[Summary of messages preached / taught during the Ladies Bible Fellowship Retreat 4-6th September 2017]

Main Messages: Christian Contentment

The Need for Contentment: The Sin of Materialism (1 Tim 6:8-10; Heb 13:5)

One of the biggest problem plaguing Christendom today is the sin of materialism. It can be described as an inordinate or improper love for material things, wealth, and even health. It speaks of one who is never satisfied, but constantly crave for more and more things in this life. Materialism in the hearts of people is the very factor driving the popularity of the Health and Wealth Gospel falsely propagated in many churches today (2 Tim 4: 3-4).

The Bible exhorts Christians unto contentment as materialism is a prevalent issue in the Church. Materialism is reflected when discontentment with life increases. This can be seen in the frequent “upgrades” that Christians chase after, whether be it better jobs, houses, cars, spouses etc. Materialism is one of the main reasons why the level of happiness is decreasing even when living standards are markedly improved. Such a discontented and materialistic heart is sinful.

Christians today face a huge bombardment of the “lures of the world”. Even seemingly “innocent” advertisements of kitchen wares can be used to promote a materialistic heart in Christians. Much temptations are placed at the Christian’s feet. John Calvin spoke of the world as an “idol-making factory”. The things of the world seek to replace God’s position in our hearts. As Christians, we need to guard ourselves against such wiles of the devil.

There are two scriptural-based expressions of materialism in a Christian’s life. The first is covetousness (Heb 13:5), and the second is a constant worry about things in life (Matt 6: 25-34). Taking note that it is not wrong to be rich if the Lord has so blessed, but it is the obsession of wanting more, of chasing after material things that is a sin (1 Tim 6:10). Those who have been blessed by God materially must remember that being wealthy is not to hoard for self, but to give generously for the extension of God’s kingdom, for God’s glory alone.

From 1 Timothy 6: 6-10, Christians must take heed of various evils that comes with covetousness. Firstly, a covetous heart will interfere with a life of godliness and contentment. A covetous heart will snub out any desire for things of God, and even cause one to provide ungodly counsels to those around. Secondly, evil abounds from a covetous heart. Thirdly, covetousness hinders many from coming to know the real Gospel Truth, and even causes many to apostasize from Truth. Lastly, be warned that covetousness will bring about many afflictions and much sorrows (e.g. children going astray from the Lord when they grow up).

There is a great need for Christians to realise that this sin of materialism and covetousness must be repented of. It is a disposition dis-pleasing to God and can find no spiritual blessing(s) from God. Christians are in the world, but not of the world. Let us make an honest examination of our lives and take heed to the warnings of God’s Word.

The Basis of Contentment: God’s Promise (Heb 13:5)

Christians ought to have contentment because of the knowledge of God’s amazing provision(s) in our lives. On the other hand, covetousness is a clear sign of unbelief. A covetous “Christian” could very well be spiritually dead. Godly contentment is a natural characteristic of every genuine born-again believer. A true Christian will seek Christ and nothing else. A true Christian will find joy not in the riches of this world, but instead rejoice in having Jesus Christ, the Living Bread. Having Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour ought to be a Christian’s true wealth (2 Pet 1:4; Phil 3: 7-8).

The reason for a Christian’s contentment in Christ is founded on the basis of God’s promise, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee”.

Without confidence in this promise of God, it is impossible to re-move covetousness from one’s life. It must be noted that the use of the singular personal pronoun “thee”, emphasises that this promise is given to every child of God; and the word “never”, emphasises that this promise is given for all occasions, wherever a Christian may be. In essence, every child of God can hold onto the confidence that he or she will never be without God’s provision or presence (c.f. Ps 46:1, Jos 1:9; Ps 23; Ps 34: 9-10). A Christian must live life believing and trusting in this promise of God.

May God be our sufficiency and godly contentment an expression of our confidence in such a sufficiency. Amen.

Nurturing and Maintaining a Contented Life for Spiritual Gain (Heb 13:5; 1 Tim 6:6)

We must recognise that covetousness is detrimental to a contented life in Christ. However, it is equally significant for a Christian to realise that no one is naturally contented. Man is naturally covetous. Thus, to live out a contented life is a deliberate endeavour for the Christian and takes effort. There are three essential elements to nurturing and maintaining a content life.

Firstly, we must resist covetousness. We must mortify the desires of the flesh. Christians need to teach their hearts not to be covetous. And to deem that knowing and doing God’s will in itself is a gift and honour. There must be a determination to weed out covetousness from a Christian’s life. Christian parents must especially be wary of creating covetousness in the Christian home. One cannot expect to serve God and mammon. Christians need to pray as the Psalmist did in Psalm 119: 36, “Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.”

Secondly, we must insist on contentment. Not only should Christians endeavour to cast out covetousness, they must also cultivate the virtue of contentment. Christians need to teach their hearts to rejoice over daily provision, to be “content with such things as ye have” (Heb 13:5b). Christians need to “live in the present”, to know of living “day by day”, leaning and trusting unto God for His daily provision (Matt 6:25-34). Contrary to popular world views, Christians ought to take a “short view” of life.

Thirdly, we must learn to be contented in all circumstances. Such involves teaching, talking and the educating of one’s heart. Even the Apostle Paul went through a process of learning to be contented regardless of his circumstances Not only so, but he also learnt to be a good steward of God’s blessings (Phil 4: 11-12). Godly contentment comes not naturally, but can most definitely be cultivated and learnt in a heart that is submitted to, and rejoicing in the will of God in one’s life. Christians need to believe and trust that our heavenly Father will only purpose what is best!

Morning Devotions

Desiring God’s Word (1 Pet 2: 1-3)

Christians ought to have a pure and strong desire for the Word of God. Such a desire is instinctive like that of a new-born baby for milk. A Christian will also not desire for anything less than the unadulterated Word of God, not teaching influenced by the world or carnality. Additionally, it is a desire that is driven by one’s need for spiritual nourishment – to be taught and fed of God’s truth(s).

God’s Enduring Word (Ps 119:89-96)

The sureness of God’s Word is proven by creation that is around us. It is also established by our past experiences with the Word of God. As we submitted and obeyed the Word of God, we have also tasted the wisdom of it. Therefore, knowing the endurance of God’s Word, Christians ought always to turn to God’s Word first for guidance in every circumstances. As the psalmist expresses, to a Christian, there is nothing else perfect like the Word of God.

Workshop: Waiting on the Lord

What does it mean to wait on the Lord? [A word study of “wait”] 

1. Waiting on the Lord is praying for God’s provision, protection and guidance. (c.f. Ps 25:3; 25:5; 39:7; 59:9; 104:27; 145:15)
2. Waiting on the Lord is a pursuit of God by refusing all else. It is an unquenchable desire and thirsting for God and God alone. (c.f. Ps 62:5; 69:3; 69:6)
3. Waiting on the Lord is to be strong in the LORD, to stand firm on His promises. (c.f. Ps 27:14)
4. Waiting on the Lord is being patient for God to act, to rest in God, to stay with God, not running ahead of Him and taking mat-ters into our own hands. (c.f. Ps 37:7, 9, 34)
5. Waiting on the Lord is to be ready to serve Him as He commands. It is a dedication to do God’s will. It is not passive, but action. It is a disposition of readiness to act on God’s orders. (c.f. Ps 25:21; 52:9; 123:2; 130:5)

Qualities of a Christian Wife

Christian wives need to first recognise that marriage is an union of 2 depraved sinners. Therefore, marriage is not easy as sins become very prominent. Thus, two significant qualities of a Christian wife are:

1. To have a love for God – to obey God’s Word and to do all things as unto the Lord (Eph 5:22; Col 3:23). Without a love for God, it will be impossible to cultivate the rest of the qualities.
2. To have a love for the husband – in Titus 2:4, the Greek word “phileo” is used for Christian wives (whereas for the husbands is it “agape” love). As such, Christian wives are exhorted to have an affectionate and tender love for the husband. It must be the joy and delight of Christian wives to serve their husbands.
a) Some practical steps to love affectionately and tenderly: guard the heart and not allow unloving feelings to fester; focus always on the positive qualities of the husband (Phil 4: 8; 1 Pet 4:8); always cherish the husband
b) To have a love for the husband includes loving his family: strive to love them and be peaceable with them.
c) To have a love for the husband includes being patient with him: adapt, adjust and accommodate. Remember that our spouses are “tailor-made” for our encouragement, edification and moulding. Rest content in God’s will, do not com-plain or compare with other, but rather “manage” your own expectations.
d) To have a love for the husband includes submission to him: such a submission stems out of a desire to obey God. Such a submission should be done joyously, accepting the headship of the husband. It is to a submission with reverence, to respect his authority, and never to discredit him in any way (e.g. speaking badly of him before others).
e) To have a love for the husband includes supporting him: to enable him to concentrate on his public duties etc. (Proverbs 31); to comfort and encourage him.
3. The list of qualities cannot be exhausted. It also includes faith, humility, forgiving spirit etc. Therefore, Christian wives must never neglect their own personal devotional life and maintain a close walk with God. Importantly, one must always lean unto God for His sufficiency in helping to be a help meet unto the husband.