Often a single Bible verse doesn’t capture an entire thought of the passage; Scripture wasn’t written for 30-second sound bites. We need to diligently read Scripture in context to understand its intended meaning, and to avoid the temptation to make it say what we might prefer. In today’s passage, Paul was in a tough situation in a Roman jail (an understatement). In his letter to the Philippians, Paul declared his goal to live (and die) for the Lord. The joy and happiness this brought him were merely by-products of actually knowing and serving Jesus Christ. Paul was encouraged by the Philippian believers, but his real confidence was the strength God provided.
- How do you handle God’s promises when the pressure is on?
READ THE WORD: PHILIPPIANS 4:10-13 (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.
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- What caused Paul to rejoice in the Lord (vs. 10)? What’s the difference between rejoicing in the Lord and rejoicing in our circumstances? How does this play out in your life?
- Why wasn’t Paul desperate for their help (vs. 11)? How did Paul come to be content in every circumstance (vss. 12-13)?
- How do you read Paul’s last statement in verse 13: I can do all things (I want) through Christ who strengthens me, or I can do all things (he asks) through Christ who strengthens me?
- Where is God directing you to be faithful to him today? How can you rejoice in the Lord, knowing your strength and confidence is in him?
RESPOND TO GOD
Whatever God provided Paul, or withheld from Paul, was irrelevant to Paul’s ultimate goal to be faithful to Jesus. Setting conditions on God before we serve him as he deserves doesn’t bring joy. Why then do we attempt to manipulate God into ordering things to our comfort and satisfaction before we totally serve him? God doesn’t call us to negotiate a settlement with him. He sets the terms and promises to provide for us. Then we can claim, with his help, we can do all things (that he directs) through him who strengthens us.
- Ask where is God leading you, and confess your struggle when you don’t like his accommodations.
- Express your confidence in his strength to do everything he asks you to do.