07
Apr
16

Strengthen Me Lord

Some of the most famous words in Scripture are found in Philippians 4:13 (NLT):

I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

This verse gets plastered on posters of mountain climbers.  It is quoted by victorious athletes.  It is used to motivate people to new heights of success.  It is used to remind people that they can overcome any obstacle.
But it isn’t what the verse means.  In its original context, this verse means quite the opposite.  Look at verses 12-13 (NLT) together:

I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

Paul is writing about being content.  No matter what he’s going through in life, he can be content in any situation.  Whether he’s hungry or stuffed.  Whether he’s got a little or a lot.  Whether he’s living high on the hog or underneath it.  He can do it because Jesus gives him the strength to be content.
Contentment.  That’s a word we don’t hear very often in our world today.  We don’t hear people say things like, “I could have bought a brand new car, but I was pretty content with my old clunker that still ran fine.”  We don’t hear anyone say, “I went to the store to buy some new clothes, but I realized that I was pretty content with last year’s styles.”  You won’t hear these words, “I was going to take the family out to dinner, but then I remembered that we have plenty of food at home and we were content with that.”  Nope!  Even if we are blessed beyond measure, we still want more.
We don’t hear the reverse, either.  “We can’t afford a new house, but we’re content with the one that we have.”  “We’re content to eat peanut butter and grape jelly sandwiches for the next four days until we get to payday and can afford strawberry jelly!”  “We’re content with the three outfits we have in our closet.”  Nope!  We may be struggling to get by, but what do we do?  We start maxing out our credit cards so we can buy more.  Then we’re in a heap of trouble!
The reality of the situation is that it Paul knew that it takes a lot of strength to be content.  We’re not a content people.  We like stuff.  We like new stuff.  We like the shiny and the latest and the greatest.  The new and improved.  It takes all of the strength that Jesus can give us to be content in any and every situation.  It’s a real struggle when we live in a land where we don’t have to be content with what we have. We can be instantly gratified with gadgets and possessions and stuff.
The challenge for today is to pray for contentment.  Perhaps that car will run another year and you could send that car payment money to a missionary (who may or may not have a car at all).  Maybe you could wear those jeans another six months and give that $50.00 toward the children’s ministry at your church.  Instead of going out to eat tonight take that $75.00 you would have spent (you really should tip well) and buy a couple of bags of groceries and ask your church to give them to someone who is struggling more than you are.  It’s going to take some strength to do it, but you can do all things through Jesus.  We can even learn to be content.
PRAYER: Father, You have blessed me in so many ways.  Help me to be satisfied with what I have been given.  Give me the strength through Christ Jesus to be content in You.  I love You, Lord.  In Jesus’ name, amen.
 Philippians 4:10-23 (NLT)

10 How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me. 11 Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. 14 Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty.

15 As you know, you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I first brought you the Good News and then traveled on from Macedonia. No other church did this.16 Even when I was in Thessalonica you sent help more than once. 17 I don’t say this because I want a gift from you. Rather, I want you to receive a reward for your kindness.

18 At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

20 Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen.

Paul’s Final Greetings

21 Give my greetings to each of God’s holy people—all who belong to Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me send you their greetings. 22 And all the rest of God’s people send you greetings, too, especially those in Caesar’s household.

23 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

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