold everything becomes fresh and new.
Now it is true that driving requires your full concentration when you're first starting but at the same time it opens up a whole new world because now you have freedom you have mobility and mom doesn't have to drive you everywhere. So you know the Christian life could be like that we're learning these things it's hard at first or different like reading the Bible praying these are things that don't necessarily come naturally but these are things that will help you in your spiritual growth. In fact these are what we would call disciplines of the Christian life don't be frightened by the word discipline. Discipline is important it's a root word of the word disciple we are to be disciples of Jesus.
So you apply some discipline in your life and every morning you say I'm going to read God's word I'm going to pray you know and you discipline yourself to be a part of a church and so much more to resist temptation the list goes on. So I want to help you to learn more about these disciplines more how to live this Christian life more how to drive the car if you will and as you do it more and more it will become second nature to you and these principles are found in a little book that I wrote that is titled the new believers guide to effective Christian living. I'd like to send you a copy and I'll give it to you for your gift of any size now some of you might be generous and and make a contribution to our ministry and I'll thank you in advance for that others can't give that much but we'll still send you the book because this is an important resource I'd like to put in your hands. So order your own copy of the new believers guide to effective Christian living for your gift of any size.
Yeah that's right and we hope you'll get in touch today so we can get it on its way to you. Keep an extra copy on hand to give to a new believer who crosses your path. It's small enough to keep in a purse or the glove compartment of your car so contact us today with your donation and be sure to ask for the new believers guide to effective Christian living and we'll only be able to mention this resource a short time longer.
You can call us at 1-800-821-3300 that's a 24 7 phone number 1-800-821-3300 or write a new beginning box 4000 riverside california 92514 or go online to harvest.org. Well next time more great biblical insight on finding contentment in a frustrating world. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and bible teacher Greg Laurie. Hey everybody thanks for listening to A New Beginning. This is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners so for more content that can help you know God and equip you to make him known to others or to learn more about how you can become a Harvest Partner just go to harvest.org.
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