Saturday, September 01, 2018

God provides! - Philippians 4:10-20

God provides! - Philippians 4:10-20
By Pastor Lee Hemen
September 2, 2018

I have heard fellow Christians extol the fact that God provides all their needs, but I have yet to see very many actually live accordingly. I was drawing coloring books, tracts, and a monthly carton strip for a local puppet ministry known as Friends Puppets. John was the lead puppeteer, writer, and leader. They were in need of a new van and were not bringing in enough funds to cover all their needs. Some on their board wanted to do special mailings begging for funds but John to our surprise spoke against doing it. He related, “God has supplied our needs through our prayers and dependence on him, I don’t think we need to change now.” In that moment he taught all of us that God provides.

Paul understood this as well. He did not have special bulk mailings, emails, texting, Facebook, social media, or GoFundMe for support. Paul was totally at the whim and will of those who cared about the Gospel and reaching the lost. Whether in prison, in sickness, alone, or with the company of others Paul understood his ministry was totally dependent on the mercy and grace of God. Through it all Paul learned that God provides; let’s discover what Paul taught concerning this spiritual truth…

READ: Philippians 4:10-20

What had excited Paul and brought him joy during times of great personal persecution was this little church at Philippi that continued to pray and support him. He did not want them to suffer physically or financially do to his predicament. We discover that…

I. Paul wanted believers to know that God provides contentment! (Vv. 10-13)

I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. 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. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

  1. Evidently the Philippians had wanted to show Paul that they were concerned for him but had not been able to, so Paul relates, “I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me.” Paul wrote this letter as both a thank-you note and as a word of greeting and praise. Paul was thankful that they had “renewed” their effort on his behalf. Notice that he “rejoiced greatly” for their concern. When Paul had been at a low point their gift had come at just the right time and renewed him. We discover that Paul did not beg God’s people to help him in his work, “I am not saying this because I am in need”, instead he placed the need before them and trusted God to meet it! Paul had also learned the lesson of contentment, “for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances”. Changing conditions did not affect the inner contentment Paul enjoyed in Jesus. The word content in the Greek means “self-sufficient.” In fact we find that Paul knew “what it [was] to be in need and [he knew] what it [was] to have plenty.” Paul had “learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Through his faith walk with the Lord Paul had learned the secret to the believer's happy life! God in Jesus provided for his every need. Paul remembered that Jesus taught, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (Matthew 6:25-26 NIV)” Paul tells them, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” It is a spiritual fact and Paul wanted believers to know that God provides contentment!

  EXAMPLE: Hannah Whitall Smith wrote, “Most Christians are like a man who was toiling along the road, bending under a heavy burden, when a wagon overtook him, and the driver kindly offered to help him on his journey. He joyfully accepted the offer but when seated in the wagon, continued to bend beneath his burden, which he still kept on his shoulders. ‘Why do you not lay down your burden?’ asked the kind-hearted driver. ‘Oh!’ replied the man, ‘I feel that it is almost too much to ask you to carry me, and I could not think of letting you carry my burden too.’ And so Christians, who have given themselves into the care and keeping of the Lord Jesus still continue to bend beneath the weight of their burdens, and often go weary and heavy-laden throughout the whole length of their journey.” Paul wanted believers to know that God provides contentment!

In our day it is often difficult to understand how early believers suffered and were persecuted for their faith. Even the homeless in our community have places they can go for a meal, medical attention, and such. In Paul’s day nothing like that existed. We discover that…

II. Paul wanted believers to know that God provides through us! (Vv. 14-20)

Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need. Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

  1. Paul was also grateful for them as well and writes, “Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.” He knew the value of fellowship and a local church that truly practiced what they believed! He tells them, “Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only”. Wow, that’s kind of sad. Paul goes on to explain that “for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need.” What a great little church. One has to realize that this church was quite small in size but big in heart. Over and over they tried to do their best to help Paul. Paul however wanted them to realize he was not in the ministry for personal gain in any way and quickly reminds them “Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account.” His desire was that they were blessed by what they were willing to do; sacrificially and personally. Paul was truly blessed by their gifts and graciously reminds them that “I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent.” For Paul these things were like “a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.” Believers can forget that when they willingly serve others in the name of Christ it is a wonderful offering and sacrifice to the Lord. It should never be something we do to garner God’s grace but rather something we do because we love the Lord! Paul knew when Christians act out of their love for him, “God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus”! Paul was so thoroughly and genuinely blessed by what these beautiful believers did that he had to just say: “To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Paul wanted believers to know that God provides through us!

  EXAMPLE: While growing up when my father suffered from his heart problems we went through some pretty tough times because he could not work at regular jobs like he had done in the past. My mother did not always make enough to make ends meet. Often we did not have enough food in the house and new clothes for school and supplies were scarce. Yet many times we would find a full box of groceries place outside of our backdoor. We knew it was from the church my father attended. He never asked them but they understood what we were going through and supplied what we needed at just the right time. Later, after coming to Christ I understood why these folks did what they did. They were blessed just as much if not more than we were by their wonderful act of kindness. Isn’t it good to know Paul wanted believers to know that God provides through us!

Conclusion:

Paul wanted believers to know that God provides contentment! Paul wanted believers to know that God provides through us!
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This article is copyrighted © 2018 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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