4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
It seems that our world today is never satisfied. We desire and crave for more and more, yet we are never fulfilled. We are never satisfied, never content, and envious of those who have what we do not have.
The tragedy, is this lack of contentment, it has become the norm for even among the children of God. So…this afternoon, we’re going to look in God’s Word to see how we, as God’s people, can defeat “The Struggle For Contentment”, in our individual lives. But please understand… this is not an option for the Christian, it is absolutely essential in order to walk worthy for our Lord.
Here’s a question: In this world that we live in, with all its temptations and attractions, how can the follower of Christ, not only overcome the lure of the world, but be victorious, through contentment, to be the men, the women, and the young people that God desires us to be?
I want to share with you this evening… we are going to break down these verses….four actions that we, as God’s children, should learn to cultivate in our daily walk in order to develop contentment so that we can experience the abundant life in Christ as we bring glory to God.
1: An Act Of Worship:
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
Paul tells us to rejoice always in the Lord. This is an act of worship. Prisons in Paul’s day were obviously a lot different than what we have today. Most jails in the first century had no windows, no ventilation, and no lighting. Prisoners were beaten and then locked in chains. If fed, they received half the amount given to a slave. Hygiene was non-existent. Many prisoners suffocated due to a lack of air. A common cold was often at times lethal because the immune systems in their bodies were so weak. Added to the physical turmoil was the psychological suffering a prisoner endures.
So…its kind of odd that this statement was coming from Paul. Prison after prison, he encourages everyone to “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I will say rejoice”.
The command to rejoice can always be obeyed, even in the midst of conflict, adversity and deprivation, because joy rests not on circumstances, but “in the Lord”. It was in this type environment that we find the Apostle Paul in a Roman prison writing about contentment. And he begins by encouraging the reader to, “Rejoice.”
You can’t rejoice in something that you do not have. You can’t rejoice in the Lord unless the Lord rejoices in you. In Luke 15:10, Jesus said these words….
Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.
And also, we are reminded of the Lord, that while we are here in this world, we can have an abundant life through Him. After this life is done, the believer longs to hear these words from the Master…
21 “His Master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your Master’s happiness!’
What are you going to rejoice in, if you’re lost spiritually? That you’re going to an eternal hell? True joy is knowing that the wrath of God has been settled and the grace of God has been secured in you.
Paul reminds the church here at Philippi, many times in his letter about “joy” or “rejoicing.” The joy came from knowing that…
being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.
Jesus even told the disciples to not rejoice that evil spirits were subject to them, but rather…
Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.
You want contentment? Rejoice in the fact…because you’re saved!
2. Respond with gentleness, because the Lord is in control:
5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.
Paul writes that our gentleness should be shown. He also reminds us that “the Lord is at hand.” This is action in our walk. As children of God, there ought to be a gentle spirit about us toward everyone. Our lives should be of a genuine Christ-likeness shown both in our words and through our actions.
I will say even towards our own family. It is very sad that too many families are forced to experience a hypocrisy from the life of a family member that their local church never sees. He/she, may talk about heaven at church, raise their hands in praise while in church, but he/she, is hell to live with at home!
When we’re saved, the Holy Spirit of God comes and resides in us. As we are filled with the Spirit, our lives take on the fruit of the Spirit described in Galatians 5:22… which includes, “gentleness”.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
So, having developed the “mind of Christ” in us, our response to life should be with gentleness that is demonstrated towards others. Notice that Paul says in this verse, “The Lord is at hand.” In Phil 4:5, There’s an urgency! We must look for ways to show Christ to everyone around us. The world needs to encounter the Gospel being “fleshed-out”, the world needs to see Jesus in us, so that there is a clarity in Who we belong to. (Jesus)
From a devotion that I read this week, that lines up with this message…
“See people saved and then teach them to act like it.” Today, it’s hard to tell the Lord’s people from the lost people. Never let it be truthfully said of one of God’s children that we are rude, haughty, or even impolite. Never let it even be said of God’s Church that we are anything but gracious in how we treat people.
Whitesburg Baptist Church
The fragrance of Christ should permeate wherever we go, directing people to the Savior. Contentment is a by-product of having a hardy gentle spirit.
3. Gratitude and Humility in Every Manner. (Answer to life’s worries)
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.
Notice first, that Paul speaks of what (or what not) to do. Another translation of verse 6a would be, “Don’t be anxious about things,” with the latter part of the verse being paraphrased, “but in your prayers, ask God with a thankful heart.”
Peter even writes a similar statement in 1 Peter 5:7, to…
1 Peter 5:7
casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
Cast your discouragement, weariness, hopelessness, disappointment, frustration, depression, despair, pain, hurt, suffering, grief, heartache, affliction, trouble, and anxiety. We must remember that this is not a suggestion, it’s a commandment, because God knows how easily prone we are to worry. Worry robs a person of their joy.
Prayer is essential for the child of God. We are to have a Thankful Spirit… “with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” Sadly, many times, we are very much ungrateful in so many things in our lives. When was the last time that we truly meditated on the tremendous blessings that God has favored us with?
Having a heart of genuine gratitude is serious business to our Lord. In Luke chapter 17, When Jesus healed 10 lepers. Jesus recognized only the thankful healed Samaritan leper as having a saving faith.
15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan.17 So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? 18 Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?”
Staying thankful is a very powerful way to prevent one to sin. It’s hard to deliberately sin when your heart is overwhelmed by the goodness of God on your life. In addition, thankfulness is a means which God uses to bring about spiritual growth in His children. A Christian simply cannot mature without being thankful. Prayerful and Thankful Spirits are the prerequisites for a Contented Spirit.
4. Rest in the Guardian of Your Heart and Mind.
7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Paul writes that the peace of God will guard the believer’s being. The peace of God is our rest in God….
“The real challenge of the Christian life is not to eliminate every unpleasant circumstance; it is to trust in the good purpose of our infinite, holy, sovereign, powerful God in every difficulty. Those who honor Him by trusting Him will experience the blessings of His perfect peace.”
A man once went to his pastor for counseling. He was in the midst of a financial collapse. “I’ve lost everything, he cried.
The pastor said, “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve lost your faith.” “No,” the man corrected him, “I haven’t lost my faith.”
“Well, then I’m sad to hear that you’ve lost your character.” “I didn’t say that, “the man corrected, “I still have my character.”
“I’m sorry to hear that you’ve lost your salvation.”
“That’s not what I said,” the man objected. “I haven’t lost my salvation.”
“You have your faith, your character, and your salvation. It seems to me,” the minister observed, “that you’ve lost none of the things that really matter.”
That peace of God is one of the secrets to contentment. When a follower of Christ can truly grasp the enormity of God’s provision for His children, it’s then that he or she can truly rest and abide in the wonderment of God. And that’s called contentment.
Ultimately, contentment is a blessing from God that we receive as a result of our faithfulness to Him. It frees us from the world’s grip and entanglement so that our spiritual eyes can be opened to the goodness of God.
Contentment births a teachable spirit in our soul that gives us the freedom to follow at any cost. Paul confessed this in….
11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things, I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
That contentment, then, caused Paul to state, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me”.
Contentment is a vehicle that God uses to prepare His children for the work that He has prepared for them. When we are faithful in our contentment before the Lord, we will be fruitful in our commitment to the Lord.
Our tendency is to look for things that will make us content, rather than putting forth the effort it takes to learn how to be content, such is the actions that the Lord… through Paul gives us in this message.
1) Rejoice because you’re saved, 2) Respond with a life of consistent graciousness, 3) Request from God with grateful, humble heart, and 4) Experience a Rest in the Lord that gives us peace.
Pastor Richard Santos
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