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THE SECRET OF CONTENTMENT (WEEK 2 OF 2 WEEK STUDY)

I LONG TO BE CONTENT

TO PUT AWAY GRUMBLING

PAUL SAYS THERE IS A SECRET TO CONTENTMENT

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A SECRET TO BEING CONTENT IN PLENTY

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OR IN WANT

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I understand why we would need the secret for times of want

and it humbles me to see Paul’s contentment in a prison pit.

But plenty?

We need the secret of contentment in plenty?

Yes. Perhaps more.

Philippians 4:4-13 gives us a three-fold secret: Thinking, Thanking, and Loving. (See last week’s blog if you have just joined us.) Watch this story of a man who faced great loss but was able to have contentment despite it all. See if you can see how Horatio Spafford practiced this three-fold secret:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jy1bd0EfiNM

Our own Chris has endured such suffering and has come out like gold. For those of you who haven’t seen this, you must — and for all of us, it is a good reminder of rock solid truth that can help us in times of sorrow. (Sorry it appears twice!)

Sunday/Monday Ice-breakers

1. What stands out to you from the above, and why?

2. Do you agree that perhaps we need the secret more in times of plenty? Why or why not?

Tuesday: How Spafford practiced the three-fold secret:

2. Click here to see the lyrics of It Is Well With My Soul and find evidence that Spafford practiced:

A. Thinking

B. Thanking

C. Loving

Wednesday/Thursday: Free Keller Sermon

3. Listen to the Keller sermon and share your notes: link

4. Apply thinking, thanking, and loving to a situation you face right now.

Friday: Philippians 4:14-23

5. Read Philippians 4:14-23

A. Remember that Paul is in prison, which was a pit with no bathroom facilities and no food, except what friends supplied. How, according to verses 14-17, were the Philippians exceptional?

B. What does Paul see will happen in their lives as a result of their giving from a pure heart?

C. What promise is given in verse 19? Do you believe this?

Saturday:

6. What is your take-a-way concerning these two weeks on contentment?

7. What do you think you will remember, in a year, from our study of Philippians?

Next week we head into a new study. Pray for me, pray for us, that He will quicken all of us.

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254 comments

  1. Tullian T’s website posted a helpful 10 minute video on “What is Idolatry?” this week. It is part of the “New City Catechism” series adapted by Tim Keller’s from Reformation catechisms. Thought some of you might be interested.

    Watch it on youtube or from the Liberate website:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=BD_VuZzGOkU

    http://liberatenet.org/2013/07/24/what-is-idolatry-the-new-city-catechism-project

  2. What do you think you will remember, in a year, from our study of Philippians?
    

I believe and hope I remember and will continue to grow in the area of praying every anxiety and fear.

    The other big thing from the Phillipians study that really sunk in for me was the conflict portion of the study. That when I am in conflict I need to ask myself if my pride or reputation is being threatened, remember that he other person in the conflict is important in Gods eyes. I can look to the interest of others even when I am threatened because of the Cross.

    Phillipians 2

    “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus”

  3. 4. Apply thinking, thanking, and loving to a situation you face right now.
    I had a situation at work that had me boiling within. Not with anger but with self loathing. I knew it was from the enemy but I could not get free from it. Even as I came before The Lord I had no peace and no direction.

    I have a Bible reading schedule that I have not been keeping up with like I used to before I had so many studies. I went to the scheduled reading for that day. First was Israel celebrating the Passover. I saw how Jesus’ death and resurrection repairs my situation. Whether I am victim or perpetrator, it is well with my soul.

    Then I went to Psalm 25 and my soul was not just bandaged. It was set free to soar in His love and care. I can’t even express it. The boiling within was gone, like an eraser had passed over my soul.

    To me the thinking was here in the Word. At first I had to center myself and remember the gospel (Passover). As I read through psalm 25 the thanking came like breathing. I was in awe. That was loving too but I think loving really is in the trusting. When I trust Him to pull my feet out of the net I am loving Him.

    So if this incident had never happened I would have missed all of this. Sure, I would not have suffered that turmoil but it was so worth it for I experienced what He can do with my mess.

    I could have worked to justify myself (which would have been wrong thinking) and put a bandage on the whole mess so that it could later spew out.
    Stoping now for I am beginning to ramble…

    1. Thanks for sharing, Anne…I just love it when God steps in with needed reminders.

    2. Anne, you never ramble and when you do it is meaningful! So much good stuff here-hard to pick one thing..This popped out, “To me the thinking was here in the Word. At first I had to center myself and remember the gospel (Passover). As I read through psalm 25 the thanking came like breathing. I was in awe. That was loving too but I think loving really is in the trusting. When I trust Him to pull my feet out of the net I am loving Him.”

      -such good stuff-reminds me of abiding in the vine-you were abiding in Him, His Word. Not trying to put a bandage over your self loathing-but clinging to HIs word, trusting Him to pull your feet out of the net, and had you not trusted him your feet would have gotten really bound up. So good.

    3. oh Anne–how this ministered to me in my own mess–“my soul was not just bandaged. It was set free to soar in His love and care.” thank you for this

  4. pleasE Pray For Those I Work With. Just learned Of 2 More Leaving Because Of Work Stress. Thanks!

    1. Praying, Renee…

      1. me too…

    2. praying Renee, so sorry

    3. Praying Renee!

      Your prayer request reminded me of Dawn…how are you Dawn?

  5. 5. Read Philippians 4:14-23

    A. Remember that Paul is in prison, which was a pit with no bathroom facilities and no food, except what friends supplied. How, according to verses 14-17, were the Philippians exceptional?

    They were the only church in the early days of Paul’s ministry that provided for him when he was in desperate need, and continued to provide for him.

    B. What does Paul see will happen in their lives as a result of their giving from a pure heart?

    That more would be credited to them in their account-that they will have a glorious reward later. What is given to Paul is given to Jesus. This meant more to Paul than the gift.

    C. What promise is given in verse 19? Do you believe this?

    That God desires to meet all of our needs-He gives us Grace upon Grace and when we give to other believers-it is the same as giving to Jesus. All is His to begin with. This is a pleasing aroma to Him and when we do that God will meet all of our needs.

    I believe He will meet our needs-He always has, but I admit sometimes my faith is very weak. Especially in the heat of the battle and specifically with uncertainty and how that uncertainty could affect the stability our boys need.

  6. 6. What is your take-a-way concerning these two weeks on contentment?

    Oh my..this reminds me of Idol Lies-so impactful! I have to say first of all these two weeks have been a huge-ouch, but He has opened my eyes to how discontent I am, how my idols do regenerate so I need to be on guard, and how I need Him, and I need to gaze into His beauty-His lovliness in Scripture-and to adore him as I gaze at His creation and I need to consistently apply the Gospel: Thinking, Thanking and loving in good times especially! Maybe that is why I am struggling so much now as these trials increase.

    7. What do you think you will remember, in a year, from our study of Philippians?

    That contentment isn’t based on circumstances-but on His beauty alone-to see Him as lovelier than anyone or anything. Paul looked at everything from persecution to provision through the lens of the Gospel. His heart was set on things above and everything on Earth related to things above. He loved Jesus so much-saw that He was lovely so much that Jesus is all He wanted and needed. Out of that came this trust-this unbelievable faith that enabled him to endure and be content in good and bad times.

    I will remember to be watchful for circumstantial peace-and to be careful in not mistaking that for His peace. I can easily be fooled and grow reliant on that especially with a comfort idol temptation lurking underneath-and I hate to say it, but I can stumble with prayer requests from others. They can trip me up. Most, if not all are circumstantial requests then thanking him afterward because it all turned out well, and then being thanked for praying because everything went well. Then hearing how at peace they are now. I can easily think when i get these requests-wow God is moving on their behalf working things out but not so much on mine-hmmm..I must be displeasing to Him somehow. Those thoughts flash through my mind even though I know they aren’t true. So I have to speak truth to my soul-think on the Gospel, thank Him for what He is going to do in our trials and cling to Him. I want to focus on His beauty-desiring Him above all-that He would be the object of my affection not having a comfortable, smooth going life. I think of the believers in prison who have been stripped of all and are experiencing His peace-and I am no where near being stripped of all!

    1. Love this too Rebecca “contentment isn’t based on circumstances-but on His beauty alone”

    2. To watch for circumstantial peace stands out to me. Also the trap of praying about circumstances.

  7. 3. Listen to the Keller sermon and share your notes.

    Several ladies have already shared such wonderful and detailed notes…wow. I listened this morning for the first time-I need to re-listen later. The end of the sermon was so profound, especially when he got into Augustine’s words. Deep, deep truths that need to be pondered. “God alone is the place of peace that cannot be disturbed.” “Only love of the immutable can bring tranquility.”

    Keller quote, “God says, “My son, when a child of Mine makes a request, I always give him what he would have asked for if he knew everything I know.”

    Much to ponder in the Isaiah 57 verse – the natural consequences of not building your life upon God – restlessness, being like a tossing wave. This is speaking to me severely. The peace of God and the fruit of the Spirit – joy in particular, has been lacking in my life.

  8. PRAYER REQUEST – thanks to all who are praying for Adam. He arrived safely in CO, and would appreciate prayers for his safety while there, especially his white-water rafting adventure this weekend! Also I’m praying for him to be struck by the wonder of God’s creation as he sees it up-close…may it turn his heart to the Creator of it all!

      1. Also praying this, with Dee, Susan.

    1. Susan, so glad Adam arrived safely! Will be praying for his safety and for his eyes to be opened.

    2. Love this prayer for Adam, Susan–praying it with you!

    3. Susan, It is a relief to hear that Adam made the first leg of his journey safely. I will continue to pray for his safety, that he will feel touched by his Creator, and that you will feel wonderful peace throughout this time.

  9. I would like to take-a-way from these 2 weeks the regular practice of thinking, thanking and loving. I have sensed a quickening in this. I pray that a year from now I will still be practicing this. But from the whole study I would like to remember, and have a growing understanding of just how much God loves me and what He has sacrificed for me. I want to remember the gospel in every moment of my life and be changed by it. I have such a long way to go for still, I am so full of pride. That is why I tend to be angry with myself. I don’t measure up. I thank The Lord for that thorn that drives me into His arms.

    During this study I have spent some time looking back over my life, particularly my teenage years. What I see is how faithful He has been. I have been foolish beyond what I ever want to speak or share but He has used every bit of it and brought outcomes that are faithful to my heart desires. As Keller said, He gave me what He knew I would want if I knew what He did. How can I possibly doubt that He will not continue to do the same, not only with my children but with all of the people I care about? My job is to care about a LOT of people!

    1. Anne, I loved your last two sentences!

  10. My take-aways and what I hope I remember a year from now:

    From both weeks, the encouragement all of you gave me as I was going through my crisis (waiting to see the thoracic surgeon). Also the value of the exercise Dee had us do of applying doctrine to the road block situations in our lives. It challenged me, but was very helpful!

    I hope a year from now I can still remember large chunks from Keller’s sermon. Especially that if you are a Christian and you don’t have peace, then you must not be thinking. I need to remember God’s love and care for mankind through the ages, His constant seeking us out, and his faithfulness during my own personal life. If I can remember to think on those things, I will never feel punished or abandoned.

  11. 5. Read Philippians 4:14-23

    A. Remember that Paul was in prison, which was a pit with no bathroom facilities and no food, except what friends supplied. How, according to verses 14-17, were the Philippians exceptional?

    The Philippians have shared in Paul’s troubles ever since they received the gospel. They sent Paul aid again and again, being the only church that did so.

    B. What does Paul see will happen in their lives as a result of their giving from a pure heart?

    The gifts they have sent to Paul are like fragrant offerings, pleasing to God. They aren’t just giving to Paul, they are giving to God. Therefore, God will meet all of their needs, giving to them out of His glorious riches in Christ.

    C. What promise is given in verse 19? Do you believe this?

    The promise is that God will meet all of my needs. I know this is not only speaking of our basic needs for food, clothing, etc… I have a need to be loved, to feel cared for, to feel significant, to be forgiven when I sin, to have someone to listen to me and share my joys and sorrows, for companionship, friendship, intimacy. I would say immediately that I believe this promise, but it hasn’t moved down into my heart completely. I so often turn to idols to meet these needs. Specifically, the way I perceive my husband “sees” me has affected the way I see myself. I can so relate to Chris’ feelings in wanting to hide, and even feeling threatened and more insecure when someone tries to get close. I guess behind the believing that God will meet all my needs is believing that He really wants to.

    1. Susan, you hit the nail on the head. “behind the believing that God will meet all my needs is believing that He really wants to”. If I really believe He really longs to love us and wants to meet all my needs, if I really trust Him, then I will run to Him instead of my idols and peace, contentment and joy will come.

      My husband conducted a wedding yesterday and I found it hard to listen to the words of the ceremony knowing that my daughter and her husband made these same vows and he has broken almost every one of them. I find myself in a deep battle against cynicism and bitterness. My faith in humanity has been deeply broken.

      Pray for me that I will REALLY believe that God really wants to meet our needs, even when it seems that He is not.

      1. I will pray, Diane.

  12. 6. What is your take-away concerning these two weeks on contentment?

    It’s hard to consolidate it all-these two weeks have been very deep. I like the metaphor from last week of the fallen tree lying in the road, blocking the way. What do we do in the aftermath? There were so many real-life examples from everyone of their “roadblocks”.
    I continue to ponder the hard journey Chris is on right now-she is such an example of hope.
    I need to think more on “thinking – thanking – loving” and how to apply this to the areas of my life that seem to have roadblocks. Keller’s sermon this week shed more light on this.
    I like how he explained that it’s not about shutting-out the bad thoughts, refusing to face reality, as in have a glass of wine, gaze at the sunset, and think about positive things. No, it’s having a greater understanding that in the midst of your situation, you are protected. It is searching-out the One who is immutable and casting your anchor in Him.

  13. a little late, but I felt the need to complete my study somewhat.

    I skipped the question on a situation to apply thinking, thanking, and loving, but I have definitely been doing so in my head all week! I kinda of described it in a post about something else; my mom and the situation here.

    My take-a-way: PEACE. how to practice having it in my life in ANY situation. To be calm and know that God is near and IN CONTROL. Thank you Jesus. Thank you Dee for our study 🙂

  14. 7. What do you think you will remember, in a year, from our study of Philippians?

    When anxiety strikes, turn to the Lord first and foremost in prayer, thanking Him not necessarily for His blessings, but for His provision…whatever the circumstance, it is all part of “His” story…He knows…He loves…He guides…He provides peace. I hope I remember consistently to view life (joys, challenges, etc.) through the lenses of God’s “providence”…His guidance, wisdom, and care provided.

  15. 3. Listen to the Keller sermon and share your notes:

    Great sermon!
    Thinking. We must think about God. He is near. He is in control of all things. Do we believe that? It’s not about the absence of the situation but the presence of God in the situation. It’s so important to think about the right things. If I just think about all of the difficulties in my life, I will drive myself crazy. If I allow God to walk into my life and be present with me, I can find peace in those circumstances like I never could have imagined.
    Thanking. We can thank God in all circumstances. We must view everything through God’s eyes and have an eternal perspective. Loved the point he made when he said that God hears every prayer and answers in the way we would want Him to answer if we were able to see the big picture. So good.
    Loving. We cannot love anything more than God in our lives. It is then that we feel anxiety because of the fear of losing those things we love. What do we build our lives upon? Christ must be the foundation before we build anything else.

    4. Apply thinking, thanking, and loving to a situation you face right now.

    My husband’s car broke down and is going to be fixed. We recently paid for a wedding, a new roof on a house, a precious baby and are about to buy a roof for our barn and will now need to buy a new car. There have been a lot of great expenses the past few years. I know that God is aware of the circumstance and that He has not abandoned us. I know He knows what He is doing and allows us to taken on the extra expenses because His plans are good. I am thankful because God kept my husband safe while driving this car, that the mechanics were honest about the repairs and that I will be teaching in a new school next year that is within walking distance to my house. I will not build my house upon the money we make or the things we own. I trust God’s love and strive to focus on His love in all circumstances. He is a loving God that gives us opportunities to recognize His great love for us, in order for us to love Him more. I choose to build my life upon Christ and ask Him to give me the ability to put Him before my husband and daughter, which can be a challenge. I see the danger in trusting in other loves before God because they can disappoint or fall away at any moment.

    1. Thanks for your sermon notes and personal comments plus the video link to “I Need Thee”. You are a blessing to have here.

  16. 5. Read Philippians 4:14-23
    A. Remember that Paul is in prison, which was a pit with no bathroom facilities and no food, except what friends supplied. How, according to verses 14-17, were the Philippians exceptional?


    This church was the only church to support Paul. The gifts they sent were a fragrant offering.

    B. What does Paul say will happen in their lives as a result of their giving from a pure heart.
    More will be credited to their account…God is giving them credit for their good works toward Paul and because of that He promises to meet their needs.

    C. What promise is given in verse 19? Do you believe this?
    God will meet all their needs, according to His riches and glory. Most definitely. I have never know God not to meet my needs. He knows what my needs are even when I don’t. God is always working in accordance with His good plans.

  17. 6. What is your take-away concerning these two weeks on contentment?
    Continue to draw near to Him. I truly believe I have been practicing contentment in the bigger moments but need to work on the smaller ones. My baby got sick for the first time this week and I know I found contentment in the grand scheme of things (better to get it over with now, was a blessing in happened before school is back in session for more, etc) but in the little moments I can get focused on the circumstances, still, at times. I need to draw near to Him every moment. I feel the Lord with me but sometimes I am just running too fast and I just need to slow down and be still.

    7. What do you think you will remember, in a year, from our study of Philippians?
    The natural consequences of not building your life upon God – restlessness, being like a tossing wave. I need this reminder because I can so easily build my life upon my earthly relationships. I put my husband and daughter before God so often and I must remember to practice His presence so I don’t forget to put Him first.