Auto Generated Transcript
Good morning. Welcome to Alpine Bible Church. I am so excited to share what God’s been showing me and revealing through His Word and through others. What what we’re going to dive into today has a context we have to rewind. About a month or so ago at Senior High week at Grace Haven Bible Camp, we had a Question Time for leaders for High School Week, where there was a group of us as leaders answering questions that the campers had. And the campers came up with all sorts of questions, very deep theological questions about the goodness of God and how his justice and love are balanced and what what does it mean for all. Good God and an all loving God and an all just God to send people to hell. And we we answered all these questions and there was some really deep ones. And I kind of got to the the circle late to answer questions. And there was one question left and that question was, how do I keep myself from being envious? And I came, came up and I was like, That’s mine. I take it I’ll take it. And I was really excited about answering this question because this question is an important question, and I was impressed by whoever wrote it down, because this question is super important for all of us to answer. How do I keep myself from being envious? Because envious this person had the the thought and the ability to look at himself or herself and say, I struggle with envy.
I struggle looking at people and wishing that I was that person or wishing that I had that relationship, wishing that they had that money or had that experience or had that family. And I thought this would be a great sermon series, you know, like ten sermons long, maybe five. But luckily for you guys, maybe not. Luckily, we’re going to condense that all into just one sermon here. The sermon a sermon on contentment. And I know as the Saints of Alpine Bible Church, none of us have struggled with envy or jealousy at all. Right now I see Addie shaking her head back there. Sorry to call you out, Addie, but, you know, jealousy and envy are real things that we struggle with. And my. I think that jealousy, envy and covetousness and greed are really serious. And they can work together in one’s life to slowly, if not surely constrict one’s spiritual life. If you’re not careful, envy can suffocate your relationship with God. How do I come to that conclusion? It’s because when you see a couple take their third trip to Hawaii in three years, there’s something inside you. You go, Oh, why can’t that be me? Or maybe you go to your older sister’s house and she has a beautiful house that doesn’t have constant remodeling projects in the basement or kids art projects on the walls. And there’s something inside of you. Oh, I want that.
Why does my sister get that? Or maybe it’s someone that you graduated with that didn’t try as hard as you did and didn’t pull the same grades that now has that job that you’ve always wanted. And you become frustrated and angry because of it. When we see others enjoying what we want, we have the propensity of comparing our lives and being very unsatisfied with our own and asking our hearts. God, why then? And we begin to accuse God of being unfair, unloving, and begin to believe that he doesn’t care about us or care about us enough to give us the things that we want that we need, and consequently we begin to not trust him. If we believe that God is unfair. If we believe that God is holding us from the things that we need, the things that we want, we will start believing that God is unfair and that he doesn’t, and that we can’t trust him. And if that takes root in our soul, what is our relationship with God going to look like in a year? In five years, in ten years, at the end of your life? If jealousy has taken root in your soul, what is your relationship with God going to look like? Now that’s pretty like, I don’t know, that’s a lot. But I would say that there is a solution. And what is the solution? Lincoln I’m glad you answered. I mean, you ask the question, the answer is contentment.
Contentment is freedom. Contentment can say, I want that, but I don’t need that to be whole. Contentment is joy here and now. Not I’ll have joy then and there. Now, if you’re like me, hopefully you’re not like me. You’re thinking, No, duh, Lincoln. It’s like the most obvious thing you could have said. How do I stop myself from being jealous? Be content. I mean, it’s pretty straightforward. Anyone can come to that conclusion. But maybe you’re thinking, Lincoln, I know this, but that’s not easy. I’ve tried to be content. I’ve tried to be happy my whole life, but I still struggle with jealousy, envy, greed and covetousness. Thanks a lot, Lincoln, for making me realize that I need contentment now. I appreciate your honesty. And to be clear, it does take contentment, because the heart of contentment is exactly the opposite of the heart of jealousy. The heart of contentment says, Thank you, God, for the life that you have given me. You have blessed me with all that I need. I lack nothing. And I trust you. If you have your Bibles today, please open up to Philippians 411 through 12. We find the Apostle Paul writing this book to the Philippian believers in the first century. And if you don’t have your Bibles, we do have the passage up on screen. So if you guys can follow along with me, it says, not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstance I am, circumstances I am.
I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to get how to live in prosperity. And in any and every circumstance. I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. Maybe you’re thinking, Paul, you’ve learned to be content. That’s that’s pretty cool. I mean, I wish I could be that, but, I mean, it’s pretty rad that you can do that, but you don’t understand. You haven’t walked a mile in my shoes. You haven’t experienced what I’ve experienced. You haven’t gone through the same struggles of life that I’ve gone through. So you’ve learned to be content. But I. I don’t think I could ever do that. Something that you need to know that Paul is writing this letter to the Philippians from prison. We don’t know whether it was under house arrest or in an actual prison, but we do know that Paul spent a large amount of his time in actual prisons and prisons in the ancient world. Roman prisons in the ancient world were a lot different than prisons. Today, you were constantly chained to the wall. You didn’t have the ability to go out and exercise. You didn’t have the ability to watch your favorite TV dramas or soaps. I don’t know who actually watched soaps in here. I’m sorry if I offended you, but Paul didn’t have that opportunity.
He had nothing. And not only that, the prisons didn’t feed their inmates. The only way the inmates survived was if they had people on the outside of prison coming and giving them food and also blankets and clothing. So Paul is completely dependent on the people outside to survive. Without them, he dies and he writes to the Philippians. I’ve learned to be content in any and every circumstance. Not only is Paul suffering in prison, but he has seen some things and he has experienced some hardships in his life. He has suffered physically, emotionally And in Second Corinthians, we find a list of what Paul, just up to that point in Second Corinthians had endured. So if you guys want to to follow along in Second Corinthians Chapter 11, I’ll begin. Paul says in far more labors and in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I receive from the Jews 39 lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned three times I was shipwrecked. A night and a day I’ve spent in the deep. I’ve been on frequent journeys in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my countrymen, danger from gentiles, danger in the city, dangers in the wilderness. Dangers on the sea. Dangers among false brethren. I’ve been in labor and hardship through many sleepless nights in hunger and thirst, often without food in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is a daily pressure on me of a concern for all the churches.
Paul was a man who dedicated his whole life to the gospel. His whole life was sacrifice sacrificed to Christ. Everything he did was for Christ. And I have the impression that if anyone in the existence of humanity, maybe besides Jesus could say the words God, this is unfair. It was Paul. But Paul doesn’t complain. He doesn’t. He doesn’t he doesn’t look at his circumstance and go, Why, God, are you doing this? You’re unfair. You’re you don’t love me. You don’t care about me. You’re letting me suffer. You’re letting me go through all this pain. Paul says I’ve learned to be content in any and every circumstances, whether I’m hungry, whether I’m starving, whether I’m in danger of dying from overexposure and cold, whether I’ve been beaten, whether I’ve been beaten again and again, whether I have scars on my back, whether I’m bleeding. I’ve learned to be content. Now, if we’re people who struggle with contentment, this should shock us because Paul is saying that it’s something that he learned. He’s saying that it’s a skill. It’s not a talent. It’s something that he’s learned. It’s not inherent. It’s something that he knows now that he didn’t back then. So if that’s the case, if contentment is a skill, how do we learn that skill? Thank you for asking. Here’s the thing. I believe Paul tells the people of Philippi and thankfully us in the book of Philippians, what it takes to live a life of contentment.
So Philippians starting Philippians four, starting in verse seven, I mean, starting in verse four, going to verse seven, it says, Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication. With Thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Now, I think most of us have read this passage before. Most of us have read, you know, be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with Thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. I think most of us have heard that before. But when we read that, we often read that in a style that is more of a lecture rather than Paul sharing his personal experience. You know, when someone tells us, you know, don’t be anxious, we often go, like, what? Come on, you don’t know what I’m going through. But Paul here is sharing from his personal experience what he’s gone through and the peace that has come from him giving thanks and praying to God, making his requests be made known. He’s. He’s sharing his experience when he says and the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
He can say that because he’s experienced it. And his desire is for them as Christians, as followers of Christ, to live in the same peace of God that he’s experienced when he was beaten, when he was shipwrecked, when he was when he was stoned. And that’s a peace which surpasses all comprehension. And Paul talks to them about it. And the passage begins with the importance of rejoicing. It says, Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I will say rejoice. It’s repeated. There’s that repetition. And I don’t think that’s a coincidence in the context of contentment. In fact, I think it’s impossible for anyone to live a life of contentment without a life that is marked by thankfulness. Because thankfulness focuses our hearts and our minds on what God has blessed us with, not on what we lack or what He hasn’t given us. Now, I think there’s a couple reasons why thankfulness is a discipline and it just doesn’t happen naturally. And the first is that complaining is far more natural and far more easy than having than being thankful. Now, I was a kid once back in the day. It wasn’t that long ago, I guess. But most of you have had kids or are kids or been a kid, so you understand that it’s far more likely for that kid to complain or say, I want that. I need that. I want that. Mom, can we get this cereal? Can we get. I want that toy.
I want that. It’s far more easier for them to complain and say they want stuff than to go. Dad, Mom, thank you so much for everything that you do to me. Do for me. You are such a blessing in my life and I don’t know what I would do without you. Right. It’s far more natural for them to complain and to want stuff than to be thankful. And that that, I would say, is natural. And it’s easy because it’s easier to focus on what we want than on what we have. And for you as a parent, I mean, if I was a parent, this is what I’d be thinking. I’ve often thought of this because I’ve counseled in different stuff is like, kid, I’ve given you everything that you need. Why are you complaining about stuff that you want? Parents give their kids what they need. But kids often don’t look at that and say thank you. They often go, This is what I want. Please give. Or maybe not, please, but give it to me. Right. It’s natural. The second reason is because our stomachs are bigger than our eyes. I know it’s flip flopped, so just follow along. Our stomachs are bigger than our eyes. We tell ourselves repeatedly, If I just had that, I would be satisfied. Or if I just had that thing, I would be good. If I just was there, I would be at peace. So an example from my childhood, when I was around 15, 16, I was really into video games.
Okay, confession. I was really into video games and I was really big into this game called FIFA, which is a soccer video game, and me and my friends were super into it. We had tournaments. We had like t shirts that we wore in celebration. If we won the tournament, we got to wear it at school the next week. It was awesome. But anyways, we were obsessed with FIFA and me with video games and what would happen is a video game, a new video game that we were waiting for so badly would come out and we’d be like, Yes, finally this comes out. I will finally be happy. I will be able to enjoy this video game. And then we play it and then we play it for about a month. And when I win the Champions League like three times and, you know, whatever. Anyways, you guys have no idea what I’m talking about, but I beat the game and I do well on the game and it becomes boring, it becomes old, and I go, okay, what am I going to do next? And I kind of look through, Oh man, Halo four is coming out. I can’t wait until then. Then when Halo four comes out, I’m going to be happy. I’m going to be That’s just going to be it. My life will be over. It will just be good.
And the Halo four comes out and same thing happens again. And then FIFA 19, FIFA 16, 17, 18, 19. And it just keeps it’s a cycle of me wanting a new game, playing it, getting old with it, and then wanting the next one. And most of you are thinking right now, man, I’m glad I don’t play video games. They are addicting, time wasting, just stupid. Yeah, I know. Anyways, I have a question for every one of you who said that. What do you believe will make your life complete? What do you think? You need to be happy. What was it, three months ago? What was it? Three years ago? See, we tell ourselves that if I just had that job, if I just had that car, if I just had that home, if I just had that furniture, if I just had that relationship, I would be set. I’ll need nothing else. But what happens is we get those things and we realize that our stomachs were bigger than our eyes. We realized, Oh, I need more. My appetite is not satisfied. We will always want more. Charles Spurgeon, the famous English pastor. Preacher said it this way. You say, If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied. You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have. You would not be satisfied if it were doubled. The Greek philosopher Sokrates. I know it’s Socrates, but Sokrates says he, who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.
Now, this is not unique to human experience. Socrates lived like 400 500 years before the time of Christ. Spurgeon lived around 200 200 years ago. And what does this mean for us? It means that the discipline of thankfulness is of utmost importance, because when we’re thankful, we begin to focus on what God has given us our needs and not so much on what God has, not on what He keeps from us. It focuses us, which brings us to our next verse in Philippians four, eight through nine, which reads, Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is good is of good repute. If there is any excellence, if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me practice these things and the God of peace will be with you. A life of contentment is a life that is full of thankfulness, but also a life of contentment requires focus and specifically focused on what is good, what is true, what is honorable, what is worthy of praise, not distracted by the excess in trivial of life. Paul tells them to dwell, which literally means to abide to live in what is true, what is honorable, and put these things into practice. And then he promises that the God of peace will be with him, the same God who offers the peace that goes beyond comprehension.
It’s that same, that peace, that peace that is offered. Who here is easily distracted. Squirrel. Right. Have you guys seen up? It’s a great movie. Those dogs are always like squirrel. It’s fantastic. I really enjoy It’s a good movie. But anyways, I have a dog. Her name is Bailey. She’s a wheaten terrier. I mean, terrier. She is very easily distracted. Pretty much whatever toy is in your hand is her favorite toy, right? Like, I can take a toy, I can throw it across the room and she’ll go running after it. But as soon as she sees me grab another toy with my hand, she will look at that toy. Forget about the toy I just threw and run towards me wanting me to throw that. And I can keep doing that with her for however long she, you know, until she gets exhausted and just like lies down or I get bored with it. She’s so easily distracted. Always like looking, looking for what’s happening with squirrels, with toys, with the doorbell, with, you know, with knocks, with anything so easily distracted. And I often feel like that in today’s world, I feel like my dog Bailey, because we live in a world that is so highly commercialized. You know, there’s ads everywhere you go, whether it’s the Internet, whether it’s driving, and you see billboards and billboards and billboards or you’re going through a store or you’re listening, you’re watching a YouTube video, ads will come up whether you’re watching TV, whatever you’re doing, you’re going you’re getting constant messages.
And these messages are promotions and they’re telling you how to spend your time, your money and your energy. And these are constant. They’re constant in our lives telling us this is what you should this is what’s cool. This is what’s good. This is what you should spend your time on. This is what you should spend your money on. This is, this is it. And we can get distracted so easily, like my dog Bailey. And if only commercials were what distracted us in life, if only it were commercials. There are so many more things. But the things that I want to focus on are Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, you know, whatever social media site you use, they have the ability to distract us from being Christlike and living out the gospel. And I don’t think social media is bad. I have a Facebook, so I’m not saying that social media is bad, but it can amplify jealousy and envy. It’s an amplifier, a catalyst, as Tyler would say it. It amplifies or envy and comparison. And one of, if not the greatest destroyers of our contentment is comparison, because comparison often leads us to envy. And as I mentioned earlier, envy can destroy our relationship with God because it focuses on what God has kept us from and not what God has blessed us with.
And a life of contentment is impossibility. If you have jealousy and envy. My pastor that I grew up with, Jeff Manion, would say the answer to not being jealous, to not being envious, is to look in your bowl. Now I’m going to explain that. Okay, too. So look in your bowl. I was a middle child. Third of four boys got pretty rough. You know, the whole competition thing was sometimes healthy, sometimes unhealthy. And we would often rent a or rent a cottage on a lake in northern Michigan. It’s beautiful. Some of the best weeks of my life were spent up there, and in the evenings we would often have homemade vanilla ice cream. The best, best thing ever. Not only homemade vanilla ice cream, but dark chocolate chips and sometimes Michigan blueberries, freshly picked Michigan blueberries would go in and. Was like, Those are my favorite bowls of ice cream. Just the best. Now say I’m swimming in the lake and my mom goes, Hey, Lincoln, we have homemade ice cream. Come, I’ll give you some. My heart would be so happy. I get to where the cottage is. My mom gives a nice big scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream. I throw on some dark chocolate chips, and my world right then is complete. Right. I am like I am at Zen. I am just so happy with where things are at that I just enjoy life. I’m enjoying this ice cream and I think, you know, there’s no way things could get better.
Same scenario. Only Sean is there. Sean’s my older brother, and we go swimming and my mom goes, Hey, Lincoln, Sean, do you want some homemade ice cream? We just made some. We swim up, get out of the lake, dry off, come up. And my mom gives me a big, nice scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream, put some dark chocolate chips on it. And I’m just like, Yes. But then my mom proceeds to put one scoop of vanilla ice cream and then two scoops into my brother Sean’s bowl. Now, if you have ever been a kid or you’re a parent, you know the exact words that come out of my mouth right then. Right. That’s not fair, because my mom just committed a cosmic injustice against me, something that requires immediate justice because she just deprived me of a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream. And immediately my thoughts, my mind are no longer at peace. There is a war going on and I am complaining and arguing my case better than any lawyer ever could to my mom. Now, the thing with that situation is nothing was different for me. The only thing that was different was my focus. Instead of focusing on the the scoop of ice cream that I have in my bowl, that would make me happy. I looked at my brother Sean’s bowl and thought, Why does he get to.
That’s unfair. I need that. And immediately my contentment is shattered. Immediately my happiness is gone because I am focused not on what’s in my bowl, but what’s in my brother’s. Now, I’m so glad that this attitude has completely left me and left you when you guys turned like 18, right? When you became adults. Like there’s no longer. We struggle with looking in other people’s bowls. If only that were true. The fact is, social media amplifies this bowl mentality of looking into other people’s bowls and not because we look at other people’s life, but we look at other people’s projections of their lives. They pick and choose what you see. They pick and choose what they want their life to look like. So that couple who just spent their third vacation in three years to Hawaii takes a picture of them, you know, on the beach with the waves crashing and those mountains and the like. Just beautiful weather. And they take a picture and you just go, man, I wish I wish I was there. I wish I was. Then what you didn’t see was them fighting the night before. What you didn’t see was the jet lag they experienced when they got there. What you didn’t see was all the hassle that they had to deal with the hotel. And this is what happens on social media is that we paint pictures of reality of ourselves that isn’t real and we compete with everyone else in this comparison game of what’s in your bowl.
What’s what’s in my bowl? You should look like me. Oh man, I don’t look like you. And this can suffocate and kill our relationship with God. And social media often makes life portrays a life that is unreal or false. And if it’s portraying a life that is unreal and we’re chasing that. It’s unobtainable because it’s not real, it’s unobtainable, and we can be distracted so easily from what is good, what is worthy of praise, what is excellent when we are supposed to be focused on that, and that can rob us of this contentment. And I think it’s not so much as focused on what, but it’s focused on who. Hebrews 12 says, Let us run with endurance. The race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who, for the joy set before him, endured the cross despising the shame, and he sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. A life of contentment is one which requires a heart of Thanksgiving, a mind focused on Christ. But Paul doesn’t stop there. In fact, he gives the most important instruction on being content in Philippians ten through 13. And in Philippians ten through 13, it reads. But I rejoice 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 circumstance I am in.
I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity. And in any and every circumstance. I’ve learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through him, through him who strengthens me. Paul understands his source. Paul understands that whatever he goes through, he is not alone. That his strength doesn’t flow from himself and that he lives in complete trust with his creator and his sustainer. Verse 13, I can do all things through him who strengthens me? You know, the classic football player verse that’s on there, like eye shadow thing, you know, the Philippians 411. And people often use that outside of the context of which it is given. So what does Paul, what is he saying here? I believe he’s speaking from experience and an experience that shaped his faith in such a way that makes him trust Christ no matter what circumstance he finds himself going through. Read not just what he says, but how he says it in complete trust to Christ. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I can bear any burden. I can conquer any obstacle from my strength doesn’t come from myself, but from Christ. Let’s read Second Corinthians 12. Here’s a section of scripture that has changed my life for sure.
And it’s Paul having pleading with Christ to take away this thorn in his flesh. Paul It says that Paul pleads with Christ three times to take this away because it’s hindering him and humiliating him. And he just he wants it to be gone so that he can better serve Christ, that he can do things better. And we have this dialogue between him and the resurrected Christ. And it says there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from exalting myself. Concerning this, I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And he has said to me, meaning, Christ, my grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly. Therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I am well content with weakness, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake, For when I am weak, I am strong. Paul doesn’t get from God what he asks for. Paul doesn’t get it. It was obviously something significant. And there’s a lot of theories of what this thorn in the flesh was. But we do know that it hindered and humiliated him. And it says he implored the Lord to take it away. A strong a strong plea. But how does Christ respond? He says, My grace is sufficient for you. Power is perfected in weakness.
Paul knows who sustains him. Paul is depending on himself with what he goes through because he knows no matter what, he goes through, the grace of Jesus Christ is enough for him. And that his weakness, not his strength, glorifies Christ. Question for all of us. What do we do when God doesn’t give us what we desire? Do we become jealous of others? Do we seek it for ourselves in any way we can find it? Do we complain? Do we start accusing God of being unfair and unloving? Or do we trust that God has a far has far greater plans than our own? Are we content with what’s in our bowl? Do we rest in the strength of Christ? And are we satisfied in His grace? Contentment gives thanks at all times, resting in the fact that God works all things for the good of those who love him, who’ve been called according to his purpose. And my prayer is that is for myself as well as all of us as the body of Alpine Bible Church, that we would grow in contentment and we would no longer let jealousy and envy dominate our lives. But being content with what God has given us, what He has blessed us with, and resting in His grace. And that our power is does not come from ourselves, but Christ and Christ alone. This message has been brought to you by Alpine Bible Church in Lehi, Utah. If you’d like more information, please visit us online at Alpine Bible.com.