[SW243] 08/12/2016 message notes by
Reverend/Evangelist Susan J. Wynn ©2016
“Are You Content?”
We live in troubled times. So did Paul! But in Philippians 4:11, Paul says he has learned to be content in whatever circumstances he is in. What does he mean? The answer may surprise you.
Let me explain. In Webster’s, content means “happy enough with what you have or are, not desiring something more or different, satisfied.” That is not the kind of contentment Paul has.
The Greek word for “content” means self-sufficient, needing no assistance, with the idea of adequacy.
But Paul would say of these definitions, “May it never be!” Yet he is content, even with all he suffered for Christ’s sake:
— From 1Corinthians 4:10-13
— a fool for Christ’s sake
— condemned to death
— a spectacle to the world and to angels and to men
— hungry and thirsty
— poorly clothed
— roughly treated
— toiling, working with his own hands
— considered to be the scum of the earth, the dregs of all things
As if that is not enough to cause discontentment, let’s go on!
— From 2Corinthians 11:24-28
— Five times from the Jews receiving 39 lashes
— Three times beaten with rods
— Three times shipwrecked, a night and day in the deep
— Frequent journeys
— In dangers from
— his countrymen
— the Gentiles (non-believers)
— in the city
— in the wilderness
— on the sea
— among false brethren
— In labor and hardship
— Through many sleepless nights
— In hunger and thirst
— Often without food
— In cold and exposure
— Daily pressure on him from concern for all the churches
Well! And as if that is not enough, Paul was so content that he wrote his letter to the church at Philippi while he was in a Roman prison!
That’s not all! Paul and his colleague Silas were so content that even having been struck with many blows from wooden rods, thrown into the dungeon, and their feet placed in stocks, they gladly sang praises and prayed to the Lord from within that dungeon (Acts 16:22ff).
What is this contentment? What had Paul and Silas learned? What is their definition of contentment? And how was the kingdom of God advanced by their contentment? (That is, after all, the purpose of that kind of contentment!)
This contentment surely is not “happy enough with what you have or are, not desiring something more or different, satisfied.” Nor is it “self-sufficient, needing no assistance, with the idea of adequacy.”
Beloved, if you are like Paul and Silas, filled with the Holy Spirit, you have learned (you fully know by experience) —
— that you are Christ-sufficient (His grace — the divine influence on the heart, and its reflection in the life — is sufficient, for power is perfected in (your) weakness, per 2Corinthians 12:9),
— that your adequacy is in and from Christ (2 Corinthians 3:5ff),
— that you must seek Christ’s assistance, because you fully know by experience that apart from Him, you can do nothing (John 15:5)!
And what happened when Paul and Silas sang praises and prayed from within that dungeon?
— The prisoners listened to Paul and Silas as they sang praises and prayed from the dungeon! O Church, O Christian, if you are content the way Paul was, you will sing praises and pray in the midst of persecution! And the captives will be listening!
— There was an earthquake, a shaking that caused prison doors to fly open! It was the miracle-working power of God. O Church, O Christian, there will be a shaking wrought by God among you, one that frees captives!!
But the prisoners didn’t flee. They remained. They were drawn by these men who understood they could do nothing apart from Christ! They saw that Paul and Silas possessed something they did not have. O Church, O Christian, if you repent of your self-sufficiency and ask the Lord to change you, the captives will stay with you after they are freed. They will be drawn by you. They will see that you possess something they do not have.
The jailer saw the prison doors were open, and was ready to commit suicide rather than be killed by his superiors because the prisoners had escaped. But Paul said no one had left! Then the jailer called for lights and rushed in and fell down before Paul, trembling with fear, crying, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul told him, and he and his whole household were saved! O Church, O Christian, when the captives are freed, your persecutors will call for lights and rush in and fall down before you, trembling with fear, crying “What must I do to be saved?”
I tell you that bounce houses and carnivals won’t work. I tell you that seeker-friendliness won’t work. I tell you that fantastic music won’t work. I tell you that programs designed by men won’t work. Here’s what will work — become discontent until God gives you HIS kind of contentment!
Paul and Silas were filled with God’s Holy Spirit. They were fully God’s. And the power that goes with that, beloved, is God’s dunamis, God’s miracle-working power!
What will happen if you, O Church, and you, O Christian, are transformed from complacent to content?
What will happen if you are transformed from passive to possessed by God’s Holy Spirit?
You will no longer be self-sufficient and self-reliant, or satisfied, seeking nothing more than what you have.
When you ask your Father in heaven to fill you with His Holy Spirit, His dunamis, His miracle-working power, His righteousness, His love, His fruit, His divine nature, then you will be free from sin, even from the sin of self-reliance and self-sufficiency and complacency that so easily entangles you!
Then your circumstances will not matter. In every circumstance, even thrown into dungeons by your persecutors (and be assured, persecution is coming and is already here), you will sing praises to God and pray, and He will work miracles that cause many captives to be set free!
You see, He frees you so that you free others! But you must freely receive to freely give.
So repent! Ask the Lord to fill you, so you are content in the same way Paul was — Christ sufficient, knowing your adequacy comes from Him, and seeking His assistance, because apart from Him, you can do nothing!