The Secret of Contentment

  • June 28, 2015
Sunday 28

Philippians 4:4-13

In today’s reading, the apostle Paul says he has learned the secret of experiencing contentment in all circumstances, good or bad. Does it surprise you that he wrote this when he was in prison, unsure of his future? We’re often discontent even when all is going well. Consequently, we wonder how it’s possible to be truly content during our most difficult trials, especially when there’s no end in sight. So what is genuine contentment? Paul is speaking of a freedom from worry and frustration in all aspects of life—even unfulfilled desires.

It’s usually when we cannot control or change our situation that we feel discontentment. As long as our satisfaction depends on whether certain things actually work out, we’ll allow circumstances to cheat us out of peace. I’m not saying there’s some spiritual stage where you will never again experience anxiety or frustration. But what matters is how we respond when those feelings grip us.

This is something that the apostle had to learn. Paul endured amazing suffering, from shipwrecks and hunger to unjust imprisonment and beatings (2 Corinthians 11:24-30). He had gone through countless situations that were uncertain, extraordinarily painful, and seemingly hopeless. But he finally discovered that contentment could not be dependent upon his circumstances.

How do you respond when circumstances are out of your control? Do you get angry? Do you try to escape? Does despair make you want to give up? Paul chose to give his anxieties to Jesus in exchange for peace that “surpasses all comprehension” (Philippians 4:7). That same peace is available to you!

Bible in One Year: Psalms 90-94

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4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!

5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.

6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity.

11 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.

12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.

13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

24 Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes.

25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep.

26 I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren;

27 I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.

28 Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.

29 Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern?

30 If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness.

7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

1 Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.

2 Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

3 You turn man back into dust And say, Return, O children of men."

4 For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it passes by, Or as a watch in the night.

5 You have swept them away like a flood, they fall asleep; In the morning they are like grass which sprouts anew.

6 In the morning it flourishes and sprouts anew; Toward evening it fades and withers away.

7 For we have been consumed by Your anger And by Your wrath we have been dismayed.

8 You have placed our iniquities before You, Our secret sins in the light of Your presence.

9 For all our days have declined in Your fury; We have finished our years like a sigh.

10 As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, Or if due to strength, eighty years, Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; For soon it is gone and we fly away.

11 Who understands the power of Your anger And Your fury, according to the fear that is due You?

12 So teach us to number our days, That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.

13 Do return, O LORD; how long will it be? And be sorry for Your servants.

14 O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness, That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

15 Make us glad according to the days You have afflicted us, And the years we have seen evil.

16 Let Your work appear to Your servants And Your majesty to their children.

17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; And confirm for us the work of our hands; Yes, confirm the work of our hands.

1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

2 I will say to the LORD, My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!"

3 For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper And from the deadly pestilence.

4 He will cover you with His pinions, And under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.

5 You will not be afraid of the terror by night, Or of the arrow that flies by day;

6 Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.

7 A thousand may fall at your side And ten thousand at your right hand, But it shall not approach you.

8 You will only look on with your eyes And see the recompense of the wicked.

9 For you have made the LORD, my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place.

10 No evil will befall you, Nor will any plague come near your tent.

11 For He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways.

12 They will bear you up in their hands, That you do not strike your foot against a stone.

13 You will tread upon the lion and cobra, The young lion and the serpent you will trample down.

14 Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.

15 He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.

16 With a long life I will satisfy him And let him see My salvation."

1 It is good to give thanks to the LORD And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;

2 To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning And Your faithfulness by night,

3 With the ten-stringed lute and with the harp, With resounding music upon the lyre.

4 For You, O LORD, have made me glad by what You have done, I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands.

5 How great are Your works, O LORD! Your thoughts are very deep.

6 A senseless man has no knowledge, Nor does a stupid man understand this:

7 That when the wicked sprouted up like grass And all who did iniquity flourished, It was only that they might be destroyed forevermore.

8 But You, O LORD, are on high forever.

9 For, behold, Your enemies, O LORD, For, behold, Your enemies will perish; All who do iniquity will be scattered.

10 But You have exalted my horn like that of the wild ox; I have been anointed with fresh oil.

11 And my eye has looked exultantly upon my foes, My ears hear of the evildoers who rise up against me.

12 The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon.

13 Planted in the house of the LORD, They will flourish in the courts of our God.

14 They will still yield fruit in old age; They shall be full of sap and very green,

15 To declare that the LORD is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.

1 The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty; The LORD has clothed and girded Himself with strength; Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved.

2 Your throne is established from of old; You are from everlasting.

3 The floods have lifted up, O LORD, The floods have lifted up their voice, The floods lift up their pounding waves.

4 More than the sounds of many waters, Than the mighty breakers of the sea, The LORD on high is mighty.

5 Your testimonies are fully confirmed; Holiness befits Your house, O LORD, forevermore.

1 O LORD, God of vengeance, God of vengeance, shine forth!

2 Rise up, O Judge of the earth, Render recompense to the proud.

3 How long shall the wicked, O LORD, How long shall the wicked exult?

4 They pour forth words, they speak arrogantly; All who do wickedness vaunt themselves.

5 They crush Your people, O LORD, And afflict Your heritage.

6 They slay the widow and the stranger And murder the orphans.

7 They have said, The LORD does not see, Nor does the God of Jacob pay heed."

8 Pay heed, you senseless among the people; And when will you understand, stupid ones?

9 He who planted the ear, does He not hear? He who formed the eye, does He not see?

10 He who chastens the nations, will He not rebuke, Even He who teaches man knowledge?

11 The LORD knows the thoughts of man, That they are a mere breath.

12 Blessed is the man whom You chasten, O LORD, And whom You teach out of Your law;

13 That You may grant him relief from the days of adversity, Until a pit is dug for the wicked.

14 For the LORD will not abandon His people, Nor will He forsake His inheritance.

15 For judgment will again be righteous, And all the upright in heart will follow it.

16 Who will stand up for me against evildoers? Who will take his stand for me against those who do wickedness?

17 If the LORD had not been my help, My soul would soon have dwelt in the abode of silence.

18 If I should say, My foot has slipped," Your lovingkindness, O LORD, will hold me up.

19 When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.

20 Can a throne of destruction be allied with You, One which devises mischief by decree?

21 They band themselves together against the life of the righteous And condemn the innocent to death.

22 But the LORD has been my stronghold, And my God the rock of my refuge.

23 He has brought back their wickedness upon them And will destroy them in their evil; The LORD our God will destroy them.

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Publish Date November 21, 2017
Causes of Rebellion

Believers are not immune to the dangers of doubt and pride.

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