Life Application Sermon Series: Sermon #3 Dealing with Discontentment Philippians 4: 11 – 12 Text 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. Intro: This is the third sermon in a series I have entitled: Life Application Sermons. My aim in preaching these sermons is under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, to preach sermons on specific subjects . . . that meet us right where we are in life. In other words . . . sermons that hit us where we live! So far in this series I have preached on the topics: 1: Coping with criticism. 2: Trusting God to meet your needs . . . despite the odds. Today I want to preach a sermon that deals with Dealing with Discontentment. Educators in our school systems deal everyday with a problem called Attention Deficit Disorder. In fact, we have in the Troup County School System people whose job is to dispense the Ridilin to the children on a daily basis. (If we would riddle a few more “backsides” I am convinced we would have to dispense a whole lot less “Ridilin!” . . . but, that’s not my sermon for today!) I believe that one of the biggest problems facing America today is an abnormal “Spiritual condition” that I will call “Contentment Deficit Disorder.” Symptoms of Contentment Deficit Disorder: Lack of commitment to other people Compulsion to move to another city or state Strong desire to quit your job Urgency to leave your spouse Desire to quit school 2 A compulsion to run from your present circumstances An attitude that anything is better than what you have right now. Now, I suppose that in the game of life, at one time or the other all of us have felt that life has dealt us a bad hand. We all feel that we have legitimate gripes and reasons to be down in the mouth. We all feel that we have legitimate reasons to be discontented. There have been times in all of our lives that we wanted to “pack it all in” “take our ball and bat and go home.” Aren’t you glad that Paul teaches us in this scripture that there is a cure for Contentment Deficit Disorder? His name is Jesus! ILLUSTRATION: Dr. Jack Hyles tells of an experience he had once on a flight from Los Angeles to Chicago: Seated in seat 4-A As usual spoke to the person beside him Man didn’t reply Dr. Hyles thought he might be hard of hearing . . . so he spoke louder No reply Thought he might be deaf . . . made hand motions No reply Continue to try and make conversation . . .”Nice day?” . . . “Where are you going?” No reply Flight attendant came and took the man’s order . . . HE SPOKE TO HER Dr. Hyles asked the man: Do you have a problem? No reply Dr. Hyles thought: This ole CRAB is ruining my trip Asked the stewardess if he could change seats She replied: All the seats are taken: YOU WILL HAVE TO REMAIN IN YOUR ASSINGNED SEAT! Dr. Hyles looked at the man and said: “If you think you’re going to ruin my trip, you’ve got another think coming!” 3 No reply. There are several life lessons to be learned from this story: 1: We are all on the flight of life. 2: God assigns the seats. 3: You’ll probably be seated next to an ole crab in life. 4: Sometimes you may be the ole crab! ILLUSTRATION: I dreamed the other day that me, and (Pick from Audience) , died in a car wreck. As we stood before St. Peter waiting to get into heaven he told us that he would have to examine our records before he could let us in. He told me: Aaron, you’ve lived a pretty good life. You accepted Jesus as your Savior. But, there’s a few black spots on your record and I’m afraid your going to have to spend your first ten thousand years in heaven handcuffed to one of the UGLIEST women on earth. He told (?): (?), you’ve lived a pretty good life. You accepted Jesus as your Savior. But, there’s a few black spots on your record and I’m afraid your going to have to spend your first ten thousand years in heaven handcuffed to one of the UGLIEST women on earth. About eight thousand years into our sentence me and (?) looked up one day and saw (Somebody else from audience) walking by in the distance. HE WAS HANDCUFFED TO MISS AMERICA! (?) and I just couldn’t believe it We went to St. Peter and lodged our complaint. We said: We just don’t think (?) was that much better that we were! Saint Peter replied: You don’t understand . . . MISS AMERICA HAD A BLACK SPOT ON “HER” RECORD! Sometimes we’re the ole crabby person! Today I want to deal with four ways we can learn to deal with discontentment in our lives: 1: Accept the fact that God has given you an assigned seat. A: There are a lot of seats in life that we would never choose on our own, but God has assigned them to us. 4 Paul wrote the book of Philippians, where he penned the words I have used as my text scripture today, from a Roman jail! In jail he had learned how to be content! I don’t suppose Daniel would have chosen his reserved seat in the Lion’s Den. I don’t suppose that Shardack, Meshack, and Abednigo would have chosen their reserved, front row seats at the “bon-fire!” I don’t suppose that Paul and Silas would have chosen to have reserved seating in the “All Night Jail House Prayer Meeting!” By His own admission, Jesus didn’t choose to have reserved seating on the center cross on Calvary’s hill. He prayed: Father, if it can be Thy will, let this cup pass from me. *But, the secret to the contentment that Paul spoke about is found in Jesus’ next words. . . Nevertheless, not my will but Thine be done! He realized that this was His assigned seat in life. Thus, contentment! ILLUSTRATION: I heard the story of a man that had been married for ten years and had three children. That family moved forty times in those ten years . . . that’s four times per year! Why did he move so much? Contentment Deficit Disorder! . . . He moved from state to state, city to city, always looking for the perfect place where he would be happy! *But there was one place he forgot to look . . . He forgot to look inside his own heart! God had assigned him a seat in life, but he didn’t want to sit in it! From time-to-time we experience a little trouble on our job . . . we decide we’ll quit and go to work elsewhere . . . Listen to me . . . the same people work at the place you’re going to . . . only the faces and names are different! From time-to-time we experience a little trouble in our marriage . . . we decide we’ll leave our old spouse and get us a new one . . . Listen to me . . . it’ll be the same person . . . only the face and name is different! From time-to-time we experience a little trouble in our church . . . we decide we’ll quit and go to work elsewhere . . . Listen to me . . . the same people attend church at the place you’re going to . . . only the faces and names are different! *Contentment comes when we look into our own hearts and discover that despite the circumstances that we are in the seat that Jesus has assigned us! *In the years I have been the pastured and served as Associational Missionary … On more than one occasion I have wanted to pull the ripcord and leave . . . 5 BUT WHEN I LOOKED DEEP INTO MY HEART I DISCOVERED I WAS IN THE SEAT JESUS HAD ASSIGNED ME . . . AND I COULDN’T MOVE! TODAY, I PROMISE YOU THAT I HAVE EXAMINED MY OWN HEART . . . AND I AM STILL IN THE SEAT THAT JESUS HAS ASSIGNED ME . . . AND I’M NOT GOING TO MOVE UNTIL HE CHANGES THE SEATING ASSIGNMENT! . . . HOW ABOUT YOU? 2: Learn to coexist with the crabby person. In the Roman prison I’m sure that Paul was probably seated next to some pretty crabby people! He probably encountered . . .thieves . . . murderers . . . perverts . . . and personalities that “rubbed him the wrong way.” And due to the fact that they didn’t have deodorant or fabric softener . . . they probably stunk! But Paul wasn’t going to let them ruin his trip! He knew he was in his assigned seat and there is contentment in being where God wants you to be . . . despite the circumstances! Paul learned to coexist with the crabby people! ILLUSTRATION: Grizzly bear . . . is the meanest, fiercest animal in the forest. Yet, there is one little animal he won’t tangle with. You know what it is? The skunk! Do you know why the Grizzly Bear peacefully co-exist with the skunk? Because he has learned that it ain’t worth the stink he would stir-up to fight him! . . . Don’t we church folks need to learn that one? God has a purpose for that crabby person in your life That’s why God assigned you a seat next to him He is using the crabby person to teach you some things First & foremost . . . how to love crabby people! In Luke 6: 32 Jesus said: For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. 6 ILLUSTRATION: A man was working a crossword puzzle and asked, “What’s a four letter word for a strong emotional reaction toward a difficult person?” Someone standing nearby said, “Hate.” A lady interrupted and said, “No, the answer is love!” Everyone is working the same crossword puzzle . . . but the way we answer is up to us! *Sometimes God assigns us the “bad seats” in life so that we can bring love, hope, understanding, and compassion into a dismal, bleak, and depressing situation! *We must understand that sometimes our seat assignment is God’s answer to somebody’s prayer for a Christian influence in a hopeless situation! 3: Realize that changing seats does not solve your problem. A: People believe a lot of myths about “seat changing.” Let’s examine some of them: 1: If I could be with someone else I would be happy! Some people think if they could just get away from the crabby person and be with someone else . . . then they would be happy. But that’s not true . . . because discontentment is an “internal problem” not an “external one!” The problem with most people is that it is easier to “change seats” than deal with the problem! *People with Contentment Deficit Disorder spend their entire lifetimes chasing illusions that are just beyond their reach! ILLUSTRATION: A man lost in the desert was craving something to drink. He saw a lemonade stand on the next sand dune . . . He ran there and it was now on the next sand dune . . . He ran there and it was on the next dune And on & on he went until he died of thirst . . . chasing an illusion! IN THIS PLACE TODAY . . . MANY ARE THIRSTING TO DEATH . . . JESUS IS THE LIVING WATER . . . BUT MANY WILL DIE . . . CHASING AN ILLUSION OF HAPPINESS! HAPPINESS IS IN JESUS CHRIST! 7 ILLUSTRATION: A dog was crossing a bridge with a bone in his mouth. He looked down into the water and saw his reflection. He open his mouth to take the other dog’s bone. He lost what he already possessed chasing an illusion! I wonder how many hearing this sermon today has lost the happiness you once possessed . . . chasing an illusion? 2: If I could go somewhere else I would be happy. ILLUSTRATION: A lady had a dream of one day living on a beach in a little cottage where everyday she could watch the beautiful sunsets and enjoy the tropical breezes. Soon she got to move to her dream cottage on the beach and view the beautiful sunsets and feel the warm tropical breezes. However, it wasn’t long until the discontent of having sand everywhere in her house (including in the bed with her) and the unbearable humidity that the tropical breezes brought with them, caused her to view her dream of paradise with disdain. Soon she moved leaving paradise behind. When we exchange seats we swap one set of problems for another! 3: I could just get something else, then I would be happy! 1 Timothy 6: 17: Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; A: Contentment is not having everything we want, but wanting everything we have! ILLUSTRATION: Little Billy was a spoiled brat . . . made so by his permissive parents who gave him everything he wanted. One day Billy’s mother heard him crying in the living room She rushed in to see what was wrong She asked him: What’s the matter? What can mommy get for you? Little Billy pointed to a clock on the wall 8 He said I want the clock His mother knew it was an expensive clock and that Billy would break it . . . so she hesitated Billy screamed more She gave him the clock Billy screamed louder! His mother asked what he wanted Billy replied: Something that I can’t have! Because Little Billy wasn’t happy with what he already had . . . he wasn’t happy with what he received! God wants us to receive His blessings . . . but if our hearts are not in a position to enjoy them . . . we will simply toss them aside and whine for something else! *DISCONTENTED PEOPLE DON’T NEED TO CHANGE THEIR SEATS . . . THEY NEED TO CHANGE THEIR HEARTS! 4: Don’t allow the crab to ruin your trip. A: Too many people are so concerned about the crabby person (or an unpleasant situation) in their lives . . . they can’t enjoy the trip! We need to make up our minds right now . . . “Crabby person . . . you are not going to ruin my trip . . .” “Difficult situation . . . you are not going to force me to change seats . . .” Close: Today we have talked about four ways to deal with Contentment Deficit Disorder: 1: Accept the fact that God has given you an assigned seat. 2: Learn to coexist with the crabby person. 3: Realize that changing seats does not solve your problem. 4: Don’t allow the crab to ruin your trip. Contentment is a choice. Will you choose to make it? Paul said: “For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Preached: 5-2-99 @ Roper Heights. Recorded for radio & series. 9 Preached: 5-4-99 @ Pine Mountain Valley First Baptist Church. Preached: 5-20-02 @ Little Bethel Freewill Baptist in Ideal, Georgia. Preached: 7-28-04 @ Glenn Baptist in Glenn, Georgia.