Know supernatural peace, power and provision
KNOW SUPERNATURAL PEACE, POWER AND PROVISION(PHIL 4)
In a pandemic we need to know how to lay hold of what God has provided for us.
6 practical and powerful provisions in the midst of a pandemic (Phil 4)
The person of Christ (Phil 4:1)
The people of Christ (Phil 4:2-3)
The peace of Christ (Phil 4:4-7)
The presence of Christ (Phil 4:8-9)
The power of Christ (Phil 4:10-13)
The provision of Christ (Phil 4:14-20)
We are still very much in the middle of a worldwide crisis which is radically challenging what we value, what we believe how we live and what we live for.
Who would ever have thought that over a billion people in the world, in over 35 countries, would be confined to their homes. Who would have thought that shops and business would be closed, whole countries closed down and people be shuttered while an invisible enemy passes from one unsuspecting victim to the next.
I found the words of US president Donald Trump particularly chilling “Our country is in the midst of a great national trial, unlike any we have ever faced before. [...] We’re at war with a deadly virus. Success in this fight will require the full absolute measure of our collective strength, love, and devotion." (Covid-19 task force press briefing 31 March 2020)
I don’t think there’s a person alive who hasn’t felt the pangs of fear and anxiety.
· Whether it be for personal health – what if I get the virus?
· Or for a loved one – how can I protect my wife, or parents, or children?
· Or for the economic impact – how are we going to survive, will I lose my job, how will I pay my workers?
· The sheer uncertainty is unnerving – we don’t know who will get the virus, where it is spreading, how fast it is spreading, how long we will be in lockdown, what the long term impact will be on the economy, on our quality of life, and on our families.
· We don’t even know how to plan for next week, what next week will hold because things are changing so fast.
In the face of such uncertainty, we need an anchor and not just an anchor, but we need to know how we can lay a firm hold of that anchor. Fortunately, God has provided an immoveable rock for us in Jesus Christ and the Bible tells us how to anchor ourselves in Him.
The book of Philippians not only commands us to have joy, it tells us how to have joy. Joy is that deep abiding sense of well-being that is not dependant upon our circumstances.
· Joy is the comfort we experience in the midst of heart-wrenching loss.
· Joy is the peace we experience in the midst of turmoil
· The strength we experience in the midst of adversity
· The confidence we experience in the midst of uncertainty
· It’s the happiness we have in the celebration of victory and the hope we have in the wake of defeat.
Joy is the deep abiding sense of well-being we can have and are commanded to have as believers – no matter what storm is raging around us.
· Phil 1 tells us we can have that joy as we focus on preaching the gospel of Christ
· Phil 2 tells us we can have that joy as we focus on serving the people of Christ.
· Phil 3 tells us we can have that joy in the person of Christ – in knowing Him which Paul tells us is better than having all the health and wealth and honour in the world.
· Then Phil 4 makes it practical in the context of every day life. How can we experience this deep abiding sense of well-being despite the chaos of the world around us?
How can we exercise our faith, how can we reach out and lay hold of the anchor, how can we place our feet firmly on the rock God has provided?
6 Practical Provisions for you in the Midst of a Pandemic a pandemic.
1. The Person of Christ
2. The People of Christ
3. The Peace of Christ
4. The Power of Christ
5. The Presence of Christ
6. The Provision of Christ
1: The Person of Christ (4:1)
Stand firm, stank solid, stand rooted….in what? In Christ.
Stand firm thus that tells us how. This is how you stand firm in the Lord. It points us back to what he has been saying and what he is about to say.
· Phil 3:12-14 Paul pictures himself as running a race and he has his eyes fixed firmly on the prize ahead – eternity with Christ. He’s not going to get distracted by what lies behind, by what’s happening around him. His gaze is firmly fixed in Christ and Christ alone.
· 3:20-21 We have a heavenly citizenship – this world is not our own. We have a certain hope – heaven is ours no matter what. We have a crucified and resurrected saviour who is able to rescue and deliver. An omnipotent ruler who is able to subdue all things under His power to accomplish His will.
· Our rock is an immoveable foundation, an impenetrable fortress, an all sufficient solution, an ever present help and an endless source of strength….
For those who know the Lord. For those who have taken their faith out of themselves and their resources and their plans and their goodness, for those who have turned away from pursing sin and satisfaction for self and who entrust themselves to Jesus Christ.
If you do not know the Lord personally, if you have not placed your faith in Him – you do not know God’s presence, God’s peace, God’s power or God’s provision. You have no rock to stand on, no hiding place to shelter yourself from this storm, no hope in this life or the life to come….
The more we pursue the Lord and seek to deepen our relationship in Him, the more we experience this comprehensive and supernatural sense of well being that is only found in Him.
· Illustration: marriage. Enjoy dinner together, or receiving flowers, or going on holiday together – only in context of your loving union. None of those things bring you joy in and of themselves – only as they are in the context of loving union with another person that joy found.
2:The People of Christ (4: 2-3)
Here are two women, Euodia and Syntyche, who are believers whose names are written in the book of life, who have been committed and zealous for Christ, who have laboured side by side with Paul in the gospel – but who find themselves at loggerheads with each other.
Paul here appeals to this true companion, this fellow believer who was in the same church, who knew these women, to help them reconcile their differences, to agree in the Lord.
Relational conflict, bitterness and unforgiveness – robs us of joy. If we want to maintain this deep abiding sense of well-being, we need to pursue peace, not by finding some lonely spot to meditate on the mountains somewhere – but pursue peace by reconciling with those we have sinned against, or might have sinned against us.
This is not the time to harbour grudges against anyone… Make right with people, and help others make right.
3: The Peace of Christ (4:4-7)
In 4:9 we are promised the peace of God, a supernatural peace which is able to guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Without this peace we are vulnerable, our minds are prone to attack…
Some of you have experienced this, maybe even in the last few weeks. You can’t concentrate, you can’t think clearly. Your emotions are up and down. One minute you think you are fine and then you hear something on the news, or someone makes a comment, or you see something – and all at once you are plunged into despair, or concern, or depression. It’s like you mind is constantly being attacked, your thoughts are all over the place.
We need God’s divine peace, God’s supernatural peace to deal with this reality – but how do we get it?...
We need to exercise our faith, to put our faith into practice by doing what the text tells us to do.
· 4:6 Instead of being anxious and fearful and fretful – do the opposite. The text says, don’t do that, instead, do this.
· Pray with thanksgiving.
· Take all your concerns and worries specifically and persistently to God. The text says, present prayers and supplications, which means general prayers and specific requests. Be praying about everything all the time, whenever you become anxious – let that become a motivation to pray.
Application: Are you praying More?
Who of you have experience a major improvement of your prayer lives over the last few weeks. We should have. All that is going on, and all the anxiety we feel about us should be driving us to God in prayer.
What attitude should we have as we pour our hearts out before God?
· Thankful hearts, pray with thanksgiving.
· Thanksgiving focuses us on what God has given us, what God is doing for us. It makes us look at what we do have instead of what we don’t, at what we do know instead of what we don’t.
Illustration: Car accident:
I was recently in quite a bad car accident. I was hit behind and knocked into oncoming traffic. The lady I hit head on was in ICU for 4 days. I got out of the car without a scratch. I had no thoughts about losing my car, or breaking my glasses, or cracking my phone. None of that mattered because I could see how God had been working to preserve my life. There was nothing left of my car, but I escaped with my life and I was so grateful for God’s protection that there was no place for complaining, or feeling bad about the other things.
God wants us to always have that perspective, that focus on what He has and is doing, even as we come to Him for what we need….
4: The Presence of Christ (4:8-9)
In verse 7 we have the promise that the peace of God will guard us. In vs 9 we have the promise that the God of peace will be with us.
ILLUSTRATION: CHILDREN RUNNING TO PARENTS
What does every child do when they get hurt, or when they are afraid or feel overwhelmed? They make a bee-line for their parents. Somehow, just being in mom or dads arms, just being with them – makes everything seem better.
Whenever God wants to comfort His people in the Scripture He promises to be with them.
· Rom 8:37 I am sure that nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Neither the present, nor the future, nor height, ….
· Heb neverwill I leave you, never will I forsake you.
Imagine having God with you. The ruler of the universe, the one who knows all things and controls all things, the one who cannot be overcome, or outwhitted, or taken by surprise or overwhelmed.
When God is I am with you, what He means is I am with you to protect, with you to strengthen, with you to comfort, with you to direct.
But again, in order to know God’s presence with us in the midst of trying circumstances, we need to exercise our faith, we need to do what the text tells us – do this, and then you will know God’s presence with you….
Ponder and practice the truth: think and do the truth
We must direct our minds toward’s God’s truth. We can’t let our minds go wherever they want, think about whatever they want. We need to focus our minds on these things (8). We need to remember what we have learned, what we already know and put it into practice. So its not thinking about the truth and then living contrary to it – but thinking about what God says and what He requires and then do them, obey them, practice them.
Nothing drains us of strength like disobedience. Nothing makes us feel further from God than sin.
Application: not movies
This is not the time to be spending more time watching movies or the news than we are reading God’s Word and singing it and praying it. This is not the time for us to be indulging the flesh rather than sowing to the Spirit.
We immerse ourselves in social media because it promises to give us a measure of escape from the worries and realities of life – but it doesn’t deliver. When the movie is over that knot in the stomache returns, the problems are the same. But when we think God’s thoughts and obey God’s instructions – we know His supernatural strength enabling us to do what we never thought we could do.
5: THE POWER OF CHRIST (4:10-13)
In verse 13 we again have a promise. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. But what is the pre-requisite for experiencing that promise, how do we lay hold of that promise by faith?
Vs 11. I have learned the secret of contentment. Paul expands on what he means of vs 12. Whether he is brought low or abounds, whether he has plenty of suffers want – he has learned that what Christ’s strength is enough.
So let me paraphrase vs 13 for you, so you can get the flow. Whether I have much or little, in whatever circumstances I am, whatever I have is enough for what Christ wants me to do. That is the secret which Paul has learned and which we must learn in order that we might know the power of God in the midst of our weakness.
God will give me whatever I need and whatever God gives is enough for what I need.
Illustration: Studying plenty and want
· I trained as an Engineer, and have lived in a nice townhouse on the banks of the Vaal river, with everything a person could want and more. I’ve also worked as a janitor earning minimum wage, with no house, no pension, no car, no medical aid and no savings.
· At times God has provided so much more than I could ever imagine. I had the privilege of studying in the States. God provided aeroplanes tickets to get there and finances enough for the first semester and a place to stay and a job the day after I landed. God brought so many things together to make it possible for us to study there.
· And yet for the first year, I had this old desktop computer that kept corrupting the assignments I did. Most of the other students had fancy laptops which worked, I had something more like an abacus and I had to redo many assignments multiple times because after I saved them to a stiffy disc and then tried to print them at the library – they were corrupted. I couldn’t understand why God had provided so much, so many big things, and yet He hadn’t provided for a relatively small thing like a computer.
· We had no medical aid and my wife was 8 months pregnant and we hadn’t seen a doctor yet because we had no money to see a doctor. We didn’t know where the baby was going to be delivered because we couldn’t afford to go to the hospital. As the time was drawing closer, I coldn’t undersand why God hadn’t provided for my family – where was my child going to be born? Then God provide a Christian doctor who gave us a check up and at the last minute we wre accepted onto the State medical program and deliverd our baby in a hospital with a private room and all the equipment you could want.
· But why did God wait for the last minute? Why does God do that?
· So we can learn the secret of contentment. We often read vs 12 as a sequence and it sometimes is – times of abundance are followed by times of need. But more often than not, we are living in abundance and need at the same time. In some areas there is abundance and in other areas great need.
· In our wisdom – we would arrange things differently.
· But the secret is to accept God’s wisom and embrace God’s provision – that whatever God provides is enough and …
· If learned to be satisfied in Christ – then nothing else can take away our satisfaction.
· Illustration: Gorged yourself. After a meal, so full, eaten until you are beyond satisfaction. Someone offers you pudding and you are so full, that pudding doesn’t even incite your appetite. You are completely satisfied. Whether there is a whole lot of food still in the pantry or if the pantry is now empty – doesn’t make any difference to you – you are satisfied.
6: The Provision of Christ (13-20)
In vs 19 we again have a glorios promise. My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus.
The Greek is structure so that these 2 statements are placed in parallel.
· Every need of yours - according to the fullness of Him
· Your desperate need –God’s glorious supply
· If I won a prize and I said I am going to give you something out of my winnings. You don’t know what you would get from me. Maybe R10, maybe R100, maybe R10 000.
· If I said I am going to give you something in proportion to my winnings – then you know that the more I get, the more you will get because what you receive is in proportion with what I win.
If I win a R10 million lottery, you would have reason to get excited….
But again – what is the pre-requisite here?
They had made a financial investment of eternal significance. Vs 14 to be parterns in my trouble. To regard yourself as a fellow partner even when things were not going well. Vs 15 again uses the partnership language. The language of trade and commerce. They had sent help time and again. They had seen his need and sought to eleviate his suffering. They had invested in the gospel ministry that Christ had entrusted to Paul.
Paul now assures them – of a great return on investment. God is no man’s debtor.
Application: Many needs – be generous
Many needs, tendency is to become selfish, self-preserving. Practice generosity, practice sacrificial giving.
Do it as an act of worship – that is how God receives it according to vs …
When we give, we have less for ourselves, so takes faith…that God will provide.
Just think of what this passage promises in the light of this pandemic.
· Do you need God’s peace to calm your anxious thoughts?
· Do you need to know God’s presence with you?
· Do you need God’s strength for every situation?
Do you need God’s abundant provision for our every physical and spiritual needs?
God promises all these things and more in Christ….but they don’t come automatically, we have to exercise our faith.
· Seek the Lord,
· live at peace with others,
· pray, give thanks,
· take your thoughts captive and obey the Lord,
· Be content with what God provides,
· Give generously and sacrificially.
These are the things we can give ourselves to, these are the ways we can put our faith into practice – so that we can experience what God has promised.
Don’t tell me God’s provision for you and me is not enough for this pandemic. Don’t tell me His word is not supremely practical in telling us how to lay hold of what we need.