Seats Skyline Boy

Why Should We Work to Learn Contentment?

Our society breeds discontentment. Think about it. Every day we are bombarded with messages that tell us if we want to be happy we need more things, fewer wrinkles, better vacations, and fewer troubles. The result of being hit with these messages day in and day out is that we find ourselves discontent in our jobs, marriages, churches, homes, friendships, and with our possessions. Our continual discontentment shouldn’t shock us. Being content isn’t something that comes naturally. Instead, contentment is something that is learned. Paul says in Philippians 4:11,

For I have learned in whatever situation I am in to be content.” (Phil. 4:11)

According to Hebrews 13:5, it is a response that all Christians must learn, not just apostles, pastors, or super christians.

Learning contentment is not an easy process. Since we naturally gravitate towards discontentment, it takes work. Even so, we must put in the work. We must do that, first, because we are commanded to do so. I, however, know commands aren’t always the best motivators, so besides the fact that we are commanded to be content, what are some other reasons we should work to learn contentment?

Why Should We Work to Learn Contentment?

(1) When we aren’t content with what the Lord has given us, we may find ourselves enslaved

Think about the person who wants to be the head of the office, which in and of itself is not a bad thing. Yet, this person is seeking that position because of the prestige, power, and money it affords. What happens to that guy? Inevitably he is going to start working longer hours and taking on a heavier workload, in order to try and prove he is the man for the job.

The downside, however, to taking on more work and longer hours is that he ends up neglecting his family, his church, and his health. Even though his family is constantly after him for more attention. His church consistently tells him they miss him. And his doctor keeps telling him to cut back on his work and get some exercise, he keeps going.

Why does he keep pushing despite the drawbacks, consequences, and broken relationships? He does it because he is enslaved to the process of getting to the top; of acquiring a certain level of prestige, power, and money he believes will ultimately give him what he desires. His enslavement started because he wasn’t content with what the Lord had given him, nor was he content with waiting on the Lord’s timing.

So we see that when we aren’t content with what the Lord has given us we may find ourselves enslaved, which has the very real potential of ruining relationships, our health, and even our life.

(2) When we aren’t content with what the Lord has given us, we may find ourselves destroyed

Take Bernie Madoff for instance. In 2008, his world of fame and fortune came crashing down when he was arrested for running the biggest Ponzi Scheme in history.

Bernie’s scheme all started because he wasn’t content with what he had. Instead of putting in the time and effort like everyone else, he decided to make sure his investments provided the returns necessary to elevate his lifestyle. Through an elaborately calculated and meticulously controlled Ponzi scheme, he was able to create the life he desired.

Bernie’s scheme worked for almost 20 years. During that time, I am sure he thought he would never be caught, but the law finally caught up with him. When it did, the life and empire he had built through his elaborate deception were destroyed. His empire came crashing down so hard that even one of his own kids was driven to suicide because he couldn’t handle the shame, pressure, and media attention Bernie brought on his family.

So we see when we aren’t content with what the Lord has given us, we may find ourselves, like Madoff, with our world destroyed as it all comes crashing down around us.

(3) When we are content with what the Lord has given us, we are free to worship Him

In Genesis 14, after Abraham defeats King Chedorlaomer and his alliance. He brings back his nephew Lot and all that King Chedorlaomer took from Sodom. Before Abraham meets with the King of Sodom, he has an encounter with the King of Salem – Melchizedek.

When Abraham meets with Melchizedek, we see that…

“…he [Melchizedek] blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!”” (Ge 14:19-20b)

Through Melchizedek’s blessing Abraham is reminded that God is the One who has given him the victory. God is the reason he won the battle and was able to bring Lot, his family, and all the people of Sodom back.

Realizing God’s hand in the matter, Abraham is driven to worship the Lord, which he does by giving a tenth of everything to Melchizedek, the priest of the Most High God (Ge. 14:20).

“Tithing” is a universal sign of worship. It is a way for us give thanks to God for all He has given us and all He has done for us. As well as it is a way for us to show our trust and dependence on God. When you tithe, then, you aren’t just giving money to the church, you are actually worshipping God.

Sadly, however, tithing is a neglected form of worship. The Barna Group, a research firm, estimates that only 5-20 percent of people tithe in a typical congregation. They found that among non-tithing Christians who struggle to give, 38 percent say it’s because they can’t afford it, 33 percent say they have too much debt [1].

Now, I know that there are a few who are in a season of life where they may want to tithe, but can’t. They are working towards it, but things have happened — maybe they recently lost their job — which has hindered their ability to tithe for a season. The majority of people, however, who don’t tithe aren’t in that season. Instead, the majority of people who don’t tithe fit into the categories the Barna group highlighted. They can’t afford it because they are living outside their means, or they have too much debt because they are trying to keep up with the Jones’. Living outside your means or in ever increasing debt is not only unwise, it also reveals something about your heart. You are discontent with what the Lord had given you, and your discontentment has hinder your ability to worship God.

One of the secrets, then, to being able to consistently worship God by tithing is to be content with what the Lord has given you. Abraham was content, which is why he was able to give a tenth of the spoils of war to Melchizedek as a tithe. He could have kept it back, but he didn’t. Instead, he used it to worship the Lord.

So we see that when we are content with what the Lord has given us, we are set free to worship God through giving, not only of our money but ourselves.

(4) When we are content with what the Lord has given us, we are free to glorify Him.

In 1924, Eric Liddell entered the Olympic games. He was the favorite to win the 100 meter since he broke the British record in 1923. A record that stood for 35 years.

Liddell’s dream, however, of winning Olympic Gold was shattered when it was revealed that the 100m heats would fall on a Sunday. He was a devout Christian, who observed the Sabbath on Sunday, which meant participating in sports, even the Olympic games, was out of the question. Instead of running in a race he was sure to win, he spent the morning preaching in the Scots Church in Paris.

Why was he able to preach instead of run? He was able to give up a chance at the Gold because he was content with what the Lord had given him. His contentment freed him to seek God’s glory instead of his own.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Are you content? If not, in what areas do you need to learn contentment?
  2. What are some other reasons we should work to learn to contentment?

Resources

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Post adapted from my sermon “Why Should We Seek Contentment?“, which you can listen to here.

[1] http://www.christianpost.com/news/study-christians-who-tithe-have-healthier-finances-than-those-who-dont-95959/

 

 

 

Honest

Can We Be Honest With God?

In Genesis 15:1, Abraham has a vision. The text says,

“After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”” (Ge 15:1)

In his vision, God appears to Abraham. Of course, Abraham’s first reaction is fear — fear of judgment. Knowing Abraham’s thoughts, God says to him,

“Fear not, Abram, I am your shield.” (Gen. 15:1a)

In other words, God is telling Him that He is for him, He is his refuge and protection. As such, Abraham shouldn’t fear God’s judgment.

That’s true for us as well.

Those who are God’s need not fear His judgment

That is an awesome promise because it means those of us who are God’s know where we stand with Him. We are not left to wonder or worry. We don’t have to hope that we have done enough good works to escape God’s judgment. Those who are His know where they stand.

Those who are God’s Can Expose Their Life to Him

Knowing where we stand with God allows us to expose our life to Him without fear that He will use that against us, or change His mind and judge us. As well as it allows us to be honest with God, to truly share our feelings with Him. We don’t have to hold back. We can reveal sin in our lives, repenting of it, and asking Him for the strength to fight it. We can share with God what we are thinking. We can ask Him questions.

Abraham’s Example

That is exactly what Abraham does. After God tells Abraham that He need not fear Him and that His reward shall be very great, Abraham is honest with God when he says,

““O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?””” (Ge 15:2)

You see, 10 years ago God promised Abraham that He would give him a son and that He would make him into a great nation. God hasn’t delivered on that promise yet. Since God hasn’t delivered, Abraham questions God. Essentially he is saying in verses 2 and 3,

“You have been promising me a reward for a while. I still don’t have the heir you told me I was going to have. The only one I have is Eliezer, who is my servant. Is he supposed to be my heir? Because, if I remember correctly God, You told me You were going to give me my own son?”

Calling God’s promise into question takes some guts. But, again, knowing that we don’t have to fear His judgment if we are His allows us to be honest with God.

Proof We Can Be Honest With God

God proves that we can be honest with Him, when He doesn’t respond in judgment. Instead, in verses 4 and 5, He responds lovingly, assuring Abraham that he will have a son of his own and he will become a great nation. So this will sink in, God takes him outside, tells him to look up at the uncountable stars in the night sky, and as he does, God tells him again that He will give him an heir and that the nation that will come forth from him will be greater than the stars in the sky that night.

Question for Reflection

  1. When is the last time you have been honest with God about how you feel, the sin you are struggling with, or the questions you have?

Resources

Post adapted from my sermon What are the three foundational truths upon which the Christian life must be built? You can listen here.

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Worship Girl

Do You Worship Out of a Sense of Duty or Thankfulness?

In Psalm 50, Asaph confronts Israel regarding their worship and living. What they were doing isn’t much different from what many do today. Their worship was formulaic. In other words, they were going through the motions. Sure, they brought the appropriate sacrifices, but it was done more out of a sense of duty instead of thanksgiving.

Many Do the Same Today

To our shame, many today view the Sunday worship service as nothing more than another box to check off on their spiritual checklist right alongside their morning prayer and devotion. Thinking that way, we drag ourselves to the Sunday Service, sing a few songs, bow for the pastoral prayer, greet our neighbors, place some money in the offering plate, listen to the sermon, and then we are on our way, patting ourselves on the back for a job well done. Why do we do this?

Why Do We Worship Out of Duty?

We worship out of duty because we think that is what God wants or needs. But that is far from the truth. God doesn’t need us, our provisions, or our worship. He owns everything, and He is satisfied in and of Himself. The truth is, we need God. We need His provisions and care.

The Gospel Changes Our Perspective

Instead of faking it, what we need to do is change our perspective. The way we do that is by meditating on the gospel.

The gospel tells us we are sinners, who have rebelled against and offended a holy God. As a result, we are destined to suffer His wrath. However, Jesus came, lived a perfect life, and, even though He didn’t deserve God’s wrath, He faced it on our behalf. He took the wrath we deserve on Himself. All those who repent of their sins and believe Jesus suffered the punishment we deserve, can experience a restored relationship with the Father free from the fear of judgment.

For Jesus’ sacrifice, we should be thankful. For God’s provision and care in our life, we should be thankful. Our thankfulness should drive us to worship God. So when we begin to go through the motions in worship, what we need to do is stop, meditate on the gospel, and remember God’s provisions.

We need to reset our heart, so we see that it’s not God who needs us, but we who need Him.

When we truly see our need for God and how He has provided for us, we should be driven to worship out of a sense of thankfulness instead of duty. When we worship from a right heart, we end up glorifying God. For He says in Psalm 50:23

“The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” (Ps. 50:23)

Question for Reflection

  1. Does thankfulness or duty drive your worship?

Resource

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