If we are to remain evergreen, it starts with an understanding that our identity is cultivated in the truth of who God is and what He has done on our behalf.
>>> It is by growing deep that we are able to stand tall.
Too often we want to stand tall, to be someone, to be recognized, without undergoing the process of growing deep. Then, when the winds of life begin to blow our roots aren’t deep enough to keep us grounded.
>>> This morning I want to help you learn how to stand tall, even when the gale force winds blow against you.
Isaiah 55:12–13 NET - Indeed you will go out with joy; you will be led along in peace; the mountains and hills will give a joyful shout before you, and all the trees in the field will clap their hands. Evergreens will grow in place of thorn bushes, firs will grow in place of nettles; they will be a monument to the Lord, a permanent reminder that will remain.
You were made to be evergreen. To display life in dry spaces. Even so, many of us look at our lives today and would admit that we are a lot things, but evergreen isn’t one of them.
>>> I think many of us look at life through another set of lenses. Like polarized sunglasses, these lenses help shape the way we see the world. How we see our life, our career, our relationships… It what leads us to believe that it’s always greener somewhere else.
“WHAT IF?” LENSES
These lenses have “What if?” inscribed across the front.
What if I...
Filtering our lives through these lenses leaves us discouraged and discontent.
Always Greener — Elsewhere
This mindset, that it is always greener elsewhere, has some pretty serious side-effects. They’re not always easy to see and identify, especially within us, because they come so naturally and the consequences usually don’t cause physical harm. Yet, we’re shedding leaves and dying out.
Three Consequences of the Always Green Mindset:
Never leads to joy
Makes me the victim
Robs us of life
The Problem of Discontentment
Mark 4:7 NLT - Indeed you will go out with joy; you will be led along in peace; the mountains and hills will give a joyful shout before you, and all the trees in the field will clap their hands. Evergreens will grow in place of thorn bushes, firs will grow in place of nettles; they will be a monument to the Lord, a permanent reminder that will remain.
Mark 4:18–19 NLT - The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced.
In one word, these individuals were “discontent.”
But let’s not forget the main emphasis of Jesus’ teaching. Not only did these actions have an adverse effect on their satisfaction with life, but it also caused the Word of God to be choked out.
Our discontentment will cause us to miss the provision of God in our lives. To miss His leading and directing. It will cause us to be blown about and wither away.
1 Samuel 18:6–8 NLT - When the victorious Israelite army was returning home after David had killed the Philistine, women from all the towns of Israel came out to meet King Saul. They sang and danced for joy with tambourines and cymbals. 7 This was their song: “Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands!” 8 This made Saul very angry. “What’s this?” he said. “They credit David with ten thousands and me with only thousands. Next they’ll be making him their king!”
Saul should have been thanking David. “That thing you did back there with the giant, yeah, that was great. Thank you so much.”
Instead, Saul pokes his head up over the fence and says, “Look how much greener it is over there. David has everything! The people like him so much more than they like me. He’s funny, has a great sense of humor, his handy, has a steady job...”
Do not sow your desires in another’s garden, but cultivate well your own. Do not desire to be what you are not, but desire to be very well what you are; occupy your thoughts in making that perfect, and in bearing the crosses, little or great, which you will meet. -Francis de Sales
What’s your want?
Here’s where most of us get stuck...
As soon as I get _____________, then I’ll have what I want.
What is underneath your want?
An insatiable appetite for more
>>> I believe that every one of us have an upgrade in satisfaction that is available to you that you can experience in this life. An upgrade in relational fulfillment, in joy, in peace, in purpose. But I don't believe that boat is going to help you find it. That job isn't going to help you find it. Getting married/divorced isn't going to help you find it. This upgrade comes from learning to trust your Heavenly Father.
Two Kinds of Contentment (World’s vs God’s)
Definition: in a state of peaceful happiness.
By very definition, contentment is a state. A state that is dependent on our circumstances.
Aim: My happiness.
Method: Variety of pursuits.
Source: Me, others, created things.
Result: Empty. Unsatisfied.
Aim: God's pleasure.
Method: Knowing and glorying in the person and works of God
Source: Creator God
Result: John 10:10 NLT - The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
Learning to be Content
Philippians 4:10–13 NLT
How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me. 11 Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
Philippians 3:4–6 NLT
though I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could. Indeed, if others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more! 5 I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. 6 I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault.
Philippians 3:7–8 NLT
I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. 8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ.
Now Paul finds himself in prison, he’s been shipwrecked, beaten, jailed, and yet proclaims, “Not that I was ever in need.”
How can Paul say something so outlandish!?
Because he has learned to be content.
There is nothing in hunger, or thirst, or nakedness, or peril, to invite our contentment. If we are content under such circumstances, it must be from higher motives than our condition itself affords. — C. H. Spurgeon
He will never attain to perfection who will not labor to be satisfied with this: that all his natural and spiritual desires should be satisfied in the absence of everything which is not God. This is most necessary for an abiding peace and tranquility of spirit. -John of the Cross
It is this confidence that enables Paul to declare, “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength!”
Philippians 4:19 NLT
And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
You see, you can’t the Source confused with the supply.
So whether I have plenty or little, whether I am full or running on empty, I know that my God shall supply ALL of MY needs according to HIS glorious riches.
Fear, a lack of trust, pride, self-reliance
Trust in the will of God, faith in the provision of God, reliance on strength of God
A Psalm of David
Psalm 23 NLT - The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. 2 He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. 3 He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. 4 Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. 5 You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. 6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.
The truth for those who are in Christ is that it is always greener where God is. He leads us to rest in green meadows. And there He renews our strength. He protects and comforts us. So we have no need to be afraid. We have no reason to turn aside from the presence of God.
Isaiah 58:11 NLT - The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.