As a servant of God, Paul knew the full range of experiences, both good and bad.
He faced, “great endurance, afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, and hunger” (2 Corinthians 6.5).
While in jail in Ephesus, Paul wrote, “I rejoice in the Lord greatly,” (Philippians 4.10). The word “rejoice” was mentioned more times in Philippians than in any other letter.
How could Paul rejoice while suffering so much?
His testimony was, “I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty.
“In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need.
“I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4.11-13).
There are a couple of things to notice in Paul’s report.
(1) He learned to be content because he focused on Jesus and the purpose Jesus had for his life.
Earlier in the letter, Paul said, “I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
“For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him” (Philippians 3.8-9).
I don’t know about you, but the source of my discontentment is a failure to get what I want in life.
Self-centered desires no longer motivated Paul. They were replaced by a desire to know Jesus to the fullest extent possible.
Paul could be content in the midst of imprisonment and deprivation, because the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guarded his heart and mind in a relationship with Christ Jesus (see Philippians 4.7).
(2) Paul was able to rejoice in every circumstance of life because he knew without a doubt that he could “do all things through him who strengthens me” (verse 13).
Jesus’ parting words to his disciples were “Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28.20).
Paul knew the presence of the Lord in every situation. This was enough to allow him to rejoice in both the good times and the bad.
Paul is an example of someone who lifts our sights to higher levels. He challenges us to confidently surrender the leadership of the One “who died, or rather, who was raised, who is also at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us” (Romans 8.34).
We can be confident in his leadership, because we are “convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
“Nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that we have in Jesus Christ” (Romans 8.38-39).
We do well to meditate on Paul’s message and his life. It will inspire us to greater levels of devotion to Christ and increase confidence in his provision for our lives.
Givers Become Receivers
The church in Philippi collected a significant offering for Paul’s needs and traveled 335 miles to deliver it to him.
Paul was grateful for their gift and made this statement about the benefit of giving.
Philippians 4.17-20 – Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the profit that accumulates to your account.
I have been paid in full and have more than enough; I am fully satisfied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.
And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Paul knew that givers become receivers. He knew that their generous gift would affect their relationship with God and each other.
Rudy Ross has an excellent thought about giving on today’s YouTube video. I recommend that you listen to him.
When I think about the value of giving, I turn to Jesus’ words.
He said, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap, for the measure you give will be the measure you get back” (Luke 6.28).
Rudy Ross and I discuss this passage on YouTube today. It can be found on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel. You will appreciate Rudy’s insights.
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