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Contentment
09/04/2005
Scripture: Exodus 20:17
Track 10 of 10 in the Ten Commandments series
Running time: 36 minutes, 37 seconds.


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Chuck Sackett Speaker: Chuck Sackett
Dr. G. Charles Sackett is minister of Madison Park Christian Church.

View all sermons by this speaker.


Sermon for Sunday, September 4, 2005
10th and final sermon in a 10 part series.
"Contentment"
"Ten Words to Guide our Lives"
(Exodus 20:17)
Copyright 2005 G. Charles Sackett


I cannot begin to tell you how indebted, as a congregation, we are to you who are in the Ever Ready Class. Um! A tip of the hat, if I had one on, for all the extra effort in cleaning chairs and carpets and other kinds of things, painting and things you've done around this building over the years. We're grateful for you. And for those of you who don't have a place to "plug-in", that might be one of the options for you to think about. We'd love to have you do that.

There are just so many things going on right now it's just almost hard to know particularly where to start. I mean, I know where we're supposed to be. We're supposed to be in Exodus 20:17. We're supposed to get to that 10th Commandment and wrap this series of ten sermons up. But, you know, it's a little hard to get started here because there's so many things happening.

One of the things that is happening, and obviously, you have seen on the news, if you've been awake, at least. You have heard that we had a bit of a storm down South. Ah, one of our major cities has just kind of disappeared in the, well, it's the kind of thing we read about in other countries and we think, "WOW" what a tremendous thing that happened and "WHOA" and all of a sudden we're looking at it. And several of you have called and said, "Is there some way we can help?" And the answer to that is, "YES!"

We have two particular resources that we're going to be utilizing. One is called International Disaster Emergency Services. We have worked with them before because we have such confidence in them. The other is an organization called Stadia, which is, in part, a church planting organization and they have just planted a church, actually, in New Orleans that has some inter-city context to it. Both of those organizations are receiving funds. We're going to send our funds through them because we have confidence that 100% of what we send is going to get where it's going and, it's going to be used in the way we'd like it to be used for relief.

Out in the Foyer, the new space that some of you have not yet seen because you come in our side door; out here in front, that thing out here that we've been working on, you'll find a bucket over there on one of the new cabinets. It says, "Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund". You drop your money in there. We'll see to it that it gets where it needs to go. If you don't want, or are not prepared to give today drop it by the office or either of those organizations are equipped to accept your donations on line. If you want that information, get a hold of us and we'll tell you how to just give via the internet and you can take care of it that way. We want to be a part of helping in that situation. It's a part of the nature of this church to be generous in that regard. We appreciate you giving us the opportunity to be helpful.

In the midst of all of that you have also seen that there have been some rather unusual things happening down in New Orleans. The reports coming out of there are almost impossible to believe. On the one hand you've got these remarkable things being done in the name of community help, the kind of thing you expect from people like us. We help each other. But there have been other kinds of reports that are almost unimaginable. Shooting at rescue helicopters, for example. And one of the things that's troubling, I think, to all of us is the concept that there would be people who would take advantage of the situation and go looting through the city streets and stores.

I don't think anybody in here would have any qualms at all, either of accusing anybody else or participating yourself. If you were in New Orleans, and you were hungry, and there was a grocery store there, you'd break the window and you'd go in and nobody would think anything about it because you were there to either eat or take care of somebody down the street. The looting that we get to is when here's an opportunity for me to fill my pockets with somebody else's stuff at their expense under these dire circumstances. I've heard all kinds of interesting responses to that everywhere from, let's just turn the police loose and shoot 'em all to other more insane kinds of things and then a few sane ones on top of that.

Something in the human spirit drives that. I wish I understood it. My problem is that I know it too well because it's a spirit that exists in me and I think it probably exists in all of us at some level, that there is an opportunity for us to have. And in a consumer driven culture like ours, we have been trained on how to do that.

Have you ever noticed that when you take a child into Toys R Us you don't have to explain what to do next? It's not like you have to give lessons to a child when you send him into a store. They know exactly what they're supposed to do. They have been conditioned culturally to do it. I want that and I want that and, mommy, can I have that? And, dad, can I have that?

Well, it starts in part because those of you who run these kinds of things (I apologize for picking on you), they call them impulse aisles where right there by the check out stand, they put all the stuff that none of us are supposed to have. Candy bars and other stuff and what do we do when we get there with our cart full of things that we have checked off our list? We then begin dumping stuff into our cart on impulse because, well, I didn't think of that one and oh, I should have one of those. It's a consumer culture.

It's an interesting phenomena that actually spending is up and savings has now hit its lowest point in the history of keeping those records. We actually save, well, I don't know how this is possible. You know, when they say we save like 1% of our money or 2% of our money. We save a negative .6% of our money. Now I don't. . . . .that sounds to me like we're spending, not saving. You know, I don't know how to calculate that in my head. It's the kind of thing that comes with a culture that has to do with everybody wanting just a little bit more. The answer to the question, how much do you need is always, just a little bit more. That gets us to where we are. Exodus 20:17 the last of the Ten Commandments. Thou shalt not covet. You know the Commands. We've been through them already.

The first one is so abundantly clear. I'm God! Don't try to substitute for me. Don't try to put something in my place. Don't have any other gods.

The second one is really very, very simple. Don't try to control me. Don't put me in a box that you can sit on a shelf and you can pull me down when you think you need me.

The third one is, Take me seriously. If you're going to wear my name, then take it seriously.

The fourth one is, Trust me. You don't have to work all the time. I can take care of things. I"m God, after all.

The fifth one is that transition verse. You honor your parents and you'll learn how to honor me.

And then we get into the rest of those five: Don't kill people. Don't murder. Value life.

Don't be unfaithful. Honor your commitments, your covenants.

Don't steal from one another. Don't take what isn't yours.

Tell the truth. Be characterized by being a truth-teller.

This last one is really very simple. Be content.

Well, simple in the sense that it's not hard to say. Be content. The difficulty is that I live in a world that is driven to make me malcontent. I can't watch television without being driven to be discontent because what you have isn't enough.

I mean, where would those of you who work in advertising be if it weren't for the fact that we're driven by the desire to have something else?

So God says in Commandment #10. Don't covet. Don't desire. Don't long. and then He's got a rather interesting list of things. Don't covet your neighbor's house. Don't long after your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or his maidservant, or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

Do you hear this really interesting move in this covenant language from very clear cut external acts like; don't kill, don't steal, don't lie, to the very internal, don't long for. It gets very internalized at this point. And in all honesty it becomes the flip side, I think, of the first commandment. I'm God, long after Me. Don't long after other people's stuff. Do you hear the bookends?

And it's in such an interesting context in the sense that this is a statement of grace. We haven't returned to that conversation very much in recent weeks. But don't forget, law was in the context of grace. Exodus 20 starts this way."I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt. . . . . I am the God who gave you freedom. . . . .I am the God who released your life. Now because I have done this for you, here are the things I would like you to do for each other and for me. And we enter this covenant relationship of grace.

Don't you understand that one of the things that is so frustrating about the whole looting situation, is the sense that it violates our basic human covenant with each other.

I would assume that in any kind of Christian culture, I could walk away from my house and leave the door unlocked and not come back for weeks, and you wouldn't do anything except guard it and protect it. Because that's how we live in a covenant with each other. Of course, we've lost that Christian consensus; and so, if the door is unlocked, it's like an invitation to come in.

Do you hear the echoes of Jesus in this? Do you remember those statements in Matthew 5? You have heard it said, but I say to you. You've heard it said, don't do these external things, but I say to you, and he turns everything internal.

That's what this command does.

See, the word covet simply means to long for something, to wish for it, to desire it. In fact, it has both a positive and a negative side to it in the sense of the way it's used in Scripture.

Psalm 19 for example, has this rather magnificent statement about the law of God.

Psalm 19:10 Well, in fact let's back up to Psalm 19:7 The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever.

The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

There is this language about the law that tells us to desire it. To literally covet what the law has to offer. Of course, there is also the negative side and that's the one that's referred to in Exodus 20. Don't long for what isn't yours. Don't covet somebody else's stuff. And it has this very negative, harsh sound to it and it gets developed in story after story in the Old Testament.

David, walking on his rooftop one night, sees a woman on another rooftop, away from him, taking a bath in the evening and he longs for her. And he takes Bathsheba and they have an adulterous relationship whereby she becomes pregnant. He has her husband killed. It becomes this awful experience.

King Ahab, wealth untold, sees Naboth's vineyard and wants it for himself and pines for it, longs for it, covets it until his wife Jezebel goes about killing the owner of the vineyard so that he can have it.

Israel walks into Israel (to the land). They cross the Jordan. They defeat Jericho. They start down the road to a little town called Ai (literally A I) and they get defeated. They get defeated because a man named Achan, the text says, coveted some of the stuff. It's a good translation for "bootie" and he buried it under his tent. And the whole nation fell because of his covetous heart.

That's typically how it's used. That kind of negative, I long for, I want, and it comes over into the New Testament so absolutely clear in the word lust.

Almost always, if not always, used negatively in our English translation. We see it show up, this coveting thing, in Romans. I think this is an important text for us to understand the power of the law to both help us, and then, at the same time to be absolutely powerless to help us. In Romans 7 the apostle Paul, in talking about his struggle with sin, in Romans 7 he says, he asks this question. What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, "Do not covet." But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from the law, sin is dead.

Can I give you just a weak demonstration of how that works? Some of you, like me, battle your weight. Now, some of you will not understand this at all. You've never. . it's never been an issue for you. As soon as the doctor says, "you can't have", what do you think you want? My doctor said, "No salt!". Man! Do I want something salty!

The law said, Don't covet. And what does Paul say, "I immediately started to covet everything." So while the law helps us understand; it gives us a vocabulary; it paints us a picture of what we're not supposed to be like. It is powerless to stop that from happening. In fact, it almost creates it by the very nature of saying, "you can't".

Well, this term shows up in so many places. Look just briefly with me. Romans 13:14 for example. Talking about what our old life used to be like. What the world is like. Rather, than all those things, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of your flesh. There it is. That's this word. Don't think about how to gratify the lusts of your flesh.

It comes over in 1Thessalonians 4 for example when the apostle Paul writing to this really model church in the city of Thessalonica says in 1Thessalonians 4:5 in this context of immorality, he says in 1Thessalonians 4:3 It is God's will that you be sanctified, that you avoid. . . .and he begins to list the things to avoid and then he says in 1Thessalonians 4:4 that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust (that's the word, covetous like Gentiles do). He goes on in 2Timothy 2:22 Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace. . . .that's the word. Flee those evil coveting(s) of youth. Jesus says it this way in Matthew 5:28. You've heard it said, that I say to you, don't even look on a woman to lust after her. So for those of you who have said from time to time, "it doesn't hurt to look." Yes, it does! Don't kid yourself. It's an open invitation to create the wrong heart.

I was privileged to be with an Elder down in the church where I preached who was an avid. . . . .I need to back that statement up. This was not the preacher. He was an avid "yard sale(r)". That was not necessary helpful because was it meant was we accumulated a lot of junk. But it was fun to be around him because he was a particularly avid lure seeker. He loved Bass lures. The guy had enough Bass lures to outfit us all for a life time if we lost one every day, and I would. He would go and he would find these incredible lures. And you know what a lure is for? I mean, even the name says it, doesn't it? Ya throw it out there in hopes that. . . .what? A fish will see it. And when it sees it, it'll say, "I want it". And it will come up and wrap its great big ugly mouth around it thinking it has it. And it does except that there's one small problem. It doesn't have IT. IT has him! Did you follow those pronouns? Okay!

You already know where this is going? Do I even need to tell you where I'm headed with this?

Thomas Brooks, a great British preacher said, "He that will play with Satan's bait will quickly be taken by Satan's hook."

I want to read you a statement from a preacher. I'll read it to you from a preacher because I want you to understand that preachers are human like everybody else. That we are not the only ones suckers for the lure.

This preacher's name is Rod Nichols.

Rod Nichols

Mowing a neighbor's lawn in Denver, Colorado, on that summer day in 1967, I was still an innocent preteen. But then I caught sight of a couple of weathered copies of Playboy in the bushes bordering the lawn. I'd heard about the magazine but never before seen one. My heart racing, I opened the magazine and there, staring out from the pages, was my first naked woman. I looked around to make sure no one was watching, then scanned every inch of those magazines.

Satan's fishing expedition was successful that day. I took his bait, hook, line, and sinker

I struggled alone with this addiction for 17 years until 1994, when I received Jesus into my life. Although the temptations were no less intense, I no longer struggled alone. I attended a Promise Keepers event. I learned the importance of dispelling the darkness of sin by bringing it into the light.

I joined a men's accountability group and shared my struggles. I wasn't alone; each man in the group had also struggled with pornography for years. With our sin out in the light, we all battled together and, through Christ's strength, became victorious.

I want you to hear him. He bit the bait. And Satan goes fishing for us every day. He uses different bait for different people. But he dangles it in front of us and we bite. And everybody here who is honest with themselves, will admit, that at some point, you have nibbled at the bait. Every longing, every desire that is for something that is evil, something that is hurtful, something that destroys is Satan's bait. And those of you who have been down this street with me, understand that one is never enough, is it? You take your first drink and then pretty soon, one won't do it. Gotta have two. And after you've had a couple, they won't do it any more and it becomes six.

And the folks we sat behind in the park the other night must have been practicing for awhile because they both downed about a dozen. And if it isn't that, it's one hit and one hit will do it for awhile and then it's two. It's one ice cream cone and that'll do it for awhile, then you've gotta have two. It's one affair, a one night stand and then it's a life. It's one purchase that gives you the adrenalin rush and then you've got to get the charge card going. They're all the same.

I had a sermon this week I was listening to by Rob Bell, a young preacher up in Michigan and one of the things that he said was so ultimately compelling. That "behind every yearning is a yearning". That most of us think what we're trying to solve by the drink or the hit or the purchase is only symptomatic of something that runs far deeper. Every teenager that rebels against a parent and goes out and does stuff that they ought not do, if they will look deeper, they will discover that there's a longing that they cannot meet.. . . . .working at the symptoms and they think if they solve this symptom they'll feel better, when, in fact, there is something so subtly underneath it that is driving it. That if they can solve that longing, the rest of them would take care of themselves.

The search that we are on is not to handle the symptom. Not to come up with a rule to keep you from over-indulging in anything. What we're trying to discover is what's the drive that solves that underlying drive.

And since you're in church, and I'm a preacher, you know what I'm going to tell you. Jesus said, I came to bring you life and that more abundantly. You want to solve that not surface thing, but that underlying drive? Give Jesus a chance in your life and He will fill that other void and what you'll discover is that those outer circumstances, those other symptoms will take care of themselves through the power of His Spirit in your life.

See, what is so powerfully important is what comes into the New Testament in the teachings of Scripture where for example, in Luke 12 Jesus has this remarkable teaching that if we would just listen to what it is He is trying to say to us, it would so incredibly helpful. Luke 12 Here, somebody comes and wants to divide the inheritance. Got to get the money stuff straightened out. And Jesus says in Luke 12:15 "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." And then he tells the parable about the guy who went out and built bigger barns to hold all his stuff. Have you looked out behind our building lately? You know what's over there? Storage units. It's the phenomena of the 21st Century. They're cropping up all over the country. Storage units! So we can do what. . . . .store our stuff!

Now I don't have to tell you this. This church has a couple of those storage units. Cause we got too much stuff! And the trouble is, when you need that "stuff", well, the trouble is, you never need the "stuff" because if it's over in the storage unit, you forget you even have it.

Ask me, I know, we just moved. Ah, just moving. It's been a year of like just moving and we just keep finding "stuff". I mean, it's in every nook and cranny and I'm thinkin', if I didn't know it was there for twenty-three years, you'd think I don't need it any more.

Jesus says, Look Out! Cause a man's life does not consist in his "stuff". Ask the people in New Orleans. Life doesn't consist in "stuff".

The New Testament is so helpful. Philippians 4. Think on these remarkably important things. Learn, he says. Come here. (Lacey, I'm hurrying.) Philippians 4:11 I'm not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I 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. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Learn to be content. Paul will repeat that in 1Timothy 6 when he will say, But godliness with contentment is great gain.

I had a friend, I think I've mentioned him to you, who used to refuse to allow catalogs, like Sears and Penny's catalogs into his house because he didn't want his family sitting around looking at the stuff that they didn't have because it stirred up a spirit of discontent.

Colossians 3:1 this great chapter about what it means to live in relationship with Jesus. It starts out this way. Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated. . . . . . .Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. And then he's gonna go down and tell you how to get rid of all of this stuff, these, oh, not just material things, but these attitudes and then to fill your life with that which is powerfully good and holy.

Hebrews 12:2 tells us to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and the finisher of our faith.

And I'm just about there. Are you with me? The first commandment is what? I'm God, don't try to replace me. Long for me. The last commandment is don't long for other things. Don't long for a man's house or his car or his servant or his life. Don't get caught up longing for the things down here. Long for God. Long for Him! Yearn for Him! If you're going to covet something. Covet God!

So how does Jesus fulfill this? He lives a contented life. He's the one who says about Himself, the Son of man doesn't even have a place to lay his head. He wasn't worried about that kind of stuff. Jesus is the one who said, "Don't worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow's got enough trouble to take care of itself, you just trust me for today. The Lilies of the field and all that stuff." He understood. How did Jesus live out this not coveting thing? He was generous with . . . . .Everything He had was yours! Time, energy, power, material things, it was all just available to give to somebody else because He knew that why He had it. He was here to be a blessing.

How did Jesus fill this out? He never , ever is evidenced in all of the Gospel longing for anything other than God Himself and His relationship with God. How did Jesus fulfill this? He fulfilled it by understanding that, that which was eternal had much more value than that which is temporary. And so He valued things like people. And He valued things like people cause He didn't value things at all. He just valued people and He longed to walk with God.

There it is! The command starts this way. Love God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength. Love Him! And if you love Him you will not have trouble loving anything else.

Thomas Chalmers who preached back in the late 1700's, early 1800's made a comment. It's a little archaic but I just have to share it with you.

Thomas Chalmers

There are two ways in which a practical moralist may attempt to displace from the human heart its love of the world; either by a demonstration of the world's vanity, so that the heart shall be prevailed upon simply to withdraw its regard from an object that is not worthy of it; or, by setting forth another object, even God, as more worthy of its attachment; so that the heart shall be prevailed upon, not to resign an old affection which shall have nothing to succeed it, but to exchange an old affection for a new one.

I can stand up here week after week after week and beg you to forsake the things of the world and it will be fruitless. But when you fall in love with God; when you are passionate about Jesus, your love of the world will fade into oblivion.

And so every week we offer you an opportunity to engage Him, to be drawn to Him, to encounter Him, to love Him. We call it Communion; we call it the Lord's Supper. We call it the Eucharist. We call it by a lot of names but what it boils down to is this. Here's an opportunity for you to be reminded one more time that the only affection in your life worth pursuing is your affection for Jesus. And so I hope, from the time you walk out of this building today, you will begin to long to be back at this table in His presence again. That when you walk out of this building, you long to walk in His company; that you long only for Him, because He longed only for you.

Father,

It's hard not to be attracted by the world. Everything we look at is an attempt to draw us to want something. And yet you and your wisdom have made it so clear that the only One worth wanting is you. And so we come to this table in the name of Jesus, in the power of Jesus, through the grace of Jesus because we want You. Thanks for meeting us here. Speak to our hearts. Call us. Continue to love us. We pray in Jesus' name.

Amen.