Learning that Strengthens
Speaker: Rev. Scott Strickman
Sermon Series: Philippians
Philippians 4:10-23 (ESV)
10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
14 Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. 15 And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. 16 Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. 18 I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar's household.
23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
Paul has learned (vv11-12) that God is a great source of strength – the learning process includes:
v11 “in whatever situation”
v12 “in any and every circumstance”
v11 “I have learned… to be content”
v15 “no church entered into partnership with me”
v10 “you were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity”
v18 “I have received full payment and more. I am well supplied…”
v19 “my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus”
v13 “I can do all things through him who strengthens me”
Questions for Reflection
What sorts of situations do you function well in? What role does your faith play when you are in those situations?
What sorts of situations are very hard for you? Why? What role does your faith play when you are in those situations?
What challenges do you experience when you need to be flexible or adapt?
In what ways do you interpret silence? What fears tend to guide or influence you when you are awaiting an answer, when it seems people aren’t going to help you, when you are unsure of what is next, etc.?
What do you think about the statement “I didn’t realize God was the only thing I needed until God was the only thing I had”? Does that make sense? Is it true? What is your experience with this?
In what ways does God strengthen us when we are weak? What should we look for?
What does it mean that we can do all things through Christ? How can we really be empowered to live courageously, while maintaining proper expectations?
How does the suffering and death of Christ communicate to us that God is a God who will be with us in hard or trying times? What sort of devotional life is able to keep a hold on God’s presence with us such that you experience strength from it? What should you do?
Prayer of Confession
Gracious and generous God, you supply every need according to your riches in glory in Christ Jesus. We confess, however, that we have much to learn. We are not always content. Instead, we are dissatisfied because of our greed, because we are spiritually immature, because we want the wrong things. We miss the opportunities to learn because we fill our time with grumbling and assuming the worst. We hate our own weakness. We confess to you that we are weak. Forgive us, and teach us. Help us to know with greater conviction that you have already supplied all that we need in Christ. Sustain us, and strengthen us so that we can face all things and serve you well in all circumstances. Amen.