Practical Christian Living – From Consumerism to Contentment

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Icebreaker: What would have been your favorite thing about living in the Garden of Eden?

Last week we talked about sin in the garden and how the serpent tried to challenge God’s command not to eat fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Satan was substituting God’s way with an alternative that, although sounded good and pleasing, in the end resulted in emptiness and death. God had all their needs taken care of but Satan convinced them that what God had provided was not enough—they needed more.

That is the message of the world—Consumerism. Why does consumerism breed dissatisfaction?

·You feel like you never have enough. There is always something bigger and better you can buy.

Consumerism can become an entire worldview—something that effects the way we see everything. Because of that we have to address this early in our study because many of the other things we study are problems because people have developed a consumer mindset that has taken the place of God in their lives. In other words, when this has fully taken root, we begin believing that the world can meet our needs instead of God. But like Adam and Eve the end result will be emptiness and even death.

How does the world bombard us with the message that what we have is never enough?

· Advertisements, trends, movies, television, internet, etc.

How was the Garden of Eden before sin entered the picture?

· It was a perfect existence between God and mankind.

· They should have been satisfied—all their basic needs were met.

The Bible makes very clear that God is the one who supplies our needs. Because of that we should be content.

Phil 4:19 

How many of your needs did Paul say God will meet?

· All

What is the difference between a want and a need?

· A want is something that is non-essential for the continuance of living life as a whole person. A need is something that only God can provide that is essential for life and spiritual development.

· Paul didn’t say God will meet all your wants. Paul said God will give you what you really need.

What does the world tell us we really need?

· Definitely not God—they say God will mess you up or that God is out to get you or that he doesn’t exist.

· The world says we need stuff. Once you get enough stuff you will be satisfied.

· The world says we need love and acceptance—the difference is how you go about finding it.

Matthew 6:28-34

The world says if you don’t have what you want you better worry until you get it. What does God say about worry? Why?

· Don’t worry—God will provide what you really need.

Jesus shifts the priority from chasing some really important things (food and clothing) to something of even greater importance. What does Jesus say is the most important thing to seek out?

· A relationship with God

What does Jesus say will follow if we make God our priority?

· The things we really need will be provided in addition to the greatest thing—a relationship with God.

Back to the way the world looks at this. The world says if you want clothes you chase clothes. If you want food you chase food. If you want stuff you better chase it yourself because no one else is going to do it for you. And don’t chase just anything. Only the best is worth your attention. Following that line of thinking to the end makes stuff our “lord” instead of God. Stuff begins to rule our lives and we end up on an endless pursuit of things that will make us seem important or “somebody.”

Gen 1:26-27

Where does scripture say our value is found?

· Our value rests in our relationship with God. We are made in his image and that makes us valuable.

What does it take for the world to say you are valuable?

· If you have the right income, job, clothes, cars, appearance, etc.

· In other words, you don’t have any inherent value apart from your things.

Consumerism robs us of who we are and it steals away from us a healthy view of others. Instead of seeing others for who God made them to be we start seeing others for how they can benefit us, how they can help our cash flow, buy our product, compliment us, etc.

Moving from Consumerism to Contentment:

Philippians 4:11-13 shows us that contentment does not come from filling ourselves with stuff. Contentment is not based on circumstances or a series of good purchases. Contentment comes from resting in the fact that we have value that comes from God and that through God our needs will be met.

What are some things in your life you feel get in the way of seeing God and others in a healthy way?

What are the necessary steps it will take for you to find contentment in God alone?

The Wall Comes Down

When I was 10 years old my family decided to take down the fence in our front yard. We had one of those old country fences that have the square wire holes. We took down all the wire but we left up the wooden posts for a week. There were some dogs that would run up and down the street that were not on the best of terms with our English shepherd. They always knew the fence had been there and like always they ran toward each other teeth barred and snarling. I knew I was about to see a fight. All of a sudden they stopped where the fence used to be and stood nose to nose with nothing between them at all! They put on their best show to show who was dominate and then they parted ways. I was shocked. They still thought the fence was where it had always been.

I wonder how many times we have been freed by Christ yet live like the chains of sin and death were still around our ankles. How many times have we been freed from sin and yet live as if the walls of that prison cell still surrounded us. Let us realize that the wall has come down and a new freedom has come that has set us free from sin and death and has released us to eternal life with Christ Jesus our Lord.

“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[b] Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Rom 6:22-23

F.R.O.G. – Fully Rely on God (Acts 9)

In Acts 9 we find the Commission/Conversion of Saul of Tarsus. On his way to Damascus, the light flashes, the voice booms, and Saul falls to the ground. He asks, “Who are you, Lord?” Jesus answers, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting…now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do.” As Saul got to his feet he realized he was blind. Notice the difference in Saul between 9:1-2 (confident and able) and 9:8-9 (blind, led by the hand, and totally dependent). We often have to be completely humbled and helpless before we are ready to fully rely on God. Even though Saul does not yet realize it he is relying for direction and healing on the very one he persecutes. [I think it is interesting to note that Jesus asks Saul, “why do you persecute me?” when Saul had never met Jesus or harmed him. To harm the church is to harm Christ. If more people treated the church and their brothers and sisters that way we would have far fewer problems in the church].

In Damascus Jesus speaks to another man, a disciple named Ananias. He is told to go and restore the sight of this well known persecutor of the church, Saul of Tarsus. Ananias’ response is understandably hesitant. But Jesus reassures him, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” (9:15-16). Ananias found himself in a position of comfort and security. He could have stayed home and avoided Saul and potential persecution but that would not have involved relying on God. The next verse, “Then Ananias went to the house and entered it.” He relied on God even if it meant he had to risk something, even if it meant he had to stick his neck out or potentially “take one for the team.”

The problem today is we don’t define “fully relying on God” the same way they did. We like the last three words but often leave out the first. We might rely on God when it comes to our prayer life but not when it comes to out business ethics. We might rely on God when it comes to our entertainment choices but not when it comes to our sexuality. We might rely on God when it comes to studying our Bibles but not when it comes to putting into practice what we have read. We might rely on God when it comes to our job but not when it comes to our retirement. Hands on when I am sick but hands off when I am well. What does it take to fully rely on God? It takes risking it all. It takes giving up on your own ability and trusting his. It takes removing all obstacles or barriers that keep God out of different areas of our life and letting him mold and shape everything. We don’t have to understand it all first. Saul certainly didn’t understand the fullness of who this voice was and yet he had to trust him. Ananias trusted God because he did know who Christ was and he trusted the call.

Reliance requires trust. Before you can fully rely on God you have to fully trust him. If you don’t trust God be careful or else you may find yourself blind, humbled and your life torn apart. If that happens to you don’t think it a bad thing, like Saul it might just be the best thing that ever happens to you. What is keeping you from fully relying on God?