Sunday, January 21, 2018, the Year of Our Lord

Pastor Carolyn Sissom


In December, I preached a message blessing our congregation with one of the great graces of our LORD; it is the realm of peace in the Kingdom of God.  Within the realm of peace is contentment.  Godliness with contentment is great gain.  Every New Year, those who are discontent seek God for those things in the world which they believe will make them happy and content.


It is a great art and mystery of Godliness to be content.   It is the rest and peace of God in the Kingdom of God.   We know when we are in it and we know when we fall out of it.  When we are perplexed, anxious, discontent and frustrated in our soul, we are not content; nor or we spiritually in the realm of the Kingdom.


A Christian coming to contentment is a scholar in Christ’s school.  There are many lessons to teach the soul to bring it to this learning, every godly mam or woman is a scholar.  It cannot be said of any Christian that he is illiterate, but he is literate, a learned man, and a learned woman.  The lessons that Christ teaches us to bring us to contentment are many.


I mentioned I have recently found myself in the School of Pressure.  I usually throw off all pressure which people or circumstances (Satan) attempt to put on me.  I have been to this school before.  I prayed through this week until I realized how this had blind-sided me.  It was demands and expectations from other people who were discontent and projecting onto me their demands which only Jesus Christ could fulfill.


“Whoever has not learned the lesson of the Cross has not learned his ABC’s in Christianity.” (Bradford)  This is where Christ begins with his scholars.  The first lesson Christ teaches all of us is unselfishness or laying down our will for His.   Not my will but yours be done.  The denial of our flesh, our lusts, and our will brings contentment which softens a man’s heart.  Those who are filled with self-love, selfish ambition, and righteous indignation will never know the mystery of contentment.


The School of Submission is the perpetual conflict between the will of man and the will of God.  This makes the school of submission one of the most difficult and necessary.  Persistent refusal to not submit to the Sovereignty of God involves the risk of open rebellion.  This kind of submission is learned in God’s choice of an instrument; preparation of an instrument; or discarding of an instrument.  Thy will be done.


Those who are of a contrite and humble heart will be able to bear anything and be content in whatever state they find themselves.


Isa. 57:15: For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy, “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”


Phil 4:11: …I have learned in whatever state I am to be content.


Jesus said that he could do nothing except what he saw His Father do.  He said of us, Without me you can do nothing (Jn. 15:5).   Why then should we be troubled or discontent if we don’t have this or that?  The LORD gives us all of our abilities to do all things in Christ Jesus.  If God leaves us one moment after he has bestowed upon us the greatest gifts and abilities, we cannot progress one foot further until the Lord leads us.


A discontented heart is troubled because he/she has no more comfort, but an unselfish man/woman is content is whatever state they find themselves.


In unselfishness, the soul comes to rejoice and take satisfaction in all God’s ways.  If one is selfish and self-love prevails in his/her heart, he/she will be only glad of those things that concern their self interest.  But a godly person will be glad of all things that suit the purposes of God.  A gracious heart says, God’s purposes are my purposes. 


When one is selfish, they will continually have a great deal of trouble and vexation.  They will always be surrounded by chaos, confusion, and conflict.  Their self-centeredness creates drama.


The School of Conflict is the challenge of the world, flesh and the devil to our progress in God.  We overcome in co-operation with God in the employment of his limitless resources.  Conflict can be expected in temptation, opposition and suffering.  We see this presently in our government operating in the world system.


The reason people do not have contentment in the things of the world is not because they do not have enough things; but these cannot compare to the immortality of what our soul is capable of in God. 


Isa. 55:2:  Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy?  Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance.


“All creatures in the world say contentment is not in us, riches say, contentment is not in me, pleasure says, contentment is not in me; if you look for contentment in the creature you will fail.  Contentment is much higher in the realms of the Spirit.    When we come into the school of Christ, he teaches us there is a vanity in all things in the world.  The soul which comes into the school of Christ understands the glorious mysteries of the Gospel and comes into true contentment…if you seek contentment elsewhere, like the unclean spirit you seek for rest but find none.”  (Burroughs)


In the School of Christ, He teaches us the one thing that is necessary.  Jesus said to Martha, Oh Martha you have cumbered yourself about many things, but there is one thing necessary.   


It is not necessary for me to be rich, but it is necessary for me to make my peace with God.  It is not necessary that I should have a life of pleasure in this world.  It is absolutely necessary that I should have forgiveness for my sin.  It is not necessary that I should have honor or preferment.  It is necessary that I should have God as my portion and have my part in Jesus Christ.  It is necessary that my soul is saved in the day of Jesus Christ. 


I am grateful and blessed to have so many blessings of God.  These are comfortable and comforting, but not necessary.  I may have these and yet perish forever, but the eternity is absolutely necessary.  In the school of Christ, he opens to us the sight of the great things of eternity.  Nothing else will satisfy or give us contentment.


Idle persons who have nothing to occupy their minds are among those who are most discontent.   Every little thing disquiets and discontents them.  When the heart of a person has nothing to do but to be busy about creature-comforts, every little thing troubles them; but when the heart is taken up with eternity, the circumstances around us are of no consequence.


The stories in the Bible use allegories of our journey on earth as pilgrims, strangers, travelers and soldiers.  I am not sure that all Christianity teaches that in this world we are in warfare fighting and combating the enemies of our souls.  W also know that we shall conquer and triumph with Jesus Christ not only through eternity; but as we press on the path of our earthly journey.


The crisis that Israel experienced in the wilderness was to reveal their heart’s condition; train them in Christ’s school that they might carry the glory of God into the land of promise.  Bring them into subjection to the Sovereignty of God and to reveal the abundance of His resources.


Israel’s reactions to their crises shows their faith was weak and superficial---more a momentary enthusiasm than a deeply rooted conviction.  Thus 40 years in the wilderness until another generation came forth who had been strengthened in Christ in faith to fulfill the LORD’s Kingdom plan for Israel to take the Promised Land.


The School of Disappointment (Ex. 15:22-23) trained them in God’s delays (Jn. 11: 6-43); God’s methods (2 Kg. 5: 11-12), God’s claims Mark. 10:17-23: Jesus said…How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God.


This, of course, does not mean that in this world Christians will not have riches and be blessed by the Lord.  God gets great honor when a person of wealth and influence uses their prosperity to honor God.  We are presently seeing a separation in our government of American leaders of wealth and influence either using that influence to line their own pockets, increase their power;  or they are honoring God.  It is God who is revealing the hearts of men.  They are in great conflict and have no joy of contentment.


In Mark 10, Jesus was testing the heart of the rich young ruler to see if his heart was on his riches or on God.


We must learn as Paul did to abound or abase and in both situations to honor God and be content.  If we can honor God in prosperity and need, we will be in the realm of contentment because we have the same good in our soul whether in need or in prosperity.


So then the Lord will train us in the School of Prosperity.  The same providence which trains in disappointment and tests the reality of our profession also leads into the abundance of the goodness of God to test our humility and to teach us gratitude.


The School of Need is the same providence which leads us into prosperity that we might learn how to abound for the glory of God.  This school teaches us the faith to have our needs met in God.


The School of Rest is obedience to God not only expressed by consecrated activity, but ceasing from our own efforts, endeavors of self, and mental stress.  This is complete trust in God as we rest in His completed work in our destiny as we continue on the path of His purposes.


Paul said “ I have learned” the lesson of whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.


It is a mercy of God to those who have learned this lesson.  As we face another year with hopes, dreams, and faith in our Lord, let us not enter into His presence with out discontent; but like Paul we have learned to be content in whatsoever state we are in and to trust His Sovereign love for our well being, His Kingdom Purposes, and His Sovereign Choices.  


As I was preparing this message, the Spirit of God again moved upon me to release to this congregation another crown.


Psalm 103:1-5:  Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits; who forgives all your iniquities; who heals all your diseases; who redeems your life from destruction; who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies.


Carolyn Sissom, Pastor

Eastgate Ministries Church


Scripture from K.J.V.
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