This Preaching in Shorts sermon series is called “Developing a Disciples Heart”.
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We have talked about joy, gentleness, about not being anxious, about peace, and today we are going to talk about contentment.
Romans 12:1-2 (MSG)
1 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. 2 Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.
Contentment is found by thinking about, or focusing on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.
The problem we have is that we are by nature, discontent. It is part of our selfish fallen nature.
1. Do you want to get well?
John 5:6 (NIV)
6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
We have talked about this question before, and it is one of the most important questions you will ever answer. Do you want to get well, or do you just want to get by. The question has far reaching implications that impact the temporary and the eternal. Do you want to be whole, (healed) or do you just want what you think you want to feel better. One is temporary, the other eternal. What we usually want is whatever it takes for pain free, white picket fence living. We want to hear that we can achieve it now, but the promises of pain free no more tears living are eternal. Do you really want to get well, or do you just want to feel better? The heart of a disciple will choose to get well over just feeling better.
2. Longing for heaven
2 Corinthians 5:1-5 (NIV)
1 Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
I think that most people don’t know what the longing for heaven looks or feels like. Deep within each one of us is a longing for heaven. We know deep down that there is something better than we are experiencing. No matter how hard we try to make everything work, it just never does. There is still this deep empty place. We try and fill the emptiness with all sorts of things. Some are seemingly OK, thinks like getting busy, always on the go. Push, push, push so that I never have to stop long enough to feel that emptiness. Or, maybe we try and fill it with things and situations that are not OK. Drugs, alcohol, immorality, etc.
Sometimes it might be trying to recreate some memories of our past that seem to represent happier times. I believe this is why nostalgic television shows are popular. They remind us of what we have come to remember as better times.
But the longing for heaven cannot be satisfied this side of heaven. It is supposed to remind us that this is not our home. We get tastes of eternity now, but we do not get the whole banquet. Rather than be consumed with trying to satisfy the longing now, (temporary and selfish), we need to be…
3. Mourning the brokenness
The reality we must face and embrace is that we live in a fallen world on a broken planet. Everything is broken here, including us.
2 Corinthians 5:1-5 (MSG)
1 For instance, we know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven—God-made, not handmade 2 —and we’ll never have to relocate our “tents” again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move—and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we’re tired of it! We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! 3 4 5 The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less.
If we are focused on living for ourselves, then we take every reminder of the brokenness personally. It is like an attack on our plans of trying to make everything work. Why does this happen to ME? We often even get mad at or blame God, or think we are being punished for something. But, this isn’t heaven, everything is broken, and sin is the cause of the brokenness. If you want to get mad at someone, get mad at the evil one. He deceived us into thinking that we could be like God, he got us kicked out of paradise, and now he tries to deceive us into blaming God for the brokenness and to continue sinning by trying to be like God and fix everything in our own strength or fill the emptiness with empty things.
Every tragedy, every broken thing, every failure, should just be a reminder that this temporary life will never be perfect, but, in His mercy and grace, He has made a way for us to get back into the relationship we had before the fall. This is not as good as it gets and you don’t need to make it your life’s purpose to try and fix it.
4.) We have to stop thinking the way the world does
Romans 12:2 (NIV)
2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Don’t be conformed to the pattern of this world (in order to be content, I must have more) but be changed by the renewing of your mind. By right thinking. By keeping our thoughts focused on God, His will and His way.
5. We need to start thinking God’s way
Philippians 4:8 (MSG)
8 Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.
What really matters in life? If I get everything I want will I be content then? There’s two ways to have enough. Get more or want less. The person who is content is the person whose pleasures are the simplest. Walking in the moonlight, enjoying the sunrise. A cup of coffee on the back patio with your spouse. Learn to be grateful for what you have and what you can do. Learning that life is found in His ways, and not in the ways of the world.