Delivered on 11/22 (God willing) at a church close to my home.

Why Paul Was Always Content

There are few people (Including Christians) who are content in the depths of their soul. Whether a politician running for office or football players protesting in the SEC. Kids want more toys… Youth want to be more popular… parents want to be more successful… Grandparents want to live longer… company CEOs want more profit… & churches want “more” that sometimes isn’t Godly, but THAT is another message.

Paul was not a discontent person. Even though his life, post conversion, was filled with hardship & suffering… physical, mental, emotional, & spiritual trials… Paul was content (P). Just so we’re on the same page, let’s survey Paul’s life trajectory. 2 Cor 11:23-29…

Are they servants of Christ? I’m a better one—I’m talking like a madman—w/ far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, & often near death. 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the 40 lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten w/ rods. Once I was stoned. Three 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?

Let that sink in. Do any of us have a resume to compare to his? Have any of us been beaten, stoned, or whipped? Are we in danger 24/7/365 like Paul? And here’s the interesting thing… Paul uses this resume to PROVE he was an Apostle… called by God… to preach the Gospel! YET

At least three times Paul asserts he is content in the midst of these things! Phil 4:11

I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.

2 Cor 12:10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, & calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

1 Tim 6:6 There is great gain in godliness with contentment, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, & we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food & clothing, with these we will be content.

But our purpose isn’t to examine Paul’s life experience. I want us to find out WHY Paul was content. What gave him strength to BE content in whatever circumstance he was in… How did weakness give birth to contentment… How were just food & clothes were enough to be content.

I hope you caught in Phil 4:11 Paul’s statement that he LEARNED to be content. Contentment is a process… not an event. Contentment is learned… over time… not immediately given at salvation. Paul began learning before his conversion… when Stephen was martyred. When Stephen was brought before the counsel to be examined, this is written… Acts 6:15

And gazing at (Stephen), all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel. 7:55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven & saw the glory of God, & Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open & the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 At this they covered their ears &, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city & began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees & cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep. 8 And Saul (Paul) was there, giving approval to his death.

First. Paul observed in believers the difference Jesus made & he couldn’t refute it.

Later, when Paul recounted his Damascus Road conversion, he spoke of Jesus saying, “It is hard to kick against the goads” (Ac 26:14). This refers to yokes & sticks used on oxen to direct them. Paul’s memory of Stephen’s words & picked at him. He’d never seen someone die like that. My guess is that he saw the same thing often from those he took to Jerusalem to die. What do we show others about Jesus?

Next. Paul had a personal encounter w/ Jesus… that resulted in salvation. On the Damascus road Jesus appeared to Saul… personally. The encounter was providential & overwhelming, as all conversions are. He learned in person Jesus’ call from Mt 11:28-30

Come to me, all who labor & are heavy laden, & I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, & learn from me, for I am gentle & lowly in heart, & you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, & my burden is light.

W/out a personal encounter w/ Jesus it is impossible to experience the promise of Jesus. It is impossible to learn contentment. The reason is because after a personal encounter you know that when Jesus is all you have, Jesus is all you need… & thus you will be content! The point is: Learning contentment is built upon the cornerstone of knowing Jesus personally! Everything flows from this…

By knowing Jesus, the believer will KNOW the following things to be true… they will embrace the following deep in their soul & spirit… in spite of circumstances. Consider selected verses from Romans 8…

1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 & if children, then heirs—heirs of God & fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer w/ him in order that we may also be glorified w/ him. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing w/ the glory that is to be revealed to us. 28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 31 If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 34 Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, or sword? 37 in all these things we are more than conquerors thru him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death… life… angels… rulers…  things present… things to come, powers… 39 height… depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We cannot read God’s truth & NOT be encouraged. How can we not be content KNOWING these things are eternally true? Because of observed Christian witnesses, his own personal encounter with Jesus, Paul was able to say… with contentment… “To live is Christ, to die is GAIN.”

As encouraging as those things are… there’s more! Paul knew God Almighty was working IN him in every situation for a purpose. God’s work cannot be thwarted… which is Christ-likeness.

Phil 1:6 And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Phil 2:13 It is God who works in you, both to will & to work for His good pleasure.

Ro 8:29 Those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son

Paul knew God loved him so much, HE would grow His faith. SAME FOR YOU & ME!

Last, Paul was content because of eternal assurance. Eph 2:4

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— 6 & raised us up with Him & seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Paul was so sure of eternal glorification that he wrote about the future in the PAST TENSE! Even though it (Resurrection & glorification) hadn’t happened yet, he was SURE of it. So with THAT as his eternity, he was content now.

But what about us… here… in 2015? Can we be content in “whatever circumstances” we are in? Can we learn contentment Paul describes? YES! Yes… yes… yes… yes!

How? Well… think back with me about Paul:

Have a personal encounter that results in salvation…

Know that God is working in you in every situation to mature you in Jesus…

Embrace eternal assurance…

Get into Scripture (Jesus in Jn 17:17, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”)

Christians… this week delve into the promises of God. Embrace them. Drive them into your soul.

Others who’s encounter with Christ hasn’t yet resulted in salvation… He has been patient with you so as to be saved. Why not ask God to save you tonight, right now? Then why not unite with this congregatino? THEN God will begin a work in you that will result in learning contentment…