• There's no doubt we are living in unstable and turbulent times, but there has never been a better time to choose to have all-out trust in our God. For our culture, the topic of money and giving is one of the most difficult things to address, yet the Bible speaks abundantly on it. We have been created to say with tremendous faith, “I trust in you, Lord ... my times are in your hand!”
5. In God We Trust: While My Trouble May Be His Blessing [Philippians 4:10-20]
  • God expects us to be wise in our use of what is His. “For I have learned to be content.”
Sermon Preparation Guide
  • Importance - What are the central ideas of this text?
    • Sharing with and giving to others in need will bring a blessing from God. (Philippians 4:17 & 19) 
    • Contentment in each and every circumstance must be learned. (Philippians 4:11 & 12)
    • The key to contentment is found in Jesus. (Philippians 4:13)  
  • Implications - What questions should the listener be asking?
    • How are you doing in terms of sharing and giving to others in need? 
    • What steps do you need to take to learn to be content?
    • How do you find contentment in Jesus? 
      Talk it Over Discussion Guide 
      • Interpretation - What is the text telling/showing us?
        • Why is Paul rejoicing in what the Philippians did?
        • Describe why and how the Philippians gave to Paul? What were their motivations? 
        • What blessing is in store for the Philippians in their giving? 
        • What are the spiritual benefits of giving for the needs of others, particularly those in Christian ministry?
        • What does it mean to be content in the way Paul describes contentment?
        • What was Paul’s attitude in receiving gifts from the Philippians? Did he need their gifts? 
        • What was God’s attitude towards the giving the Philippians did?
        • What is the relationship between the promise in verse 19 and one’s giving? Are we entitled to God’s blessing and provision if we give? Should the promise be our motivation for giving?
        • Why is giving like the Philippians did an acceptable sacrifice to God?    
      • Implementation - What should the listeners response be?
        • What should your attitude be towards those who might give to you in your need?
        • Is our giving limited to money? If not, what other things or resources can we give to others?
        • How do you define contentment for yourself? What adjustments might you have to make to your definition in light of verses 11-13?
        • How does Jesus strengthen you for the living of life in each and every circumstance? 
        • How does one learn to be content? What steps must you take to learn contentment?
        • Do you consider giving to be an offering to God? Why is God pleased with your giving?
        • What does verse 19 mean to you? How will you live going forward in light of the promise in verse 19?
        • What is the most meaningful lesson you have learned from this passage?
        Sermon Teaching Notes (as prepared by Pastor Dick Murphy)
        • Investigation - What's generally going on in this area of scripture?
        As we come to this final installment of this Series, we look back and realize we have learned much. We have seen that God owns it all and thus our “possessions” are His and for His use. We have seen that God provides for our needs so we needn’t worry. We have seen that our giving is an offering of worship. And we have seen that God expects that we use the gifts (time, treasure and talent) He gives us to multiply results for His kingdom. This fifth installment will teach us that as we rest in Him and His provision, whether it is direct or through others, we must learn to be content in our circumstances whatever they are, and that whatever “troubles” we may have are the opportunity for His blessing.

        On his second missionary journey, which began with Barnabas who early on was replaced by Silas (Acts 16:36-40), Paul eventually came to Philippi in the district of Macedonia (Acts 16:11 & 12) and planted a church there. He visited the church in Philippi some years later on his third missionary journey (Acts 20:1-6).  Several more years have now elapsed and Paul is in prison in Rome (Philippians 1:7, 13, 17. The date of this imprisonment is roughly 10-11 years after the Philippian church was planted.) and writes a letter to the believers in Philippi. It is a very personal letter, and the verses covered in these Notes underscore that fact as he writes about his situation and his needs and the way that the Philippians had helped him with their gifts.

        The Philippians had given Paul a gift of financial support and in verse 10, he begins to write them his thanks. Apparently, the Philippians had wanted to make a gift previously, but for whatever reason had not had the opportunity. Perhaps it as at a time when Paul was collecting the gift for the Jerusalem church and he didn’t want there to be any mis-perception if he received a gift at the same time. In any case, Paul expresses his joy in the gift and his thanks for the generosity of the Philippians (Philippians 4:10, 14-16). He notes that by their gift they literally shared in his trouble (another version says his “affliction”), that the gift indeed supplied his needs and more (Philippians 4:18a), and that it was an offering acceptable to God (Philippians 4:18b). Moreover, Paul adds to his thanks the fact that the Philippians were the only ones who supported him after he left Macedonia (Philippians 4:15), and that they had sent at least one more (and possible two more) gifts to him subsequently (Philippians 4:16). The Philippians had given voluntarily, liberally, more than once, and with no expectation of receiving anything in return; they had given from their hearts and out of love for God as expressed in their love for Paul. In light of these things, Paul notes that he does not seek the gifts for himself, but rather desires that the giving by the Philippians “accrue interest” to their “spiritual account.” (Philippians 4:17) In short, there is spiritual benefit to giving in that it pleases God and redounds to the spiritual growth of the giver, as Paul reminds the Philippians that in their giving, God will, in turn, “supply every need” of theirs “according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19 & 20) All in all, Paul’s trouble, meaning his hardships and then imprisonment in Rome, has led to his blessing through the gifts of the Philippians, and to the blessing of the Philippians through their giving multiple times to Paul.

        In the midst of the foregoing words of encouragement and thanks to the Philippians, Paul comments on the subject of contentment. Why so? Because contentment is something that believers, including Paul, have to learn, and because contentment permits the believer to live in a state whereby both giving and receiving are made easier. In the old nature (that is, without a relationship with God through Jesus), when one is prosperous generally one wants more, and when poor, one also wants more. Either way marks discontent with one’s circumstances. And beyond that, the reaction to the circumstance by the natural man is generally one of self-sufficiency; “I can help myself.” or “I can handle this, and tough it out.” The secret for the believer, writes Paul, is to allow the Holy Spirit to change one’s mind and attitude from self-sufficiency, from wanting more, from fighting circumstances, to humble contentment and resting in one’s circumstances whatever they may be, trusting in God for everything including the strength to live in those circumstances. (Philippians 4:11-13) Having plenty (living in abundance) means that one is able to share more because one has more. Having little means that one can give from what little God has and He will still provide for one's life.

        Thus, in Christ, one can live in the high or the low, with much or the little, being fully supplied or needy. In making this statement about contentment, Paul turned on its head the thinking of his day espoused by the Greek Stoics. The Stoics use of the word “content” (Greek “autarkes”) to mean “entirely self-sufficient” which was a state of mind by which the individual was “absolutely independent of all things and all people.” (per William Barclay in his commentary on the Letters to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians, revised edition) The Stoic sought to remove desire and emotion from one’s life to achieve this state of self-sufficiency, and steeled oneself to whatever happened. Altogether, the Stoic sought contentment by human achievement. In contrast, Paul says that the believer seeks contentment by sufficiency from God. Contentment is thus inextricably intertwined with trusting God. God owns everything, God provides everything, God knows you and your needs, and God is worthy to be trusted in everything because of who He is. Therefore, you can be in whatever circumstances and you are still in God’s hands, able to give and to receive, able to bless and be blessed, able to live for His will and purposes in everything.

        Paul was on the receiving end of giving by the saints at Philippi on multiple occasions. He accepted the provision as being the provision from God via those believers, and was joyful and thankful. The Philippians, on the other hand, were blessed in their giving, it being an offering to God and the means by which God would bless them (Philippians 4:18 & 19). And both Paul and the Philippians, and us today, need to learn to be content in whatever circumstances we are, resting in the goodness and the provision of our great God who loves us and who will strengthen us for the living in those circumstances. How do we learn to be content? By believing that God provides and strengthens, by asking God to help us be content, by submitting our wants and desires to Him, by trusting Him for our every need, by being generous and wise in the use of our resources, and by being abundant givers who love to bless others. Are you content? If not, do you want to be content? I hope so, and indeed I pray so, for that is the place to be as a follower of Jesus who died for you, and in the hands of the Father who “will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Jesus Christ. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Philippians 4:19 & 20)