The Baptist Bible Hour now comes to you under the direction of Elder Lacerre Bradley, Jr. O for a thousand tongues to sing, my great Redeemer's praise!
Thou the wisdom of my God and King, the triumph of His grace! This is Lacerre Bradley, Jr. inviting you to stay tuned for another message of God's sovereign grace. I want to encourage you to visit our new website at BaptistBibleHour.org. You'll find a variety of messages and articles that we believe will be a blessing to you, and you can conveniently make a donation there if you would like to help support this work. This is a five Sunday month, and so it is important that we hear from our listeners in order to remain on all these stations.
If you'd like to write us, the mailing address is Baptist Bible Hour, Box 17037, Cincinnati, Ohio 45217. Today we bring you the second part of the message on contentment. The text is Philippians chapter 4, verses 11 and 12. Now, seeing that contentment is something that is learned, the question may then be pondered, well, just what is contentment? And we need to look at a couple of thoughts here from a negative standpoint, because there can be misunderstanding about it. Someone assumes that if you're saying, well, we're to be content, that you're just to accept whatever comes in life without any effort to make positive changes.
That's not what's under consideration. Let's see what we're talking about in the book of Proverbs chapter 24. Proverbs chapter 24 and the 30th verse. I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding. And lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw and considered it well, I looked upon it and received instruction, yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep, so shall thy poverty come as one that travelth, and thy want as an armed man. The slothful man described here was content to stay in bed and not get up and go out and work in his field. Maybe he was content during part of the day to sit on his front porch and rock and look out there and say, well, yeah, there's a field. It had a wall around it.
I've been planning to get out there and repair it, but he perpetually puts it off. There it is. It was a productive field at one time, but it's grown over with thorns and nettles. But you know, I'm content. I'm content for it to stay that way. That's not the contentment that is being described with Apostle Paul. See, true contentment doesn't mean indifference. It doesn't mean a neglect of duty. It doesn't mean that I'm going to refuse to do the things that are expected and required.
It's not failure to act when something is vital and needs attention. You know, another expression of the book of Proverbs says there's one who says, I will not go out because there is a lion in the street. Now that individual was content to stay in the house because he assumed that to walk out there was going to be danger. The indication is there was no lion in the street, but in the man's mind he says there is danger. So I am content to stay inside.
You can build up in your mind certain fears and apprehensions. You can make certain excuses for failing to do what needs to be done and say, I'm content with the status quo. I like things just like they are. Satisfied with a sinful situation. In the book of Revelation we find a church in that condition.
Chapter 3 where it talks about the church in Laodicea and what do they say? We're rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing. That sounds like contentment, doesn't it? They were content with their situation, but God wasn't pleased with it. Their contentment was not valid. Their contentment was not God-honoring. They were content with themselves. In fact they were deceiving themselves because they said we have need of nothing and the Lord says you have need of everything.
You need to get eyesalve so that you can open your eyes and see how great your need really is. So let us be careful that we not confuse what contentment really is from a biblical point of view. On the positive side of the register, I believe we can understand as we read the Apostles experience, which we've been looking at throughout the book of Philippians, that to be content is to be surrendered to God's sovereignty. You can't read this epistle without being impressed with the significance of that point. Paul was surrendered to God's will. Just regarding this matter of the church flourishing once again as far as their interest in helping him, he's not blaming them for those years when they were not able to assist.
He doesn't say it looks like to me you would have put forth greater effort to find out where I was or to resolve whatever problem was the hindering factor because you would have not left me without the necessities that I so much needed. Not that kind of a spirit at all. He's not blaming the church. In fact, he's now rejoicing that their care of him has flourished once again. He rejoices in the unfolding of God's providence. Joy is the overriding theme of this epistle. Yes, he talks a lot about suffering and trial, but he has joy in the midst of it. Back in chapter 1 of the book of Philippians in verse 18.
What then notwithstanding every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached and I therein do rejoice and will rejoice. Here's a set of circumstances where it looks like everything is against him. He's not at liberty to travel. He's chained to a Roman soldier. It appears that many who had stood with him have neglected him and forsaken him totally. And there are those that are trying to add to his problems at the moment. But rather than being discouraged by it, he says I'm rejoicing and will continue to rejoice.
Why? Because he believed God was still on the throne. He believed that God was still going to accomplish his work. I don't see how it's possible for a person to continually rejoice as we're commanded to do in Philippians chapter 4. Or how a person can really learn contentment without the recognition that God is sovereign. On what other grounds can we find joy and on what other basis can we learn contentment but to know God is on the throne.
To say with the psalmist, my times are in thy hands. That changes your whole perspective. It changes your outlook about life. It changes your anticipation of what's out in the future.
To know that God is working his will, has promised never to leave us nor forsake us, and is going to accomplish something that's to his glory and to the good of his people. Let's look at the book of Esther once again. I see another part of that story. Esther chapter 4. Mordecai is encouraging Esther to go before the king. She points out that the law is such that if anyone approaches the king without first having been invited, they can be put to death.
The only way they live is for the king to extend his scepter. She obviously is reluctant to go. She tells Mordecai, the king hasn't called for me in 30 days.
But look what he says. Verse 13 of Esther chapter 4. Whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this. Yes, this is a day of challenge. This is a time when the enemies of God's people are seeking to devour them. Haman would like to get rid of all of the Jews. Now Esther, are you willing to risk your life?
Lay your life on the line to go bravely into the king's presence and seek an audience with him. You know the story that she did go and he did extend the scepter. And she was able to reveal the plot of Haman which ultimately led to his execution. And God spared his people. All of which fits into the whole scope of redemption. In that it is through this lineage that Jesus Christ ultimately was born and went to the cross to save us from our sins.
What are we talking about? We're talking about a recognition of the sovereignty of God. Mordecaius says, perhaps thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this. How often do you look at your life pondering how God may be working?
Looking at the opportunities that he's made available to you. And say perhaps God has brought me where I am at this place and at this time to accomplish something that is for the advancement of his kingdom and to the glory of his name. Too often people who fail to recognize the hand of God in their life seem to develop the attitude that, I guess I was just born out of season. I just came along at the wrong time.
If I could live back years ago when things were different, I could have lived in the good old days and I might have been able to do something worthwhile but not today. Perhaps you're here at this time and this place for a particular reason where you can serve God to his glory. So from a positive standpoint, contentment means that there is a submission to and a recognition of God's sovereignty. Secondly, it means not to be controlled by circumstances. The terms used by the apostle when he says I have learned in whatsoever state I am there with to be content. He's saying I know both how to be abased and how to abound. He's using terminology that was used at that time by some of the pagans but he's using it in a different connotation. He is saying I have learned to be self-sufficient.
Now we generally think of that in a negative sense because we're talking about somebody who's forgetting the Lord and trying to be sufficient in and of themselves. But the sense in which he's using the terminology is that I am able to be content because I'm not depending on outside circumstances to contribute to it. I don't have to have everything in place. I don't have to have pleasant situations every day.
I don't have to have positive news. I don't have to have something that's uplifting every day. I am content within myself.
Why? Because this contentment is in the Lord. It's so easy for us to get to the place that we are allowing ourselves to be totally dependent upon the circumstances of life. And that being the case, we can never have true contentment. As soon as the cloud comes in the sky, as soon as a word of criticism is given, as soon as disappointment is experienced, as soon as sickness comes, whatever the trouble that comes our way, we're no longer content. But if our contentment is within us in our relationship with the Lord, then no matter what's happening around us, we're still content. The person then who is not controlled by the circumstances of life is not embittered by poverty. Paul said, I've learned whatever my circumstances are, whether in difficult times when I have little, I'm going to be satisfied with that.
When I'm abased. When I'm being slandered as He was, falsely accused as He was. He said, that's not going to disrupt this peace that I have with God and the contentment that I enjoy.
And we well know that that's not in harmony with the way our human nature reacts. It doesn't mean that Paul was a man of steel, that he had no heart, he didn't feel the things that were disturbing in his life. He was just a man. When he heard the criticisms, when he heard how people slandered him and misrepresented him and falsely accused him about what he was preaching, among other things, it had to hurt. But he didn't give up in despair.
He didn't become bitter. And at the same time, when all was going well, and he was prosperous, he didn't become exalted in himself. Think about the two situations that are described here, saying I know both how to be abased and I know how to abound everywhere and in all things I'm instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. You might ask yourself the question, in which situation do I have the easiest time trusting God and walking in contentment? Some people do very well when they're down. If they're struggling, if they're dealing with poverty, they display great faith, great courage, they have a close walk with God. And then when the table turns and they're enjoying prosperity, they become haughty, forgetting the source of their blessing, often neglectful of spiritual things, turning to the world and seeking after its pleasures. May we learn to be content whatever our circumstances may be. Thirdly, when we're talking about what this contentment is, it is to have a thankful heart.
We mentioned earlier that a complaining or murmuring spirit is a hindrance to contentment, and from the positive side of it, being thankful leads us to contentment. And that's seen throughout this epistle. Paul says in chapter 1 and verse 3, I thank my God upon every remembrance of you. He was thankful, thankful for the people to whom he ministered. He was continually giving thanks to God for the things that he had experienced even in the midst of his trials. When he comes to the fourth chapter and verse 6, he says, be careful for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. Then in Colossians chapter 3 and the 15th verse, he says, and let the peace of God rule in your hearts to the which also you're called in one body and be ye thankful.
Be thankful for not thankful. We're not going to be content. Number four, if you're going to be contented, you've got to be walking in obedience. You can't expect if you are rebelling against the truth of God, the commandments of God, the things that the Lord has enjoined upon you. You're going in the wrong direction. You're pursuing worldly interests.
You cannot expect to be content. Chapter two of the book of Philippians, verse five, let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. What kind of a mind was it? It was the mind of being a servant, being submitted to the will of his heavenly father that sent him to carry out the work that was given him to do. Verse 15, that you may be blameless, harmless, the sons of God without rebuke in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation among whom you shine as light to the world. No contentment can be expected unless you're walking in this godly path.
Blameless, harmless, the sons of God without rebuke. Chapter three, verse ten, that I may know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings being made conformable unto his death. His focus is on Christ.
He's seeking to walk obediently to the praise and honor of his name. Chapter four, verse nine says, those things which you have both learned and received and heard and seen in me do, and the God of peace shall be with you. The things now that you've been taught, you're to practice them.
It'll be a part of your life. So without putting them into practice, without doing the things that you've been taught, without walking obediently, you cannot expect to have contentment. And then Paul lets us in on something of this secret that he has discovered. Chapter four, verse thirteen, when he says, I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. To have contentment means to have found strength in Christ. There's no other way that the child of grace can be content. If you're pursuing other interests, if you're pursuing the things of this world, if you're determined, I'm going to try to be content in the same way that I find others to be satisfied who are neglecting spiritual matters. There's going to always be an emptiness.
There's going to be a disappointment. But when you find your strength in him. Isaiah chapter 40, verse 29, he giveth power to the faint and to them that have no might he increases strength. Even the youth shall faint and be weary.
The young man shall utterly fall. But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint. These who feel themselves to be weak and faint and in need of strength find it where? In the Lord.
He giveth power to them that have no might. Paul learned this in a very intimate way in the thorn of the flesh that was given to him in 2 Corinthians chapter 12. The thorn was painful. A lot of speculation has come up with various opinions as to what the thorn may have been.
But we know this much about it. It was something that was most unpleasant. It was something that he wanted to have removed. He prayed three times that the Lord might deliver him from it. The answer was, my grace is sufficient for thee. What did he learn? That whether it was the thorn in the flesh or any other trial, any other obstacle that he faced, he didn't have strength in himself. But he says here, I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
How often do we forget that? Try to forge ahead in our own strength and we're defeated and disappointed. But if we come back again to acknowledge, Lord, I have no strength.
I do not have what is required. But I am trusting thee. Our strength is in him. How then is this contentment to be maintained? It's something that must be learned. It's not trying to condition ourselves to accept a status quo if we're in a position that needs to be remedied and changed in a positive direction. But it is in recognizing God's sovereignty, approaching him with a thankful heart, walking in obedience, finding our strength in Christ.
How do we maintain it? How can we continue in the midst of the constant changing scenes of life to still be content? Well, it brings us back once again to the fact that we must acknowledge God is sovereign. In the first chapter of the book of Job, when Job suffered a great loss, what was his response? The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord. What I had, God had given it to me, had a right to take it away, he did take it away, and I praise his name.
He bowed down and worshiped, and in all this it says that Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly. How can I maintain this contented spirit? I've got to recognize that circumstances are constantly changing. Sometimes a person becomes greatly disturbed because things are not like they used to be. Circumstances are changing. Friends, that's the reality of life. We're in a changing world.
Things are not going to remain the same. But if we learn that even with changing circumstances, the thing that gives us contentment is an ongoing relationship of an unchanging God, we can have peace of mind, contentment of heart. And finally, the apostle speaks in the book of 2 Corinthians chapter 4 of some of these sufferings that he had endured. It says in the 18th verse, while we look not at the things which are seen, but the things which are not seen, for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. He spoke of the fact that though his outward man was perishing, the inward man was renewed day by day.
How was it? Because he was looking at the things that were not seen. He speaks of the fact that our light affliction is but for a moment and worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. One of the things then that can enable us to maintain a contented spirit in the midst of all of the changes, all of the challenges, all of the difficulties that we encounter is to remember that trouble, though it comes our way now, is not forever.
It's not long lasting. If you're sick, you're going to soon be well forever. Because time moves rapidly long and as painful as the sick bed can be when it's for an extended period, there's coming a time when the end is reached. And for God's children, while they may suffer here, there'll be no suffering after a while. If you have a broken heart, it'll soon be bound up in heaven.
If you're weeping now, the tears are going to soon be wiped away. If you're struggling, the battle's soon going to be over and the victory's going to be won. If you're weary, you're soon going to be at rest. Understanding then that our sufferings are burnt for a moment can enable us to be content. If you thought that whatever the pain, whatever the suffering that you have right now, it was going to go on and there was no end in view, that would be extremely difficult. But when you understand that it's but for a moment and it's working for you a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, you can have that bright hope when you look at the things which are not seen and look to that which is better farther on.
It may be in the valley where countless dangers hide. It may be in the sunshine that I in peace abide. But this one thing I know, if it be dark or fair, if Jesus is with me I'll go anywhere. If Jesus goes with me I'll go anywhere. Tis heaven to be where I may be if he is there.
I counted how privileged he is brought to bear. If Jesus goes with me I'll go anywhere. No doubt with most of us there is a tendency within to be discontented. But let us all say with the apostle, I have learned to be content in whatsoever state I'm in. He learned it through trials and tribulations as by the grace of God he was taught to rest in the Lord and therefore be content. I hope you will write us and until next week at the same time may the Lord richly bless you all. If Jesus goes with me I'll go anywhere.
Tis heaven to be where I may be if he is there. The Baptist Bible Hour has come to you under the direction of Elder LeSaire Bradley Jr. Address all mail to the Baptist Bible Hour, Cincinnati, Ohio 45217. That's the Baptist Bible Hour, Cincinnati, Ohio 45217. Anywhere. But if it be my portion to bear my cross at home, The love that's bear'd their burdens beyond the billow's home, I'll prove my faith in him, confess my judgment's care, And in his name we pray.
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