Philippians 4:10-13

“I rejoice in the Lord greatly that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned for me, but had no opportunity to show it. Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:10-13

I’ve been away from my congregation all week. This past summer I made some new commitments, one of which was to make sure and schedule some personal revival time. One piece of that is to take a few days, a couple of days a year, to go on retreat. So I spent the first part of this week reading books, being quiet, a little dreaming, and a little writing.

For all the negative things that you will often hear people say – and for all the negative things that pastors only say to one another – it really is a privilege to serve as a pastor in a congregation. I often feel like that little lazy field mouse who spent the summer lounging around while all the other mice were busy storing up food for the winter. When winter came, the lazy field mouse had no food. So he went from home to home, telling the hard working field mice stories about the wonders of the summer that they missed. That’s my life.

The Apostle Paul sometimes gives us insights into the life that he led. He was raised in Tarsus, a Roman city of trade, culture, and learning. His family, though Jewish, were Roman citizens. I’ve often thought about whether that left Paul feeling a little bit like a square peg in a round hole. Later, when his family sent him off to boarding school in Jerusalem, to study under Rabbi Gamaliel, he might have felt the same way. An outsider. “He’s not from here…He’s Roman.”

So it comes as no surprise to me that Paul would later say that he studied harder than any of the other students. That is one response to feeling like you don’t fit in – you over achieve. The other response is often to give up. Paul was never one to give up.

But he did give up. When he met Jesus on the road to Damascus, Paul gave up. He realized how wrong he had been to persecute the church. He realized how blind he had been as the light of Jesus struck him on the road. He was taken to shelter, Christian shelter, was baptized, and began a whole new life. He became a missionary for the Christian movement. Which eventually took him to Philippi. You can read about his time there in Acts 16:1-40.

Philippi was a mixed bag for Paul. He was blessed in meeting Lydia, a business woman. She came to faith, was baptized along with her family, and provided a place for Paul and Silas to stay. Later he freed a young woman who was possessed with the ability to tell the future…and thus the ability to make the men who owned her a lot of money. They got angry when they found out how Paul helped her. Paul was publicly beaten and thrown into prison. While there God opened the cell doors but Paul and Silas didn’t escape. When the jailer realized that he was amazed – and he wanted what Paul had. Before the night was over, the jailer and his family also came to faith and were baptized. You just don’t forget places and events like that.

So today, in this little piece of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, we can see how much he appreciates the support he has received from the church in Philippi. And they know full well, after their own experience with Paul, how true his words are – . I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

All of this reminds me of how blessed I am to serve as a pastor to a wonderful congregation. We are carrying on the work started long ago. What a privilege for us all.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, thank you for finding a place for us to serve you and the world you love. Encourage us again with the promise that you are with us and that we can do all that you would have us do through the strength that you provide. In good times and bad times, hard times and easy times, may we never lose sight of our calling to be your children. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

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One Response to “Philippians 4:10-13”

  1. Dave Aemstrong Says:

    Beautiful wonderful thoughts….I wish I had a pastor like you!!!

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