Monday, August 2, 2010

Sunday Leftovers - Contentment

SUNDAY LEFTOVERS:  This is not about food. Think of it as a doggie bag filled with the essence of  a Sunday Sermon. It might be something that stood out to me that I want to investigate further, something I might need to work on in my life, or maybe just an uplifting quote that is "Refrigerator Worthy" (RW)  as our pastor often says. It may be me putting a sermon into my own words to help me remember it and internalize it.  Whatever it is, I hope it will help both you and me in our walk with God.

Yesterday's sermon was on Contentment.  
Contentment.That's a tough one. How many of us are really content? 
Most of us are always wanting something to be different in our lives...less stress, less work, better job, more money, more leisure time, better clothes, better house, nicer car, fewer bills, etc.  
It seems we are never satisfied with what we have.  In the summer it's too hot, in the winter it's too cold, the autumn is too warm and the spring is too chilly. What are we thinking?  I can tell you this, during this sermon, there was a lot of nudging going on between spouses and teens and parents and a bit of squirming in the seats. This sermon subject seemed to hit home with almost everyone. 
We are a nation of discontent. Always wanting better, greater, higher, faster, longer, stronger, thinner, prettier, smarter, bigger, taller, sweeter, and on and on ad infinitum.  
Paul said:
"I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of contentment in every situation, whether it be a full stomach or hunger, plenty or want; for I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me strength and power. Phillipians 4:12-13 (TLB)
Contentment must be learned. It does not come to us naturally. It is not a passive thing. It is a decision we make. We decide to accept our circumstances with contentment or we decide not to. 
When my grandson was two years old he hated to take his bath in the evening because he knew it meant bedtime would soon follow.  One evening when I was keeping him, I told him that it was time for his bath. Down he went: legs kicking and tears flying, screaming, "I don't want to take a bath. I want to play." I let him have his little tantrum and then I said, "Jacob, you can either have a bath and play in the tub and have fun or you can have a bath screaming and crying but either way, you are going to have a bath. Your choice. Do you want to be happy about it or cry about it?"  He chose the to play and have fun. He chose contentment.


In our society, contentment has somehow become synonymous with settling for less. Madison Avenue, marketing capital of the world, wants us to believe that we should never settle for what we have or be satisfied or content with the status quo.  Contrary to what the advertising world would have us believe, contentment is not about settling. We should have goals to improve our lives and those of our children, but not to the extent that we sacrifice the things that are truly important. Is it really worth having the latest in technology, the best car, the biggest house if  all of those things bring us more and more stress and lead to problems in our families and a loss of our relationship with God?
Contentment comes from being satisfied with what ever the circumstance is at the moment and trusting God to equip us with what we need when we need it, instead of going out and trying to get it on our own
"With God's power working in us, God can do much, much  more than anything we can ask or imagine." Ephesians 3:20 (NCV)


We all do it at some point in our lives. We compare our homes, our clothes, our cars, our jobs, even our churches with those of others and decide that it's just not fair that so and so has a better house, car, dress, wedding, etc. You name it, we compare it and when we do, we end up being dissatisfied with all that we do have.  We begin to lose sight of and become dissatisfied with our own blessings. What I have learned about comparison is that we often think we want the life that someone else has, only to find down the road that their life was not at all how we perceived it to be and when we realize that, we are truly thankful that their life is not ours. 
"Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others."  Galatians 6:4 (MSG) 
When you compare yourselves to others you are letting others dictate your happiness. Comparison goals can never be fully attained, because there will always be someone else out there that has more or better than you do.
"Keep your lives free of the love of money, and be satisfied with what you have.  God has said "I will never leave you." Hebrews 13:5
Several years ago, a friend of mine and her husband who have a wonderful home that could easily be the envy of others,  decided, for fun,  to look at homes in an exclusive neighborhood. These houses were probably somewhere between 8,000 to 15,000 square feet of living space and were way outside their price range. While they were driving through the neighborhood, she turned to her husband and said, "I'm pretty sure these people are happier than I am."  Fortunately, she was kidding but how many of us really feel that way?
We need to be content with what we have.
"I say it is better to be content with what little you have. Otherwise, you will always be struggling for more, and that is like chasing the wind." Ecclesiastes 4:6 (NCV) 

"Give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs! For if I grow rich, I may become content without God. and if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God's holy name." Proverbs 30:8-9 (TLB)




When setting goals for you and your family, be careful in the choices you make. It is easy for us to set unrealistic and even harmful goals for our ourselves and our families. Goals that take all of our time, energy and money and leave us feeling hollow and unfulfilled.  Our goals should be God and family centered goals. We do not need goals that put us into a constant state of stress or worry over how to achieve them and leave us no time for God and family. 
"For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But flee from these things...and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness."  1 Timothy 6:10-11(NAS)
What in your life is standing in between you and your relationship with Jesus?  What are you putting before him? 

Rely on the strength of Christ to see you through.  Often we go to God for all the big things in our lives or use him as a 911 service.  We need to trust him with all of the small things in our lives and put our trust in him to guide us daily and to provide all that we need.
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:6 (NKJ)
Freedom comes from a reliance on Christ and not depending on ourselves. 


My  affirmation for the week:
This week I will choose contentment and I will rest in the assurance that Christ will see me through. I will free myself from the desires of the world and choose to want only what God wants for me.


Please stop by tomorrow for Timeless Tuesday. 


This leftover which is in my own words, was based on a sermon delivered at NorthPointe Church,  Adairsville, GA. The sermon is based on a series from Saddleback Church, taught by Teaching Pastor, Tom Holladay, called Five Secrets to Contentment. 

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