(Phl 4:11 KJV) Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, [therewith] to be content.

I – Peace that Paul Portrayed (11)
”Crafting of one’s Contentment – Process”

A) Harsh Life that he Lived
”Extreme Circumstances of Life”
B) Helpful Lessons that he Learned
”Evident Contentment of Life”
C) Healthy Liberty that he Lauded

1 – Liberty of ignoring ”the if’s of life”
2 – Liberty of ignoring ”the why’s of life”

II – Power that Paul Possessed (13)
”Acknowledging of one’s Ability – Person”

A) Positive Statement
B) Powerful Source
C) Personal Strength

III – Promise that Paul Proclaimed (19)
”Providing of one’s Possessions – Provision”

A) Reassuring Supply
B) Rich Supply

(Jhn 14:27 KJV)
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

(Phl 4:7 KJV)
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Introduction

Warren Wiersbe gave a wonderful story pertaining how some people are like thermometers and some are like thermostats.

The difference between the 2 is this, thermometers allow the environment to change it but the thermostat changes the environment that surrounds it.
In this sermon we will determine which of these depicts our Christian walk. Do we allow the situations of life to change us or do we stand firm in our trust and our faith?

Our sermon delves into 3 areas that should help make our faith stronger and give us a supreme assurance of peace and contentment.

Poem

As a rule, Man’s a fool
when it’s hot, He wants it cool.
And when it’s cool, He wants it hot,
Always wanting What is not

Illustration

One day a farmer’s donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally he decided the animal was old and the well needed to be covered up anyway it just wasn’t worth it to retrieve the donkey. He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well.

At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone’s amazement, he quieted down. A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well and was astonished at what he saw. With every shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing.

He would shake it off and take a step up. As the farmer’s neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and trotted off!

3 Things we will find in this message:

1 – God is a God of Peaceful Providence (11)
2 – God is a God of Purposeful Reliance (13)
3 – God is a God of Plentiful Substance (19)

Now we will consider how to live a life that displays the perfect peace of God. A peace that produces contentment that conquers every circumstance in life.

I – Peace that Paul Portrayed (11)
”Crafting of one’s Contentment – Process”

The mighty apostle was depicting something unique in the life of a Christian. Paul was a man of champion sized contentment. The contentment that he had was not something that came immediately in his life.

It was earned and developed in the process of living life. It was developed in vast realm of the ebbs and flows of life. God used these situations to craft his man with a contentment that would help him rise above the situations.

We need to identify what contentment is not:

1 – It is not complacency
2 – It is not ignorance
3 – It is not inconsiderate
4 – It is not isolated escapism

We need to identify what truly is:

1 – It is an abiding peace that offers calm and peace, within the battles and arena of life.
2 – It is hope in the midst of horror
3 – It is joy in the midst of jeopardy
4 – It is grace in the midst of grief

Paul had been through the process and came out of it stronger and more spiritual. It was the process that ignited flames of peace and contentment within his life.
Let us look at some things that Paul learned:

A) Harsh Life that he Lived
”Extreme Circumstances of Life”

1 – Not based on the Circumstantial Wellbeing

2 – Not based on the Material Wealth

Read II Corinthians 11: 23 – 28

Abundant in laboring
His uncountable stripes
Numerous Imprisonment
5 Times he was scourged with 39 stripes
3 Times beaten with rods
1 Time he was stoned
3 Times he was in shipwrecks
Spent 1 ½ days stranded in the sea
Numerous journeys
Danger in facing torrential floods/waters
Danger from robbers
Danger from the Jews
Danger from the heathen
Danger in the cities
Danger in the wilderness
Danger when at sea
Danger from false brothers/tares/plants
Suffered from weariness
Suffered from painfulness
Suffered from lack of sleep (watching’s)
Suffered from lack of food
Suffered from lack of water
Suffered from overseeing the affairs of the church

Paul understood what it was to face extreme changes in his life. The apostle’s life was hard, harsh, and harrowing; in all honesty his very existence was at stake with each waking day and moment.

Illustration

In all honesty do many of us really have it rough? In America our worst day could very well be better than the best day in most places in this world.

”It is a rare person who, when his cup frequently runs over, can give thanks to God instead of complaining about the limited size of his mug!”
Think about how much better off I am than many dead rich people of the past… History books are filled with wealthy people who were practically destitute compared to me. I have a 2 ton heat pump and energy efficient storm windows; Julius Ceasar did not. Entire nations trembled before Alexander the Great, but he couldn’t buy dog food in bulk and he didn’t have a Sam’s Card.
Napoleon didn’t have DIRECTV complete with hundreds of channels and with the Sunday NFL Ticket Package.

Given how much better off I am than so many famous dead people, you’d think I’d be content. The trouble is that, like most people, I compare my prosperity with that of living persons: neighbors, friends, the rich and famous.

There is really no rising or falling standard of living. Over the centuries people simply find different stuff to feel grumpy about. You’d think that merely not having bubonic plague would put us in a good mood. But no, we want a hot tub too.”
Source Unknown

I am Thankful for:

The taxes I pay because it means I’m employed.

The clothes that fit a little too snug because it means I have enough to eat.

My shadow who watches me work because it means I am out in the sunshine.

A lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning and gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home.

The spot I find at the far end of the parking lot because it means I am capable of walking.

My huge heating bill because it means I am warm.

All the complaining I hear about our government because it means we have freedom of speech.

The lady behind me in church who sings off key because it means that I can hear.

The piles of laundry and ironing because it means my loved ones are nearby.

The alarm that goes off in the early morning hours because it means that I’m alive.
Weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day because it means I have been productive.

The hair that covers my bathroom floor because I have a daughter that is still home

B) Helpful Lessons that he Learned
”Evident Contentment of Life”

The key to this contentment that Paul had was that it was something that had to be learned. It was something secretive that only comes from God.

Illustration

Happiness is not a goal to achieve but is something we find as we are seeking to achieve our God-given goals. An old dog was watching a young dog chase his tail.

The young dog stopped to rest, and told the older dog, ”I believe happiness is in my tail, and if I catch it, then I will have happiness!”

The older, wiser dog said, ”I caught mine once. . . and I found out that happiness is not in the catching, it’s in the pursuit.”

Sometimes it seems like the people who seem like they’ve ”caught” everything they were chasing after haven’t found joy in it!

1 – Paul Fully Fathomed God’s Providence

Abraham said God was Jehovah-Jireh Gen. 22: 14 ”The God that would see to it.”

Illustration

An old story is told of a king in Africa who had a close friend with whom he grew up. The friend had a habit of looking at every situation that ever occurred in his life (positive or negative) and remarking, ”This is good!” One day the king and his friend were out on a hunting expedition. The friend would load and prepare the guns for the king.

The friend had apparently done something wrong in preparing one of the guns, for after taking the gun from his friend, the king fired it and his thumb was blown off. Examining the situation the friend remarked as usual, ”This is good!” To which the king replied, ”No, this is NOT good!” and proceeded to send his friend to jail. About a year later, the king was hunting in an area that he should have known to stay clear of. Cannibals captured him and took him to their village. They tied his hands, stacked some wood, set up a stake and bound him to the stake. As they came near to set fire to the wood, they noticed that the king was missing a thumb. Being superstitious, they never ate anyone that was less than whole. So untying the king, they sent him on his way.

As he returned home, he was reminded of the event that had taken his thumb and felt remorse for his treatment of his friend. He went immediately to the jail to speak with his friend. ”You were right,” he said, ”it was good that my thumb was blown off.” And he proceeded to tell the friend all that had just happened. ”And so I am very sorry for sending you to jail for so long. It was bad for me to do this.” ”No,” his friend replied, ”This is good!” ”What do you mean,’ this is good’? How could it be good that I sent my friend to jail for a year?” ”If I had NOT been in jail, I would have been with you.”

2 – Paul Faithfully Followed God’s Plan

Contentment allowed Paul to follow the lord.

C) Healthy Liberty that he Lauded

The Apostle found wonderful freedom in this contentment that he had learned from following the Lord.

Illustration

There’s the story of a rich industrialist who was disturbed to find a fisherman sitting lazily beside his boat. ”Why aren’t you out there fishing?” he asked.

”Because I’ve caught enough fish for today,” said the fisherman.
”Why don’t you catch more fish than you need?’ the rich man asked.
”What would I do with them?”

”You could earn more money,” came the impatient reply, ”and buy a better boat so you could go deeper and catch more fish. You could purchase nylon nets, catch even more fish, and make more money. Soon you’d have a fleet of boats and be rich like me.”

The fisherman asked, ”Then what would I do?”

”You could sit down and enjoy life,” said the industrialist.
”What do you think I’m doing now?” the fisherman replied as he looked placidly out to sea.
1 – Liberty of ignoring ”the ifs of life”

One cannot enjoy this contentment if they get caught up in the ”ifs” of life. If you live a life full of doubt and disillusion you will never find fulfillment or joy in life.

The if of failure
The if of bad decisions
The if of marriage
The if of parenting

2 – Liberty of ignoring ”the whys of life”

If a person lets life make him into a victim, they will never find contentment. The victim wallows in anguish and self pity, never finds contentment or fulfillment.

Illustration

Corrie Ten Boom, who suffered the loss of her family and was imprisoned in a Nazi Concentration Camp said, ”If you look at the world, you will be distressed. If you look within you will be depressed. But if you look at Christ, you will be at rest.”

3 – Liberty in ignoring ”the mores of life”

The apostle had gotten to the place in life that he was not chasing after what he didn’t have. He refused to envy others or to be jealous of their blessings and his lack.

Illustration

The wealthy Rockefeller was asked how much more would it take to have enough, he paused a minute then he replied; just a little bit.

Bigger house
More costly car
More prominent job
Classier neighborhood
Social Status
Larger bank account
Better phone
Faster computer

Illustration

In the late 1800’s, an American tourist visiting Poland was welcomed at the home of a learned Rabbi, Hofetz Chaim. He was surprised to find the Rabbi’s home was a simple room filled with books, plus a table and bench. He asked, ”Rabbi, where is your furniture?” ”Where is yours?” replied the Rabbi. ”Mine?” asked the puzzled American. ”but I’m a visitor here; I’m only passing through.” ”So am I”, said the Rabbi. Let’s not get too tied to this world, and we’re not home yet.
Robert Leroe Sermoncentral.com

Illustration

About 10 years ago, there was a story in U.S. News and World Report. Some of the information in this story is probably just as relevant today, ten years later, as it was then.

The story was about the so-called ”American Dream.” I guess that would include owning your own home, and having all your needs met for sure, but also having enough to do all the things you really wanted to do, and have all the things you really wanted to have.

The story said that for Americans with household incomes of under $25,000, polls showed these people believed it would take $54,000 to fulfill the American dream in their lives. The same survey also showed that for those who make $100,000, they’d like to make about $192,000 for their version of the American dream.

In other words, the American Dream usually lies nearly twice the distance away, at least financially.

Conclusion:

Professional golfer Paul Azinger was diagnosed with cancer at age 33.
He had just won a PGA championship and had ten tournament victories to his credit.

He wrote, ”A genuine feeling of fear came over me. I could die from cancer. Then another reality hit me even harder. I’m going to die eventually anyway, whether from cancer or something else. It’s just a question of when. Everything I had accomplished in golf became meaningless to me. All I wanted to do was live.”

Then he remembered something that Larry Moody, who teaches a Bible study on the tour, had said to him. ”Zinger, we’re not in the land of the living going to the land of the dying. We’re in the land of the dying trying to get to the land of the living.”

Golfer Paul Azinger recovered from chemotherapy and returned to the PGA tour.

He’s done pretty well.

But that bout with cancer deepened his perspective. He wrote, ”I’ve made a lot of money since I’ve been on the tour, and I’ve won a lot of tournaments, but that happiness is always temporary. The only way you will ever have true contentment is in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I’m not saying that nothing ever bothers me and I don’t have problems, but I feel like I’ve found the answer to the six-foot hole at the end of this life.

There were two large drinking glasses set out on a counter. Both had ice steaming from the rim and were that very thick kind of crystal, you know the kind you can’t see through, well there were two men who had been working hard in a field and came inside for a drink. Each man took a glass and put it to his dry, chapped lips and tipped the glass up and swallowed with great force.
One mans thirst was quenched and one man became angry and frustrated because he didn’t receive anything to drink. Both glasses looked enticing, but the one was empty. It held great promise, but delivered nothing. The world offers us things like alcohol, sex, money, and other things that while they look very good at the start only end in trouble and despair.

We can drink from the cup of the world for day’s weeks and years and never be satisfied, but like the other man who drank deep from the cooling and refreshing drink and was satisfied we can also choose to drink of the things that God has for us, things that bring fulfillment to the soul and lasting deep peace for the heart and lasting healing to our lives.

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About The Author

Donald Cantrell is a native of Chatsworth, Georgia. He was saved on October 14th 1979 and began to preach the Gospel in the spring of 1980. He has pastored several churches throughout the years in the North Georgia area. Pastor Cantrell has an earned Doctorate Degree in “Designing Alliterated Expository Sermons”. He is a well known author and speaker due to his skills in designing alliterated sermons. He has authored over 32 books on sermons or preaching and his book on “How to Design Alliterated Sermons” is popular with many preachers desiring to learn the art of alliteration. Pastor Cantrell has a heart for helping other pastors and understands the rigors of those that are bi-vocational pastors. Cantrell’s material is alliterated and written with a few things in mind, his sermons are true to the scripture, expository, practical, and very preachable. Cantrell is currently writing a series of commentaries “Sensational Sermon Snapshots” that offer simple alliterated sermon outlines on every book in the New Testament. He has completed Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts; and just completed Revelation and Daniel. He has just written a book with 50 alliterated sermon outlines for Christmas. He also has a very popular 365 page daily devotional, with 365 mini-sermon devotionals. Pastor Cantrell has written a series of courses for those that want to become better at designing alliterated sermons. The courses have been used by pastors and preachers all over the world. He often meets with pastors on a one on one basis to offer mentoring classes on how to design alliterated sermons. If you would like to contact him and discuss his numerous sermon and preaching books, or his alliteration outline courses, he would love to talk with you. All of his books are available online at Lulu Publishers and with Word Search Bible Software and with Logos Bible Software. Pastor Cantrell would like to hear from you, especially if you are interested in learning the art of alliteration through his mentoring or consultation program. You can reach him at dcantrell2@charter.net or the church website, www.antiochbaptistdalton.com

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