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Every Need Supplied

November 24, 2021 Speaker: Rev. Jack Meehan Series: Lectionary

Topic: Biblical Verse: Philippians 4:6–4:20

Thanksgiving Eve

November 24, 2021

Philippians 4:6-20

 “Every Need Supplied”

As we all know, this is Thanksgiving #2 in the time of COVID, and although things look better this year than last year, this year’s holiday is still marked by concern. Is everybody coming together vaccinated? If not, how will that be handled? Will this somehow turn into conversations that go in a weird direction? How many people are coming together? Will there be enough space for people to gather safely with one another? And yet, in the midst of these questions and concerns, we do give thanks, as the opening verses in the Epistle lesson remind us: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). These are good words for us to hold onto at all times. It is verse 19 from the Epistle lesson that I’d like to focus on this evening, where Paul the apostle writes: “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). This verse becomes the theme for tonight’s message, entitled “Every Need Supplied.” May the Lord’s rich and abundant blessing rest upon the preaching, the hearing, and the living of his Word for Jesus’ sake.

Paul’s letter to the Philippians overflows with joy and thanksgiving, as evidenced by tonight’s reading. All of this may seem counter-intuitive since Paul wrote this letter from prison, probably in Rome around the year 60 A.D., where he was confined for the sake of the Gospel (Philippians 1:13-14). Being imprisoned could easily cause anyone to become discouraged or dejected, but Paul sees blessings emerging from this as the prison guards are hearing the good news about Jesus and fellow believers are being encouraged in sharing their faith. What prompted Paul to write this letter was a gift which the church in Philippi had sent to him, and so he wrote the letter to the Philippians as a “thank you note.” The man who had brought the gift to Paul, Epaphroditus, had become ill, but was now recovering and able to return to Philippi. Paul shares with the Philippians that he has learned contentment: “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:12-13). Knowing this, Paul is able to face every situation in life, trusting that every need will be supplied.

The truth is, we struggle with this. We struggle with contentment in our own lives. We struggle in trusting that the Lord will supply every need that we have. We sometimes think that when we get this thing in life, or when we get to this stage in life, then we’ll be content. But the goalposts of contentment keep moving on us, don’t they? Even after we come to possess that thing we were hoping for – house, car, job – we may find ourselves not satisfied like we thought we would be, and we wonder what’s wrong with us. So what are we missing? As we well know, contentment in life can be a pretty elusive thing. We are urged by the world around us not to be content. We are urged to be discontent; to always be wanting the newest, shiniest thing out there. And so it goes. This creates problems for us. Elsewhere in the New Testament, Paul writes to the young pastor, Timothy, with these words: “There is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content” (1 Timothy 6:6-8). Paul reminds us: simple is good. If you’ve got food and clothing, the basic necessities of life, that’s a good thing. All the other stuff, - well, you can’t take it with you anyway.

Godliness with contentment is bound up with trusting that “my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). Notice that Paul says every need – not every want or every desire. Distinguishing between our needs and our wants is important. There may be lots of wants that are on our wish list, but our needs are usually much simpler. It might be helpful to talk about this around the Thanksgiving table. We might find out that one person’s needs can be another person’s wants, and vice versa. But the Word of God stands firm: And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). And the greatest need we have – to be loved with an everlasting love that even death cannot destroy – has been met by our gracious God. In spite of our discontented lives where we see only what we do not have, God has graciously provided the gift of all gifts: the life of his only begotten Son who has loved us even unto death. If God did not spare the life of his only Son, but freely offered him up for us all, won’t he also grant what is needed for this body and life? Won’t he also supply every need that we have?

God often chooses to work through people. Sure, there probably are lots of other, more efficient means to accomplish God’s purposes, but God often chooses to work through people. That is what these Thanksgiving bags are all about here around the altar. God is working through us to supply every need of folks who are in need. We don’t know who will be on the receiving end of all this food, but we really don’t need to know this anyway. The Lord knits our lives together in ways that will honor his holy Name and bring blessing to those around us. That moves us from thanksgiving to thanksliving. And so we say with the psalmist: “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” (Psalm 107). Amen.

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