Paul was no ivory tower theologian; he had lived and ministered in the trenches. Hislife was not exactly a testimonial for the prosperity gospel.The apostles trials began at Damascus shortly after his conversion.Acts 9:15-1615 “But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bearMy name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel;16 for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.”2 Corinthians 11:23-33Paul said, “I was in many imprisonments, beaten times without number, often indanger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times Iwas beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night anda day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers fromrivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from theGentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangersamong false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleeplessnights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. In Damascusthe ethnarch under Aretas the king was guarding the city of the Damascenes in orderto seize me, and I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and soescaped his hands.”
2 Corinthians 4:8-98 “we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing;9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;”In all Pauls unique and constant sufferings, he had learned the secret of rising abovethem. In the midst of all his trials, he kept his focus on heavenly realities.Colossians 3:1-21 “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above,where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above,not on the things that are on earth.”In 2 Corinthians 4:17, the apostle wrote,"For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory farbeyond all comparison."With that perspective, is it any wonder that no amount of pain, suffering, ordisappointment could affect Paul’s contentment?Philippians 4:1313 “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.”
Paul’s adequacy and sufficiency came from his union with the adequate andsufficient Christ: "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, butChrist lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son ofGod, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me“. Galatians 2:20When Paul wrote “I can do all things” he had in mind physical, not spiritual things.Ischuo (I can do) means "to be strong," "to have power”.The Greek text emphasizes the word translated all things (a reference to physicalneeds) by placing it first in the sentence.Paul was strong enough to endure anything through Him Who strengthened him (1Tim 1:12; 2 Tim 4:17).1 Timothy 1:1212 “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, Who has strengthened me, because He consideredme faithful,”2 Timothy 4:16-1716 “At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not becounted against them. 17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so thatthrough me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentilesmight hear;”1 Samuel 30:6 Amplified Bible6 “David was greatly distressed, for the men spoke of stoning him because the soulsof them all were bitterly grieved, each man for his sons and daughters. But Davidencouraged and strength-ened himself in the Lord his God.”The apostle Paul does not, of course, mean that he could physically surviveindefinitely without food, water, sleep, or shelter.
What he is saying is that when he reached the limit of his resources and strength,even to the point of death, he was infused with the strength of Christ.He could overcome the most dire physical difficulties because of the inner, spiritualstrength God had given him.Gods power will bring contentment to those who have no strength of their own, butonly if they have been living righteously.There is no quick fix, no shortcut to contentment. It comes only to those strengthenedby divine power, and that divine power does not come from counselors, therapy, orself-help formulas, but only from consistent godly living.Paul says, "I can do all things through Christ" -- that is, “in Christ” and in the context ofthe will of Christ for your life.Whatever Christ has for you to do, He will supply the power.Whatever gift He gives you, He will give the power to exercise that gift.A gift is a manifestation of the Spirit of God in the life of the believer.As long as you function in Christ, you will have power.J. Vernon McGee used to take the Super Chief train from LA to Chicago.
It was known as "The Train of the Stars" because the passenger list resembled averitable "whos who" of Hollywood stars: Richard Burton & Elizabeth Taylor, Humphrey Bogart & Lauren Bacall, Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis, Desi Arnaz & Lucille Ball.If that train could have talked it would have said:"I can do all things a Super Chief is supposed to do on the tracks between Chicagoand Los Angeles.” “Ive been coming by here for years, and Ive never seen theGrand Canyon. I think Ill just take off across the desert here and look at the canyonfor myself."It did leave the tracks one day over on the side toward the Grand Canyon but itnever did make it to the Grand Canyon. The minute it left the tracks, it was a wreck.The train was helpless and hopeless the moment it left the tracks. As long as the SuperChief was on the tracks, as long as it was doing the thing it was supposed to do, itcould do all the things a Super Chief should do. But it was absolutely helpless when itleft the tracks.This is what Paul is saying about himself – "I can do all things in Christ”.If you are a member of Christs body, He is the Head, and you are to function in thecontext of His will for your life. His will is the track on which you are to run.“…through Christ Who strengthens me." Christ is the One Who will strengthen you andenable you to do all that is in His will for you.He certainly does not mean that He is putting into your hands unlimited power to doanything you want to do. Rather, He will give you the enablement to do all things inthe context of His will for you. When you and I are in Christ, and we are moving inChrist on those tracks, there is no stopping us.But the minute you and I step out of that glorious position, step out of Gods will eitherby sinning, by our own willfulness, or by lack of fellowship, we are as much a wreck asa train trying to run off of the track, and we are not going anywhere.
But if we stay on track, stay in His will, we can do all things through Christ Whostrengthens us!"If ye abide in me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall bedone for you" (John 15:7). It is essential to be in His will.
God’s will is hidden for you, not from you.We see at once the difference between the Stoics and Paul.The Stoic said, "I will learn contentment by a deliberate act of my own will."Paul said, "I can do all things through Christ who infuses His strength into me."For the Stoic contentment was a human achievement; for Paul it was a divine gift.Paul could face anything, because in every situation he had Christ; the man whowalks with Christ can cope with anything.The Stoic was self-sufficient; but Paul was God-sufficient. Stoicism failed because itwas inhuman; Christianity succeeded because it was rooted in the divine.In the words of Isaiah:Isaiah 40:29-31“He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power.Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yetthose who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings likeeagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.”Paul was never the victim of circumstances; he had learned by experience the secretof peace: "I can do all things through Christ Who energizes me!"The J. B. Phillips translation says, "I am ready for anything through the strength of theOne Who lives in me" (v. 13, PH).
In Philippians 2:12-13 we see that God cannot work through us until first He works in us;He works in us through His Word:1 Thessalonians 2:1313 “For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word ofGod which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for whatit really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.”He also works in us through His Spirit:Ephesians 2:14-22,22 “in Whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.”
And sometimes He works in us through suffering:10“After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, Who called you toHis eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.”1 Peter 5:10If we depend on our own power, we will fail; but if we depend on His strength, wecan do all things through Him.This explains why Paul could rejoice even in prison: he had learned the secret ofthe secure mind through the power of God.Warren Wiersbe’s summary of Philippians chapter 4:God’s Presence v 1-5God’s Peace v 6-9God’s Power v 10-13God’s Provision v 14-23Philippians 4:14-2314“Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction. 15 Youyourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the Gospel, after I leftMacedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but youalone; 16 for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs.17 Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to youraccount. 18 But I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I amamply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrantaroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God. 19 And my God will supply allyour needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 Now to our God andFather be the glory forever and ever. Amen. 21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. Thebrethren who are with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, especially those ofCaesar’s household. 23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”Philippians 4:14-19A final strand in the tapestry of contentment woven by Paul is concern for others.
Those who live only for themselves will never be content, because contentment forthem can come only when their circumstances are exactly as they want them to be.And that will never happen.Only those who unselfishly put others well-being above their own will findcontentment.Paul prayed that the Philippians "love may abound still more and more" (1:9); one ofthe qualities of true Biblical love is unselfishness (1 Cor 13:5). He also exhorted them,"Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard oneanother as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your ownpersonal interests, but also for the interests of others" (2:3-4). That is the attitude "whichwas also in Christ Jesus" (2:5); if He had looked out only for His own interests, he wouldnever have left Heaven to sacrifice Himself for sinful, fallen people.Philippians 4:1919 “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in ChristJesus.”Paul knew that the Philippians would not only receive spiritual blessings in Heaven fortheir generosity, but also that God would supply all their physical needs in this life.The Philippians had sacrificially (2 Cor 8:1-3) given of their earthly possessions tosupport Gods servant, Paul.
In return, God would amply supply their needs; He would not be in their debt. Havingsown bountifully, they would reap bountifully (2 Cor 9:6); having "honored the Lordfrom their wealth and from the first of all their produce, ... their barns will be filled withplenty and their vats will overflow with new wine"(Prov 3:9-10). They would discoverthat it is impossible to out give God.The phrase in verse 19: “according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” reveals theextent to which God would supply the Philippians needs.He would do so according to His riches, not out of them; His giving to them would berelative to the immensity of His eternal wealth, that is, as generously as is consistentwith His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.The letter comes to the end with greetings.In this final section there is one intensely interesting phrase in verse 22.Paul sends special greetings from the Christian brothers who are of Caesarshousehold. It does not mean those who are of Caesars kin.Caesars household was the regular phrase for what we would call the Imperial CivilService; it had members all over the world. The palace officials, the secretaries, thepeople who had charge of the imperial revenues, those who were responsible for theday-to-day administration of the empire, all these were Caesars household.It is of the greatest interest to note that even as early as this, Christianity hadpenetrated into the very centre of the Roman government. There is hardly anysentence which shows more how Christianity had infiltrated even into the highestpositions in the empire.It was to be another three hundred years before Christianity became the religion ofthe empire, but already the first signs of the ultimate triumph of Christ were to be seenand Paul, chained to Roman guards 24/7 was what God used to get the Gospel intoCaesar’s household.
The crucified Galilaean carpenter had already begun to rule those who ruled thegreatest empire in the world!