Lessons

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Contentment

/ True Riches In Jesus

NR7-10

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What are you taking with you to heaven?

For a moment, picture with me the 230+ people of TWA Flight 800, on July 17th, 1996. As the plane was exploding and they were entering eternity as their plane crashed into the Long Island Sound.

Before the crash there is a group of French Club students and their teachers, a noted politician, a millionaire corporate executive, a playboy and his playmate, a missionary kid on the way back from visiting grandparents.

After the crash they stand before God utterly stripped of their travel plans, MasterCards, checkbooks, credit lines, image clothes, how-to-succeed books, and Hilton reservations. Here are the politician, the executive, the playboy, and the missionary kid, all on level ground with nothing, absolutely nothing in their hands, possessing only what they brought in their hearts.

How absurd and tragic the lover of money will seem on that day-like a man who spends his whole life collecting train tickets and in the end is so weighed down by the collection he misses the last train. And hears the solemn words of Christ Matthew 22:12-14 “And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. 13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.” (KJV)

Element # 4 of a Believer and Possession

This morning we are examining the last of four elements that mark a true believers life as it pertains to possessions. We have seen:

  1. Ownership: Giving to God All in this Life
  2. Stewardship: Giving to God His in this Life
  3. Materialism: Giving to God First in this Life
  4. Contentment: Giving to God Place in this Life

Correcting our view: A contented Christian has a Correct View of ETERNITY

A contented Christian has a Correct View of ETERNITY. Rewards make an eternal difference.

  • Daniel 12: 3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever. (KJV)
  • Proverbs 24:11-12 Deliver those who are drawn toward death, And hold back those stumbling to the slaughter. 12 If you say, “Surely we did not know this,” Does not He who weighs the hearts consider it? He who keeps your soul, does He not know it? And will He not render to each man according to his deeds?
  • Matthew 19:27-30 Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?” 28 So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. 30 “But many who are first will be last, and the last first. (NKJV
  • Luke 14: 13 “But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. 14 “And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” (NKJV)

A contented Christian has a Correct View of HEAVEN

Secondly, A contented Christian has a Correct View of HEAVEN. Life on Earth is for sending building materials to heaven.

  • Those we invest in here will welcome us there!
  • Luke 16:9 I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
  • 2 Peter 1:11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (NIV)
  • Heaven is a literal city with individual dwelling places.
  • Revelation 21:16 The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long.
  • John 14:2-3 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (NIV)

The Carpenter from Galilee is constructing us individual dwelling places with the materials we send Him.

  • 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. (NIV)

All (1) this should give us cause for reflection. What kind of building materials are we sending ahead to heaven for our own dwelling place? Who have we influenced spiritually to the point that they would welcome us into their eternal dwelling places? To what needy people have we sacrificially given our resources? Apparently those, whom we have influenced for Christ, directly or indirectly, will know and appreciate us and desire our fellowship in heaven. What a thought! This is encouraging both in light of saved family members, friends, and others we have impacted, and for many we do not even know whom our prayers, service, and financial giving have touched. Jesus gives us a tremendous incentive to invest our lives and our assets in his kingdom while on earth. The greater our service and sacrifice for him and for others, the larger and more enthusiastic our welcoming committee in heaven, the more eternal residences we will have opportunity to visit, and the more substantial our own place in heaven. One day money will be useless. While it is still useful, the believer with foresight will use it for eternal good.

Life in Heaven will be EXCITING.

We have an address where we live in heaven. We will invite folks there in our new bodies

  • Luke 24:39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” (NIV)
  • John 20:27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” (NIV).

We will recognize one another

  • Matthew 17:3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. (NIV).

We will sit at meals with other saints

  • Matthew 8:11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. (NIV)
  • Revelation 19:9 Then the angel said to me, “Write: `Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'” And he added, “These are the true words of God.” (NIV)

We will experience pleasure as much as the damned in Hell experience pain

  • Luke 16:22-31 “So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 “And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom (2) .

A contented Christian has a Correct View of LITTLE THINGS

Thirdly, A contented Christian has a Correct View of LITTLE THINGS. If you are faithful with little things you will be with big things!

God is into little things.

  • Matthew 6:28-30 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? (NIV)
  • Matthew 10:29-30 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. (NIV)

A contented Christian has a Correct View of PEOPLE

Fourthly, A contented Christian has a Correct View of PEOPLE. True riches are people who we take with us.

  • 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? 20 For you are our glory and joy. (NKJV)
  • Luke 16:11-12 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12 And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? (NIV)
  • Luke 19:17-19 “`Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. `Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’ 18 “The second came and said, `Sir, your mina has earned five more.’ 19 “His master answered, `You take charge of five cities.’ (NIV)

AVOID DISCONTENT because it . . .EQUALS IDOLATRY

Fifthly, A contented Christian has a strong desire to AVOID DISCONTENT because it . . . EQUALS IDOLATRY

  • Matthew 19:23-24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 “And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (NKJV)

POSSESSION OVERLOAD – We have more ‘things per person ‘ than any other nation in history. Closets are full, storage space is used up, and cars can’t fit into garages. Having first imprisoned us with debt, possessions then take over our houses and occupy our time. This begins to sound like an invasion. Everything I own owns me. Why would I want more? Jesus said care of things makes your heart grow cold…

  • Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. (NKJV)
  • Colossians 3:5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. (NKJV)
  • 1 Timothy 6:9-10 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (NKJV)

AVOID DISCONTENT because it . . .IMPEDES SPIRITUALITY

Sixthly, A contented Christian has a strong desire to AVOID DISCONTENT because it . . . IMPEDES SPIRITUALITY

  • THINGS NEVER SATISFY
  • Ecclesiastes 5:10-11 He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity. 11 When goods increase, they are increased that eat them: and what good is there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes? (KJV)
  • Isaiah 55:2 Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. (KJV)

GOD HATES WORLDLINES

  • James 4:4-5 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? (KJV)
  • Revelation 3:17-18 “Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ — and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked — 18 “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. (NKJV)

WORLDLINESS IS SATANISM

  • 1 John 2:15-17 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (KJV)

DISCONTENT LEADS TO ANXIETY Make a list of all the things you need and then start crossing things off. Remembering the One who said, inMatthew 6:25-34 :

  • LIFE IS MORE THAN EATING AND EXISTING v. 25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
  • YOU ARE VERY IMPORTANT TO GOD v. 26 “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
  • GOD TAKES CARE OF HIS OWN v. 27-31 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
  • GOD KNOWS YOUR NEEDS v. 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
  • GOD GIVES EACH OF US THE PRIORITY OF OUR LIVES v. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
  • GOD ASKS US TO GIVE OUR CARES TO HIM v. 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (KJV)

A contented Christian has a strong desire to AVOID DISCONTENT because it . . . CHANGES DIVINE PRIORITY

  • Matthew 13:22 “Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. (NKJV)
  • 2 Timothy 2:4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. (NKJV)
  • Luke 14:16-24 Then He said to him, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, 17 “and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ 18 “But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’ 19 “And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ 20 “Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 “So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.’ 22 “And the servant said, ‘Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.’ 23 “Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 ‘For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.’ ” (NKJV)

An English nobleman who lay dying said with remorse and self-censure,

“What I spent, I had;
What I kept, I lost;
What I gave I have.”

In those six laws or principles, we have a summary of Jesus’ teaching on the subject.

Listen to Packer’s insightful analysis. (3)

“Discontent will destroy your peace, rob you of joy, make you miserable, spoil your witness,” warns Packer. We dishonor God if we proclaim a Savior who satisfies and then go around discontent.” The advantages of contentment, on the other hand, are many: freedom, gratitude, rest, peace — all components of health. They who are content do not have to worry about the latest styles or what to wear tomorrow. They can rejoice in their neighbor’s good fortune without having to feel inferior. They do not fret with wrinkles or graying because they accept what comes. They do not have to worry how they might buy this or that because they have no desire for this or that. They are not consumed with how to get out of debt because they have no debt. They have time for gratitude even in small things. They have time for relationships because possessions and the bank do not own them.

Contentment is not optional: it is mandatory for godliness!

Contentment is not optional. THE SECRET (4) Contentment is not only a good idea, it is our duty. If God recommends something, we ought to do it. If God requires something, we must do it. As J.I. Packer has emphasized, contentment is both commended, I Timothy 6:6 (“Godliness with contentment is great gain”) and commanded, Hebrews 13:5 (“Be content with what you have”). Such a forceful endorsement by the Almighty should make contentment a prominent concern for each of us. Instead, we make it a secret concealed by our indifference to it. When the Apostle Paul wrote, “I have learned the secret of being content,” his use of the word secret was intentional. Those things we expect to bring contentment surprisingly do not. We cannot depend upon it to fall into place through the progressive evolving of civilization, for contentment arises from a different source. Most of us do not know how to uncover this secret and have never seriously tried. Our quest is usually not for contentment but for more. This quest brings us into an immense maze, where before us lie dozens of avenues. Some are wide, luxurious, downhill, and tempting, and we see a rush of our friends entering them. They lead to beautiful houses, comfortable cars, exotic vacations, and affluence. Other avenues, equally popular, lead to prestigious colleges, distinguished jobs, important friends, and power. Still others direct us to beautiful spouses, beautiful children, deep tans, and popularity. All the while, off to one side, courses a narrow uphill road, unadorned and unpopular. It is dusty from its sparse use and lonely from lack of travelers. The sole treasure at its end is an elusive commodity called “godliness with contentment.” Godliness is an attitude whereby what we want is to please God. Contentment , explains J.I. Packer, “is essentially a matter of accepting from God’s hand what He sends because we know that He is good and therefore it is good.” Rest For Your Souls Matthew 11:28-30 “How to unload my life”

One of the classics of ancients literature is the Iliad and the Odyssey by Homer in his 8th century account of the great warrior Ulysses [Odysseus], he is seen plugging his sailors ears with wax so that they would not be drawn to destruction by the irresistible songs of the Sirens. Ulysses however had himself lashed to the mast so he could hear them and yet not be able to be drawn into their deadly presence.

LASHED what a great way to describe Matthew 11:28-30. Lashed to Jesus Christ is the only way to keep from crashing on the rocks of the world.

Let’s look at these three verses and with the four letters of that word L-A-S-H see how Jesus wants us to be victorious in Him.

  1. LISTEN to Christ’s Message “Come…and I will give…” This is not an invitation to a party to sip and sample something.
  • Jesus said I AM THE ANSWER, COME TO ME. Note His earnest message to us the Church in Revelation 1-3. [Listening to Christ is Listening to the Holy Spirit is obeying the Word!].Revelation 2:29 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
  • Jesus called for a complete turning to Himself as the way of true life:
    Matthew 6:22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
     Exodus 34:14 For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:
     Luke 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

ADMIT there is a Need “all who are weary”

  • Luke 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? (KJV)
  • Luke 22:61 And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.
  • Revelation 1:14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;

SUBMIT to Christ “take my Yoke”

  • Yoke universal sign of submission
  • What does it mean to be yoked to Christ? Submission:
    – in Prayer [automatic];
    – in Bible Study [daily bread, more than necessary food];
    – in Obedience [instant obedience to the initial prompting of the Holy Spirit];
    – in Service [Phil 4 ‘true yokefellow].

HOLD on to Him

  • Cleave to me
  • Hold fast Rev
  • Cling

    This morning do you want to be lashed to Christ?
    Ulysses only had a wooden mast to hold himself back.
    You have a Cross stained with blood,
    A Savior Risen and Living for you. Won’t you be lashed to Christ?

    THE PROSPERITY LADDER (5) Another erroneous measure of contentment is the prosperity ladder. Most of us look “up the ladder” and notice that the wealthy have more than we do. This, of course, strikes a near fatal blow at one’s contentment. If, instead, we reversed our gaze and looked down the ladder, our gratitude would thrive and opportunities for sharing would abound. The pettiness of my own sources of discontent would be amusing were I not so repentant about them. I have been know to grumble when our house temperature drops to sixty degrees, yet there are untold millions in the world who do not have shelter. I have been known to complain if the day is rainy, yet a large segment of the world’s land is shriveling up in drought. I have been known to groan if I miss my dinner, yet thousands who go to sleep tonight without food will not awaken in the morning. Christ came to save me from sin — not from sixty-degree homes, rainy weather, and delayed dinners. This relativism, where the grass is greener on your neighbor’s lawn, can be remedied, but first it must be confessed. We need to quit staring at those who have more than we do. We need to override the set-point by spiritual maturity, to look down rather than up the ladder, and to fix our contentment on godliness rather than relativism. It helps immeasurably if we are surrounded by a community of like–minded friends rather than a society where envy has been normalized.

NINE STEPS ON THE PATH TO BIBLICAL CONTENTMENT

  • GET TO WORK.
  • DIVORCE YOUR THINKING FROM SOCIETY’S RELATIVISTIC STANDARDS.
  • TURN OFF THE ADS AND TUNE OUT THE LIES.
  • DEFER TO GOD’S OPINION CONCERNING YOUR FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS.
  • SET NEW STANDARDS.
  • DEVELOP COUNTER HABITS.
  • SUBTRACT FROM YOUR NEEDS.
  • ACCEPT FROM GOD’S HAND THAT WHICH HE GIVES.
  • IF YOU STILL DO NOT FEEL THE STIRRINGS OF CONTENTMENT WITHIN, ARGUE WITH YOURSELF AND TELL YOURSELF THE TRUTH.

 

The Christian life is always described as a struggle in the NT. It is hard so get to work! The New Testament describes the Christian life with 3 metaphors.

  • Running as we look toward our goal of Heaven
    • Philippians 3:12-14 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (KJV)
    • This is the metaphor most often used of Christians in the N.T.
       Acts 20:24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. (KJV)
      – 1 Corinthians 9:24-26 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; (KJV)
      – 1 Timothy 4:7 But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. (KJV)
       Hebrews 12:1-2 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (KJV)
  • Boxing in a match as we fight against the Enemy within us 1 Corinthians 9:26-27 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (KJV)
  • Wrestling as we face the constant onslaught of the powers of darkness around and beneath us. Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (KJV)

DIVORCE YOUR THINKING FROM SOCIETY’S RELATIVISTIC STANDARDS.

  • Colossians 3:1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. (KJV)
  • Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (KJV)
  • Timothy 2:2-3 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. (KJV)

TURN OFF THE ADS AND TUNE OUT THE LIES.

  1. According to A.C. Nielsen, the TV set in the average home is on seven hours and seven minutes a day, and the average viewer watches four and one half hours each day. The statistics for religious homes is just a half hour less. A renowned media expert, Professor Neil Postman of New York University says that between the ages of six and eighteen, the average child spends some 15,000 to 16,000 hours in front of the TV, whereas he spends only 13,000 hours in school. Postman says that during the first twenty years of an American child’s life, he will see some one million commercials, at the rate of about 1,000 per week!
  2. As to television’s effects, the results are infamous:
    • Shortened attention span.
    • Diminution of linguistic powers.
    • Reduced capacity for abstraction.
    • Homogenization of adulthood and childhood.
  1. To deny there is a conscious assault on the Christian mind and its traditional values is like       believing Saddam Hussein is building a “kinder, gentler world.” I am aware of the wise warnings    against using words like “all,” “every,” and “always” in what I say. Absolutizing one’s pronouncements is dangerous. But I’m going to do it anyway. Here it is: It is impossible for any Christian who spends the bulk of his evenings, month after month, week upon week, day in and day out watching the major TV networks or contemporary videos to have a Christian mind. This is always true of all Christians in every situation! A Biblical mental program cannot coexist with worldly programming. If we are to have Christian minds, there are things we must put out of our minds — and this extends beyond TV, to what we read, listen to, and laugh at. My advice? Stop watching television. I mean that sincerely! Not watching TV will liberate so much time; it will become virtually impossible not to become a deeper person and a better Christian. Even if you play poker with your friends, you will be better off, because you will be relating to human beings! I am not suggesting a new legalism, which forbids TV and the cinema. (There are many worthwhile things to view; moreover, while Christianity is by nature counterculture, it is not anti-cultural). But I am calling for believers to take control of their minds — what comes in and what goes out. If you cannot control what you watch and read, perhaps it needs to go. “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away,” says Jesus (Matthew 5:29). My wife and I chose to raise our children without a television for this very reason, and we have no regrets. What we did is not for everyone, but it may be for you. The Psalmist gives sage advice for those living in the media age: “I will walk in my house with blameless heart. I will set before my eyes no vile thing” (Psalm 101:2, 3). We need to allow Christ to be Lord of our prime time. Some of you need to schedule a confidential conference with your spouse and prayerfully seek God’s will regarding this. And you single men who have so much trouble with your minds need to likewise seek God’s will — and someone to hold you accountable. Let us not settle for being like other Christians or having a church that is like other evangelical churches. May we be different because we have Christian minds? (1)
    • THINGS NEVER SATISFY Isaiah 55:2 Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. (KJV)
    • GOD HATES WORLDLINESS James 4:4-5 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? (KJV)
    • WORLDLINESS IS SATANISM 1 John 2:15-17 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (KJV)

DEFER TO GOD’S OPINION CONCERNING YOUR FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS.

  1. “How often, particularly in modern America have we seen the devastation visited upon families through the ‘if only’ syndrome…if only my wife were more appealing…if only my husband made more money, or had more hair. Infidelity, even in thought, is greener grass only because it’s been spray painted by the Deceiver himself. Contentment keeps our eyes on the right side of the fence.”
  2. A careful look at Hebrews 13:1-7 can give us some enduring guidelines to protect and promote contentment in all areas of our lives:
  • LOVE ALL CHRISTIANS AS DEAR FAMILY 1 Keep on loving each other as brothers.
  • SHOW HOSPITALITY TO NEW PEOPLE 2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.
  • MINISTER TO AFFLICTED REGULARLY 3 Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.
  • PRESERVE A SINGULAR FOCUS IN MARRIAGE 4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.
  • FLEE ALL TYPES OF DISCONTENTMENT 5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” 6 So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
  • LOVE YOUR GOD GIVEN SHEPHERDS 7 Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. (NIV

SET NEW STANDARDS.

  • give more than receive [Acts 20:35; flying 20]
  • others more than self [General Booth]
  • seek FIRST God’s way: as an old southern preacher shared with me
  • every desire of life must be tested in relation to the King.
  • Every decision must be made in the interest of the King.
  • Every duty must be performed for the pleasure of the King.
  • Every difficulty must be faced by trusting the King.
  • Every danger must be braved for the honor of the King.
  • Every dishonor must be endured for the sake of the King.
  • Every distraction must be ignored for the claims of the King.

DEVELOP COUNTER HABITS.

  1. John Charles Cooper writes, instead of:
  • getting try giving
  • replacing try preserving
  • feeling covetous, try feeling grateful
  • feeling inferior before men, try feeling accepted before God.
  • being ruled by feelings, try enjoying the freedom of contentment.

SUBTRACT FROM YOUR NEEDS.

  1. Paul said he learned to be content with whatever he had. Philippians 4:11-12 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. (KJV)
  2. Every item I add to my possessions is one more thing to think about, invest more time in, talk
    about, clean, repair, display, rearrange, and replace when it goes bad. I buy a television, but that is just the beginning. I hook up an antenna, I subscribe to a cable service, I buy a VCR, I rent movies, I get a recliner to watch my programs in comfort. This all costs money, but it also takes immense amounts of time, energy, and attention. Acquiring a possession may also push me into redefining my priorities and make me unavailable for ministry. It takes time to hover over our things, and that time must come from elsewhere-for instance
    • from time spent cultivating intimacy with God,
    • from time spent in his Word and prayer,
    • time spent visiting and ministering to the needy,
    • and time spent developing relationships with people who need Christ.
  1. Make a list of all the things you need and then start crossing things off. Remembering the One who said, in Matthew 6:25-34 :
    • LIFE IS MORE THAN EATING AND EXISTING v. 25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
    • YOU ARE VERY IMPORTANT TO GOD v. 26 “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
    • GOD TAKES CARE OF HIS OWN v. 27-31 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
    • GOD KNOWS YOUR NEEDS v. 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
    • GOD GIVES EACH OF US THE PRIORITY OF OUR LIVES v. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
    • GOD ASKS US TO GIVE OUR CARES TO HIM v. 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (KJV)
  1. There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less. G.K. Chesterton

ACCEPT FROM GOD’S HAND THAT WHICH HE GIVES.

  • Not resignation, complacency, mourning and gloom. An attitude of contentment is always victorious. It sees God’s hand in all of life.
  • David is fleeing for his life from his wicked son Absolom in 2 Samuel 16:9-14 Then said Abishai the son of Zeruiah unto the king, Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? let me go over, I pray thee, and take off his head. 10 And the king said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah? so let him curse, because the LORD hath said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so? 11 And David said to Abishai, and to all his servants, Behold, my son, which came forth of my bowels, seeketh my life: how much more now may this Benjamite do it? let him alone, and let him curse; for the LORD hath bidden him. 12 It may be that the LORD will look on mine affliction, and that the LORD will requite me good for his cursing this day. 13 And as David and his men went by the way, Shimei went along on the hill’s side over against him, and cursed as he went, and threw stones at him, and cast dust. 14 And the king, and all the people that were with him, came weary, and refreshed themselves there. (KJV)

IF YOU STILL DO NOT FEEL THE STIRRINGS OF CONTENT -MENT WITHIN, ARGUE WITH YOURSELF AND TELL YOURSELF THE TRUTH.

  • J.I. Packer says, ” by learning to talk to ourselves in a good Christian way. You listen to God in the Scripture and then tell ,yourself what He said. If your emotions disagree, you argue with your emotions. And if you find unbelief in your heart, you argue with that unbelief and drive it out by appeal to God’s truth.”
  • The list of the characteristics of the select few who get to abide in the presence of God is significant: Psalm 15:1-2 LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. (KJV)

NINE STEPS ON THE PATH OF CONTENTMENT

    • GET TO WORK.
    • DIVORCE YOUR THINKING FROM SOCIETY’S RELATIVISTIC STANDARDS.
    • TURN OFF THE ADS AND TUNE OUT THE LIES.
    • DEFER TO GOD’S OPINION CONCERNING YOUR FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS.
    • SET NEW STANDARDS.
    • DEVELOP COUNTER HABITS.
    • SUBTRACT FROM YOUR NEEDS.
    • ACCEPT FROM GOD’S HAND THAT WHICH HE GIVES.
    • IF YOU STILL DO NOT FEEL THE STIRRINGS OF CONTENTMENT WITHIN, ARGUE WITH YOURSELF AND TELL YOURSELF THE TRUTH. 1.
  • 1. Alcorn, Money, Possessions, p. 176.

    2. Put in p. 176 of Swenson.

    3. Packer as quoted by Swenson, p.194-5.

    4. Swenson, p.186-87.

    5. Swenson, p.188.

TAGS: 960908AM

What are you taking with you to heaven?

For a moment, picture with me the 230+ people of TWA Flight 800, on July 17th, 1996. As the plane was exploding and they were entering eternity as their plane crashed into the Long Island Sound.

Before the crash there is a group of French Club students and their teachers, a noted politician, a millionaire corporate executive, a playboy and his playmate, a missionary kid on the way back from visiting grandparents.

After the crash they stand before God utterly stripped of their travel plans, MasterCards, checkbooks, credit lines, image clothes, how-to-succeed books, and Hilton reservations. Here are the politician, the executive, the playboy, and the missionary kid, all on level ground with nothing, absolutely nothing in their hands, possessing only what they brought in their hearts.

How absurd and tragic the lover of money will seem on that day-like a man who spends his whole life collecting train tickets and in the end is so weighed down by the collection he misses the last train. And hears the solemn words of Christ Matthew 22:12-14 “And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. 13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.” (KJV)

Element # 4 of a Believer and Possession

This morning we are examining the last of four elements that mark a true believers life as it pertains to possessions. We have seen:

  1. Ownership: Giving to God All in this Life
  2. Stewardship: Giving to God His in this Life
  3. Materialism: Giving to God First in this Life
  4. Contentment: Giving to God Place in this Life

Correcting our view: A contented Christian has a Correct View of ETERNITY

A contented Christian has a Correct View of ETERNITY. Rewards make an eternal difference.

  • Daniel 12: 3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever. (KJV)
  • Proverbs 24:11-12 Deliver those who are drawn toward death, And hold back those stumbling to the slaughter. 12 If you say, “Surely we did not know this,” Does not He who weighs the hearts consider it? He who keeps your soul, does He not know it? And will He not render to each man according to his deeds?
  • Matthew 19:27-30 Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?” 28 So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. 30 “But many who are first will be last, and the last first. (NKJV
  • Luke 14: 13 “But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. 14 “And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” (NKJV)

A contented Christian has a Correct View of HEAVEN

Secondly, A contented Christian has a Correct View of HEAVEN. Life on Earth is for sending building materials to heaven.

  • Those we invest in here will welcome us there!
  • Luke 16:9 I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
  • 2 Peter 1:11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (NIV)
  • Heaven is a literal city with individual dwelling places.
  • Revelation 21:16 The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long.
  • John 14:2-3 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (NIV)

The Carpenter from Galilee is constructing us individual dwelling places with the materials we send Him.

  • 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. (NIV)

All (1) this should give us cause for reflection. What kind of building materials are we sending ahead to heaven for our own dwelling place? Who have we influenced spiritually to the point that they would welcome us into their eternal dwelling places? To what needy people have we sacrificially given our resources? Apparently those, whom we have influenced for Christ, directly or indirectly, will know and appreciate us and desire our fellowship in heaven. What a thought! This is encouraging both in light of saved family members, friends, and others we have impacted, and for many we do not even know whom our prayers, service, and financial giving have touched. Jesus gives us a tremendous incentive to invest our lives and our assets in his kingdom while on earth. The greater our service and sacrifice for him and for others, the larger and more enthusiastic our welcoming committee in heaven, the more eternal residences we will have opportunity to visit, and the more substantial our own place in heaven. One day money will be useless. While it is still useful, the believer with foresight will use it for eternal good.

Life in Heaven will be EXCITING.

We have an address where we live in heaven. We will invite folks there in our new bodies

  • Luke 24:39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” (NIV)
  • John 20:27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” (NIV).

We will recognize one another

  • Matthew 17:3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. (NIV).

We will sit at meals with other saints

  • Matthew 8:11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. (NIV)
  • Revelation 19:9 Then the angel said to me, “Write: `Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'” And he added, “These are the true words of God.” (NIV)

We will experience pleasure as much as the damned in Hell experience pain

  • Luke 16:22-31 “So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 “And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom (2) .

A contented Christian has a Correct View of LITTLE THINGS

Thirdly, A contented Christian has a Correct View of LITTLE THINGS. If you are faithful with little things you will be with big things!

God is into little things.

  • Matthew 6:28-30 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? (NIV)
  • Matthew 10:29-30 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. (NIV)

A contented Christian has a Correct View of PEOPLE

Fourthly, A contented Christian has a Correct View of PEOPLE. True riches are people who we take with us.

  • 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? 20 For you are our glory and joy. (NKJV)
  • Luke 16:11-12 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12 And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? (NIV)
  • Luke 19:17-19 “`Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. `Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’ 18 “The second came and said, `Sir, your mina has earned five more.’ 19 “His master answered, `You take charge of five cities.’ (NIV)

AVOID DISCONTENT because it . . .EQUALS IDOLATRY

Fifthly, A contented Christian has a strong desire to AVOID DISCONTENT because it . . . EQUALS IDOLATRY

  • Matthew 19:23-24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 “And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (NKJV)

POSSESSION OVERLOAD – We have more ‘things per person ‘ than any other nation in history. Closets are full, storage space is used up, and cars can’t fit into garages. Having first imprisoned us with debt, possessions then take over our houses and occupy our time. This begins to sound like an invasion. Everything I own owns me. Why would I want more? Jesus said care of things makes your heart grow cold…

  • Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. (NKJV)
  • Colossians 3:5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. (NKJV)
  • 1 Timothy 6:9-10 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (NKJV)

AVOID DISCONTENT because it . . .IMPEDES SPIRITUALITY

Sixthly, A contented Christian has a strong desire to AVOID DISCONTENT because it . . . IMPEDES SPIRITUALITY

  • THINGS NEVER SATISFY
  • Ecclesiastes 5:10-11 He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity. 11 When goods increase, they are increased that eat them: and what good is there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes? (KJV)
  • Isaiah 55:2 Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. (KJV)

GOD HATES WORLDLINES

  • James 4:4-5 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? (KJV)
  • Revelation 3:17-18 “Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ — and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked — 18 “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. (NKJV)

WORLDLINESS IS SATANISM

  • 1 John 2:15-17 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (KJV)

DISCONTENT LEADS TO ANXIETY Make a list of all the things you need and then start crossing things off. Remembering the One who said, in Matthew 6:25-34 :

  • LIFE IS MORE THAN EATING AND EXISTING v. 25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
  • YOU ARE VERY IMPORTANT TO GOD v. 26 “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
  • GOD TAKES CARE OF HIS OWN v. 27-31 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
  • GOD KNOWS YOUR NEEDS v. 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
  • GOD GIVES EACH OF US THE PRIORITY OF OUR LIVES v. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
  • GOD ASKS US TO GIVE OUR CARES TO HIM v. 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (KJV)

A contented Christian has a strong desire to AVOID DISCONTENT because it . . . CHANGES DIVINE PRIORITY

  • Matthew 13:22 “Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. (NKJV)
  • 2 Timothy 2:4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. (NKJV)
  • Luke 14:16-24 Then He said to him, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, 17 “and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ 18 “But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’ 19 “And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ 20 “Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 “So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.’ 22 “And the servant said, ‘Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.’ 23 “Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 ‘For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.’ ” (NKJV)

An English nobleman who lay dying said with remorse and self-censure,

“What I spent, I had;
What I kept, I lost;
What I gave I have.”

In those six laws or principles, we have a summary of Jesus’ teaching on the subject.

Listen to Packer’s insightful analysis. (3)

“Discontent will destroy your peace, rob you of joy, make you miserable, spoil your witness,” warns Packer. We dishonor God if we proclaim a Savior who satisfies and then go around discontent.” The advantages of contentment, on the other hand, are many: freedom, gratitude, rest, peace — all components of health. They who are content do not have to worry about the latest styles or what to wear tomorrow. They can rejoice in their neighbor’s good fortune without having to feel inferior. They do not fret with wrinkles or graying because they accept what comes. They do not have to worry how they might buy this or that because they have no desire for this or that. They are not consumed with how to get out of debt because they have no debt. They have time for gratitude even in small things. They have time for relationships because possessions and the bank do not own them.

Contentment is not optional: it is mandatory for godliness!

Contentment is not optional. THE SECRET (4) Contentment is not only a good idea, it is our duty. If God recommends something, we ought to do it. If God requires something, we must do it. As J.I. Packer has emphasized, contentment is both commended, I Timothy 6:6 (“Godliness with contentment is great gain”) and commanded, Hebrews 13:5 (“Be content with what you have”). Such a forceful endorsement by the Almighty should make contentment a prominent concern for each of us. Instead, we make it a secret concealed by our indifference to it. When the Apostle Paul wrote, “I have learned the secret of being content,” his use of the word secret was intentional. Those things we expect to bring contentment surprisingly do not. We cannot depend upon it to fall into place through the progressive evolving of civilization, for contentment arises from a different source. Most of us do not know how to uncover this secret and have never seriously tried. Our quest is usually not for contentment but for more. This quest brings us into an immense maze, where before us lie dozens of avenues. Some are wide, luxurious, downhill, and tempting, and we see a rush of our friends entering them. They lead to beautiful houses, comfortable cars, exotic vacations, and affluence. Other avenues, equally popular, lead to prestigious colleges, distinguished jobs, important friends, and power. Still others direct us to beautiful spouses, beautiful children, deep tans, and popularity. All the while, off to one side, courses a narrow uphill road, unadorned and unpopular. It is dusty from its sparse use and lonely from lack of travelers. The sole treasure at its end is an elusive commodity called “godliness with contentment.” Godliness is an attitude whereby what we want is to please God. Contentment , explains J.I. Packer, “is essentially a matter of accepting from God’s hand what He sends because we know that He is good and therefore it is good.” Rest For Your Souls Matthew 11:28-30 “How to unload my life”

One of the classics of ancients literature is the Iliad and the Odyssey by Homer in his 8th century account of the great warrior Ulysses [Odysseus], he is seen plugging his sailors ears with wax so that they would not be drawn to destruction by the irresistible songs of the Sirens. Ulysses however had himself lashed to the mast so he could hear them and yet not be able to be drawn into their deadly presence.

LASHED what a great way to describe Matthew 11:28-30. Lashed to Jesus Christ is the only way to keep from crashing on the rocks of the world.

Let’s look at these three verses and with the four letters of that word L-A-S-H see how Jesus wants us to be victorious in Him.

  1. LISTEN to Christ’s Message “Come…and I will give…” This is not an invitation to a party to sip and sample something.
  • Jesus said I AM THE ANSWER, COME TO ME. Note His earnest message to us the Church in Revelation 1-3. [Listening to Christ is Listening to the Holy Spirit is obeying the Word!].Revelation 2:29 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
  • Jesus called for a complete turning to Himself as the way of true life:
    Matthew 6:22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
     Exodus 34:14 For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:
     Luke 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

ADMIT there is a Need “all who are weary”

  • Luke 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? (KJV)
  • Luke 22:61 And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.
  • Revelation 1:14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;

SUBMIT to Christ “take my Yoke”

  • Yoke universal sign of submission
  • What does it mean to be yoked to Christ? Submission:
    – in Prayer [automatic];
    – in Bible Study [daily bread, more than necessary food];
    – in Obedience [instant obedience to the initial prompting of the Holy Spirit];
    – in Service [Phil 4 ‘true yokefellow].

HOLD on to Him

  • Cleave to me
  • Hold fast Rev
  • Cling

    This morning do you want to be lashed to Christ?
    Ulysses only had a wooden mast to hold himself back.
    You have a Cross stained with blood,
    A Savior Risen and Living for you. Won’t you be lashed to Christ?

    THE PROSPERITY LADDER (5) Another erroneous measure of contentment is the prosperity ladder. Most of us look “up the ladder” and notice that the wealthy have more than we do. This, of course, strikes a near fatal blow at one’s contentment. If, instead, we reversed our gaze and looked down the ladder, our gratitude would thrive and opportunities for sharing would abound. The pettiness of my own sources of discontent would be amusing were I not so repentant about them. I have been know to grumble when our house temperature drops to sixty degrees, yet there are untold millions in the world who do not have shelter. I have been known to complain if the day is rainy, yet a large segment of the world’s land is shriveling up in drought. I have been known to groan if I miss my dinner, yet thousands who go to sleep tonight without food will not awaken in the morning. Christ came to save me from sin — not from sixty-degree homes, rainy weather, and delayed dinners. This relativism, where the grass is greener on your neighbor’s lawn, can be remedied, but first it must be confessed. We need to quit staring at those who have more than we do. We need to override the set-point by spiritual maturity, to look down rather than up the ladder, and to fix our contentment on godliness rather than relativism. It helps immeasurably if we are surrounded by a community of like–minded friends rather than a society where envy has been normalized.

NINE STEPS ON THE PATH TO BIBLICAL CONTENTMENT

  • GET TO WORK.
  • DIVORCE YOUR THINKING FROM SOCIETY’S RELATIVISTIC STANDARDS.
  • TURN OFF THE ADS AND TUNE OUT THE LIES.
  • DEFER TO GOD’S OPINION CONCERNING YOUR FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS.
  • SET NEW STANDARDS.
  • DEVELOP COUNTER HABITS.
  • SUBTRACT FROM YOUR NEEDS.
  • ACCEPT FROM GOD’S HAND THAT WHICH HE GIVES.
  • IF YOU STILL DO NOT FEEL THE STIRRINGS OF CONTENTMENT WITHIN, ARGUE WITH YOURSELF AND TELL YOURSELF THE TRUTH.

The Christian life is always described as a struggle in the NT. It is hard so get to work! The New Testament describes the Christian life with 3 metaphors.

  • Running as we look toward our goal of Heaven
    • Philippians 3:12-14 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (KJV)
    • This is the metaphor most often used of Christians in the N.T.
       Acts 20:24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. (KJV)
      – 1 Corinthians 9:24-26 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; (KJV)
      – 1 Timothy 4:7 But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. (KJV)
       Hebrews 12:1-2 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (KJV)
  • Boxing in a match as we fight against the Enemy within us 1 Corinthians 9:26-27 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (KJV)
  • Wrestling as we face the constant onslaught of the powers of darkness around and beneath us. Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (KJV)

DIVORCE YOUR THINKING FROM SOCIETY’S RELATIVISTIC STANDARDS.

  • Colossians 3:1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. (KJV)
  • Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (KJV)
  • Timothy 2:2-3 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. (KJV)

TURN OFF THE ADS AND TUNE OUT THE LIES.

  1. According to A.C. Nielsen, the TV set in the average home is on seven hours and seven minutes a day, and the average viewer watches four and one half hours each day. The statistics for religious homes is just a half hour less. A renowned media expert, Professor Neil Postman of New York University says that between the ages of six and eighteen, the average child spends some 15,000 to 16,000 hours in front of the TV, whereas he spends only 13,000 hours in school. Postman says that during the first twenty years of an American child’s life, he will see some one million commercials, at the rate of about 1,000 per week!
  2. As to television’s effects, the results are infamous:
    • Shortened attention span.
    • Diminution of linguistic powers.
    • Reduced capacity for abstraction.
    • Homogenization of adulthood and childhood.
  1. To deny there is a conscious assault on the Christian mind and its traditional values is like       believing Saddam Hussein is building a “kinder, gentler world.” I am aware of the wise warnings    against using words like “all,” “every,” and “always” in what I say. Absolutizing one’s pronouncements is dangerous. But I’m going to do it anyway. Here it is: It is impossible for any Christian who spends the bulk of his evenings, month after month, week upon week, day in and day out watching the major TV networks or contemporary videos to have a Christian mind. This is always true of all Christians in every situation! A Biblical mental program cannot coexist with worldly programming. If we are to have Christian minds, there are things we must put out of our minds — and this extends beyond TV, to what we read, listen to, and laugh at. My advice? Stop watching television. I mean that sincerely! Not watching TV will liberate so much time; it will become virtually impossible not to become a deeper person and a better Christian. Even if you play poker with your friends, you will be better off, because you will be relating to human beings! I am not suggesting a new legalism, which forbids TV and the cinema. (There are many worthwhile things to view; moreover, while Christianity is by nature counterculture, it is not anti-cultural). But I am calling for believers to take control of their minds — what comes in and what goes out. If you cannot control what you watch and read, perhaps it needs to go. “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away,” says Jesus (Matthew 5:29). My wife and I chose to raise our children without a television for this very reason, and we have no regrets. What we did is not for everyone, but it may be for you. The Psalmist gives sage advice for those living in the media age: “I will walk in my house with blameless heart. I will set before my eyes no vile thing” (Psalm 101:2, 3). We need to allow Christ to be Lord of our prime time. Some of you need to schedule a confidential conference with your spouse and prayerfully seek God’s will regarding this. And you single men who have so much trouble with your minds need to likewise seek God’s will — and someone to hold you accountable. Let us not settle for being like other Christians or having a church that is like other evangelical churches. May we be different because we have Christian minds? (1)
  • Think on True Things Phil 4:8
  • THINGS NEVER SATISFYIsaiah 55:2 Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. (KJV)
  • GOD HATES WORLDLINESSJames 4:4-5Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? (KJV)
  • WORLDLINESS IS SATANISM 1 John 2:15-17Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (KJV)

DEFER TO GOD’S OPINION CONCERNING YOUR FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS.

  1. “How often, particularly in modern America have we seen the devastation visited upon families through the ‘if only’ syndrome…if only my wife were more appealing…if only my husband made more money, or had more hair. Infidelity, even in thought, is greener grass only because it’s been spray painted by the Deceiver himself. Contentment keeps our eyes on the right side of the fence.”
  2. A careful look at Hebrews 13:1-7 can give us some enduring guidelines to protect and promote contentment in all areas of our lives:
  • LOVE ALL CHRISTIANS AS DEAR FAMILY 1 Keep on loving each other as brothers.
  • SHOW HOSPITALITY TO NEW PEOPLE 2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.
  • MINISTER TO AFFLICTED REGULARLY 3 Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.
  • PRESERVE A SINGULAR FOCUS IN MARRIAGE 4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.
  • FLEE ALL TYPES OF DISCONTENTMENT 5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” 6 So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
  • LOVE YOUR GOD GIVEN SHEPHERDS 7 Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. (NIV

SET NEW STANDARDS.

  • give more than receive [Acts 20:35; flying 20]
  • others more than self [General Booth]
  • seek FIRST God’s way: as an old southern preacher shared with me
  • every desire of life must be tested in relation to the King.
  • Every decision must be made in the interest of the King.
  • Every duty must be performed for the pleasure of the King.
  • Every difficulty must be faced by trusting the King.
  • Every danger must be braved for the honor of the King.
  • Every dishonor must be endured for the sake of the King.
  • Every distraction must be ignored for the claims of the King.

DEVELOP COUNTER HABITS.

  1. John Charles Cooper writes, instead of:
  • getting try giving
  • replacing try preserving
  • feeling covetous, try feeling grateful
  • feeling inferior before men, try feeling accepted before God.
  • being ruled by feelings, try enjoying the freedom of contentment.

SUBTRACT FROM YOUR NEEDS.

  1. Paul said he learned to be content with whatever he had. Philippians 4:11-12 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. (KJV)
  2. Every item I add to my possessions is one more thing to think about, invest more time in, talk
    about, clean, repair, display, rearrange, and replace when it goes bad. I buy a television, but that is just the beginning. I hook up an antenna, I subscribe to a cable service, I buy a VCR, I rent movies, I get a recliner to watch my programs in comfort. This all costs money, but it also takes immense amounts of time, energy, and attention. Acquiring a possession may also push me into redefining my priorities and make me unavailable for ministry. It takes time to hover over our things, and that time must come from elsewhere-for instance
    • from time spent cultivating intimacy with God,
    • from time spent in his Word and prayer,
    • time spent visiting and ministering to the needy,
    • and time spent developing relationships with people who need Christ.
  1. Make a list of all the things you need and then start crossing things off. Remembering the One who said, in Matthew 6:25-34 :
    • LIFE IS MORE THAN EATING AND EXISTING v. 25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
    • YOU ARE VERY IMPORTANT TO GOD v. 26 “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
    • GOD TAKES CARE OF HIS OWN v. 27-31 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
    • GOD KNOWS YOUR NEEDS v. 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
    • GOD GIVES EACH OF US THE PRIORITY OF OUR LIVES v. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
    • GOD ASKS US TO GIVE OUR CARES TO HIM v. 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (KJV)
  1. There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less. G.K. Chesterton

ACCEPT FROM GOD’S HAND THAT WHICH HE GIVES.

  • Not resignation, complacency, mourning and gloom. An attitude of contentment is always victorious. It sees God’s hand in all of life.
  • David is fleeing for his life from his wicked son Absolom in 2 Samuel 16:9-14 Then said Abishai the son of Zeruiah unto the king, Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? let me go over, I pray thee, and take off his head. 10 And the king said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah? so let him curse, because the LORD hath said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so? 11 And David said to Abishai, and to all his servants, Behold, my son, which came forth of my bowels, seeketh my life: how much more now may this Benjamite do it? let him alone, and let him curse; for the LORD hath bidden him. 12 It may be that the LORD will look on mine affliction, and that the LORD will requite me good for his cursing this day. 13 And as David and his men went by the way, Shimei went along on the hill’s side over against him, and cursed as he went, and threw stones at him, and cast dust. 14 And the king, and all the people that were with him, came weary, and refreshed themselves there. (KJV)

IF YOU STILL DO NOT FEEL THE STIRRINGS OF CONTENT -MENT WITHIN, ARGUE WITH YOURSELF AND TELL YOURSELF THE TRUTH.

  • J.I. Packer says, ” by learning to talk to ourselves in a good Christian way. You listen to God in the Scripture and then tell ,yourself what He said. If your emotions disagree, you argue with your emotions. And if you find unbelief in your heart, you argue with that unbelief and drive it out by appeal to God’s truth.”
  • The list of the characteristics of the select few who get to abide in the presence of God is significant: Psalm 15:1-2 LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. (KJV)

NINE STEPS ON THE PATH OF CONTENTMENT

    • GET TO WORK.
    • DIVORCE YOUR THINKING FROM SOCIETY’S RELATIVISTIC STANDARDS.
    • TURN OFF THE ADS AND TUNE OUT THE LIES.
    • DEFER TO GOD’S OPINION CONCERNING YOUR FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS.
    • SET NEW STANDARDS.
    • DEVELOP COUNTER HABITS.
    • SUBTRACT FROM YOUR NEEDS.
    • ACCEPT FROM GOD’S HAND THAT WHICH HE GIVES.
    • IF YOU STILL DO NOT FEEL THE STIRRINGS OF CONTENTMENT WITHIN, ARGUE WITH YOURSELF AND TELL YOURSELF THE TRUTH. 1.
  1. Alcorn, Money, Possessions, p. 176.

    2. Put in p. 176 of Swenson.

    3. Packer as quoted by Swenson, p.194-5.

    4. Swenson, p.186-87.

    5. Swenson, p.188.

 
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