Monday, March 7, 2022

Christ, The Church, The Commission #2: The Lord's Supply Philippians 4:10-19

Christ, The Church, The Commission #2: The Lord's Supply Philippians 4:10-19

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Last week in Acts 1:8, we saw that Jesus commissioned His church to reach the world with the Gospel. Each local church is responsible for that work. We are responsible for missions individually, corporately as the body of Christ here and cooperatively with other local churches of like faith and order, everywhere.

No outside agency is authorized except the Lord's local church. So how can a local church find the resources it needs to carry out the  Lord's global commands, especially a small church? Today we are going to look at the next step in the Lord’s plan for His Church and His commission. And it is the answer to our question, how the Lord will supply each church to meet all their needs and in that process of faith also accomplish more than they ever believed has possible.

Introduction: 

Joke:  A man was looking for a job and went into a men’s clothing store to ask if he could be a salesman.  The owner said, “I don’t really need any salesman.”  The unemployed man said, “Sir, I’m a really good salesman.  I believe I can sell just about anything.”  The owner thought for a moment and then thought he would use the man’s situation to his advantage.  “I tell you what I’m going to go for lunch and if you can sell a suit that I pick out for you to sell, I’ll give you a job.”  The unemployed man said, “Great, no problem what suit do you want me to sell.”  The owner went to the back and came back with truly hideous suit.  It was a bright orange and red plaid with purple and white checked pants and a tie shaped like a fish.  “Here you go if you can sell this suit you’ve got a job.”

The man took a long lunch and smiled at the trick he had played on the man looking for a job.  He arrived back at his shop and looked around at a disaster. Clothes were torn from the racks, display cases were knocked down, light fixtures were torn from the walls and huge chunks of the carpet had been ripped from the floor. The job applicant was just as beat up as the store.

In shock he yelled, “What happened to my store !?!?”

“Well, I sold the suit” the other man proudly proclaimed. “And the store got a little messy while I was selling it.”

“What?  Why? Did you have trouble with the customer did you make him angry?

“No, not at all, sweetest customer you would every want, but man, that seeing-eye dog was a different story!”

Missions on a worldwide scale from a small local church may seem as impossible as selling an orange and red plaid suit with purple pants, but the Lord has a way. That method of faith is our text today Philippians 4:10.

Strong By Christ - Philippians 4:10-13

But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. -- I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Paul Strengthened by Christ

Just a little bit of background, On his second missionary journey Paul visited the Greek city of Philippi. He was arrested, throw in jail but miraculously freed by an earthquake. Several people trusted Christ like Lydia, the seller of purple,  the Philippian jailer and their families. There were others and from this group, a local church was established. (Acts 16:14–34).

The letter to the Philippians is very personal, these are people Paul knows and loves. It is one of the most positive letters Paul ever wrote, there is no corrections, just encouragements. The word “Joy” (chara) is used four times (Phil. 1:4, 25; 2:2; 4:1); “rejoice” (chairĊ) occurs eight times (1:18 [twice]; 2:17–18; 3:1, 4:4 [twice], 10); and “glad” occurs three times(2:17–18, 28).

- Robert P. Lightner, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, 1985, 2, 646–647.

So, let’s put all this in context, Paul is an evangelist, someone who is bringing the gospel to people who have never heard it. Now, we call a new testament evangelist, a missionary.  

So, Paul, a missionary, is writing back to the church at Philippi, which was had supported him in his evangelistic work. Now there is many ways of applying this passage both personally, spiritually, but its context is a missionary who is thanking a supporting church.

In vs. 10 He thanks them for their offering sent to him. Philippians 4:10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished

But in vs. 11-12, though he is thankful, he also tells them he is not in need, in fact he is never really in need because of the contentment he possesses. Philippians 4:11Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

In this contentment, he has the ability to deal with the extremes of life.

Then in vs. 13 he gives us the key to contentment, its Jesus Christ. Vs 13. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. That’s not about being super Christian it about being able to deal with whatever this sinful world throws at him and just keep standing, smiling and serving. That is real strength in Christ.

Strength In Our Savior

If there is ever a time that we need the same contentment and strength in Christ, it is today. I have a feeling that the extremes we have been seeing are nothing compared to what might be coming. Whatever may be in our future though, I doubt it will be as extreme as what Paul went through. He made it because of the strength of contentment he found in Christ.

Do you know why have we often don’t find this contentment, this strength? 

Often it is because we are afraid to face the extremes and put our faith in God fully. We must be willing to step out in faith and then we’ll find that He really can supply our every need, and bring us through every trail and extreme of living.

We can’t know the beginning of God’s supply unless you’re willing to experience the end of our own supply. In other words, most Christians are not willing to run past empty to see if God really can put gas in the tank. Yes I am one of those people who doesn’t put gas in the tank until the little lights been on for at least 30 miles. My wife loves it when I do that. She just loves it.

Illustration: Mr. Stokes and the Sheet

This is what Isaiah said about this supplied strength from the Lord in 40:29-31 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.  Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:  But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Next Paul moves from his personal strength and contentment in Christ to the supply of the Philippian church.

Sacrifice To God - Philippians 4:14-18

Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction. Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.

Paul Thanks the Church

Paul is simply saying thankyou to the church for their gift. He tells them, “You have done well.” The KJV says “communicated” that word back in 1611 mean to share, today it means share words and thoughts but it had a broader meaning then. He also tells them that, in the beginning of his ministry, no other church shared with him, just the church at Philippi. And they did this, time and time again to meet his needs.

Then he gives them a principle, that shows the gift is not just something physical but is also something spiritual as well. Philippians 4:17 Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.

Paul now abounds because of the offering, brought by Epaphroditus. He again points to the spiritual aspect of the offering. Philippians 4:18 the things which were sent from you, an odour (a fragrance) of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God

The gift was a sweet-smelling sacrifice like the Old Testament “thanks offering.” In the OT, this was an offering above and beyond the regular tithes and offerings of the Old Testament worshipper. It was given as an expression of thanksgiving for the blessings of God.

Seeing the Significance

Do you grasp what Paul is saying in application to us as a modern New Testament church? Paul says the fruit of the church which is credited to their account by God, are those offerings given above and beyond the regular tithe and especially those gifts which are given to missionaries.

Paul says the NT evangelist, the missionary receives the offering but it is really and offering to God.  And it is pleasing to Him. The missionary abounds but God is well pleased. This means it is acceptable and brings Him pleasure because of our gift, our offering.

It is a sweet smelling sacrifice, a beautiful fragrance. Now a sacrifice, by its definition, must be something that costs us.  It must not be the leftovers, instead, it must be the firstfruits and it must be above our normal gift, our regular tithe. If not then it is not a sacrifice at all.

According to Paul this is how you give to God in the area of missions. It must be sacrificial; it must be above and beyond the normal giving of our tithe. It should the expression of our thanks to God for all that he has blessed you with. It must be an act of faith. You must climb into the sheet and trust God for His supply that you can then give to fulfill the commandment of the commission to yourself and to this church.

Does it really matter if we give sacrificially? Does God really notice?

Elijah and the Widow of Zarephath

1 Kings 17:11-13 Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand. And she said, As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die. And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first,

Now that is sacrificial giving and we see the principal over and over again in the Bible. God looks for our faith, He see our sacrificial giving and as Paul says, He rewards us, blesses us and supplies us, according to our giving. This is especially true when it comes to giving for missions. How we give determines how God rewards and blesses us, not just in heaven someday but in our lives, our homes and our churches right now.

Finally, lets see why the local church needs missions, and it is not just missions needing the local church.

Supply Of Heavenly - Philippians 4:19

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Paul Reveals The Principle

In this finally, verse Paul gives to the church at Philippi and to us, God’s principle of giving and receiving. Emptying our hands that God may fill then fill it.

He eloquently says, in vs. 19 “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

Now this is the concluding statement, the summary of what he has just told them. It doesn’t stand apart from the context of a missionary thanking the church for their sacrificial giving. It is the end of that process, that application of giving to the fulfill the Lord’s commission to us the church.

And just look at this promise. What a blessing is ours. Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, tells the church that the needs of the local church, the people of God, are met in the riches of God’s treasury in heaven! This is a never-ending supply given to the church by Christ Jesus.

Now, God blesses all giving in His name but the promise to the church is released when we give to God’s missionaries, especially, I believe, those sent though God’s only authorized organization for carrying out the Great Commission, the local church.

So how doe we know that this is not a one time reward to the church at Philippi rather than a  principle of God’s work?

Ecclesiastes 11:1 Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.  (Speaking of investing with ships sent out to trade)

Luke 6:38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: (the context once again is a missionary writing to a church and encouraging them to give that God may bless the church)

Therefore, this is an elemental principle for God’s work, seen throughout God’s word. Let me summarize it in three steps. 1) God promises to supply the needs of his Church. 2) That supply line of blessing is opened by the church giving to missions. 3) Finally, the greater the giving the greater the blessing, the more abundant the supply.

Securing the Supply

It is the Lord’s promise that the needs of His church and the individuals that make up the church will be met if we trust in His word and give to His work, especially to missions.  This is the channel God has created for the church’s supply.

Our account is draw from the heavenly riches of God. Our checking or savings account balance here does not limit us, because we are drawing on the unlimited supply of the First Heaven Bank of Glory.

How then do write the check to draw upon this account? Or in today commerce,  how does the church get a debit card from Heaven’s Bank? According to this passage, it by giving to God’s missionaries. That is a gift above and beyond our regular tithes, not a replacement but a thanks offering taken from the blessings God has given.

How then will each of us respond to the challenge and promise of this principle of giving?  We can rise to the occasion like the Philippians did, time and time again sending their offering to Paul or we can draw back instead of drawing on the riches of glory.

We can say things are tough right now and yes, they truly are and they are probably going to get tougher. You can rightly say that money is tight and later would be a better time, you can offer a hundred legitimate reasons but listen just once more, to Paul writing to another local church, this time at the Greek city of Corinth.

2 Corinthians 8: 1-3 Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; (he’s talking about the Philippians’ church) How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves;

The same church in a great trial of affliction, gave beyond their power. How could they do that? How could they give when they were in the midst of a terrible trail? You know they answer, they trusted God to meet their need! They stepped out in faith; they drew on God’s supply not their own. They got in the sheet and trusted God.

Priming the pump

A hiker was thirsty for a drink, but could not find water, until he came to an abandoned house. There he found a pump, and proceeded to pump with all the strength he had remaining. No water came out, the pump seemed to be broken. Then he saw a small jug with a cork in the top and a note. It said, Use this water to prime the pump.

Now this man was really thirsty and he had water in his hand in that jug. It seemed to make more sense to just drink that water. But the journey was going to be long and he needed to refill his own canteen so the decided to trust the person who left the note.

He opened the top of the pump poured in the water. Now he didn’t know it but priming moistened the leather seal and made it tight enough to hold a vacuum so the pump could draw the water up and out through the spigot. He replaced the lid on the pump and starting working the handle and in just a few short stroke, sweet cool, refreshing, life giving water gushed out.

He drank his fill, then refilled his own canteen and then just before going on. He also filled the little jug and with a pencil he added this line to the note, "Believe me, it really works, but you have to give it all away before the water will flow."

Conclusion: 

In a sense we are all standing before the well of God’s supply.

And we must decide if we will take God at His word and step out in faith so the blessing will flow. It always about faith, isn’t it? It was by faith that you believed and were saved. You simply took God at his word then. Now we must do the same thing in the area of giving that God may bless you, your family and your church.

You stand at the well, but you must “prime the pump” by faith giving.

This is why we as a church needs missions, it is the means by which God has determined to meet our needs. Missions is the churches’ test of faith, missions giving is the priming that bring the flow of God’s supply. More mission giving is what the church needs, from each one of us.

 

I gave them to Him,

All the things I'd valued so

Until I stood there empty-handed.

Every glittering toy did go.

And I walked earth's lonely highways

In my rags and poverty.

Till I heard His voice entreating,

 

"Lift your empty hands to Me."

Empty hands I lifted to Him,

And He filled them with a store

Of His own transcendent riches

Till my hands could hold no more.

 

And at last I comprehended,

With my mind so slow and dull,

That God could not pour His riches

Into hands already full.

 

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