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Articles

"I Have Learned"

“I Have Learned”

By Paul R. Blake

            “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Phil. 4:11). Paul does not refer to the Philippians recent support to complain of his needs or to hint that they should continue to send him money. He is doing precisely what he counseled them to do for those who do estimable deeds - hold such in esteem (2:29). But in view of his trials, he had been in want often and knew how to deal with it without murmuring.

            The apostle learned to have a contented mind. Paul says that he “learned” this. Very likely, he had a mind as prone to impatience as others, but he had been in many circumstances that trained him to develop a different way of feeling about his trials. He had found that there were enough blessings in Christ to enable him to bear trials with more than mere resignation. He found that the grace of God toward him far outweighed the difficulties he endured in service to Christ (Rom. 8:18; 2Cor. 4:16-18). A summary of Paul’s written conclusions on how to deal with hardship would include the following:

            1) It is wrong to murmur over God’s Providence

            2) Impatience does no good, lifts no burden, and supplies no need.

            3) God often provides in ways one does not expect.

            4) Christ is fully able to sustain devout Christians.

            A contented mind is a wonderful blessing, and it is one of the fruits of faith from the heart. It comes from the conviction that God is right in all of His ways. Why should one be impatient, distressed, or discontented? In the inspired words of the wisdom writer: “He that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast” (Prov. 15:15); therefore, the secret of Christian joy is to have a mind satisfied with what God has given in this life. It is a lesson one slowly learns; that is, not to murmur at his lot in life, not to envy the prosperity of others, not to whimper when his customary comforts are removed.

“I Know How”

            Paul’s lot in life was not always the same. He passed through great extremes of prosperity and want. The rapid transitions between prosperity and poverty, or from hardship to affluence, make it difficult to practice contentment of mind. It is relatively easy for one to adjust to a constant state of well-being or to adapt to an ongoing condition of want. Human beings are flexible and over time come to accommodate whatever conditions surround them. But it is hard to be content when one shifts back and forth from one extreme condition to the other. Christians are tested, not by a steady prosperous life, nor by unchanging adversity, but rather by the sharp transition from one to the other. The attitude which would have been enough to sustain their faith in either steady prosperity or adversity would fall short in the change from the one to the other. Some of the most beautiful things in nature are shaped by severe, rapid changes. A piece of glass at a steady temperature remains plain and uninteresting. Subject it to high heat and sudden cooling, and it fills with a myriad of cracks that make it beautifully prismatic. There are many beautiful traits of character which would never have been known in a Christian by either continued prosperity or adversity, but can only be brought out by sharp changes from one state to another.

“I Can Do All Things Through Christ”

            “For without Me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5). All or nothing. Those are the choices presented to men: accomplish all things through Him, or do nothing without Him. Jesus as co-Creator is the source of all life (Col. 1:16). He is also the source of eternal life (1John 5:20). Therefore, one can only conclude that:

            1) Jesus Christ is due all the praise for the good works Christians perform.

            2) Christians perform good works in proportion to how much they depend on Him for guidance.

            3) The reason why others fail in becoming holy and dedicated is because they are unwilling to look to Him for leadership.

            Paul proved that one can do all things in Christ. It was not by any inherent ability he had; all of his advantages in Judaism brought him no nearer to Christ. It was not in any strength of body and mind; those things only made him a more vigorous opponent of Christians. It was not in the power of his own will and character; those things kept him away from Christ. It was only in the strength he derived from being in right relationship with the Redeemer. He became a living, successful experiment that confirmed:

            1) One does not need to sink under any trial, for the Lord will strengthen him.

            2) One does not need to yield to temptation, for the Lord is able to make a way of escape (1Cor. 10:13).

            3) One does not need to be bothered, plagued, or tormented with improper thoughts and unclean desires, for the Lord gives him the power to banish such thoughts from his mind, and to restore the right balance to his heart.

            4) One does not need to dread the future, whether in this life or after death. Trials, temptations, poverty, want, persecution, may await him, but he does not need to sink into despair or depression. At every step of the journey, Christ is able to strengthen him and bring him through it all.

A Moment’s Wisdom on Happiness

--I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who overcomes his enemies; for the hardest victory is victory over self.

--There is no danger of developing eyestrain from looking on the bright side of things.

--Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.

--I am not bound to make the world go right, but only to discover and to do, with cheerful heart, the work that God appoints.

--We ought to be as cheerful as we can, if only because to be happy ourselves is a most effectual contribution to the happiness of others

--Happiness adds and multiplies as we divide it with others.

--We have no more right to consume happiness without producing it than to consume wealth without producing it.

--Happiness is essentially a state of going somewhere wholeheartedly.

--A happy man or woman is a radiant focus of good will, and their entrance into a room is as though another candle had been lighted.

--If good people would but make their goodness agreeable, and smile instead of frowning in their virtue, how many they would win to the good cause!

Upcoming Sermons

5/29/22 AM - What is a Sound Church? (Straying from the Bible Pattern for the Church); PM - What is a Sound Church? (Scriptural Fellowship in a Local Church)

6/5/22 AM - The Name Above Every Name; PM - All Nature Sings: Themed Singing Service

6/12 - 6/17/22 - Gospel Meeting with Thaxter Dickey

6/19/22 AM - What the Local Church Should Ask You; PM - What You Should Ask the Local Church

6/26/22 AM - Angry with the World; PM - Titus, the True Son

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    8/17/22 07:30pm
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    8/21/22 09:30am
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