Summary: The hardest lesson I have ever had to learn was that I am not in control of my life. And it is a lesson I have to learn over and over, it seems like each day I have to learn again that my life is not my own, but rather, I am a servant of the Master. God w

I have had to learn a number of lessons in my lifetime. Some have been good lessons about humanity and myself, and some have been surprisingly hard lessons to learn about others, and about myself. Some lessons you only have to learn once, like to take a rain poncho when you are backpacking, otherwise you will be miserable. Other lessons I seem to have to learn over and over.

The second hardest lesson I ever had to learn was that my parents were usually right about whatever we were talking about. I mean, who would have thought that mom and dad knew all that stuff about growing up as a teenager, about how the world worked. Who knew mom and dad were that smart? They certainly didn’t act like it, at least most of the time. They didn’t listen to cool music, it was either classical or 60’s protest music, but somehow they knew what was really important. They knew when to give responsibilities and when to take away privileges. Ends up they are actually pretty smart folks. That was a hard lesson to learn, after all those years of assuming they knew next to nothing about life, about growing up and so forth. Bit of a shock after all those years. That was the second hardest lesson I had to learn.

The hardest lesson I have ever had to learn was that I am not in control of my life. And it is a lesson I have to learn over and over, it seems like each day I have to learn again that my life is not my own, but rather, I am a servant of the Master. God wants to be the center of my life, not on the periphery, not as an afterthought, not a hobby or something I do each Sunday and only on Sunday, but God wants to be the center of my life. And He wants to be the center of yours. Being the center means that decisions are His to make, and my life, our lives, are His to command. God is a gentle commander, but make no mistake, He is in charge nonetheless. Niceness has nothing to do with power. God uses His authority nicely, but He doesn’t have to.

Paul has learned the same sorts of lessons. In the last part of his letter to the Philippians, he talks about the final lesson he is learning so that the Philippians will not worry about him. Phil 4 10-end.

I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

14 Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; 16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need. 17 Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. 18 I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

20 To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Let’s pray.

As the apostle Paul winds up his letter to the Church at Philippi, the church he planted himself, and knows so intimately, he wants to leave them with good thoughts. He begins the end of the letter by saying thank you to the Philippians for sending him supplies for his time in prison. In ancient Rome, the prisoner was confined by the state, but not necessarily provided for by the state. The regular provisions a prisoner needed to live had to be given to the prisoner from outside sources. One of the ways the Philippian church had ministered to Paul was by sending food and money for food while he was incarcerated. In the midst of saying thank you to the Philippians, Paul manages to teach profoundly, I think we’ll find. You can see why the Philippians gave Paul such joy; they shared his mission of converting people to follow Christ, they remembered and followed his teachings, and they honored and supported him by sending money and food for his time in prison. This wasn’t a church he had to fight with, to chastise and shame into right behavior, but a church that was functioning well, which gave Paul great hope and joy that his efforts in planting a church in Philippi were not wasted.

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