Contentment/Self-fulfillment | Kylen Perry

Kylen Perry // Jan 30, 2024

Where are you looking to find fulfillment? Answers probably range from jobs and status to relationships and looks, but in this message, Kylen Perry teaches from Psalm 27 to show us that true contentment is found when we rest in dependence on our Father.

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Porch, let me hear from you. How are we feeling tonight? Yeah, let's go! Hey, I've thought about it over the course of the last week, and I think I'm in on this Tuesday thing. I think I'll keep coming back week after week. How do y'all feel? Do y'all feel good about that? We have some very special friends joining us, not only here in Dallas but also from around the nation. We have some friends tuning in, Porch.Live locations in Boise, Indy, and Greater Lafayette. I'm so glad you all are jumping in with us tonight.

I'm excited for this evening. I'm excited to continue our series Ins/Outs. Before we get into the meat of what we have for tonight, I want to start off with a really simple question, but I need your participation. Who in the room wants to find fulfillment in life? Show of hands. Keep them up. Now take a look around. What you see as you gaze around this room is it's all of us. It's not just you. You're not the exception in your pursuit of fulfillment. Everybody in this room is searching for it, which reminds me of a story. It reminds me of the time I lost my Aggie ring.

Every Thanksgiving, my family gets together and plays a backyard football game. Does anybody else do that with your families at Thanksgiving? We do this every single year. Over the course of the years, the game has gotten increasingly competitive as my cousins and my nieces and nephews have gotten older.

So, we're playing this last year, and what's happening is we're in the backyard, and it's fourth quarter, and my team is down a couple of scores. Things are beginning to get pretty heated, so I do the only sensible thing an honest competitor would do. I look at my 8-year-old nephew and bench the guy. "Hey, man. I've got to play quarterback now. You can't do this anymore. I need to do it instead, because we've got to stage a comeback."

And we start doing it. I'm throwing passes, dishing the ball. We have deep fades and out routes and stop-and-gos. We're making our way back into the game until we're only down one score and it's the final possession of the game. Knowing we have an opportunity here, my brother streams down the left side of the field, and I launch a ball his direction. In the process, I launch my Aggie ring.

Now, in a moment like that, you realize what you truly value in life. What became immediately clear to me was my ring meant way more to me than that game, because I immediately shut the thing down. "Stop! No more. We can't play." I recruited my entire family's help. "Help! Everybody get over here!" They were like, "Oh my god. What happened to you?"

"I lost my Aggie ring."

"Okay. I'm sure it's around here somewhere. Don't worry."

So, we go through the process of walking the yard and trying to see if we can find it. No luck. So we get strategic. We get together and form a line, and we start to sweep the yard together to see if we can find the ring. Still nothing. I then make everybody get on their hands and knees and scour through the grass, trying to see if they can pick out my ring, my nana included. Still nothing. We had no luck whatsoever.

I could feel the cold chill of panic, like a wet blanket falling over me, that I was not going to find this thing until I realized I still had one more solution in my back pocket. I could go buy a metal detector. So I did. I got in my pickup. I drove to Academy and got one off the shelf. I immediately ran back home, unboxed that thing, started working through the finer intricacies of treasure hunting, and started making my way across the yard to find my Aggie ring. Do you know what I found? Gold, because here it is.

Now, why do I tell you that? Because I think a lot of us are searching for fulfillment in the same way. We're moving through the proverbial backyard of 2024, and we're on the hunt for fulfillment. We may be varied in our intensity during that hunt, yet nonetheless we're still looking for fulfillment.

The reason I know this is the case is because last week we talked about how, statistically, the research shows this year we are in for three things. We are in for self-acceptance, self-fulfillment, and self-reliance. So, this is something we have prescribed as being the top of our list. This is what we are in for more than anything else.

So, if this is what we're hunting down, it begs the question…How do we find it? Well, how do you find anything in life? You ask someone who has found it before. Right now, I am on the great mission of figuring out what the best Mexican food restaurant in Dallas, Texas, is. If you have any recommendations, come talk to me afterward. I'm asking the question. I'm talking to my team. I'm trying to understand, "Where is the best Mexican food in the area?"

The reason I'm asking them is they have already gathered the insight. They can help me learn quicker where to go. They know better than I do. You see, personal experience isn't the best teacher; someone else's experience is. Why should I spend the money when they've already spent it? I'm trying to ask them, "How do I find what it is I'm looking for?"

What we see tonight in Psalm 73 is the story of a guy who actually did find fulfillment. He goes by the name of Asaph. Asaph was a worship leader. He was appointed by David as the worship leader over the tabernacle choir. What we see as we jump into Psalm 73 is he knows how to find fulfillment; it's just not where we might be expecting.

If this is your first time… I alluded to it, but we're in a brand-new series called Ins/Outs. What we know about this series is we're asking the question, "Do my goals line up with God's will for my life?" Here's what you need to know. Just cards on the table up front. God is not out on the idea of self-fulfillment; he's just in on you finding it somewhere specific.

Psalm 73. This is what it says, starting in verse 1: "Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked." Right out of the gate, it's pretty clear our guy Asaph isn't fulfilled. He's discontented. He feels some sense of frustration. It says so in verse 1.

He says, "Truly God is good to Israel…" He starts things off like a good Christian should. He starts praying, "God is good," but then he gets honest. He says, "But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped." Asaph knows God is good. He has no doubt in his mind that God is, in fact, good. The question for Asaph is whether or not God is good to him. This is the question in Asaph's mind.

In verse 2 it says he feels like he's slipping, like he's losing traction. He's not gaining momentum in his walk with the Lord. He doesn't feel like things are going the way he intended. He has made every effort to pursue godliness, to do the right thing, yet it has not paid off. He looks around, and do you know what he sees? What so many of us see. "Everybody else has everything they want. They've attained, achieved, and amassed for themselves all of the things they want in life."

Asaph feels that way, even for the wicked, yet it doesn't feel like that's the case for him. That could not be farther from his reality. You see, Asaph is going through the ancient equivalent of a quarter-life crisis, what some of us are familiar with and psychologists define as a period of uncertainty and questioning that typically occurs when people feel trapped, uninspired, and disillusioned during their 20s and 30s.

This is a feeling some of you can relate to. You graduated college, you moved to the big city, you got the job you wanted, you started making the big checks, you picked up the guy or girl you were aiming at, and you started living in the high-rise. Everything looked the way you wanted, yet on the other side of it, you woke up one day and realized, "This isn't at all as fulfilling as I thought it would be. I'm not nearly as satisfied with all of the trappings of a successful life like I thought I would be. I feel empty."

Does that sound like your experience? This is Asaph's. This is what he's feeling. He's saying, "Man, I've played by the rules. I've checked all of the boxes. I've crossed the T's, dotted the I's, and done everything the way you're supposed to do it, yet I'm still missing something." He feels frustrated. He feels out of gas. He feels winded from all the work. He feels disappointed, which is good. You may not be thinking that is the case, yet what we know is that in order to find fulfillment we actually have to, first and foremost, identify what triggers our disappointment.

1. If you want to find fulfillment, you must identify what triggers your disappointment. Now, at first that feels like a bait and switch. "Dude, I came here expecting to meet some people, have a great evening, spend some time with my friends, and hear you talk about fulfillment. That sounds like an awesome night, and now you're talking about disappointment. I'm so glad I came."

Here's why we need to talk about disappointment before we get into fulfillment: in order to figure out how to make something right, you must first understand why it is wrong. You can't make something right unless you first know what's wrong. This is why it's really important, fellows… If you're trying to date a beautiful young lady, you need to listen to her whenever you've upset her.

Listen to her, as in comprehend the words she's speaking, because she's telling you, "Hey, this is what's wrong." That way you can make it right. You can't simply do it by way of offering flowers, buying chocolates, or taking her to dinner. You have to understand, comprehend, "What is wrong in this situation?" before you can effectively make it right.

Author Brené Brown said it really well. She said, "Disappointment is unmet expectations, and the more significant the expectations, the more significant the disappointment." It's kind of like the idea of an appetite. When you get hungry, what's the natural response? To find some food, which you expect to find, because you went to the grocery store and stocked up like a responsible young adult.

So, how do you feel whenever you make your way over to the pantry and swing open the door and nothing is in there because your roommate ate all of it? You're triggered. That's what happens. You immediately become disappointed. You had expectations of what would be there, yet those expectations didn't pan out, so you go from hungry to hangry. You turn into a monster. You become a different person, yet it's sensible, because a discouraged heart produces a distorted perspective. Your outlook on life becomes bleak because your expectations have gone unmet.

So, how do we know what has discouraged our heart? How do we identify what triggers our disappointment, what source is behind our discontentment in life? How do we figure that out? Look at verse 3. "For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For they have no pangs until death; their bodies are fat and sleek. They are not in trouble as others are; they are not stricken like the rest of mankind."

Friends, if you want to identify what triggers your disappointment, then you need to recognize what evokes your envy. This is what happens for Asaph. His struggle with discontent started the minute he looked away from God and started looking at everybody else around. What you find is he starts casually scrolling on ancient Instagram, and he finds, "Hey, the prosperity of the wicked… They're wealthier than I am.

They have no pangs until death. They're healthier than I am. Their bodies are fat and sleek. They're prettier than I am. They lack any kind of trouble. They're smarter than I am." He saw they weren't stricken like the rest of mankind. "They're happier than I am." Do you think the Bible reads relevantly? Asaph deals here with what you deal with there. He's wrestling with feelings of insecurity, inadequacy, and insufficiency. No different than we do.

The problems are the same, but that's good news, because the solutions are too. You see, what happens to Asaph, which happens to so many of us… We walk unknowingly into the trap of comparison. Teddy Roosevelt famously said that comparison is the thief of joy. Mark Twain turned that up a notch. He said that comparison is the death of joy. The Bible has its own spin. In Proverbs 14:30 it says, "A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones."

The Bible wants you to know comparison is toxic to joy. It rots the bones. That's the nature of it. It's poison to your soul. It's more than just looking and wanting what other people have; it's resenting them for it. "They have what I want, so I hate them. I want so badly to be where they are, so I resent them." This is what happens to us whenever we take our eyes off of God and lay them upon other people. We stop looking for fulfillment in the right places, and what we find instead is disappointment.

Friends, if you want to find fulfillment, then first you need to identify what triggers your disappointment. Where are you bitter in life? What consumes your headspace? Even tonight, as you walked in, what's clouding your judgment, blurring your vision? That's what Asaph does. He tries to understand himself. He wants to get under the layers of "Why is it that I'm so embittered against all of these other people?" He says, starting in verse 16:

"But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors! Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms. When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you."

2. You have to keep eternity in perspective. It's interesting. When you go and study through Psalm 73, you'll find it actually breaks down in a mirror form. It's what scholars call a chiastic structure. The first half of the psalm mirrors the second half of the psalm. The first half of the psalm talks about Asaph's old perspective on life, and the second half talks about his new perspective on life.

Anytime you see a chiasm, the way you understand what the main point or one of the most significant elements of that psalm or that narrative or that epistle is… The way you learn is you look at the hinge point. What's the dead center of it? That's verse 16. What it says in verse 16 is that Asaph went into the sanctuary of God. That's what changed his perspective. That's what solved his disappointment. He got close to God.

Psalm 97:5 says, "The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth." Just take that into consideration. The mountains melt like wax. Everest in all its glory and greatness melts away the minute God shows up. The transcendence of God waxes away our greatest disappointments. This is what Asaph learns. He learns that God's presence brings new perspective.

His disappointments had hypnotized him into thinking, "All hope is lost," yet the minute he gets close to God, he snaps out of it. He realizes, "Oh, it's not as bad as I thought. Things are not as grim as they seemed," because with God what you learn is that the realization of what you want pales in comparison to the reminder of what you already have. The realization, the attainment, the achievement of what you want pales in comparison to the reminder of what you already have; namely, who you already have.

This is what Asaph does. He looks forward. He considers the future. Verse 17 says, "…then I discerned their end." That's a long way out. He starts thinking about how all of this plays out in eternity. Do you know what it gives him the minute he adopts an eternal perspective? It gives him clarity, specifically about those he envies, that they're set in slippery places, that unless they come to know God they will fall to ruin, that life is here for a moment and gone the next.

He also gets clarity about the condition of his own heart. He realizes and honestly admits, "When my soul was embittered…" When it was, past tense. "…when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you." Asaph acknowledges, "I was ignorant. I didn't understand. I thought fulfillment was found in all of these other places.

I thought it was found in my job, in my relationship, and in my family being healthy with one another. I thought it was going to be found in a vibrant community here at Watermark Community Church, yet what I've learned is fulfillment is not found in any of those things. It's found in you, God. Fulfillment is found in you."

Friends, in the same way Asaph uses an eternal perspective to deconstruct his disappointment, we have to do the same thing. We have to get underneath our disappointment and understand, "Why does this bother me so much, and how can I be restored to hope? That way I can find fulfillment." The way you do it is you lock your eyes on God. You fix your gaze on him.

You look to Jesus. You get your eyes locked upon his goodness, and you allow that to inform the way you see the watching world. Lamentations 3:37-38 tells us why this is valuable, why when we look to God he can be trusted. It says, "Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?"

Friends, to the disappointment you feel because you're not as far along as you wanted to be in life, an eternal perspective would look at that and say, "My God is good, and his plans are, in fact, better for my life than my own." To the disappointment you feel because it keeps feeling like God is unnecessarily complicating your life, an eternal perspective looks at that and says, "My God is kind, and with him my pain is never pointless but always has purpose."

To the disappointment you feel because the world has led you to believe you're not enough… You're not pretty enough. You're not smart enough. You're not funny enough. You're not popular enough. You're not likable enough. You're not desirable enough. You'll never be successful enough. To all of that, an eternal perspective says, "My God is perfect, and I'm nothing less than he wants me to be today. I'm exactly who and exactly where he wants me right now."

We're going to move forward, we're going to get better, but that happens as we walk with him, not because the world tells us so. Listen. If God is withholding some things from you, it's because he wants something else for you; namely, more of himself. I guarantee you he always wants more of himself for you. This is the story of the Scriptures. This is what the entire Bible is pointing to: God wanting to be close, near, and known by us. He will always work for that.

That's exactly what Asaph finds. As you keep reading, it says in verse 23, "Nevertheless, I am continually with you…" "I got more of you, God." "…you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

Asaph gets close to God, and his perspective changes. It shifts, and what he finds is that God is continually with him, holding him by his right hand, guiding him with counsel, and ready to receive him into glory. Even when Asaph had lost sight of God, God never lost sight of him. Even when Asaph walked away and moved toward the world, God stayed exactly where he was last left.

The same is true for you. God has not walked away from you. God has not abandoned you. He has not overlooked you. He has not forgotten about you. Some of you feel like the exception to that rule tonight, yet that could not be farther from the truth. God sees you as you are, and he's wanting you exactly as you are tonight. This is the Lord's heart.

Asaph comes back, and he says, "God, you're still here. You never left. I thought you forgot about me, but, God, you didn't. You stayed here the entire time. I walked off, and I got distracted by the world. I allowed the strength of my heart and my portion to be fulfilled by other things in life. I thought the strength of my job would fulfill me, God, but it didn't.

I thought the strength of my relationship would fulfill me, but it didn't, God. I thought the strength of my good reputation would fulfill me. But none of those things did. You're my portion, not just today, not just tomorrow, not just the day after that or the week following or the month after that. You're my portion forever. You never left me, God, which is why I now know that I depend on you for the fulfillment I seek."

3. If you want to find it, you must depend on God for the fulfillment you seek. Fulfillment in life is found through contentment in God. That's what Asaph is writing in Psalm 73. That's what he wants you to take away tonight. It's not something you achieve; it's something you receive from the Lord, which I know really bothers some of us.

We were talking as a staff earlier, and it was like, "But tell them what they need to do to get it." That's not how contentment works. That's not what you do. Contentment is a satisfaction not in doing for the Lord but in being with the Lord. It's in registering not what I don't have but in what I do, that "God, you're all I need, so I can wait with you. I can sit with you. I can listen to you. I can come close to you, God."

The reason I think that bothers us so much is we've mistaken what fulfillment actually is. You see, when we talk about searching for fulfillment, often what I think we're looking for is something full of feeling. We've mistaken fulfillment as something full of feeling, and that's not what it is. We think, "Man, I've got to find something that's going to gratify and satisfy every need in my life."

So, what we do is we start looking for ways to achieve that end. We want a nicer job. We want better friends. We want another beer. We decide we need to take another trip. We do all of these things, and here's the thing that's so tricky about it. This is what the Enemy loves to do in our lives. He loves to scratch the itch so you come back for more. He wants you to find some sense of satisfaction but, once it wears away, return like a dog to its vomit. This is what the Enemy wants.

What the Lord wants is to satisfy you not just today but forever. This is God's heart. Paul talks about this in Philippians 4. He says, "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty." He's saying, "I know what it's like to be empty inside, and I know what it's like to be full inside physically." "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."

Paul says finding fulfillment is like learning a secret, and the secret is that fulfillment is found through contentment in God. That's what he's pointing toward. Psalm 34:10 says, "The young lions…" Which sound like young adults. "…suffer want and hunger…" We want for so much. "…but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing." Translation: those who seek the Lord, those who are content with God, are always fulfilled.

Friends, this has been heavy, but I didn't want to pull punches, because I love you enough to speak what needs to be spoken. We are all looking for fulfillment in here. We outed ourselves at the beginning of this night. If you're like, "It doesn't apply to me," sorry, it does. You admitted at the very beginning of this thing that this talk is for you.

Yet I love you enough to say this. I prayed earlier. I was like, "God, should I?" I think it's right for me to say that if fulfillment is found through contentment in God, you were never more unfulfilled than you are tonight if you do not know Jesus. Some of you are searching the world. You're trying to find it, yet what you need to know is fulfillment can't be found, because fulfillment found you, because Jesus Christ is God.

Colossians 1:19 tells us, "For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell…" Jesus Christ is not only God; he also forgives sins. John 1:16 says, "For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace." He's not only God and not only capable of forgiving sin; he also gives life, which is what it says in John 10:10. "The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy, but I have come that you may have life to the full."

Friend, are you seeking for fulfillment tonight? Then you need to know fulfillment has already sought after you. You walked in here tonight no doubt frustrated, discontent, and dissatisfied with your job, with your relationship, or with whatever it may be. You fill in the blank. The truth you need to hear is the resolution of that problem will only leave you searching still, but the one who has resolved our greatest problem, our separation from God, will fulfill you forevermore.

Do you know him? If you don't, then the fulfillment you seek is waiting in him. If you do, then I'd ask you the question…Are you living life or are you living it to the full? Jesus has not just come to save you from your sin; he has come to save you for so much more. Friends, Jesus is wanting for you. That's what this all says. The question is…How much of him do you want for yourself? Let me pray for us.

Father, there is no life apart from you, and there is no life worth living apart from you. You, God, have come to give us life, but you've also come to give us the fullness thereof. I pray, God, we would know that this evening, but not just know it intellectually, God, but know it deep into our bones, feel it instinctively from within, and let it drive us to pursue an intimacy with you forever. God, I know what it's like to search the world and come up empty. I've run that direction, and I found it to be so fruitless.

Would you, God, by your Spirit tonight speak to each and every one of us in the way only you can, the way you so distinctly can. Would you speak to us and say, "Life is not found out there; it's found right here. You will not find joy elsewhere; you'll find joy right here. Come to me. Come home to me. I've never left you. I've never lost you. I've never forsaken you. I've waited for you all along. Come back to me." God, I pray we would respond to that call tonight, believer and those who do not believe.

Let this evening be one where we awaken to the reality that there is no life that is fulfilling apart from you, God. No, in fact, we've never lived more unfulfilled than when we're apart from you. So quicken our feet. Incline our hearts. Inspire our souls and draw us back to the one thing that matters. It's you, God. You've come to save us from sin but to new life. You, God, are the one who gives a life and a life worth living. Fulfillment is nowhere else to be found but only found right here.

Friends, if you are in the room tonight and do not know Jesus Christ, with a loving urgency I want to look at you and say everything you're searching for is found in him and him alone. If you want to place your faith in Jesus, if you want to declare him as Lord of your life and receive the free gift of salvation, that gift which saves you from your sin and your eternal separation from God but brings you close to the source of life, all you have to do is receive it. That's the beauty of the good news. It's a gift. For others of us here tonight, we may hear this, and it may feel like old news, but I want to remind you it's still good news.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation, God, and let me burst forth in the praise you deserve. Father, we give these next moments to you. Use them as you may. It's in Jesus Christ's name, amen.