I’ll be preaching this coming Sunday from one of my life verses. In the fourth chapter of Philippians Paul states; “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”, (v.13 NKJ). It is very important when we consider this verse that we not detach it from its context. The context of the surrounding verses has to do with living in a state of contentment. In fact Paul begins in verse 11 with this statement; “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”, (v.11-12 NASB). The context of verse 13 and “doing all things through Christ” is found in the experience of contentment in any situation. Paul didn’t want the Philippians to think he was complaining about his present imprisonment. He wanted them to know that he had learned through a process of growth the importance of being content in whatever situation he found himself. Contentment in any situation enhances our enjoyment and diminishes our miseries. Paul had had the experience of being filled and of going hungry. He’d use those experiences not to complain and gripe but he used those experiences to learn to rest in the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul had found that the secret to contentment in all circumstances was his faith and trust in the living God of the universe. Notice he says in verse 11 “whatever circumstances I am”. “Whatever” is an important word and a key experience. Some find contentment when ever things are going their way and their filled. Paul came to recognize that it is God who is in control of our circumstances. He is the one that is directing and guiding us into the path that He would have us to go. Paul’s ultimate secret to contentment is found in his profound trust and confidence in Jesus Christ, that is reflected in the statement, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. The “all things” here refer to surviving on little or on much.
Paul could face every situation involving material needs and still maintain a positive and victorious attitude towards the circumstances of life. Paul had come to recognize the truth of what Jesus said in the 15th chapter of John’s Gospel when he states, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from me you can do nothing”, (v.5 NASB). I seized Philippians 4:13 as one of my life verses while I was going to Bible college full-time, working a full-time job in the post office and serving as a deacon and Sunday school teacher in my home church while parenting three small children at home. I found the Lord Jesus Christ to be a divinely bestowed sufficiency in the face of all life’s challenges. It is when we are connected to the Vine that the sap flows freely into our lives empowering us to live in a state of contentment and fulfillment. My second life verse carries along the same theme of God’s incredible power working in and through us. That is found in Ephesians 3:20 where we read, “now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us”, (NASB). When we see the Lord Jesus Christ as the author of our circumstances we will know that whatever we may face the Lord Jesus Christ will be going through those circumstances with us. He has promised never to leave us or forsake us. He has also given us His Holy Spirit to indwell us and empower us so that we may serve Him and not only survive difficult life circumstances but thrive in the midst of them. The Lord’s transforming grace can sustain us when we are yielding our lives to Him and walking in obedience to Him. Remember that at the time Paul was writing Philippians he was in a Roman prison with a very uncertain future hanging in the balance. Yet he found that even though he was in prison Jesus Christ was right there with him. It is there that he speaks of this underlying attitude of contentment, simply because he knew that Jesus was with him. Paul had an unusual capacity to adapt to life circumstances because Jesus Christ was the primary source of his contentment and joy. Paul used whatever format the Lord gave him as an opportunity to represent Jesus Christ. Let us do the same thing in our lives, knowing that wherever the Lord has stationed us it is His desire that we represent Him from that place. All praise to our great Savior who can give us a spirit of contentment wherever He has placed us.
Pastor Rich Sivo