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Being content to live in Christ's strength and provision
This week we are continuing our series from the Book of Philippians. We are up to chapter four, which is our final message. The title of my message is “Be content to live in Christ’s strength and provision”.
So far, we have seen…
Today we have four more points to add to this list, but first let us have a look at the text.
Bible Reading - Philippians 4:1-23
1 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stay true to the Lord. I love you and long to see you, dear friends, for you are my joy and the crown I receive for my work.
2 Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement.
3 And I ask you, my true partner, to help these two women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good News. They worked along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are written in the Book of Life.
4 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again--rejoice!
5 Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.
6 Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.
7 Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
9 Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me--everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
10 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.
14 Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty.
15 As you know, you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I first brought you the Good News and then traveled on from Macedonia. No other church did this.
16 Even when I was in Thessalonica you sent help more than once.
17 I don't say this because I want a gift from you. Rather, I want you to receive a reward for your kindness.
18 At the moment I have all I need--and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God.
19 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.
20 Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen.
1. Get on well and work well with each other
In verse 2 Paul appeals to Euodia and Syntyche. “Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement”.
In chapter two Paul spoke about being unified. This time he speaks about a disagreement that had been ongoing between two keys women in the church.
Two women, Euodia and Syntyche, are instructed to bring their attitudes into harmony. Paul does not indicate which one was in the wrong but knows that if the attitude of each would be formed "in the Lord," the disharmony would vanish. Paul's method of handling the problem suggests that it was not a doctrinal issue, but a clash of personalities.
Euodia and Syntyche had once worked side by side with Paul in the past. Paul hope they would be able to do so again. This issue is so important to Paul that asks a third person to be involved to helps sort it out. He uses the term “true partner” in the NLT or “loyal yokefellow” in the NIV.
This squabbling reminds me of the issues in 1 Corinthians 1. Where people were arguing over who they follow. Some said they followed Paul, some Peter, some Apollos, some followed Christ. To this Paul said, “I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose” (v10).
As I said several weeks ago, if 100 pianos tuned by the same tuning fork, they are automatically tuned to each other. If these two women tuned themselves in to Christ, then the issue might be resolved and they would be able to work together again.
It is so important that we get on well as Christians and co-workers for the Kingdom. Why? Because the world is watching and often they judge our ability or inability to get along as a true test of our faith. In John Jesus said people will know we are His disciples because our love for one another (John 13:35). So, we need to be tuned to Christ and work hard at getting along with each other. It really is that important. Both to Paul and ultimately to Jesus.
2. Don’t worry, pray
Verse 6 says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done”.
Sometimes I think worry is the default setting for us who live in this world. This is why prayer is so important. I read three short stories about worry this week.
The first was… “For several years a woman had been having trouble getting to sleep at night because she feared burglars. One night her husband heard a noise in the house, so he went downstairs to investigate. When he got there, he did find a burglar. "Good evening," said the man of the house. "I am pleased to see you. Come upstairs and meet my wife. She has been waiting 10 years to meet you."
The second was… “Worry is fear's extravagance. It extracts interest on trouble before it comes due. It constantly drains the energy God gives us to face daily problems and to fulfill our many responsibilities. It is therefore a waste. A woman who had lived long enough to have learned some important truths about life remarked, "I've had a lot of trouble -- most of which never happened!" She had worried about many things that had never occurred, and had come to see the total futility of her anxieties.”
A better way is to follow Hudson Taylor’s advice… Hudson Taylor, missionary to China and founder of what is today known as the Overseas Missionary Fellowship, gave this excellent advice: "Let us give up our work, our plans, ourselves, our lives, our loved ones, our influence, our all, right into [God's] hand; and then, when we have given all over to Him, there will be nothing left for us to be troubled about."
The last story is more in line with our text today. When we give up our worries, cares and anxieties to God in prayer, we don’t need to worry any more. When we connect with God, we exchange our needs and concerns for His peace. Verse 7 says when we pray, “…you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Isaiah 26:3 also tells us, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!”
So, don’t worry, pray and leave it with God.
3. Focus on what is good and put God’s Word into practice
In verse 8 Paul says, “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise”.
Paul encourages us to focus on what is good. He says to “fix our thoughts” on these things. What things did Paul want us to fix our minds on? Things that are true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Verse 9 says, “Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me--everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.”
Paul not only wanted them to focus on good things, he wanted them to follow his example.
One of the commentaries I read this said this about verses 8-9…
4:8 What we put into our minds determines what comes out in our words and actions. Paul tells us to program our minds with thoughts that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and worthy of praise. Do you have problems with impure thoughts and daydreams? Examine what you are putting into your mind through television, Internet, books, conversations, movies, video games, and magazines. Replace harmful input with wholesome material. Above all, read God’s Word and pray. Ask God to help you focus your mind on what is good and pure. It takes practice, but it can be done.
4:9 It’s not enough to hear or read the Word of God or even to know it well. We must also put it into practice. How easy it is to listen to a sermon and forget what the preacher said. How easy it is to read the Bible and not think about how to live differently. How easy it is to debate what a passage means and not live out that meaning. Exposure to God’s Word is not enough. It must lead to obedience.
These two comments capture Paul’s thoughts. For the Philippians to be all they can be for God, they needed to focus on the good things and put Paul’s example and the Word of God into practice.
4. Be content with where God has you
In verses 10-11 he says, “10 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.”
The text today and the parallel passage from Acts 16 tells us that the church at Philippi had helped Paul on a number of occasions. In fact, they were one of the churches that helped him while in prison and while in Macedonia. Paul really appreciated their help, but says he was content in the times of plenty and the times of trial or lack.
In 2 Corinthians 11:23b-28 he talks about some of his trials. “23 … I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. 24 Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. 26 I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. 27 I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. 28 Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches.”
Paul had been through a lot. Both good and bad. More than most of us will ever experience for the Gospel. Regardless of this, Paul said in verse 11, “Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have”. Paul knew Christ was enough. If he had lots, it was enough. If he had nothing, that was enough too.
Two things in today’s passage help us to be content.
The first is found in verse 13. It says, “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”
Christ, is all powerful. He can do all things. There is nothing He can’t do. His power is there to sustain us and to empower us to do the work He calls us to.
All the strength we need to do what we need to do today and what we need to do tomorrow is found in Christ.
The second one is found in verse 19. It says, “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.”
Not only do we have the strength. God promises to supply our needs in Christ Jesus. Psalms 50:9-11 says, “But I do not need the bulls from your barns or the goats from your pens. 10 For all the animals of the forest are Mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills. 11 I know every bird on the mountains, and all the animals of the field are Mine.”
God owns all the cattle on all the hills. If we need something, He can get it to us.
For us as Christians today, it is important for us to learn to be content with were we are and what God has us doing. He not only gives us strength, but He also supplies all our needs. So, let us be content.
So today let us remember these four things from Philippians chapter four.
By Dave Quinn
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