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. Now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever. Amen. -Philippians 4:18-20, NASB
-Paul has received the gift the Philippians sent via Epaphroditus.
-God will supply all of their needs.
-Closes by giving glory to God.
The Philippian church had provided abundantly for Paul. He is more than satisfied with the gift they had sent and makes that very clear to them. Not only is this gift pleasing to Paul it is "a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God." This makes me think their gift was no ordinary offering like those we often take up in church. This was a sacrifice-and it pleased God. Paul's wording here puts me in mind of the sacrifices of the Old Testament. Several times in Leviticus the phrase "it will be a pleasing aroma to the Lord," or something similar is used when speaking about the various offerings and sacrifices made on the altar. We no longer bring our offerings to the altar at the temple, but when we give as the Philippians did it is an offering that please God. I find this an interesting point to ponder.
The amazing verse in this section of Philippians is "And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. " There is no limit to what God can do. He is unlike any other. God has supplied and will continue to provide all that we will ever need. Again, this is not saying that you will be given all of your wants and perceived needs. Sometimes what we need is not what we want. Sometimes what we need is a walk in the refiner's fire. I can tell you from my experience that if God had simply given me everything I asked for I would be lacking in some key areas today. I did not ask for premature babies, or health issues, or the death of a brother, nor the death of my parents, I did not ask to be sexually assaulted...yet I can stand here today and tell you that God has taken care of my needs through it all. He has given me strength and peace and hope when I needed them most. He brought friends alongside who lifted me up with their love. He has held me in His arms of love through all of the dark times. His love for me never waned even when I questioned everything about Him.
It was in those dark times that I began to understand that this world is not my home. This world is not the endgame. It does not end here-eternity is waiting for us. What that eternity looks like is up to us here and now. I have chosen Christ. I have chosen to be His slave. I have chosen to believe that He is the Son of God who came to take away the sins of the world; my sins. And by his marvelous grace, by the riches of His love; He has provided all I need. "His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence." (2 Peter 1:3, NASB) Like Paul, I know that He has not promised to me a life without difficulties, but He has promised me life, He has promised me that out of His riches He will supply all my need. He has promised me that I will one day join Him in heaven where there will be no more sorrow, no more pain, no more sickness, no more death.
There are days when I long to be with Christ so that I do not have to deal with a breaking heart, but that is pretty selfish when you think about it. I have a role in telling the world about Christ and His power to save. There is a flip side to eternal life...hell. That word that we rarely hear today, that place that we dare not speak. But Jesus spoke of it on several occasions-He told us it is a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth, a place of continual torment. We try to downplay it, some even suggest that it is just a temporary place, that you are given a set amount of time and once that is served you are released from hell. That is not what the Bible says and that is why the message we have to share is so important. Hell is forever, there is no escape for those who are sent there, and make no mistake--sin cannot enter heaven-- so unless one is forgiven by the grace of God, unless one's life is marked by Christ, unless one confesses with their mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord-then hell awaits. Instead of entering into rest, you enter into torment.
For a long time I liked to tell myself that Hell was just a place where you had to live with the knowledge that you were forever separated from God. But there is clearly more according to all those verses in the Bible and the terms used a number of times. Weeping (or wailing) and gnashing of teeth speak of a pain that never goes away. At times it is referred to as a burning fire. Well, I can no more imagine its horrors than I can really comprehend Heavens wonders. Once I take the Bible's picture of hell out of the equation it is easy to not go into the world with the Gospel. The world does not want to hear it-it will reject it, and me, and that is what makes it so hard. But God will supply all my need-not the world. Paul knew this from his prison cell. He knew it when he was being beaten and stoned. He knew it when he was being run out of a city. He knew it when he was shipwrecked. And he was content. What does it mean to pattern my life after Paul? It means that I too will be content in all circumstances, knowing that while i am here on this earth the time is short and the message I have to share is more valuable than anything else I have to offer.
I am growing less content with the idea of "friendship evangelism," that teaching that says I first need to make friends with people and then eventually, when I feel the time is right, I can lay Jesus on them. That teaching that says I need to fill bellies with good food, and do yard work, and paint houses, and build water wells, and, well you get the picture. There is much to like about this approach. It makes us likeable, it lets we shy people off the hook of having to "share our faith." It clearly was not Paul's approach. He knew the gospel would be despised and rejected, Jesus has even told us that would happen. Ours is not the popular opinion There are a lot of popular teachers out there who are changing the message to make it more palatable to the masses. Can you remember the last sermon you heard that addressed sin or hell? We speak of love, we bolster people's self-esteem, we fill their heads with the power of positive thinking...that is not the way of Christ. The way of Christ brings me to my knees when I recognize what an awful wretch I am, when I acknowledge that all of my human understanding, all of my good works, are useless in the face of a righteous God who will come to judge the world. All I have are filthy rags, but in walks Jesus; the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. It is He who holds the keys to hell and death (Revelation 1:18)
Jesus told us to "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it." (Matthew 7:13-14, NASB)
Our focus can never be on numbers; that is not the measure of Christian success and I have serious doubts about the numbers of people sitting in our churches today, I have serious doubts about whether they really know Jesus, whether they are truly slaves of Christ or just there because of a feel good doctrine that is being peddled. I wonder how many will still be there when persecution comes or, like the seeds that fell on the rocky ground (see the parable of the sower) will fall way when affliction or persecution arises because of the word. That is why Paul's words are so vitally important. The world has not ever been our friend. It is not now and it never will be. We will be ridiculed, we will be outcasts, and some will even be put to death for the sake of the gospel. Ours is not a popular message-if you ever doubt this just listen to the media, just listen to the popular pastors who say God is too full of love to send anyone to hell. We have forgotten that Jesus told us to fear God, to fear only the One who has the authority to cast us into hell. (Luke 12: 4-5) That is what makes the Good News such good news. Jesus paid the price for our sin, He took the penalty for all of us when He was nailed to the cross, He conquered death and brought us life--but only if we believe in the Lord can we be saved. Paul is encouraging us with these words to stand firm in the faith- God will supply all of our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. It started the moment we became His own dear children and He rescued us from eternal punishment in hell and it continues to this day and forever. Because He is God we have nothing to fear. We can afford to be generous with what God has given us because His riches are beyond compare. My God will supply all of your needs if you have put your faith in Jesus-Who was and is and is to come.
Grace, Peace, and Mercy,
I am a woman with a Mary heart and these are my musings as I read and study God's Word
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