Key verse:
11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to [b]abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

Philippians 4:11-12 NKJV

Are you satisfied?

I ask you today, are you satisfied with where you are in your life? Are you content with where you are and with the way things are going in your life? Content: to be in a state of peace; to be satisfied or happy. What I ask you today is, are you happy with your life? I want you to answer this question truthfully.

Something I have realized, especially with believers, is that many of us feel pressured to answer yes to this question. As believers, we may feel pressured to answer that we are satisfied with every work that the Lord has done in our life. Here’s the problem with always answering yes to this question: our answer is likely a lie. It is not good to lie to yourself but we get into this habit of doing it all the time, but this habit is nasty and can be very hurtful.

The Lord looks for us to be honest with Him, however, we haven’t gotten so used to lying. We feel it is OK to lie to others when it is not OK. We then lie to ourselves, and even start to believe in that lie and I tell you that is not OK. God only helps us when we are honest with Him! When you lie to yourself, you’re not facing and accepting the reality before you – that’s not good! We must be able to accept our reality so that we can face reality and overcome our reality.

I ask you again, are you content with where you are in life? I and my brother was talking on the subject of contentment earlier this week after we both saw the news of Anthony Bourdain committing suicide. We talked about the subjects of sadness, depression, and contentment (happiness) – I hope you have someone that you can talk to about these subjects. I have preached sermons and wrote studies on the spirit of depression that you may also wish to read or share with others as well. A thought that my brother brought up was one I was going to talk about in this week’s sermon. He said, “being content is so hard,” to which I replied, “you’re right about that.”

You should feel no shame if your answer was, “no, I am not content (happy).” Frankly, it’s hard to be content in this world nowadays. Every time you turn on the news, or open your phone and go online, we are bombarded with a bunch of mess. Our world seems to be inundated by men who love to keep up a bunch of strife and contentions; it’s very easy to see how people could become saddened, depressed, or frustrated with it all. We also have to face the fact that life is filled with a bunch of failure and misfortune which makes it seem impossible to find true happiness.

There is also a great confusion over what is considered to be real happiness. We are taught that if we come upon great wealth and fortune that we “will” be happy. We are taught that if we can travel the world and be able to see what we have back home that we’ll find real happiness. However, one thing I have realized is that there are many people who have found great wealth and fortune but are still very miserable people. Some people dream of finding great wealth and fortune but I do not! I look at many of these celebrities and am thankful that I do not have to walk around in their shoes! Money may or may not bring you happiness, and in many cases, that happiness is simply temporarily.

I don’t know about you but I believe that happiness should not be something that is temporary. I seek the kind of happiness and joy that will last me forever! I have 3 things I feel we must do in order to find real happiness – to become content – these are three things I personally have done and believe in. First: we must learn to ignore the standards of happiness set by the world. In many of our cases, I am referring to the standards set by our society. For example, the American Dream is a dream that may not even be intended for you! Sadly, that dream could be a dream for somebody else that you’re simply helping them to fulfill with nothing in it for you.

Second: we must learn to ignore the standards of happiness set by friends and even family (those around you). The truth that many of us have a hard time accepting is the fact that happiness is subjective. What makes me happy may not make you happy. I love to watch and learn about space, watch Star Wars stuff, play video games, and read the Bible – this makes me happy but most likely won’t make you happy. This leads to my third point: determine what brings you happiness and then trust that God will deliver to you your happiness! God grants the desires of our heart so we must make our desires clear to Him! Often times we fail in making our desires clear by not knowing what brings happiness to our very own soul. Then there are the cases of the nonbeliever who seeks happiness and believe that they can find true happiness without the Lord. One man tried this and wrote that it was impossible; he was King Solomon and wrote the book of Ecclesiastes on his studies of trying to live and God-free life – give it a read and see what he learned.

To become content in this life we must look inwardly to our soul and determine what makes us genuinely happy; we must then turn to the Lord and trust in Him! The biggest problem that we face is that we have allowed our happiness to be determined by others. In other words, what I am trying to say is that we have allowed our happiness to become dependent on others instead of ourselves! This is our gravest mistake! We end up putting our faith in the wrong. You see, I want you to value yourself and I want you to value the Lord. We must learn to become content in our lives.

Learning to be content

The idea of happiness has become a myth in our world. What do I mean by this? There are many people that believe that happiness is a lie – something that we cannot really know. However, I tell you that happiness is not a myth but it is something that we can all know. Happiness is real. Joy is real. I want you to know that because the devil does not want you to know that. There are many people who he has deceived into believing this lie, but I tell you that you have the ability to become content, to become happy.

We all hunger to find and experience genuine happiness. We have this insatiable appetite for happiness, and the feeling is that we will never have this appetite filled. Paul, however, says (v.11), “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content (satisfied/happy).” Paul found happiness. I want to tell you that he’s not the only one that has ever found happiness. There are many people who have walked this earth, and who currently walk this earth, that has learned how to become content. Notice the key word here: learned. Happiness is not something that you will instantly find or know, but it is something that you will hopefully learn over time. Again, we have our starting place, ignore the world and those around us, and focus on what makes us happy.

Paul, however, learned that it was impossible to know (find) and learn happiness without the Lord. When Paul was known as Saul, we must remember that he was a man that was filled with rage and anger. Paul was a man that was filled with much hatred towards those who did not fit inside of his bubble. Paul felt that he was a man of faith, but in his faith, he did not know Jesus; he pursue the new faith (way) of Jesus and all of those who practiced this faith.

Paul persecuted the church. He would go into the homes of those who worshiped Christ and have those believers arrested in their homes (Acts 8:3)! Many people don’t know this, but Paul led the charge and stood by as Stephen was stoned to death (Acts 8:1; Acts 22:20). The new believers fled from Jerusalem and went to Damascus, but Paul was not through yet. At that time, Paul sought his happiness by persecuting these new believers. The reason I feel he decided to follow the new believers to Damascus is that he thought his hunger would be filled. Little did Paul realize that he was about to bite off something that would indeed fill his hunger.

On the road to Damascus, Paul was knocked off his horse and was then introduced to Jesus Christ. Christ entered into his life and suddenly things changed. Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit and suddenly his perspective on things changed. Anybody who has met Jesus, and has been filled with the Holy Spirit, will attest to you the fact that their perspective on things has changed. Being filled with the Holy Spirit will change one’s perspective and this is what happened to Paul.

I want you to understand that Paul had to surrender his ways, his personal beliefs, to follow in the way of Christ. We, ourselves, must also surrender all things if we are going to follow in the way of Christ. We sing a song in church – I Surrender All – and we sing that song sayings lyrics like, “all to Jesus I surrender, all to Him I freely give.” There are many people who say that they are filled with faith in Him but they do not know happiness. I feel that this is the case because they are only faithful in word; they have yet to surrender all to Christ.

God intends to fill our souls with joy. Jesus taught the disciples and said to them (John 15:11), “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” The Lord does not want you walking around in this world being miserable! The only one who can make you miserable is yourself because you are the one who is in control over what makes you happy. If you are in a pit, a terrible state, let me tell you that God has brought many people out of that very same state.

King David wrote (Psalm 40:1-2) that he was in a horrible pit and the Lord brought him out of the miry clay and sat his feet upon a rock! I declare to you today that the Lord can and will bring you out of your pit, and sat your feet on solid ground, but you must have faith in yourself and in Him as well! We can do nothing without faith in both ourselves and in the Lord. David would go on to say (Psalm 40:3) the Lord put a new song in his mouth. All of what David went through in his life, and yet he also learned how to become content (happy). Happiness can only be found in the Lord.

A new song is what was put into Paul’s mouth. The man who once only knew anger and rage suddenly knew love and found happiness. I want you to see what Paul said he learned:

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

Philippians 4:12 NIV

Paul did not learn this on his own. Paul became this way because he knew that the Lord would always be with him and bring him through, no matter what. Many of us say that all we know is struggle, heartache, pain, failure, and misfortune. However, I tell you that when you surrender all of these thoughts over to the Lord, the only thing you will see is what God is going to bring you through! You look to that hill and you know that you will overcome that hill!

Frankly, I tell you that struggle does not go away! No matter how large your bank account grows, struggle is still going to be there. The old folks would always say, “there’s always something,” when things would seem to randomly happen. For me personally, when I was diagnosed with end-stage renal failure, that was a tough trial. The one thing that always amazes me, however, is the fact that my faith and spirit is still full! I have learned how to be content (happy) no matter what goes on in my life. This, I feel and know, is only possible because of my faith in myself and my faith in the Lord.

Struggle does not go away, but I want to tell you that the Lord does not go away either! God never forsakes us! In our weakness, the Lord’s strength is sufficient, and He is perfect. The happiness that you will learn is the type of happiness when you are at ease, no matter what state you are in. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy will certainly come in the morning.


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