August 12, 2012
Scripture Reading: Philippians 4:11-13
(New American Standard Bible) 11 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.
(New International Version) 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Remember Mood Rings? 1975 (my teenage years, how old were you? Very popular). Who wants to admit to buying one?
Powered By: thermo-sensitive liquid crystal beads that change color as you wear them.
The color change occurs with changes in body temperature. When your body temp changes due to various mood swings then the color of your mood ring changes. Now get this, however, the temperature of the surrounding air will also have an effect on the mood jewelry so it will make a true body temperature reading unreliable. Did you hear that? Unreliable. The Mood Ring was invented by Joshua Reynolds, who also is known for his other invention – “The Thigh-master.” Do we need to talk about being un-reliable? (Ha)
Today would be a good day to pass out a mood ring? The color chart that comes with every mood ring would help others to know what you are feeling like unsettled, nervous or fearful. Light blue is the color for calm, relaxed, normal.
The key word in our scripture this morning from Philippians 4:11-13 is CONTENTMENT. I think calm, relaxed and normal describe contentment.
Contentment. This word has had my attention for the last year for a variety of personal and professional reasons. Contentment means “Satisfied with one’s lot”.
Isn‘t that what the song titled “It is Well with My Soul”, sings about? Horatio Spafford, the writer, was ‘satisfied with his lot’ EVEN THOUGH his son died at the age of 4 of scarlet fever, the great Chicago fire claimed his real estate investments, then a ship his wife sailed on with their 4 daughters collided with another ship. A telegram came from his wife reading “saved alone”. What color was his mood ring? Those words he wrote, “Whatever my lot thou has taught me to say, it is well, it is well, with my soul” describes the color contentment, doesn’t it? Perhaps Philippians 4:11-13 inspired him to come to such an emotional place.
Contentment also means Sufficient and Enough. In other words, I am satisfied with whatever. Whatever I have is sufficient. Whatever I have is enough.
Remember the song “The Bare Necessities?” from Disney’s movie Jungle Book?
Look for the bare necessities
The simple bare necessities
Forget about your worries and your strife
I mean the bare necessities
Old Mother Nature’s recipes
That brings the bare necessities of life
And don’t spend your time lookin’ around
For something you want that can’t be found
When you find out you can live without it
And go along not thinkin’ about it
I’ll tell you something true
The bare necessities of life will come to you
So just try and relax, yeah cool it
Fall apart in my backyard
‘Cause let me tell you something little britches
If you act like that bee acts, uh uh
You’re working too hard
The bear was teaching little britches here to be satisfied with his lot, to consider that what he had was enough and to stop working so hard and looking for something that can’t be found. The apostle Paul is not calling you little britches, and he isn’t singing a song, but he is teaching you something about the bare necessities of life.
Paul said in Philippians 4:11, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”
Paul learned how he learned to keep his mood ring light blue – calm, contented.
For some of us it may be helpful to know something about Paul’s “whatever”. When Paul wrote this letter he was in prison and he was facing a trial that could end in his death or acquittal. Paul had many reasons to write this letter to the Philippians and one reason was to speak about our emotional state of mind.
In Philippians he speaks about two emotional states of mind, joy and contentment. Concerning joy he said, “Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say, Rejoice.”
Joy, like contentment, is not so much a feeling as it is an emotional state of mind. Paul is encouraging a settled state of mind characterized by joy and contentment. He is encouraging an attitude that views life – with all its ups and downs – with a state of mind characterized by contentment.
Feelings cannot be trusted. Jesus can be trusted. That is why Paul takes contentment and gives it an object. Paul knows that our circumstances often will have our attention. Paul gives us the proper alternative to focus on.
How can I be content in life with all its ups and downs? Paul encourages us to look to Jesus. Said another way, Jesus is the bare necessity of life. Scientists say that food, water, shelter, and oxygen are the four basic necessities of life. Paul, a theologian, says Jesus is the only necessity of life.
Paul says in our scripture, Philippians 4:11-13
“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
And now here is that often memorized scripture but now understood in its proper context. Philippians 4:13 (read it with me)
I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”
Or as many of you have it memorized from the New King James Version, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
For Paul, contentment exists as a possibility not because of our own strength or will power. No we would fall short. Our contentment comes from seeing all events of life with an eye on Jesus Christ who stands above all events.
Our world promotes dissatisfaction with our lives. It promotes the emotion of dis-content. We are constantly bombarded with new and better things that will cause us to be content if we have them. How many of you have discovered the lie in all that? If contentment comes from possessions, activities, or other people, what happens when those things are removed? Disease, fire, and a ship sinking took everything from Horatio Spafford. In your life what losses have you experienced? Has this caused dis-content within you? If your contentment comes from your relationship with Jesus, there is absolutely nothing that can take away your contentment. Picture Jesus, isn’t that why perhaps this picture of Jesus is here in our sanctuary.
Life’s circumstances probably caused another song writer to write:
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.
I often struggle with every message I write. Struggle in that I experience too personally what I am writing about. I know what God wants to do through me as an encouragement to you. I also know what the enemy would like to do.
I should not have been surprised with some activity in my life this week. Here are few things I experienced this week:
- I took my son to a Dr’s appointment but went to the wrong place…
- One of my cars is in the shop for three days and while I was writing this message a call comes about another of our cars that won’t start…
- The Tigers blew two close games and I wrote that before last nights fiasco.
- All this happens while Ellen tries to get away for a few days with a friend causing me to be a single parent to deal with all this.
The enemy would like to get me to doubt everything God said. “Did God really say you can be content whatever the circumstance? My contentment was attacked this week and all along I knew I was writing this message. I was content…most of the time…well, some of the time. Can you relate?
Paul’s contentment did not depend on his environment or circumstances but on his relationship with Christ. Contentment frees you to enjoy every good thing God has given you. At times I was enjoying nothing.
I focused on the circumstance not Christ. Dis-contentment demonstrates the sin of doubt that God cares. At times I questioned God’s love with that one word question, “WHY”?
Discontentment demonstrates the sin of ingratitude and a lack of faith that God will provide all that you need. When our mood ring is a color other than the color of contentment there is only one response.
Repentance. Repent of the sin of ingratitude, jealousy, envy, or whatever.
IF your WHATEVER is leading you to be dis-content then you need to repent.
Repentance is a change of mind. Change your mind about how you are seeing your situation.
Change your mind about how you see God.
Change your mind and trust him
Go ahead you can do this, not because of yourself, but because of him.
You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you!
You can discover contentment.
Turning your “whatever” (sarcasm) into “whatever”. Whatever my lot thou has taught me to say it is well, it is well, with my soul.”
What is your whatever?
Does your whatever have you focusing on Christ or is the enemy getting you to focus on the situation?
Does CONTENT or DIS-content describe your emotional state?
Prior to this message we sang, “O little town of Bethlehem” you may have wondered why… It say’s “O little town of Bethlehem how still we see thee lie…
Ever see the Detroit from the Canadian side? It is an unreliable way to view it.
Ever see Detroit from an airplane? It is an unreliable way to view it.
Anything from a distance gives an unreliable impression.
You have to get closer and when you do you see the real color of that cities mood. It is restless, afraid, and uncertain.
How about our city? O little town of Swartz Creek. Same thing…but we aren’t talking about cities we are talking about people. How about you? “How still we see thee lie…” (How still I see thee lie in the pew)
Maybe the “lie” that we sing is the lie we try to give through our appearance. You know, you paint your mood ring light blue, so it always reads content. But it is a lie.
You look nice…from a distance…but upon closer inspection.
O Little town of Bethlehem reminds us that heaven’s contentment is given as we allow Christ to enter in. Heaven’s contentment comes as we cast out our sin and allow the Child of Bethlehem to be born in us today.
Don’t know what to pray? Pray this, “O come to me, abide with me, Our Lord Emmanuel.” Jesus, and your eyes fixed on Jesus, and not the world will bring contentment to you.