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Synopsis of The Joy of Serenity & Tranquility
Good and joyful day today to all Christian brothers and sisters, on this the day the Lord has made. Pull up a chair, pour yourself a cup of coffee, or tea, or milk, or whatever is your favorite, we’re about to slice a piece of the Bread of Life, the Word of God. And today’s slice comes from, well… it will come later.
The title of today’s message is The Joy of Serenity & Tranquility. Now, there’s a word we do not often use. Serenity could be described as: calm, tranquil, peaceful, composed, cool as a cucumber, poised, level-headed, at ease, balanced, unperturbed. Maybe even unflappable, even-tempered, unruffled, or easy going. Does any of the above seem like where you’d like to be.
You know, my Cajun family, in speaking the patois French of Louisiana, never told us children to “be quiet” (English) but to be “tranquille” (French). After all… we could be quiet, that is to shut our mouths of yelling, and yet tear up the furniture, or even worse, each other, while being “quiet”. We were told “vous et tranquille”, (French), “tranquil”, (English).
I’ve always liked that word, in either French or English…tranquil. Just its sound brings tranquility or, joy to my heart. Think about this; you can be quiet and still not hear the leaves rustle in the trees. But, you can when you are…tranquil.
How have we lost this joy ? Is it fast pace living ? Is it competition ? Is it hunger for more ?
Laurence Shames in his book “Hunger for More” analyses our contemporary values and traces discontent to the ravaging appetite of… as he puts it, “a nation gone mad after prosperity”. During the past decades, many people came to believe there didn’t have to be a purpose. The mechanism didn’t require it. Consumption kept the workers working, which kept paychecks coming, which kept people spending, which kept inventors inventing, and investors investing, which meant there was more to consume. The system, properly understood, was independent of values and needed no philosophy to prop it up. It was a perfect circle, complete in itself… and empty in the middle.
We seem to always want to be somewhere other than where we are, or be something other than what we are, or have something other than what we have. The comedian of years past, known as, Brother Dave Gardner use to say, “Happiness ain’t gettin watcha want, Its wantin watcha got.”
In his book “Simple Faith,” Charles Swindoll cites a poem that expresses our discontentment:
It was spring, but it was summer I wanted, the warm days, and the great outdoors.
It was summer, but it was fall I wanted, the colorful leaves, and the cool, dry air.
It was fall, but it was winter I wanted, the beautiful snow, the joy of the holiday season.
It was winter, but it was spring I wanted, the warmth and the blossoming of nature.
I was a child, but it was adulthood I wanted, the freedom, and the respect.
I was 20, but it was 30 I wanted, to be mature, and sophisticated.
I was middle-aged, but it was 20 I wanted, the youth, and the free spirit.
I was retired, but it was middle age I wanted, the presence of mind without limitations. My life was over… but I never got what I wanted.
But, enough stories, lets see what the Lord has to say, time for today’s slice of the Bread of Life. Philippians 4 : 6 Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 and the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 9 hose things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
The Greek word for “contentment” also translates “sufficient.” So, let’s look at: 2nd. Corinthians 12:9 And he said unto me, my grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
For the Christian, contentment is both independence and dependence. And, what the world says is un-important, is important to the Christian. Contentment is to be found in the place where God has placed you. Philippians 4:12 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.
Notice, Paul does not say that he was content with poverty. He said he was content even when in poverty. He had suffered : imprisonment, beatings, close encounters with death, cold, nakedness, sleeplessness, hunger, thirst, being stoned, etc. But, he had learned how to be content. He had learned to live both in good times and in bad.
Contentment comes from the power of God which strengthens you.
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Philippians 4:13 Paul, here, was not talking about an outward set of circumstances, but an inward source of strength.
Contentment also comes from the people of God who support you: Philippians 4:14
Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction. 17 not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. 18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus, the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, and well pleasing to God.
Notice three teachings of this verse:
• The recipient is blessed, “… I have all, and abound…”
• God is blessed, “….a sweet smelling aroma, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God.”
• The giver is blessed, “….ye have done well….” and “…..that may abound to your account…”
Contentment also comes when the promise of God sustains you. When Paul told them (and us) that God would sustain their needs, his promise was:
1. Personal – “….my God…”
2. Positive – “….shall supply….”
3. Pointed – “….all your needs…..”
4. Plentiful – “….according to his riches and glory.”
5. Powerful “….in Christ Jesus.”
A bishop of the early church gave us great insight into contentment through the use of our eyes as he said:
• Look up into the heavens and remember our principle business here is to get there.
• Look down to the earth and realize how little space we take-up here.
• Look around at the world and observe what multitude there are who are in many respects more un-happy than we are.
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