IIT UBF - University Bible Fellowship at IIT




God Will Meet All Your Needs

Date: Aug. 9, 2020

Author: Michael Mark

Philippians 4:10-23

Key Verse: Philippians 4:19

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Today we have come to the conclusion of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, which we began 7 weeks ago on June 21st.  Here we are now beginning the second week of August.  It seems fast doesn’t it?  The theme of our study is “Live Joyfully,” as one of the things Phillipians is known for is being the New Testament epistle of joy.  It is a message needed in every generation.  In Paul’s time, he was in prison, and the church was beginning to face some intense persecution, yet he admonishes his brothers and sisters, “Rejoice in the Lord always!”  In our time, as we face the pandemic, a struggling economy, political and societal unrest, this is also a message that we need.  But how can we live joyfully, always, and in any circumstance?  Two critical ingredients to a deep and lasting joy are fellowship and peace.  This is what the world is clamoring for, but can never seem to find it.  We call for unity, but it seems that division and strife are increasing.  We desire peace, but nations continue to fight and bicker, and our own lives are beset by many anxieties and uncertainties.  In this final passage Paul lays out the foundation to a sustainable and lasting joy – and that is contentment.  That sounds so nice, doesn’t it?  Contentment.  To be content, satisfied, happy and at peace.  There is a contentment that can be found in every circumstance – but how is this possible?  Join me as we study the final part of the letter to the Philippians, as Paul reveals the secret to contentment in all situations, which is the foundation of a life of joy.

We begin in verse 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.”  Phillipians is actually a very big thank you letter Paul wrote to the church at Philippi for the gift that they sent to him, and here he expresses his gratitude.  He says “I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me.”  The concern they had for Paul refers to their offering that they sent to him, which is a token of their thoughtfulness and care.  It may have been several years since he founded the Philippian church that he heard from them in this way, which is why he said he rejoices that their concerns were renewed.  He acknowledges that he knows that indeed, they had always been concerned for him, but only had the opportunity now to show it.  In Paul’s time, there was no social media, internet or email to connect to someone.  They didn’t even have cars, so times were longer in between when long distance connections were made.  His thanksgiving was expressed in this: he rejoiced greatly in the Lord.

Paul continues in v.11, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”  Here, Paul is saying that the joy he had was not due to his being unhappy from being in need.  To put it another way, Paul was already content before the gift arrived to him.  He explains further, and elaborates on these circumstances in v.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.”  Content whatever the circumstances, how many of us can say that?  Now this doesn’t mean we don’t do anything or make any progress.  Life is about growth, but even in our labor we can have peace.  The key is not to be discontent to the point of anxiety, which reveals a lack of faith, or discontent that you are tempted to sin, which reveals greed.  Paul was not anxious about where his next meal would come from.  Nor did he pursue the love of money, but he knew its perils.  He even said this in his letter to Timothy: “Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Tim 6:10)”

Let’s consider Paul’s case again.  He is writing this from prison, he is in house arrest in Rome, and probably chained to a Roman soldier who was guarding him.  Prior to this, on his journeys, he was flogged 5 times with 40 lashes minus one by the Jews, he was beaten, he was shipwrecked three times.  He had often gone without food and sleep many nights, many nights found himself in the cold, all for the sake of preaching the good news to all people.  Yet he could also say he was sorrowful, yet always rejoicing, poor, yet making many rich, having nothing, yet possessing everything.  He was, as he said in v.11 and 12, content in every situation and circumstance.  Now, he did not wish all of this on people, he even told King Agrippa, who was King of Judea that he may become a Christian, except for his chains.  So by the grace of God, hopefully we don’t have to go through all of those punishments Paul went through, but still be able to find contentment.  Our situations may not be so dire, but whatever our circumstances may be, let us learn to be content as Paul had learned.

So having gone through all he had, how could Paul still come out and say “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstance?”  Paul reveals the secret of being content in v.13, he says, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”  That’s right, the only way we can find strength in any and every circumstance is through Christ.  When we try by our own strength, we can only get so far.  Our despair and worry can paralyze us.  Our greed or anger can possess and overtake us.  But Christ Jesus strengthens us.  Jesus himself taught: “I am the vine, you are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)”  Indeed it is the Spirit of God that gives us strength and lifts us up.  Isaiah 40:28-31 say, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in 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.”  Charles Spurgeon, the famed 19th century preacher, called the prince of preachers, founded 66 organizations that ministered to the poor and needy, as well as preached to 5-10,000 people per week, wrote books, and published papers.  Some days he worked for 18 hours.  David Livingstone, the great missionary to Africa once asked Spurgeon, “How do you manage to do two men’s work in a single day?”  To which he replied, “You have forgotten there are two of us.”  The secret to being content in all circumstances is receiving strength through the Lord Jesus Christ.

It may seem like Paul was being ungrateful.  He tells them, “I greatly rejoiced in your gift, but not because I needed it.”  As we know, Paul was not being unthankful at all, but he rejoiced for a different reason.  Look at v.14, “Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.”  This is why he rejoiced – because of their fellowship.  It was more than just giving him some money.  When we donate to an organization, we usually hear, thank you for “partnering with us.”  But here, Paul acknowledges that they are joining together with him in his difficulties.  This might indicate that they did not give out of their abundance, but giving unselfishly and perhaps at a sacrifice to themselves they gave to Paul.  When they gave, they were supporting Paul and his work.  And they not only sent money, but they sent Epaphroditus to also support Paul, literally sharing in the labor.  This is what supports and adds to our joy: it is our fellowship and unity with one another.  We are not alone, but we have one another, and we share our lives together, and support and encourage one another.

Paul commends the Philippians for their habit of giving, and this really shows the relationship that they had together.  Their acts of kindness were so outstanding, that even after many years Paul recalls it fondly.  Look at v.15-16, “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 more than once when I was in need.”  He never forgot their generosity.  It’s heart warming whenever you hear it, when someone remembers a gift you gave them a long time ago.  And here we see another reason why he rejoiced in their gift – look at v.17, “Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account.”  Paul kept a record of their good deeds, but you know who else was keeping track?  God.  Though their gifts were a benefit to Paul, it was actually more beneficial to them.  It was Paul’s desire, it was his earnest craving, his wish that they would benefit more from their giving.  Paul taught in Acts 20:35, “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” 

Heb 6:10 says, “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”  When you are helping his people, you are serving God.  Jesus teaches in Matt 25:20: “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me,’” and in Matt 10:42, “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” 

Paul acknowledges the value of the Philippian’s offering in v.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.”  This is some good news: our service for others, our helping others in need is a sweet and pleasant aroma, pleasing to God.  Even our best works are like filthy rags, or most honorable actions are mixed and slightly tainted with sin, but when done in Christ, for Christ, God accepts them and is pleased with them. In Christ, the record of our debts has been erased.  Though your earthly bank account may be depleting, your account in heaven only adds and compounds.  So let’s be encouraged to help one another, especially those in need, and store up for ourselves treasures in heaven.

Now that Paul has acknowledged that their offering is acceptable to God, he says in v.19, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”  First, let’s see this in light of the audience.  The Philippian church had met Paul’s need, and amply, so much so that God was pleased.  So Paul was confident that God would also meet all of their needs, when they are in circumstances of necessity.  This is both spiritual and temporal – God would meet their spiritual needs, and their physical needs.  Notice in their situation they were truly in poverty, but God would provide for them spiritually, by sending Timothy back along with Epaphroditus to shepherd them, but also physically, providing them food and clothing that they needed.

It is good to first understand this in its context of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, because this is a glorious promise and I want to avoid getting too carried away by overpromising what God will and will not give you.  I know that God is able to give everybody over and abundantly all they ask but I want to be careful so that with a better understanding, we can have better expectations.  The Philippian church here was and have been very generous, and it is in light of their giving that Paul was confident God would repay to them everything they need and much more.  But the size of the offering does not matter so much as the attitude.  God can bless someone with many times over, even if they can only come with a handful of offering.  No good deed is ever lost on God.  And it’s not about reluctant or thoughtless giving.  Remember the Pharisees gave bountifully to God, but their hearts were not right.  It’s about cheerful, willing giving, and that the Lord will accept.

Though you may be giving, God is also giving back, at the same time storing up for you your heavenly treasures – so you are receiving a two for one deal.  In v.13, we see the Son giving you strength to be content in all circumstances.  Now let’s look again at v.19, our key verse, to see what the Father does, that will also help you be content in all situations.  Verse 19 says, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”  Look at the scope of that.  It does not say generally, God will meet your needs.  It does not say God will meet some of your needs – but it says specifically, God will meet all of your needs.  What are those needs that you have?  It’s all of them.  You have a need to know the love of God.  You have a need to understand his Word.  You have a need to pray.  You have a need for strength to carry out the work of God.  You have a need for food, for clothing, for love, for friendship, for a job, for marriage, for finances, and for health.  You may not even know all of the needs you have, it may fill up a whole book, but God is aware of them all, every page, every letter, every stroke of the pen.

How does he meet our needs?  Again, it’s not according to the amount you have given, but it’s according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.  This is an infinite, vast amount of wealth, so much so that the universe may not even be able to contain it.  Here’s a sample of it.  It’s the forgiveness of our sins, through the full payment of our debt when Jesus died on the cross.  All of our sins have been paid, our slates wiped clean, our accounts credited with the righteousness of Christ that no debt remains outstanding.  That’s one example of his riches.  The mountains of your sins have been cleared away, paid for, atoned by the blood of Christ.  It’s his Holy Spirit, whom he deposits in you to revive you, to make you holy and more like Christ.  It’s an inheritance.  Jesus said, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?”  It’s the promise of eternal life: to sustain you, to give you all that you need in eternal blessedness for eternity.  It’s the victory over death.  It’s the Word of God – the truth and the light.  We’ve read Romans 8:32 before, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”  David prayed to God in 1 Chr 29:14 “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this?  Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.”  David acknowledged that God owns and possesses the whole world, so he is able to over and abundantly provide for all our needs.

God has provided for all of our ministry’s needs.  We have been able to worship at school without any cost, thanks to the Bible Club.  We have had enough to give for relief funds a couple times a year.  We were able to provide dinners for the Bible Club every week that they met on campus for a number of years, and sponsor their events.  On top of all that, we will actually complete our last payments on the Bible House by this October.  Just even getting that location in the first place was a miracle and a result of some persistent and valiant efforts.  God has given to us the Bible House as our base of operations, and a backup Worship Service location.

To this day, God has continually met all of my needs, over and abundantly.  Day to day, week to week, he gives me grace to write messages, and wisdom for my projects at work.  He gives me grace to try and be a good husband and father.  He has shown himself faithful when preparing for conferences, especially for the 2018 International Conference.  He has changed my life from a wandering tech consultant to his servant here at IIT UBF, and given me a wonderful wife and now daughter.  My days are truly full of joy and thankfulness each day.  Can I say that I would be just as content should I lose everything?  All I can say is, I can do this through him who gives me strength.  He will strengthen me, and provide for me and my family.  But I also have this hope that when he returns, my lowly body, our lowly bodies will be transformed to be like his glorious body.

In light of the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus, Paul gives this doxology – a praise to God, in v.20, “To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever.  Amen.”  This is also how we can be sure that God will meet all of our needs: because He is our Father, and a loving, patient, compassionate Father who loved us and gave his own Son for us.  This letter closes with some final greetings and a benediction – a word of blessing in v.23.  “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.  Amen.”  Paul begins his letter and ends it with the same power that strengthens and blesses us: the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and he abides in our soul.

Through the study of Philippians, we considered how to live joyfully.  We can rejoice because we have one another.  We are more than friends, we are family and a fellowship, united in Christ and sharing our lives together.  Not only is it more blessed to help each other in need, but there’s reward for it.  In Christ, we can be strengthened to be content in every circumstance, and God our Father will meet all our needs in Christ Jesus.  Since he will meet all of our needs, why should we worry?  Why should we fret?  God will meet all our needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus, making us content in every circumstance so that we can truly live joyfully.

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