Philippians 4:10-19 10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 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. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. 14 Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 15 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; 16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. 17 Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. 18 I have received full payment and have more than enough. 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. 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
I’m not complaining about the extra hour of sleep I got last night, but honestly, the time change, the shorter days, the colder weather, it all messes with me. I am glad that when life messes with me, I can look to Jesus to support and sustain me. I’m glad He is a constant in this ever-changing world, and the older I get, the more thankful I am for His daily presence in my life. He truly is my Provider, my Source, my Go-to. He is the One I can always count on.
In this Philippians 4 passage, I see three ways we are provided for as we walk with the Lord, three ways God enhances, supports, and upholds our lives.
- God produces contentment in us.
- God supplies strength in difficult times.
- God supplies what we need for daily life.
Let’s look first at contentment. Would you describe yourself as content or high maintenance? I’d say we are all born high maintenance. We are all born “extra.” We are all born preoccupied with self. We are all born with a lack of patience and a strong will. We are all born to believe the world revolves around us, and for a good while, it does. Our cries don’t go unanswered. Our diapers get changed. Food is spooned into our mouths. We get cuddled, swaddled and made over. We have next to nothing on our to-do list except be the center of attention and just get the benefit of being helpless and being cared for by others.
As we grow, we begin to notice other people. We move from just being focused on ourselves to taking notice of how other people experience life. A sort of comparison begins. Desires to fit in, to be liked or to experience life the same way we perceive other people are experiencing it start to set in. The desire for newer, better, faster, bigger, and shinier can consume the person who doesn’t begin to learn contentment from an early age and those desires only intensify in adulthood.
Y’all do realize that what you most often see on social media is everyone on their best days? Nobody is posting selfies of their bad hair days. People aren’t generally wanting to capture a photo of things gone wrong unless it is for a joke. No, usually, when you are looking at someone’s vacation pictures, you aren’t seeing the struggles they have gone through leading up to those moments. Plus, you don’t know how many filters someone used to make those pictures look so good. Just sayin’.
Someone’s new car picture, their new hair-do post, the posts that capture their family milestones, those are highlight reels, moments in time, but if we aren’t careful, we can begin to think that someone’s entire life is characterized by perfect relationships, perfect children, perfect clothes, perfect hair, perfect smiles, and an abundance of things, leaving us to long for our lives to be different, leaving us never satisfied, never fulfilled, never content. That is the problem with people who are discontent; they will always be chasing something that eludes them. What you think will bring contentment doesn’t produce the lasting feeling or experience you are longing for.
Maybe you have seen the TV show, The Goldbergs. In one episode, Jake Goldberg came home for supper and excitedly told his wife, Molly, about a great idea he had. He wanted to go into business. Molly had some money put away, anticipating just such a thing, and she gave it to him. As they sat at the dinner table, enthusiastically discussing the future, Jake said, “Molly, someday we’ll be eating off of golden plates!” Molly looked at him and replied, “Jake, darling, will it taste any better?” Food doesn’t taste any better on china than it does on a paper plate, right? Contentment doesn’t come with earthly success or the acquisition of things, but it is the byproduct of a relationship with Jesus. When we get that right, contentment will follow.
Paul said in Philippians 4:11-12: I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 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.
Paul learned contentment because He pursued Jesus. He was singly focused on running a spiritual race. He didn’t have time to be sidetracked by the things the world had to offer. He was consumed with Christ and the result was contentment. He said in Philippians 3:10 that he wanted to know Christ. That was his life’s ambition. Knowing Christ produced contentment in Paul’s life. I truly believe that the more you know Christ the more content you will become.
The old chorus, “He is all I need,” is an oversimplification of this concept, but it is true. We obviously need other people in addition to Christ in our lives. God has wired us to be in relationship with other people, but literally when God becomes all you want, you will find you have all you need. You will be satisfied with Jesus and won’t have to look for satisfaction from the stuff of this world. You see, when you pursue Jesus, your wants change. The things you looked to in order to make you happy won’t hold the same interest for you.
When you pursue Jesus, you will worry less and less about what others have or how they live, you’ll worry less about life in general, and you’ll become more and more content with where God has you. Why? Because you will be convinced that your needs will be met. Matthew 6:33 is tucked into a passage that tells us not to worry. It tells us to seek God’s kingdom first. God’s Kingdom is His rule and reign in our lives. When we let Him lead and control our lives, Matthew 6:33 tells us everything else will fall into place in our lives. Too many people are looking for contentment in the things of the world and are trying to fit Jesus in and around all of that like He’s some kind of packing material that gets tucked in and around precious cargo in a moving truck to keep it all in place. Y’all, we don’t fit Jesus in. We don’t pack Him in and around the things of the world as if we are trying to get Him to protect our earthly empires. No! He is the precious cargo. Our relationship with Him is the priority. We seek to protect our pursuit of Him at all costs.
You see, I don’t think Paul learned contentment from having lessons on contentment. I don’t think Jesus sat him down and said, “Ok, Paul, today’s life lesson is on contentment.” No, I firmly believe that the closer Paul grew to Christ, the less attractive and less important the things of the world became to him which resulted in his contentment.
I’m not saying you can’t or shouldn’t enjoy having things or enjoy earthly experiences or that you shouldn’t pursue those extras that offer entertainment or provide your family with a way to make memories, I’m simply saying, that if you aren’t first content with Jesus, nothing this world offers you will make you content.
One last word about contentment. I believe that those who are close to Christ will be content to wait on God’s timing in their lives. Those God-given desires you have can and will be satisfied in God’s perfect timing, and those who stay close to Christ can find contentment to wait for God to do what He wants to do in order to satisfy those desires.
That leads me to my second point about God’s provision for us. Paul tells us that God supplies strength in difficult times. Paul said that he could live a contented life because God would give him strength to endure those tough times. God doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we want Him to. He doesn’t always swoop in and change our circumstances. There are times He knows it is in our best interest for us to struggle a bit and for us to be weakened to the place where we can be helped by His supernatural strength.
Every person in this room has and will face difficulties and hardships. The Cox family, whose daughter, a Marshall student, was hit and killed this week while crossing the street, didn’t know before this past Thursday that their lives were going to be devastated by the loss of their daughter. You cannot know what tomorrow holds, but when those moments of shock and devastation come you need to be connected to the One who can hold you up, sustain you, and fill you with the strength you need just to make it through the next day. I am brokenhearted for them that their daughter was in a tragic accident, but I am comforted by the fact that they walk with Jesus because I know He has strength to give them.
Church members Mike and Bobbi Jo Hammett didn’t know that when she went to Cleveland for what was expected to be cancer surgery that she would receive the miraculous news that there was no cancer only to come home with Covid and then have to be put in the hospital here. Both of them have struggled with complications from Covid ever since that surgery. Why would God do this glorious miracle and then allow this added difficulty to their lives? Sometimes I think the deepest discouragements we face can follow the highest moments of our lives because it is such a pendulum swing, such a fall from a high to that low.
God has helped the Hammetts with supernatural strength even while their physical strength has been depleted. That is how this life with God works. We can be at our weakest and yet, at the same time, become strong because of what Jesus does in us. That’s what I’ll call the II Corinthians 12:10 principle. Paul said that when he was weak, then he was strong. What he meant was that in the most difficult times of his life, he became the most aware of what God could do in him to sustain and help him make it.
I am strengthened in times of trial because I know when I go through that trial, I am not going through it alone. If I focus on Jesus in tough times, instead of what is causing me pain, I will see Him at work, and when I see Him working, I gain courage and strength to know that what I am enduring is temporary and that God will get me through it.
Look at Isaiah 40:29-31: 29 God gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;31 but those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
God gives strength to the weary. In verse 31 we are told that those who wait on the Lord, those who are looking to Him, those who are trusting in His promises, those who are seeking Him in prayer, those who are relying on His Word, those who are serving Him in faith, they will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary. Their strength will be renewed.
It’s interesting to me that the Isaiah 40 passage says that even young people get weary and need God’s strength. Young people, those in the primes of their lives, are not exempt from life’s heartaches and pressure. I cannot tell you how much I grieve over what Covid has done to our young people…the way their education has been compromised, the way anxieties and insecurities have overtaken so many, the activities and memories that have been taken from them. It has taken a toll. You need God to renew your strength.
Sometimes, we think we are invincible when we are young. Sometimes we think we can stay up all night, burn the candle at both ends, take all kinds of risks, expend all kinds of energy, and still have what it takes for the next day, but life has a way of catching up with all of us, no matter our age. Even young people stand in need of the strength the Lord supplies.
Verse 30 says that even young people can stumble and fall. Even young people can grow so weak, they can become so drained, that they fall. They can give in to temptation, they can take a wrong turn, they can go down the wrong path. This passage says God can renew their strength. I believe that extends to the renewing of a person’s faith, the renewing of a person’s mind, the renewing of a persons’ character, the renewing of a person’s ambition, the renewing of a person’s reputation, the renewing of your energy and desire to please God. God can give you strength in whatever way you need it.
Paul endured so much pain. He endured prison. He endured beatings. He didn’t go looking for any of it, but it sure found him. And when it did, God showed up. Jesus propped him up. Jesus helped him up. Jesus took over. Jesus gave renewal and rest. Jesus made a way for Paul to continue to be a preacher of the Gospel. When Paul could have been tempted to say, “That’s it, I am throwing in the towel. I am done living for Jesus,” God gave him the strength he needed to keep going. I am so thankful that God provides real strength in real life crises to help us move forward.
The third way I see that God provides for us in this passage is simply this: God supplies what we need for daily life. I am not touting a prosperity Gospel. God cares far more about your soul than He does your bank account. However, He has bound Himself in a relationship with you and promises to care for and provide for you as you walk with Him and trust Him to do it.
Paul said in verse 18 that he was amply supplied. That wasn’t always the case. Sometimes he was hungry for a minute. Sometimes he wasn’t sure he could stretch his resources out until more funds came in. But as long as God had a plan to use Paul, as long as Paul was on the earth, God took care of him. Paul concluded the passage by saying, “God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”
I can testify that this is true. The story is told of a young boy who was put on a train by his father and was sent on a journey to the home of his aunt in the city. As the boy entered the train, he was anxious at the thought of what might happen to him while on the train and what would happen when he arrived at his destination. But he soon found that all his worrying was for nothing. No sooner had the train started than the conductor came up and spoke to him very kindly, reassuring him he would get him safely from point A to point B. Then the newsboy brought him apples, candy, and picture books to look at. So, was able to relax and enjoy the ride. When he arrived at the city, a cabman was at the gate to meet him and to take him safely to his aunt’s home. The boy couldn’t understand it. He thought had everything had played out was kind of miraculous. When he needed reassured, there was reassurance. When he needed something to eat, there was food to eat. When he needed something to pass the time, it was provided for him. When he needed a ride to get to his aunt’s, there was someone waiting to meet him. As he grew older, he learned that it was his father who had told the conductor to look after the boy, who gave money to the newsboy to supply his needs and wants, and who had telegraphed ahead to a cab company to send a man to meet his boy at the train. Because his father was on the job, all his needs had been provided for. (From The Expositor).
Your father is on the job. God has a plan for your life. He knows where you are headed. He knows what you need in order to get there. He knows how to calm your fears and anxieties along the way. He has made arrangements for you. You can relax and enjoy the ride. God will take care of you.
Life with Jesus is meant to be a day-by-day walk, a day-by-day dependence, a day-by-day trusting in Him. Matthew 6 contains the words of the Lord’s Prayer where we are taught to pray, “Give us this day, our daily bread.” We are taught to look to God to supply what we need for each and every day. But here’s my observation. Many people are chasing the things of the world for satisfaction and contentment while running on their own strength and then they wonder why they are struggling to have what they need.
Am I the only one who sees it? Many want to live their own way and then hold a grudge against God when things don’t work out for their good. You can’t leave God out of the equation and then ask God to bless you with a favorable outcome when you are purposely living a life He didn’t sanction. Oh, sometimes God provides for us even in our foolishness because He can’t help Himself, but there is no substitute for living in the hand of God according to the plan of God.
When we allow God to provide for us we will live contented, we will have strength in all kinds of situations and we will have what we need.
God wants to provide for you every day, but in order for you to receive that provision, you need to walk with Him, look for Him, yield to Him, and ask Him to meet your needs. God’s provision flows into the lives of those who acknowledge Him. Are you chasing contentment in the things of the world? How about you stop running yourself silly and rest in Jesus? Are you wearied and worried over the cares of life? How about you get focused on growing your relationship with Jesus and let Him provide the peace and strength you need in order to live well? Do you have a practical need? Why not talk to Jesus about it since He has promised to take care of you.