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The Secret To Being Content

"10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. 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."

Good Morning My Beloved,

Welcome to worship this Lord's Day!
We would like to welcome all of our new brothers and sister from around the world.
We're so glad to have all of you here with us today.

While we may never have every possession we desire, we have to admit that God has blessed each and everyone of us far beyond anything we deserve. God has been faithful to supply every need I’ve had and many of my wants. Let's be honest, much of the "want" in our day is not necessity, but a desire. Such consideration begs the question, what would we do with more if we had it? Would we be more generous in our giving to the Lord and to others who are not as fortunate as we are, or would it only generate more greed and selfishness? I believe, we need that contentment that comes from Christ, rather than earthly wealth and possessions.

Having a divine dissatisfaction is essential for spiritual progress. As believers, we should never be satisfied with their level of spiritual growth. Therefore, we should never assume that we have done enough; that we are spiritually mature enough; and most importantly, that we are godly enough. So as it relates to spiritual progress, Scripture commends discontentment.
Let us bow our heads in prayer.
Heavenly Father, 
Father, we thank You for Your incredible truth, we thank You for Your Word. Lord, we admit the truth is not always easy to hear when You are applying to our hearts, we pray asking for Your help. Help us to deal with the attitudes of our heart, that are so vitally important to living life with blessing and fulfillment.
Lord, let us be content in what You have given to us, to bless others in Your name. For we know that Scripture teaches us, that our contentment will be severely interrupted by sin, disobedience, carnality, selfishness.
Father, You have promised to care for everything we need, and to bless us with all spiritual blessings, to give us our daily bread for our food, and to never leave us or forsake us. What more can we ask for, we have everything we could ever need in You. We are so richly blessed to live under these promises in Your Word. Thank You Father.
In Christ's precious name
Today's Message: The Secret To Being Content
Open with me your Bibles, to the fourth chapter of Philippians, verses 10 through 12. In the ongoing study of the marvelous epistle in Paul's instruction for the church in Philippi, we come to another matter altogether. I would like to encourage you to follow along with me as I read to get our text set in our minds. Philippians 4:10-12.

"But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity.  Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  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."

Here, Paul addresses a different kind of contentment. Now, spiritual growth is not simply the subject of satisfaction or dissatisfaction, but rather material belongings and physical provisions. What we are going to see as we take a closer look at this Apostolic letter, is that there is a certain kind of contentment which is indeed godly; that while we should never be satisfied with our spiritual walk, we should always be satisfied with our physical possessions.

The church in Philippi faced financial struggles themselves, with many of them living in extreme poverty, II Corinthians 8:1-2. They were pleased however to share what they had with Paul. They willingly sacrificed what little they had to ensure Paul’s needs were met. Epaphroditus had come to Paul, bearing gifts from the Philippian church.

This presents a great challenge for many of us today. Though many of us have faced tough economic times past year, when compared to the rest of the world, each of us are rich, but I understand the struggles many have faced. Believe me, I too have faced them, as many of you know. And, it is easy to lose our compassion for others and convince ourselves we just don’t have anything to give. Paul and the Philippian church had learned that contentment was not found in great wealth, but in obedience to Christ.

I am aware, that much of what we will discuss here today, will fly in the face of all that Americans hold dear. In fact, the accumulation of wealth and possessions is almost a given in our country – that’s just what we do. That’s what life is all about. We are born, we go to school to learn general knowledge, many go on to college to learn specific knowledge that we can apply in a particular trade, we find a job — optimally in the trade we trained for— and we begin to make and accumulate money, so that we can buy cars, buy houses, buy clothes, buy jewelry, buy cell phones, buy video games, buy all sorts of stuff.

While that may be part of the typical American life, it is far from the expected biblical standard of a follower of Jesus Christ. Let me be clear, Scripture does not suggest that possessions are evil or that having many of them is necessarily evil, but that possessions should always remain possessions and never become possessors. As believers, we control our possessions for the glory of God. The true Christian understands the role of material possessions in this life as we prepare for the next life – our true, abundant, and eternal life.
In verse 10, Paul says "But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity."
Contentment is such an important Christian virtue that Paul instructed Timothy, the young pastor at the church of Ephesus, in the ways of contentment when he wrote in I Timothy 6:6, there is great gain in godliness with contentment. We will look at the passage in depth in just a moment. So the Bible is well aware of, as we would expect it to be, the natural, sinful human tendency to covet after more and more material possessions and set those possessions up as idols. The best way to avoid that particular form of idolatry, of course, is to develop contentment.
The main crux of this passage is Paul rejoicing and thanking the Philippians for a gift that they had sent to him. He speaks of them reviving their concern for him, which is a way of alluding to their support of him. Then in verse 18 he mentions the gift specifically.
I'd like you to remember, that at the end of chapter 2, this gift was sent to Paul from Philippi by the hand of Epaphroditus. And as I previously mentioned it was an enormous task, to travel from Philippi to Rome bearing a gift. The 1200 mile journey was by no means easy. So Paul is, again recognizing this, he begins to express his gratitude for their generosity.
As is often the case, Paul states something very important in the midst of his overall comment. He wants the saints to know that he is especially grateful for their gift, but that with or without the gift he would be content. In fact, he goes beyond that. He states that whatever situation he was in, he had learned to be satisfied with what he had. And in saying this he claims that he knew: how to be brought low...and the secret of facing hunger...and need.
I believe that apart from Jesus himself, the greatest missionary to ever walk the planet. A giant of all giants of the faith humbly admitting that he knew how to do without. I want for you to get a picture of this from the book of II Corinthians. For some this will be an eye-opener and for others a refresher. What kind of things did Paul deal with while preaching the gospel in the name of Jesus Christ? 
Turn with me to II Corinthians chapter 11. I invite you to follow along with me as I read. In II Corinthians 11 Paul is combating false apostles. Men who were disguising themselves as apostles of Christ but were preaching a different gospel. They were, as Jesus called them in Matthew 7, wolves in sheep’s clothing. He compares himself to them with an outrageous listing of all that he had gone through as an authentic Apostle.

II Corinthians 11:23-29 says, and this is Paul writing: "Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one —I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak?"

Allow me to point out, Paul isn’t some well off, fortunate man who is telling the poor, unfortunate Philippians to be quiet and be happy with what they have. This is a man who knew from his own personal painful reality what it was like to be brought low. He knew first hand what it was to hunger. He knew by personal experience what is was to be humiliated. This isn’t some pie in the sky instruction. This is real talk from a real man who endured real problems.

Now why is it that Paul, who had tremendous apostolic authority in the churches, did not use his influence to put himself in a better financial position? It was not that he thought there was some intrinsic holiness in being poor, but rather the opposite. He knew the deceitfulness of desiring riches. His concentration was on ministry rather than materials because focusing on the material aspects of life would distract him from his calling.

Now let's look at the passage in I Timothy 6 that I mentioned earlier. Verses 6-10 says "But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. 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."

I'd like you to carefully pay attention to the how these statements are worded. To think that having money and being rich or wealthy is evil in and of itself is to miss to point. That’s not the point that Paul is making when he says "But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction."

The reason why we need to learn how to be satisfied with little is that it keeps us from coveting for more.

Beloved, we live in a blessed and prosperous nation. There is nothing wrong with wanting to make a good living for ourselves so that we can support God's work and provide for our families. In fact, we will discuss how to live a lot of wealth should God bless us with that in a moment. However, if we have an intense desire for money. If we crave it, if we love it, then our values are skewed and we have made money and material belongings idols.

To avoid this, we must practice being content with what we have. That doesn’t necessarily mean we don’t pursue more than we have. It means that if we don’t get what we’re pursuing, we remain satisfied, content with what God has given us. A content person knows how to have little, should God call him or her to a simple lifestyle. And this will be the majority experience for most of us. For most of us, the main application from this passage will be this: Even though you don’t have all the world offers, be content with what you have.

The Apostle Paul was likely never rich as we would define it. But there were times in his life when he had more than he needed. Not only does he state his ability to be content when facing hunger and need, but also when facing plenty and abundance.

Being content when you are doing without certain things is one thing. However, being content when you have plenty, possibly even everything you’ve ever wanted, is quite another. Here the tendency is not to want more, but to think you need nothing. If you’re not wealthy the struggle for contentment comes in lacking things; if you’re wealthy the struggle comes in misplacing your contentment.

The temptation is to think primarily two things. First, that you acquired your wealth with your own power and expertise. The second, is that because have your wealth you have no need of anything. We could summarize those two statements down to only two words: Pride and Self-sufficiency. 

The prophet Jeremiah warned us of these dangers when he wrote in chapter 9:23-24: "Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord."

For the wealthy to boast about being wealthy is to reveal that your source of contentment is clearly misguided, and in the wrong place. And this kind of boasting, if left unchecked, inevitably leads to a denial of needing anything from anyone. 

In fact, in Revelation chapter 3, Jesus rebuked the church at Laodicea for this. After rebuking the church for being lukewarm, in verse 17 he says: "Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked."

For those of us without a lot of money, we tend to think life is so much easier for those who have it. And, there is only some truth to that. From a worldly standpoint that is true. Wealthy people don’t have to worry about how they are going to pay their bills, feed their families, or supply their needs. However, there is a spiritual battle that the rich must contend with. Jesus said that only with much difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of God. Why is that? Because monetary and material possessions can easily keep you from seeing your need for forgiveness from our Savior.

We need only to turn to God's Word to understand the truth, Proverbs 22:2 teaches us "The rich and the poor have a common bond, The Lord is the maker of them all."

A content person understands true wealth. Proverbs 11:28 says; "Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf." If you want real wealth, follow after Christ. The treasures of heaven which all of His followers will inherit, far exceed any wealth this fallen world can offer. That’s why the psalmist declared in Psalm 119:14; "In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches."

I Timothy 6:17-19 says "Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed."

Here is something I want you keep with you and never forget: Everything you have, you have because Jesus Christ, a gift that God has given it to you. And everything you have was given to you so that you could use it for His glory. You will have a biblical view of money and possessions when your aim is to use it all for Him, either through primary or secondary means. An example of primary means would be the money and resources you give directly to the church. A use of secondary means would be your house. You don’t give your house away, but you use it as a place of habitation while you go about the business of serving Christ. All of your materials, in one way or another, are a means to an end. 

The end is the glory of God. 

May it be so...

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name

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The Brian Monzon Ministries



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