Part 1: The Secret of Contentment
Discussion following the sermon from 11/7/21
Our sermon series for the month of November is Good N Plenty. In this series we will look at what it takes to experience true happiness. Today’s message is The Secret of Contentment, and in this message Beau uses the letters of Paul to explain why contentment is a prerequisite for a joyous and contented life. The Scripture for today’s sermon is Philippians 4:11-12: "…I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little."
Paul is writing this letter to the Philippians from a Roman prison. From the world’s perspective he has very little reason to be content. But Paul has learned that contentment is not determined by whether his circumstances are good or bad. He has learned the “secret” of living contentedly in every situation. So what is this secret, and how can all of us be content? Pastor Beau answers these questions with four biblical truths (one is something we shouldn’t do, and three are things we should do) that will help us discover the secret of contentment.
- RESIST COMPARING MYSELF TO OTHERS.
Galatians 6:14 As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died.
2 Corinthians 10:12 For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
Comparison is a contentment killer, and it is definitely something we are to avoid. Nothing good comes from comparing ourselves to others. If we compare favorably, we risk the danger of becoming prideful. If we compare poorly, it is likely that we will become discouraged or even depressed. Paul says that it is not wise to compare ourselves with others. And he also says that none of the things in the world by which we compare ourselves should be important to Christians anyway. Discuss within the group what it is within ourselves that causes us to compare ourselves with others. Ask the group if anyone would share an experience when comparing themselves to someone else caused a problem.
REJOICE IN WHAT I DO HAVE.
Philippians 3:1 Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith.
Philippians 1:12 And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News.
Philippians 3:8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
Joy produces contentment. Paul tells us to always “rejoice in the Lord.” He explains that it is our relationship with Christ and not worldly accomplishments that make us content. A great job, a desired relationship, or even the world’s accolades brings only temporary contentment. Only God can fill the longing of the soul. Paul found contentment even in suffering, because his joy came from his relationship with Jesus. Discuss what it means to have joy in the Lord, and how this joy makes us content.
RELEASE WHAT I HAVE TO HELP OTHERS.
1 Timothy 6:17–19 Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.
Generosity is another thing that leads to contentment. Paul says, we are to use our money for good, and we can be generous with more than just our money. We can invest our time, energy, and abilities to promote God’s goodness. It is hard to explain, but there is something satisfying about being generous. Generosity helps others and it brings contentment to our soul. Have the members of the group talk about ways that generosity has produced contentment in their lives.
REFOCUS ON WHAT’S GOING TO LAST.
II Cor. 4:18 We fix our attention, not on the things that are seen, but on things that are unseen. What can be seen lasts only for a time, but what cannot be seen lasts forever.
Nothing can give us more contentment than knowing that we have eternal life through faith in Christ. There is also great contentment in knowing that our service to God has eternal rewards. Paul tells us that contentment comes by fixing our attention on things that can’t be seen. Discuss why the promise of a secure future in heaven overshadows all the trials and heartaches we experience on this earth.
Close the group by taking prayer requests and spending time in prayer.
Part 2: Plenty of Confidence
Discussion following the sermon from 11/14/21
Last week’s sermon addressed how contentment was required if one is going to live the life God desires for us. Today’s sermon is about the importance of being confident. Pastor Beau explains the relation between contentment and confidence. He suggests that we need confidence in the Lord if we want to be content, and he uses the letters of Paul to show us that we can be confident. The central verse for this message is Philippians 1:6: "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."
Did you notice that it is God who does the work? Our confidence is not in our abilities, but in what God can do in us. Did you also see that Paul is saying that God’s not done yet? None of us, not even Paul, are perfected yet. But we can be confident that God will complete the work before Christ comes back. Beau pointed out that our sanctification (God’s transformation to make us like Him) is done by God. All we can do is obey God and trust Him to complete the work. Beau gives us four biblical truths to build our confidence. Each one tells us to stop doing something that will destroy our confidence and gives us something to do that will give us confidence.
- STOP BELIEVING YOU’RE A MISTAKE AND START BELIEVING YOU’RE A MASTERPIECE.
Ephesians 2:10 "For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago."
The world will tell you that you’re not good enough—that you are a mistake or a failure. Last week Beau talked about how all the world’s voices (especially those on social media) try to get us to compare ourselves to someone else. Believing these voices takes away our confidence, but believing what God says about us builds our confidence. Have the group share an experience about something that someone said or did that hurt their confidence. Have the group share how it makes them feel to know that God sees us as His masterpiece.
STOP FOCUSING ON YOUR FAILURES AND START FOCUSING ON GOD’S GRACE.
2 Corinthians 12:9 "Each time he said, 'My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.' So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me."
God does not call us to be a success in respect to the world’s opinion. In fact, God knows full well our failures. 2 Corinthians 12:9 explains that Paul saw his weakness (he had a physical disability) as a way for God’s grace to be displayed in him. Beau explained that Paul had garnered great honor in the world, and yet he counted all the world’s accolades as nothing. Paul did not focus on his successes or his failures. His only desire was to be an instrument of God’s grace. Ask the group to talk about how focusing on God’s grace gives them confidence in their life.
STOP WORRYING ABOUT YOUR WEAKNESSES AND START RELYING ON HIS STRENGTH.
1 Corinthians 1:27–28 "Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important."
Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
Another reason why comparison is destructive is because it causes us to focus on our own weaknesses. God is able to use us just as we are. God will give us all we need to do what He wants us to do. 1 Corinthians 1:27 says that God uses the things the world sees as foolish to shame the wise. God does not need brilliant people, He needs willing people—people that will trust Him and allow Him to work in and through them. The Christian who is obedient to God is capable of doing whatever God asks him to do. Have the group share an area of their life where they need God’s strength.
STOP FEARING THE FUTURE AND START DECLARING THE VICTORY.
Romans 8:37 "No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us."
1 Corinthians 2:9 … “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”
The world emphasizes the kinds of things that cause us to be afraid. God tells us there is no reason to fear because we already have the victory in Him. The verses that come before Romans 8:37 relate some very fearful things (hardship, persecution, famine, and even death). But Romans 8:37 says that we do not have to fear these things because the believer has an overwhelming victory in Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:9 tells us that we can’t even imagine the glorious future we will have in Christ. Declaring victory is simply agreeing with God. It is choosing to believe that God controls our future. Have the group talk about the things that cause them to fear. Ask them to share what declaring victory would look like for them.
Part 3: Satisfied to Serve
Discussion following the sermon from 11/21/21
In this week’s sermon, Pastor Beau talks about how we can receive satisfaction through serving others. He uses Paul’s teachings and the words of Jesus to explain man’s natural inclination to be served by others. He also explains that the Bible teaches just the opposite—real happiness and contentment is found in serving. Pastor Beau talked about the spiritual battle every Christian faces—the battle of whether we follow our own natural desires or see ourselves as God’s instruments to serve His purpose. The Scripture for today’s sermon is found in Philippians 2:3-11: "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
Paul tells us that Christians are to have the same attitude of service that Jesus had, and then he explains what that attitude looks like. We are not to act selfishly but concern ourselves with the needs and interests of others. Jesus was God, and yet He humbled Himself and died for us. And because Jesus gave His life for others, God highly exalted Him. Jesus’ service brought great satisfaction to God, for Himself, and to all of us who receive the blessing of salvation. Serving others really does satisfy the soul.
Three Ways to Improve My Serve:
- Recognize what is natural.
Matthew 20:25 "But Jesus called them together and said, 'You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them.'"
Romans 7:14 (The Message) “'I know that all God’s commands are spiritual, but I’m not. Isn’t this also your experience?' Yes. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison."
Pastor Beau talked about how it is natural for us to be selfish. He also talked about how important it is that we recognize our tendency to be selfish. Jesus, in Matthew 20:25, explained man’s natural self-centeredness when He said that the rulers in the world “lord over” (exercise their will over) others. Paul even confessed his own selfishness in Romans 7:14, saying that he was full of himself. He said that he tended to act naturally rather than spiritually. Discuss in your group why we are so naturally selfish, and how selfishness damages our relationships.
Battle for what is spiritual.Matthew 20:26–27 "But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave."
Galatians 5:24–25 "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives."
Pastor Beau discussed the constant battle in the heart of the believer between the natural man and spiritual man (the believer’s indwelling Holy Spirit). He pointed out that right after Jesus described how the rulers of the world exercise their power over others, He said, “But among you it will be different.” Galatians 5:24-25 says that Christians are to nail their natural desires to the cross. Christ died to deliver us from sin, and we no longer have to cave to our natural man. We can have the same attitude of service as Jesus and show His love by serving others. Share with one another some of the ways that God’s Spirit has brought victory over natural desires. Talk about how Jesus’ sacrifice inspires us to serve.
Follow Jesus’ example.
Matthew 20:28 "For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Matthew 10:42 "And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.”
Jesus is our example of selfless service. He tells us that His purpose in coming to earth was to serve His creation and give His life for others. In His final Passover, He washed the disciple’s feet and told them that He did this lowly task as an example to them to serve one another (John 13:15). Matthew 10:42 reveals that every act of service to others (big or small) is an act of worship to God and it will be rewarded by God. Talk within the group about why Jesus put so much emphasis on serving others. Ask the group to share some of the ways they have received satisfaction through serving.
Part 4: Thanksgiving Service
Discussion following the sermon from 11/28/21
- What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?
- In what ways have you seen God working in your life lately?
- "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever." 1 Chronicles 16:34
"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
"The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him." Psalm 28:7
While Thanksgiving and the holidays are joyful times, many people find their circumstances to be not very joyful at all. These verses encourage us to know that one thing we can always be thankful for is God's enduring love and faithfulness.
What can you give up to God today? Are you thankful despite your circumstances?