Philippians 4:10-13, Matthew 13, Psalms 23 & Acts 16
Pastor Steve preached today’s sermon, “Refrigerator, Verse” from Philippians 4:10-13. He reviewed the tremendous anxiety he felt about 19 years ago that got so bad he considered resigning his position and checking in to the hospital. At the peak of the struggle, verse 13 came rushing into his heart: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” So did Psalms 119:9, about hiding His word in the heart.
“I believe this is true,” Steve said. “The Holy Spirit will remind us of what we need in the moment. In my heart, verse 13 wouldn’t leave me along while my mind was saying, ‘You’re crazy.’ Just then a lady calls me out of the blue, who had no idea what was going on, and says, ‘The Lord told me to encourage you’ and read Psalm 23.”
Overcome with emotion, Steve said he dropped to his face and wept as the love of God washed over him. Likewise, if we want to hear His voice we need to read His Word out loud. Getting the words off the page and into our heart is what faith is all about. This is what kept pressing into his heart after that call. Don’t treat Scripture as anything other than life-giving, he added. That one experience keeps him going to this day.
It helps to appreciate where Paul was when he wrote this letter: jail. Yet, he addressed the Philippian church with concern for them and commended them for the help they gave him in Macedonia and elsewhere. Steve noted that Paul pointed out in this passage that he wasn’t speaking about being in need because he meant it. He wasn’t engaged in “high-level begging,” but zeroed in on what Christian should look like.
That started with learning to be content in all circumstances, which meant that at first he didn’t know how. But Paul now knew how to praise God whether he had been brought low or abounded. So often in our society we have learned to be discontent, Steve said. We are economically-dominant yet we crave more. Ironically, guess who leads the planet in heart disease? The U.S.
“We always need more,” Steve said. “If I could sell contentment in a pill, I’d become the first trillionaire. Paul learned the secret of contentment . . . Some of us don’t know how to be poor or rich because we’re addicted to dysfunction. In America, we’re prone to dealing with the weeds of pleasure that choke out God in our lives. We say we trust God but really we trust our good job. If you were 65 or 70 and your 401-K got crushed (like in 2008) you would learn whether you were content.”
The secret to contentment is found in verse 13, he said. It tells him that his faith needs to grow to where God gets him to a place of contentment where he trusts in Him at all times. Steve said we have a great witness when we’re content at all times and don’t need anything other than Christ.