This is the sermon for Sunday morning, July 20th 2008.
SETTLED IN AN UNSETTLED WORLD
How many of you have ever seen an old basset hound? You know what I’m talking about? They have the long ears, the big droopy eyes. They just seem to sit in one position, all day long. They are settled. If they are an in house dog they may be facing these circumstances: The parents are constantly fighting, the children are constantly rebelling, there may be thunder and lightening outside, and everyone’s world is topsy-turvy. But not the basset hound. He is settled in the midst of either good circumstances, or bad circumstances, nothing seems to move him. Oh, you can go and pick up his head, try to move him with your leg, and what happens? He goes right back into the same position that he was before, just laying there, contented and not allowing circumstances to move him.
Well, wouldn’t it be nice to have a life of a basset hound? Not allowing outside circumstances to move you or influence you. To be contented in whatever position of life that you are in.
Well, this morning we going to look into the writings of Paul from Philippians 4. Let’s look at a little background information before we get into our teaching.
Paul had some type of relationship with the church in Philippi where they were providing some type of financial help for him and his ministry. Look at what He says further down in chapter 4:
Philippians 4:14-19 ESV – Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. (15) And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. (16) Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. (17) Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. (18) I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. (19) And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Philippi was a giving church. They loved Paul and supported his ministry. Yet there were times that they did not have the opportunity to give to His ministry like they would usually. You will notice this when we get to our Scripture text. Paul, instead of begging and complaining over the lack of their funds coming in at times, declared that he learned how to be content and find his help in God, not in the financial support or his own ability to meet his needs.
We live in a time where the prices of things seems to be going up, while our wages are the same. People are now having to make decisions on where to spend their money. They are having to sacrifice some things for the sake of food and gas. Many people are giving up on charitable giving to churches, meeting personal financial needs and things of this nature.
Let me state for the record that this type of giving should be the last thing to give up. Why? Well, because when you are giving to the church, or to those in needs, you are giving to the Lord. He deserves our best gift, not to be forgotten.
The question remains, are you unsettled in our unsettled financial world? Most Americans are.
But like Paul, we can live above this.
The goal of today’s sermon is to realize that in desperate times, we can be content or settled and discover where our contentment is found – in Jesus Christ.
Let’s look at our text this morning, and ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you as we study on being settled during unsettled times.
Philippians 4:10-13 ESV – I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. (11) Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. (12) I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. (13) I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
1. What does it mean to be content?
A. The Greek word is autarkes (ow-tar-kace).
It means, “Sufficient for one’s self, strong enough or processing enough to need no aid or support. Independent of external circumstances; To be content in one’s lot in life.”
B. The dictionary definition means, “To be self-sufficing, or self-sufficient.”
C. Wait a minute, it sounds like Paul in the passage is contradicting the rest of Scripture, plus other passages he wrote.
At first glance, it would be easy to come to this conclusion. Let’s look at what Paul is saying here.
D. First off, he is not complaining to the church in Philippi about their lack of giving to his need.
He is letting them know that he has learned the secret to being content, or settled in his circumstances. He is not letting the fact that he is going through a period of humility and lack dictate who He is in Christ and His calling in Christ. Those outside influences, poverty and prosperity, he is independent of. It doesn’t prove who he really is and whether he is in the will of God or not. The self-sufficiency that He is experiencing is not found in his flesh, or his ability to make money, or survive the hardship, but it is found in the new man, which is hidden in Christ.
E. We live in a time that people in the church judge others by outside influences.
We see someone going through impoverish times or are sick and we think, there is sin in their life, or they are out of the will of God – well that is not necessarily true.
We see someone who seems to go through prosperous times and never, ever seems to get sick and we think, that is a great man or woman of God – well that is not necessarily true either.
Paul went through prosperous times and impoverish times; healthy times and sickly times, but he was still in the will of God. He had favor with God that was not moved by outward influences.
You see, whether it is good times or bad times, for the believer, all those times are working for our good.
Romans 8:28 ESV – And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
2. How can we be settled or content?
Philippians 4:12 ESV – I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.
A. First off, don’t let times of plenty or times of lack dictate your contentment.
Remember the story at the beginning of the sermon with the basset hound? Be settled in your position in Christ just like the basset hound is settled in the home of his master. Learn the secret of being settled.
3. What is the secret of being settled?
Philippians 4:13 ESV – I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13 AMP – I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].
A. Christ Jesus strengthens your life and is sufficient enough for you to live above your circumstances, whether you are impoverished or prosperous.
B. Notice in the Amplified Bible they define it as, “I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency.
How is Christ sufficient for us?
If He parted the red sea for Israel and delivered them, then He is more than enough for my needs.
If He kept the three Hebrews alive in the fiery furnace, He is more than able to keep me alive in the fiery trials I face.
If he shut the mouths of the lions for Daniel, He can shut the mouths of my accusers that so what they say proves meaningless or nothing.
He if feed Elijah in the wilderness with ravens, He is more than able to supernaturally supply my need.
This morning, do you have a need? Christ is your sufficiency.
Are you here this morning going through prosperous times and you realize it is only for the grace of God and not your ability? Then humble yourself before Him with thanksgiving.
Whatever your lot in life, be settled in Christ. You belong to Him. He promises to strengthen you in the good times and the bad. Don’t let outward circumstances unsettle you. Stay settled in Him.