HOW CAN I BECOME CONTENTED IN CHRIST WHEN __________ (insert situation)
1. CONTENTMENT IS A SKILL TO BE LEARNED (Phil. 4:12; 1 Peter 3:4)
Goal: I want my inner person (heart and spirit) to be quiet and gentle, freely submitting to and delighting in God’s sovereignty, so it will be precious in His eyes, please Him and give Him glory.
-A gentle and quiet spirit spreads itself through the whole person as the judgment is constantly made to keep thoughts and emotions in order, and the will yields and submits (Ps 42:1-5).
-It becomes the habitual structure, or disposition, of the woman’s heart, so it is consistent whatever kind, time and continuance of the affliction and whatever variety and changes of affliction (Noah; Joshua 4:10).
-A gentle and quiet spirit is not dependant on outward reasoning or help, but is done with the help of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5), through obedience to God’s Word.
B) Quiet – What does it mean to have a quiet heart or spirit? (Psalm 62:1-5; 1 Peter 3:4)
A quiet heart does not:
-murmur or fret at the hand of God
-fall to sinking discouragement (2 Kings 7:2)
-get distracted and confused
-become unsettled and unstable (Nehemiah 6:3)
-allow heart-consuming cares – is wholly reserved for Christ
-shift or swing toward sin, nor rise against God in rebellion
-evade responsibility to get relief and help
A quiet heart is not negated by:
-a realistic recognition of the difficulty
-an unbosoming of the heart in complaint to God (Psalm 62:8; Psalm 88)
-seeking help or deliverance from affliction (James 1:2-8)
A gentle heart is not the natural quietness or sturdy resolution of many people, rather it honors God’s name in affliction, and rises up strongly when God is dishonored.
A gentle heart is strong to send it preferences, ideas and opinions down. It readily submits to God’s sovereignty without being forced, not from stupidity or lack of sense, but from a decision “to send under” = definition of submission.
D) Delight – What’s delightful about this?
-A gentle and quiet heart takes pleasure in the hand of God because it sees His wisdom and sovereignty in everything (Prov.15:6; Psalm 90:1-17; Phil. 4:18; 2 Cor. 6:10)
2. HOW DOES JESUS CHRIST’S LIFE ON EARTH TEACH CONTENTMENT?
1) Self denial (Prov. 23:5; John 15:5). (The paradox is that contentment is not from addition but from subtraction).
2) One thing is necessary (Luke 10:42)
3) Understand my relationship to the world as pilgrim, sojourner, a traveler passing through, a soldier with allegiance to God (2 Peter 2:11; Psalm 119:19; 2 Timothy 2:3: Hebrews 12; Eph. 6; 1 Peter 1:13).
4) Do the work God wants done. (The paradox is that contentment means being the most contented, as well as the most unsatisfied person in the world (Phil. 4:7-9;
5) Study your own heart to discover where your discontent lies (Matthew 5-7). (The paradox is that contentment comes not from getting rid of the burden, but from adding another burden = a heavy heart over my sin).
6) A prosperous outward condition is burdensome (1 Timothy 6:10). (The paradox is that contentment increases comfort while requiring no other comfort – storm reveals its power).
7) Being given up to one’s heart’s desire is a great and dreadful evil (Rom 1; Psalm 81:11,12; James 1:13-15).
8) Right knowledge of God’s providence and sovereignty (Heb. 11:3; 1 Peter 4:12; Luke 22:42).
3. BENEFITS OF CONTENMENT and EVILS OF DISCONTENTMENT
|By contentment we worship God||When God describes wicked men, He speaks often of discontentment (Jude 15)|
|Contentment reflects the beauty of God (Micah 5:5).||God counts murmuring as rebellion (Numbers 16:41; 17:10). Discontentment reveals corruption in the soul.|
|Contentment delivers us from an abundance of temptations.
|A discontented heart is foolishness, making the situation worse.
|Contentment with what is desired, brings blessing. If I am content from obtaining what I desire, that is only self-love. If I am content with the hand of God, that is love to God.
|A discontented heart provokes the wrath of God (Numbers 14:26; Psalm 106:24,25; Numbers 16:41,46; 1 Cor. 10:10). It is also the curse of God on the wicked (Psalm 59:15; Deuteronomy 28:67, 34, 45-47)|
4. PROGRESSION OF CONTENTMENT IN CHRIST
1) First, I realize that it is a lie of Satan that I should not have to live with unfulfilled longings. I will always have unfulfilled longings this side of heaven, because the deepest longings of my heart cannot be filled by any created person or thing.
2) Nothing changes on the outside, but I purge out inner desires that have become more important that glorifying God (James 4:1).
3) I change my performance in the situation, as my will and desires are melted into God’s will and desires (Acts 13:36; Psalm 47:4), and I live on the dew of God’s blessing recognizing that everything that happens is from God’s love and is sanctified to me for my good (Romans 8:28,29)
4) I learn to see and enjoy the sweetness of God’s love in all afflictions, just as Jesus Christ did (Psalm 25:10). I count my blessings (Eph. 1:3), considering the abundant mercies God has shown me.
5) My heart gets strength from someone else, Jesus Christ (Col 1:11; Heb. 12:3)
6) I begin to make up and satisfy all wants in God Himself (Col. 3:1; Lam. 3:24; Rev. 21:22; Prov. 14:14; Luke 17:21). Accepting unfulfilled longings will increase my longing for God and for heaven.
7) My contentment comes from God’s promises – including a recognition of the good that affliction works in me (James 1) and a realization of the glories of Heaven that await (Isaiah 43:2; Joshua 1:5; Isaiah 54:17; 2 Corinthians 4:16).
5. DIRECTIONS TO ATTAIN CONTENTMENT
1) Get a good temper within your heart.
2) Do not take in more of the business of the world than God calls you to (Psalm 1).
3) Be sure God would have you be in every business you go about.
4) Walk by the Word in every situation.
5) Pray (1 Samuel 1:18; Phil. 4:6,7).
6) Exercise much faith by resigning and giving yourself up to God and His ways
(2 Samuel 16:5-14).
7) Don’t aim at great things in the world (Jeremiah 45:5), or get taken up with what you have.
8) Labor to get your heart dead to the world (die daily) (Gal. 2:20; Col. 3:3).
9) Don’t let others talk about afflictions, rather about mercies. Become a good steward of your own trial and afflictions, using them as an opportunity to give God glory.
10) Make a good interpretation of God’s ways towards you.
“I do not speak in regard to want, for whether I have or not, my heart is fully content.” Phil. 4:12
“That we are not sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves.” 2 Cor. 3:5
“A good man is satisfied from himself.” Proverbs 14:14
“Let not your adornment be merely external…..but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” 1 Peter 3:4