June 11, 2023

Philippians: Living a Life of Joy and Contentment in Christ

Speaker: David Jordan Series: Journey Through the Bible Scripture: Philippians 1:1– 4:23

Download the Philippians Bible Journal Outline

Open your Bibles, if you would, to the book of Philippians. If you have one of these little prayer journals; no, you did not just get a kid's handout. It is for us, to help follow along. And on the inside you'll see the themes, overview, and significant verses of the book. I've been preaching through each book of the Bible, in an overview fashion. So, one sermon to go over an entire book. And this week we have Philippians. The title is: “Living a Life of Joy and Contentment in Christ.” Living a Life of Joy and Contentment in Christ.

Let me ask you a question, is it possible in our day and age to live with joy? Is it possible to live with joy? Do you think a life of contentment is possible? Yes. Good, you're active today, that's awesome. But doesn't God promise suffering? Yes. Good, no tricks today. He promises suffering. He promises trials. He actually promises that the world will hate you. Now, is it possible to live a life of joy? Yes. Okay, sermon over. The daycare workers will be my friends today. But Paul, was shipwrecked. He was beaten. I mean, some of us may have been beaten because we were bad at fighting as little kids. But he was beaten with whips that had shards of glass and normally pottery attached to the whip so that when you were whipped, it would latch on and grab and then pull. Now that was just one. He had that 39 lashes, multiple times. 40 lashes would be inappropriate, because that might kill you. But 39 was appropriate. He was stoned with rocks. He was threatened by his own people, by the Jews. He was threatened by those who didn't believe the way he did.

Paul had great things given to him, you could say. He had visions of heaven that he was not allowed to share with anyone. I mean, that too, is kind of a trial if there's this wonderful, amazing thing that's happened to you. And you know it's as real as anything can be real. And then God says, “Don't share a single thing of what you saw, with anyone, your entire life.” He had trials of great joy, he had trials of suffering, he had trials of pain, he was in prison multiple times. And the prisons there were not quite like they are today. And you would probably not even make it just taking a deep breath in those prisons, with what we're used to. They were so vile and filthy. And yet Paul had this singular mindset, this determination, this abundant life of joy and contentment. And it wasn't just a theoretical thing that was possible. He actually lived it every single day. Now, let me ask you another question, do you live every single day with full joy and contentment in Christ? Some say, “yes.” Praise God for that! That is where we should all be. And Paul in this this letter of Philippians, he wrote about AD 60, or around 30 years or so after the Ascension of our Lord Christ. And he wrote about the same time as Ephesians and Philippians and Galatians. But he wrote from prison.

And this whole letter, what just really strikes me, is that the whole letter is just a thank you letter. It's not a letter to ask for prayers for himself to get him out of prison or to change his circumstances. It's just this whole letter of praise and thanksgiving heaped upon this incredibly poor congregation who has served with him in ministry, month after month, and year after year, for a very long time. And he just overflows with joy. Look, if you would, in Philippians chapter one. This is part one of the letter, we could call this, “Praise in Prison.” We need to remember where he is when he's writing. And notice his attitude while he's in this filthy, stench-filled place.

[Philippians 1:1-] “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,” that's the word for slave, that “servants” there, we kind of tame it down a little bit. That's doulos. “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,” he declares who he is. “To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons.” So notice, if you're a believer, you're a saint. There's no special miraculous qualifications here. They're all in Philippi, this city up in Macedonia, the area of modern day Greece, across from Turkey, across from the Aegean Sea from Turkey. So that's where he's writing to, to them, “to the overseers and the deacons.” [Philippians 1:2-5] “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel, from the first day until now.”

Normally, when we get letters from people who are in worse circumstances than us, they're asking for help. But Paul, brings grace and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Notice, Jesus is his Lord. That's who he lives for. And you can see it in the opening sentence here. In everything that he sees in them, everything that he remembers about them, it causes him to be joyful. Now that friends, is a special congregation. That everything, in all my remembrance of you, it's just joy. Why? Why is that? Verse five, look in verse five, [Philippians 1:5] “because of your partnership in the gospel.” They had this tight relationship of gospel ministry that allowed them to have a special relationship. It was a bond that was unbreakable. It culminated in this joy and this satisfaction. And notice, Paul is going to direct this letter towards them. It's going to direct his unity and love towards them, his contentment with them. And it culminates in the very next verse, verse six.

[Philippians 1:6] “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” That alone has brought many Christians throughout the ages, great, great encouragement. That God is not done with you yet. I was just talking to one of our older saints this morning. And you know, he was talking about how the cancer prognosis is completely gone, completely changed. There's no signs of what he had. His white blood cell count is actually a little low. And if you know about cancer, it just floods your body with white blood cells. And I've said to him before, and he's a hearty guy, that God's not done with you yet. And I've said that to some of you others who have gone through trials and health trials. And you kind of get towards the end of your life and you're like, “would anybody even miss it if I were not here?” And you just need to know that God's not done with you yet. But that's the case for everybody. For your two-year-old. For your teenager, the college student, those of you who are in the prime of life and your successful careers. Those of you who are retired and wondering what vacation you're going to do next. God is going to continue a good work in you. That means that he's already started a good work in you.

So, as you think about Paul's understanding of the Macedonian church, that's the church in Philippi, we would also put the Thessalonians in that Macedonian region as well. But for the Philippians, we would say that they have a good work begun in them, and also it will continue in them, and it will never stop until they see Jesus face to face. That is a good start to a letter. It goes on to talk about his love for them. You see in verse nine, that it's not just love, but it's love “with knowledge and discernment” [Philippians 1:9]. All we need is love, AND knowledge, AND discernment, not just one or the other. And it prepares us to be, as verse 10, says, pure. There's a preparatory work that goes on in our lives, that causes us to know God is at work in us. So, everyone in here, God is working on you. And if you're not saved, if you haven't repented of your sins, and put your full trust and faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation, then you have the convicting work of God on you, and in you, to call you to repentance.

And if you have received salvation by the grace of God, through the vehicle of faith, if you've received this, then God is at work in you to prepare you, not just to be forgiven, not just so that the eternal wrath of God will not abide on you. But to get you pure and ready to see Jesus Christ. Now, knowing Paul was in prison, he was very compassionate. And he knew that they loved him much. So, look in verse 12, Philippians chapter one, verse 12, he explains why he's there. And he says [Philippians 1:12-13], “I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.” Now, we normally want to answer the why question of life. Why is this happening to me? Well, Paul had that answer a few times, normally, we don't get that answer. Right? The answer is that we live to glorify God in all that we do. And we will one day understand the purposes of God more fully, when we see him face to face. But Paul here says that his imprisonment is for Christ. That's why he's in prison. Is that the kind of leader that you would want to follow, a leader like Christ, who allows you or who propels you to go to prison?

A friend of mine, well, I shouldn't say a friend of mine, a fellow-graduate of mine – James Coates – some of you've heard that story back in 2021. When the world revealed what was in their hearts, he spent 35 days in jail. He was, and still is, a pastor in Canada. And they shut down the churches much longer than here. And he decided that the worship of God was more important. And I'm not here to talk about all of the things that come up with that, that’s a very complicated situation. I'd be happy to share with you what we did. But James spent 35 days in jail. Now it wasn't a jail like Paul was in. But he did have to be taken away in front of his children with his kids screaming. And at that moment, you realize if you're a man of conviction, or not. You realize if your spouse is a spouse who has conviction, that Jesus Christ is the supreme reason for living. He says this, “I realized that society is going to perceive what's going on here differently. But I'm simply here in obedience to Jesus Christ. And it's my obedience to Christ that has put me at odds with the law.” Now, they said in Canada, you can read the news stories, there's a zillion of them on this. That, you know, he was in violation of health codes, and they want him to do whatever he wants to do with his religious freedom, except worship God regularly together, because that would be a supercell, spreading disease and death to the world. But from his perspective, the worship of God was supreme.

You see, our convictions determine our actions. The consequences of our actions reveals the depth of our convictions. Paul's conviction was that proclaiming the gospel was the greatest privilege on Earth. His conviction led him to preach the gospel, not just in Jerusalem, or not just to flee to the region of Galilee, where Jesus spent most of his ministry. So, a little safer there. Or maybe he could have stopped in the Samaritan region, where it's much safer there, because the Jews didn't even like them. They just went around the city when they'd go to Galilee and areas north. Oh, there were plenty of safe places, and safe spaces, if you will, to preach the gospel in the known world. But Paul didn't go to the safe places to preach the gospel because they were safe. He went there and he traveled greatly, as you know, because people were dying and going to hell, and he had the words of life. And his conviction led him to preach the gospel, even if it meant jail time, or beatings, which it did often.

Remember when he got converted in Acts in this bright light. And he starts out his conversion ministry by being blind for three days. Not the best start, right? And the one whom he serves is the one who blinded him. It's like starting a new job and them saying, “Okay, you owe us $50,000, no signing bonus.” Here's a little jilt for you, here's a little trial for you, to just test and see if you really are going to serve me. Then when he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And Jesus said, “I am the one whom you are persecuting.” That was the start. And then as he went on, and he ended up in Damascus, where he must have had a giant group of people with him. And soldiers and guards, whether they were Roman or hired (they were probably just hired), and then he gets there. And by the time he's done, they want to kill him. Welcome to Christianity. You see his consequences of being in jail and of having death threats. And at times, even people said they wouldn't even eat until they killed Paul. It brought out of his heart what was in there. It brought joy out of his heart because that's what was in his heart. You can't bring out anger if there's no anger in your heart. You see, if you say, “Well, my circumstances made me angry.” Well, your circumstances were just the window to what was already in you. “I'm depressed because of what happened.” No, what happened brought out the depression that was in you. There's something superior to Christ that you truly live for. And God has granted you the mercy of seeing what that is.

What were the results of this imprisonment as he relates it in Philippians? Well, we know in verse 13, the entire imperial guard heard about his imprisonment, that it was for Christ. So that's at least a thousand guards or more. And we know that some of them became believers. How do we know that? Well, in Philippians 4:22 it says, “All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar's household.” People in Caesar's household were getting saved because of this guy in prison. That is a cause for great joy. But listen, that's not the greatest joy that he has. He says in Philippians 1:18-19, after he explains about his imprisonment and his love for them, he says, “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance.”

And you go, “Wait a minute, I thought you said he never asked to get out.” That's not what he means by deliverance. Jesus being the greatest joy – remember, he's just said, “proclaiming Christ is the greatest thing I could ever do.” That's the only thing that he is going to rejoice in all the time. He says that, “through your prayers, that it will turn out for his deliverance.” And this is regularly taken out of context. So, Paul is basically building his case for rejoicing and building his reason for living. And then he says in verse 21 [Philippians 1:21], “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” He might die in prison. But that would be gain. And if he's living, then that's Christ too. Paul is saying, “living or dying, I get Christ.” So, his deliverance might come through death. But that just brings him Christ. Or his deliverance, as he goes on to explain in verse 22, he says [Philippians 1:22-24], “If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.”

Listener, what are we here for? What are we here on earth for? I mean, look at what Paul is saying. He's convinced that he's going to stay and remain with them on this earth, in prison. He's not convinced he's getting out of prison. He's just saying, “he's convinced that he's going to continue to have fruitful labor for them. For their progress and joy in the faith,” as it says in verse 25. Your circumstances don't need to change for you to have fruitful labor for Jesus Christ. All the “Amens” are gone, aren't they? Our circumstances don't need to change. They don't. You can be fruitful in your work for Christ, no matter if your circumstances never change. Just keep them the way they are right now. You can serve Jesus, you can love Jesus, you can proclaim Jesus. As long as you have breath, you can serve the Lord. As long as you have Christ as your main focus, as your main desire, you can serve in ministry with others. I mean, if you want to quit your job and get full time training and do that, I think that's great, but you don't have to.

You can study, learn, present yourself as one approved, accurately handling the word of truth. And you can serve Christ now in whatever situation, whether you're two or ninety. And this, friends, is an incredible example. Paul does not want them to get their focus set on him in prison. He wants them to understand why he is in prison. And that's okay with Paul. But I ask, though that's a high example, if people followed our example of life, would they have the joy of the Lord? If everybody in this room lived like you do, like I do, would they have the joy of the Lord like Paul does? And that's not even the best example. By the time he's finished wrapping that up, and we're like, “Yeah, that's amazing.” And to live is Christ, and to die is gain. The guy is so full of joy and thanksgiving, and he loves this poor Macedonian group of people. And that's just amazing. And he says, “No.” Philippians 2:1-3, “If you have any comfort, any encouragement from Christ, I want to call you to unity. And I want to give you the greatest example in all of Scripture.” He points them to the example of Jesus Christ. And I want to read this little section in verses 5 through 11. Just so we can hear this magnificent passage, Philippians 2:5-11. He says this,

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, [so, you already have it] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, [why?] so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

There's three places, it's not just the Earth. Right? Not just the earth, it's in heaven, or on Earth, and under the earth, everywhere, everyone, at some point, will confess. Every knee will bow. That Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. That is the pinnacle example. Paul is just secondary.

This is one of the most significant sections on the deity of Jesus in the New Testament. I can't teach it all now, but I just want to point out one aspect. Notice verse 10, at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow. The Jews knew God's name, it was Yahweh. It still is. Though most of our translations use capital L-O-R-D. It is Yahweh. The four-letter name, the Tetragrammaton. YHWH in Hebrew, Yahweh. Paul says Jesus's name is above every name. And that was from the Father. This is nothing short of a claim to deity. Should we exalt the name above God, himself? Or is this a claim that Jesus's name represents God, himself? That Jesus is divine, that he has taken on flesh, but he is divine. That he is “God of God, Light of Light.” That he is fully God and fully man, that every knee should bow to him. Do you think in the presence of God, every knee will bow? It says, “in heaven,” they're going to bow. To who? Before the throne of God, they're going to bow to Jesus Christ. Not just confessing the Father as Lord or Savior, but Jesus as Lord.

I just want to take you through a couple of passages to cement this fact. This is a very significant fact. Isaiah 45:22 shows that God is the Savior, the only Savior. Speaking of the Father, Isaiah 45:22 says, “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.” So, Jesus is either God or a full counterfeit. Jesus is fully God. But God the Father and Jesus are both called the Savior in the New Testament. Luke 1:46-47, Mary when she is speaking of praises of the things God has done, says, “And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,’” speaking of the Father. And then in Luke 2:11, an announcement by the angel, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” So is God the Savior, like Mary says? Is God the Savior, like Isaiah says? Or is Jesus the Savior, like Luke says and records for us that the angel said? Yes, they are one, one in essence. This is a description of the Godhead in full view for us to see. It is not hidden as some of the cults who claim to be Christians say. It is not obscure. Jesus is not an angel, he is the Savior and declaring himself to be the Savior means he is declaring himself to be God. If you bow to God, then you serve his people. But bow to Jesus, we will. Philippians 2:10-11, “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” The worship of Jesus does not take glory from God, it gives glory to God.

This is the kind of mindset that Paul is calling the Philippian church to have. Very God took on flesh. He left heaven and he took on human flesh, that's the human body. And became obedient, even to the point of death. That's the mind that we are to have among ourselves. Obedience is not just partial, it's not just one foot in the water, it's all in. That's what God is calling you to. And if you're not all in, you're not living the way God has called you to. And this is part of the joyful lesson Paul brings. That's convicting for all of us, I know. But that is the way Scripture describes our mindset. That it's full, complete obedience, and that is lived out of a life of love. We call that the humility of Jesus Christ. And humble it was.

Some of you may know of John Calvin, and you may think that he came up with the five points of Calvin on his own, the TULIP. If you don't know what that is, you can look at that later. His enemy who held the opposite theology, Jacob Arminius, he came up that. But John Calvin is celebrated for the theology and the things that he came up with. But some of you may not know, that his own church fired him. 1538 he was fired as a minister in Geneva. By 1541, they were asking him to come back. So, he accepted. Now when you're fired from a place, do you have like fuzzy feelings about your boss? Right? No. And a lot of businesses, they bring the security around so that when you get fired, you don't, you know, light the place on fire on the way out. John Calvin came back, accepted the invitation to once again be the shepherd of the sheep who bit his ankles and ushered him out. And so, he picked up in the very next verse that he left off with and kept preaching. That's humility.

But obeying God means you serve God's plan, not your own. And that will take a lot of humility at times. That maybe you don't get the recognition that you deserve, or you get the reputation that you don't deserve. We're all familiar with that. But we don't focus on those things. We focus on the example of Christ. And we remember what Philippians 2:13 says, that “…it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Your life is not to be about your good pleasure. For my good and God's glory is accurate, and we like to say that. But our lives are to be lived for the pleasure of God, not our own. And no one can take that from you. That's what was demonstrated in James Coates. That's what was demonstrated in Paul in prison, over and over and over again.

You know, we run into stumbling blocks, and we run away from the things that God has given us. And we sometimes wonder, like, what is my purpose? And what am I here for? You know, I'm only five years old, what am I supposed to do that makes me happy today? No, five-year-old, you're supposed to live for the pleasure of God. And teenager, college student, young adult, adult retiree – retirement is an American made thing that makes us think our whole lives are to plan for our good pleasure when we're retired. Unfortunately, that's not biblical. It's to live for the pleasure of God. And he's going to continue to work on you in your retirement, for his pleasure and his glory, so long as we are willing to serve with this attitude of joy.

And knowing that that kind of attitude and that kind of statement could cause some people to grumble, in verse 14, he says [Philippians 2:14], “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” So smart. This isn't, though, just to get us ready, Paul says, for life here. That’s why our life is not our own, we've been bought with a price. Right? Our desire, our goal, the scheme that we have for our lives, is not just to live a successful life and then be pleasing to the Lord. Right? We are living so that we can be prepared, as Philippians 2:16 says, for “the day of Christ.” That's what we need to prepare for. And we make preparations for all kinds of things in life. I mean, when I lived in California, the extent that the young moms and dads would go to, to throw birthday parties, was nauseating. Every person who showed up to a little kid's party, in California, would go away with a bag full of toys. The kids. I thought we were supposed to bring toys to just one. But no, you're supposed to rent the bounce house, you're supposed to have all these fancy desserts, you're supposed to have all these games, and you're supposed to just shower all the kids with gifts. We tried that one time; it was like 300 bucks to have eight kids over with plastic toys and stuff. And I was like, “We’ve got to come up with another way. This is not going to last.” Why? We prepare for the things that are important to us. Right?

How much planning goes into a wedding? A lot. A lot of planning. An anniversary? I mean graduations, right? High school graduation, you see yard signs about, congratulations, so and so you just graduated, you know, seventh grade or whatever, eighth grade. That's great. That's a big deal to somebody who just graduated the seventh grade. Or a promotion, right? We have social media stuff, like LinkedIn and others, that give congratulations, right? You've survived three years at your job. And everybody sends, you know, maybe you set it up automatically, so they think you notice. But it just sends them this flood of congratulations. Promotions at work, anniversaries, graduations, marriages, birthdays they’re all great and they all take planning. And yes, guys, don't say the Pastor Dave said I don't need to plan for those things anymore. Right? That's not what I'm saying. They're all great. But those will fade and exist no more for all of eternity. Those things are passing away. And yet we give so much of our time and attention and energy and tears, when it doesn't go our way. Right? I don’t know how many of you have burned the turkey, or dropped it on the floor, or whatever. It's just it's one meal, really. Thanksgiving is one meal. Christmas morning, it's one day. If Jesus shows up while your kids are opening the presents, are you going to go, “Remember kids, he's the main reason”? As they're diving into their landslide of gifts. We prepare for all of these things but we need to get ready for that day, the day of Jesus Christ. And in Philippians 2:18, Paul says, “Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.” This is what we're preparing for. We share the gospel so that more can join in with us.

Paul loves the congregation as well. And so, he doesn't just talk about the joy that he has there in prison and the reason of why he's in prison. He doesn't just talk about their reasons for rejoicing and preparation here in chapter two. He also, in chapter three through the first part of four, talks about warnings against those who are evil. You can see that in Philippians 3:2. And who are “enemies of the cross of Christ,” he labels them in Philippians 3:18. But in the middle of all that, of the warning, at the beginning of chapter three and the warning at the end of chapter three, he says this, in Philippians 3:8, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” He's constantly trying to bring them back to a focus on Jesus. “For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” Rubbish, who says rubbish if you're not over in England? I mean, that's the best English word we have? Do you know what rubbish means? This is the only time in all of the Bible this word is used, rubbish. Well, the NIV, translated translates it – which the NIV is a dynamic equivalent translation – the best word at the time, that's what NIV does, it translates it as “garbage.” I count all things as garbage that I may gain Christ. The King James Version, is very accurate. This word, it's translated “dung.” Dung. It means manure, animal waste. And I know I just lost everyone who's under 12. But, he's saying, I count the value of everything in this world as manure. The Holy Spirit inspired understanding of everything in this world, when compared to Christ, is manure.

Praise God. Right? That promotion, that accolade, that vacation, that house, that car, that work stability. And that pat on the back. The boss never even knows I'm here unless I mess up. Manure, when compared to Christ. Now those things are not manure, right? That's not what the Scripture says. Well, when you compare anything to the rare jewel, to the precious pearl, to the greatest thing on earth, the greatest understanding of who God is, the God in flesh… manure. And if you disagree, if you think that's a little too much, Paul addresses that. Look in verse 15, of chapter three [Philippians 3:15], “Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.” Paul is so loving. He's gathering all of our thoughts, inspired by the Holy Spirit, to say everything that we work for, everything that we have. “I'd rather have an afternoon in a nice, comfortable situation than prison.” That doesn't even compare to having Christ. Everything else someone can take away from you, but they cannot remove Christ who is in you. And we need to stop seeing the world as what makes us happy. And if I could just excel in this area or that area, I'd be happy. And I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, “Yeah, I want Christ and that.” Right? I know you're thinking that. “I want Christ and that…” You know, that nice vacation to the Grand Tetons, right? A good ski vacation, you want to go to Hawaii. You want to go to… I think I've said Florence more in the last couple of weeks than ever. Seems like everybody's traveling now. I got so many friends who visited Israel, and Petra, and all these places lately. It's just like, that would be amazing. But that is not the best thing about life. There's only one thing on the bucket list and that's knowing Jesus. Let those who are mature think this way. Paul said it, not me. He's so blunt because he loves them. He loves them. Right, the love of money is the root of all kinds of evils. The love of money, not just money, the love of it.

I used to make commercials a long time ago for TV, and radio, and such. All you have to do to make a commercial, it's really simple, just convince someone they need whatever you have, that they don't. That's it. And they will pay whatever to get it. I mean, just think of the variance and value of cars. Right? If you got to go to the store, they all do the same thing. But one costs $220,000 and one costs less than $20,000. You still got to take it to the store. Right? So, there's this idea that Paul, he loves them so much, that he's constantly working to fix their eyes on Jesus Christ because the tentacles of the world never end. And we must press on. We press on, verse 14 of chapter three [Philippians 3:14], “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Life is not just sitting back and thinking, “Oh, I love God and I'm at peace. So, I must be good.” No, we press on. With every single month, every single year, we should be more mature, have a greater knowledge and a greater love than we did last month or last year. And if we're not, we're not pressing on, we're not running the race to win. We're just satisfied with who we are now, we don't really see the vast difference between us, and real holiness. Between us and all of the things that God has called us to. And we press on. And we don't forget, that it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good pleasure. It's not just you, it's Christ in you, but it is also you. He loves them so much. He doesn't want them to fall prey to the things of the world.

As we transition to this last chapter, chapter four, in Philippians. And I know I'm skipping all kinds of things, but he reveals the secret to life. And he calls it a secret. It's not just a preaching point. He calls his way of life, a secret, in chapter four. And he shows them that anyone can live with the secret of contentment. Anytime, in any situation, this contentment. And if you think today, you've got a worse deal than Paul, then I would encourage you to look back to all the things he's done, as he talks about this. And we know the verse right, verse 13, chapter four, verse 13 [Philippians 4:13], “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” That's the secret, right? That's the big reveal. That is how you can live a life of contentment. You can do all things through him who strengthens me. It's not a verse to make basketball shots or, you know, to score goals or whatever. To get that promotion or just, you know, actualize some of your greatest material things for yourself. But do we know the context of this verse? Well, what's the context of this verse?

You see, one of the biggest reasons he wrote this letter, was that he was thankful for their generous financial gift. And he wanted to thank them for that. In fact, he wanted to send Timothy there and he wanted to also send back Epaphroditus, who delivered the gift. He wanted to send them back because they heard he was dying or had almost died. And so, he wanted to send him back to them. But he wanted them to know that he was so thankful for them and so thankful for their gift. But ultimately, that's not what sustains him. That's not what sustains him. And they were very special to Paul, Philippians 4:15, “And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia,” that is the whole region, “no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only.” So, there were churches there who didn't help support Paul financially. In fact, no church did except the Philippian church. And we know from other parts of Scripture that they were, “in extreme poverty.” They were in extreme poverty, quite the opposite of what we are here. This poverty-stricken congregation had supported his ministry for the last 10 years, by this point.

So, Paul, remember his second missionary journey is when he founded this church. The area of Philippi, it was named for the father of Alexander the Great, Philip the Second. And so, it was an area of interest. There were a lot of military generals who, at different centuries, lived there. They were tolerant of a lot of different religions. But there were not enough Jewish people there to even start a synagogue. It only takes 10 men to start a synagogue. So, they didn't even have 10. That was kind of their rule. And so, Paul had heard on his second missionary journey, when he found no synagogue, that was his practice to go there. He didn't see one. And so, he heard that there were some people gathered by the river praying. Right, that's Lydia. So, he went to meet Lydia and this group of women, and he preached the gospel to them. And the text says, “and the Lord opened her heart to receive the things that Paul had said.” So, she gave her life to Jesus Christ, and she was converted.

And then the attacks started right away. And so, there was this slave girl who was demon possessed, and the demons were following him around saying, “We know who you are the Holy One of God.” And so, they're saying right things, but they're kind of annoying. And so, Paul cast out the demon of this girl. And so, everyone who made money off of her prophecies, couldn't make money anymore. So, he's now not only introducing new religion, he's now taking away the financial means of people in this city, that this demon girl supported. And you know, whenever you talk about money, you can talk about anything but that. So now they wanted to throw him in jail, and the whole city is in an uproar. And then God saves the Philippian jailer. Who then, Paul had wounds so serious, they weren't cleaned. So, he's in jail. He's bleeding from all the beatings and stuff there. And this is how he plants churches, be careful of what you ask for. So, he's planning this church and the Philippian jailer cares for his wounds. And then their family gets saved. So now you got Lydia's family, you got the jailers family getting saved. And this is the birth of the church that he's talking to in Philippi. This is different than Caesarea Philippi, which is just north of Galilee, not the same one. This is way up in Macedonia, a long ways away.

They were so poor, but their love for Paul overflowed in generous giving for 10 years. From the time of his second missionary journey till now, somewhere around AD 60. Continual generous giving, we have heard of your need, Paul says, “time and again, you've provided for me time and again, you've given me gifts, not that I seek the gift,” he says, “but I seek what may be credited to your account.” In other words, God's going to reward you for all those things. And he says, “I don't need any more. I'm amply supplied. I don't need any more money. But I want you to know I'm so thankful for you, your love overflows in these generous gifts. And I want you to know that it's even beyond that, that I've learned how to be content in any and every situation.” How many people who ask for money do you know say, “I don't need your money.” That's what Paul is saying to them. He doesn't want to stop them because God's going to bless them for doing that. But he's saying I've learned to be content in any and every situation, verse 12 and 13. [Philippians 4:12-13] “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. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” That's contentment. That's contentment. It's fully trusting in God. And he wants them to know that same contentment. So, he doesn't stop there. But he finishes with verse 19 [Philippians 4:19], “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” That is not a health and wealth gospel verse. That is out of love, God giving to those who abundantly supplied the needs of Paul. Contentment, whether in a filth ridden jail receiving a beating or getting a gift from those he loves, Paul's content.

Just look back over the last year of your life. What's the greatest blessing you've received in the last year? The greatest gift God has given you? You say, “In that I am content.” And you look back over the last year of your life and you say, “What's the worst trial I've been through? What's the worst trial?” You say, “In that I am content.” Why? Because the greatest thing I have cannot be taken from me. And that's Jesus Christ. Andrew Davis puts it this way, “Christian contentment is finding delight in God's wise plan for my life, and humbly allowing him to direct me in it.” “Christian contentment is finding delight in God's wise plan for my life, and humbly allowing him to direct me in it.” He's going to direct us whether we humbly think we're allowing him to do it or not. But that is the plan. Remember, the humility of Christ is our greatest example. Christ works in us. And in all these things, we are content. Friends, is this the Jesus that you know? Is this the mature life that we strive for? Have we put our faith and trust in Christ alone for this salvation? If so, then you already have the greatest gift ever given, the Lord Jesus Christ. Let's pray.

Dear God, one day we will get to see Jesus face to face. We will be astounded at his mercy on us, his gracious love for us. Lord God, help us to be content in Christ and Christ alone. Lord, if there are people here who don't know Jesus Christ, I pray that you would save them even right now. That they might confess their sins and accept the salvation that you offer by grace through faith. Friend, if that's you, I pray that you give your life to Jesus even now.

For those of you who do know Jesus, let us take a moment to pray and ask God to supply us with the strength of this pure Christian contentment.

Lord God, fill us with your joy. For in Christ we are sustained. In your precious Name, Amen.