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They Will Believe


Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
(Philippians 4:21-23 ESV)


Paul addressed this letter to the saints in Philippi and now as he closes he again calls them saints. He also refers those in Rome who are with him as saints. This would have included Timothy and other people who were believers. As we learned at the beginning of our study, the term “saint” is misunderstood today because of the erroneous teachings of the Catholic church who have altered the meaning to refer to only an elite few. But this is not biblical.

The term “saint” as it is used in the Bible simply means someone who has been set apart by God. It always refers to those who are “in Christ Jesus” – anyone who has been born again by faith in Christ’s payment for their sins.

Its very interesting that there were believers in Caesar’s household. Caesar at this time was Nero, a very wicked ruler who murdered many members of his own family and who was also a persecutor of Christians. Yet despite his tyrannical rule, there were those within his family and/or employment who came to believe in Christ.

This should be a great encouragement for us today. Many of us work in environments where we are the only believer and those around us seem to have no interest in knowing Jesus. That is probably untrue. Sometimes in such places people are very open to hearing about the hope that Jesus provides because they see much sin (although they may not call it that) around them. Its really no different than being a missionary in a country which is heavily into a false-religion or where the Bible is banned.

Just like Paul, our light will shine brightest in the dark. That is why Paul could say that his imprisonment in Rome was for the good [Philippians 1:12]. People were coming to know Christ as their Savior and therefore would spend their eternity in heaven in God’s presence. And that is all that matters.

We should not be disappointed at where we are in life. No matter where we are – even in prison or a job we hate – God can use us to reach others. Nor should we be afraid to approach those who seem the most against God’s message. Sometimes the most unlikely of people will believe and in fact are ready to believe if someone simply presents the truth of God’s love to them.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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Truth Leads To Praise


I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
(Philippians 4:18-20 ESV)


Yesterday Paul reminded the Philippians that since they were so sacrificially generous towards him in his time of need, God would meet their every need. This is a promise from God for believers who are generous.

After expressing this wonderful truth about God, Paul offers up praise of God in a brief doxology. A doxology is a statement that ascribes glory to God. It comes from two Greek words: δοξα (pronounced: dox’-ah) meaning “glory” and λόγιον (pronounced: log’-ee-on) meaning “saying”.

This verse seems like it is a spontaneous outburst. It seems that Paul can’t contain himself after writing the wonderful truth of God’s provision (and all the wonderful truths contained in this letter). This makes sense.

When we understand God – when we read the Bible and learn the truth about who He is and what He has done and is willing to do for us – the natural response is to praise Him. Truth leads to praise. When we praise God we glorify Him. To glorify God is to acknowledge His magnificence; to exalt Him to a place in our lives above ourselves; to recognize His greatness, grace, and mercy.

This is the purpose of our lives. God created us to worship Him. But we cannot do that if we do not know Him. Certainly it is not possible to know all there is to know about God. He is infinite. But He is knowable.

God does not hide Himself from us. He wants us to know Him. To that end He has invited us into a relationship with Him. Just like in human relationships we have to spend time with someone in order to get to know them, the same is true with God. As the relationship progresses we learn more about Him. And when we learn more about Him we can’t help but praise Him.

Notice that Paul calls God “our God and Father”. He is not only our God (our creator and source of life) but He is also “our Father”. There is a familial relationship between God and believers. He is our Father and we are His children [John 1:12].

This is a unique aspect of Christianity. No world religion, not even Christian-based ones like Catholicism, views God as wanting an intimate, personal, father/child relationship with us. Religions are man-made attempts to appease and please God.

But God doesn’t want our rituals or sacrifices. He wants us to know Him [Hosea 6:6]. And when we get to know Him there is no other valid response than to glorify Him.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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God Replenishes


I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
(Philippians 4:18-20 ESV)


The Philippians had sent Paul a very generous gift for which he has thanked them. We know from 2 Corinthians 8:1-3 that the people in Philippi were not wealthy so this gift they sent to Paul in Rome was a sacrifice for them. They may have therefore had some concern about their own future financial stability.

So Paul reminds them that God promises to meet their “every need”. This verse, Philippians 4:19, is one of the most quoted verses in all of the Bible. But like any verse, it needs to be taken within its context. God isn’t promising to do this for every believer in every situation.

Rather, when someone is sacrificially generous towards another in need, as the Philippians were towards Paul, God promises to take care of them by “supplying” what they “need” (not necessarily what they want). The word “supply” in Greek is the word πλεροο (pronounced: play-ro’-o) which means “to fill to the top so nothing is missing”. God will make sure generous people are never in want of the necessities in life.

This theme is seen throughout the Bible. Proverbs 3:9 tells us that when we give sacrificially God will more than replenish us. In Luke 6:38 Jesus says what we give will be returned to us. But notice that we must go first. We have to give up what we have in faith that God will do as He said. When we do God will pay us back “according to His riches”.

The words “according to” are very important here. God gives “according to” His riches, not “out of” His riches. If a billionaire gave a homeless person a dollar he would be giving “out of” his riches. But if he gave “according to” his riches he’d give that homeless person thousands of dollars. God isn’t stingy. He has infinite riches. And He gives “according to” those riches to generous people who are “in Christ”.

God funnels all His blessings through Jesus. Those who don’t know Jesus – who have not been born again and are therefore not part of God’s family [John 1:12] – cannot partake of God’s riches. But those of us who do can count on this promise.

Everyone who has a personal relationship with God through Jesus, as Paul and the Philippians did, can be generous without fear. Such a person never needs to worry about being in need.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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The Sacrifice Of Giving


I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
(Philippians 4:18-20 ESV)


Yesterday we learned that God wants us to give our money to support the furtherance of the Gospel message. To that end we should be giving financially to our church as well as evangelistic, Christian organizations and missionaries.

Notice that as a result of the gift sent by the Philippians Paul was now “well supplied”. He now had “more” than he needed. The Philippians had been very generous in their giving to Paul.

When it comes to our money we can be quite protective (i.e. stingy). Certainly money provides some degree of security. It can also be used to buy things we want (but don’t necessarily need). But it is much more important to use our money to spread God’s message than it is to have a new pair of shoes or golf clubs.

God wants us to be generous in our giving in the same way the Philippians were generous. Giving generously is a “sacrifice” and God knows this. That is why the Philippians’ gift was “a fragrant offering… a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God”. God’s ultimate goal for our life on earth is not comfort, but character development. One aspect of our character He wants to develop is concern for others, as we’ve read in this letter to the Philippians [Philippians 2:4].

When we give to the point where it becomes a sacrifice for us we are demonstrating the heart of God. God was so concerned about our eternity that He made a huge sacrifice in sending His Son to earth to take on the penalty for our sins. He wants us to be just as willing to sacrifice for the sake of others’ eternity.

If someone is a born-again child of God  [John 1:12] then there is nothing on this earth, beyond necessities, that we must have. Our earthly focus should no longer be on ourselves as our eternity in heaven is secure. Obviously we need to take care of our physical and spiritual health. But beyond that our primary goal in life should be spreading the Gospel message so that others will enter God’s kingdom too.

Spreading of the Gospel message requires money. Churches, charities, and missionaries all need to raise funds to pay their expenses. The more generous believers are in supporting these people and organizations the more people will hear about God’s wonderful offer of salvation and will be saved.

And nothing pleases God more than that.

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Whom To Give To


Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.
(Philippians 4:14-17 ESV)


Yesterday we read how God wants us to be givers. When we give our money to help people it demonstrates care and concern for others. Giving is a selfless act and a selfless heart is what God is trying to develop in us.

But this does not mean that we are to give our money to whomever we like. We are to give to those who are serving Christ, as Paul was.

Paul was by trade a tent-maker [Acts 18:3]. Once he was called by God [Acts 9] he gave up that trade as a full-time profession in order to study God’s word and teach others. But Paul still needed money to meet his daily living expenses. And although he returned to tent-making part-time when necessary [1 Thessalonians 2:9], he was primarily supported by donations from believers in churches he had planted.

Those who teach God’s word need to be supported. That support comes primarily from those people they teach. This means that believers should be giving money to the church they attend in order to support their pastors. The money we give to our church will also be used for programs to teach children and adults, and to support missionaries and evangelistic charities.

This does not mean that we can’t give any money to other causes. Giving a homeless person a few dollars is not a sin. Nor is sending a check to a charity that fights cancer or rescues animals. Helping others in general is good and God wants us to do that. But certainly we need to be careful when it comes to some charities that seem to be doing good.

A few years ago the Susan G. Komen organization, which allegedly supported breast-cancer research, revealed that it was funnelling some of its donations to Planned Parenthood to pay for abortions. Needless to say, no Christian should be giving money to Susan G. Komen.

Giving money to non-Christian charities can be an evangelistic opportunity. There is only one non-Christian charity I donate to – Operation Smile. But when I send them a check I always send it in a Christian “Thank you” card and I write a note thanking them for the work they are doing to help God’s children.

God does not give us money to improve our lifestyle. Certainly life may necessitate that at some point we buy a bigger house or a new car. But we should do this out of necessity not out of desire. Nor does God want us to live in poverty. He wants us to have enough food and other things we need to survive. He also commands us to save up money for the future [Proverbs 6:8; Proverbs 21:20].

But beyond that, our money should be used to support those who teach us and to bring other people into His kingdom.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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Giving Is Receiving


Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.
(Philippians 4:14-17 ESV)


Paul has just told the Philippians that he was perfectly content even when he had little because of the strength that came from Jesus in such situations. The Philippians may have read those verses and thought that sending money to Paul was unnecessary or even a mistake.

Paul realizes this so he tells them that even so (“yet”) they did the right thing in sending their gift. The original Greek word for “kind” is καλοσ (pronounced: kal-oce’) which means “honorable”. Giving to help others who are in need is commendable. God is pleased when we do such things.

God commands His children to take care of others who need help [Philippians 2:4; Hebrews 13:16]. Once a person has been saved through faith in Christ and is part of God’s family [John 1:12] they are no longer to live for self as non-believers do. We are to live sacrificially.

Our faith in Christ saves us from the penalty of our sins, which is eternal separation from God (aka “hell”). Our lives from that point serve one purpose: to further the Gospel message to the rest of the world. We do that through various means including practical measures such as volunteering our time and the giving of our resources, including money.

It is not enough to simply have faith and be saved and then live a life that is devoted to personal comfort. We are to “share” the troubles of others. The Greek word for trouble could also be translated as distress or discomfort. When a child of God sees another person going through a tough time we should give to them [James 2:14-17]. Doing so alleviates that person’s needs but is also pleasing to God because it demonstrates His love through the giver.

When someone gives to another God will reward that person [Luke 6:38; Proverbs 19:17; Proverbs 22:9 et. al]. This is why got Paul so excited about the gift he received from the Philippians. He could live without the money. But the gift itself was a demonstration of the Philippians faith.

By giving the Philippians were being obedient to God [Galatians 6:2]. Obedience demonstrates faith. But the Philippians, who were poor as we’ll learn tomorrow, gave to help another in need because they had faith in God to take care of them.

Many non-believers have issues with verses like these because they think the church is simply after our money. Even believers have a hard time parting with our money. Money provides security. But as Paul taught us yesterday, God wants to be our security.

Of course we need money to live. God is not calling us to live in poverty. But God is more interested in our spiritual health than our financial wealth. Giving to help others is “to our credit” as it does more for us spiritually than money could ever do for us financially.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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The Secret of Contentment


I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
(Philippians 4:10-13 ESV)


At the time Paul penned this letter he was in prison in Rome facing possible execution. He would have been unable to earn a living while in custody. His current situation and future prospects looked pretty grim. Yet he never expresses any worry or anger in this letter. In fact, this letter to the Philippians is filled with messages of joy.

This was possible because Paul had “learned” to be content in any situation. Notice that contentment has to be learned. Perhaps that is why God withheld support from the Philippians. Perhaps during this time God was teaching Paul how to be content despite his circumstances.

This is a lesson that few people learn today, especially in our culture. We can never have enough. Television advertising convinces us that we need this and we need that when really we don’t need the majority of what we already do have. We are led to believe that if we just had a different car or the latest smartphone or whiter teeth we will be content.

When asked how much money is enough, famous billionaire John D. Rockefeller infamously replied, “Just a little bit more”. Our lives are a non-stop pursuit of contentment because no material possession, no amount of money, and no amount of sex can ever satisfy [Luke 12:15].

The sad truth is that most people in the United States are living unfilled, discontent lives because they are trying to attain contentment in the wrong places. We try to find it in our careers, or in sex, or in our dysfunctional families. But our deepest needs can never be met by any of these things.

There is only one place to find contentment as Paul tells us right here in this passage. The only place to find contentment is “through him who strengthens”. Contentment can only be found in Christ.

I believe God created us with an inherent need for contentment. When we try to satisfy that need with earthly things we will be always be disappointed. We will live unsatisfied lives that are a never-ending pursuit of contentment.

But when we set our hearts on things above, we will learn to live with whatever we have in this life. There is only one way the human heart can be satisfied. And that is by having a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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Sovereign Providence

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I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
(Philippians 4:10-13 ESV)


In yesterday’s study Paul asked the Philippians to follow his example by living as he lived. He knew that he was a good, albeit imperfect, spiritual role-model. This is interesting because Paul had gone through great difficulty while in Philippi [Acts 16] as well after he left there.

Yet despite his circumstances he didn’t behave in a way that would set a bad example. He didn’t worry or whine. One reason why this was so is because Paul knew that God was in control.

It had apparently been some time (“at length”) since the Philippians had sent Paul a gift. But Paul did not conclude this was because the Philippians did not care about him. He knew they “were indeed concerned” but simply “had no opportunity”. We don’t know exactly what prevented the Philippians from supporting Paul to this point. Perhaps it was lack of funds or lack of a messenger.

But whatever the reason, it had now been removed and the Philippians generosity was “revived”. The Greek word translated “revived” is ανατηαλλο (pronounced: an-ath-al’-lo). It is a horticultural term which means “to sprout again”. The Philippians ability to provide for Paul had been dormant for some time but now was again alive.

During the time Paul did not hear from the Philippians he did not assume the worst. He did not assume they had forgotten him or did not care about him. He believed in God’s sovereign providence. He knew that God could, and would, meet his needs.

No doubt Paul took comfort in this by reading the Scriptures he had available – what we call the Old Testament. Throughout the stories of ancient Israel we see God taking care of His people even when they are in the most dire of circumstances. King David faced much persecution from his predecessor, King Saul, who tried numerous times to kill him. Yet, like Paul, David knew that God would take care of him and he expressed this confidence in many of the Psalms he wrote [Psalm 9:9; Psalm 23:3-4; Psalm 34:17-20 et. al].

This is a great lesson for God’s children. Sometimes we may go through a difficult period where help just doesn’t arrive. But we can know for certain that God is sovereign. And He will take care of His children [John 1:12]. We just need to be patient and wait on His timing without worrying or taking matters into our own hands [Philippians 4:6-7].

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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The Peace Of God


And what you learned and received and heard and saw in me, do these things. And the God of peace will be with you.
(Philippians 4:9 ESV)


Over the past few days we’ve been reading how we need to have a godly attitude [Philippians 4:6-7] and also fill our minds with godly thoughts [Philippians 4:8]. Finally, in today’s verse, Paul tells us that we must also have godly behavior.

Paul tells the Philippians it is not enough to have “learned and received and heard and saw”. They must take the things they learned, received, heard, and saw and actually do them.

The Greek word translated “do” here is πρασσο (pronounced: pras’-so). This word means more than simply “to do”. It means “to practice”. Practicing something implies we do it over and over. Paul is saying that the continuous habit of our lives should be obedience to God.

God does not call His children into a simply intellectual experience. It is not enough for us to know what is right we must also do what is right. When we do what is right then we get an amazing benefit: “the God of peace will be with” us.

Of course, God is always with us. But even His children don’t always realize or experience His presence. When we experience God’s presence we will have peace. The way we experience God’s presence is to be obedient to His word.

The peace that we will experience is an inner peace of our souls. Our minds will be at rest. And, as we know, thoughts lead to actions. If our thoughts are peaceful our actions will be peaceful. But if our thoughts are not peaceful – if we do not have an inner peace – then our actions will not be peaceful either.

I think it safe to say that our world is becoming less and less peaceful. We are clearly becoming more violent. For example, since January 2010 there have been 106 school shootings in the United States. That is almost two a month, on average. In the first six months of 2014 there were 34 school shootings. That is an average of more than one a week.

Our country doesn’t understand but the reason for all this violence is crystal clear. Our disobedience – legalizing and celebrating same-sex marriage, legalizing abortion, corrupt government, etc – prevents us from experiencing God’s peace.

Sadly, our country does not see this correlation. In fact, we believe the opposite to be true. Our leaders actually believe that removing the true God from our culture will make things better. Recent history proves this to be wrong.

Unless we change this approach we can expect even less peace than we have now.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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What To Think About


Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
(Philippians 4:8 ESV)


In the previous verses God has taught us that worrying is destructive and gets us nowhere. As someone once said, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” Worry weakens us. It stops us from making progress.

God does not want His adopted children to be weak. He wants us to live strong, victorious, joyful lives. The way we do that is to fill our mind with (i.e. meditate on) certain things.

Its interesting to note that worry is also meditation. It is just meditation on the wrong things. We have the ability to control our minds. We can think about what we choose to think about. Here God tells us what we should be thinking about.

First and foremost, we should fill our minds with truth. It all starts with truth. If we don’t know the truth, nothing we think about will be of any benefit to us.

God is truth [John 8:26, 33; John 14:6]. His Word is truth [Psalm 119:160; John 17:17]. We should meditate on the truth contained in the Bible [Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:2, 19:14 et. al].

We should also think about things that are “honorable” and “just”, not things that are corrupt, immoral, or dishonest. We should not be scheming or plotting against other people. We should be thinking of ways to bring godly justice into people’s lives.

We are to think about things that are “pure”. Our minds should not be controlled by impure thoughts, especially sexually impure thoughts. We should not be lusting or telling crude jokes or looking at pornography. These thoughts damage us.

Its well known that our thoughts eventually become our actions. If we have negative thoughts our behavior will be mostly negative. If we think about things that are “lovely”, “commendable”, and “excellent” our behavior will be likewise.

Its important to note that God is not advocating the power of positive thinking here. God is not saying we can create our own reality. God has already created reality. He is simply telling us how He designed our minds to work within that reality. When we don’t let worry or lies or negative thoughts enter our heads we are living life as God designed it to be lived.

All the words in this verse describe our God. We need to stop thinking about what could go wrong (i.e. worrying) and instead align our thoughts with God’s.

Rather than letting our minds be controlled by the sin that is in this world, as non-believers do, we should be thinking about heavenly things. Believers are citizens of heaven [Philippians 3:20]. As such, our thoughts should be fixated there.

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