Wednesday, August 17, 2011
FPC Men’s Bible Study
Men, this Fall Rev. Josh Rieger will lead a weekly morning Bible study through a series on Covenant Theology. The study will include teaching, guided discussion, weekly reading assignments, and prayer. The Bible study will meet on Tuesday mornings from 6:30-7:45 a.m. in Miller Hall from September 6 through November 22. A full breakfast will be served each week for $6.00.
To sign up for this study, please contact Shannon Craft, Administrative Assistant of Discipleship, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 601-326-9243.
Posted by Ligon Duncan at 4:49 PM
Monday, August 08, 2011
We are rounding out this penultimate section of Philippians in which Paul is both thanking the Philippians for their faithful support of him and his ministry as well as exhorting them to contentment. Last week we saw how Paul described the nature of contentment, and how – very often – those who are most content in this life with their circumstances are prevented from having true contentment. We also said that those of us who are most discontent with this life, this was passage was written especially to encourage us. This week I want to begin by looking at what we might call the “secret of contentment.”
III. The secret of contentment.
Now, so what’s the secret? He tells you in verses 11-13 that his contentment doesn’t come from his circumstances; that they do not contribute to or detract from the gospel contentment that he enjoys. That’s still not the secret, but it sets you up to hear the secret.
It’s interesting, there are many forms of Buddhism all concerned that you cultivate contentment. One significant brand of Buddhism says the way you cultivate contentment is you lower your expectations. And Paul’s telling you at the outset, “Wrong! Not the source of contentment. Contentment doesn’t come from circumstances or your lowered expectations of those circumstances. Contentment, real, gospel contentment comes from someplace else.” Where? He tells you in verse 13: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
In other words, the secret of contentment is God’s providence apprehended by your soul. It’s not just the doctrine of God’s providence, though you’ve got to understand the doctrine before you can experience contentment. It’s not just the doctrine of God’s providence taught to you, it is the God of providence embraced by your soul so that you believe it. Gospel contentment rests on a deep, personal embrace of God’s providence.
Paul is not saying you can do anything. In this verse God is saying to you, “anything that I ask you to do and anyplace where I put you, you can be content and thrive. Because I’m the one who strengthens you.”
It takes years to work that truth deep down into your bones so that it is your default setting, but that is the secret of contentment. The battle is of course getting it into the heart so that it dominates all of your circumstances.
IV. The song of contentment.
Now, contentment has a song. Contentment has a song, and the lyrics are written down in verse 19. Here’s the theme song of contentment:
“My God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
The song of contentment is, ‘My God, I believe that Your supply of my needs is more real than the air that I’m breathing right now. I believe that Your supply of all my needs is more real than the food that I eat, more real than the skin that I’m in, more real, more lasting, than any circumstance that I’m in right now. That’s my theme song.’ And until the truth of God’s providence has worked deep down into our hearts so that it is the reflex reaction the minute that we’re in any difficult circumstances of life, we haven’t yet apprehended the secret of contentment in the way that we need to.
V. Contentment is grateful.
Now there’s one last thing: Contentment is grateful, and you see it in the doxology that Paul sings in verse 20:
“To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.”
Contentment expresses itself in constant gratitude to God. God-glorifying gratefulness flows from the heart of the one who is content. Show me a content person in gospel contentment, I’ll show you a person who’s grateful to God. Put them in the worst circumstance of life, they’ll still praise God. Why? Because He has supplied all their needs and they know it. And they know that nobody else in the world can take away what He has supplied. The world can take everything else away, but they cannot take what He has supplied.
You may be a Christian who is discontent. That’s okay, and that’s not okay. It’s not okay because God wants you to live in contentment. It’s okay because you’re at the starting block if you’re there. If you’re content in yours circumstances, you’re not even in the game yet. But if you’re a Christian and you’re discontent, there is really good news waiting for you. Pick up the Bible and starting working through it.
Posted by Ligon Duncan at 2:20 PM
Monday, August 01, 2011
We are nearing a close of this wonderful letter by the Apostle Paul. As he is closing and thanking them for their gift of financial support, Paul is urging his beloved Philippian congregation to be content in their situation. He points to how he has learned to be content and calls them, as he has done before, to imitate him.
Last week, we studied Paul’s gratitude for the gift of support that the impoverished Philippian congregation sent to him. In doing so, Paul teaches that he has learned to be contented in all things and the reason he can be so contented is because God desires for His people to be content. That is the foundation for us, it is possible to be content in one’s present situation because it is God’s desire for us, for those whom He has called in His son to be content.
This week, I want to look with you at the Nature of Contentment.
II. The nature of contentment.
It’s very important that you understand the nature of this contentment as well, because there are all sorts of theories about contentment out there and how you attain contentment; but Paul, in verse 11, tells you something else about the nature of the contentment. Look at what he says at the end of verse 11: “For I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” Did you catch that? “For I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” Isn’t that an encouragement?
But here’s what I want you to see, maybe more than anything else: You are more likely to find real contentment when you realize your lack of real contentment than if you are in a circumstance in life where your situation provides you with such comforts that you are not thinking about your lack of the real thing.
This is why Jesus said that it is hard for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Why? Because the rich man can mistake circumstantial contentment for gospel contentment. He can mistake a superficial temporal contentment with a deep and permanent and eternal contentment, and he cannot seek real contentment because he doesn’t sense his lack of real contentment, because he’s in circumstances that make him content.
If you’re out there reading this saying, “Yes, Ligon, I am deeply discontent,” I’ve got good news for you. You are more likely to seek real contentment and find it than someone who is content in his or her circumstances.
And this then why it is so deadly what the “health and wealth” preachers are saying around you? They’re saying, ‘Look, God wants you to be affluent. God wants you to have stuff.’
Very often it is precisely the stuff and the affluence that blinds us to the real thing, and so God in His kindness takes away the stuff and puts us in hard life circumstances and situations so that we realize, ‘You know, Lord, I really don’t have gospel contentment.’ And for the first time in our lives we’ll realize that we don’t have the real thing, and we’ll want it, and so we will accept no substitute.
That means, if you’re just not content, hating where you are, things just don’t leave you satisfied, and your discontented, then this is for you.
Maybe it’s your finances. Bill collectors are calling, and the bills aren’t adding up to the income. And month after month you feel like you’re just slipping deeper and deeper, and you’re deeply dissatisfied and discontent with where you are.
Maybe it’s your marriage. You don’t say it to your spouse, but in the dark of the night you look up to heaven and you say, ‘Lord, this is not where I thought I would be. This is not what I thought I was buying into. This is not the dream of my heart as a child for my marriage.’
Or maybe it’s just your life situation…
Whatever it is, you are poised for a great discovery, and that is that your contentment doesn’t come from those things, and those things cannot stop the contentment of God. Your contentment – and that’s what we’re going to learn next week – is non-circumstantial. If you are after God-contentment, if you are after gospel contentment, if you are after real contentment, the first thing you learn about it is it’s non-circumstantial.
You are more apt to seek real gospel contentment and find it if you don’t have it than if you are fat with the circumstantial contentment of this world. That is really, really good news. That’s what we must understand and learn that we can be content in every situation because it doesn’t come from our present situation.
Posted by Ligon Duncan at 10:59 AM