Obstacles to contentment…
“ Bus driver – MOVE THAT BUS”
How many of you remember the reality series from a couple years back called “ Extreme Makeover – Home Edition?
It was a reality series that starred Ty Pennington and would provide home improvements for less fortunate families and communities? Each episode would feature a family that had faced sort of recent hardship, disaster or a had family member with a life threatening illness. The show would perform an internal and external renovation with new landscaping of the families home, while the family was sent away on a paid vacation. Sometimes if the house was beyond repair, they would replace it completely with new furnishings and decor. When the family returned from their holiday, there would be a double decker bus hiding their new home, and with some prompting from Ty Pennington the family would shout ” Bus driver – MOVE THAT BUS” and then they would see their new home and their new life would begin.
For those of you that have ever watched this series, you have probably wished for a similar series in SA or even the same opportunity in your own life to shout out : “ Bus driver – MOVE THAT BUS” so that your new life could begin…
Imagine if our lives were like that – not just a home makeover but an “Extreme Life Makeover”
Oh wait, God does offer that – God offers an Extreme Life Makeover, an internal spiritual transformation that also leads to a change on the outside.
Last Sunday we spoke about the Secret to contentment in which we discover and learn contentment when we RESOLVE to acknowledge the Sovereign plan of God in our lives as well as His goodness and provision. When we live life Gods way, when we resolve to follow Gods plan and are led by His spirit, we experience transformation. We live a life of faith and trust, characterized by contentment, and filled with the goodness, richness and fullness of God. We discover the truth then that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.
And this secret to contentment is based on an unshakeable faith in Gods power, Gods plan, Gods goodness, and Gods provision.
It is in this area that we experience an overflow of Gods grace, with God meeting all of our needs, so that we may excel in every good work.
When we delight ourselves in Gods grace, and discover contentment we discover 3 elements:
1. An overflow of Gods grace
2. All our needs are met
3. We excel in every good work.
In other words, God provides for all our needs, He shows us His favour, and “blesses us” in order that we can carry out His work and tasks, living a Life He has prepared for us so that we can build His Kingdom, grow His Church to bring Him Glory.
We experience contentment – an inner sufficiency, a satisfaction found in the depths of ones own life with God, independent of our surroundings, a FULL measure of enjoyment, receiving an overflow of His grace, sufficient to meet all our needs as we delight ourselves in God.
As you listen considering contentment, you may be recognizing how many needs God has already met in your life, you may have many unmet needs and even unmet desires or aspirations contentment is not admitting defeat , contentment does not mean you should quench your desires for something better- Quite the opposite – as Priscilla Shirer writes in Resolution for women, CONTENTMENT is about finding balance – discovering the equilibrium between the enjoyment of life now and the anticipation of what is to come.
Contentment is the KEY to unlock you from the BONDAGE of unrestrained longing and envy THAT BEGINS TO CONTROL YOUR LIFE, making you a slave to what you don’t have instead of living a life as a fully engaged participant with what you do have. It is a faith filled belief that what God has given you and bestowed on you now is worthy of GRATITUDE and appreciation, not merely because it is enough, but because it is good.
By choosing CONTENTMENT, you’re not getting rid of your desires, you are just demanding that they assume an appropriate humble position in your life, not bossing you around, forcing you to submit to his ever-growing and ever-changing list of demands.
Contentment allows you to look forward to tomorrow with expectation and peace, not anxiety and worry.
Resolving to be content is keeping an attitude of gratitude, it is lifting up hands of praise to God for all He has done for you and given to you. It is an appreciation of what you already have and an expectation of Gods blessings and an overflow of Gods grace in your life.
Luke 6:38 tells us this –
“Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.
But what if, you are asking yourself – “ “I’m not certain I am experiencing or have experienced Gods grace and blessings in my life?”
Perhaps there are some obstacles in your life you need to consider… there may be a few obstacles that may delay, slow down or prevent an overflow of Gods grace in our lives.
Or perhaps we are in a place where we are not receiving, what if we are standing in a place What if you are not standing in the right place to receive Gods overflow?
When you step into the shower, do you stand on the edge of the shower cubicle allowing only splashes of water to wet your skin? You wont experience an invigorating shower will you? In fact it will be a frustrating shower. In order to experience the best of that shower, you need to step fully into the stream of gushing water. How many of us remain on the edge of our relationship with God, not giving ourselves fully to Him? You need to give yourself fully, and step into the presence of God and experience the fullness of His downpour of grace and blessing –by Faith.
I believe that there are 3 different obstacles, or perhaps even 3 reasons why we may be in the wrong place to receive an overflow of Gods grace in our lives –
The first is Sin. The Sin of ego, arrogance and pride. The sin of rejecting Gods plan for your life. The sin of stealing Gods glory, the sin of being on the wrong path, or of taking a decision for your life that goes against Gods wishes.
Perhaps it is the sin of bitterness, anger, lust, idolatry, unforgiveness , or even worse – The Sin of not trusting God, of believing that God is not trustworthy.
Richard Blackaby, in His book “living out of the overflow” writes that –
“History brims with accounts of those who refused to trust God but demanded that God indulge them with the blessings of obedience. People reject Gods standards, but then complain about their lives. Knowingly disobeying Gods clear instruction is one thing, disobeying and then still expecting a reward is quite another. Remember the story of the Israelites who refused to believe that God was trustworthy. The result was that they had to endure the wilderness for another 40 years living on manna. It was never Gods intention that they eat manna for so long, manna was merely a substitute for Gods best. Once the Israelites began walking by faith with God, God was pleased to release his riches on them.”
As Blackaby writes, one of the most troubling realities of the human experience is that the critics voice can drown out the voice of the Almighty God.
What sin is in your life?
Have you sinned by not acknowledging what God has done in your life?
Have you sinned by denying Gods blessings, have you sinned by not trusting Him enough, have you sinned by stealing Gods glory or not declaring what He has done in your life? Have you sinned by the wrong action or inaction, have you sinned by not forgiving someone, bitterness, anger or even the sin of apathy?
Whatever the sin is, you need to repent – change your way and ask for Gods forgiveness. The journey back to Gods place of blessing may be difficult and slow, but as with the Israelites moving back onto Gods path to the promised land, when they arrived there they were blessed.
The 2nd obstacle to Gods Blessings may be as simple as the opposition of the enemy – the devil doesn’t want you to carry out Gods plan here on earth – so stopping you from receiving or being on Gods path will be the devils objective.
When the Israelites entered the promised land they came up against enemies who were opposed to their presence and their success they threw everything they had to stop the Israelites. When were the Israelites successful? When they called on God to help them – when they trusted God and when they stayed true to the plan of God. They didn’t give up, they pressed on. Perhaps you are experiencing an opposition to where you are, perhaps you are experience an onslaught of attack from the enemy- finances, emotions, health, people putting you down.
If you are right with God – if you are walking in Gods way and living life Gods way and placing all your trust in God – PRESS ON.
Don’t give up – keep trusting, keep praying, keep praising
The third obstacle – is Gods character building.
God may be strengthening you, developing you and growing your inner character in order to bring Him Glory.
In other words – GOD HAS A PLAN AND YOU ARE A BIG PART OF THAT PLAN.
God is more concerned than who we are than what we do and what we have. God used situations and experiences to build our faith – it is a faith building experience – it is called basic training. These challenges and trials we face in our lives are not there to make or break us – they exist to expose our character flaws and deficiencies. Take the story of the Israelites before they entered the promised land.
God bought them to Kadesh in the wilderness- this was the same place 40 years earlier where they had complained that God bought them out of Egypt only to let them die of thirst. The same thing happened. Yes, God was testing them. He was building their faith and strengthening their character. When we succeed in our initial efforts, we tend to assume we have nothing left to learn. The Israelites believed they would be able to take on the Giants, they thought they had learned everything they needed to learn, God was teaching the Israelites otherwise. For God it was better to show them and expose their weaknesses at the beginning of their journey than in the heat of battle. God may have bought you into a place where he is strengthening your character, by exposing your weaknesses and deficiencies and showing you what you still need, allows you to look to God asking for and recognizing your needs.
God knew they needed water, He knew they needed water He provided that to them but as he met their needs He did so in a way that exposed their deficiency, he showed them what they really needed. That is Gods grace.
What obstacles are you facing currently ? Perhaps instead of us shouting out “ Bus driver, move that Bus” we need to be lifting our voices to God asking “– is there sin in my life I need to be aware of? Is there opposition to the path I am on LORD, or are you strengthening and building my character LORD. If so, what do you need me to do LORD?
Lord help me to recognize your voice, and understand the path I am on in my life. If I am caught in sin, forgive me and by your grace help me back onto your path. If I am facing opposition or you are building character in me, give me the courage and strength to continue in your way.
In Jesus name I pray,