First Baptist Church of Hoquiam
Sunday Worship, March 5, 2023
Women's Prayer and Bible StudyFebruary 15, 2023 - 10:00 AM - 10:00 AMGather with your sisters in Christ for a time of fellowship and encouragement.
- I Could Sing Of Your Love Forever
- At The Cross (Love Ran Red)
- Greater Still
- I Can Only Imagine
- The Secret of ContentmentIt’s hard to be satisfied, isn’t it? We live in a world that tells us we need more and more and more. And if we obtain more, then and only then will we be satisfied. There was a survey that asked the richest men in the world if they felt completed and happy, and the overwhelming consensus was no. The response was often, “I climbed to the top of the mountain and there was nothing to see.” The richest men in the world aren’t satisfied. They’re left wanting more than this world has to offer.On the flip-side, this same survey was conducted among peoples of lower incomes. The scientists found that the lower income brackets had higher satisfaction and happiness than those who often had much. Why is that?Well, there’s a secret to contentment that our world doesn’t understand.Contentment is found in the Lord and in his plan for the world, not in chasing after our own kingdoms or our own riches.Only the Lord is big enough to fill the void in our hearts that we so desperately need filled.But so often we get sidelined from our mission of living for the Lord and in loving him. We give in to our own desires that the world tells us are natural and are thus acceptable to them. And as a result, we enter into sin and dissatisfaction. When you give into the desires of your flesh and you allow your emotions to control you, you are following after the sinful nature of your heart, the sin into which we are all born into under Adam. And as a result, you are left feeling empty, broken, upset, angry, you name it. Anything but satisfied.Or sometimes you are living for the Lord, and life hits you like a ton of bricks: maybe your finances are troubled, your living situation is under stress, your family is pressuring you, your health is failing, your dog just died, and you don’t know if you’ll have enough time to make food for yourself because work is so demanding. You are anything but satisfied.Or maybe you’ve been asking the Lord for a specific answer to a question, and it’s one that’s disappointing to you. Much like the response of the rich young ruler who left Jesus disappointed because of his response, you wander away from the contentment that comes from following after the Lord because the cost of giving up what you really want to happen is too great.Let me tell you, contentment in and through Christ is always possible. Even in the midst of storms and trials and whatever else the world throws at us, contentment can always be found in Christ.If you have your Bibles, please turn with me to Deuteronomy chapter 3, verses 23-29. We are picking up in our series through Deuteronomy. And today we will look at a time in Moses’ life when the Lord’s answer was no. How would Moses respond to such an answer? Would he leave, angry and upset with God, or would he trust him and be content with what God was saying?Let’s read, pray, and then dialogue about this section. Deuteronomy chapter 3, verses 23 through 29:
Deuteronomy 3:23–29 ESV“And I pleaded with the Lord at that time, saying, ‘O Lord God, you have only begun to show your servant your greatness and your mighty hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do such works and mighty acts as yours? Please let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan, that good hill country and Lebanon.’ But the Lord was angry with me because of you and would not listen to me. And the Lord said to me, ‘Enough from you; do not speak to me of this matter again. Go up to the top of Pisgah and lift up your eyes westward and northward and southward and eastward, and look at it with your eyes, for you shall not go over this Jordan. But charge Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he shall go over at the head of this people, and he shall put them in possession of the land that you shall see.’ So we remained in the valley opposite Beth-peor.Let’s pray. (pray)We’ve arrived at the end of the narrative portion of Israel’s history in Moses’ sermon. And it’s an exciting place for the people of Israel. You can tell because of Moses’ own excitement for what the Lord is going to do. And so, we have Moses asking the Lord to go across the Jordan to see the promised land.But what is the Lord’s answer for him?The answer is, no. The answer … is … no.That would be frustrating, wouldn’t it?No to seeing the promised land. The thing you’ve waited your entire life to see. The thing you’ve anticipated since before you set foot out of Egypt: what you endured many harsh years in the wilderness for, interceding for the people of Israel. I think there’s a degree to which we can relate to the humanity of Moses here.And not only does the Lord tell Moses no, he also says “Do not speak to me of this matter again.” Moses is supposed to hear the answer no, and he’s supposed to accept it.Wow. That’s such a hard thing to do. Imagine taking a 180 on something you’re super passionate about.My mind jumps to how kids behave. If a child really really wants something, what do they do? They keep asking to get it, again and again and again. They won’t let up until they get what they want, whether it’s a candy bar, or a new toy, or a new pet. And they’ll ask again and again and again, even when you think you’ve ended the conversation with them. Parents, often because they love their children and delight to give them good gifts, but sometimes out of exasperation, give in to the begging and give the child what they want. And the child is happy and delights in what they were asking for, for a short time. But sometimes parent has to give a firm answer. Sometimes the answer has to be no. Why? Because the parent knows the bigger picture. They know how that candy will affect the child for the rest of the day. They know the budget and where the family is at with spending, and what things they can and can’t afford to purchase right now. They know the lessons that child needs to learn in patience and self-control, and that sometimes the answer no is what is best for them in the long run.Hearing the answer “no” is hard for a child. But it’s beneficial for them in the long run.And God knew what was good for his people.God’s answer to his child, Moses, was no. Despite how good Moses was in leading his people, and the close connection that he had with the Lord. The Lord’s answer was firm, and Moses had to be satisfied with the answer.The answer “no” is a hard thing for us to hear now, especially when there’s something we really want to see happen, or want to see done. It could be something we’re excited for that isn’t evil, that would actually be good in our eyes for the kingdom of God, but his answer is no. We would love to see our garage project completed right now. We would love to see all the repair work that our building needs done right now. I would love to win the lottery and to give all of the money to the church and to various ministries to help build them up. But it’s not in God’s plan. In fact, I’ve asked him about it, maybe a few times in my life. But what’s his answer been? “No, it’s not for you. I have other plans.”When the Lord tells us no, we have to be satisfied with his answer. We have to have faith and to trust that the Lord sees the bigger picture, even though there might be something we really really want.So my question is, how do we reach that place of peace when the answer to us is no? How do we ultimately find contentment in the Lord’s answer?Well, I have three proposed solutions for us today:Enter into humility2. Lean into God’s other blessings3. Trust that the Lord is at work4. Contentment is found in and through the LordI tagged a fourth point in there, as a reminder, that contentment, ultimate satisfaction, only comes in and through the Lord.1. Enter into humilityMoses is a good example for us to follow. Not the perfect example, but a good one. In fact, he was known for his humility. Numbers 12:3 ESVNow the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth.Perhaps its this humility that brought him so close to God, close enough that his face shone before the people.Humility is the ultimate foil to pride. Pride is saying we want things our way and there will be no compromise. Pride says that the only answer I want to receive is the answer yes, and that I will get everything I set out to achieve.Boy do I see that with my customers. I see it in politics with leaders, I see it on the news and in social media. For those who are full of pride, no is never an option. When there’s a possibility of no being an answer, what’s the response? Inflated egos. Taking up arms. Forming a battle over words or in the streets. More conflict has been caused in the world over people wanting their own way than any other desire. We all want things, but we don’t all want the same things. So when two forces that both want their own way and are unwilling to compromise meet, the result is a disaster. It’s a head on collision.But the way of Christ does not call a Christian to the way of pride. Instead, he instructs us to “take up your cross daily and follow” after him. The way of Christ is gentle and lowly. It’s not arrogant or rude, insisting on its own way. Rather, it is humble, recognizing the needs of others and willing to compromise. Humility is the counterbalance to pride. And it’s what those who follow Christ are called to imitate.And there is no better example of humility than that of our Lord and Savior. Setting himself aside, he emptied himself taking on human flesh and becoming a man so that we might see light.Garden of Gethsemane. About to be tortured, tried, convicted, led to death on the cross. And he’s praying: Luke 22:42 ESVsaying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”We know that he was sweating blood from the pressure and stress his soul was experiencing. God’s answer to Jesus, his own Son, coeternal with the Father and the Spirit since before time even began, was no. And Jesus was poised to receive no as an answer. (pause)Being humble isn’t exactly a praised trait by the world, is it? And yet it’s expected of us by our Father who is in heaven.What a joy that would be, that in all things we could say “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done, Father.” If we prayed like this, then our pride would be laid to rest. We would set our own passions and our own interests down long enough to hear what the Lord has to say. We would avoid so much unnecessary conflict that occurs because we insisted too much in our own way. Let us put to death pride and take up the mantle of humility. And in all that we do, let our prayers to the Lord be phrased with “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”Pride will demand that you have more. But the key to contentment isn’t in having more. It’s in having less. Emptying yourself and finding that filling of the Lord as your portion and your prizeJesus emptied himself, taking the form of a man, so that he might be filled with the Lord as his portion and prize. In the greatest show of humility: coming down from a position of honor and authority to be spit upon by those not even worthy to wallow in mud, why? So that he may save those who are his enemies, that he might defeat sin and death and bring those who have faith in him to eternal life.Christ’s humility is a show of love.When we enter into humility, and we say to the Lord “Lord, let your will be done in my life,” it’s done out of a show of love: that though you are contemplating life’s decisions or are broken in your spirit before him, you trust him to lead you and you trust his will in your life.Will you enter into the humility that Christ displayed, or will you wallow in your pride? The choice is yours: to your own benefit and contentment, or to your detriment in dissatisfaction.Point number two:2. Trust that the Lord is at workOften God is at work in ways we can only imagine. The Lord truly works in mysterious ways, and how he orchestrates his plans sometimes is far beyond my comprehension. Yet he does it. And he’s unexpected. His joys are new every morning. If we don’t believe that truth and take it to heart, then we might give in to our fears and upset a place of contentment for our soul. Fear is an illusion that convinces you there is no peace, when in fact the Lord has brought you to peace. Are you afraid of your safety here and now? Well, the Lord has already guaranteed your safety in heaven. Are you afraid for your son or daughter when they are out late or are journeying far? The Lord is with them and will work all things for his good. If we don’t learn to entrust our fears to the Lord and believe in his ultimate plan, then how will we ever be prepared for when tragedy strikes? (pause)Moses had to learn to trust that the Lord is at work, even if it meant something was going to be done that Moses would prefer not to happen. Ultimately, Moses, in his sinfulness, wasn’t able to lead the people over into the promised land.Let’s take a deeper look here: Verse 26 Deuteronomy 3:26 ESVBut the Lord was angry with me because of you and would not listen to me. And the Lord said to me, ‘Enough from you; do not speak to me of this matter again.“The Lord was angry WITH me, BECAUSE OF you”. Well, what does that look like? If you remember what Moses is referring to here, he’s referring to the time he struck the rock out of anger. The people of Israel were in the wilderness, being led by a pillar of a cloud by day, thus being shielded from the hot sun and a pillar of fire by night, being kept warm through the evening. They had manna provided for them every morning, except on the Sabbath. They had the commandments of the Lord God. They had seen his miraculous presence on Mount Sinai, and the ground swallow up the idolaters. And as if these people hadn’t seen the great plagues the Lord sent upon Egypt or all of the other miraculous things done before them, they have the hubris to complain about being in the wilderness and how it’s not like Egypt, and how Egypt is so much better.The Lord, in his provision for his people, tells Moses to take his staff and tell a rock to yield water and to give it to the people and to their cattle.So what does Moses do?Moses takes the staff. Sure. He goes to the rock, sure. Then he calls out, “Hear now, you rebels: Shall we bring water for you out of this rock??”And he smashes his staff down on the rock twice, and water pours out.And he upsets the Lord.The Lord is upset with him and says Numbers 20:12 Numbers 20:12 ESVAnd the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.”(pause)Moses, did not uphold the Lord as holy. Moses, as a leader of his people and as an intercessor for them, to represent the people to God and to represent God to the people, did not guard the Lord’s name as holy. Instead of gently going over and instructing the rock to open to provide water for the people, Moses angrily acted out against the people, misrepresenting the heart of God to them. And as a result, he broke his faith. The Lord says, because you did not BELIEVE in me. Because you did not trust that I was at work, and you took matters into your own hands. You shall not enter the promised land.How does a father show his love? Through gentleness. Through humility. Not through anger. The Lord was showing love toward his people, even despite their complaining, and Moses acts angrily toward them. It’s for this sin in Moses that the Lord declares Moses and Aaron shall not enter the promised land.(pause)We can often relate to what Moses was facing. The exasperation against these people. The external pressures that he was in. Maybe he didn’t get much sleep the night before, who knows. And we might not blame him. But God’s standard is one of steadfast love and kindness, longsuffering before anger and wrath. And we have to ask ourselves the question, How would you react in that situation?And there are many situations that we face in our own lives, where we are tested, just as Moses was. Where our patience is put to the test and the heat is turned on. I think of a pot on a stove. Sometimes the soup seems all good and well until the heat is turned on and things start bubbling to the top. That’s when you get to see what’s truly in the soup, what’s in the depths of your heart that maybe you still need the Lord to be at work in. And when the heat turns on, we could do two things:1. We could trust in God, or 2. we could give in to our emotions. Moses gave into his emotions. And now he needs to accept the Lord’s righteous judgment.If we want to follow after the Lord and to be a master of contentment, not letting our emotions or anger control us, we need to trust that God is at work, and work in his power and not our own. (pause)For Moses, here across from the Jordan river, God made known there was still more he was going to do. And if Moses was so enraptured with the answer no that he became bitter and resentful and angry with God and with others, he would have missed out on the Lord’s instruction.Look at verse 28 here: Deuteronomy 3:28 ESVBut charge Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he shall go over at the head of this people, and he shall put them in possession of the land that you shall see.’God had a plan to work in and through the life of Joshua. Joshua would go on to assume the role that Moses had, in charge of the people of Israel as their head.And that might have been a hard thing for Moses to recognize: the blessing that would have been his is now given to another. Not only does Moses not get to receive the good thing, he has to essentially hand it off to someone else to enjoy and find delight in.Again, it might be easy, in a moment like this, to let your emotions control you. As the proverb says, “Wrath is cruel and anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?”. Moses could have become obsessed with jealousy for what the Lord was going to accomplish through Joshua. I believe Moses was a mature enough follower of the Lord to let this happen to him, and he was faithful to encourage Joshua not out of a heart of resentment, but out of a heart of joy and encouragement. But there’s a warning here for us in how to respond when the Lord tells us no but gives the green light for others. We are to rejoice with those who rejoice. Not be envious of others when they receive the Lord’s blessing. But be content: both with what you have, and with what others have. And trust that the Lord knows what he’s doing. He’s the one at work weaving the tapestry of human history. He knows the beginnings of some threads and their ends, where they should stick out and where they should remain hidden. When we recognize the Lord’s sovereignty in this way and live according to his will, our souls will taste contentment.And that leads us into our third point:3. Lean into God’s other blessingsThere’s a picture that I like to think of when I find myself looking at the blessings of others, and I feel that tug toward envy and covetousness within my soul. It’s a picture of a meal. We all are guests to the Lord’s dinner table, and he has us seated at a very long and fanciful feast. Each is sat down and given a plate of food before him. Each plate is different, according to the diet of the person who is eating the meal. All of the food is delicious: all of the food smells delightful and looks good. But there’s still a plate of that excellent and delicious food in front of you. If you spent too long thinking about how good the food is in front of the person across the table from you, or next to you on your left and your right, then your food would grow cold. You would miss out on the freshness of the feast of blessing which is the plate before you. The lesson is to learn to enjoy the plate that the Lord has given you, and to savor his lot and his portion for you, because he knows you better than you know yourself. And to keep your hands and arms in the vehicle at all times. Don’t go lusting after what someone else has. Don’t go grabbing another’s portion for yourself. But be happy with the good things God has given you.When I think about the life of Moses, I think of a life full of God’s blessings.Here was a man who hardly knew how to speak in front of people, and yet the Lord established him as a head of a people. Through Moses, the Lord brought the plagues of Egypt and many miraculous signs and wonders, such things that this world has hardly seen. Through Moses, God communicated his law to his people. By the hand of Moses, the people were led through the wilderness, refined by the sun, defeated enemies, conquered enemies of the Lord.Moses had seen much in his lifetime.His plate had been very full, and Moses had pretty much finished his plate.And now, here he is, at the end of his life, a full 120 years, still wanting more.Let me tell you, it’s okay that Moses wanted more. God’s a good chef. The food itself is good. As the Psalm says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Moses had done that.Was it wrong for Moses to want to go into the promised land because he wanted to see the Lord at work, to see the great things that would come?No, not at all.But the Lord has given us each a portion. And sometimes a smaller portion size is meant for us to slow down and savor the flavors of the food. The pause, the time to reflect, helps us appreciate the blessings that the Lord has given us. The great meal that he has served us.The Lord had worked much through Moses. Now the instruction to him was to sit back and savor the meal that he had just eaten.Look at verse 27: Deuteronomy 3:27 ESVGo up to the top of Pisgah and lift up your eyes westward and northward and southward and eastward, and look at it with your eyes, for you shall not go over this Jordan.Despite the Lord’s answer being no, he still let Moses see the promised land. The Lord still gave Moses an after dinner mint: a last bit of satisfaction and blessing. The Lord gives and gives and gives out of his great and unending love. Even when his answer is no, this isn’t for you, he still loves you and wishes to bless you. Even to Moses, this gift was given at the end of his life, to see the promised land. To sit back and reflect upon this life that he had, and to look forward to what the Lord was going to do.And let me tell you, the meal of this life isn’t the last meal. This life isn’t meant to be everything. There is much much more stored up for us in heaven. There’s a promised land still yet to come. And the Lord leads us up to the top of the mountain to see it, but not enter in just yet. For those who have life in Christ, there is a repeated feast of good foods in heaven, a land flowing with milk and honey. I look forward to that day when we will sit down together as one people of God with Christ at the head of the table, and enjoy the meal together with God and his people. In heaven we may hunger, but we will always be satisfied because the Lord is there.4. Contentment is found in and through the Lord Deuteronomy 3:29 ESVSo we remained in the valley opposite Beth-peor.It takes faith and trust that the Lord works all things for the good of those who live according to his will.Maybe you are listening to this and you don’t know the Lord yet. You have not yet come to recognize his peace, because you want to live according to your way, your will and desires for your life, and not for him. Well, let me ask you a question: What is the end result of that? When you follow everything you want to do and you reach the end of the road, are you satisfied? Are you content, truly? Sure, being your own parent might give you more things- you have more pleasures and desires, you get that candy bar that you desire. But ultimately, is that what’s best for you? In the long run, a lack of discipline and guidance will result in a spoiled child. And your appetite will be voracious, unsatisfied. You will always be left wanting more and more. More than this world has to give.If you are that person, and you haven’t found peace and satisfaction from anything else you’ve turned to, let me appeal to you now, to find that joy and contentment in Jesus Christ. Trust in him as your Lord and savior: that means that you give control over to him to be in charge of your life: that you lay down your burdens and your struggles and your sins and you accept the free gift of God’s salvation for you through his son on the cross. If you do this, then you will receive the peace of God which surpasses all understanding. Following after him and his instruction will lead you into contentment. He will lead you into green pastures and beside still waters. He will restore your soul.Through faith in Jesus, there is no need to fear death, because there is satisfaction in your soul.ConclusionContentment is found through Christ and is exemplified when we humble ourselves, trust that the Lord is at work, and lean into the provision that God has already made. When we assume such a posture before our Lord, we can accept his no along with his yes.It’s a posture that our Lord and savior Jesus assumed throughout his lifetime, right up to his death on the cross. This Sunday, this communion Sunday, we remember Jesus’ sacrifice for us. (finish communion).
1 Corinthians 11:26ESV
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