You Can Be Content! (Phil 4:11)
Here is the message in one sentence: Paul understood life in terms of God, not God based on life events (Copied). But that doesn’t mean you can leave!
Even though his life, post conversion, was full of hardship & suffering… Paul was content. Just so we’re on the same page, let’s survey what events Paul was content IN THE MIDST OF LIFE. Listen to 2 Cor 11:23-29…
W/ far greater labors, far more imprisonments, w/ countless beatings, & often near death. 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews 39 lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten w/ rods. Once I was stoned. 3 times I was shipwrecked; a night & a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, robbers, my own people, Gentiles, in the city, in the wilderness, at sea, & false brothers; 27 in toil & hardship, thru many a sleepless night, in hunger & thirst, often w/out food, in cold & exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, & I am not weak? Who is made to fall, & I am not indignant?
Have we been beaten, stoned, or whipped? Are we in danger 24/7/365? Paul uses these to PROVE he was an Apostle… called to preach the Gospel! In spite of his temporal difficulties… Paul asserts he is content in the midst of them! Phil 4:11…
I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 2 Cor 12:10 For the sake of Christ… I am content w/ weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, & calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 1 Tim 6:6 There is great gain in godliness w/ contentment, 7 we brought nothing into the world, & we can’t take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food & clothing, w/ these we will be content.
Our purpose isn’t to examine Paul’s life experience but find out WHY & how Paul was content. How was he content in every circumstance? How did weakness give birth to contentment? How were food & clothes enough to be content? (Would we be content with just food & clothing?)
Notice in Phil 4:11 Paul’s statement said he learned to be content. Now, I am going to present to you my path of learning contentment. This is MY journey… what God has shown ME in MY situations. I ask you listen & seek God for His guidance & help in your life.
THE most important thing for me is knowing (!) God is omnipotent. If God is not all powerful… If He is not able to cause/stop/control/direct all things, I’m cooked. If God does not overrule Satan… Nations… Governments… people… & at times ME, again I’m cooked! I can’t be content or at peace.
I know this may cause problems for some… it does for me at times!!! But after much thought, meditation, contemplation, prayer, & study I can’t come to another conclusion. Either God is God, or He isn’t. I can’t answer all the questions that result. So I’ve had to accept what is in Scripture.
Q: Can God make someone do something they otherwise wouldn’t have done W/OUT violating their “will?” (Repeat) Before you answer, turn to Ezra 6:22. Read it slow, twice…
And they kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days w/ joy, for the Lord had made them joyful & had turned the heart of the king of Assyria to them, so that he aided them in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.
This is one of the MOST perplexing verses I’ve studied. Now understand, I take God at His Word. I don’t adjust Scripture to fit my theology, I adjust my theology to fit Scripture. So let’s read Ezra 6:22 carefully & slowly… taking God at His Word, then apply it for being content.
From the Scripture, WHY were the people joyful? Because the Lord MADE them joyful (See it?). What had God done SO THAT they were MADE joyful? Two things; 1) God “turned the heart of the king of Assyria to them.” Read that again… GOD changed the King’s heart! GOD did it! The King DID what GOD willed him to do W/OUT violating the king’s will! What can God do??
Second, what did the King do AS A RESULT OF God changing his heart? “He aided them in the work of the house of God” (Rebuilt the Temple). Unless GOD had changed the king’s heart, he would NOT have helped the Israelites rebuild the Temple. Right? Did God violate the king’s will… heart… desire? NO. (What can God do… why?)
Because God is God & can do anything, He made the king WANT to help the Jews rebuild the Temple w/out ever violating the king’s will! Does that make sense to us? No. Is it true? Yes! That is what God’s omnipotence looks like. That is what God being ALL POWERFUL causes to take place…
And if we’ll think a little… & believe God… it DOES make sense AND brings contentment. It means God is sovereign. He is in control of all things, events, people, & circumstances. Anything less dethrones Him from being God. *** What are the alternatives? ***
Everything is in Satan’s control. Do we want that? Of course not! If Satan was in control, then we are cooked (No pun intended). That one is easy to debunk. ** Now the second possibility **
Everything is in our control. Do we really want that? Do we want God to be submissive to our depraved, sinful, fallen nature? Do we want God’s hands to be tied & submit to our choices? If we have a shred of understanding, don’t we WANT God to protect us from ourselves??
Now let’s work this out in a way that helps us with contentment. To do this let’s consider a passage or two for our comfort and contentment… Is 46:9-10…
Remember the former things of old; for I am God, & there is no other; I am God, & there is none like me, 10 declaring the end from the beginning & from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, & I will accomplish all My purpose…
Ps 135:6 Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven & on earth, in the seas & all deeps.
Pr 19:21 Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
Dan 4:35 All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, & He does according to His will among the host of heaven & among the inhabitants of the earth; & none can stay His hand or say to Him, “What have you done?”
I have found when I take God at His Word, there is tremendous peace & contentment. Because God is God, I can believe & trust Him… even though I might not understand all that is going on at the time. I’m convinced this was Paul’s source of contentment! He KNEW he was immortal until it was God’s time to bring him home. THIS was the reason for His boldness… His faith… His contentment!
Paul was so sure of God’s supreme power worry was banished. He was content w/ “food & clothing!” In prison he was content… regardless of the outcome (“To live is Christ, to die is gain”). Paul didn’t need to know the future b/c he knew who’s hand the future was in. But we really don’t believe God! Right… we don’t believe God! Q… do we REALLY believe Mt 6:25-33 (TURN!)
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, & the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, & yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive & tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, & your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, & all these things will be added to you.
Know why WE aren’t content? Why we worry & are anxious? It’s because we don’t really believe God. Again… because we don’t believe God! IF we REALLY believed God we would be content in every & all circumstances… just like Paul! (Pause) So, what do we do?
First… Ask God for help… to increase our faith in Him.
Second… Read, reread, & read again the Scripture. Drive them deep into our heart!!
Third… Take God at His word. Adjust your theology to fit Scripture!!
Last… Chose God to u’stand life events rather than life events to understand God.