Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
December 12, 2004
The Practice of Contentment, Part 2
Over the last month we have been dealing with the issues of contentment and
have found that the common understanding of contentment, defined by Webster as
the state or quality of “being satisfied, not displeased,” is not
adequate to describe the contentment Paul describes in Philippians 4:11.
Webster’s definition can also be used of both complacency or something
temporary, which is the kind of contentment many people find in the various
philosophies that man has developed for himself in trying to find meaning to
life. They may develop a sense of peace or calm, but complacency or something
temporary is a sad substitute for the internal peace and confidence that God
wants us to learn.
All of us are keenly aware that the circumstances of our lives are ever
changing and with those changes our sense of being pleased by those
circumstances also changes. We like some situations, but not others. We are all
also aware that even the sense of pleasure that comes when we do achieve some
goal will always diminish with time after achieving the goal. The contentment
that Paul learned is not based in circumstances nor does it diminish with time,
in fact, I dare say that in increases. Turn again to Philippians 4:10-13.
Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever
circumstances I am. 12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also
know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the
secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering
need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
The contentment Paul learned is active. He was able to experience the full
range of human emotion, and yet remain in control, self-satisfied, and still
pursuing a sense of purpose. Paul was content while still living life to its
fullest. This kind of contentment can only come to those who have and hold to a
Biblical world view. You must believe that there is a real, true, infinite,
personal, creator God who has revealed Himself in both what He has made and in
the Bible. You must believe that He loved you while yet a sinner and that Jesus
Christ paid the price for your sin by which He offers you forgiveness and a
relationship with God through faith in Him. You must understand that you belong
to God, and that your life only makes sense in living for His purposes in
Only Biblical Christianity provides the foundation in something eternal,
strong and unchanging, which can be trusted even when life turns tragic or
bitter, and that foundation is needed in order to have the contentment Paul
speaks of in Phil. 4:11. Biblical contentment is the ability to be
“self-sufficient,” and “not needing assistance from outside.” This
does not refer to you being autonomous, but rather to the fact stated in verse
13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” You can live in
such a way that regardless of circumstances you can fulfill the purpose of your
existence in bringing glory to God. He has made His power available to you to do
what honors Him in any situation. Your life is no longer to be controlled by
your situation, but by the Holy Spirit within you. You may not like what is
happening. You might prefer something else. Your emotions might even be
extremely strong, but you are to no longer be someone that reacts to changing
circumstances like a thermometer. Instead, you are to affect your environment
like a thermostat by your demonstration of a Christ like character in all
Do not be like so many Christians that claim a faith they do not live because
their trust in God is so small. You can learn to be content in all circumstances
because you can do all things through Him who strengthens you. Walking by faith
with God is the key, but to do that you there are some general beliefs that must
be understood, held and then followed. You must know God personally – be a true
Christian. You must remember who He is and what He has done for you. You must
obediently follow Him. You must humbly yield to God’s sovereign plans in all
As we did last week, we will apply these truths to life situations by using
four questions, which I will answer generally first, then I will apply them to
Who is God? What is His nature and character? God is the eternal
creator who is holy, just, pure, righteous, good, gracious, merciful, lovingkind,
sovereign, all wise, all knowing, omnipotent, omnipresent, unchanging, true, the
giver and sustainer of life.
What has God done? What actions has God taken toward His creation and
you? He is the source of physical life, salvation, of love to sinners, hope, and
the giver of every good and perfect gift.
What Biblical Principles apply: I need to consider God’s perspective
of my circumstances. Some general principles are: 1) There is always hope
because the love of God has been proved in Jesus Christ – Romans 5:8. 2) The
purpose of your life is to be transformed by the renewing of your mind into the
image of Christ and not be conformed to this world – Rom 8:29; 12:2. 3) God uses
the trials of life to test our faith and mature us making us more like Jesus –
James 1:2-4. 4) God is sovereign and works in all situations for the good of all
that love Him and are called according to His purpose – Romans 8:28. 5) God
always provides a way to endure through or escape all temptations, so I can
never blame Him for my sin or that of someone else – 1 Cor. 10:13.
How can you obey Him? What specific actions will I now take in
obedience to God and His word. If you love Jesus, you will obey Him. – John
14:21. If you believe God to be like what He claims to be, you will submit to
the commands, principles and precepts of His word regardless of emotions
involved you will follow Him
For the rest of the morning I will apply these questions to specific life
situations in order to show you how you can put these truths into practice. You
can learn to be content in all circumstances because you can do all things
through Him who strengthens you. Last week we looked at circumstances concerning
relationships, material loss, financial stress, and personal situations. This
week we will examine circumstances concerning physical hindrances, personal
tragedy and some various situations some of you have asked about.
1) Your body is not they way you like it. It is too fat, thin, tall, short,
hairy, not enough hair, etc.
What Biblical principles apply here? 1 Sam. 16:7 –
“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his
appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God
[sees] not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord
looks at the heart.” Prov. 31:30 Charm is
deceitful and beauty is vain, [But] a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be
How can you obey Him? Be more concerned about what you are inwardly
than how you look outwardly. It is God’s grace and mercy upon your life that
allows you to become wrinkled and gray. The alternative is a short life.
2) Your body is getting old and not functioning as well.
What has He done for you? He allowed you to get old – Heb.10:27
And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and
after this [comes] judgment,
What Biblical principles apply here? Psalm 90:10
as for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, Or if due to strength,
eighty years, Yet their pride is [but] labor and sorrow; For soon it is gone and
we fly away. Prov. 20:29 The glory of young men is
their strength, And the honor of old men is their gray hair. Prov. 16:31
– A gray head is a crown of glory; It is found in the way
How can you obey Him? Reflect the godliness that should have been
learned in your many years. Serve the Lord in the days that remain to the best
of your ability. Look longingly to being in the presence of the Lord, but the
timing is in His hands.
3) You or a loved one develops a severe physical disability.
What Biblical principles apply here? Exod. 4:11
And the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes [him] dumb or
deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? John 9:2,3 –
2 And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned,
this man or his parents, that he should be born blind ?” 3 Jesus answered, “[It
was] neither [that] this man sinned, nor his parents; but [it was] in order that
the works of God might be displayed in him. Romans 12; 1 Cor. 12; Eph. 4
– God enables each Christian to serve Him as He desires.
How can you obey Him? Glorify Him with whatever abilities you do have.
Don’t be jealous of others who can do what you cannot (or no longer) do.
Remember that we also glorify God when we are the ones being served if we
receive it with thanksgiving. Learn that His grace is sufficient.
F. PERSONAL TRAGEDY
1) You are arrested for something you did.
What has He done for you? Allowed you to get caught before you got
into something even worse. Proverbs 15:10 Stern discipline
is for him who forsakes the way; He who hates reproof will die. Proverbs
3:11 My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord, Or
loathe His reproof, 12 For whom the Lord loves He reproves, Even as a father,
the son in whom he delights
What Biblical principles apply here? Proverbs 28:13 –
He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But
he who confesses and forsakes [them] will find compassion. Numbers
5:7 then he shall confess his sins which he has committed,
and he shall make restitution in full for his wrong, and add to it one-fifth of
it, and give [it] to him whom he has wronged. Romans 6:13
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you
should obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to
sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those
alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
How can you obey Him? Repent from the sins. Submit willingly to the
consequences of the law. Demonstrate by your changed life the reality of a new
life in Christ.
2) You are arrested for something you did not do?
Who is God? Holy, just, pure and righteous. He is still sovereign. An
injustice happening to you does not change who God is or His character. Deut.
32:4 – “The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are
just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He.
What Biblical principles apply here? Paul appealed to judicial system
of the time (Acts 25:11). We are to follow Jesus’ example – 1 Peter 2:20-23
For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it
with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer [for it] you
patiently endure it, this [finds] favor with God. For you have been called for
this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you
to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His
mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He
uttered no threats, but kept entrusting [Himself] to Him who judges righteously;
How can you obey Him? Pursue what legal recourse is available to you.
Follow Christ’s example in the midst of your suffering. Pray for those who are
causing you the injustice (Matt. 5:44 – But I say to you,
love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you).
3) You are mugged?
Who is God? He is still holy, just, pure and righteous, merciful,
gracious and loving (Psalm 145:8).
What has He done for you? He has preserved your life and met your
needs (Rom. 8:32; 1 Tim. 6:13). He has provided you salvation from Hell and
proved His love for you on Calvary (Rom. 5:8). He offers salvation to the wicked
– 1 Peter 3:18 – For Christ also died for sins once for
all, [the] just for [the] unjust, in order that He might bring us to God
and 2 Peter 3:9 – the Lord is not wishing for any to perish
but for all to come to repentance
What Biblical principles apply here? Romans 13:3,4 –
For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but
for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good, and you
will have praise from the same; 4 for it is a minister of God to you for good.
But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for
nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath upon the one
who practices evil. Romans 12:19-21 – Never take
your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath [of God,] for it is
written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 “But if your enemy
is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you
will heap burning coals upon his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but
overcome evil with good. 1 Peter 4:1 –Therefore,
since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same
purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as
to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but
for the will of God. Hebrews 12:1-3 Therefore, since
we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside
every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with
endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author
and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross,
despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3
For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so
that you may not grow weary and lose heart.
How can you obey Him? Seek justice, but leave revenge in God’s hands.
Keep your eyes on Jesus. Offer forgiveness to the offender just as Christ
forgave you. Rejoice you suffered in like manner as Him.
3b) Someone asked about an abusive relationship. These same principles would
apply. The first step would be for both parties involved should get godly
counseling to seek to correct the abuse. The specific godly response will vary
depending on many factors, but in brief, if they refuse counsel or continue the
abuse, then if they are physically abusive, seek justice. They are violating the
law and they should be arrested. You may also need an order of protection
issued. If it is emotional abuse, then the relationship needs to end or change.
What if it is a marriage? Then 1 Corinthians 7:11 indicates that separation may
be appropriate – but if she does leave, let her remain
unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband. Please note that this
separation is not for the purpose of divorce, but for protection and making the
issues serious enough to cause both parties to work toward reconciliation.
4) You are persecuted for trying to live for Christ.
Who is God? The holy One Whom Satan seeks to usurp (Isa. 14).
What has He done for you? Suffered in our place, setting the example
for us (1 Peter 2:21-23). He has promised ” I will never
desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” 6 so that we confidently say, “The
Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What shall man do to me?” –
What Biblical principles apply here? We can expect unjust persecution
from the world as we live for Christ – Matthew 5:10-12
“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for
theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when [men] cast insults at
you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on
account of Me. 12 “Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for
so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” / 2 Tim. 3:12 –
And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus
will be persecuted. The examples of the apostles. Acts 5:41
So they went on their way from the presence of the Council,
rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for [His] name.
Rom. 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this
present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed
How can you obey Him? Make sure your suffering is for the sake of
righteousness. Follow the examples of the prophets. Rejoice that you are counted
worthy to suffer for His name. Rest in His presence.
5) You find out that you can not have children of your own?
Who is God? The giver of life – Genesis 20:18; 25:21; 30:22
What has He done for you? With held children from you for His own
purposes (Gen. 30:2 – Jacob says, “Am I in the place of
God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?”)
What Biblical principles apply here? The example of Hannah in 1 Samuel
1 – pray. Your hope is in the Lord, Psalm 113:9 – He makes
the barren woman abide in the house [As] a joyful mother of children. Praise the
Lord! Galatians 4:5 – we were adopted into God’s family.
How can you obey Him? Pray, serve. Consider physical adoption or
foster care. Have spiritual children by ministering to children
6) Your child dies?
Who is God? The one who appoints the length of time any individual
will live on this earth – Hebrews 9:27.
What has He done for you? Given you a precious child for a time –
What Biblical principles apply here? Children do not “belong” to us.
They are only entrusted to our care for a short time. All souls belong to God –
Ezekiel 18. 2 Sam. 12 – David and child of Bathsheba died, but life goes on
beyond the grave.
How can you obey Him? Keep the eternal perspective in view. Do not get
lost in grief of the moment. Praise God for however long your child was with
7) You are diagnosed with an incurable, terminal disease?
Who is God? He is the giver and taker of life – Job 1:21
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall
return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away . Blessed be the name of
What has He done for you? Granted to you the years of life you have
already experienced. At best life is short – Psalm 102:11,12
My days are like a lengthened shadow; And I wither away
like grass . But Thou, O Lord, dost abide forever; And Thy name to all
What Biblical principles apply here? Psalm 116:15
Precious in the sight of the Lord Is the death of His godly ones. Our
comfort and hope is to be with the Lord forever – 1 Thess. 4:17. 2 Cor. 5:8 – to
be absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord. We should number our
days whether they be many or few that we might present to the Lord a heart of
wisdom – Psalm 90:12
How can you obey Him? Die well with your hope fixed in Him. Use what
time remains to tell others of your wonderful destination on the other side of
I received several questions last week. Here are some thoughts about them.
A child (or a husband that has not yet grown up) says, “I don’t like what I
am given to eat. I don’t like vegetables. Do I have to eat them?”
What has He done for you? God has provided your food for you. Isa.
55:10 – He has furnished seed to the sower, watered the
earth causing it to spout and bear and provide bread to the eater.
What Biblical principles apply here? 1 Thess 5:18 –
“in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you
in Christ Jesus.” 1 Tim. 4:4,5 – “For everything
created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with
gratitude; 5 for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.”
Consider as well Eph. 6:1 Children, obey your
parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 Honor your father and mother (which is
the first commandment with a promise), 3 that it may be well with you, and that
you may live long on the earth.
How can you obey Him? If you are a child, then you need to obey your
parents without complaining or grumbling. They not only are trying to feed you
what is healthy for you, but they also must develop your character that you
might be thankful for whatever you have. That second principle applies to you
adults that might complain or grumble if you don’t get what you want. The mark
of a Christian is thankfulness because we see God’s gracious hand in everything
he supplies us – yes, even broccoli, lima beans, green peas and Brussel Sprouts.
We know that we deserve nothing, yet God has supplied us with abundant blessings
which include not only the food, but the eyes to see it, the nose to smell it,
and the taste buds to enjoy it the variety available to us. Can you be content
when you are given foods you do not really care for? Yes, if you keep the
eternal perspective in mind, so eat your vegetables.
“Can you on be content with being married when you made a mistake on that
Who is God? He gave you life (Job 33:4). He is not a man that He
should lie nor the son of man that He should change His mind (Numb. 23:19). He
is the sovereign one who chooses people in Christ before the foundation of the
world that they should be holy and blameless before Him (Eph. 1:4). He is the
self-sufficient one in need of nothing outside Himself. (Exod. 3:14).
What has He done for you? He saved you and has offered salvation to
all (John 3:15; 1 Jn 2:1, etc.). Jesus has forgiven you your sins (Col. 1:14,15)
by humbling Himself to become a man and die on the cross in your place. He
joined you and your spouse together – Mt. 19:6 even if you know believe it was a
bad decision on your part.
What Biblical principles apply here? Phil. 2:5f – Have the humble
attitude in yourself which was also in Christ Jesus, and then fulfill the role
given to you by God in marriage. Husbands love your wives, and wives, submit to
and respect husbands (Eph.5:21-33). Win him with your chaste and respectful
behavior (1 Pet. 3). Husbands, live with her in an understanding way (1 Peter
3:7). Wives, win him without a word by your chaste and respectful behavior (1
Peter 3:1-6). God hates divorce – (Malachi 2:15,16).
How can you obey Him? Since you acknowledge that you made a mistake in
marrying your spouse, work through to see the sin involved. Were you a Christian
and married a non-Christian? You married someone who tries to pull you away from
the Lord? Repent of any sin involved, thank the Lord for His forgiveness and go
on from there. It may have been a bad decision on your part to have married the
person, but once you did marry them, then you must understand that Matthew 19:6
is clear that you were joined by God. Fulfill the role God has given you. Be
more concerned about your pleasing God and your spouse than they pleasing
yourself. Find your contentment in seeing God at work in you as He changes your
character into that of Christ, and then be God’s instrument of grace and
goodness to your spouse. Be a blessing to Him or her even if he or she is not to
you. Additionally, Do not compare your marriage to other folks who married with
godly wisdom. Envy and jealousy are sins.
How do you deal with unrighteous thoughts?
What has God done for you? He chose you in Him before the foundation
of the world that you might be holy and blameless before Him – Eph. 1:4, and He
is conforming you into the image of His Son – Romans 8:29.
What Biblical Principles apply? Do not be
conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind
– Romans 12:2. Think on whatever is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, good
report, virtuous and praiseworthy – Phil. 4:8.
How can you obey Him? While you cannot keep a thought from entering
your mind, you can set an environment where it is less likely to enter, and you
can kick it out and replace it with something godly once it does enter. Do not
set what is unholy or worthless before your eyes or ears (Psalm 101:3). Hide
God’s word in your heart – Psalm 119:9-11 so that you can quickly think about it
instead. Play Christian music, Scripture tapes, sermon tapes, etc. to fill and
train your mind to what is godly.
How do you deal with those unwilling to forgive you?
Who is God? He is merciful and gracious – Psalm 86:15
What has God done for you? He forgave your sins in Christ Jesus on the
basis of your faith in Him – Acts 10:43.
What Biblical principles apply? Col. 1:14 – In Jesus we have
redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Col. 2:14 – all our sins were nailed to the
cross. 1 John 1:9 – as we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive
our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. James 5:16 – we are to confess
our sins to one another. We are to be reconciled with those we sin against and
those who sin against us – Matt. 5:24; 18:15-18. Psalm 51 describes the humble
heart of those that seek forgiveness.
How can you obey Him? Rejoice that you have received forgiveness from
God. Humbly seek forgiveness and reconciliation with the one you have sinned
against. This cannot be done in a matter-of-fact manner. Find out specifically
what is keeping them from forgiving you. Do they believe you? Not trust you?
Need some sort of restitution? Pray the Lord will make their heart tender –
What do you do with someone that claims to be a Christian, but the evidence
Who is God? He is merciful and gracious – Psalm 86:15.
What has God done for you? He saved you by His grace and mercy and not
on the basis of any deeds you have done – Titus 3:5.
What Biblical principles apply? Do not pass judgement on them – 1 Cor.
4:3-5 – For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I
am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. Therefore do
not go on passing judgment before the time, [but wait] until the Lord comes who
will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the
motives of [men’s] hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God..
Do not accept their profession as true without some fruit as evidence – Matthew
3:8 – (Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping with
repentance), Matthew 7:12-23 – “You will know them
by their fruits. Do challenge them to examine themselves – 2 Corinthians
13:5 Test yourselves [to see] if you are in the faith;
examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus
Christ is in you– unless indeed you fail the test?
How can you obey Him? First, clarify with them what they mean by
saying they are Christians. They may not mean the same thing you think them
mean. Second, treat them according to their profession by holding them
accountable to live according to what they say they believe. However, do not be
condemning when they fail. Treat them like you would want to be treated when you
fail (Matt. 7:12; Gal. 6). Third, if there really is no fruit, gently and humbly
challenge them to examine their heart for what they really believe. The destiny
of their soul is worth the effort.
Contentment comes from living and walking in trust of God. Who is He? What is
He like? What has He done? What Biblical principles apply to my situation? How
can I live in obedience to them? Those are the questions you must ask, answer
and live by if you are to learn this important lesson that Paul learned.
Contentment in all circumstances is not based in how you feel about the changing
situations of life, but in fulfilling your eternal purpose of existence of
bringing glory to God through your godly response to those same situations. We
can be content because Christ will strengthen us to do all things in a manner
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives.
Here is some help.
Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the
sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children –
Do one or more of the following: 1) Write down all the verses mentioned in the
sermon and look them up later. 2) Count how many times “God”is mentioned in the
sermon. Talk with your parents about who God is and what He has done. What
difference does that make in your own life.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others.
Define “contentment” according to Phillippians 4:11-13. How could you be
content in each of the specific circumstances listed above. Use the four general
questions to find solutions that will enable you to be content in your own
Sermon Notes – December 12, 2004
The Practice of Contentment, Part 2 : Philippians 4:10-19,
The Key to Contentment: Walk by faith with God
1) You must know God personally. You must be a Christian. 2) You must
remember who God is and what He has done. 3) You must obediently follow Him. 4)
You must humbly yield to God’s sovereign plans in all circumstances.
Who is God?
What has God done?
How can you obey Him?
Your body is not the way you would like. It is too fat, thin, tall, short,
hairy, lacking hair, etc.
Your body is getting old and not functioning as it once did.
You or a loved one develops a severe physical handicap
You are arrested for something you did.
You are arrested for something you did not do.
You are mugged / abused.
You are persecuted for living for Jesus Christ.
You find out that you cannot have children of your own.
Your child dies.
You are diagnosed with an incurable, terminal disease.
Your child (husband?) Will not eat what you prepare for them.
You made a bad decision when you got married.
You have unrighteous thoughts
You wronged someone and they will not forgive you.
Someone claims to be a Christian, but their life does not show the fruit of
the claim being true