From Your Pastor, March 27

From Your Pastor, March 27

Are You Kidding Me? Another Test Verse

Our faith is being stretched and tested. That’s true for all of us, and we are testing the strength of the Lord’s promises in various verses. Not surprisingly: Our Savior is unsurpassed in delivering on his promises.

We’ve recently been reminded of Psalm 46, Matthew 6, Habakkuk, and various verses in Proverbs.  We believe that as you test these verses, your faith only grows.

Today, I want to point you to Philippians 4:12–13, a well-known verse about being content in all situations. It says, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well-fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through HIM who strengthens me.”

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well-fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Philippians 4:12–13

Now before I hear anyone clap back through some digital platform, I’ll just voice the question for you: “Are you kidding me? You think we should be content in these present circumstances?”

The short answer is: Y.

The long answer is: Yes.

Many of our neighbors may spend more time complaining about disruptions, grumbling about conditions, or cursing about this providence. But the follower of Christ who takes Phil. 4:12-13 seriously will see this verse tested . . . and pass with flying colors.

Take 3 simple things from it.

  1. It is a secret to be learned, which is to say, this is not known from nature nor does every single human instinctively find this. Contentment may be elusive, but this is one pearl to pursue.
  2. It is also comprehensive. Much of life is defined by exception to the rules. In this promise, however, there are no waivers, exemptions, or qualifiers. It is stunningly universal. Paul learned the secret of being content in all states or conditions. I’m sorry, but I fail to see any effects of the coronavirus as presenting God with a need to amend this verse.
  3. This universally-applicable secret is found in and based on one thing: the presence of Christ at work in us. Does he live in you and give you strength as this verse says? Now, to be sure, that might be tested in each of us, but any absence of contentment is not God’s failure but ours.

The great Puritan of yesteryear, Jeremiah Burroughs, distilled it this way: “It involves a realization that the Christian has a sufficient portion of Christ . . . to satisfy himself in every condition. A contented man, though he is most contented with the least things in the world, yet he is the most dissatisfied man that lives in the world. A Christian comes to contentment, not so much by way of addition, as by way of subtraction. . . . The mystery consists not in bringing anything from outside to make my condition more comfortable, but in purging out something that is within.”  **

So, are you tempted to grumble about any of these:

  • Historic shrinkage of your personal wealth?
  • Illnesses, and worry at each sneeze (most of which will prove to be seasonal related)?
  • Dissatisfaction with work schedules that have been altered?
  • Grumbling over lifestyle inconveniences?
  • Discontent with very closely-quartered family members?
  • Anxiety over the future fallout?


Here’s a time to test the strength and reliability of God. Take these or any discontents and realize that such are, at root, complaining about how God is sovereignly dispensing his will. However, for certain, God’s promises will be proven. Test this verse. I’m not kidding.
 
At the very end of the Old Testament, the Lord invited us to test him and see if following his ways in all areas would not be met with him “throwing open the floodgates of heaven” and pouring out more than we need (Mal. 3:10). Yes, we will find him “wholly true, stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are truly blest.”

** If these short quotes above, whet your appetite, here’s a FREE giveaway, too, for Midway friends. If you’d like to read more of Burroughs, for the next 5 days I’ve arranged free downloads on Kindle from my Summer Reading: Christian Classics
, which contains a full chapter on this. Money back guarantee if you don’t like it. Just go to amazon.com and search “Summer Reading: Christian Classics.”
 
*******************
Tune in this Sunday at 11:00 AM from the website. We will have a sermon entitled, “Curing the Worst, Spreading Plague.” Invite your friends to join us virtually. Details forthcoming.
 
Walmart Faith: I told you earlier how pleased Ann and I are with the Walmart grocery pickup service. It’s easy to start an account, and other grocers offer similar services. At our last pickup, we were blessed to meet a twenty-something sister in Christ. She told us how much she missed her church and that she’d been saved only 6 months ago. We had a brief, appropriate time of fellowship. God’s people, like this young lady, shine as lights in a dark world (another nearby verse in Philippians 2:14-15)
*******************
 
Yours in prayer and the faith handed down to the saints once and for all,
 


––Pastor Hall
 
PS. Also Dr. Lloyd Kim posted a fine 2-minute video at:

https://vimeo.com/400753880