Sunday, August 09, 2020

“I Rejoice Greatly In the Lord” [Matt's Messages]

“I Rejoice Greatly In the Lord”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
August 9, 2020 :: Philippians 4:10-13

We are rounding out the last section of Paul’s missionary letter to his joy and his crown, his beloved church friends back in Philippi. And by now, we should not be surprised that as Paul winds down his letter, he returns yet again to the theme of joy. Rejoicing.

Philippians has been full of rejoicing. How many times have we see him say it?

And then say it again?

Rejoice in the Lord always.
Rejoice in the Lord always.
Rejoice in the Lord always.

I’ll say it again: Rejoice!

Well, thankfully, the broken record Apostle Paul personally practices what he preaches. Verse 10 begins with the words, “I Rejoice Greatly in the Lord.” He’s told us to do it and told us again, and he says that he does it, too.

“I rejoice greatly in the Lord.”

But you might be surprised to find out why Paul is rejoicing so greatly in the Lord.

It actually has to do with money. 

This is a missionary letter. How many times have I said that in the last 16 messages? Paul was a kind of traveling evangelist and church planting missionary, and the Philippians were kind of like one of his supporting churches.

And often when you get a letter from a missionary, they talk a little bit about their support. There is normally a thank-you involved and also a statement about their current needs. 

The best missionary letters sound a lot like this one. Paul has given us a model.

It seems that when Ephaphroditus (remember him from chapter 2?) risked his life to come be a messenger from the Philippians, he brought along a gift from them, probably a monetary gift. Which was really important because prisoners like Paul were not cared for by the prison authorities. They had to supply for themselves. So Ephaphroditus brought a gift from the Philippians to help support Paul.

And one of the reasons that Paul was writing was to thank them for their gift.

It’s really interesting how he does it and how he teaches us how to live as Christians through how he does it.

We’re going to break up this section into two messages. This one is just going to focus on verses 10 through 13, and then next week, Lord-willing, we’ll look at verses 14 through 20. But they are all one section about this gift.

I have two points of application that I want to draw out from verses 10 through 13.

Here’s the first one:


Look at verse 10.

“I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.”

Interesting, huh?

Paul rejoices greatly in the Lord that he has received their gift.

“ last you have renewed your concern for me”

And he doesn’t want them to get the wrong idea. He doesn’t mean, “Finally you guys got with the program. Where have you been with my money? At last.”

He knows that they have been concerned for him all along, but they didn’t know where he was, or what he needed, or how to get the money to him!

Imagine a world with no telephones. 
Imagine a world with no email.
Imagine a world with no postal system or FedEx or UPS.
Imagine a world with no GPS.

Letters go back and forth, but they are personally delivered by personal emissaries.

Good intel is going to be very slow. They were concerned, but they had no way to show it. But now they have. They have heard that Paul is in prison, and they have sent Ephaphroditus with a gift.

And Paul rejoices greatly in the Lord!

Now, what I want you to notice is what a great way that is to say “Thank you.”

He could just say, “Thank you.” And that would be fine. I’m all for “Thank you.” And he means that.

But Paul also recognizes that the Lord is behind their gift to him.

So Paul rejoices greatly IN THE LORD for their gift.

He knows that they had the money to give because the Lord provided it to them.
He knows that they cared about him enough to send the money because the Lord put that care in their hearts.
He knows that the money made it across the continent safely to him because the Lord provided safe passage for Ephaphroditus who was risking his neck and almost died.

No wonder Paul rejoices greatly in the Lord over this gift!

God is behind every good gift.

Including the gifts that others give to us in concern and love.

So, here’s a great way to say thank you:

Say,“I rejoice greatly in the Lord for this gift you have given me.”

It honors the giver and it glorifies the ultimate Giver.

I say that today to the Lanse Free Church as your pastor. Last week, Heather and I enjoyed a week away at Cook Forest for our vacation.

Thank you for the time off. It was much needed and much appreciated. We came back rested and refreshed. I rejoice greatly in the Lord for that gift from you of time off.

We are well-supplied and well-supported financially by this church family. I rejoice greatly in the Lord for your giving. I praise Him that during COVID-19 even as we’ve been scattered into our homes and slowly making our way back onto campus, your giving has stayed strong.

That’s from you, and I thank you. And that’s ultimately from the Lord, I praise Him for it!

Now, Paul really doesn’t want them to get the wrong idea from this. He doesn’t want them to think that he’s angling for another gift.

Sometimes people give a thank-you that makes it clear that their greedy little hand is out for another.

“Thank so much; how about some more?” That’s why Paul says verse 11.

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”

Well, that sounds good, doesn’t it? I want some of that. V.12

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

That last verse, verse 13, is a most famous verse.

One time I asked a bunch of Christian athletes what their favorite verse was, and just about every one said Philippians 4:13.

“I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

Amen! But the context here shows us what Paul means by that might be different than what we might think.

Here’s point #2. We should:


Paul is not angling for another gift. He’s good.

Even if he doesn’t have enough, he’s good.

Did you catch that?

He isn’t saying that he has all of his needs and wants supplied right now.

He’s saying that he is content. Contentment is a rare jewel.

One of the old Puritans, Jeremiah Burroughs liked to say that. He called it “The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment.”
Do you know people that are content? Happy not matter what? Not fazed? Not concerned? Not anxious about money? Not dependent upon their circumstances?

What’s the secret?

Do you see how Paul says that he has found out the secret? Look at verse 12 again.

“I know what it is to be in need [been there, done that, bought the t-shirt], and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”

Isn’t it interesting that you can be discontent living in plenty?

You can be discontent while being well-fed and while being prosperous.

We see that all of the time in our affluent culture, don’t we?

Who of us here has recently missed a meal?
Who of us here is wondering if we are going to be homeless tomorrow?
And yet, are we content?

There’s a secret.

This weekend, Zach and Haylee got married on our church campus, and they promised to love and cherish each other, “for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health.”

How do you do that?

What’s the secret?

I used to think that Paul didn’t tell us the secret. I used to think that he was saying you had to live some in plenty and live some in want to really “get it.”

But the secret is out! Paul gives the secret in verse 13:

“I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

The everything there is anything and everything God calls you to do.

Even the hard stuff.

The “everything” is not winning at everything.
The “everything” is everything including losing everything.

I can do “everything” through him who gives me strength.

I can be content even if I go hungry.
I can be content even if I don’t have a home.
I can be content even if I come down with cancer or COVID-19.

I can be content even if I die.

Remember, Paul thinks he might be executed soon for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.

He is in prison for preaching the gospel, and he might die for it.

And he says, “I rejoice greatly in the Lord. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

Last time, we saw that God is the God of peace.

As we are anxious about nothing and pray about everything, we get the peace of God from the God of peace.

Well, here we see that God is also the God of provision.

He provides us with those things we need. We’ll see that more next week.

But He also provides us with the strength to carry on even when we don’t have those things we need.

Be strengthened greatly in the Lord to do anything and everything (no matter how hard, no matter how difficult, no matter how uncomfortable, no matter how painful, anything and everything the Lord) calls you to do.

Put your faith in Him.
Place your dependence upon Him.
Rest on Him.
Lean on Him.
Trust Him.

Here's the secret: 

Jesus is the secret to contentment.

If you have Jesus, then you have everything. Even if you have nothing else, if you have Jesus, you have everything.

Do you have Jesus?

If you have never trusted Jesus as your Savior and King, then I invite now to turn and place your faith in Him.

He died on the Cross to pay for our sins, and He came back to life to give us life forever with Him.

And there is no greater thing than knowing Him.

If you have Jesus, then you have everything. If you have Jesus, you can do anything and everything He calls you to do no matter how hard.

Rejoice greatly IN THE LORD!


Previous Messages in This Series:

01. "I Always Pray with Joy"
02. "Because Of This I Will Rejoice"
03. "I Will Continue To Rejoice"
04. "Whatever Happens"
05. "Make My Joy Complete"
06. "Your Attitude"
07. "I Am Glad and Rejoice With All Of You"
08. "With Great Joy"
09. "Rejoice in the Lord!"
10. "I Want To Know Christ"
11. "I Press On"
12. "My Joy and Crown"
13. "I Will Say It Again: Rejoice!"
14. "The Peace of God"