Throughout my time playing football, I saw Philippians 4:13 used in many different ways. Some guys had this tattooed on their body. I heard coaches and players pray using this verse before games asking God for victory. Others would say this after the victory as a means to give God glory. You have probably seen and heard much of the same in your profession.
These usages of this verse are very much out of context. Paul did not want us to claim victory in sport through the power of Christ, nor was he assuring us that we could overcome our physical insufficiencies if we believed hard enough. What Paul was telling us was that with Christ we will be content in all things. If we truly wanted to apply this to the sports world, Christ helps us be just as content after a loss as after a victory.
More specifically to the context of the passage, we as Christians are not promised riches, prosperity, or even three meals a day. What we are promised is that no matter our situation, good or bad, we can be content. Christ is sufficient for all we need.
14 Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty. Philippians 4:14
The Philippian church had gone to great lengths to help Paul while he was imprisoned. They were partners with him in the Gospel, and when things got tough they did not abandon him (like many others), but did what they were able to ensure his needs were met.
This is the kind of gritty Gospel Paul has been talking about throughout his letter:
To live is Christ,… work out your salvation with fear and trembling,… I press on toward the goal,… I have learned to be content.
Because of God’s promise in the Gospel, because of Jesus, we keep moving forward with joy. But not only for ourselves. Gritty Gospel living, allows us to freely and kindly, ensure that others do the same. We share in their difficulty.
Joyful, humble travelers never travel alone. With Gospel kindness and grit we nudge each other along, especially when the road gets hard. It’s what we do; it’s what Jesus did, because the glory to come eclipses the difficulty we may face. Our sharing in the difficulty of our brothers and sisters reminds them of that greater truth.
Today is Thanksgiving Day…a day set aside to give thanks to God for His bountiful blessings. Our nation’s history is full of occasions when God has poured out His blessings upon us. As individuals, we can surely recall many blessings we have received from God. When the Philippian church experienced blessing, they chose to bless Paul in his ministry of the Gospel. They were a generous people.
Historically, Americans have been generous. They have shared with the world, the blessings God has supplied them. Americans give more to charitable organizations than any country in the world. Paul says there is profit in these gifts. Not financial profit, but spiritual profit. To whom much is given, much is required. (Luke 12:48) Keep your eyes on God’s economy rather than your own. Whether a nation, a church, or an individual, we must express our gratitude to Him and serve to meet the needs of others. Thank you God for your generous Spirit!
“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
Who did God make when he made you? Let’s review Jesus’s invitations to human beings: “Come to me on the water;” “You give them something to eat;” “Strengthen your brothers;” “Cast out demons;” “Go reveal the news of my resurrection;” “You’ll do greater things than I’m doing.” That’s an awful lot of astounding capacity for entities who are “only human.” But you’re not “only human,” if by that you mean flawed and ill-suited for life in the universe. The “only” adjective actually insults God’s handwork. Patterns of body, mind, and spirit that fall short of the mark of God’s vision for you have taken up residence in your soul. But God made you with capabilities that would shock you. Paul learned from the Lord how to realize those capabilities. And so can you.
Re:Verse passage – Philippians 4:10-23 (day two) I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. vs. 12
Have you read Corrie Ten Boom’s The Hiding Place? It is a must read for any believer. One of the many stories of her faith, and that of her family, come from when they were learning to cope and witness in the concentration camp where they had been taken. Corrie’s sister, Betsie, begins to give thanks for their current situation which included fleas. Although reluctant, Corrie goes along with her sister’s prayer to thank God for fleas. They later began to realize that the Nazi guards would not enter their meeting areas because of the infestation, and because of that they were free to share the good news of Jesus. They understood clearly what it meant to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thess. 5:18). They understood clearly what it mean to live without, and yet, thought Christ they were able to fulfill their duty as disciple-makers. May we have that kind of resolve.
Join us as Senior Pastor Chris Johnson, Associate Pastor Aaron Hufty and Associate Pastor Bryan Richardson walk us through Philippians 4:10-23 in our Fall Sermon Series: “Pure Joy” a study of Philippians.
This passage was written in the first century and yet, is speaking directly to this moment on November 22, 2020. Just as it felt like we were finding normalcy again, we seem to be taking steps backwards. Coronavirus is surging. Holiday plans are being affected. Hope is fleeting. A time normally filled with thankfulness, is filled with apprehension. So… what are we going to do?
Dwell on the good things. “…whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” vs 8. There is always a silver lining. If you see something worthy of praise, praise it. If you see excellence in others, brag on them. When you find good, make a big deal of it. We need positivity.
Dwell in thankful prayer. “… with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” vs 6. Thankfulness orients our hearts and minds to see where God is already at work. Dwell in prayer, and He will show you the good things. We need thankfulness.
Dwell in Jesus. “he who [dwells] in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit” John 15:5. The more we dwell in the Lord, the more fruit (love, joy, peace…) we will produce. We need Jesus.
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. Philippians 4:6-7
We have every reason to be on edge, at our whits end…anxious. Even prior to the pandemic, life was hectic enough, and tensions tight enough to nudge us over the cliff.
Anxiety, anger, burnout, frustration, all of it makes complete sense, apart from God. That’s the point of these verses. The promise of God is that he is our peace when there seems to be no peace; he provides a way when there seems to be no way.
It’s the kind of peace that surpasses understanding.
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
What is the byproduct of a deepunderstanding and appreciation of the sovereignty of God?Peace. Paul promises that the Peace of God will guard the human heart and mind. Paul uses a picture which he has observed over and over. Guarding. Nothing comes in or out of prison without someone’s approval and awareness. When we pray (about everything as Paul encourages) God posts the centurion of peace right outside of our hearts and minds. And that peace stands to guard our hearts and minds from anxiety at both surface and deep levels. Nothing comes in that He doesn’t desire and approve. Because we can pray about everything, we can trust that God is sovereign over all the activities and events of our lives (everything). As we pray, we are reminded and assured that God is aware, and wisely and lovingly gives us what’s best for us.
If I am a true believer, won’t I have good relationships with other believers? Not necessarily! Paul has taken the time and love to correct a broken relationship between two…no three…fellow believers. He says their names are written in the book of life. Somewhere along the way, Euodia, Syntyche, and Clement have lost sight of the importance of harmony and peace. They have not lost their salvation though. They are secure in their eternity, but misguided in their discipleship.
Believers are not always perfect. Even though we have victory over sin, we still retain residual effects of the sin in our lives. It would be nice to be instantly sanctified when we are instantly saved. We are grateful for repentance though. When we lose our way and fall into sin, we have a path back to a right relationship with God…we can repent and be restored. During this season of Thanksgiving, let’s thank God for repentance and forgiveness.