The Road to Contentment

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

Text: Philippians 4:10-14


I.         For those of you who have taken classes

            A.        Have you noticed that a few classes are just great?

                        1.         The time just flies by.

                        2.         The homework isn’t that bad.

            B.        But there are those other classes which are just miserable.

                        1.         A hour is twice as long in those classes

                        2.         And the homework is impossible!

            C.        What you might not have noticed is that every kid has a different idea about which classes are the good classes and which are the bad ones

                        1.         When you dig deep to find out why, the good classes are the ones the person likes and the bad classes are the ones the person doesn’t like

                        2.         In other words, it is the person’s attitude toward the class that makes the difference in how much he or she likes the class.

II.        People make religion hard by their attitude

            A.        Some make themselves miserable because they see religion as a long list of laws that are impossible to keep. Others enjoy the opportunity to serve both God and their fellow men - Romans 13:8-10

            B.        The attitude of carelessness

                        1.         There have been times I’ve ask people to do a task for me and soon I realize that I made a mistake. I asked the wrong person because that person really doesn’t care about the task.

                        2.         It comes from a lack of interest

                                    a.         Paul told Timothy to diligently study the teachings of God - II Timothy 2:15

                                    b.         After listing a number of character traits Christians must have, Peter states - II Peter 1:5-11

                                                (1)       It takes effort to improve ourselves

                                                (2)       And in improving ourselves, we are more assured of heaven

                                    c.         It is sad to see people playing at religion.

                                                (1)       Oh, they come ... when it is convenient

                                                (2)       They do some good ... when it suits them

                                                (3)       But you can see from a mile off that their heart is not truly in it.

                                                (4)       Small problems creep up, they grow and fester, their joy in life decays, and they can’t figure out why it is happening to them

                        3.         It comes from a lack of healthy fear of the consequences

                                    a.         Fear God because He can destroy - Luke 12:4-5

                                    b.         Some people just don’t believe that God will really punish the wicked, so they become careless with God’s commands.

            C.        The attitude of fear - I John 4:17-21

                        1.         Have you ever see a person suddenly faced with an emergency where they need to make a quick decision, but they are unsure which one is best? They lock up, unable to move or even to think, because they know they have to make the right choice, but which one is it?

                        2.         All fear is not wrong. We need a health respect for dangerous situations and dangerous things.

                                    a.         There are those who see a conspiracy around every corner. That is an unhealthy fear - Isaiah 8:12-13

                                    b.         A fear of what others might think is an unhealthy fear - Isaiah 51:7

                                    c.         Even a fear of threats is unhealthy - I Peter 3:14

                                    d.         Fearing God is a healthy fear.

                                                (1)       Recall our reading from Luke 12:4-5

                                                (2)       Some get so wrapped up in their fear of doing something wrong that they forget Jesus’ very next words - Luke 12:6-9

                                                (3)       God cares for His people!

                                                (4)       Yes, we must hold God in solemn respect, but we must never forget that He loves us.

            D.        The attitude of defeat

                        1.         Some people will give good effort to a task, but they don’t deal with setbacks or failures well. “It’s too hard!” they’ll exclaim as they toss the work aside in disgust.

                        2.         God does not mean for religion to be hard - Matthew 11:28-30

                        3.         The Pharisees, in an attempt to define religion better than God, made religion harder than God - Matthew 23:1-4

                        4.         God wants us to obey His commandments, but they are not difficult ones - I John 5:3

                        5.         The difference between the child of Satan and the child of God - I John 3:4-10

                                    a.         The child of Satan wallows in evil. At times he might do what is right, but he doesn’t stay in the right because he has no desire to do so.

                                    b.         The child of God rejoices in truth. At times he might do what is wrong, but he doesn’t stay in the wrong because he has no desire to be apart from God.

                                    c.         It isn’t that the child of Satan or the child of God never ever does a contrary behavior. The emphasis is on where the person places his effort to remain.

III.       Cultivating a better attitude

            A.        Decide to be happy - Isaiah 61:10-11

                        1.         The Lord is on our side - Psalm 28:7

                        2.         Rejoice in being reconciled to God - Romans 5:11

                        3.         Rejoice in the Lord - Philippians 4:4-7

                        4.         Rejoice in hope - I Peter 1:3-9

                        5.         A merry heart does a person good - Proverbs 15:15; 17:22

            B.        Be at peace - II Peter 3:14

                        1.         Wisdom’s ways are pleasant and peaceful - Proverbs 3:17

                        2.         Spiritually minded is life and peace - Romans 8:6; 14:17

                        3.         In Jesus is peace - John 16:33

                        4.         We are comforted by God, even through difficulties - II Corinthians 1:3-7

                        5.         The wisdom from God creates peace - James 3:17-18

            C.        Love God - I John 4:16-18

                        1.         God will protect us from evil - Psalm 121

                        2.         God cares, so leave the future in His hands - Matthew 6:31-34

                        3.         It is the basis of God’s law - Matthew 22:37-40

            D.        Love our fellow man - I John 4:20

                        1.         Love is from God - I John 4:7-8

                        2.         Turn your view from inward to outward - Philippians 2:3-4

IV.      Your life reflects your attitude toward life - Proverbs 4:23

            A.        You can make your life difficult and hard

            B.        Or, you can find joy, peace, and love in every corner – even during times of struggle

            C.        How will you approach the throne of God?

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