True Contentment

Posted on 11/19/2006 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT:

Good morning! I hope you all had a good week, and that you've come here today with a growing hunger and thirst for the presence of God, for those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled.

For a quick update, we did raise the funds needed for an island, and submitted our order last Monday evening. Thank you all for your help and prayers, and for your hearts that long to see Jesus glorified here in the virtual world.

Many of you have been asking me when it will be available, and for the present all I can deduce is some time before the end of the year.

Many of you voted on the name, and Abundant Life Harbor was the winner.

While this will be a valuable tool for the work God has for us to do here, we can make a powerful difference today and regardless of what we do or don't have. Many of us come online during the week, and we encounter other people from all around the world. Pray every day that God will open doors for the Good News, and that he will give you the wisdom, boldness, and above all the love needed to plant seeds and bring the people around you into the Kingdom.

And always remember, "It's not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord."

Let's all stand to our feet and open this service with prayer.


Lord God, we are so thankful today that you have adopted us into your family as your own sons and daughters, and that you have an awesome plan and purpose for each one of us here today.

Thank you that you give us everything we need to work together and make an unmeasurable difference in the lives around us.

Thank you for today, for another opportunity to gather together in your name and to seek after your presence and your Word together.

Open our hearts today. May we lay everything else aside in our pursuit of you, and may your presence and your Word sink deep into fertile soil.

It's in Jesus' name we pray. Amen.


Click-touch the pulpit for today's notecard, and let's praise God with song.


LET EVERYTHING THAT HAS BREATH

Let everything that, everything that
Everything that has breath praise the Lord
Let everything that, everything
Everything that hast breath praise the Lord

Praise You in the morning
Praise You in the evening
Praise You when I'm young and when I'm old
Praise You whem I'm laughing
Praise You when I'm grieving
Praise You every season of the soul
If we could see how much You're worth
Your power, You might, Your endless love
Then surely we would never cease to praise

Praise You in the heavens
Join with the angels
Praising You forever and a day
Praise You on the earth now
Join with creation
Calling all the nations to Your praise
If they could see how much You're woth
Your power, Your might, Your endless love
Then surely they would never cease to praise

I will worship, I will worship
I will worship You with every breath
I will worship, I will worship
I will worship You with every breath


HOLY IS THE LORD

We stand and lift up our hands
For the joy of the Lord is our strength
We bow down and worship Him now
How great, how awesome is He

And together we sing
Everyone sing

Holy is the Lord God Almighty
The earth is filled with His glory
Holy is the Lord God Almighty
The earth is filled with His glory
The earth is filled with His glory

It's rising up all around
It's the anthem of the Lord's renown


MORE PRECIOUS THAN SILVER

Lord, You are
More precious than silver.
Lord, You are
More costly than gold.
Lord, You are
More beautiful than diamonds,
And nothing I desire
Compares with You.

Who can weigh the value of knowing you?
Who can judge the worth of who you are?
Who can count the blessings of loving You?
Who can say just how great You are?


Lord, you truly are more beautiful than anything this world could offer, or anything our minds could imagine. Thank you for sending your sweet presence, your Holy Spirit, to hover over our lives, to surround us, and to fill us to overflowing.

Help us to realize what a treasure we have in you, and that nothing we desire could compare with you!

Thank you Jesus!

Amen.


You may be seated.


Many of us will be preparing this week for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. We'll be cleaning our house and preparing various parts of a great feast.

Hopefully we'll take time on and before this day dedicated to giving thanks, to count our blessings and prepare within ourselves a thankful heart.

Many of us tend to think the will of God for our lives is something far away that we must work very hard to discover. And yet I submit to you that I can tell you with complete certainty part of God's will for your life right now.

And it is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, which says, "In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

Have you ever noticed that God does not generally show us the whole journey for our lives, but reveals one step at a time? And when we take that step, he reveals the next at the proper time.

And if he has shown us that giving thanks in all things is his will for our lives, and it most certainly is, God may just be waiting for us to take that step before he shows us the next.

"Lord, why can't I seem to find out your will for my life?" For some of us, we just need to keep seeking him knowing he will show us at the proper time. For others, God has already shown us his will through his Word, and we just need to obey the directions he's already given us.

The title of my message today is "True Contentment." I'd like to re-read this verse in context.

Let's read from First Thessalonians chapter five, beginning with verse fourteen:

14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted,  uphold the weak, be patient with all.
15 See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both  for yourselves and for all.
16 Rejoice always,
17 pray without ceasing,
18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
19 Do not quench the Spirit.
20 Do not despise prophecies.
21 Test all things; hold fast what is good.
22 Abstain from every form of evil.

Do you see a common theme in these verses? Or, rather, a state of heart that weaves them all together?

We're told here to warn the unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with everyone, don't give evil for evil but pursue good for everyone, always rejoice, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all things, do not quench the Spirit, do not despise prophecies, test all things and hold fast what is good, and abstain from every form of evil.

Doesn't this sound like a very simple, solid life? We're not told to chase after pipe dreams, to always be seeking to gain more, to rush and hurry after rabbits before they jump in their holes, or to run around in circles like a virtual chicken with a de-rezzed head.


John the Baptist shared the same message in Luke chapter three, starting with verse ten:

10 So the people asked him, saying, “What shall we do then?”
11 He answered and said to them, “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has  none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.”
12 Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, “Teacher, what shall  we do?”
13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than what is appointed for you.”
14 Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?”
So he said to them, “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with  your wages.”


First he tells the people if they have two tunics, give one to someone who has none, and if they have food, let them give some to someone who has no food.

Do we have more of something than we need? Certainly God is a God of abundance. But he also is not a God of waste. If we see someone who has lack where we have abundance, let us be content to have what we need, and share the love of Christ with someone for whom he died.

The tax collectors were told to not cheat the people, but to be content with making an honest living.

And the soldiers, and any one of us who works today in or outside of the home, is a soldier; they were told to be content with their wages.

Does God expect us to never speak out for change, to never seek to have a better existence? I suppose that would all depend on our motives. If we're greedy and don't realize what we have, then we need to put our focus in the right place and learn to be thankful for and content with the blessings God has given us.

How can we have truly thankful hearts if we are not content with those things for which we should be thankful? Any time I take the time to think about how blessed I really am, it's a time of great joy, and it helps to bring me closer to God.

We read in First Timothy chapter six and verse six,

6 Now Godliness with contentment is great gain.
7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
9 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.

Are riches evil? Were the patriarchs evil for being wealthy?

Absolutely not. But when we pursue riches, our focus is in the wrong place. In Matthew 6:33 Jesus tells us to "Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all the things we need will be added to us."

Let's read this in Matthew chapter six, beginning with verse 25:

25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you  will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and  the body more than clothing?
26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns;  yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow:  they neither toil nor spin;
29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory  was not arrayed like one of these.
30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown  into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or  ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly  Father knows that you need all these things.
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.


And herein lies the secret to true contentment: "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness."

Today's message is not a call to poverty, but a call to true contentment.

Are you wealthy in material riches? Great! Be thankful for the blessings you have from God, and glorify him with them all, seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, putting your faith and trust completely in him.

Are you lacking in material riches? Great! Be thankful for the blessings you have from God, both seen and unseen, and glorify him with them all, seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, being content with what he has given you, and realizing the greatest riches is the wealth of the heart, such as love, compassion, forgiveness, wisdom, and truth.

As we read in Timothy, Godliness with contentment is great gain. We brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing of this world with us when we leave. If our hearts follow after the things of this world, we have nothing.

Jesus says in Matthew six nineteen,

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;
20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.
21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

What do we consider true treasure? If we assign value to the things of this earth which pass away, which are corruptible, temporal, and fleeting, then that will become our treasure.

Even if we never posess what we desire, that which we deem as treasure will be where our heart is.

Jesus points to a different focus here, a different standard of value. He says, "lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal."

If our focus is on gain and on material riches, everything we have will pass away and we will have nothing.

If, however, our focus is on the kingdom of God and his righteousness, seeking his face and his presence, and seeking to please him and do his will, then he will provide all our needs according to his measure of wealth, and our hearts will prize the true treasure which lasts forever.

Do you have a family and need to provide for them? Then work to the glory of God.

Serving God the way we think is right is not necessarily serving him at all. Rather, discovering the path God has chosen for our lives and walking on that path, this is serving God.

Perhaps you are called to be a missionary or a great evangelist. Or perhaps you are called to be a husband or wife, and a mother or father.

Perhaps you are called to be the CEO of a multi-billion dollar corporation. Or perhaps you are called to dig ditches or wash dishes.

Whatever God is calling you to do, there is no higher calling for you than that. A person called to be a dishwasher who instead becomes a world-famous evangelist has stepped down in his or her position, not up. For the highest position we can take is the position of obedience, and likewise the lowest position we can take is the position of disobedience to God.

So God is calling us to be content with the calling he has placed on our lives. If we are faithful with a little, he will entrust us with much. If we are discontent and unfaithful with a little, he will take away even what we think we have.

If we realize there is no higher calling than to obey God in even the smallest things he has told us to do, we will find true contentment in them, and he will begin to change the value our heart places on them.

And God is calling us to give thanks in all things, all situations, all circumstances, and to live lives of true contentment, placing our attention on seeking God's kingdom and his righteousness, and by placing value on the true and eternal riches.

In Hebrews thirteen, verses five and six we read,

5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For Jesus Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we may boldly say:  “The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”


Lord, thank you for speaking to us today through your Word. Thank you that you have a plan and a purpose for each of our lives. Forgive us for not being content with our callings, and with the many blessings you have poured out upon us.

Help us this week to every day ponder what you have given us, and to seek to place our focus and attention on seeking your kingdom and your righteousness in our lives, as we follow hard after you.


The ministry team can come to the front now. And this altar is open for prayer and ministry.

Whether you want to surrender your perception of value to God, or seek to have contentment in the life and calling he has given you, whether you want to come to Jesus for the first time, rededicate your life to him, or simply seek his presence, this altar is open.

If you need prayer or ministry, please instant message one of the ministry team.

And as we have this time of corporate prayer, let's think about all the things for which we should be thankful, taking the time to thank God for each one.

In a few minutes we'll meet next door for fellowship, and I hope you'll meet us there.

"May the Lord bless you and keep you; may He make His face to shine on you  and be gracious to you; may He lift up His countenance on you and give you peace."  -Numbers 6:22-27