Kevin A. Pierpont
Higgins Lake Baptist Church
We’ve been discussing over the last few weeks the ingredients of contentment that we find here in Philippians 4. There are a few choice ingredients that will be present in the life of a believer who is content.
We noted in verse 10 that the contented believer will have the ingredient of complete confidence in God’s power. Complete confidence in God’s power is a foundational ingredient to contentment.
We noted in verse 11 that the contented believer will have the ingredient of complete satisfaction with God’s provision. We have a heavenly father who will supply all of our needs and for the believer to live the contented life he must rest satisfied in God’s provision.
And we noted last time, in verse 12, that another ingredient present in the life of a contented believer is they will live above their circumstances. Resting completely in God’s power and satisfied with God’s provision the believer should be found living above their circumstances.
As we closed last week I told you that there are a couple of spiritual disciplines that must be present in your life as a follower of Christ if you are to find true contentment. If you wish to have complete confidence in God’s power, complete satisfaction with God’s provision and you’d like to be able to live above your circumstances, you will need these spiritual disciplines present in your life—I believe daily—to live the contented Christian life.
The first is filling your life with God’s Word—obeying it—serving Christ faithfully out of obedience to His Word. The second is constant communication with God—constantly going to God in prayer throughout your day.
You’ll need the power of Christ in your life. And you will not experience the power of Christ living in you giving you the confidence in God’s power, giving you the satisfaction with God’s provision, and giving you the strength from day to day to live above your circumstances without his Word in you. You need God’s Word in your life daily. It reveals God’s truth to you and it shows you how to live by that truth.
And you’ll need the practice of prayer in your life continually throughout your day when you find yourself tempted to doubt God’s power—tempted to be dissatisfied with His provision—tempted to complain—tempted with a desire for more. When you find yourself irritated by others and you’re headed toward selfishness, you will need to go to God in prayer and ask for his power in you to have complete confidence in his power, satisfaction with his provision and the strength to live above your circumstances. You really should start your day asking God to help you live above your circumstances.
I think that people who doubt God’s power and are dissatisfied with God’s provision and find it difficult to live above their circumstances probably either have an inconsistent prayer life or are inconsistent about getting God’s Word into their lives—or both.
What we’re talking about is living by God’s power. For a follower of Christ to live the contented life he or she must live by God’s power. That’s what we find in verse 13. That’s the fourth ingredient that will be found in the contented believer’s life.
Living by God’s Power
We see it in verse 13. Let’s look together at how Paul’s life is a perfect picture of contentment for us to follow. Paul says in Philippians 4:13;
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
I can do all things through Christ. Some of your translations use the word Him instead of Christ. Either way Paul is speaking of Christ here.
And whatever Paul needed to do, any opposition he needed to bear up under and any provision he truly needed was his because he was living by God’s power at work in him.
So what does it mean to live by God’s Power? Let’s look together and learn from Paul what it means to be strengthened by God’s power.
First to be strengthened by God’s power we must have Christ living in us. We can only be strengthened by God’s power if we have confessed our sin and believed in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Then we have Christ living in us. The Holy Spirit lives in the believer to, among other things, give the believer strength to live for Christ.
We are strengthened by Christ living in us
What Paul is referring to is the strength to go on in the face of difficulty, when his strength is all gone. He’s not claiming to be super-human. He’s not saying that he can live indefinitely without food and water. But I think he is saying that when he’s reached the breaking point, when he’s all out of strength, even in the face of death, he is able to bear up under whatever difficulty he’s facing with the strength of Christ. He could do it because when his strength, when his resources, where all gone he was infused with the strength of Christ from within.
Paul could live above circumstances—Paul knew contentment because he was living by God’s power. Paul could be content because he had learned contentment and the one who taught him contentment was the one who strengthened him—Jesus Christ.
We briefly touched on this thought last week and I want to give it more attention today. It’s the understanding that there is really no good thing in you or me that gives us the strength or the will power to be content. There’s really no good thing in you or me that gives us the strength to live above our circumstances. It’s really all in Christ. It’s not in you or me.
Remember back in Philippians 3:9 Paul said;
Philippians 4:9 – The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
Paul knew that the God of peace is the one who gives us strength to live the contented life. It’s not in Paul, it’s not in you, and it’s not in me. It’s the power of Christ living in us—it is the Holy Spirit living in us that gives us the ability for faith—it is our union with Christ, our fellowship with Christ that makes it possible for us to know contentment. The contented life is learned through our union and fellowship with Christ. That’s why it’s so important that we be people who drink in and soak up God’s Word and yield to his working in us. That is why it is so important that we fellowship with him in prayer throughout our day. We cannot know contentment until we are lead by, taught by, encouraged and filled by Jesus Christ through our close fellowship with Him.
How do I know that this is what we need? We see it throughout Paul’s writing—we see it all through the New Testament.
The grace of Christ was all-sufficient for Paul. He says so in 2 Corinthians 12:9.
2 Corinthians 12:9 – And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
The Lord made it clear to Paul that he wasn’t sufficient in himself to bear up under the difficulties at hand, but the Spirit says to him “My grace is sufficient for you.” You aren’t sufficient but I am and I will help you.
Paul also says that the Lord stood with him and was his strength and deliverer. 2 Timothy 4:17;
2 Timothy 4:17 – But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.
Paul also says that Christ is his enabler.
1 Timothy 1:12 – And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry,
The Lord is Paul’s strength. In Paul’s weakness the Lord shows himself mighty.
2 Corinthians 12:10 (NLT) – Since I know it is all for Christ’s good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
This is what we see in Paul’s words here in verse 13 of Philippians 4 in the words, who strengthens me. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” The word translated strengthens means to infuse with strength.
We saw this last Sunday evening in the testimony of Gracia Burnham. Gracia and her husband Martin, missionaries to the Philippines, were taken hostage and held captive for 376 days. How could she possibly bear up under the extreme circumstances of being held captive in the jungle and dragged from one place to another, she and her husband, for over a year only to lose her husband as she was being rescued?
It wasn’t in her. She was infused with the strength of Christ. When she could no longer go on, the all-sufficient Christ Jesus was there to infuse her with strength. And even after losing her husband in the firefight that resulted in her rescue she was able to experience real joy in her freedom.
We might say—as I believe some of us did after watching that film—“I don’t think I could do that, I don’t understand how she can do that, how does she bear the load of the loss of her freedom and separation from her children and then the loss of her husband?”
And we’re right—the answer is not in us—we can’t. But the answer is in Christ. This brings us to another truth about living by God’s power that we learn from Paul’s example.
Living by God’s Power means that…
Christ infuses us with his strength when our strength is gone
If the Lord was all this for Paul—if the Lord is all this for Gracia Burnham—then there’s no doubt that the Lord can be our satisfaction with circumstances—the Lord can most certainly give us the strength to live above our circumstances. The Lord is completely capable of teaching us contentment. He must, because it’s not in us. It wasn’t in Paul either. Paul learned contentment from the indwelling, empowering work of the Holy Spirit.
And that’s what we must learn—that our contentment does not rest solely on whether we “get life all figured out”. You can read all the self-help books. You can listen to the motivational tapes and watch the videos and buy into the world’s programs for attaining peace, satisfaction and happiness. But you’ll fall short every time, because it’s not in you and the world does not have the answers. So save yourself some heartache and turn to Christ and His Word for direction.
God’s Word does have the answers and the power to know contentment is in Christ and if you have repented of your sin and trusted Christ then his Spirit is in you and you will benefit from the Holy Spirit working in you if you will just be obedient to his Word and serve Him faithfully and faithfully fellowship with Him in prayer.
Self-sufficiency is dangerous, because it keeps you from relying on Christ in the midst of your weaknesses. Contentment can only come when we rely on the all-sufficient Christ to give us strength in the face of difficulty—when our strength is all gone.
We want contentment and we think it comes in the lack of difficulty. But if you think that contentment is the absence of difficulty you will never be content. Because as long as we live in this fallen world there will be difficulty.
Real peace comes when we learn to live satisfied and content no matter what the circumstances. That’s learning to live above your circumstances. And what we must learn is that this kind of contentment is only found through Christ.
Paul had learned this. That’s why he could say in Galatians 2:20 that;
Galatians 2:20 – I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
There’s another truth that surfaces here in Galatians 2:20 that’s related to what we see in Philippians 4:13. When Paul says he has been crucified with Christ, when he says the life he lives is one lived by faith in the Son of God we need to understand that he’s talking about obedience here. Crucifying your own desires—yielding fully to the desires of Christ for your life—giving yourself fully to Christ in obedience to his Word—living by faith—that’s obedience.
This is another truth exemplified by Paul that will help us learn to live by God’s power.
Living by God’s Power means that…
We must be obedient to Christ
We must be living the obedient life for Christ’s honor and glory. If we aren’t living the obedient life I don’t believe we can expect the Holy Spirit to swoop in and infuse us with His strength when we are facing great difficulty.
If we are living in disobedience to God’s Word, resisting the Holy Spirit’s direction in our lives it may be that the Lord will allow us to go through the depth of difficulty and despair to chasten us and bring us to a point of repentance where we’ll get our eyes off ourselves and get them on him. He may allow us to experience his chastening so that we’ll turn to him in obedience—confess our sin—confess our disobedience—restore our fellowship with him and obey him, so that we can begin living by God’s power and not our own. I don’t believe God enjoys seeing us suffer. But I do believe He will allow us to suffer at times to get our attention.
We need to learn that living by God’s power is much more desirable than living without it. I think Isaiah 40:29-31 is one of the most encouraging Old Testament passages when it comes to living by God’s power.
Isaiah 40:29 – He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. 30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, 31 But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.
Do you see the key here? Verse 31, But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength. Those who wait on the Lord; those who are obedient, those who truly desire to please the Lord, those who wait on Him and don’t run off in their own strength—these are the ones who will live by God’s power.
As the chorus goes;
Great is the Lord,
He is holy and just,
By His power we trust in His love.
Great is the Lord,
He is faithful and true,
By His mercy He proves He is love.
We serve a mighty God—we serve an awesome God—a merciful God. One who is mighty in power, mighty in wisdom, mighty in strength. Let’s start living by God’s power. Let’s stop depending on our own wisdom and strength and start yielding to Christ and his power in us to face every situation of life in the way that glorifies Him most.
And if you’ve never trusted Christ—if you’ve never confessed your sin and believed in Jesus Christ—you can do that today.
Let’s all turn to him and begin living by God’s power today.