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THE BLESSING OF CONTENTMENT

Date: 
August 12, 2018
Speaker: 
Rev. Terry Martinson
Reading: 
PHILIPPIANS 4:4-13

THEME: Perhaps one of the reasons that people are not more thankful is that they are not

                content…

 

INTRODUCTION

  • One of my favorite stories is THE STONECUTTER… a story I first learned many years ago…
  • I share the story with you today as we focus upon the blessing of contentment…

 

** ** ** ** ** **

            Once upon a time a stonecutter lived all alone. Though he had acquired great skills and worked very, very hard, he was quite poor. He lived in a tiny bamboo hut and wore clothing that was tattered and torn.

            One day as the stonecutter worked with his hammer and chisel upon a huge stone, he heard a crowd gathering along the streets. By their shouts he could tell that the king was coming to visit his humble village.

Joining in the procession, the stonecutter gazed in awe as the king, dressed in marvelous silk, was greeted by his subjects.

            Oh, how I wish I had the power and the glory of the king, the stonecutter thought. He has soldiers at his command. There is no one more powerful than the king.

            His wish was heard in the heavens, and immediately the humble stonecutter was transformed into a powerful king. He found himself riding a great white horse, waving at the crowds of people who flocked to see him pass by.

            This is power, he thought.

            As the summer progressed, however, the new king watched the effects of the heat upon his people. Men and animals became weary, and plants withered under the powerful rays of the sun. As he looked at the sky, the new king realized that the sun was more powerful than any earthly ruler.

            How I wish I was as powerful as that, he thought. I wish I were the sun. Immediately his wish was granted.

            The stonecutter relished his new role as the sun. He glorified in the great power he felt as he surveyed the kingdoms below. As he sent his bright rays to the earth, he watched kings and princes hide under their parasols. He watched as powerful warriors became weak under his gaze. Even the crops in the field were under his command.

            Then one day a tiny cloud moved over the land, shielding the earth from the sun’s bright rays. Seeing that there was something more powerful, he thought, I want very much to be a cloud.

            Again his wish was granted. Now he blocked the sun’s rays and felt important. He gathered all his strength, becoming a gigantic cloud, and began to pour down rain on the earth. Rivers formed where previously there were none, and water flooded the streets of the cities and drenched the farmlands. Everything – trees, animals, people – seemed to be awed by his power. Only the massive rocks were unmoved. Again he had discovered something more powerful.

            There is nothing, he thought, as powerful as a rock. I wish I were a huge stone. His wish was granted.

            As a stone he remained motionless and powerful, unmoved by the sun or wind or rain. He felt exempt from all the forces that shaped the existence of those around him.

            Then one day a man approached, carrying a bag of tools. When he stopped, he pulled out a chisel and a hammer and began to chip away at the rock. Realizing that the man with the tools was more powerful than any rock, he cried out, “Oh, I want to be a stonecutter.”

            Once again the heavens heard his cry, and he became a stonecutter. Once again he lived in a bamboo hut and made his living with hammer and chisel. And he was content.

** ** ** ** ** ** **

 

 

CONTENTMENT AND THANKSGIVING

  • My thoughts today are focused upon two words: gratitude and contentment
  • How often do you pause to count your blessings?
  • I recently talked with a woman who said, “I do two things before I get out of bed each morning… first, I thank God for my blessings, and then I ask God to make me a blessing to everyone I will encounter that day.”
  • Many folks lack gratitude, perhaps because, like the stonecutter, they are not content with who they are or what they have… they want to be something that they are not… they want to have things that they do not have… they are caught in the struggle for “bigger and better”….
  • There are very few people in the world who are truly content – comfortable with who they are and what they have…
    • Being content is being able to accept your circumstances and to live in peace in the situation you find yourself…
    • Contentment is realizing that God has already provided everything we need for our happiness…
    • There is, of course, a difference between the things we need and the things we want
  • There are some folks who will never be content…
    • “Discontent keeps many people from enjoying what they have…”  (Thomas Watson)
    • Discontent keeps many people from counting their blessings.
    • Ben Franklin said, “Being content makes poor men rich. Discontent makes rich men poor.”
    • To be content with who we are and what we have is the greatest of all riches.
  • It is not easy, in this age of consumerism, to be content… contentment is an art to be learned and practiced…
    • We must learn to accept and be satisfied with the circumstances that surround us, but that does not mean that we should stop striving to grow and develop ourselves, seeking to be the best people we can be…
    • The contented person learns to be at peace in both good times and bad times…
    • The contented person dismisses selfish and foolish desires – never allowing the yearning power to be greater than the earning power, never living beyond his or her means…
    • The contented person knows the difference between enough and too much and finds comfort in having enough…
    • The contented person learns not to be cast down by outward troubles…

 

 

PAUL IN PRISON

  • The Apostle Paul was in prison when he wrote the letter to the church in Philippi in which this morning’s scripture reading is found…
    • Though in prison, Paul had learned to be content and even filled with joy…
    • Though written in a cold, dark cell, while Paul was awaiting his trial, the letter to the Philippians is powerful, positive and uplifting…
    • The church in Philippi was Paul’s favorite church… he was writing to thank the Philippians for the gift they had sent him – perhaps the church had taken up a collection to support him…
  • Though Paul appreciated their great thoughtfulness and their generosity, he wanted them to know that their gift was unnecessary because he had accepted his circumstances… he had learned to be content with what he had…
  • Paul had discovered a great truth – it’s not what you have that brings contentment, it is who you have that brings contentment, peace and joy…
    • The Lord Jesus Christ was Paul’s companion… in Christ, Paul found genuine contentment…
    • With Christ by his side, Paul had no desire for other things… Jesus Christ filled all his desires and helped him to find peace…
    • The presence of Jesus Christ in his life caused Paul to proclaim, “I can do all things in him who strengthens me.”  (Philippians 4:13)

 

THE BLESSING OF CONTENTMENT

  • As Paul had learned to be content with his circumstances, we must learn to be content with our circumstances…
  • How do we do that?  Let me share with you four bits of practical advice:
  • First – Have something to look forward to each day… many people fail to find contentment because their lives have become too routine – one day is just like another… break up your routine – find something each day to look forward to – a simple thing like a walk in the park or a visit with a friend…
  • Second – look up to God – realize that God has blessed you richly… thank God for your blessings and look to God for strength, courage, and wisdom… look up! Look up! Live with the faith that God is in command.
  • Third – Appreciate the present – do not be so concerned with tomorrow that you miss today… God gives us life one day at a time for a reason… give thanks to God for the blessings and joys of each day – don’t hurry the day away in anticipation of tomorrow.
  • Fourth – Make Jesus Christ the Lord of your life… put Christ right in the center… realize that he walks with you, as he walked with Paul, in both good times and bad… allow the companionship of Christ to give you peace…

 

CONCLUSION

  • Friends, count your blessing and be content… contentment is one of the greatest blessings of all.

 

Sermon Seeds

This sermon is based on a sermon I preached on 11-19-2000

Worship Bulletin

Worship Insert