Summary: Paul lost all worldly acclaim & possessions, he was beaten and imprisoned. He had a joy that trouble or trials could not shake. How? He says, "I have learned to be content!" That was his secret: content & thankful!
THE THANKSGIVING SECRET
A. HUMOR: SEA OF GALILEE TOURIST BOAT RIDE
1. A frugal lady was taking a tour of biblical sites. When she got to the Sea of Galilee, she saw a boat with a sign advertising, “TAKE A BOAT RIDE TO THE EXACT PLACE WHERE JESUS WALKED ON WATER!!!”
2. Inquiring about it, she learned that the ride out to the spot on the lake was free, so she went.
3. After viewing it, she said to the captain of the boat, “Ok, I’m done, let’s go back now.” He replied, “The ride out is free, but the ride back costs $35!”
4. She replied, “For heaven’s sake! No wonder Jesus got out and walked!!!”
1. This evening I want to share a secret with you—the secret of Thanksgiving – a secret that can be summed up in one simple word: contentment. Wherever you find contentment, you will find gratitude.
2. Wherever you find discontent, you will always find grumbling, complaining, ingratitude. Thanksgiving and contentment are virtually inseparable.
3. This evening I want to show you how you can be content and thankful even when life is hard, even if you don’t feel very thankful. The secret is found in the Bible in Phil. 4:11-13 and the man who will share this thanksgiving secret is the apostle Paul.
11I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Phip. 4:11-13.
D. BACKGROUND OF THE WRITER
1. Come with me to a house among the winding streets of ancient Rome, where Paul is being held under house arrest. Outside the door stands the Roman soldier, guarding the house, but chances are he would let you in without any trouble for a visit.
2. Inside you can hear a voice speaking and the scratch of a quill busily putting ink to paper. Paul is dictating a letter to the church at Philippi. If you listen early on you will hear brief snatches of his dictation:
Phip 1:3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you”
Phip 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain”
Phip 2:14 Do all things without complaining & disputing”
Phip 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
3. Here is a man who is thankful. He is thankful, no matter if he lives or dies. He has a joy that even trouble or trial cannot shake. He has found the secret of thanksgiving---contentment. How can he be this way? He begins to explain in vs. 11 that you have to LEARN TO BE CONTENT.
I. LEARN TO BE CONTENT (v. 11)
A. ILLUSTRATION: DISCONTENT
1. A monk joined a monastery and took a vow of silence. After the first 10 years of absolutely no speaking at all, his superior called him in and asked, “Do you have anything to say?” The monk replied, “Food bad.”
2. After another 10 years of perfect silence the monk again had opportunity to voice his thoughts. He said, “Bed hard.”
3. Another 10 years went by and again he was called in before his superior. When asked if he had anything to say, he responded, “I quit.”
4. The older monk replied, “That doesn’t surprise me a bit. You’ve done nothing but gripe and complain ever since you got here.”
B. CONTENTMENT IS NOT OUR NORMAL STATE
1. Have you noticed how easy it is to be discontent? It almost seems natural to grumble. Stand around the coffee maker at work and hear people disparage how the company is run.
2. Students complain about their teachers, their coaches, the parking situation, you name it. Human nature gravitates toward griping.
3. But Paul says I have learned to be content. Contentment didn’t come natural to Paul; he had to learn the secret of thanksgiving—he had to learn to be content. He had once been on top of the world as a Roman citizen and Jewish Rabbi and Pharisee. He was probably well-educated and fairly well off financially.
4. But when he met Jesus on the Damascus road, his life changed forever. He exchanged prestige and power for persecution and death threats. It took listening to God and getting God’s perspective for Paul to learn to be content. Contentment is learned behavior. You have to learn to be content if you want to truly live a life of thanksgiving.
C. WHY SOME DON’T LEARN CONTENTMENT