6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: Paul cites for us one attitude and one action that enable us to live together in personal thanksgiving.


Philippians 4:10-20


A. We have much to be thankful for in America, yet we are not always thankful.

1. "If the rich young ruler was rich, what am I?" by William Boice.

Dear Lord,

I have been re-reading the record of the Rich Young Ruler and his obviously wrong choice. But it has set me to thinking.

No matter how much wealth he had, he could not --

ride in a car,

have any surgery,

turn on a light,

buy penicillin,

hear a pipe organ,

watch TV,

wash dishes in running water,

type a letter,

mow a lawn,

fly in an airplane,

sleep on an innerspring mattress,

or talk on the phone.

If he was rich, then what am I?

- William Boice

Phoenix, Arizona

in The Christian Standard

2. We have many reasons to be thankful as Christians:

a. I have spent my entire adult life working for organizations and churches that are dependent on volunteer giving for them to succeed and for me to be paid..

b. We in the church should be thankful because of those who give to the church, so that the many ministries of the church are available to us.

c. We have all been affected by institutions such as the church that are the result of giving people. We ought to be thankful.

3. Yet we are not always thankful:

The post office maintains a "dead letter office." To it come all the letters that cannot be delivered. At Christmas many write to Santa Claus, especially children.

One employee of the post office was very interested to see how many people ask for things and how many people thank others for giving them things.

In the three months before Christmas, there were thousands of letters asking for something. In the months after Christmas, there was only one card addressed to Santa Claus thanking him.

B. Our text calls for us to live together in personal thanksgiving.

1. Paul found himself in a situation demanding personal thanksgiving, and he expresses it here to the Philippian church for their support of his ministry.

a. They had a history of giving Paul help, having done so over and over. They were not just concerned for him; they had an active interest in him.

b. Now they had gone for sometime without helping him; perhaps they had lost track of him, but there had certainly been no opportunity to help.

c. Now, while Paul was in prison, they had heard of his need, and sent him aid again. It had been some years since Paul had begun the Philippian church, but when they heard of his need, they responded with a gift.

d. Now Paul marvels at their new interest in him, as he records for them his personal thanksgiving for their gift.

2. These verses are Paul’s thank you note he sent to the Philippian church, but they are more than that; they are a call for us to live together in personal thanksgiving as Paul did in his life.


Paul cites for us one attitude and one action that enable us to live together in personal thanksgiving.



A. What is this attitude of contentment?

• While Robert Woods, senior minister of Grace United Methodist Church in Dayton, was out of town, his associate, Timothy Heaton, preached on spiritual uplift. His sermon title was "I Need a Raise." When Woods returned the next Sunday, he preached on the topic, "The Answer Is No."

1. It is not expressing thanks because you have another need.

a. Mike Nauman told me about receiving an appeal letter from President Letcher at Midwest Christian College. He said it was the first letter he had received from him not asking for more money.

b. Paul was not writing like that. He was not saying thank you to ask for more.

c. Paul was not concerned for his own welfare, but for other’s welfare.

d. The Philippians had expressed genuine generosity, for which Paul was expressing his thanks.

2. It is being content in every situation, Paul says.

a. He emphasized "I" have learned this – vs. 11.

b. The word for "learn" in vs. 11 means "to learn by experience."

c. The word for "learn" in vs. 12 refers to initiation. It was used in the Greek mystery religions to describe people who had worked their way up through the various degrees and had finally been admitted into full possession of all the religion’s secrets. Paul is saying he had made his way up through a variety of experiences until he had reached contentment.

d. He had disciplined himself to be independent of his circumstances – vs. 12. He simply gives thanks for everything.

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