HAPPY: Diving Into Contentment   Philippians 4:10-23

Somewhere on your bulletin, I want you to write down (your best guess) how long you think you can hold your breath under water.  How long do you think you can hold your breath?  Everybody raise your hand.  If you think you can hold your breath for at least a minute, keep your hand in the air.  If you think you can hold your breath for a minute and 30 seconds or more, keep your hand in the air.  If you think you can hold your breath for two minutes or more, keep your hand in the air.  Three minutes or more, keep your hand in the air.  We had one or two people at the two minute mark and now we have zero people who think they can hold their breath for over three minutes.

I was doing research this week and came across a new sport called free-diving.  It’s people who spear fish or dive underwater and they compete and see who can dive the farthest under the ocean (without dying) and who can hold their breath the longest.  Any guesses on how deep the record is as far as somebody swimming down into the ocean?  (Guesses were 175 feet, 300 feet and 1000 feet.)  813 feet is the record for an unassisted free dive, which is without a breathing apparatus.  They had a rope and weights to help them go down.   Guess the record for somebody holding their breath.  (Guesses were four and five minutes.)  Eleven minutes and 35 seconds!!  It’s the world record.  I heard this conversation with a free-diving instructor this week and here’s what he suggested.  He said if you’re of average health, he could teach you in three days how to hold your breath for at least four minutes and dive down to at least 100 feet down in the ocean.  His point was that we are capable of far more than we could ever dream or ever imagine.  The free-divers talk about the Mammalian Dive Reflex that’s sort of wired into us.  They call it the master switch.  We’ve all been under water when we’ve felt that moment when we think we’re going to drown.  They said it’s your body’s reaction to carbon dioxide and there’s a way, in your mind, to address that and say, “No, I’m not going to die.”   They call it the master switch that you can flip, metaphorically speaking, and stay under water far longer.  Your heart rate starts to drop.  If you ask any free-diver what the secret to it is, here’s what they’re going to tell you:  Relax!  You can’t freak out!

I started thinking about that idea.  I think a lot of us live in a world where we feel like we’re running out of air. I think a lot of us have walked through seasons of life that have been painful, they’ve been difficult.  We would never want to go through them again.  Maybe you’re in one of those seasons of life right now, today.  What I want to share with you this morning is that I believe you are capable of not only surviving, but in thriving in far more difficult circumstances than you could ever possibly imagine.  Thomas Edison said, “If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.”  I want to suggest to you that you’re not running out of air.  I want to suggest to you that you can stay under longer—I know it’s painful, I know it’s hard, I know it’s difficult—and not just survive under, but actually thrive.

Will you open to Philippians 4:10 as we study the last section of this great letter.  Remember, the Apostle Paul is writing to his friends back in Philippi.  He’s in Rome on house arrest.  Philippi is a city in which he planted a church over a decade before.  From house arrest, he writes this letter back to church in Philippi.  If you were here last week, you’ll remember that Paul instructed us….do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  Then he went on to say be careful.  Think about what you’re thinking about, because whatever you magnify in your life, you’re going to multiply in your life.  From jail he goes on to close the letter like this:  I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me.  You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. {You didn’t have a way to show it.  Paul’s writing to this church who supported him financially.  If you’ve been here over the course of this study, you’ll remember that when you’re in jail in the first century, the state wasn’t supplying your every need, they didn’t feed you.  It was real important if you were going to commit a crime to have good friends, because they were the ones who, literally, fed you while you were in jail.  So Paul is saying thank you for the gifts that you gave.  Thank you for the way you provided for my very practical needs. You helped keep me alive.  Then he goes on to say this.}  Not that I am speaking of being in need, {He goes listen, thank you for your gift; I didn’t really need it, but thanks for giving it.  He’s going to explain what he means in a little bit more depth.  He says, “It wasn’t that I was going to die without it…..} for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.  I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound.  In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me. 

This word ‘content’ is a fascinating word in the Greek.  It’s only used in this way, in this tense, this one time in the Scriptures.  The word literally means ‘to be sufficient within oneself.’  To need nothing from the outside, in order to not only survive, but to thrive.  So, a country that’s content has no need for outside imports in order to sustain its way of life.  When Paul writes about contentment, he has a group of people in mind who are called “Stoics.”  They were this Greek philosophy group.  In Paul’s day, they taught a lot about contentment, because contentment was a huge value for people living in the first century.  Here was the Stoics’ teaching about contentment in a nutshell:  If you can distance yourself from any needs, if you can distance your heart from being hurt, or by having any sort of outside influence needed in order to sustain it, then you will be content. The Stoics way of teaching people how to achieve contentment was what the Buddhists would call ‘detachment.’  “I don’t need anything from anybody to be okay.”  “I am content, I’m happy, I’m pleased, I’m okay within myself.” Here’s how scholar T.R. Glover said it: “The Stoics made of the heart a desert and called it peace.”  He’s saying listen, they dried it up.  They took all emotions, all dreams, all hopes, all love and all care for another….they sucked that from the human experience and they called it contentment.  If you don’t need anything from anybody else, you can be content.

So when Paul uses this word, it has a ton of understanding, a ton of baggage, in the culture he’s writing to. What you’ll notice if you read through this passage is that Paul is using this word very different than the Stoics.  It’s very different to say, “I need nothing,” than it is to say, “I have everything I need.”  Those are two different approaches to life.  Those are two different approaches to contentment.  Paul is not saying, “I’m cold and I’m emotionless and I need nothing.”  What Paul is saying is that I’ve found the secret that addresses everything I need and Jesus is the epitome of what the human soul longs for.  The Stoics would have taught that you need to be self-sufficient in order to be content.  What Paul teaches is that we need to God-dependent in order to be content, because in Him, we are invited to the very thing that our souls were designed to step into.  Saint Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless, o Lord, until they find their rest in Thee.”  That’s what Paul’s inviting us to.  He’s inviting us to this way of contentment that’s based on dependence.  Here’s how we’ll say it this morning:  A posture of dependence leads to a life of contentment.  The Stoics would have suggested self-sufficiency was what we needed in order to be content.  I don’t need anything else coming in in order to be okay.  Paul goes no, no, no, no, no, that’s not how we achieve this peace for our soul.  The way we achieve the peace that our soul longs for is by meeting the one our soul was designed for and stepping into relationship with him.  It’s not ‘I have no needs,’ it’s ‘I have everything I need’ as I’m attached to the One who loves me and who gave himself for me.  Christ-dependency, NOT self-sufficiency, is what leads to a life of vitality.  Here’s how A.W. Tozer, the great author, put it:  “The man who has God for his treasure has all things in One.”

Paul doesn’t just leave it there and go okay, I’m just going to change the word ‘contentment’ and leave you to sort of figure it out on your own.  He actually, in this passage, unpacks what it means to live a life of contentment.  Here’s the first thing he says—Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have LEARNED….. It’s like I became a student of contentment.  I started to study my own soul, I started to study my own desires, I started to study my own passions and my longings, and throughout the course of my journey in life…..   You think about Paul—shipwrecked multiple times, beaten, flogged, jailed.  He goes through it all life was my laboratory and through the course of life I learned how to hold Jesus so supremely that I was able to say, in any circumstance, “I’m okay, because my soul found the one that I long for.”

I’ve LEARNED it, Paul says, which means that it’s not the natural default setting for life.  Have you ever noticed that? That naturally we don’t drift towards contentment.  We actually push back against it and we find a number of reasons to not be content.  Which is why the great preacher, Charles Spurgeon, says this: “Now, contentment is one of the flowers of heaven, and if we would have it, it must be cultivated; it will not grow in us by nature; it is the new nature alone that can produce it, and even then we must be specially careful and watchful that we maintain and cultivate the grace which God has sown in us.”  Isn’t that awesome?!  Here’s what I just want to press on us this morning a little bit—you’re going to have opportunities, my guess is within the next few days, to practice contentment.  If you’re having people over for Thanksgiving, may I suggest that it may not go exactly as you think in your head or dreamed that it will go.  I mean, we are talking about family here!  If you’re going over to somebody else’s house, it may not go exactly the way you think it will go there either.  One of the hard things about contentment is that it’s forged in the midst of discontent.  We learn this. Paul calls it a secret, so it’s not on the surface.  It’s not something we stumble across and go there it is.  It’s something we have to excavate from our lives as the Spirit stirs it up.  My guess is that you’re going to have some opportunities over the next few days to say, “Alright, Father, if life is my laboratory, how might you be instructing me in the way of contentment?  Because I want to be sufficient within you.”

Sometimes it takes a little bit of a different perspective.  There’s an old story about a Jewish man who went to his rabbi.  He said to the rabbi, “Rabbi, we have nine people living in a one bedroom house.  It’s loud.  It smells. It’s miserable.”  The rabbi listened and says, “Do you have a goat?”  The man answered, “Yes, we have a goat.  I don’t know that that has anything to do with a one-bedroom house with nine people in it.”  The rabbi tells him to bring the goat into the house for the next week.   The man looks at him like he’s crazy and the rabbi says, “Just believe me and come back in a week and let me know how it goes.”  So he came back in a week and said to his rabbi, “This is ridiculous!  Our house is loud.  It smells.  It’s absolutely horrific in there.  It seems like a war zone.”  The rabbi replies to the man, “Here’s what I want you to do now.  Let the goat back outside and come back and talk to me in a week.”  The man comes back in a week and says, “Oh my goodness!  It’s beautiful! Our house is quiet; our house smells good!  It is remarkable in there!”

That’s the way contentment works, doesn’t it?  It’s all about perspective.  It’s about how we look at the world and what we think we need in order to be happy.  Paul says see, I’ve learned it.  I’m on this journey of stepping into the mysteries of cherishing God above all else.  He not only learned it but he says, “Contentment is not circumstantial.”  He will point out in this passage, I know what it means to abound, as if to say to the Stoic, “You think you need to detach from everything in order to be content?  Oh no, I’ve learned the secret of contentment when I have more than enough.”  Paul says, “And I know what it is to be brought low.  In every circumstance, I’ve learned to discipline my heart to cherish Jesus above all else.”  I think he’d say to us, “I know it feels like you’re running out of air, but there is a switch that you can hit that will invite you deeper into the love of God that will sustain you and you can stay down for longer than you thought you could.  You can even thrive while you’re there.”  Contentment is learned and contentment is not based on circumstances.

I’ve noticed four things, in my own life, that are thieves of contentment.  I invite you to write these down, because you may see these in your own life as well.  The first thief of contentment, that I’ve found in me and in the Scriptures, is comparison.  Have you ever noticed that it’s easy to be content until you meet somebody that has more or better?  This is one of the Enemy’s tactics in our life, to say to us, “Hey, if you just had that…..  If you had a little bit better, a little bit brighter, a little bit newer, than you’d be okay.”  We start to compare ourselves to other people.  This is a biblical quandary as well.  In John 21:20-22, Jesus has risen from the dead and he’s walking along the Sea of Galilee.  He meets Peter, who has just betrayed Him.  He has this intimate conversation with Peter.  He says, “Peter, I want you to feed my sheep.  Peter, I want you to tend to my lambs. Peter, I want you to love the things that I love and I want you to lead the church.”  Peter goes okay, that’s great, Lord.  Jesus tells him that when you get older, you’re going to go places you don’t want to go and you’re going to stretch out your arms and you’re going to be led by me.  Basically he’s saying, you’re going to be crucified, Peter.  Peter says to him, “Okay, but what about him?”  What about John who’s right next to him. What’s going to happen to him?  As if to say, is he getting a better lot than me?  Because I’m okay with that Jesus, as long as John has to do the same thing!  Jesus says back to Peter, “Let me worry about that.  YOU follow me.”  Isn’t comparison just a trap we fall into?

Here’s the second thief: competition.  It’s this idea that in order to be okay, I have to be better.  It can be competition with people outside of us, but if you’re anything like me, it’s competition with ME.  Year after year, I want to see it going up and to the right.  I want to see improvements.  I want to see bettering.  Every run I go on I want it to be a little bit faster than the run I went on the one before.  Anyone crazy like me?  There’s people wired like that where we go, “Alright, Lord, I’ll be okay so long as I’m better.”

Third is coveting.  It’s the conviction—If I had fill-in-the-blank, then my life would be complete.  So the person who covets cannot walk in contentment.  Our oldest son, who is seven years old, is going through this phase that I think might last until he’s in his twenties.  He sees something on TV and he just wants it.  He sees something his friend has and he asks for it so many times during the day!  We thought we’d force him to make a list of all the things he is grateful for to remind him of everything that he has.  He starts writing this list.  We told him Thanksgiving was coming and we wanted him to spend some time cultivating an awareness of all the good things we have and let’s be grateful people.  He makes this wonderful list:  I’m grateful for my family; I’m grateful for my house; I’m grateful for all my friends; I’m grateful for my grandparents…..   He brings this list back and puts it on the table and I’m like, “Cue the angels in heaven because I think I just won Father-of-the-Year award.”  I am patting myself on the back.  So he goes, “Dad, there’s all the things that I’m grateful for.” Then he flipped it over and said, “On the other side, here’s my Christmas list.”  That’s life, isn’t it?  It’s easy to be hard on the little guy, but it’s in all of us!  Oh yeah, Lord, we’re grateful…we’re grateful…we’re grateful…and here’s the list of the things I really want.  Right?  Coveting.

The fourth is cynicism.  It’s the thought in the back of our head—God, you are so good!  You’re wonderful! And when is the bottom going to fall out of this?!  Have you ever been there?  It’s on vacation as you get closer and closer to the end….starting to count down the days until vacation is over.  Going…noooooo!  Which of those touches your soul?  Comparison.  Competition.  Coveting.  Cynicism.  If we can identify where the Enemy typically attacks us and the things that we long for that start to own us, we can push back against those with this posture of—God, I have everything I need in you.  You’re sufficient and you’re good in every season.  Will you remind me of it?  Paul’s conclusion is that Jesus is the secret of contentment.  It’s not having no needs.  It’s meeting the One in whom all of our needs are met.

But he doesn’t leave just leave it at that.  He wants to teach us how and why to step into this life of contentment more fully.  Look again at Philippians 4:13, because here’s the first thing he’s going to instruct us on.  So if you’re sitting here going alright, Paulson, that’s great, but how do I do this?  How do I live the life of contentment?  Here’s what Paul says:  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.  This ‘I can do’ literally means ‘I have power,’ I have this latent, dormant power in my soul…to do anything or to do all things, he says, through God who pours power into me.  Literally, you could translate this verse—I am strong for all things in the One who is strengthening me.  How do we walk in contentment?  We realize we have a personal connection to God’s accessible power.  He goes it’s here!  We have a power because the Spirit of God that lives inside of us helps us tap into it.  I know it feels like you’re running out of air, but there’s a master switch that you can hit and step into the fullness of what God designed you for.  Paul goes oh, there’s great power there.

But there’s also a huge problem with this verse, isn’t there?  I mean, it’s probably the most proof-texted verse in the entire New Testament.  Case in point:  Steph Curry.  He’s one of the best basketball players in the NBA right now.  Last year, he wrote on his shoes “I can do all things…”   UnderArmor came to him and said, “I see that you’re writing that on your Nikes.  We will actually write it on there for you, if you want to sign with us.”   He said great, wonderful.  I can do all things.  I can win all basketball games.  You may have heard of this guy too–Tim Tebow.  I want to talk about his theology a second.  On his eyeblack he has Philippians 4:13.  Which is wonderful….so long as it doesn’t mean I can win every game by Christ who strengthens me.  We do recognize that there would be a little bit of an intellectual quandary, don’t we, if somebody on the opposite team had the same eyeblack!  Imagine that there might be a Christian on both sides….who can do all things through Christ who gives them strength.  Here’s the thing, if by writing Philippians 4:13 on his eyeblack he means I can hold my head high and walk proud, whether I win or whether we get blown out, because my sufficiency is not in football, but it’s in Jesus, and I’m okay whether we win or whether we lose, whether I’m a starting quarterback or a tight end.  I’m okay if I’m in the league or out of the league, actually, because I can do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength.  That’s what Paul would be saying.  I could be in jail or I can be on the mountaintop or I can be anywhere in between.  It’s not about where I am, it’s about who’s in me that gives me strength.  I don’t know what you’re walking through this morning, but I do know that there is grace available at the hand of Jesus.  There is power that he wants to invite you into.  Paul says I’m walking content because the Spirit of God is at work in me, bringing peace, knitting together the broken pieces of my life into a mosaic that declares His glory.  I can do all things, he says.

Paul goes on:  Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.  And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only.    {So Paul’s back to praising them and thanking them for the way they helped to carry the good news of the gospel.}  Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.  I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.    Isn’t that a heartfelt thank you?  Let me point out three things Paul says about giving in this section of Scripture.  One, he uses this word ‘partnership.’  In the Greek it’s literally ‘koinonia,’ it’s fellowship.  So he’s saying the people that helped fund my ministry did far more than fund me. They actually partnered with me, they linked arms and they linked hearts and we were in this together.  I couldn’t have done it without them, Paul says.  Isn’t that a beautiful picture of giving?  I don’t know how you feel when you put something in the offering plate here, when you give online, or when you text GIVE, or however you like to do it.  My hope is that you don’t feel like you’re funding ministry.  My hope is you feel like you’re a partner in what God is doing through us to reach the world for the glory of the name of Christ.  This is partnership, which is why in our membership covenant we talk about giving generously.  Why?  Because together we want to make much of the name of Jesus.  We know that as we give to the same thing, our hearts get knitted together.  So Paul says, “We were partners in this.”

He also makes this really strange statement in verse 17.  Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.   He’s going hey, I know you’re giving sacrificially and I know that this is money that you’ve worked hard to earn.  {Will you look up at me for a second.}  Here’s his point:  You can never out-give God!  Whether it’s fruit in some heavenly realm or place, or whether it’s fruit in our lives today….   I think it’s probably both.  God’s saying listen, when you give you receive far more back than you could ever give out. Anybody ever experience that before?  Absolutely.  This boomerang effect of God saying you’re not going to out-give me.

Finally, in verse 18 it says that their gift to Paul was a sacrifice.  It sort of paints a picture of a burnt offering, where the smoke just rises to God.  Giving is evangelistic in nature.  Generosity points back to our great God, as Paul will write in 2 Corinthians 9:11 — You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.   So we not only partner with each other, it not only comes back on us, it also rises in declaration of God’s praise and God’s goodness.

Listen to what Paul says:   And my God MIGHT supply every need of yours….  No.  And my God MOST LIKELY will supply every need….  No.  And my God WILL supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.     Paul says I can be content in any and every situation because I have this pervasive conviction about God’s Christocentric provision.  The provision that He gives us through the person and work of Christ.  Here’s what Paul would say:  He’s meeting all of our needs IN Christ Jesus.  If God can’t give it to us IN Christ, He doesn’t plan on giving it to us at all.  I think sometimes we pray for things that would have to be met outside of that, but He goes no, this is the way that I’m meeting the needs of humanity.  This is the way I forgive sins.  It’s only through Jesus.  This is the way I bless and it’s been my plan from the very beginning, from the Abrahamic covenant all the way through, every promise of God is yes and amen in Jesus!  That’s great news!  Paul says, “I have this deep-seated conviction in my soul, even as I sit in jail, that God’s not only going to supply all of YOUR needs, but that God will supply MY needs.” Hudson Taylor said it like this: “God’s work, done in God’s way, will receive God’s supply.”

Here’s the really fascinating thing about this passage of Scripture.  God’s supply doesn’t just drop out of the sky. You know that, right?  You’ve probably never seen a parachute coming down with money to pay your rent. Neither did Paul.  Read the letter.  He’s going hey, Philippian church, YOU were God’s hands and feet to meet the needs that I had and the times that I had them.  You were an extension.  My God will supply every one of my needs and oftentimes He does it through His body, the church.  Over a year ago, a friend of mine started this group of guys that got together and asked Pastor Dan for a list of names of elderly people in our church that needed help caring for their homes.  My friend had this vision that guys learn much better, not necessarily talking around a table, but using their hands.  They’ve blessed a number of people in our church by clearing out things in their yards….  Recently, they went and painted somebody’s house.  The couple (homeowners) needed a ramp for the husband to get his wife and her wheelchair into the house.  As a church we prayed about it and we partnered with them through the money you give in benevolence.  So I want to say thank you to those who give faithfully, sacrificially, above and beyond.  We were able to help this couple get the ramp that they needed….after this small group of men had painted their house, had done plumbing, had helped clean up….in order to get them back to sort of ground zero.  I can tell you that it’s one of the ways God supplies the needs of his people.  It’s through you!  Through the gifts and services of his body.  It’s a beautiful picture of what the church is intended to be.

Here’s how Paul lands the plane.  Greet every saint in Christ Jesus.  The brothers who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.  It seems like an innocent end to a letter.  It seems like a sort of sending off, benedictory type of statement, but it’s so much more than that.  Paul writes back to a church who’s in the colony of Christ in the midst of the empire of Rome.  They’re getting beat up.  They’re about to be killed for their faith in Jesus. Here’s what Paul says at the very end of his letter:  We greet you; all the saints greet you, especially those in Caesar’s household.  The shock on their faces when they read that must have been immense.  There’s a church in Caesar’s palace???  There’s a church meeting amongst the people who want to kill us??  Can you think about the way that this bursts light into the darkest of situations?  Paul says listen, I can be content.  It feels like I’m running out of air, but I’ve got a source you have no idea about.  I am confident in God’s plan.  I know God’s provision and I will rest in the fact that God has a plan in it all.  He’s got this persistent conviction or confidence in God’s subversive plan.  In the midst of the Roman Empire, a church is being birthed.  In the midst of Caesar’s household, people are saying ‘no’ to the imperial cult.  They’re going alright, I know we’re still working here, but Caesar, you are not our lord; Caesar, you are not our savior; Caesar, we’ve met the one true Son of God and his name is Jesus!

I’m reading The Chronicles of Narnia to my kids again this year and we got to the point where it says, “Aslan is on the move!!  YES!!!  That’s what’s going on here.  Jesus is on the move!  He’s on the move redeeming, He’s on the move restoring, He’s breaking into the darkest places with light of the glory of the gospel.  You might say to me hey, Paulson, I’m sure that was happening back then, but that kind of stuff doesn’t happen today.  UNTRUE! I’m going to give you two stories to show it does.  My friend gave me a book called A Wind in the House of Islam. In this book, the author, David Garrison, goes back and studies movements of the gospel in the midst of Islam. Here’s what they found:  They found that for the first 1,300 years of Islam there were zero movements of the gospel.  Gospel movement means over 1,000 people baptized OR 100 churches planted.  ZERO.  In the 19th century we saw one.  In the last two centuries, we have seen, roughly, 83 gospel movements amongst Islam, amongst Muslims.  Coming to Christ in record numbers.  There are over 60 of them still going on right now. (Whispered)–There’s a church in Caesar’s house.

The second example — Angola prison in New Orleans.  6,300 inmates.  It was known as the bloodiest prison in the United States.  Certainly one of the biggest.  They have hospice care there, because 80% of these inmates will never see the light of day again.  They’re there for life.  In 1995, they got a new warden.  That warden went to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and asked them if they’d be willing to come and have a seminary IN the prison.  As the seminary tried to scrape together the funds to do it, back in 1995, they started a church in Angola prison.  Over the last two decades, they’ve seen the crime rate absolutely plummet.  They’ve seen forty to fifty people, every year, graduate with a seminary degree.  They, right now, have twenty-seven inmate pastors in Angola prison!  (Whispered)–There’s a church in Caesar’s household.  Jesus is on the move!

Friends, I don’t know, as we come to an end in this study, how this letter has hit you.  For me, I have been challenged by God to walk in joy in new and fresh ways.  I’ve been challenged by God to be sacrificial and generous in different ways than I have been before.  I was convicted last week that there’s anxiety in my soul. Today, I’m just at the place where I’m going, “Jesus, I believe that you are enough for me.  I want you to be sufficient in me for every day and every want, in every season; that you, O God, truly are my shepherd; I shall not want.”

There’s this legend of a man that heard about the Apostle Paul.  He was a rich merchant and spent some time trying to find him.  Finally, he found him in Rome.  Timothy was there with him, near his cell.  The merchant went to Timothy and asked to spend a few minutes with the Apostle Paul in prison.  Timothy consented.  This merchant went in and sat down with Paul for just a few minutes.  As he came out, his eyes were wide and Timothy asked, “What did you think?”  The merchant said, “Where in the world does this immense power come from?”  Timothy looked at the merchant and said, “Don’t you know?”  “No, that’s why I’m asking.  I don’t know.” Timothy says, “Paul has found the love his soul longs for.”  The merchant asked, “Is that it?”  Timothy responded, “That is ALL any of us need!”  Let’s pray.

Jesus, we come in a posture, this morning, of dependence, believing that you’re enough for us.  Lord, for the people in this space today who are going through a season where it feels like they’re running out of air, would you pull them deeper with you?  Would you remind them of your power, would you remind them of your providence, would you remind them of your plan; may it all work in our hearts and our souls to allow us to declare back to you that Lord, we’re grounded in your love.  Therefore, we can live in your way.  It’s our soul’s deepest desire, Jesus.  Thank you for being sufficient in any circumstance and every season.  It’s in your name that we pray.  Amen.