Lord of the Ringless: Contentment and Singleness
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III. How to have what you want and want what you have: Change for the best; Trust God for the rest
A. Contentment is found in submitting to your present path as God’s perfect will Js 4:6-10
B. We might need to change (do what God wants us to) to get on the right path (Change for the best) Rom 12:1-2
C. We must draw upon God’s grace to prayerfully change, thankfully wait, and joyfully endure (Trust God for the rest) 2Cor 12: 9
IV. Knowing God (character and promises) is the Key to Contentment
A. God is Sovereignly and wisely in control “God has arranged all my circumstances for my best benefit and His glory”
B. God is infinitely Good and Loving “He will give me what’s best when it’s best, that is when I’m ready for it”
C. God gives all-sufficient grace as well as perfect gifts “He will give me grace to profitably wait for the fulfillment of what’s best.”
FGrace is the coin of the realm of heaven, it’s what enables us to transact business in the spiritual realm.
V. Both Marriage and Singleness have Advantages and Disadvantages [as well as Responsibilities]
A. Our primary and continual responsibility is to serve and glorify God in whatever state we’re in
1Cor 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
2Cor 5:15 He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.
B. We need to develop the character and skill set necessary for Biblical relationships and friendships
Phil 2:4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. (See TOYL Biblical Friendships)
FIf we’ve learned to have God meet our needs then we’re free to meet the needs of others.
C. We should develop the skill set necessary for God to entrust to us one of his choice partners
1Cor 7:32 But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord——how he may please the Lord. 33 But he who is married cares about the things of the world——how he may please his wife. 34 There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world——how she may please her husband. 35 And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction.
1. Future husbands should demonstrate loving leadership as they seek to shepherd others, and plan on meeting needs as an ACTER
Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.
2. Future wives should demonstrate Christlike followership as they seek to love others and plan on meeting needs as a STARR
Eph 5: 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. 33 and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
D. It is impossible for us to miss the will of God if we are seeking Him with all our heart,
Jer 29:11 I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
Ps 37:3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. 4 Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.
Mt 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
1. Put your desire to sleep in the will of God, as you be a good steward of what He’s entrusted to you
Song of Solomon 8:4 I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, Do not stir up nor awaken love Until it pleases.
2. Relate with brothers and sisters as would Christ, without defrauding (gain advantage)
1Thess 4:1 we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus, as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God that you should abound more and more, 2 for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. 7 For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.
Questions for Reflection/Discussion/Response:
1. What causes discontent with one’s circumstances? Does changing the circumstances change us? Why do we think the grass is greener...?
2. How can God lovingly use our discontent to draw us into a place of greater blessing? What can prevent that from happening?
3. How can a person independently missing God’s objective will, determine His subjective will about a marriage partner and timing?
4. How does living with a roommate now prepare you for living with a spouse in the future? How is it different?
5. When can seeking for or shopping for a spouse be in conflict with God’s perfect will for us?
Knowing How to Live
By Fern Horst www.singleness.org/pr_knowing.shtml
I have often heard people speak of the difficulty of truly knowing God and what He expects of us. But when I hear that I wonder if they have recently picked up a copy of God’s Word and spent hours reading, studying, and meditating on it with the primary objective of learning more about God Himself and how He wants us to live.
The reason we find it so difficult to know exactly how God wants us to live is because we hear so many conflicting messages around us of what is right and wrong, how we should relate to people and how we should not relate to people, how we should do business or not do business, and in general how we should live our short lives here on this planet. We only have one life to live and then we face Judgment and Eternity. Isn’t it amazing that we waste so much time trying to figure out life on our own when we have a Manual readily available to us?
Did you know, for instance, that God says the reputation that comes from serving Him is better than passing your name down through sons and daughters? that those who do not rebel in their singleness will never be alone? that Paul at times desired to be married but knew that remaining single was best for the work to which God had called him? that wasting the opportunities God gives us in singleness may put us in danger of God’s wrath? that more important than marrying and having a family is making disciples of Christ? (See Isaiah 56; Psalm 68:6; I Corinthians 9:5; I Corinthians 7; Matthew 25:14-30; Matthew 28:18-20)
http://www.backtothebible.org/gateway/today/17267 Elisabeth Elliot: "You are loved with an everlasting love." That's what the Bible says, "And underneath are the everlasting arms." This is your friend Elisabeth Elliot, finishing my talks today on the subject of the trials of singleness. Yesterday, I read you a letter from a woman who finds great joy and fulfillment in mothering other people's children. She is single and she's got a lot of children who call her "Auntie."
Today I have another testimony from one who has passed the test, the trial of singleness. She has given her life completely to the Lord, knowing that if she gives what she cannot keep, she will gain what she cannot lose.
She says, "Let me tell you about myself. I'm 77, a life-long single. As a child, I was crazy about babies, gladly baby-sat my younger siblings. Well, most of the time. We were nine children. I, the fourth in line, so I had plenty of practice. I dreamt of having at least six of my own one day. I used to haunt the church nursery, welcoming each new baby, taking care of those whose mothers had to step out for a bit.
"Later, when my nieces and nephews came along, I was playmate, inventor of games and teller of stories to all in turn or to a whole lot at once. There are 34 of them now, grown up.
"I taught Sunday school for just under 50 years, taught Vacation Bible School, served as camp counselor. Well, you get the picture. I am not undersexed. Like most girls, I dreamt of one day being the ideal wife to the ideal man. Yes, I've met a few men who might have filled the bill, good Christian men. But God did not lead them my way.
"From the age of 16 when I renewed my commitment to God, I prayed to be kept from making a wrong choice in the matter. His will was very dear to me and we need to face the fact that in a world where there are many more Christian women than men, God must intend some of us to remain single. I believe with you that His original plan was for all to marry, but the entrance of sin into the world has changed all that. All we know is that God's Word forbids the marriage of Christian and non-Christian.
"Too, I had seen sad mistakes made by others in the matter of courtship and wrong marriages. I told the Lord I wanted only the best marriage or none at all. God gave me the 'none at all.' I can truly say that I am content. 'He addeth no sorrow therewith.'
"'If I am to be an old maid,' I used to say, 'I want to be the best kind that I know how to be.' A curious and very lovely thing has been happening to me this last while. Sunday school pupils, scattered far and wide now, have told me or written to me of the influence my life has had on theirs. It has moved me deeply. The life of a single need not be bleak, joyless, self-centered and drab."
May I repeat that? "The life of a single need not be bleak, joyless, self-centered and drab."
In one of my books--and this is written by Margaret Epp, a name that many of you may know--this is from a personal letter that she wrote to me and it's in one of my books, Walk in My Woods. I wrote a chapter on the life of a single. Here's a quote, "As a class, we are judged oddballs, if not outright screwballs, anemic souls, shriveled prunes, social gnomes, dissatisfied grouches, unfulfilled predators. If that sounds unnecessarily harsh, I would recommend a cursory sifting of proverbs, plays and cartoons.
"Here's a phrase to start your collection with, gleaned casually in my reading this very day, 'The awful fate of permanent maidenhood.' If all single women are social misfits, they are clearly unfit to mirror life, which is part of a writer's job. I hold marriage, a godly marriage, in high honor, but I could wish that there were more like you to teach that God may have the single life in mind for some of His dear daughters. And that if He does, and if they accept His will for their lives, their lives will be full to overflowing in as yet undreamed of ways." Thank you, Margaret Epp, such an encouraging testimony from you.
I think of Amy Carmichael's words, "If Thy dear home be fuller, Lord, because a little emptier my house on earth, what rich reward!" "If Thy dear home be fuller, Lord, because a little emptier my house on earth, what rich reward!"
She also wrote, "The world's blind and foolish counsel fails to see or understand how You gently love and lead me with Your mighty sovereign hand. I will feed these sheep around me. I will rest within Your fold, trusting always in Your promise, 'No good thing will I withhold.'"
Here's a dialog between a single woman and God. Her name is Dr. Diane Poythress. If you would like to see this in print, you can get it in my book called Quest for Love, which is a collection of stories about the ways in which God does know how to bring men and women together. I have included Diane's dialog with God in that book.
So this is she talking: "But God, I'm not happy as I am." God says: "Would you be happy in any state, or would you not find reason to murmur against Me, married? What is happiness for you? Don't you think I'm aware of your situation and concerned for you? I, who gave My lifeblood for you in My only begotten Son?"
Diane: "Philippians 4:19, 'My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory. Psalm 34:10, 'But they who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing.' So where is my mate?"
God says: "In My sovereign wisdom, knowing your present sanctification and the fulfilling life which I now have for you, singleness, is My best and most precious gift for you. Do not use My promises against Me, as though by loving Me you would be able to obtain your own ends. Compare the woman in the Great Divorce [a book by C. S. Lewis], a woman who wanted to go to heaven just to see her son."
Diane says: "Why did You pass over me and not my friend?"
God says: "I have other things for you, especially for you. She walks a different path, with different problems, which would only bring you much unhappiness. Do not envy, but rejoice and be glad for her."
"Will I be single forever?"
"You no more know that than you knew ahead of time the day of your conversion. These things are yet to be revealed, and still remain in My secret will. Even marriage is not forever, but only comes as My gift to you daily."
Then God asks some questions of Diane: "To whom does tomorrow belong?"
"To You, God, I have given my life, plans, hopes, needs, my all. Therefore, it is no longer mine to demand what I will. I do not even know whether You will deem that I have life tomorrow."
God says: "Can tomorrow be different from the past?"
"No, Lord. Your grace, all sufficient, has been with me through some rough days. If I can face tomorrow with Your grace as a single person, then, yes, also the tomorrow forty years from now."
God says: "Why do you want marriage?"
"Well, companionship and fulfillment of all my anxious needs. It won't provide that, will it? Only You can do that, whether I'm married or single. Lord, help me to seek to be only what is most glorifying to You, that I may love You with the obedience of my life."
He does not answer all the "whys" and "wherefores," but rather calls me to trust in Him, in who He is, in His very nature, and believe. There's something that I have to say over and over as I try to answer the letters as sensibly and carefully as I can. God does not answer all the "whys" and "wherefores." But as Diane says, He calls us to trust Him. To trust Him!
"When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word, what a glory He sheds on our way. When we do His good will, He abides with us still, and with all who will trust and obey. Trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey."
I don't know a more basic trial of our faith than the willingness to believe that what we have today God meant for us to have and what we don't have today God meant for us not to have. Godliness, the Bible says, with contentment is great gain.
I hope that there will be a number of listeners who are going to make that great gain by getting down on your knees today and saying, "Lord, I have been discontented. I have not trusted You. I have not believed that You would withhold no good thing from me. I thought that You were withholding a good thing. Lord, I want Your will. I give You mine in the name of Jesus."