For even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need... And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians4:16 & 19ESV
As I read my bible this morning, I was excited to see how the story of Paul’s missionary work is woven together with the little church in Philippi. When God first sent a vision to Paul to leave for Europe- he saw a man from Macedonia calling for help. So Paul went and bought a ticket, got on a boat and sailed across to Philippi. Rather surprisingly after obeying God’s call, Paul was promptly thrown in prison. But, on that famous night in the jail, while Paul and Silas sang hymns, God sent an earthquake and the church of Philippi was founded – with the jailer possibly becoming the first deacon! Now, many years later, Paul finds himself sitting in a Roman prison, but he was still concerned about the needs of that church in Philippi. All through the time Paul was establishing churches in Macedonia, Greece and Asia Minor, the Philippians had stayed in touch with him. Their leader Epaphroditus even visited Paul regularly, both bringing offerings and staying with him to help out. We do not hear of even one of the large rich churches sending help to Paul, but the Philippians continued doing all they could, because they considered Paul to be more than just an apostle. He was a part of their family. And just like when we send care packages to a son off in college, they were determined that as much as they were able they would take care of Paul.
Sure, God could have used larger churches or he could even have sent an angel with anything that Paul needed. But God chooses to use his people to take care of each other, so that we can experience the life of Christ for ourselves – and that experience begins with our learning how to give. Learning to give means learning to love and our greatest need of all is always love!
All Our Needs in His Own Way
All our needs in His own way
Jesus promises to meet
But He often uses hands of clay
To give the things we seek
So when God chooses us to lift
A load from off our brother
Remember it was from His cross
He showed how to love each other
All Our Needs in His Own Way by Peter Caligiuri
copyright 2021 all rights reserved
In all my prayers for all of you I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:4-6
One thing I love about going to the beach is taking photographs from the edge of the water that take in the wide expanse of the Gulf of Mexico – especially at sunset! There is something both overwhelming and at the same time assuring about being one tiny part of that enormous expanse. But to catch the magnitude of that scene I have to switch my camera from the portrait setting to a wide angle lens.
That reminds me of a song we like to sing at church with the line, “I know breakthrough is coming.” Usually while I am heartily belting out the lyrics I am thinking of some issue that I am hoping God will help me or maybe someone in our family with. Now it is true that God does want to meet our personal needs, but the amazing thing about the Apostle Paul’s prayer is that it is completely focused on others. He wasn’t only clinging on to that hope that God wasn’t finished with him yet (Remember Paul is sitting in prison while he is writing). No! In fact Paul writes to encourage the Philippian church not to give up on what God has started with them. He is trusting the God of breakthrough, but not just for himself to get out of jail. He is believing that God has great things in store for His friends back in Macedonia.
Praying like Paul is like switching from looking down at our feet while we stand on the seashore, to looking at the people around us through God’s wide angle lens. That is not to say that our own battles are insignificant, but that the breakthroughs which God has in store include far more than just us. We are one small part of God’s big plan. His amazing love includes so much more than we can imagine and so many more people than we could ever dream of. So in switching over to using God’s wide angle lens, think about who you can pray for this morning. Maybe that someone else needs a breakthrough that only you can ask God for today.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7
In 1964 Muhammad Ali became the youngest challenger to ever win the heavyweight boxing title when he beat Sonny Liston. Every time Ali stepped into the ring he brashly proclaimed his superiority over his foe. Ali never imagined losing because it was not in his DNA to process losing. The only good fight Ali planned was a knockout!
The Apostle Paul was in many ways just like Muhammad Ali. Every time Paul entered into spiritual combat he had only one goal in mind: complete victory through His Lord Jesus Christ! Throughout Paul’s ministry he was often persecuted, tossed in prison and finally executed and yet He boldly stated that he ended his life a victor. When Paul wrote to his young friend Timothy; he was in effect tag teaming his successor in the ongoing battle. Timothy later passed that fight onto the churches under his care. If we listen we will hear the bell is ringing for the first round of our own match to begin. Centuries have passed and the world is a different place, but God’s challenge remains the same. It is our turn to fight our own good fight with that same boldness and faith. When we trust in Christ in our fight we will win, because we are tag teaming with the greatest heavyweight champion of all time: our Lord Jesus Christ!