What’s Happening at FBC This Week?

I look forward to beginning a new message series on Sunday. We will be beginning a study of 1 Peter. We will call our study “Living Hope.” This is a powerful phrase that occurs in 1 Peter 1:4. The author of 1 and 2 Peter is the apostle Peter that we are familiar with in the Gospels and Acts. During the ministry of Jesus, no other person is more important to the story than Peter. Peter desired to make the point that, as believers, they are strangers in this world. Their beliefs are foreign. Here is where the book begins to take on a contemporary application for the modern day believer in Christ. We also are strangers in this world. Our beliefs are foreign to the world around us. Our beliefs, desires, and habits of holiness are often thought of as foreign and silly among an unbelieving world. But, whatever our problem, pain, or even persecution, we have a Savior, who is our Living Hope! Let’s dig into this important topic. Take some time between now and Sunday and read this book. We will focus Sunday on the first 12 verses.

Have you signed up for your photo session for the new Church Directory? Please go to fbclaf.org/photo or call 866-756-0281. We want every person and family involved. A complete directory is going to be a great resource for us in building relationships with one another.

Pursue Christ, Pursue Contentment!

I read somewhere this week that our society suffers from “inextinguishable discontent.” We are on a perpetual quest for more or better. We want a better job, a better boss, a better wage, or a better retirement plan. We want a better marriage or a better spouse. We want a better car, a better house, and a better wardrobe. Some of us just want a better golf swing. And, we live for “what’s next.” We find ourselves wishing for next weekend, or our next vacation, or our next phase of life. All the while in this quest for better and next, we miss today. We miss now. And we miss contentment. And, we learn from Paul that this is not the life worthy of the call of Christ. Consider the text.

In comparison, though, Paul addressed the Philippians that he had learned the “secret to contentment.” Just as is the case with joy, true contentment is found in Christ. Joy and contentment seem to run on parallel tracks.

Since Paul used that word, “learned,” we ask the question of the text, “What had he learned?

The Connection Between Circumstances and Contentment

Here’s the simple lesson: There really is no connection between circumstances and contentment. Look at the phrases of this text: whatever circumstances (v. 11); little/a lot (v. 12); any and all circumstances (v. 12); well fed or hungry (v. 12); abundance or need (v. 12).

In the whole of the letter Paul has already expressed this same idea in multiple ways. He has expressed his contentment even though: 1) he is in prison; 2) the Gospel is being perverted by some who preach it under false pretense; 3) he has encountered problems of fellowship in the church; 4) his past has left him empty.

There is no connection between circumstances and contentment.

A man was counseling with his pastor over what the man described as his total financial collapse. He told his pastor, “I’ve lost everything.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve lost your faith.”
“No,” the man corrected him, “I haven’t lost my faith.”
“Well, then I’m sad to hear that you’ve lost your character.”
“I didn’t say that,” he corrected. “I still have my character.”
“I’m sorry to hear that you’ve lost your salvation.”
“That’s not what I said,” the man objected. “I haven’t lost my salvation.”
“You have your faith, your character, your salvation. Seems to me,” the minister observed, “that you’ve lost none of the things that really matter.”
We haven’t either.
That’s the first lesson. Here’s the second.

The Contrast Between Self-Reliance and God-Reliance

The word that Paul used here, translated “content,” was used in the first century by the godless, pagan Stoics. They believed and taught that contentment came by becoming entirely self-sufficient. They believed that contentment came when a person became absolutely independent of all things. So, they taught their followers to eliminate all desire so that each one would say, “I don’t want.”

The contentment that Paul spoke of is nothing like that kind of contentment. Instead, Paul taught that contentment was found not in our self-reliance, but in a God-reliance. He is grateful for their gift, but not reliant on their gift. He is reliant on God. And, in this, he finds his contentment.

This is the point of verse 13. Verse 13 is not some motto to hang on the wall so that we will believe that we can do anything. Here is the reminder that we can do nothing except the things that we can do through Christ.

Corrie Ten Boom said, “If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. If you look at God you’ll be at rest.”
And that seems to me to be contentment.

Now, here is the third lesson.

The Charge Regarding Having and Giving

Paul wrote in part to thank the Philippians for their gift. Or, as one commentary put it, “Sort of.” He is genuinely thankful, but he also wants them to know that he would have been content without their gift. He recognized that the profit of their giving was to him, but also to them. The gift was a profit to Paul, a profit to them, and a place for them to learn trust in God to supply their every need.

I suspect that somebody needs to hear that today.

In our abundance or even in our need, we will always be content in giving. Giving increases contentment.

A Final Word: There is one thing that ought to leave you with feelings of discontent. If you are in sin, I pray you are discontent in that sin.

Pursue Christ! As you do, pursue the contentment that comes with a relationship to Christ.

(This post is based on the message “Pursue Contentment” which you can watch at fbclaf.org/video)

My Thoughts Regarding SCOTUS Ruling on Louisiana Abortion Law

Last Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled against a Louisiana law that required abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges. Friday morning, a reporter called me asking for a statement. I am grateful that all Gannett newspapers throughout the state carried my entire statement as well as the statements of other Louisiana pastors. My statement appears below. Let us pray that the Supreme Court revisits this decision. In the meanwhile, let us pray for the women who are having abortions and the doctors performing those abortions. Let’s not just be mad. In fact, let’s be compassionate. Let’s pray for the Gospel to transform their lives.

Regarding the Supreme Court decision last night to not allow a Louisiana law to go into effect to mandate that abortion providers have admitting privileges, the citizens of Louisiana should realize several things.

First, no one should be surprised that Louisiana Christians are opposed to this ruling. We seek to approach this issue and every issue through the lens of Holy Scripture. We understand clearly according to the Bible, that life begins at conception, that life is ordained by God, Himself, and that each life is precious and unique. For that reason, no one should ever be surprised that Christians, who hold to the authority of Scripture, will always be pro-life.

Second, we need to understand that this is not over. As I read and understand the Supreme Court decision, they can pick this issue back up for a more thorough hearing. Certainly, we pray that yesterday’s decision is only temporary.

Third, we need to understand that the Supreme Court decision is not logical. As diverse as we are in Louisiana, the pro-life issue is one that has overwhelming support among most people of Louisiana. This is one issue that Republicans and Democrats in Louisiana agree upon. Further, this decision fails the logic test because the law, as passed in Louisiana, actually is a support to women who may even be choosing abortion. I do not understand how anyone could be opposed to a doctor, at a minimum, having hospital admitting privileges.

We are disappointed at the moment but are encouraged that this might even further awaken the vast majority of Louisiana people who are convictional pro-life supporters.