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Stand Firm: Contentment in Christ

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We can find contentment/fulfillment in Jesus Christ when we stand firm in the Lord. When we stand firm, we focus on Jesus, and significance attributed to ourselves (as more important than others) as well as all other worldly things becomes secondary.

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Me

Well, I appreciate you all being here, and Ross allowing me to spend some time with you all as we take this time out to look at God’s Word this morning. I always enjoy being here in Tallahassee to visit family and come to Morningside, especially because I’ve found that the older I get and the more responsibilities I have, the less opportunities I have to take time out to have a break and enjoy family.
Sometimes it’s tough for me to fully enjoy times like this, though, because I’m so used to the craziness of life. I know some of y’all have got to feel me on this. It’s like I get so caught up in the whole “2-5 on the average Instagram bio”: fam, school, work, gainz. Not like this is a bad thing, but a lot of our time and effort in life is oriented toward “the next step” in life: graduating high school, maybe going to college, getting a job, earning a living, finding someone to marry and start a family with. Often, we put so much energy behind achieving each of those objectives, and even the smaller goals in many of those categories that enable us to complete those objectives.
I have found myself wrapped up in that lately a lot, and so the Lord wanted me to share about some of that with you this morning. Some of you may know I just graduated from BCF and am headed to seminary because God has called me to teach the Bible and go into full-time ministry. Even though that is the case, that does not remove me from the need to set goals, nor my tendency in the flesh to materialize those goals, or have a worldly skew on God’s calling for my life.
Over the last two and a half years I interned at a church doing both youth and pastoral ministry, and as I grew in those roles, I found myself craving to be in a more intensive role, which is fine, but the problem came when that desire for growth and maturation turned into me coveting other people my age that are in certain positions that I want to be in. Or recently in an awards ceremony, I was recognized for having a high GPA and just graduating - because that deserves an “Amen” in and of itself - but I got super salty when another guy got recognized by the president with a prestigious award and got a lot of publicity, when he didn’t even have a 3.0.
That actually has a lot to do with what I’d like to talk about this morning. I’m sure all of you in some way are starting to realize the challenges that life brings, and are even captivated by “things.”

We

That actually has a lot to do with what I’d like to talk about this morning, and I promise I won’t sound so petty for the rest of this. I’m sure all of you in some way are starting to realize the challenges that life brings, and are even captivated by “things.” I’m not just talking about possessions, but you could include them. Like, let’s be honest, how many of you were triggered that you didn’t get something you’ve wanted for Christmas? You may have asked for something in particular for days, weeks, months, even years, and your parents would say what mine would hit me with all the time by saying, “Christmas is coming soon, just put it on your list.” Well, like me, you put it on the list, but they didn’t pull through and now you’re a tad miffed at that. What makes things worse is all your friends on Snapchat or the Gram posting like, “I just got the iPhone X [not Ex]” or “check out the new whip.”
When you start to get angry or jealous with that person--even though the examples I used are silly--you’re coveting, and when that happens your enter into some dangerous territory. To stay out of that dangerous sin of coveting, it is essential that we take a step back and be reminded of a biblical perspective of what’s important. Otherwise, we start to elevate ourselves to a position that transcends our given place, of which we are unworthy; we start to lord whatever authority and power we think we have over other people out of some misplaced form of self-righteousness and selfishness.
Similar to the situation I shared with you about that guy that got the award from my school’s president, I felt like I deserved that award more than he did because I was prideful, and so in my mind I started ripping him apart and considered all the reasons why I deserved that award more than he did. Maybe God was doing a work in that guy that I was blind to, and was using that award to do it. Here’s a thought, maybe God was doing a work in me and using me not getting that award to do so.
The act of comparing ourselves to others in a way that leads to coveting is so dangerous and unbiblical. Whether it’s looks, intelligence, abilities, relationships, possessions, circumstances, or whatever, if we do not keep a proper perspective in mind, we immediately think of ourselves as more highly as we ought to (a mentality that completely contradicts , which says, “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”). When we think of ourselves more highly than we ought to, we ignore the bigger picture and don’t honor the Lord when He tells us in passages like and also in to “aspire to live quietly and mind your own affairs.”
So then, how do we effectively balance the virtues of diligence and humility? How do we strive to grow and develop in life, while honoring God and not getting sucked into a conceited, prideful attitude that hinders our relationship with the Lord? Let’s open up to to see what God through the Apostle Paul has to say about the supremacy of Christ.

God

So hopefully you have you Bible or your device open to . Follow along with me starting at verse 4, as we look to see how we can find contentment in Christ by standing firm in Him.
[Read 4:4-14; pray]
The beginning of our passage starts with Paul adamantly reminding the believers in Philippi to rejoice in the Lord. How are you able to rejoice? Well, very simply, you have to have joy. You have to have exuberant, unwavering joy. True joy that doesn't go away is only found in Jesus. We can know that Christian joy exists even in times of trials and struggles because those trials bring endurance and stronger faith. So, let me ask you: Do you have joy? You may want to answer "yes" right away, but consider what would happen if something was taken away from you. Would you lose hope, get bitter, anxious, and angry, and blame God? That's not joy. It's OK to have emotion, we're human, but we cross a line when we start to point the finger at God instead of seek His will and hand in the situation. If we don't seek His will and purpose in a situation, we lose sight of what's important and no longer seek to rejoice in Christ or abide in Him (). The same concept is applied to our interaction with other people. Rejoicing in the Lord is incompatible with resenting others, which leads us to verse 5.
"Graciousness"/"reasonableness" can mean gentleness. It's interesting here that gentleness is equated with rationality. Think about it for a second. If you are not gentle, but in a fit of rage with someone, you say things you do not really mean and can even become irrational with your words and actions. If you are in even a difficult circumstance, keep a gentle spirit (tough to do often, especially when driving, amen?) and you'll find yourself responding to situations in a reasonable, godly way as opposed to reacting in an irrational, idiotic way.
Why do we do this? Because the Lord is near. While God is omnipresent, this phrase in verse 5 refers to the Second Coming of Christ. The resurrection means everything to us as followers of Christ because it's the source of our hope and victory, but it also means that it's our motivation to continue to walk in holiness and obey God because He will return soon! The immanent return of Jesus should motivate us to glorify God, rejoice in Him, and share the gospel with others. How we live our lives is a witness to the work of Jesus in our lives. If He has truly done something in you, if He has truly saved you, then your life will genuinely show it! So, you have no choice but to be gentle if you're a follower of Christ because if we look at the instruction in verse 8, we'll soon figure out that you can't simultaneously hold a grudge and be commendable, you can't be spiteful yet be lovely and pure, you can't be angry and do anything worthy of praise. Those who are mature in their faith reflect that maturity in their gentleness, or as other areas of Scripture describe as "meekness" (, ESV). In , Jesus said that the meek will inherit the earth. Those who inherit the earth are coheirs with Christ and have been saved by Him by putting their faith in Him. Therefore, true, godly meekness or gentleness is only possible in Christ, after all, it is included as a part of the fruit of the Spirit.
Why do we do this? Because the Lord is near. While God is omnipresent, this phrase in verse 5 refers to the Second Coming of Christ. The resurrection means everything to us as followers of Christ because it's the source of our hope and victory, but it also means that it's our motivation to continue to walk in holiness and obey God because He will return soon! The immanent return of Jesus should motivate us to glorify God, rejoice in Him, and share the gospel with others. How we live our lives is a witness to the work of Jesus in our lives. If He has truly done something in you, if He has truly saved you, then your life will genuinely show it! So, you have no choice but to be gentle if you're a follower of Christ because if we look at the instruction in verse 8, we'll soon figure out that you can't simultaneously hold a grudge and be commendable, you can't be spiteful yet be lovely and pure, you can't be angry and do anything worthy of praise. Those who are mature in their faith reflect that maturity in their gentleness, or as other areas of Scripture describe as "meekness" (, ESV). In , Jesus said that the meek will inherit the earth. Those who inherit the earth are coheirs with Christ and have been saved by Him by putting their faith in Him. Therefore, true, godly meekness or gentleness is only possible in Christ, after all, it is included as a part of the fruit of the Spirit.
So are you gentle? Maybe I should ask if you are bitter. You salty? U mad bro? Is there something going on in your life that makes you angry and bitter and leads you to covet? How can you follow Christ, how can you forgive, how can you love, how can you share the gospel, how can your serve others genuinely, if you are not gentle? It's not all about you, but Christ in you and you making much of Him.
So are you gentle? Maybe I should ask if you are bitter. You salty? You mad bro? Is there something going on in your life that makes you angry and bitter and leads you to covet? How can you follow Christ, how can you forgive, how can you love, how can you share the gospel, how can your serve others genuinely, if you are not gentle? It's not all about you, but Christ in you.
So, if it’s about decreasing so that Christ would increase in your life, as John the Baptist is known for saying, then we get to verse 6. It says, "Don't worry about anything" - ESV: "do not be anxious about anything"
What are you anxious about? You anxious about your future? God has a plan for you. You anxious about some hardship or uncertainty in your life? God’s got you, just seek Him and ask Him to conform you to His will.
Some of you deal with anxiety daily. Why is that? Some of you have gone through some very difficult times and need to seek the Lord and give it up to Him, as this verse instructs. It's amazing what prayer can do! How's your prayer life? Paul writing to the church in Thessalonica took a lot of things in these verses (4-6) and said it's God's will for your life, in : "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for your life in Christ Jesus" (2-3-4 Principle). We like to play guessing games with God when it comes to seeking His will for your life, when really God isn’t about that. Very plainly, He gives us the foundation for His will for our life in those verses. The 2-3-4 Principle is said to be God’s will for your life, and yet it’s all Christ-focused. If that is what the foundation of God’s will for your life looks like, what do you think the remaining, specific components of God’s will for your life looks like? So why be anxious if God’s will for your life is centered on Christ?
Before I go on to verse 7, let me talk a little bit more about anxiety. For some people this is a legitimate struggle that they deal with and take medicine for because it's just how their body is or because of traumatic circumstances in their life. People respond differently to certain things. However, others often struggle with anxiety because of the choices they make and the attitude of their heart. Worry or anxiety is often the result of uncertainty and a lack of confidence, even shame. How do we prevent this then? Now we can go to verse 7: so we pray and submit ourselves to the Lord so that "the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”... What’s the opposite of anxiety? Peace. How do you find peace? You submit your life to the Lordship of the Prince of Peace.
Before I go on to verse 7, let me talk a little bit more about anxiety. For some people this is a legitimate struggle that they deal with and take medicine for because it's just how their body is or because of traumatic circumstances in their life. However, others often struggle with anxiety because of the choices they make and the attitude of their heart. Worry or anxiety is often the result of uncertainty and a lack of confidence, even shame.
Verses 8-9 are pretty self-explanatory and straightforward, but let’s look at them again as Paul transitions from his exhortation to more of a situational discussion about contentment in his life.
[Read 4:8-9]
v. 9 - we see the importance of leading/mentoring/discipling through authentic example and obedience to Jesus. The Lord blesses those who obey Him and Paul expresses that at the end of verse 9.
but let’s keep reading through verse 14.
vv. 10-11, 14 - Paul is grateful for the support of the Philippian church in his time of need, but is sure not to give too much praise to them for making this provision to make them think that he needs more donations. Like if you think writing thank you notes is awkward or trying to find the words to express appreciation for something, but failing, is awkward, just read so you can fell better about yourself.
It may seem odd, but Paul doesn’t want to give them the wrong impression because, as he says at the end of verse 11 through verse 13, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself. I know both how to make do with little, and I know how to make do with a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through him who strengthens me.” Does reading verse 13 in its context maybe shed a different light on the verse for you? The focus is contentment and fulfillment in Christ! The emphasis is not on Paul being capable of doing anything but Paul relying on the supremacy of Christ to be his everything, regardless of his circumstances.
k

You

Well, we just looked at this passage, and I know there’s kind of a lot going on, so whats the point? You can find contentment in Christ. What’s a more enthusiastic way to say that? You can find fulfillment in Jesus! How do you get to the point where you’re like Paul and can be content in Christ or find true fulfillment in Jesus? What does verse 1 say? You stand firm. Stand firm in what? You stand firm in the Lord.
[Read 4:1]
Standing firm in the Lord is done by rejoicing, by praying without ceasing, by giving thanks in everything, by being gracious with others -even when they don’t deserve it- because Jesus did the same with you, by remembering that the work of Christ brings hope, by praying because you know that grateful and cheerful petition to God brings insurmountable peace, by serving others when there is a need, by encouraging others when they’re struggling, by sharing the good news with those who are lost; and in so doing, you are doing what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable. If you do so diligently, you are doing so with excellence and worthy of praise as a reflection of He who is in you, because the One who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. That’s how you stand firm. That's how you find contentment. You look to Christ.
To make it even more practical for you, here’s a simple way to remember it: You’ve got to CARE. I know it’s silly, but if you CARE in the proper way, you stand firm in the Lord and enable yourself to become content while growing as a follower of Jesus.
Cultivate a relationship with the Lord first, then with others intentionally (devotional life and discipleship)
Assist others in meeting needs (service)
Rejoice in the Lord for His goodness and provision (worship)
Encourage others to continue to stand firm (fellowship)

We

Imagine if we, as followers of Christ, made it an emphasis in our lives to stand firm, to “CARE”, to be content in Christ. We would stop putting ourselves on a pedestal and start focusing our time, effort, energy, worship, and lives on the One who is above all things. You can still do this and stand firm in Christ.
We can find contentment/fulfillment in Jesus Christ when we stand firm in the Lord. When we stand firm, we focus on Jesus, and the significance attributed to ourselves (as being more important than others) as well as all other worldly things becomes secondary.
When you first stand firm in Him, everything else in comparison seems insignificant, because He is the Most High.
: “But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them as dung, so that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ—the righteousness from God based on faith. My goal is to know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death, assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead.”
: “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
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