January 11, 2004
Pastor Brian Shimer
"How will the Lord Supply for 2004?"
| I. ||
Could you open your Bibles to Philippians? You may need to open a pew Bible
or perhaps your own, or just look on a Bible with a neighbor.
Today is our last Sunday in the book of Philippians. For the past two months we have been looking at this "book of joy" as the closing part of our year of Joy. These first two Sundays in 2004 are also a means of preparing ourselves for this new year of holiness before us.
With your Bibles open look at this book. Look at chapter one - where Paul says, "For me to live is Christ" - was there any point that stayed with you from there?
In chapter two Paul encourages us and them to live like Jesus lived his life, saying: "have this mind in you" as we work out salvation. Anything here?
In chapter three Paul says rejoice in the Lord, not their own deeds, and tells them to fix their sights on that great dream God has for their lives. It is that dream for which Jesus has hold of you. "I press on toward the goal" Paul says.
Finally in chapter four Paul says "be anxious for nothing" and tells of the source of peace. Today we come to his closing thoughts.
So, after this mini-review, take a moment and identify one way that God has spoken to you through this book. Is there a significant verse?
Was there a moment of God speaking significantly?
Or do you recall a thought that God prompted?
Take a moment and identify that one blessing now.
Now, share that blessing with your neighbor.
| II. ||
Did you connect with something? Whether you did or not at this time,
all of you know of a way that God has blessed your life. And that point of contact or blessing is a picture of God's provision in your life.
God provides. Paul is thanking the Philippian Christians for the way they have been a part of God's provision for his ministry by sending financial gifts. Paul so appreciated the gifts they sent him again and again, that these were the friends he used to illustrate this grace of giving. Paul wrote them you "shared with me, in the matter of giving and receiving."
Unlike the snow that just comes down and comes down from the sky, In the Kingdom of God sharing is never just one-directional.
I remember sitting with Karen at a missions conference where the speaker was asking those in the congregation to make a faith promise to God. He was not saying for us to give right then, but to pray and ask God if we were to give and then to promise the amount God prompted in our hearts. We bowed to pray and were surprised when we again looked up that we had heard the same amount. $500 dollars! It was so far out of reach for us. We knew that the way our finances were, without God's provision, there was no way we would met this promise.
We were giving before we had received. We were promising that we would pray and watch for God's provision for this gift.
Two months after the conference, we received a check in the mail from someone who has never met us in the amount of $500 to use any way we saw fit. To turn this around and send it to the mission's pledge was harder than making the pledge! But God blessed our obedience, giving us joy, and meeting our needs.
"Give and it shall be given to you," the Lord says in Luke 6:38. In this verse the giving is a matter of our attitude -- not our finances. It is a matter of being "giving" in our acceptance of people where they are rather than judgmental and condemning. But the principle applies here as well.
Scripture illustrates that God's principle in his kingdom is that as we give we shall also receive. This verse ends saying we shall be given "good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over." We will receive more than we gave-- for us not just the finances, but spiritual fruit, and emotional joy!!
Jesus also said: "Freely you have received, freely give." This illustrates another principle of giving, that first we receive and then give.
Here in the book of Philippians the giving that the Philippians had been doing has all been financial. They received spiritually from Paul, they gave themselves to the Lord in worship and relationship and then to Paul's ministry in financial giving.
The receiving Paul had been doing was financial, but his giving was spiritual, as he shared the Gospel.
This giving and receiving is a Kingdom of God principle. And Paul reminds the Philippians of three things here that resulted in their sharing in this matter of giving and receiving.
A. First, Paul says God will reward them for their generosity.
Paul wrote "I am looking for what may be credited to your account" in v 17.
We don't give because we think: "Ah ha, I am going to get a beefy reward for this!" But we can know that God will not forget what we do share in his Kingdom.
As you open your hand to share, God has a future blessing planned for those open hands of yours. Imagine it! God keeps track of the parts of our lives to bring reward when we all get to heaven.
Romans 2:6 "God will give to each person according to what he has done"
In Romans 14:10 and 12, Paul reminded us: "We will all stand before God's judgment seat. So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God."
In 1 Corinthians 4:5, we read: "(the Lord) will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God."
And 2 Corinthians 5:10, adds: "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad."
Jesus said that we give an account for every idle word spoken (Matthew 12:36-7), "for by your words you will be acquitted and by your words you will be condemned." Hence the call to be using the words of calling upon the Lord, of receiving and giving forgiveness, of confession and praise!
Jesus said God will remember and reward every cup of cold water given, every meal given to the hungry, every time we assisted the poor, every time we visited the sick or the imprisoned.
"For the Son of Man is going to come in his father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done" (Mt 16:27).
"But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked." Luke 6:35
It is an incredible truth. God knows your every word, every thought, every action. As you are the Lord's child, as you have entrusted yourself to Him for salvation, His blood covers sin and God's plan is to bring reward to you.
If you do not believe you know the Lord - you don't care if you please Him, you have no love for His word, you have no desire to commune with him in prayer, you cannot say you have ever committed your life to Him, then, don't step further into 2004 without him. Turn from self to God. Receive Jesus today as lord and savior of your life.
B. Second, Paul gives them the reminder that their gifts please God.
Have you ever thought about this? As you share out of your income into this congregation's ministry, your giving pleases God.
The financial gifts the Philippian Christians sent Paul, did not come out of abundant wealth, but out of their poverty, Paul wrote the Corinthian church. They gave above what they were able to give. And this sacrifice on their part pleased God.
But it is more than financial giving that pleases God, as we noted in the verses we shared about the reward.
So, remember God is pleased…As you listen to a friend in need
As you share out of what you have with someone in need - that cup of cold water.
As you let your all-important schedule be interrupted to share with someone who is hurting the message of hope.
C. But this is not all. Not only is there a credit to their account God is keeping in heaven, and the pleasure God has in them now, but also, there is the promise of God's abundant supply into their lives.
Of the verses in this great book, 4:19 is one of the most famous. It tells us "God is committed to seeing that the sharer doesn't suffer because he shares." (S. Briscoe, Bound for Joy, Regal Books, c. '75, p. 181, ubp)
It is a word of encouragement to the Philippians. God will meet their needs. It is a word of encouragement to us as well.
When you put money in the offering plate at church, God will meet your needs.
When you pledge by faith to the work of the Gospel, God will supply what you need.
That word supply does not mean to barely meet -- but to fill to overflow, to supply what is lacking, to fill full! A pitcher pouring forth water, grain pouring forth into a basket…
Not just some of what you need, either.
Read this verse 19 together. "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus."
The promise is all your needs - all my needs. This means financial need, spiritual need, mental need, emotional need, and any other need!
When we do not feel that all our needs are being met, perhaps we need to ask, "Are we giving?" Have we given to the Lord and to others? Are we receiving from the Lord in our lives? Is there relationship there?
I think I am just too self-sufficient. I look at my income, my budget, my life and I get tense about making ends meet. I get stressed about bills. And all this happens because I am looking at my income, my ability to supply my needs, not at God. My faith is forlornly focused down upon the earth not up into the greatness of God in heaven, for as I look back I can testify that God has faithfully supplied all my needs over the years.
And God's commitment is to meet all my needs and your needs not according to our poor abilities. Hear Paul's statement again:
"And my God will supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus."
Read it to your neighbor!
A billionaire who gives $1,000 to a project is giving "out of" his wealth, but not according to his wealth. In contrast, God gives according to his riches in Christ Jesus.
What a statement!
How will the Lord supply for 2004? Abundantly-look at God's first week offering.
This is a marvelous promise for 2004.
Will you walk into this year trusting God to meet your needs? Will you walk into this year participating in this matter of giving and receiving?
God will reward! God is pleased! God will abundantly meet your needs!
No wonder Paul ends with: "To Our God and Father be gory for ever and ever! Amen!"