Introduction

Over the past couple of weeks, we have been taking a look at one’s identity as a child of God. In last week’s lesson, you will recall that we spoke about sacrificing one’s love of the world in order to attain righteousness. Such sacrifice is incredibly difficult to make and only a few have made that sacrifice to sincerely walk by faith. To add on to that thought, our lesson this week takes a look at learning how to be content.

Rejoicing in the Lord

I truly believe one of the most difficult things for people to truly understand is that contentment is greater than happiness.  I have expressed this before in the past but it is to tell when one struggles to truly understand this statement.  So, I am very happy that our Sunday School book is covering this subject in our lesson this week.

Paul’s trust in the Lord

Our lesson this week opens up with Paul saying to the Philippians, “Rejoice in the Lord always.  Again I will say, rejoice (v.4).”  This is a statement that I believe only sincere believers will understand.  Why do I say this?

You see, there are many professed believers who struggle a great deal with learning to simply be happy with what God provides.  There are and have been so many people that have “fallen out of faith” with the Lord because they aren’t happy with God’s providence, or in their opinion, His lack of providence.  There are many who have said that God does not answer their prayers, which, in essence, is them saying that God does not bless them.

Faith, we should know and understand, requires one’s trust.  For example, if you say that you trust someone but you’re always questioning their every move, some would suggest that you lack faith in that person.  This same notion holds true when it comes to the Lord.  There are many who profess to have faith in the Lord, but they question His will, and His every action.

Through his fellowship with the Lord, Paul had learned how to put all of his hopes and trust in the Lord. Again, this is a major point of struggle for many of us. As I have said in the past, many of us believe that when we put all of our hope and trust in the Lord that we are completely surrendering our will. Yes, our will should come second to the will of the Lord. However, we must understand that the Lord’s desires for us and far greater than our own desires, as all that the Lord desires for us is peace, a future, and hope (Jer. 29:11).

Because we struggle with surrendering our will for what the Lord wills for us, we often end up hindering ourselves from our blessing.  We often like to say that the devil has blocked us from our blessings.  Yes, at times, the devil certainly does his best to hinder us from our blessing.  However, the truth of the matter is that we hinder ourselves more than anyone can when it comes to moving forward to taking possession of our blessing.

Learn to trust the Lord

Paul wrote, “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God (v.6).”  This statement from Paul has so much depth of faith that some of us may be unable to fully grasp what Paul has said here.  Paul, I want you to understand, was speaking from a place of living in fellowship with God and enjoying the fruits of his fellowship with God.

What separates sincere believers from the professed believers is their fellowship with the Lord.  All of us have our very own fellowship (relationship) with God.  Within our fellowship, many of us enjoy fruitful prayer lives because we are in constant communication with the Lord in our supplication.  Others, for whatever the reason may be, whether it is fear, doubt, or shame, may not have as strong of a prayer life.

As I shared with my brother a few weeks ago, we just need to learn how to not be so tense and afraid to go to the Lord. We had a Sunday School lesson a few weeks ago about David’s Sin and Punishment; we took a look at David trying to hide and cover up his sin. I said to my brother after he had watched that lesson and was discussing it with me, we must become more comfortable talking to the Lord.

I preached a sermon around that time – Sitting at the Table With Jesus – where the setting was a relaxed setting. Something that I hope all of you would take away from that sermon was just how relaxed and comfortable you should be going to the Lord. God already knows you – your desires and all you have done – He just wants to talk and to have an intimate relationship with you.

When Paul says, “be anxious for nothing,” you should have no worries about going to God.  When Paul says, “in everything by prayer and supplication, let your requests be made known,” he is saying to us just to talk to God.  

It took me quite some time to learn how to truly pray to the Lord about everything.  I learned how to pray to the Lord when I was happy and when I was sad.  I learned how to pray to the Lord when I was angry, annoyed, and frustrated.  I used to think that I should only pray to God about the things I desperately wanted or needed.  However, I learned to pray about everything, including when I sinned and knew I had done wrong.

Again, many of our struggles today can be traced back to our relationship with the Lord.  If you enjoy a strong relationship with God, the better off you will be, in your soul.  If you don’t enjoy a strong relationship with God, the more troubled you will be in your soul.  

As I have said in the past, our soul is the engine to every aspect of our being – physical, mental, and emotional.  If you’re troubled in your soul, it is very likely you are going to be troubled in every other aspect of your being.  So, we truly must come to learn to trust the Lord.  As Paul said, when we truly learn to trust the Lord, we will enjoy the peace God gives and it will guard our hearts from all trouble (v.7).

The Goal Is to Be Content

We will see Paul encourage believers to meditate on the things that are true (according to the Lord), noble, just, pure, lovely, and of good report, virtue, and praise (v.8).  To meditate means that you should contemplate, focus, or give much thought on a certain subject.  I don’t think we as believers do enough meditation on these things if I am being completely honest with you.

Turn away from the carnal mind

Again, back in October, I preached about how we need to confront ourselves and consider what it is that we truly hunger for in life. Sadly, many of us meditate more so on worldly riches than we ever do the spiritual riches of the Lord. As I have said in recent months, what you meditate on is where your heart lies. Paul is encouraging believers, just as Jesus said, to lay up our thoughts (our treasures) on that which is heavenly (Matt. 6:20).

When we are heaven focused in our mindset, again, God’s peace will come to dwell with us (v.9). There are so many people who are driven to attain the riches of this world that have driven themselves into great distress and depression. Solomon, in the book of Ecclesiastes, spoke to this distress when he spoke of laboring for riches being vanity (meaningless) and like trying to grasp the wind with your hands (Eccl. 1:14; 2:17).

Truly, we must come to understand that contentment is greater than happiness.  To understand this statement, one must understand that there is a difference between the two.  Happiness, especially when brought on by worldly gain, is temporary; one will eventually hunger again and have to feed their belly in order to be happy again.  Whereas, contentment is equal to long lasting satisfaction.

Accept and live in God’s will

When speaking of contentment, Paul stated, “for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:  I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need (vss.11-12).”

Let me remind you, Paul was under arrest and constant surveillance when he wrote that statement.  So, whether in good or bad, Paul learned how to be content and at peace.  How could Paul be at peace when he did not know whether he would live or die while under arrest?  The answer to this question goes back to his trust in God and God’s will.

In order for us to reach this place in our mindset, we must stop fighting against the Lord and His will. This, again, means we must trust the Lord. You see, when we don’t fully trust in the Lord, we end up doing nothing but worrying ourselves. Jesus asked, “Why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin … Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith (Matt. 6:28, 30)?”

We truly must learn how to live within the will of God and know that in all circumstances, God is with us and He will both provide and protect us.  Paul had this kind of faith to be able to say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (v.13).”  Those who have gone through and overcome trials and tribulations, and reach a level of maturity in their faith are able to say this full of confidence.

What we should take away from this lesson is the importance of truly trusting in the Lord.  When we are not hesitant in our faith, then more doors open up before us.  What we should also take away from this lesson is that those doors will not open up before us if our mindset is carnal (worldly).  In fact, the carnal mind never sees the doors that Lord sits before them.

So, again, I urge you to turn away from the carnal mind, and to the best of your ability, strive with a mindset for the Lord and His heavenly kingdom.

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