Summary: Paul writes that he has learned to be content, no matter what the circumstance may be. What is his secret?

Learning the Secret – Philippians 4:10-23 January 3, 2010

This is the story of George Phillips of Mississippi, who was going to bed when his wife told him that he'd left the light on in the shed. George opened the door to go turn off the light but saw there were people in the shed in the process of stealing things.

He immediately phoned the police, who asked "Is someone in your house?" and George said, “No”, and explained the situation. Then they explained that all patrols were busy, and that he should simply lock his door and an officer would be there when available.

George said, "Okay," hung up, counted to 30, and phoned the police again.

"Hello, I just called you a few seconds ago because there were people in my shed. Well, you don't have to worry about them now because I've just shot them all."

Then he hung up. Within a few minutes, three squad cars, an Armed Response unit, and an ambulance showed up. Of course, the police caught the burglars red-handed.

One of the policemen said to George: "I thought you said that you'd shot them!"

To which George replied, "I thought YOU said there was nobody available!"

** I would NOT recommend trying this to get the attention of the police at any time; but it was a good way to get our attention here today. T’was just a thought…

What I’d really like to share with you today is the final message in our series through the book of Philippians. We began this book back in August…yes, August! We’ve talked about the main theme of the letter…remember what it is??? JOY! Joy in all circumstances, even in trials and suffering, joy in serving God and others, and in the knowledge of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, pressing on toward our goal which is heaven, not being anxious about anything, but serving humbly, and keeping our thoughts on excellent things, putting our faith into practice. And we’re going to finish this study by considering all circumstances, and how we feel in them.

Philippians 4:10-23 (New International Version)

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. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 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. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 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; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need. Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. 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. And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (NIV)

Who of us can say we are truly content with our life, wherever we are ‘at’ right now? How’d you feel yesterday? What do you think tomorrow will be like for you? Are you prepared for ‘whatever’ may happen? Are we ready for anything that may come our way? How will we ‘feel’ should things go well or if things go down the tubes?

Paul writes that he has learned to be content, no matter what the circumstance may be. What is his secret? Specifically he is writing about the concern that the church has had for his well-being; in other words, their support of him and his ministry. He’s glad, in fact he is greatly enthused, to have received the aid sent by the Philippians through Epaphroditus…he’s fully funded. It’s good not to have to worry about such things. There were times in Paul’s ministry that he was not at such a place, and really needed support, and the only ones to send him anything WERE the group of believers in Philippi. He remembers that, and he’s thankful, he’s glad, he’s content.

In those lean times, when Paul’s stomach growled from hunger, and he had no nice place to sleep at night, and wondered where the next bit of money for living may come from, he could have gotten all upset, and blamed the church for not supporting him, blamed himself for doing such a crazy thing as taking dangerous voyages preaching the gospel, or he could have blamed God for allowing him to be so bad-off at times.

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