Today’s Scripture:  “11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.”  Philippians 4:11-12

Introduction:

I remember loosely making reference to these verses the other day, and I’m excited that they are a part of this series.  I know that the Lord is going to have a lot of good things to say through this message today.  So, rather than try to say a whole bunch of stuff I think this is one of those messages that’s best to get out of the way, and pray for the Holy Ghost to take over…yeah…surrendering the writing of this message to the Holy Ghost…that’s part of living the surrendered life.

Today’s Message:

Lord Jesus, I come before You today to seek the anointing, unction, and utterance for this message that You supply through the supernatural power of the Holy Ghost.  I surrender my abilities, and ask You…Holy Ghost…to anoint my fingers…and help me to write only that which You would have to say this day.  I pray for open ears to Your voice, open eyes to see what You have to say, and open hearts to receive what You would have to teach us this day through this message.  We ask this in the mighty name of Jesus…Amen & Amen

So what’s the secret that the author of Philippians, Paul, learned that would allow him to be content in any circumstance?

Friends, today we’re going to learn the secret to being content in any circumstance.  That means that…like what Paul writes…whether times are awesome or horrible, whether we have a lot or nothing, and no matter what life may throw at us…we can learn to be content in all situations and circumstances…and that’s what the Holy Ghost is wanting to teach us today…to understand that no matter how bad we think we may have it…if you are a believer…we have God with us and in us…and that means we have enough to shout about all the time.  There are millions of people who cannot claim they have God…so the truth is…since we do have God…we have it better than almost 93% of the world.

Gratitude.

Yes, friends.  That’s right.  This is the key to being content in any circumstance of life…Gratitude.  Being grateful for the things we do have, and as I just said as believers no matter how bad the circumstances of life might get…we still have something that almost 93% of the world doesn’t have…the assurance that this life here on earth is the worst it’s ever going to get.

Do you know that once I got the revelation that this life is the closest I’m ever going to get to spending eternity in hell…it allowed be to stop wishing and pining for the “greener pastures”.  Listen, as a Christian, knowing that as a child of the Most High God…knowing that at the end of this life I’m going to spend eternity in Heaven…knowing that…it allows me to look at life and be free to be content because I have the revelation that no matter how great things are here or how horrible things are…this is only temporary.  The best day here in the world pales in comparison to spending one day in Heaven.

Once you have that understanding, my friends…then no matter what you face…you can be content in this world…and that’s the understanding I believe Paul had.  Of course, he had one advantage the rest of us didn’t have…he got to see the third Heaven.  He got to see the Heaven that all of us have waiting for us some day…but even though we don’t have that advantage…even though we haven’t been able to see Heaven…one thing we do have is the assurance that at the end of this life…we will see the sweet face of Jesus.

I don’t know about you…but that’s enough assurance for me to not ever really let abundance or lack get me down.  Sure, there are times where I wish I had a nicer home, but when I think of the homeless, people in third world countries…then I realize that I need to praise God because I have a roof over my head…and that eliminates my wishing for a nicer home.  I sometimes wish I had a nicer vehicle, but then when I realize that there are many people who don’t even own a car…that makes me grateful for the car I do have.

I may wish for a better job with better money, better hours, and better benefits.  However, when I realize that almost 10% of people in this country don’t have a job at all…that helps me to be grateful that I even have a job…and it also gives me cause to praise the Lord…because it’s only by His favor I have the job I do…and while the hours and pay not be the greatest…the facts are I have the exact kind of job I want because it allows me to work…and be able to operate the ministry.  I am so grateful for the job I have because I prayed for one that would allow me to work and write these messages…and God blessed me with a job that allows me to do exactly that.

Listen, when ever you look around at what you have wishing that it could maybe be a little bit better…you’re no longer content with what you have…and that means you’ve lost your gratitude. I have come to a place in my life where I’m extremely grateful to God for everything I have because I realize just how blessed I am.  That, my friends is gratitude.  That is being content…being grateful…and realizing that every blessing we have is from God.  I used to think that the abundant life was about stuff…after all that’s what the “prosperity pimps” would have you to believe.  Prosperity to them is having a Mercedes-Benz, your own private jet, $5,000 Armani suits, and being a millionaire.  However…I’ve come to discover that true Biblical prosperity has nothing to do with stuff at all…it has to do with the things that money cannot buy.  Things like family, love, joy, and true happiness.  Sure…it would be nice to drive a Mercedes, wear expensive suits, and have a big house…but that’s never really been my dream.

My dreams have always been simple, and I believe that’s where our hearts ought to be.  As far as my personal life.  My ministry dreams are bigger…if your goals and dreams ministry wise aren’t too big for you…if they aren’t big enough to where you know the only way you’ll accomplish them is with God’s help…then those dreams and goals aren’t big enough…and you’re limiting what God can do through you.

Gratitude.

Yep, I believe it’s really that simple. Oh, it may not be what Paul was thinking when he wrote what he wrote. But for me, it’s the very mindset that is the catalyst to contentment in my life.

I agree with the writer of this devotion.  It really is that simple.  Gratitude is one of those hidden fruits of the spirit that come as a result of a…what…totally surrendered life.  I believe that gratitude could’ve and maybe should have been listed as one of the fruits of the spirit…but I guess in a way it is because when you’re truly grateful for the blessings you have in your life…then that’s where joy comes in.

Today, you have a decision to make. I do, too. We can choose either to be content and grateful or we can choose not to. And we must choose before we are placed in a situation where we are comparing or complaining or wanting. During temptation is not the time to decide whether or not we are content.

I’m going to close today’s message with this thought.  Are you living with gratitude or are you living with this wish that the grass was greener?  Are you grateful for the blessing you have or have you bought into the prosperity message where if you don’t have an expensive car, house, or stuff that you just don’t have enough faith?

Can I tell you that Paul wrote about being content while he was in prison, and that prison in his day wasn’t anything like what prison is like today?  I am sure he didn’t get three meals a day or showers or other prisoners to hang out with.  I’m positive that he didn’t have the kinds of amenities that most people in jails and prisons enjoy today…and Paul wrote in the middle of his circumstances that he was content.

I have found in my life that I actually am that content, but I can always learn to be more content.  I’m not perfect.  I find myself day-dreaming about having “nicer” stuff too, but what I don’t do anymore is lose my gratitude for the blessings I do have…and I hope that this message encourages you to think about the things you have…and gain gratitude knowing that while it can always be better…the reverse is true as well…it can always be worse…so instead of taking what you do have for granted…and dreaming about the greener pastures…take some time to enjoy the pasture you are living in…and be thankful for what you do have…and soon you’ll discover you have found like Paul…that no matter what circumstance you’re in…you can be content…if for no other reason…then the one I gave you in the beginning.

This is the worst life is ever going to get for those of us who believe, and have called upon the name of the Lord to be saved.  We have an eternal destination that will be far greater than this one will ever be…and the only way to have this life here be joyful for us now…is to be content and grateful for what we have…and not pining for what we don’t.

My pastor and father in the faith used to say it this way:  “Bloom where you’re planted.”

Points for Pondering:

  • Is there a particular area of your life where you don’t feel grateful?
  • What is it that you think would help you be more grateful?
  • Spend time in honest, open dialogue with God about these areas. He can handle it. Your lack of gratitude Is no secret to Him.
  • From this day forward, begin each day naming ten people/things for which you are thankful. If ten is to small a number, do more!

Conclusion & Prayer:

Here’s a list of ten right off the top of my heart that I’m thankful for right now.  The list isn’t in any particular list of importance, but perhaps this will help you to see that I’m writing these messages to myself…just as much as I’m writing them for you.

Ten Things I am Thankful For:

  1. My Family:  I have a wonderful family life these days.  I’ve a restored and improving relationship with my parents that I’m extremely grateful for.  I’ve a fantastic new family with my wife and son.
  2. My Job:  My job may not pay the greatest, and the hours may leave a lot to be desired, but like I shared earlier this is the exact job that I asked God for.  One where I can work and maintain this ministry…and the job allows me just that.  I also work with people who are believers…and that makes a great deal of difference to me.
  3. My Home:  I am extremely thankful for the roof I have over my head, the furniture we have, and that our home is one that serves and praises the Lord.
  4. My Church:  I am blessed to have a church and pastors who believe it’s still okay to preach the Word of God.
  5. My Car:  My car was actually gifted to me by my parents.  It enables me to get around…but it’s a reliable vehicle…and that’s exactly what my family and I need me to have.
  6. My Ministry:  I am so thankful for what God is doing through this ministry, and that I even have a ministry to begin with.
  7. My Father In The Faith:  I am extremely grateful that I had a pastor who really took the time to teach me well, and build and establish within me a good, strong foundation that’s built upon the rock of Jesus Christ…and the foundation of the Word of God.
  8. My Wife:  God has blessed me with a wonderful woman who loves the Lord, and is a great help mate to me.
  9. My Mom:  My mother and I may not have always had the greatest relationship, but God has really done wonders in that area.  My mom has always been one of the most important people in my life…and I appreciate the mom that God gave me.
  10. My Life:  There was a time where I wasn’t always so grateful and thankful for my life, but that’s because I didn’t have the understanding that I do today about the very topic of this message…gratitude and contentment.

There’s a quick list to show you that I do, indeed participate in my own messages.  I hope that you’ll take some time to write down your own list…and hope that it will give you reasons to be grateful…and find that you too can be content with such things as ye have…Amen!?!

Father, how blessed we are.  Lord, help us to be grateful, thankful, and content with the things we have…and not pine for the things we don’t.  Help us to look at the things we have now, and realize that they’re all blessings from You…and that we need to be thankful for every blessing You have given for us…and also to realize that we won’t be blessed with more or nicer…until we’re truly thankful and grateful for what You’ve already blessed us with.  Help us to see and know that for those of us who have called upon the name of Your Son to be saved that the greatest day we have here in the world is nothing compared to what we’ll have in the world to come…the one where we get to see Your face…and please…Lord give us the understanding that all that we see here is only temporary…whether we’re in a million dollar mansion or in a prison like Paul was…teach us…Lord God…not to find true contentment in our stuff…but our relationship with You.  In Jesus’ name…Amen & Amen.