Contentment and the Exodus



I'd like to start off today with a brief exercise and my apologies to travis donald darren monica jessica and michelle they're going to have another opportunity to do this they did at les sabbath and in fact heard the whole sermon i would like to start out with a brief exercise if you'd like to take out a piece of paper or just turn to a clean piece of paper sheet of paper divide that page into two columns with a line down the middle on the Left column right at the top things I'm thankful for things I'm thankful for now you can do this in your head if you like you don't have to do it on paper but if you'd like to do it on paper things I'm thankful for we'll take a few minutes to know down and list as many things as you can on this last day of unleavened bread that we are thankful for what physical blessings have has God blessed you within the last year or maybe not only the last year but even before that you know we just took up an offering we are to give as we have been blessed and certainly God has blessed us with physical blessings what what financial blessings now some have had financial trials but has God blessed you financially recently or in the last year a job changed perhaps what are you thankful for how about health you know we all have aches and pains we all have from time to time health difficulties but has God blessed you in certain ways you know even just the fact that we are here today we are vertical we are taking nourishment as they say is that a blessing well if you have had good health write it down blessings of family perhaps your family situation a wife a husband children grandchildren those can all be blessings perhaps some little things that God has has worked out in your life sometimes that most trivial things can actually get our attention and can be the most encouraging the way God works things out in small ways even sometimes when we're going through trials it can be surprising big things are calling God's Spirit being called out of this world miracles in our life going through the days of unleavened bread we think about the miracles that that God worked out for the children of Israel what miracles has God worked out in your life that you can see that we're not circumstance we're not coincidence that you you know God's hand was involved what are you thankful for take a few more minutes moments and as you look at this list contemplate them and mold them over in your mind and and think about just how how grateful we are for the things that we can be thankful for all the things that God has done for us in her life and I know now you're saying if he would just be quiet I could concentrate writing down more things right well I don't know about you but when I do this from time to time the more I write down the more I go down this road the more I find the more things that you start thinking about I'm thankful for that well yeah that's true and look at this other thing I'm thankful for the more other things come to mind but it takes energy doesn't it it takes conscious thought how many times do we think well sure I'm thankful for what God has done for me in my life but we don't we don't break it down we don't think specifically it takes energy it takes conscious thought we have so much to be thankful for as we have kept these days of unleavened bread and as we keep the last day as we're leaving these days of unleavened bread which of course this whole day will be the last day but you know what sundown then it'll be over and we will go back to our normal routine and the in the 2010 spring holy days will be over in just a memory but as we are thinking about it we have so much to be thankful for in the journey that Jesus Christ is leading us through you can leave the other side blank for now we're gonna come back to that later but I just wanted to start off by focusing on the things that we are thankful for are we content about you know we as human beings can slip into discontentment so easily it doesn't take much when most of us have everything we need and most of what we want we're going to talk about contentment this morning being contented as we make our way through this journey I think it's appropriate if we keep the last day of unleavened bread to talk about it because really the children of Israel are a superb case study and not being contented wouldn't you say when you look at all the things they went through and you look at all the things they had and yet all the things they grumbled about and all the things that where they forgot about how many blessings they had if you'd like a title for the sermon today contentment and the Exodus that's my title contentment and the Exodus we find in 1st Corinthians chapter 10 and verse 1 the Apostle Paul writing about the children of Israel something we often turn to he said moreover brethren I would not that you should be ignorant how that all of our fathers were under the cloud and all passed through the sea and we're all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea verse 3 and did all eat the same spiritual meat and did all drink the same spiritual drink for they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them and that rock was Christ but with many of them God was not well pleased for they were overthrown in the wilderness verse 5 now these things were our examples to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted now they lusted after food they lusted after immoral things but wouldn't you say in general as a as a overall way of life one of the problems they fell into was just simply being discontented in general not being content with what they had what God was giving them are you contempt as we gather in April 5th 2010 is it hard to believe still over 2010 10 years have gone by since the turn of the the century the millennium ru contempt ask yourself that I think all of us fall somewhere on that continuum you know total absolute contentment on one side and total absolute discontentment on the other side well we're usually not at one extreme or the other right we're somewhere in the middle but where are you right now where are you the point is we all I think can see that we can grow in contentment because it's critical to finishing our race the last day is really figurative of finishing our race the the race that we are running to be in God's kingdom how can we do that let's look at several things today several things we can focus on to be more content number one focus on the big picture focus on the big picture it's a concept we talk about all the time you know it can become a bit trite can become a cliche but it it's still important why is it important to focus on the big picture well because sometimes the grass really is greener on the other side you know we say don't don't always look at the grass on the other side and think about how it's greener B you know sometimes the grass is greener on the other side what do we do with that when that happens sometimes we do have trials we do have troubles and you know it's easy to poke fun at the Israelites because of all the strange things and idiotic things they did but you know when you look at the story when they were looking back at Egypt we talked about how they never left Egypt right they always looked longingly back you know Egypt was not a bad place to live let's turn back to Genesis chapter 13 and verse 9 Genesis chapter 13 and verse 9 remember the story in the book of Genesis we find a number of times when bad things happen when hard times were upon them when famine was on them where did people go they went to Egypt Egypt actually had a lot of good things going for it in fact in the time and the story when Abram and lot were dividing land between themselves we read in Genesis 39 that Abraham said is not the whole land before you separate yourself I pray you from me if you will take the left hand then I will go to the right or if you depart to the right hand then I will go to the left and lot lifted up his eyes and beheld all the plain of Jordan it was well watered everywhere before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah even as the Garden of the Lord like the land of Egypt have you ever noticed that when I read that sometime ago I thought wow I hadn't really noticed that that God compared each IFFT with the Garden of Eden now what's our mental image of the Garden of Eden well a lush place with lots of things growing right trees plants verdant valleys and deer and elephants and giraffes walking around you know and yeah you know well maybe the animals weren't that way in Egypt but it was a nice climate it was a beautiful place according to the the scripture here nice climate lots of sunshine reliable flood patterns canals that would make everything grow anything grow I think in some ways it makes me think of Northern California when we were living there a number of years ago the land is is dry rock-hard dry but if you can get water to it it'll grow anything extremely productive I still miss my apricot tree and my nectarine tree and my peach tree and all those things that really started getting rolling just when we left I'm not really contented about that now that I think about it you know that's really know I was really happy before I thought about that now the point is that it was a good land there were things when they looked back and when they were comparing there were things that were good about it Genesis chapter 47 verse 5 noticed when the children of Israel were moving to Egypt what does it say Genesis 47 and verse 5 Pharaoh spoken to Joseph saying the fall your father and your brethren are coming to you the land of Egypt is before you in the best of the land make your father and brethren to dwell so not only was Egypt a beautiful land but the Israelites had the best in the land of Goshen let them dwell and if you know any man of activity among them let them make rulers over my cattle for Exodus chapter 1 and verse 7 says in the children of Israel were fruitful and increase abundantly and multiplied and waxed exceeding mighty in the land was filled with in plenty of food great environment lots of sunshine 75 degrees you know white puffy clouds gently blowing by a nice breeze it was a nice place to live especially in comparison to where they were in that in the wilderness it's described as a great and terrible wilderness wherein were fiery serpents scorpions in drought and where there was no water you know the point is sometimes the grass is greener on the other side and sometimes someone else for example may have something better than us they may have money that we don't have or they may have health that we don't have or they may have a good job that we don't have or they may have a wife or a husband that we don't have and sometimes if we don't have those blessings it can be painful for us thinking about it right oh why do they have that oh and it hurts me when I think about the fact that they have and I don't you know it's good to acknowledge that sometimes someone else does have something we don't have and be upfront with it so that we can deal with it because you know in life at any point in time someone's going to have something that we don't have isn't that true I mean how could we possibly go through life expecting we're never going to be faced with that situation we have to get the whole picture though you know when the children of Israel were backed up against the sea with the mountains on one side with Pharaoh bearing down on them with the sea on the other they had a problem didn't they they had a real problem the grass really was greener at that moment back in Egypt Pharaoh with his what six hundred war chariots bearing down on them at that moment in time it looked pretty good to be in Egypt and they were right Exodus chapter 14 of verse 6 notice but they weren't right in forgetting the other parts of the picture Exodus 14 of verse 6 and it says in Pharaoh made ready as chariot and took his people with him and he took 600 chosen chariots and all the chariots of Egypt and captains over every one of them and the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt and he pursued after the children of Israel and the children of Israel went out with a high hand verse 10 and when Pharaoh drew near that children of Israel lifted up their eyes and behold the Egyptians marched after them pretty horrifying thought don't you think after all that had happened and they were sore afraid an accurate assessment of their situation at that moment nothing wrong with that at that moment and don't sometimes we have trials and problems and sometimes it would be better to be in a different situation we have to keep the big picture because notice it says the children of Israel cried out under the Lord and they said to Moses because there were no graves in Egypt no I'm not going to do mr. Ames's you know impersonation of that I'm sorry we'll have to Yelp to wait till he does it sometime have you taken us a way to die and eat in the wilderness why have you dealt us with us to carry us forth out of Egypt is this not the word that we told you in Egypt saying let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians for it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness okay they were exaggerating slightly they didn't really say leave us alone Moses we like it here right but isn't that what happens when we're in a trial when we see that there is something better that someone else has or a different situation situation has sometimes we can exaggerate it to the point that we we lose clarity of mind what did they need they had a problem but they needed to see the big picture Moses had it and he tried to instill it into them verse 13 Moses said to the people fear not stand still see the salvation of the Lord which he will show to you today for the Egyptians whom you see today you shall see them again no more forever the Lord shall fight for you and you shall hold your peace isn't it amazing you had two groups of people that were in the exact same situation because Moses had a problem too the Pharaoh was going to be going after him right he had the same problem that all of the children of Israel had his back was backed up against the sea the mountains were on his side and the Pharaohs armies were bearing down on the other direction for Moses – what was the difference he had a relationship with God he knew God was going to work it out he knew there were other things that they could not see so he said don't be afraid now the interesting thing is that Moses didn't really know how they were gonna get out of this problem which shows his faith even so much more he was able to have the big picture when he didn't exactly know all the details because notice it says in verse 15 and the Lord said unto Moses why do you cry unto me speak unto the children of Israel that they go forward and lift up your rod and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea doesn't that show the the greatness of Moses in terms of his relationship with God that he was able to have strength and courage and faith even when he didn't see exactly how God was going to work out because God finally had to tell Moses you're praying that's good but stand up turn around and go that way brethren is as we have trials sometimes are we contented do we see the whole picture because that's the key that's the key one of the keys it's good to acknowledge sometimes our situation isn't the best in one specific way but it's not the whole picture notice in Psalm chapter 73 and verse 1 David wrestled with this issue David wrestled with the issue he said of you know I I'm trying to do all the right things I'm serving you Lord and it seems like when I look around and others aren't doing it it seems like they get all the breaks and you know what that really bugs me because the grass is greener over there and I'm kind of irritated about it notice what David said chapter 73 verse 1 truly God is good Israel even to them as have a clean heart but as for me my feet were almost gone my steps at well night slipped I was envious at the foolish when I saw the prosperity of the wicked for they there are no bands in their death their strength is firm they're not in trouble as other men neither are they plagued like like other men verse well behold these are the ungodly who prosper in the world they increase in riches verily I have cleanse my heart in vain and washed my hands in innocency you know for the last seven days seven days we've been thinking about cleansing our hands right and purifying our hearts and becoming like Jesus Christ letting him live his life in us David came to the point where because he was looking at the grass that which was greener on the other side he he wrestled with the fact you know it's not worth it I have been doing this and it's not worth it for all the day long have I been plagued and chastened every morning I've in fact I've had trials much less than blessings you've tried me when I thought about this verse 16 it was too painful for me have you ever sometimes come to the point where situations are they're too hard to think about really bugged him verse 17 until I went in the sanctuary of God then I understood there and until I got down on my knees and I reconnected with God and I reestablished my relationship with God and I saw him clearly and I saw what he's doing clearly and I saw my life clearly and all the things that are going right even though this one area is is not right he says surely you've set them in Slippery places you cast them down into destruction how they are brought into desolation as in a moment they are utterly consumed with terrors as a dream in one awakes so Lord when you awake you shall despise their image he's talking about the wicked who don't know God and who flaunt God thus verse 21 my heart was grieved and I was pricked in my rain so foolish was I and ignorant verse 23 nevertheless I'm continually with you you hold my hand you hold me by my right hand you shall guide me with your counsel and afterwards receive me to glory whom have I in heaven but you and there is not upon earth that I desire beside you you see a different perspective and an attitude and it made all the difference in the world he said my flesh and my heart fails but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever verse 28 but it is good for me to draw near to God I have put my trust in the Lord God that I may declare all his all your works brethren what is God doing for us can we focus on that do we focus on that instead of comparing 2nd Corinthians chapter 10 and verse 12 2nd Corinthians chapter 10 and verse 12 I'll just quote it quickly because it's just I just want to read one verse he says in 2nd Corinthians sorry chapter 10 and verse 12 Paul says we dare not make ourselves of the number or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves but they measuring themselves by themselves and comparing themselves among themselves are not wise Paul said it's it's not wise it doesn't make us happy and makes us unhappy when we get into comparing because inevitably we're gonna find someone who has something that we ain't got it's a dead-end road now we may be its not enemies or the the wicked that we're comparing ourselves with sometimes it's our friends sometimes it's our associates you know they're not evil people but sometimes we may be tempted to want to switch with them you know I'd like to have what he's got or what she Scott but you know think about it if you switch with him do you really want the whole package because everybody has problems everybody's got some good and some bad you know we could we could all we could all take this wall between services today by the way we're having a potluck I forgot to announce that so we're having a potluck meal there in between services and by the way since I mentioned it we're trying to encourage the children to eat in this room because there's no carpet so if we can as much as possible leave room for the children and their families over there so they don't have to carry their food all the way over into this room there's just more possibilities of that happening but I'm off on a tangent okay if we use this wall between services let's say each one of us we take our name off don't put her in it's anonymous each one of us list our life okay all the things that are going in our life the good things and the bad things like a resume okay no name but put it on a piece of paper and put it up on the wall and all of us do that and we could just go down the line and we could pick with anyone we want you know you could pick a set of blessings but you've got to take the set of problems that go with that blessing would you really want to do that I think in the final analysis we wouldn't would we because it's the whole package it's not just one or two or three or five things and in some ways we know our problems best at least we know how to deal with them right we may be very strong in one area where someone else is very weak and if we switch wood we really want the weakness they have you see what I'm saying we have to keep the big picture sometimes the grass is green around the other side back in California actually here as well i-i've been blessed with neighbors with retired neighbors and really wonderful people and I've really enjoyed getting to know them there is one problem with living next to people that are retired men who are retired they have they keep their lawns really nice and you know it's hard to keep up with them there was one time in California where we had just gotten back from traveling and and you know the the lawn was ready to harvest it was about you know 18 inches high just about perfect for harvesting and so I was needing to get out there and cut the grass had a problem with our mower it had broken and so you know that was a problem too so my neighbor said well look I've got this mower and I'll be cutting my grass and how about if I just hit out by the road by your mailbox you know so the mailman can get through easier and that sort of thing I said okay that nope no problem Thanks so he was mowing there and went back a few times back and forth and next thing I know he was coming through our gate and he was in my front yard going back and forth and back and forth and all I could do was go to the back and head might hang my head in shame you know I can't even mow my own grass it was horrible his lawn always looked great but you know I wouldn't want to be him he had other other problems that I didn't have the point is are we grateful and thankful for what God has given us when we look at the whole picture the list that we talked about a few moments ago are we content as we are coming out of Egypt when the grass is really greener on the other side are we not blowing that out of proportion and are we remembering the big picture that all the things that God is doing for us it's not a cliche it's real and it helps us to be content that's critical number two another thing that helps us to be content is to number two focus on the present focus on the present part of really being content is simply focusing on the here and now now we don't want to exclusively focus on the here and now but it is important in overcoming discontentment that we do appreciate what God is doing here and now can we be happy right now in the state we're in and I don't mean North Carolina although I hope we're happy in North Carolina no when we when we have difficulties you know sometimes we can look longingly at the past sorry we have some South Carolinians here as well so my apologies to those who are or just across the border you are in South Carolina not North Carolina sometimes we look at the past and it gets rosier with age right remember sometimes we can do this in the church with the church remember the good old days the good old days when we had 8,000 people at the feast or 10,000 we had all those activities and and all of our friends and the good times and there were a lot of good times a lot of good memories but doesn't hindsight seem to soften the hard times as well you know there were times when we got bugged by other people back then I know it's a shock but it's true there were times when we had to go to our brother back then there were times when we had problems in trials and health difficulties and financial problems back then right there were problems in the church back then that happened from time to time people got offended people had to forgive each other all the same things that that happened now and yet somehow the pass gets rosier with age let's turn over to Exodus chapter 16 verse 1 because you know we can fall into the trap of longing for the past and the grass looks pretty green in the past when we when we look back but we still have to go forward don't we Exodus chapter 16 and verse 1 we pick up the Israelites as they are traveling through the wilderness and it's amazing how how in just a few days like we were talking about before their perspective of Egypt changed dramatically Exodus 16 verse 1 and they took their journey from Elam and all the congregation of the children of Israel came into the wilderness of sin which is between Elim and Sinai on the fifteenth day of the second month after the departing out of the land of Egypt and the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness and then in the literal Bible it puts it this way verse 3 and the sons of Israel said to them we wish that we had died by the hand of Yahweh in the land of Egypt sitting by the meat pots eating bread to our satisfaction because you have brought us out into this desert to kill all the assembly with hunger now they had only left look at the timing they had only left Egypt for one month and they were already looking back to the good old days of Egypt you know somehow it was so much better back there now think about this for a moment which would have been better dying in Egypt or dying in the wilderness you're dead in both places right that's what they were saying you know it would have been better for us to die in Egypt why what's the difference but you see how sometimes when we look back the the past gets really rosy and changes and and blurs our vision we can do that Ecclesiastes 7 and verse 10 says it's unwise to ask why were the old days good it's unwise why does it unwise it makes us unhappy it makes us discontented if we live in the past if we're always thinking while you boy that was the good time oh yeah that'd never be the same never have any good times like those times right well you know that's a recipe for discontentment isn't it that we'll never be happy again like we were at a certain point well maybe it'll change maybe we have different trials we had back then but you know God doesn't want us discontented and that's a–that's a sure way to do it notice in numbers chapter 11 verse and verse 4 numbers chapter 11 and verse verse 4 we have to live in the present and the mixed multitude it said was among them fell lusting and the children of israel also wept again and said who shall give us flesh to eat verse 5 we remember the fish which we did eat in egypt freely the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions in the garlic but now our soul is dried away for there is nothing at all nothing at all nothing at all except this manna before our eyes you know nothing at all except this stuff which falls every morning miraculously from the sky isn't it amazing now the children of Israel were they really that much different from us when we get our eyes on the grass being greener on one little patch over there and when we think about the past and it gets rose here with time are we really that much different when we can't see the miracles that are happening right in front of our eyes and we can't see the things that God is doing and that he wants us to be grateful for we're really not any different than they are and we even have God's Spirit to help us and yet sometimes we do exactly the same things that they were doing verse 7 in the manna was as coriander see and the color thereof is the color of bdellium and the people went about and gathered it and grounded into mills and or beat it in a mortar and baked it in pans and make cakes of it in the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil you know they were so focused on what they didn't have or couldn't have they were missing out and forgot what they did have what was it really like in Egypt sure the weather was great the climate was great there was green grass but there were a lot of bad things that were happening weren't there which they were choosing to forget imagine a typical day in Egypt you know imagine whatever time that you get up in the morning what time do you get up in the morning would you set your alarm do you hit the snooze button several times you know you can be honest that's okay you know what what time do we get up in the morning well imagine yourself as a slave what time would you get up in the morning as a slave how would you get up in the morning as a slave could you hit the snooze button several times what if you were running late that day would there be someone banging on your door possibly threatening your life if you weren't up at a certain time I mean really what would it be like to be slave everyday now imagine a typical day in the wilderness you know no one banging on the door of your tent no one threatening violence if you weren't up and you didn't do what they said your friends and your family all around you plenty of time to fellowship think about how much time families would have spent together in the wilderness we don't know maybe an Egypt families were split up sometimes that's what happens when you're slaves you know they they forgot this what about children how was it in Egypt for children if you are potential mother we have some potential mothers here what would it been like to be looking forward to having a baby in Egypt not knowing if you're gonna have a little baby girl or a baby boy there at the end they were killing the baby boys what would have been like for a mother to go through waiting and agonizing for nine months not knowing they didn't have ultrasound apparently I don't know but not knowing and what if you did have a boy imagine that the the anguish and then the struggle you'd go through to hide the boy the baby and the end and the pressure and in the strain and the worry that you'd be found out and what if you were found out how would that feel what about for midwives you know they were faithful to God but but imagine the stress and the pressure and the the difficulty they went through when they got the midnight call just hoping that it wouldn't be a boy how was it for children in the wilderness sure there were scorpions and snakes but probably for all the boys that was pretty exciting you know it was an adventure they were camping kids love to camp they were in the wilderness they could explore as long as they didn't get too far from camp you know they could had other kids to play with plenty of other friends I mean how many two and a half million people there's a lot of kids to get to know right it was pretty good what about food well this was what the Israelites brought up how bad was it really and how good was it in Egypt well they had the leeks and the onions and the garlic and the melons and the fish but how did they get that food what are you paid as a slave minimum wage I don't know you know were there laws about minimum wage there how do you get the food you eat do they have to kind of scratch and Scrabble for it did they grow their own and in a patch I don't know but probably was kind of a stress having enough food to eat but what was it in in the in the wilderness how hard was it really sure they didn't have the variety they would have liked but think about how easy it was for them you know those of you who make breakfast every morning at lunch every day and dinner every how easy would it be how nice would it be to get up in the morning go out and this food just miraculously fell out of the sky you collect it up and put it in a bucket you bring it back and you prepare it and you do whatever you do with it and in the next day you do the same thing and the next day you do the same thing how about the security of knowing yeah a mother knowing that every day you'd have enough food to eat for your children that takes a lot of stress off doesn't it point is they were they were forgetting all these things and sometimes longing after the past does that to us they were together they had families and friends they were nourished with food and water they were being healed from diseases we read about that and Exodus hit 15 they had each other they had protection they had a future they were learning exciting things brethren what about US isn't it helpful when we get down to do a personal inventory of where am i right now like we did to start off right down your whole situation where am I in my life how has God blessed me what are the areas of life where he's helping me right now with my health or finances or relationships or a job maybe even through trials through spiritual growth but you know that I have God's Spirit that I can live in this beautiful land that we've been given that we have inherited that's been dropped in our lap the choicest land on earth that we can fellowship with friends and brethren wonderful people that are going the same direction we are that we've been given a priceless calling we need to have a reality check from time to time a living in the present check that helps us to stay contented no matter how great the past was and it probably was not as great as we we think when we get caught up in that line of thinking the only way to be happy truly happy is really focusing on and appreciating the present so as we keep the last day of unleavened bread and as we think about the lasting changes in our life let's make sure we have the big picture of God's involvement in our life and let's also focus on living in the present number three number three another thing we can do to be contented more contented to grow in contentment is to focus on God's will and timing focus on God's will and timing we can be discontented about the past but we can also be not content about the future but always wanting something that we don't yet have you know some people go through their whole life that way never quite being content with the state they're in you know sometimes when we're when we're children when we're five what do we want to be we want to be six and then we become six and then what we want to be seven and then when we're seven we think wow the ultimate would be eight then the good things really start happening at eight right well you're eight for a couple of weeks it feels good for about two weeks oh yeah I remember you and then you think you know nine is really when the action starts happening you know the fun stuff and then we as children we grow up and then when we're in grade school we want to be in middle school or in middle school we want to be in high school and we're in high school let me graduated once we're gradually want to be in college when we're in college want to be out of college when we don't have a job we want a job once we have a job well we we want to get married right when we're married we want children once we have children we want them to grow up and then we want grandchildren and isn't it true if we're not careful we can go through though our whole life never being contented about the situation we're in right now always thinking you know I'll be happy win dot dot dot fill in the blank it doesn't matter don't we do that I'll be happy win whatever a recipe for unhappiness our whole life when actually God has all kinds of plans for us and goals and designs for us he's mapped out something for us he's called us individually he's drafted us one by one he's got a plan for us he's got a route for us if we'll just be patient and wait for his will and his timing Deuteronomy chapter 8 and verse 1 notice what he told the Israelites he told them his plans for them Deuteronomy chapter 8 verse 1 all the commandments that I give you this day you shall observe to do that you may live and multiply and go in and possess the land which Lord swore under your father's verse 6 therefore you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God to walk in his ways to fear Him for the Lord your God brings you into a good land a land of Brooks of water of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills a land of wheat and barley and vines and fig trees and pomegranates and even a few apricot trees and nectarine trees you know a land of olive oil and honey a land wherein you shall eat bread without scarce and sounds pretty good you shall not lack anything in it sounds pretty good a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you may dig brass isn't you know Palestine was like that but isn't the land we're living in today the the the the the dual fulfillment of that a land where we don't we don't lack anything now yes times have gotten harder and yes we have trials but think about it all the things that we've been given in this land verse 15 who led you through that great and terrible wilderness wherein were fiery serpents and scorpions and drought where there was no water who brought you forth out of the rock of Flint who fed you in the wilderness with manna which your father's knew not that you might humble you then he might prove you to do you good at your ladder and notice that God said I have a plan for you I want to do good at your latter end I've got a destination for you I've got goals for you but you're going to have to trust me you want to have to wait sometimes and deny the self sometimes if you want to really enjoy the blessings you have to keep the big picture you get to not live in the past and also not be anxious and always discontented because you want what's not yet yours now at the beginning we made a list of things of what we're thankful for now I'd like you to go back to that page the second half the on the right make another list next to it again you don't have to write this down if you don't want to you can do it in your head but if you do write it down turn to that page and on the right side at the top say things I'd like to have things I'd like to have the other was things I'm I have now things I'd like to have write down some things in your life that that would genuinely make you happy now that we're not specifically talking about spiritual changes right now we're more talking about your situation maybe maybe trying to buy or sell a home maybe changing jobs maybe maybe something trivial maybe you're waiting maybe you've bid on something on eBay you know it wow if I could just win that thing on eBay wahoo pretty exciting maybe maybe it's something trivial but maybe something that you'd really like to have a piece of furniture or something or maybe being delivered from a trial maybe a financial difficulty or a relationship trial or a health trial have you been laid off or your hours have been cut maybe that would you'd like to some relief from that maybe you'd like to finish school or go to college or get married and/or find a mate I guess that's the same thing sorry just looking at my notes that doesn't make much sense to write those two next to each other does it maybe having children maybe you'd like to have children what is the desire of your heart what are the things that would make you happy maybe for the smaller kids a new doll or a new toy or a new bike or a bike that works the chain doesn't always fall off like some of our kids yeah or a baseball glove or a video game or if you're a little older a cellphone or a car or maybe wanting a new friend perhaps or maybe working out a difficulty with a friend you already have anything that will make you happy write them all down think about it it's nice to think about what might be isn't it it's nice to think about the things that could be some that are frivolous some that we really need now we have two lists ones of the things we have and ones of the things we'd like to have now the problem is most of the time what happens what you know we were pretty happy with that other list before all the things were contented with but now Wow yeah yeah well when I start looking at this other list well yeah that's true I'd really like that that doesn't look so good after all normally what happens when we start thinking of things we'd like to have we lose appreciation for what we have Philippians chapter 4 and verse 4 and yet God wants us to think about the things that would make us happy we just have to do it in the right way we just have to do it from the right perspective perspective and to wait for his will in his time in Philippians chapter 4 and verse verse 4 Paul said rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice let your moderation be known unto all men the Lord is at hand be careful or anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with Thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God know the Israelites fell into whining and complaining didn't they what's the difference between whining and complaining and asking for things well Paul says our right here with prayer and supplication with Thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God you know a prerequisite for getting more stuff is being thankful for what we have why would God give us more stuff if we're not thankful for what we already have we're seven in the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus in other words the the contentment you know a lot of people really would like to have more peace in our country in our world today but are really strung out because of the financial difficulties because of the problems were we're facing that seemed to be intractable now and yet God says we can have peace the peace that passes all understanding in other words it's not related to our condition it's not related to our circumstance how do we have that being contented by being thankful for what we have as we ask for what we need verse eight finally brethren whatsoever things are true whatsoever things are honest whatsoever things are just our pure are lovely or of good report if there's any virtue if there's any praise think on these things the things which you have learned and received and heard and seen in me do and the God of peace shall be with you but I rejoice in the Lord Rick greatly that now the last year care of me has flourished again where and you were also careful but lacked up to opportunity not that I speak in respect of want for I have learned in whatever state I am therewith to be content it's interesting where did Paul write this from where did he talk about being content he said in whatever state I'm at and he didn't mean North Carolina he was chained to a wall right what about us brethren how patient are we with our requests as we request new things are we grateful for the things that we already have children if you're wanting a new toy a new thing are you thankful for and you take care of the things you already have why would our parents give us more stuff if we're not grateful for what we already have if you want to mate are you grateful for the friends that God's given you already do you take care of them or do we take them for granted you know because I made is just a very close friend we're showing God how loyal and how loving and how kind we can be to a mate how we show it to others if we want a new car are we appreciative of that clunker that still gets us from point A to point B you know we have to be careful that we're patient with God's will in his timing and that we don't get into rushing his will or pushing our will notice in numbers chapter 14 and verse 1 numbers chapter 14 and verse 1 there is a danger in not waiting for God's will and pushing our own numbers chapter 14 and verse 1 we read and all the congregation lifted up their voice and cried and the people wept that night and all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron and the whole congregation said to them would God that we had died in the land of Egypt or would God we had died in this wilderness again they're not making any sense and now they're saying you know we just want to die anywhere okay Egypt wilderness anywhere just kill us this contentment right can can mess with your mind can make you think illogically first verse three and wherefore has the Lord brought us unto this land to fall by the sword that our mot wives and our children should be a prey were it not better for us to return to Egypt and they said one to another let us make a captain and let us return unto Egypt notice what God says verse 22 because all those men which have seen my glory and my miracles which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness and have tempted me now these ten times and have not hearkened to my voice surely they shall not see the land which I swore unto their fathers neither shall any of them that provoked me see it verse 28 say to them as truly as I live says the Lord as you have spoken in my ear so will I do it to you you know if we push our will long enough God may just give it to us and it may be the worst thing at least humanly speaking that we that could happen verse 29 your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness and all that we're numbered of you according to the whole number from twenty years old and upward which have marm read against me doubtless you shall not come into the land concerning which I swore to make you dwell therein except Caleb and Joshua but your little ones which you said would be a prey then will I bring in and they shall know the land that you have despised and a brethren are we content with God's will or sometimes when we're in the midst of a decision you know we might be praying we might be studying we might be meditate we might even be fasting and yet we know what we want we've already made up our mind what we want we just want God to just you know get out the rubber stamp and give us the stamp of approval and we'll wait as long as we have to for him to approve what we already want that's that's what they were saying here and God said okay I'll give you what you want it's not really what I want for you but I'll give it to you you know when we were in college I recall a a very nice elderly lady that we called grandma claisen and she would sit and eat with the students sometimes in the in the meeting hall eating hall food hall whatever and everyone enjoyed spending time with her and getting to know her and one time I was sitting eating dinner and talking with her and and I was pouring out my heart about my girl problems you know having girl problems and and she said something I'll never forget she said be careful what you ask for you just might get it now this was not the sympathy I wanted you know at the moment but it it it really shocked me and it it stuck with me because I realized you know maybe I was asking for something that God really didn't want me to have and I'm grateful to this day that God provided me someone at the right time according to his will a wonderful lady over there didn't Garth Brooks write a song some time ago thank God for unanswered prayers are we content with God's will and his timing it's very hard to do easy to say but hard to do but you know if we're not we're gonna get into trouble and we might even get more trouble than we could possibly imagine just like what they wound up being in Psalm 78 and verse 35 warns us to not tempt God Psalm 78 verse 35 notice and we can tempt God by pushing our own will David says verse 35 and they remembered that God was their rock and the high God their Redeemer nevertheless they flattered him with their mouth you know if we're praying to God but we don't really want his answer it's just flattery what good does that do we don't really want him to take charge of our life and they lied unto him with their tongues for their heart was not right with him neither were they steadfast in his covenant but he being full of compassion you know God is very full of compassion even when we are not doing exactly what's right he's patient forgave their iniquity and destroyed them not yes many a time turned his anger away and did not stir up all his wrath for he remembered that they were but flesh and he knows that we are weak we're human a wind that passes away and comes on again how often did they provoke him in the wilderness and grieve him in the desert yes they turned back and tempted God and limited the Holy One of Israel do we ever limit God you know if we're so caught up with what we want that we forget who's guiding us we forget who is taking charge at least he wants to taking charge of our life and how much he loves us and wants the best for us and has all kinds of great plans for us if we'll just be patient and wait for his will and his timing verse 52 but made his own people to go forth like sheep and guided him in the wilderness like a flock and he led them on safely so they feared not but the sea overwhelmed their enemies and he brought them to the border of his sanctuary even to this mountain which his right handed purchase he cast out the heat and also before them and divided them in inheritance and made the tribes of Israel to dwell in their tents yes that yet they tempted him and provoked the Most High God and kept not his testimonies we can't do that as we are growing in contentment as we are striving to be more contented and more happy because contentment brings happiness doesn't it it's crucial to happiness let's also make sure we're settling more and more into God's will and it is timing we all deal with it in different ways in what ways can you grow more in settling into God's will and timing keeping the big picture living in the present and being convinced that God's will and timing is good for us the last thing we need to do is number 4 focus on growth focus on growth what was God really doing in the wilderness was his only priority to get them from point A to point B to get them to the promised land from Egypt you know if it was there was a whole lot more direct route that they could have taken that they didn't take notice in Deuteronomy chapter 8 and verse 1 we were there a little while ago but we skipped over a part that we're gonna read now he led them the way he led them for a reason Deuteronomy 8 and verse 1 all the commandments that I command you this day shall you observe to do that you may live and multiply and go in and possess the land which the Lord swore under your father's and you shall remember all the way which the Lord your God led you these forty years in the wilderness to Humble you to prove you to test you to know what was in your heart whether you would keep his Commandments or no and he humbled you and suffered you to hunger and fed you with manna which you knew not neither did your fathers know that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God you know if we are chafing at the situation's that God allows us to be in if we're struggling against what appears to be his will you know we can miss the overall lessons of growth and the development that he's wanting us to learn it can go totally right over our head and guess what a test failed is a test retaken down the road you know like No Child Left Behind right no Christian Left Behind we're gonna take that test over and over until we pass it so we might as well learn the lesson now we might as well dig in and and and dig all the lessons out of whatever we're going through what trials are are you possibly going through right now are there lessons that that we might be glossing over or not thinking about are the things that God has shown us in the in the last week and in the last number of weeks and months as we examined ourselves it's not just God's priority to get us into his kingdom you know if that were the only priority why not when we're baptized and we have hands lay it on us why not be chained right then and there wouldn't it be wonderful you know as soon as we're baptized we have hands laid on us poof now we're made a spirit being wouldn't it be great well it's not God's priority just to get us into his kingdom right it's his priority to teach us and prepare us for his kingdom and so we have to learn lessons we have to go through things that's what these seven days of the feast have been pointing to not just getting from point A to point B but to learn the lessons of life otherwise it might just be the feast of unleavened bread it might just be the day of unleavened bread the one day but it's seven days it's picturing a complete product you and I God is making us as we gather in endtime Israel they were ancient Israel we are Israel today in this country and of course spiritual Israel where are we how are we doing on that continuum you know the world around us is lost in a in a reckless pursuit of materialism right and never being contented there was an article a few years ago that came out in the Economist entitled centrifugal forces Americans are still Restless in the midst of Plenty in the second century of the Christian era Edward Gibbon began his decline in fall of the Roman Empire this way the Empire of Rome comprehended the fairest part of the earth and the most civilized portion mankind America could lame clay claim to the modern equivalent at the start of the 21st century the United States has created the most open and dynamic society in the world Americans work harder than anyone almost anyone else 300 hours a year more than Europeans they switch jobs more often about once every seven years compared with once every 11 years in Germany and Japan except in traffic the country has developed a cult of speed fast food fast banking fast everything the country's size and wealth combined with its meritocratic traditions and technological prowess have made it unusually easy for Americans to move around in search of new opportunities in the United States Road Alexis de Tocqueville a man builds a house in which the spin is old age and he sells it before the roof is on he plants a garden and lets just as the trees are coming into bearing he embraces a profession and gives it up he settles a place and soon afterwards leaves to carry as changeable belongings changeable longings elsewhere in some ways this restlessness in the midst of Plenty is America's most remarkable feature America is not just mobile it's a perpetual motion machine and how much do we get caught up in it we are of this society aren't we how much as we're on the last day of these days of unleavened bread brethren are we doing at God's Way are we settling into a contentment that passes whatever circumstance were in you know it's interesting that the Israelites actually came out of Egypt with great wealth it's not just about possessions it's about the state Orion it's about the condition we're in it's about the trials that we sometimes have are we content are we growing in contentment let's turn over to to Psalm 37 Psalm 37 you know God had tremendous things waiting for the children of Israel if they just would have been patient if they just would have been focusing on the big picture and not longing for the pass if they would have been okay with the present and if they would have grown and appreciated the opportunities for growth that he was giving them so they could be prepared to do what to rule the world he wanted them to be a model nation he had it all planned out for them they failed but what is he doing today he's called a people to see the big picture to be content with the the present live in the present to be content with his will in his timing and to grow Psalm chapter 37 and verse 1 David writes and we're going to conclude with this he says fret not yourself because of evildoers neither be envious against the workers of iniquity for they shall soon be cut down like the grass and wither is the green herb trust in the Lord and do good and isn't that hard to do sometimes when truly the grass might be greener in other places in one way but if we keep the big picture it's a very different picture trust and the Lord and do good and so shall you dwell in the land and truly you shall be fed don't we want that we all want to be fed we all want to prosper we all want to live a bountiful life but God says look trust in me you know I'll take care of you for they shall soon be cut down like the grass and wither is the green herb trust we just read that trust in the Lord do good so shall you dwell in the land and truly you shall be fed fed delight yourself in the Lord delight in God and what he's doing in his will in his timing excepted and don't chafe against it and don't fight it don't struggle against it and he shall give you the desires of your heart commit your way unto the Lord Trust also in him and he shall bring it to pass you know all that list on the right God is in the business of giving us the desires of our heart we just have to wait for it in the right way the right timing sometimes he gives us many times over what we want and even things that we don't ask for verse six and you shall bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday rest in the Lord I'll wait patiently for him fret not yourself because of him with prospers in his way because the man who brings wicked devices to pass don't be looking over our shoulder we are called for so much and we've been given so much verse eight cease from anger forsake wrath fret not yourself and any wise to do evil for evil doers shall be cut off but those who wait upon the Lord shall inherit the earth here as we come to the last day of the days of unleavened bread we see some amazing things let's be content as we look forward as we go forward because these days are going to end at sundown tonight as we think about the lessons that we have learned over the weeks let's not fret about the green grass on the other side of the fence let's make sure we have the big picture let's embrace the present and live in the present and not in the past let's be patient in God's will and his timing and his growth because he has some awesome things for us brethren let's be contempt you

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