Radical Contentment - 3

How a Christian Maintains the Balance between Desires and Contentment

Joshua 14:6-12

Hear this message preached (MP3)


16 Nov, 2014

Pastor Craig Ledbetter

Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland



I.       Introduction (Hebrews 10:36)


A.    There is a remarkable balance in the Christian life that every Christian needs

B.     One that lies between Desire (what you want), and Contentment (what you already have)

C.     They seem so opposite, and yet, in Christ, they are perfectly matched

D.    Here is how we normally view the Christian’s life: Boring, un-ambitious, poor, restrained, limited, no fun – all in the name of “being content”

E.     Yet, here is how we view the life of the world: exciting, challenging, striving for success, prosperity, reaching for the stars – all in the name of “being happy”

F.      Hmmmm. Neither is right by themselves!

G.    There is another way - a better way – Caleb is our example!


II.    Review


A.    Contentment is Our First Need


1.      Contentment is a deep, sense of rest, and satisfaction with yourself and your accomplishments right now

2.      Desire is a deep unrest due to a need

3.      Believe me, BOTH are normal feelings of the human heart.

4.      Neither is ever obtained outside of a growing relationship with Jesus Christ – a walk with Him

5.      So, without this balance, the world rushes headlong into…


a.       Marrying the wrong person – thinking it will bring satisfaction

b.      Changing jobs – to seek satisfaction in doing something different

c.       Buying stuff constantly – a woman’s delight many times – just leads to immense debt


6.      Contentment HAS to be the first priority


B.     Contentment IS Possible!


1.      Or else God would never have told us to be content with what we have!

2.      Caleb was a man of like passions as all of us

3.      We too can have desires, needs, and even ambitions, and be content until they come to pass


C.     Contentment is More Important Than Success (Ps 37:16; 1Tim 6:6)


1.      All the success in the world will never satisfy – Solomon proved this, and the whole book of Ecclesiastes is a record of all that he accomplished, and how empty he still felt – “all is vanity”

2.      To the Christian, the goal is NOT success, prosperity, or even your happiness

3.      The goal in life is finding all you need in your walk with Jesus Christ (Col 2:6)

4.      Learning about resting in Christ, is the first step – most important step to sanity

5.      It’s amazing to bit by bit discover that all we need has already been supplied by Jesus Christ – not in our religious acts, or going to religious places – but in the Person of Jesus Christ!


D.    What a Christian already HAS, “in Christ” – the we CAN be satisfied with – it can’t get any better than this


1.      In Christ is Real Life (John 1:3,4) – we Christians WANT to live!

2.      In Christ is Eternal Life – abundant eternal life (1 John 5:11)

3.      Righteousness (2Cor 5:21)

4.      In Christ is every spiritual blessing (Eph 1:3)

5.      In Christ is every spiritual need met (1Cor 1:29,30)

6.      Even the whole Trinity of God is IN HIM, and we are in Him (Col 2:9)

7.      We are complete, without lack, in Him (Col 2:10)

8.      All the fullness of everything there is, is IN HIM (Col 1:16-19)

9.      Not IN anything else!


E.     Last Sunday… we discovered God’s Contentment – this is our starting point!

F.     This evening, let’s move on to OUR mountain – the thing we want, need, or desire!


III. Background (Joshua 14:6-12)


A.    Remember Caleb?


1.      One of the 12 spies sent by Moses into the Promised Land to survey, explore, and report back to the people of Israel all to expect when they entered into the land

2.      Only he and Joshua believed God, and stayed faithful to God’s will for their lives – to battle and fight for every inch of the Promised Land, known as the land of Israel. Everyone else, who did not believe God could give them success, all of them slowly died, in the wilderness

3.      He has a lot to teach us about both Ambition and Contentment


B.     Caleb Wanted Something Hard to Get – an area called Hebron (Josh 14:12)


1.      The main city of the area was a walled city, at about 3,000 feet elevation, set right on the start of a mountain chain. It is an ancient city, built about 300 years earlier.

2.      In this strongly fortified city lived a race of giant men called the descendants of Anak the giant, also known as the Anakim

3.      40 years earlier, Caleb, and the other 11 men had seen these Giants, and massively fortified cities. 10 of the men had given up all hope of ever conquering any of the Promised Land.

4.      But Two men – Joshua and Caleb had chosen to believe God’s promises, and were ready to enter into the promised land BY FAITH

5.      It was not to be so. Not for 38 more years!

6.      The decision of the people (democratic vote) to NOT go in meant they would now not go in until every adult died. Only their children would experience the victory of living by faith instead of by sight!

7.      Well, here it was, 38 years later, and Joshua and Caleb are testimonies that God will be true to His promises!

8.      But, the hardest area to conquer was the area known as Hebron

9.      And Caleb wanted it – giants and all!


C.    Caleb was Willing to Do God’s Will, while Waiting to Get His Own Will


1.      Caleb had to be content to wait on God for 45 years!

2.      But in the patience, and contentment, Caleb never lost his desire – his ambition


D.    When the Time was Right, Caleb Acted on His Desires


1.      He Asked for his desire – not demanded

2.      He was Ready – not a foolish desire, but well thought out

3.      He was Committed – not going to back out when it got hard


a.       Hebron had been attempted before, and had been lost

b.      Caleb was committed to His desire


4.      The same ought to go with everything we do – like the dire to get married


a.       Ask your parents, your pastor, if it is the right time to get married and if you are ready

b.      Make sure you are ready for marriage and all its ups and downs

c.       Then, commit to that desire!


E.     Caleb’s Attitude and Life Inspired not only a Son-in-Law, but His Own Daughter Too (Josh 15:13-19)


1.      Othniel

2.      Achsah


IV. Message


A.    Ambition is vital for Christian Growth (Prov 10:4)


1.      You and I need to have more than just needs (we all have needs) – you need to have desires


a.       Goals to reach

b.      Things to accomplish

c.       Activities, and things that are HARD to do – that challenge you

d.      Or else you will die! First spiritually, then emotionally, then mentally, and then physically!


2.      Caleb had Contentment, but also had Ambition (Desires)

3.      Ambition is NOT a bad word


a.       It means having a goal, an aim, an objective to accomplish – a bigger purpose for life than just being a “consumer” – a bump on a log, a taker, a waster

b.      The opposite of Ambition is Apathy


4.      Ambition is vital for life


a.       You need ambition for getting to the top of Mount Everest

b.      To start transatlantic airplane flights

c.       To actually land on the Moon, and come back alive

d.      For discovering that cells, and all of life are controlled by miraculously designed DNA, and not by chance! It took YEARS!

e.       And Ambition is VITAL for a Christian to thrive: There is NO life, when wallowing in depression, disappointment and defeat

f.       When Jesus commanded His disciples to “go into all the world” in Mark 15:15, He expected Bible believing Christians to discover America, the South Pole and the deepest villages in Africa – all to fulfil Christ’s command!


5.      A Christian has to have DESIRES, ambitions that well-up within their heart


a.       For souls to get saved (Rom 10:1)

b.      For companionship (Gen 2:18)

c.       For success in life (Prov 10:4)

d.      For more out of life – Jabez (1Chron 4:9,10)

e.       For your family to love God and serve God (3John 1:4)


6.      Without ambition, you will not strive to learn this Bible, to have answers to life’s serious questions, or win souls, or raise your family for God – your family will end up dominated by the world, and in a devil’s hell!

7.      Folks, we all need ambition – we need godly desires that help drive us forward, and upward (Philp 3:13,14)! NOT constantly backwards!!!


B.     Only God Can Supply BOTH your Desires and Contentment (Ps 37:4; Heb 13:5)


1.      Again, the first priority is to have rest – DELIGHT IN THE LORD - to be able to be content with whatever you currently have:


a.       Your family may not be much to look at, but you cannot EVER have your desires for your family fulfilled, until you thank God for what you have!

b.      Your job

c.       Your education

d.      Your money or lack of it

e.       Your popularity – nobody may like you (as Jeremiah experienced)

f.       Your heart may act for these things to change or get better, but first, accept them from the hand of God, as a perfect gift, and be content (1Thes 5:18; Eph 5:20)

g.      THAT is the first thing to BE - content


2.      But then again, there are needs in your life that also need to be met! Desires that are right, and ought to be fulfilled!


a.       There is nothing wrong and everything right with wanting to get married – even NEEDING to get married

b.      There is nothing wrong with owning a house, and needing a place of your own

c.       There is nothing wrong with having a good paying job, and being successful

d.      There is nothing wrong with taking risks and starting your own business, or investing in a new company


3.      The problem occurs when our desires come BEFORE contentment – when we make demands of God instead of requests in our prayers

4.      What do I mean? Listen to me


a.       God wants to bless His people – He has designed this world and universe FOR us (1Cor 3:21-23)

b.      But God wants you to WANT CONTENTMENT FIRST before you want the things you desire (Psalm 37:4) – what He has given us, and where He has us!!!


5.      Before you strive for the mastery of something – before you attempt great things for God…


a.       Get alone with God – SERIOUSLY!!!

b.      And maintain a constant thankfulness for all that God already has done and is doing in your life (good or bad) – be always ready to say as Job, “the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”


6.      Neither your success or your satisfaction is obtained by your own efforts – it is obtained by a “walk of faith” yielding to the power of Jesus Christ in your life (2Cor 5:7)

7.      Never forget that! Caleb was 85 years old (Josh 14:10,11)


C.    Warning!


1.      The Devil Will “Play” on Your Desires (Gen 3:6; Psalm 78:27-31)


a.       Gen 3:6  And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

b.      He will get you into the habit of never being content, but making demands of God (Psalm 78:27-31)


2.      There are Desires You CANNOT Have


a.       Deu_5:21  Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbour's wife, neither shalt thou covet thy neighbour's house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or any thing that is thy neighbour's.

b.      Deu_7:25  The graven images of their gods shall ye burn with fire: thou shalt not desire the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it unto thee, lest thou be snared therein: for it is an abomination to the LORD thy God.

c.       There are many more things to NOT covet and desire!


D.    So, LIVE in God’s Balance! Christians Need Balance in the following Important Areas


1.      In Your Wages


a.       Be thankful first, then work hard for better

b.      Every Christian ought to be the hardest working person on the job, and ought to be earning a raise, not waiting on a Worker’s Union to get it for them


2.      In Your Possessions – be thankful and live within your means first, and then set out to obtain more as God gives you direction and ability. That includes Your Clothes and Food  – when was the last time you were just simply thankful for the clothes you have and the food you have? Start there, and then you will have the right foundation for expanding your wardrobe without getting immodest and carnal!

3.      In Your Marital State


a.       Married? Praise God

b.      Unmarried? Praise God

c.       God will accept our praise more than our complaining spirit

d.      Thank God for how you are right now, and wait on God to open the door for you to pursue your desire one day!


4.      In Your Salvation – aren’t you glad you are saved?


a.       Praise God for GREAT forgiveness – the mercy and grace of God

b.      Maybe you have never realised just how MUCH God had to forgive you!!!

c.       You cannot be MORE saved than you are now!

d.      But you CAN be more like Christ! More holy. More faithful. More Compassionate!

e.       Seek to be more mature, more fruitful!


5.      In your health.


a.       How God made you – be very thankful and amazed – not just tolerant

b.      What God is allowing you to experience

c.       Seek to be better, so you can better serve God – if God will

d.      Just make sure you serve God as you are!


6.      In whatever state you are in – be content, and find lasting joy and peace that passes all understanding and yet, never stop  reaching for the goal, the ambition (Philp 3:13,14)

7.      But HOW can anyone live in balance with such needs and or desires???


V.    HOW to Activate Contentment in your Heart


A.    What can you and I do to have BALANCE in both areas?


1.      First, Give thanks in all things. THAT’S AN ORDER! Paul had learned to give thanks in every circumstance and he exhorted all believers to do the same.


a.       Thankfulness is first of all a matter of obedience (1 Thess. 5:18; Eph. 5:18)

b.      But it is also a characteristic of a Spirit-filled believer (Eph. 5:18-20).


2.      Second, See everything you have, as from the hand of God (Isaiah 45:7)


a.       Your blessings, good things

b.      AND your troubles, trials, disasters, failures even (Gen 45:4-8)


3.      Third, Learn to rest in God's providence. If we truly know God, we know that He is unfolding His purpose in our lives. He has sovereignly determined each part of His plan for us so that we'll be benefited and He'll be glorified (cf. Rom. 8:28). We should not be surprised or ungrateful when we experience trials because we know that God sees perfectly the end result (cf. 1 Pet. 4:12-13).

4.      Fourth, Learn to be satisfied with “little”.


a.       Paul had learned to make the choice to be satisfied with little, and he knew it was important for others to learn to make that same choice.

b.      In 1 Timothy 6:6 Paul exhorted a young pastor with these words: " But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content."

c.       Paul understood that covetousness and contentment are enemies.


5.      Fifth, Learn to live above life's circumstances. That's how Paul lived.


a.       In 2 Cor 12:9-10 he wrote, "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong."

b.      Paul didn't take pleasure in the pain itself, but in the power of Christ manifested through him in times of infirmity, reproach, persecution, and distress. We also should learn to take pleasure in the power of Christ in times of distress.


6.      Sixth, Learn to rely on God's power and provision.


a.       The apostle Paul wrote, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me"; and Jesus said He “will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Heb 13:5).

b.      Like Paul, we can learn to rely on Christ's promises. He faithfully fills every believer with His own strength and sustains them in their time of need until they receive provision from His hand (Eph 3:16).


7.      Finally, Become occupied with the well-being of others.


a.       Paul summarized this mind-set in Philippians 2:3-4, where he wrote: "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others."

b.      A self-centred person, absorbed only with their own needs is a miserable person. But the soul of the generous man, the man who lives for the benefit of others, will find blessing upon blessing in his or her life (see Prov. 11:24-5; 19:17; Luke 6:38; 2 Cor. 9:6).


B.     All of that will make your desires both RIGHT, and ATTAINABLE


VI. Conclusion


A.    What are you thankful for?


1.      What stops you from staying thankful for those things?

2.      Purge out anything that hinders a grateful attitude


B.     What are you striving for?


1.      Are you willing to wait on God until He gives you your desire?

2.      How LONG are you willing to wait?


C.    THAT is when you will be living in Christian balance!