Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Supplier of Your Needs

Life has been so busy here between work and Awana. I wouldn't have it any other way, but it is busy! We are getting ready to leave for Chicago here in a few days. I can hardly wait. I get to drive a few hours tomorrow for work. I kind of jump at the opportunity to drive (even if gas is exceedingly expensive at the moment) because it makes for such great times of fellowship with Him. That is the one big thing I miss about college... the commute time. I do like the shortness of my commute to work. It's a huge blessing... but it is harder to find that quality time with Him. New time of life... new patterns. Anyway, I was thinking and praying through Philippians 4 today and thinking about how often I have missed the context of verse 19. Paul is assuring the Philippians that God will supply all their needs. While it is true that He supplies all of our needs I think we ought to look at the context to get the full impact of the passage.
But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 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. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction. You yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone; for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs. Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account. But I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God. And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
One thing that jumped out at me was that even Paul says that he was "suffering need"? Yet, he can do all things [suffer hardship] through Christ who strengthens him. We like to pull that verse out and use it for our latest challenge. Perhaps a big test coming up, or a big basketball game. While I don't think it is wrong to use it that way necessarily, this is much more on the serious level. This is a man that is suffering for the sake of Christ saying that he can live with the suffering because Christ enables him to.

This promise that God will supply all their needs is coming right after they have given abundantly to Paul for the sake of Christ. It's called "a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God". When was the last time that you gave sacrificially? I know for myself, it doesn't happen that often. God has more than supplied my needs. These were people that gave out of trust in God. Paul reassures them with the confidence that God will supply their needs... not just because God gives rain to the good and evil, but because God supplies the needs of those that give graciously in obedience to Him. It glorifies Him to provide for our needs. Why are we not dependent on Him? Perhaps it is because we haven't been obedient!

My goal is not to make us feel bad about giving or the lack thereof, but simply to challenge the way that we look at these verses. It's so easy to pick a verse from here or there to cram into our world of need for encouragement and yet the true encouragement comes when we are obedient to His ways and we see Him come through and strengthen us to be obedient when it is hard... or provide for us when we don't see how we are going to make it. I grab verses and hold onto them for encouragement all the time... and I'm not discouraging that... but lets not miss the need for sacrificial obedience. We are called to be "a living sacrifice". I challenge you to think of what that looks like for your day tomorrow. Write it on a sticky note... post it on your facebook wall... do whatever it takes to remind yourself throughout the day that you are a living sacrifice. It is He who strengthens us... it is He who supplies all our needs. It is sheer joy to live as a sacrifice to Him. Let's do it--one day... one moment at a time.

1 comment:

Tabitha said...

Thank you for the encouragement. May we stand on the promise of His Word, knowing that when we live in sacrificial, unconditional obedience to Christ, He will supply our every need to do so.