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Philippians 4:10-23

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Audio Transcript: Good morning. Welcome to another edition of Mosaic-Brookline Online. Thank you so much for tuning in. I hope you're doing well. I hope your getting some sun, Vitamin D. It's very important. And, I hope you are enjoying the summer despite everything around us. With that said, would you please pray with me over the preaching of God's Holy Word. Heavenly Father, we thank you that you are a God who has designed us in a way where we can experience joy and satisfaction and fulfillment as we are close to you, as we pursue you, as we are in relationship with you. And Jesus, we thank you that you didn't just come to forgive us of our sins, but you came to replace our sins with something else, to replace our sins with yourself and tell us that you are the bread ... Your body is the bread and your blood cleanses us from sin, and you replace that with satisfaction by the power of Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit, we recognize today that we do have a spirit leak, every single one of us, and we do need to be filled continually so that we continue to enjoy you, enjoy life, enjoy your good creation. I pray that you bless our time in the holy scriptures today as we study the secret of satisfaction, of how to find it on a daily basis. And we pray all this in the beautiful name of Jesus Christ. Amen. The title of the sermon today is The Secret of Satisfaction. We're landing the plane, closing off our sermon series through the Episcopal Philippines. Next week, we're continuing a series through the Gospel of Luke. Can't wait for that. Just to begin, quick question. What's missing in your life? What's that thing, maybe a few things? What's missing from your life that you need to be truly happy, to be fulfilled, to be satisfied? What's missing? It's the thing that your mind naturally gravitates toward when you have nothing else to really think about. Perhaps it's in the early hours of the day, or on a Sunday afternoon when you take a nap, as you're about to doze off, what's the thing occupying your mind? You need that thing for complete satisfaction. How satisfied are you with life now? And usually we stave off that question of how satisfied am I know by saying, "Well, if I get this thing or that thing, then I will be fulfilled," but we haven't achieved satisfaction in the past, not complete satisfaction with things that we thought were going to satisfy us. What makes us think that that next thing is going to do what the other things, the previous things have not done. Many of us, we avoid this yawning emptiness through business, through denial and it's a postponement at best. Even in seasons when you have incredible satisfaction, when everything is just clicking, everything has come together, even in the highs of life, there's always an underlying low that you know it's going to pass. It's going to end. So today we're going to talk about this satisfaction that God offers everybody. St. Paul calls it a secret. I found out what the secret to content ... I found it, meaning it's something that we need to look for, meaning it's something that we need to learn, meaning it's not just a state of mind. It's not just an emotion in the heart, it's actually a skill of the will to grow in satisfaction. He uses the word satisfaction, contentment interchangeably. Contentment is independent from circumstance. He's in prison. He's in closed quarantine. He doesn't have the comforts of life and still he's content. He found satisfaction. He found the secret. That's what we're talking about today. We're in Philippians, chapter 4:10-23, closing off the book. Would you look at the text with me. Philippians 4:10-23. "I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Yet, it was kind of you to share my trouble and you Philippians yourself know that in the beginning of the Gospel when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me, in giving and receiving except you only. Even in Thessalonica, you sent me help for my needs once and again." "Not that I seek the gift but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. I have received full payment and more. I am well supplied having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. My God will supply every need of yours according to His riches and glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen." "Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar's household. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit." This is the reading of God's holy, inerrant, infallible authoritative word. May he write these eternal truths upon our hearts. Framing up our time with three questions. Why is satisfaction a secret? What is the secret? And, how do I obtain the secret? And, in question number three I'll give you five sub-points of how to obtain satisfaction. First, why is satisfaction a secret? Why does he use this word in verse 12. He talks about, "I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger." Secret, he used that term because not everybody has it. It's not easy to find. It's like a hidden treasure. It's like mining for diamonds. What he's talking about is finding contentment, and the opposite of contentment is dissatisfaction. You don't have enough. You're grasping for things that you think might satisfy and it is a secret because it's hidden. It's something that we know deep down inside. There's this paradox to life. Especially nowadays, there's this paradox to life and probably more than ever, a lot of things are incredible. In terms of technology, in terms of just comforts of life, and then on the other hand, in the pandemic, people are facing a crisis financially, crisis health wise, crisis existentially and we have this paradox of everything is great but everything is actually terrible. People are beginning to ask really deep, really probing questions of, "What is my life? Where am I? Where do I want to be?", and making really drastic life changes. Part of that is our circumstances have shifted in such a way where we think if we change those circumstances, everything else will be solved, but deep down inside there's still this longing underneath all those circumstances. A longing for something deeper, something that will satisfy. It's a vague anxiety, a mild depression. The German word here is sehnsucht. There's just something missing. In Russian, there's this one powerful word that unfortunately does not translate into English. It's the word toska. This is one of the reasons why I love going back to where I'm from to Estonia and Finland and Russia. There's a toska that people, they're honest about. They're honest that there is this sadness. There's mild depression, this anxiety. You don't have to mask it. You can talk about it. You can be honest about it, and Russians are. Here Vladimir Nabokov, the great writer who wrote in Russian and English, he wrote this, "No single word in English renders all the shades of toska. At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish often without any specific cause. At less morbid levels, it is a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for, a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning." "In particular cases, it may be the desire for somebody or something specific, nostalgia, love-sickness. At the lowest level, it grades into ennui, boredom. There is a longing for something beautiful, something gorgeous, something satisfaction but we can never quite remember what it is." It's feeling anxiety, and this is one of the things that we talked about last week, all of a sudden anxiety just overwhelms you and you're not even sure what made you anxious. It's this longing. Here in the United States, in a capitalistic, consumeristic, individualistic society, we think it's things. If I get these things, if I get these objects, this will satisfy. If I buy this, if I buy some more things from Amazon, if I buy some more furniture from Wayfair, if I have the right food experience, that will satisfy temporarily and then it's back. St. Paul calls contentment the secret. It's alluding us. It's hidden. It's invisible. It needs to be sought after. It needs to be learned. The word for contentment that he uses here in the Greek ... the root of that word is satiety. It's being satiated and it's used in the context of physical, like you have physical satiety when you have a great meal and you ate just enough, not too much where you're uncomfortable and you're perfectly satisfied. This is what contentment is. It's the satiety of the soul, and physical things can't do it. People can't do it. Only God can. C.S. Lewis has done so much great work on this concept of satisfaction and God. Mere Christianity's got this great paragraph. It says, "Most people, if they had really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise. The longings which arise in us when we first fall in love, or first think of some foreign country, or first take up some subject that excites us are longings that no marriage, no travel and no learning can really satisfy." "I am not now speaking of what would ordinarily be called unsuccessful marriages or holidays or learned careers. I am speaking of the best possible ones. There was something we grasped at in that first moment of longing, which just fades away in reality. I think everyone knows what I mean. The wife may be a good wife, and the hotels and the scenery may have been excellent and the chemistry may be a very interesting job, but something has evaded us." We see an object, a thing, an experience that someone else has and they seem so happy in the commercial, in the ad. Then you say, "If I had that, I'll be happy. I'll be satisfied." You pursue it and the closer you get to it, the more you realize, "Ah, this isn't everything it was promised to be." Satisfaction is just another way of talking about joy, and there's so much overlap between joy, between peace, between satisfaction, contentment. Why is there so much overlap here? It's because they are all sides, facets of the same diamond and not just a diamond, of the same person, Jesus Christ. Jesus is the one who satisfies. He said, "I am the bread of life. I've come that you may be full, have life to the fullness, so that you can be filled with the spirit." He talks about satiety all the time, but what gets in the way is sin. So when Christianity talks about sin, it's not just, "Oh, you were so naughty. You did a lot of bad things." When Jesus comes and He says, "I want the best for you, and the best for you is not sin." Sin is junk food for the soul. It just makes you hungrier. He says, "No, I'm offering you true, great, delicious artisan bread." My cousin and I follow him on Facebook, he got into baking bread, and he makes the most beautiful bread I have ever seen. I watch the videos, I love the pictures. It looks so delicious, as if my eyes were satiated just watching that. Jesus says, "I am the most delicious bread and your soul is longing for it." Instead, you're eating Twinkies. You're filling your soul with Twinkies. Cut that out. With cinnamon buns. I used to buy cinnamon buns on the way to middle school every single day for $.99 at the gas station. Don't do that. It just makes you hungrier, and that's why Jesus talks about sin in terms of something that pulls you away from the source of satiation, satiety that you're really looking for. Commandment Number 10 of the Ten Commandments, Commandment Number 10 is the one that St. Paul pointed out in Romans 7 that he struggled with this, and it's covetousness. Exodus 20:17, "You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's." Why does God command us not to covet? He commands us not to covet because covetousness steals our contentment. It steals our satisfaction. It steals our enjoyment of life today. There's three areas, and by the way, that commandment covers three things, and 1st John 2:16 covers these same three things. What do we seek satisfaction in? I'll give you there's three main categories. Stuff, sex and strength. Stuff, sex and strength. You see that with Exodus 20:17. There's stuff. It's your neighbor's house, and his ox, or his car. Anything else and then it talks about strength, which is like people whom you employ or have power over, and then your neighbor's wife. 1st John 2:16 has the same three categories. "For all that is in the world, the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes and pride of life is not from the Father but is from the world." He's talking about people in the world, us, who pursue satisfaction in these things. Stuff is the desire of the eyes. It's possessions. We think, "If I have more stuff, if I have more things, if I have a bigger place, if I have a car ..." In it of themselves they may be fine, but when they become the main thing, they begin to possess us. We become possessed by possessions. Sex, the desires of the flesh. And how's this not our culture? If I have more experiences or find that right person, or have the right kind of experience, or the right amount of experience or the right variety of this experience, then I will be satisfied and you never are. And then the pride of life, that's strength. Stuff, sex, strength. He's talking about the pride of life. Power, status, celebrity, getting ahead, getting clout, getting influence, getting fame. You get those things. If you do get them, very few people do, and the people who have say it doesn't satisfy. I remember Jim Carrey, I think he was giving a graduation speech. He said, "I wish for every single person to achieve what I have achieved so they too realize that this does not make you happy." It doesn't. It doesn't. Not in of itself. In Romans 1, there's this really interesting, provocative thought where St. Paul says, "Sometimes God, to bring us to our senses, gives us the things that we think we'll satisfy." He talks about it as God's judgment, that God gives people what they want as judgment over them and what happens is their desires continue to grow and continue to get more insatiable, more ravenous, and they get to the point where it's just an empty, gaping hole in their soul. Roman 1:24, 26-28, "Therefore God gave them up to the lusts or over desires of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves." Verse 26, "For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions." Verse 28, "Since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done." It's like the parable of the Prodigal Son. The son comes to the father and says, "Dad, your as good as dead to me. Can I have my inheritance now." Takes the money and the father gives it to him. The father lets him go. What happens? He finally comes to his senses. The objection here that people have, "Well, I'd rather be temporarily satisfied. I'd rather enjoy life for now than not have these things. I'm perfectly happy playing with mud pies or sports car or money, sex and power. I'm perfectly fine. I'm perfectly happy with that." And, I would do what Jesus did all the time. I would ask a question. Are you satisfied? Are you happy? If so, why? Are you happy in these things? If you're not, then why are you pursuing more, and deep down inside we know there's something missing. And the problem with just pleasure, mere happiness temporarily ... And, this is really where we're honest with ourselves. Once you get to the very top, once you get the things that you've always wanted to get, you start thinking, "Oh my, it's all going to end." Leo Tolstoy, he wrote incredible books. He made a ton of money and at the end of his life ... Mid-life ... mid-life, he pauses and says, "Nothing matters if death is the end of everything. Nothing matters. If I die, how many people will remember my name?" Leo Tolstoy, yeah a lot of people remembered his name, and then he says, "But, if the world ends, if the sun burns out, who will remember me?" And ultimately it leads you down this path if you keep asking these really reasonable questions, when you die, if you just rot, when the sun dies, everything rots, if there's no difference ultimately between how you live, there's no difference if you're compassionate or violent, there's no difference between right and wrong, there's difference between meaning and meaningless, purpose and lack of purpose. A lot of people, we have conditioned ourselves to believe that there is a difference between right and wrong, to believe that there is true meaning, to believe that there is something after this life. Well, what is it? You got to be consistent with your worldview. What is it? If we, in this life, achieve everything we've wanted to achieve, if we have everything that we wanted to have, why do we still have this deep sehnsucht, this deep toska, this deep dissatisfaction. By the way, this longing is reawakened in those moments when you get a glimpse of what that satisfaction, when you get a taste of what that satisfaction could be. When you get a foretaste of it. For example, when you hear a song, a brand new song. It just moves you to the core. You get a glimpse of that satisfaction. The ocean. Why do we love the ocean? Why do you love going to the ocean, just being there, feeling so small in the context of its immensity, the smell, the sound, the wind, the beauty of it, the grandeur of it. It awakens this longing. Or, when you see and experience something beautiful, part of God's creation, we begin to realize that there is this satisfaction to be found. Where do we get it? We get it with God. This is why Jesus Christ came. He came to take the penalty for our sin on the cross and saying, "Stop living dissatisfied lives. Stop living lives fueled by the desire of the flesh, desire of the eyes and the pride of life. I want to give you satisfaction and satisfaction is found in Him." This is Christianity, I've had some good friends listening to these sermons who are not believers, and some of the feedback I receive is, "Hey man, I don't really believe this stuff but it's really useful. Some of the stuff you say, it makes so much sense. If people lived like this, life would be better." My response is always, "Hey, Christianity is the greatest life hack in the history of the universe. Christianity offers us the cheat codes to life." It helps us figure out who we are. It helps us out figure out what the world is about, how to understand everything around us, and it helps us live satisfied, fulfilled lives no matter what circumstance we're in. So, that's why it's a secret because sin is the way, covetousness is in the way and Jesus gives us a way out from the sin by replacing our sin with satiety of the soul, which is contentment. So, what is the secret? The secret is that this isn't all there is. That's really the secret, and St. Paul knew that. He knew that as he's in prison. He said, "Everything's been taken away from me. I have nothing, but I have Jesus, so with Jesus, I have everything. I have God's presence." If you have everything without Jesus, you have nothing. If you have nothing, with Jesus, you have everything. This is what he's talking about. This is what C.S. Lewis talked about so often that there's this desire in us that no physical object can actually fulfill, which points us to the fact, the reality that this world isn't all there is, that there is a spiritual realm. This is what he says in Mere Christianity, he says, "Creatures are born with desires unless satisfaction for these ... Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for these desires exists. A baby feels hunger; well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim; well, there's such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire; well, there's such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." You were. You are. You are not just a physical body. You are a soul. You have an eternal soul, and God wants to satisfy your eternal soul with himself, with his Holy Spirit by removing your sin, replacing it with a satiety of the soul, which is contentment. That's the Gospel. You believe by grace through faith, you come to God and say, "God, I repent of the fact that I've been trying to find satisfaction in things, in stuff, in sex and strength. Instead Lord, I want you, my savior. I want you to fill me. I want to abide in you. I want to be in you and you in me by the power of the spirit." One of the things that I've noticed with the COVID pandemic is how much people fear death, and this is the truth of Christianity. That if you are a believer, death is just a transition to glorious life. So for us, for Christians, we don't need to be as deathly afraid of death and if you are so afraid of death, my dear non-Christian friends, you should be. Because this life is not all there is, and after this life we transition either to eternity with God in a place called Heaven or eternity in a place of insatiable desire, which is hell. That's what the flames of hell are. It's insatiable desire. It's ravenous desire just growing and growing and growing for all of eternity. It's either that or you're growing and growing satiety with God in heaven and the way to remove the fear of death, the way to make sure you're eternally secure is repent of sin and turn to Christ to be filled with the spirit, be satisfied in Him. The First Commandment and the 10th Commandment, they're actually bookends and they summarize the same idea. The First Commandment is thou shall have no other gods before me and the 10th Commandment is thou shall not covet. And it gets to this idea that sole satiation is found in God, and gets to the idea that covetousness is ever growing satisfaction. Satisfaction is fulfilled with Commandment number one, "God you are enough. I don't need any other idols. I'm going to worship you. You fulfill all my longings. You are my justification. You are my righteousness. You are my wholeness, and therefore, I don't need to covet stuff. I don't need to covet sex. I don't need to covet strength. I don't need that. I have you." St. Paul gives us two cases, test cases, and they're the most important test cases of how to find satisfaction. It's plenty and want. Plenty and want. He says, "I've learned the secret of contentment in abundance and in need. When I've had everything, when I've been brought low." And by the way, these are the two situations when people have everything and when people have nothing, these are the two most likely situations where you might consider suicide. When you have nothing to live for, it seems ... And when you have everything, and you still feel the toska, the sehnsucht. You still feel it. People who have everything ... plenty is every bit as much of an expose of false contentment, of dreams. It destroys the delusion of thinking we're happy. It's when people get to the very top and they say, "You know what? Nah, that's not it." And people at the bottom, and St. Paul says, "I've learned the secret in both. I've learned the secret of satisfaction and feasting and in fasting." In both places, Jesus gives me assess to him, and I can enjoy great things that God has given me without making those things into idols. And when I have nothing, I can enjoy the presence of God. By the way, this is why fasting is such an important spiritual exercise. This is why Jesus did it, this is why the prophets did it. Jesus said, "When you fast, not if you fast ..." If you do it on a regular basis, you actually feel content. You get to a point where you don't feel hunger and you feel more connected with God spiritually than ever before. Point three, and this is just really practical. How do I obtain the secret? How can I learn the secret of contentment. Philippians 4:11-13, "Not that I'm speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low and how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me." This is the most quoted verse in our culture, and most misunderstood. There's athletes who have this tattooed all over them, and just completely don't understand what the context of this text ... He's not saying, "By God's strength, I can win all the time." He's actually saying, "By God's strength, I can overcome losses." That's what he's saying. He learned the secret through Christ who is strengthening him. The secret, it's not obtained, it's learned. It's not discovered. It's learned. It's a process. So, what situation in your life today do you point to and say, "This is the most dissatisfying area in my life?" Possessions, job, health, marriage, housing situation. Whatever it is, if you can change it, do it and work toward changing it. We'll talk about that in a second. But most importantly, learn to be satisfied in that situation, which gives you actually more strength to change the situation. So, the first lesson here is learn that coveting is misdirected worship. We've touched upon this a little bit. Coveting is misdirected worship. Commandment Number One is actually given to us in Commandment Number 10's psychological terms, Thou shalt have no other gods before me and you shall be absolutely content today with what God has given you for today as you work to accomplish and achieve the things that you hoped to accomplish and achieve. So, we shouldn't want something so badly that if we don't have it, we're miserable. There's plenty of things you could want, but should you be miserable if you don't have those things? Does not having those things, the absence of those things, does that steal joy from you? From your life? Well, perhaps you deified it and this is then an idol. Psychologically, idols can be things that give you self-esteem and identity. Sociologically, idols are things that give you credibility with people. Theologically, it's what makes you feel acceptable in the sight of God, "If I have this and only if I have this, then I will be satisfied." And at this point, you got to preach to yourself ... We talked about this last week ... that, "No, this is not what makes me whole. This is not worthy of my ultimate affection. Only Jesus is." Two is learn to trust God to meet your needs. Look at verse 19 and 20, "And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen." And, he's talking about the Philippian church who were so generous to St. Paul. How do you know that you are trusting God to provide for your needs? You know how you know? And, how much you're trusting him? Look at your giving. Look at your sacrificial giving. Giving to the church, giving to other people, saving money, setting money aside, earmarking it so that when you hear of a need, of a person or a neighbor or someone in the church and you have the funds there. When you sacrificially give, generously give, that's when you know you ... "God, you've provided to this day and I know you will provide in the next day, and that's why I'm going to give today." That's verse 10. He says, "I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but had no opportunity. Not that I'm speaking of being in need, for I have learned that whatever situation I am to be content." They heard of his need and they wanted to partner with him to care for him because they were concerned for him. Verse 14-16, "Yet, it was kind of you to share my trouble, and you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the Gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving except you only. Even in Thessalonica, you sent me help for my needs once and again." Was the Philippian Church rich? Not that we know of. There were some gospel patrons that were there, but on a whole they were a poverty-stricken church. Yet, they were big hearted. They had largest of heart, they were generous and they sent St. Paul a gift to support him. In Proverbs 11:25, "Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and the one who waters will himself be watered." Luke 6:38, "Give and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you." The premise of this promise is that we must first be generous to others and that in a sense, we can block the flow of God's blessing into our lives by being stingy. When you give, it's such a blessing to give. It's more blessed to give than to receive. You feel such joy and you realize, "Oh my ..." First of all, you realize there's someone who needs this more than I do, so I've been so blessed to be well off, and it means that I helped that person and that person is going to help another person. It just makes everything better. It's more blessed to give than to receive. By the way, I love that St. Paul noticed this, that he called out the generosity. He said, "You've been generous. You've been a really generous church." In verse 17 and 18, he says, "Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. I have received full payment and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gits you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God." This is what St. Paul was saying. It's not Jesus said it's more blessed to give than to receive, and yes, you get this feeling of satisfaction by giving and there's been all kinds of studies about the benefits of altruism and generosity and just health benefits, but he's not just saying that you get a great feeling when you give, though you do. He's saying that giving actually factually, in a very tangible way, benefits the giver. He says, "You're going to get a well earned reward." In the Greek, he's talking about accumulated interest increases to your credit. He's saying that God pays interest on your investments in Heaven. That's what Jesus said, "Don't store up treasures on earth. Store up treasures in Heaven." Storing up treasures in Heaven, the interest rate there is incredible. Jesus said that for all of those who sacrificed for the Gospel, what's the percentage of return? Seven? Eight percent? 100%? No, you know what Jesus said? "A hundredfold." A hundredfold. "A hundredfold return to all who give things up for the Gospel." A hundredfold. What's the percentage of that? A hundredfold, what's the percentage of that? Chicken wing? Chicken wing? First person to type it in the comment section. What's the percentage of a hundredfold? Good job. Good job. It's 10,000%. It's 10,000%. That's like investing in Amazon or Apple or Tesla when they just went public. And if you didn't, you kicking yourself, "Ugh, oh no." I've got a friend who at the very dip when the market was down, he was about to buy Wayfair and then forgot about it. Still kicking himself. Poor guy. He's saying, "God keeps track." I love that. That God pays attention to our sacrifices. Another translation says, "I want to see profit added to your accounts," as if we've got heavenly Venmo's and with every spiritual sacrifice, with every generous gift, God's keeping track just like Jesus was watching the widow give her mites, give her pennies to the Lord. Jesus was watching. He's paying attention. He's recording anything and everything that you do, and every time you give something, it's recorded in Heaven. Every time I ask my daughter, Elizabeth, for a cup of water, she always brings it and with a big smile she says, "Dad, you know what it says in the Bible? Whoever gives a prophet a glass of water gets his reward in Heaven. I got your reward." At that moment, I'm like, "Oh, thank you so much. Now go make me an omelet," and she's like, "Nah, I don't want that much reward." Still working on that, but it's true that God does pay attention. 1st Timothy 6:18-19, "They are to do good ..." That's people who are rich financially and relatively speaking, that's every single one of us, "to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future so that they may take hold of that which is truly life." What a phrase. That giving things, giving finances helps us take hold of that which is truly life. And he calls this a fragrant offering and that's an illusion. Leviticus 7, when the priest would come in, they would lay an offering on the altar and they would pour out the offering, creating a steam that the whole community could smell, so giving is an act of worship. Giving is a way that we fight the idolatry on our hearts, the greed in our hearts, the covetousness in our hearts. That's why giving is such an integral part of worship. It's the preaching of the word, it's singing to the Lord, it's prayers and also giving. 2nd Corinthians 9:6-8, "The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he is decided in his heart, not reluctantly, or under compulsion for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work." Learning the secret of satisfaction and contentment, lesson number three is learn to avoid comparisons. Learn to avoid comparisons. Verse 11 he says, "Not that I'm speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content." One of the main contentment killers is you start comparing your life to the people around you, and instead of running the lane that God has for you in this season, you start looking at the other lanes, how appealing they look. You don't know the other people's sacrifices, what it took to get there. You don't know the hardships that they are dealing with. Focus on the lane that you're in and avoid comparisons, trusting in God's sovereignty that he put you here for a reason. 1st Timothy 6:6-8, "But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content." Four is learn to adjust to change. This has been so important in this season. I call this learning agility. Tom Brady calls this pliability. He doesn't just lift weights. He does all kinds of stuff for flexibility, pliability. We need to have some kind of spiritual pliability, especially in this season. Life is full of ups and downs emotionally, physically, mentally, financially. There's so much change in the world. The only thing we can be certain of is there's going to be change ... Other than God of course ... How well do you handle change? I try to teach my daughters this, that, "Yeah, we had a plan but things changed." And, you've got to be okay with that. You can't get emotionally overworked because of the changes that happen. St. Paul was free and now he's in prison. Change happens. That's the nature of life. God is sovereign. He's in control, and he will give me grace to adapt to this situation. It's those moments when things happen, like when schedules change, plans change, watch your emotions. Watch your emotions. Do you get frightened or moody or angry or uptight? There are three kinds of circumstances in life. There are circumstances that I can change, and I do change. Great. I can change it. It's in my power to change it. I do change it. And there are circumstances that I can control, that I can change and I don't. Either it's because I'm lazy or just complacent, and here I just want to say a word that contentment is not the same thing as complacency. Complacency is when you're stuck in a rut in your life and there's just no movement for months and months and years and years. A lot of people excuse complacency. You know what God's called you to. You know what he's calling you to do, and you're excusing complacency with, "I'm content with where I am." Don't confuse those two. Many of us, God is calling us to great things and either it's fear or it's laziness, or it's sin that's getting in the way and we're excusing that complacency, justifying it and clothing it in the language of contentment. Then, there are areas in life where I can't control it, that's not in my power to control, and we talked about this last week. Give that up to the Lord and stop worrying about it. Control what you can control and give the rest up to the Lord. The fifth lesson to learning contentment is learn to experience communion with God. I'm not just talking about just rote prayers. I'm not just talking about 15 minutes just giving token 15 minute devo, devotional. I'm talking about learning to meditate on God. Remember I started the sermon with what do you daydream about? Learn to daydream about God. When your mind has nothing to think about, no work, no nothing, think about God. That's the first level. The next level of that is as you're thinking about other things, you're thinking about God. I'm up here right now talking about God, in the back of my mind, I'm communing with God. It takes a little while to develop that skill but you can. St. Paul says, "Pray without ceasing." As he's doing everything he's doing, he's praying without ceasing. He's praying about what he's doing. He's communing with God on a daily basis. Learn to experience his love in your heart. Learn to seek him. St. Paul talks about contentment as spiritual satiety that we find by the power of the spirit in Christ. Then, seeking contentment, I've found the secret. Well, the secret is Jesus. So, seek Jesus. Seek the Holy Spirit. Seek the Lord. Learn to find your deep inner needs met in him. That frees you from coveting, frees you from grasp and from discontent as you grow to learn how to periodically feel awash in the love of Jesus Christ. Philippians 12 and 13, "In any and every circumstance I've learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me." I'll close with Ephesians 3:14-21. "For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in Heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory, he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, that you being rooted and grounded in love may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." "Now to him, who is able to do far more abundantly in all that we ask or think according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever, and Amen." The five lessons to learning contentment, learn that coveting is misdirected worship, learn to trust God to meet your needs, learn to avoid comparisons, learn to adjust to change and learn to experience communion with God. Let's pray. Heavenly Father, we thank you for your word. So good. Satisfies our souls. Just reading it, just hearing it, meditating upon it. Why? Because you are at the center of your word. Jesus, we thank you that you offer us satisfaction. So few people find it, but it's available to everybody. Anyone who seeks shall find. You made that promise. When we draw near to you, you draw near to us. We thank you for that. We pray all this in Christ's beautiful name. Amen.

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