Knowing the ONE Who Meets Your Needs (Philippians 4:18-20)

Sunday, June 25th, 2017
Sermon Series: Philippians

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Knowing the One Who Meets Your Needs, part 2

Philippians 4:18-20–Giving to Ministry, part 2

Turn in your Bibles to Philippians 4:19. It gives this amazing promise, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Wow, that is an amazing promise. God says, “I will meet all your needs.” Yet the question I have then is, why do Christians still have needs? I see a lot of people, I bet you do too, who have incredible needs.

I see a lot of Christians who have desperate needs. Why aren’t they being met? Is God a liar? Is God’s promise empty? Is it not valid? Is this a “pie in the sky” fantasy? God says, “I’ll meet your needs,” yet I see needs in our church not being met. What’s the problem? Answer–verse 19 is not for everybody. This promise does not apply to every Christian.

With every promise, there is a premise. There is a condition to many biblical promises and verse 19 is no exception. God says, “If you do this, then I will do that.” Too many believers want to take the verse 19 promise and apply it to their lives, while avoiding the premise. Be warned–do not take verse 19 out of context. You cannot claim verse 19 unless you’re going to respond to the entire letter–especially verses 1 to 18.

This context has Paul writing the church of Philippi. Now in chapter 4, commanding them to stand firm in verses 1 to 9. Next, Paul tells this special group of Christians in verses 10 to 20 thank you for giving so generously to assist me in my labors to preach the Gospel and establish churches where Christ was not known.

In verses 10 to 13, Paul rejoices over their gift (which just germinated like spring). But Paul tells them clearly he doesn’t not need their gift to serve Christ. “But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

Then in verses 14 to 17, Paul thanks them for being so generous with their faithful giving. “Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction. 15 You yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone; 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 your account.”

And now Paul tells the Philippians with no uncertainty, their giving is abundantly pleasing to God. “But I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God.” Paul informs these Christians, as they pursue God, verses 1 to 9, and as they abundantly give, verses 10 to 20, that God will supply their necessary needs according to God’s wealth in Christ.

Verse 19, “My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Because you’re pursuing Christ and even though you are poor, because you have given so sacrificially, then verse 19 is true for you. God will take care of your needs. First there is the premise, then there is the promise.

The contextual premise is, you must be a born again Christian, intimately inter-connected in a local church, faithfully serving one another, pursuing Christ aggressively, standing firm on God’s Word and now giving super-sacrificially to Christ and His purposes. The immediate premise is, when I am super-generous towards God’s work, God will take care of my needs.

What does it mean to be generous? The Philippians were savagely poor, but they gave sacrificially. They were called poor in the New Testament and poor is not describing someone who can’t go to Starbucks. If you are poor in the New Testament, it means you can’t feed your families, don’t have proper clothing to remain warm, nor do you have a place to live in order to stay dry. The Philippians were poor, yet this church and these Christians gave generously to Paul.

The premise is–I must be a generous giver. Proverbs 11:25, “The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered.” Luke 6:38, “Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”

The context of Philippians 4:19 motivates you to be generous in order for this promise to be applied to you. So you say, “I’m a believer—sure.” But in your poverty, in your budget, with your income–student or senior, are you generously giving to Christ’s purposes? Have you ever given in such a manner where you’ve actually had to trust Christ to meet your needs? That’s what the Philippians were doing. So this promise is for them.

God tells you to be generous to God’s work and God will work at blessing your needs. I am to be obedient by being generous to Christ’s work in establishing the Church. Not generous about saving the condors, or giving to left-handed, freckled kids or giving to my kids–but super-generous to Christ’s work. As I am generous, then this promise is for you.

But God is not obligated to meet your needs if you’re not obeying what He’s told you to do. You cannot claim verse 19 unless you are living out verses 10 to 18. I must first be generous to Christ’s work. Give to Christ’s work and Christ will work to meet your needs. Be generous with others and God will be generous with you. Jesus said, “Give to my work and God will work to care for your needs.

Christians get messed up by extremes. There are two fallacies (false foundations) which come from this promise—1) God wants everyone to be a millionaire, or 2) God wants everybody to be poor. Both are wrong. One says God wants everybody to wear expensive clothes, live in an expensive house and drive around in a Tesla. Two says poverty is next to godliness. But both viewpoints are wrong.

God is interested in you having your needs met. But your needs and my needs have a way of getting exaggerated. What happens when you watch an ad? The advertisement turns your wants into needs–“you need this” . . . “you’ve got to have it” . . . “you’re not living until you get this.” The Bible does not say,”My God shall supply all your greed”–no, God says, “I will supply your need.”

Plus, God does not supply the need of the lazy nor the lovers of the shortcut. God doesn’t say waste your money on luxuries or buy things when you don’t have enough money to pay your credit card bill, then expect God to pay your bill–that’s not promised here. God doesn’t bankroll foolishness. If I blow my money on luxury, God doesn’t promise to meet your needs.

You can’t accuse God, telling Him, “Your promise isn’t true.” That’s not God’s fault. Our God has not promised to bankroll foolishness. What does verse 19 mean? What has He promised? If you give generously to Christ’s work through the Church, sacrificially giving your finances, then God will meet your legitimate needs.

If you’re a faithful, sacrificial giver, verse 19 would indicate you can put your trust in God to meet your needs. If you’re not a generous giver, you have no right to ask God to meet your needs, because you’re not meeting the premise, nor honoring the context of verse 19. As a sacrificial giver, God will meet your needs.

Which raises a question–if that’s true, is there truly anything left to worry about? No! No, because our Father says, “I assume the responsibility for my children’s needs to be met.” If you’re a child of God, and you’re fulfilling the premise, you can count on your Father. Now look at the immediate context. There are three major messages in these three verses and there are three people in view in these three verses–18, 19, and 20. Who are they?

In verse 18, Paul is the focus as Paul describes his financial need being met . . .

#1  PAUL’S NEED  Verse 18

Read verse 18, “But I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God.” Paul makes a contrast with verse 17 with the first word of verse 18—“but”. Look at what Paul said in verse 17, “Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account.”

Paul’s joy in the gift is not in what it did for him, but in what it did for them. Paul tells us in verse 18 he valued the gift–but his greatest joy was that the finances and the love which prompted them were cherished by God. But in contrast, Paul wants Philippi to know he does appreciate their gift. Verse 18, “But I have received everything in full.”

Paul says he’s full–not from dinner, but from God’s blessing through the Philippians. Full is literally, “I have everything back.” In doing so, Paul uses additional accounting metaphors to literally say, verse 18, “I’ve received full payment and I am full to overflowing.” I’ve received more than enough.

Paul uses business terms, but he is not describing a formal business receipt, as if he were saying, “Now I have a receipt in full for everything.” Paul uses these terms to assure the Philippians–just how rich he feels. Paul adds in verse 18, “I am amply supplied,” which uses the perfect tense. Paul is literally saying, “I have been amply supplied in the past and I am currently at present–meaning I am overwhelmingly well-supplied.”

Like a glass filled to overflowing. Like what your plate looks like at the only-one-visit smorgasbord–brimming over. Paul continues to be overfull. Look at verse 18 again, “I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent.”

You can be certain Epaphroditus didn’t come to Rome alone. And Epaphroditus was more than the bearer of Paul’s financial gift–chapter 2 says the Philippians sent Epaphroditus himself as a gift to be Paul’s assistant in their stead. And the companions of Epaphroditus have now returned to Philippi and have reported that their gift has been faithfully delivered to Paul.

This is Paul’s sense of feeling so rich he can’t find enough words to describe it. But Paul is telling the Philippians in this verse he has duly received everything, which was not only money, but Epaphroditus himself as an incredible servant. So Paul super-abounds as one who has more than he needs and has received more than what was necessary.

Verse 18, “But I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent.” Having received is the Greek word welcomed. Paul welcomed Epap and was overwhelmingly thankful for their financial gift and for the gift of Epap himself, who ended up being an amazing servant.

Now with this, Paul switches to the beautiful language of a pleasing heavenly sacrifice—do you see it? Verse 18, “having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God.” Paul compares the generous gift of the Philippians with the sacredness of the Jewish sacrifices. To Paul, these type of gifts were viewed as an offering to God. This gift was a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God.

Their gift is exactly like your worship today. The words used here in verse 18 are the same words used to describe your life as a living sacrifice offered to God in Romans 12:1, a sacrifice and acceptable. “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”

True worship is not singing songs, but offering yourself. That alone is acceptable and pleasing. Here in Philippians 4:18, the same exact Greek words “acceptable and pleasing” emphasize their generosity to Paul was of the highest value to God himself.

The words fragrant aroma mean “an odor of a sweet smell.” It is used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, of the odors of the Levitical sacrifices. When the offering was consumed, the sumptuous, roast-like aroma was viewed as rising up to God as an aroma pleasing to God. Generous giving pleases God.

You know this–when you come home, open the door, and Jean’s barbeque baby backs are cooking and the whole house is fragrant and well-pleasing–you just smile. Now God doesn’t smell the aroma of a burnt offering and God isn’t impressed by people going through the motions of the sacrifice. What really pleases God is the generous spirit of his people–that makes Him smile.

Like one of Jack’s special coffees or Calhoun’s barbeque–it just makes you smile. It is pleasing—generous, sacrificial giving from a genuine heart is a sweet smell to God. The New Testament teaches us our lives are spiritual sacrifices, the praise of our lips are spiritual sacrifices, good works are spiritual sacrifices and sharing the Gospel so lost souls turn to Christ are spiritual sacrifices.

And here, Paul reminds you giving financially is a spiritual sacrifice acceptable to God when given by His Spirit and for His glory. Paul sees the Philippian believers as priests, giving their offering as a sacrifice to the Lord. They supported Paul for a long time while he was in Thessalonica and Berea and as often as they knew where he was. The Philippians uniquely were one of the only churches Paul allowed to support him–why? Because they gave with the right heart.

There is an interesting contrast between verses 18 and 19 here. You might state it this way, if you were to paraphrase Paul: “You met my need, and God will meet your need. You met one need I have, but my God will meet all of your genuine needs. You gave out of your poverty, but God will supply your needs out of His riches in glory!”

This last sentence spells it out–no generous gift ever made a Christian poorer. The wealth of God is open to those who love Him and give sacrificially to His purposes. The one who gives, makes himself richer–for his own gift opens himself to the gifts of God.

#2  PHILIPPIANS’ NEED  Verse 19

Philippians 4:19, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” This is God’s insurance policy for the generous and faithful believer. See the clauses? The SOURCE is “my God”, the SCOPE is “will supply all your needs,” and the SUPPLY is “according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

THE SOURCE of this promise is “and my God.”

Circle “my.” This is a personal God–not an impersonal force, not the dark side, but an intimate, personal, involved God. Jesus told you to pray, “Our Father.” He is a heavenly Father–He is intimate. As a result, He is very aware of all your needs. God knows all the needs you have. He knows your financial needs, physical needs, health needs and relational needs. Your Father is very aware of all the needs in your life right now–He is my God. He is our caring, consistent, capable Father.

I remember when Matthew was born–when he finally arrived, the cord was around his neck twice and I was despondent. Jean had a rough labor–36 hours. And the entire time, I was trying to help her, breathe, encourage–so I was getting pretty tired too, right? No sympathy? But two amazing truths hit me when I heard Matthew cry for the first time—1) was the joy of being Matt’s dad, and then later, Daniel’s dad, awesome moments. Then 2) it hit me, I was responsible for them as their father.

Like it or not, I had just assumed the responsibility for another human being. As a father I was responsible to care for my children’s needs–that was my job. Like that, our heavenly Father assumes the responsibility for His children’s needs. Just like I assumed responsibility for my children’s needs, only God does it perfectly. I did it imperfectly. The Bible says the source of this promise is “my God.” Our heavenly Father will care for His children.

THE SCOPE is “will supply all your needs.”

The word supply is the translation of the same Greek word translated “I am full” from verse 18. With that, Paul is saying God’s treatment of the Philippian saints will correspond to their treatment of Paul. They filled Paul’s every need to overflowing, so God will do the same for them. So the scope of the promise, my God will meet . . . some of your needs? A few? Many of your needs? What does it say? “All [A-L-L] your needs.”

Plus, I am certain you noticed it does not say, “God MIGHT meet your needs.” It does not say, “God MAY meet your needs.” It says He what? He will–it’s a guarantee. Paul says if you’ve met the premise, count on the promise. If you’re a consistent, generous giver–if you’ve met that premise, then you can count on the promise.

Just as the Philippians had kept Paul well-supplied in verse 18, so now God will supply every true need of the Philippians. This promise to supply your needs is for generous people like the Philippians and cannot be claimed by those who live for themselves. God has promised to supply the needs of generous givers—again needs, not greeds.

The Greek word needs actually means necessities. This promise in verse 19 doesn’t cover wants. God shall supply all your needs, not your wants, whims, desires or cravings. There’s a big difference between needs and wants. Have you discovered that?

In 1890, sociologists asked Americans what the basics needs of life were? What were the absolute necessities they felt they had to have in order to survive? In 1890, their study revealed Americans thought there were sixteen basic things every American needed in order to survive–they had to have sixteen things.

They asked the same question a hundred years later and discovered now Americans think they must have ninety-eight basic things in order to survive. Our so-called needs have changed and intensified–wants have become needs. God promises to meet our real needs–not the wants we define as needs.

When a child of God is in the will of God, serving for the glory of God, giving generously for the cause of God, then God promises to meet his needs. Hudson Taylor often said, “When God’s work is done in God’s way for God’s glory, it will not lack for God’s supply.” The scope here is all.

THE SUPPLY is “according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

God’s bank will never go bankrupt. He has unlimited resources. He has an inexhaustible supply. We saw this demonstrated in Jesus’ miracles. Jesus took five loaves and two fishes and fed five thousand people with them. That’s the kind of resources God has at His disposal 24/7.

My God will meet all your needs according“–circle that word, “according”. It doesn’t say out of His riches–it says, “according to His riches.” There’s a big difference. If Bill Gates of Microsoft were to write you a check for a million dollars and tell you it is a gift, he’d be giving to you out of his riches. But if he came to you and gave you a blank check and said, “Whatever you need, I have already signed it and am good for it.” That would be giving to you according to his riches.

That is what Paul says here–God gives to you “according to His riches.” God will meet your needs “according to His riches.” And your God owns everything–He is rich. Philippians 4:19 is the blank check for the generously giving believer. God will take care of your needs. Now everybody knows a blank check is worthless if it doesn’t have a signature on it. Notice, this check is signed. Who signed it? Verse 19, “in Christ Jesus”–the Lord of all. His name is on the dotted line–His check never bounces.

Now remember, the premise is to give sacrificially to the cause of Christ and the promise is, “my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” This promise is true, but only true for faithful sacrificial givers–unless you want to rip this verse out of its context, then make it givers.

Wait a minute–it says “my God will [future tense] supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Is this promise only fulfilled in Heaven? No. Paul is not talking about Heaven or the thousand-year earthly Kingdom, as some say. Some interpret the future tense of the verb will supply as in the coming Kingdom, or in Heaven–only then will God meet “your needs according to His riches in glory.”

Paul is clearly describing God meeting the physical needs of the Philippians in response to their generous giving to Paul’s physical needs in Rome. How can I be so certain? Two reasons:

1)  In verse 16, Paul mentions his own physical need in this life being met, so now he describes the need of his sweet readers being met in this life. But even more importantly . . .

2)  Christian, in Heaven you don’t have any needs, and as a glorified saint in the Kingdom there are no needs there. No, the need meeting is here and now for the generous giver.

How incredible is our God? How large is His inventory? How rich are His resources? Their gift to Paul was amazing–desperately poor believers giving generously to Paul. But their gift to Paul is now overshadowed by God’s promised giving to the Philippians.

I love giving to Jean, my kids and grandkids–I love meeting their needs of shorts and shirts as they grow older. I am personally, intimately attached to them. This is exactly how God gives to His children. His own love motivates Him to give–but unlike me God has an infinite supply. God created all, therefore He owns it all—“according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

God gives by drawing from His awesome wealth and unlimited assets. He’s the creator of all, so His wealth results from being the true God of the universe, which informs you that God’s riches exceed the entire wealth of the universe. His riches are found in verse 19, His glory–heavenly riches yes, but bigger yet, glory pointing to God’s infinite character and vastness of person which is bigger than what He created.

The Philippians lavish generosity toward Paul is now exceeded beyond imagination. The Philippians gave out of their poverty, but God gives out of His vast wealth as owner of all, and His immeasurable character choosing to give to the generous who are in Christ Jesus. This is so jaw-dropping immeasurable. Paul wraps up this description with words of praise.

#3  PRAISE to the PERSON who meets NEEDS  Verse 20

Look at verse 20–our God is also our loving Father who cares for His children. God’s gracious giving is so amazing, Paul can do nothing now but burst into doxology in verse 20. “Now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”

A line earlier, the apostle described his Lord with an intensely personal singular “my God,” to assure the Philippians of God’s care. Now Paul uses the plural “our God” as he unites himself with the Philippians in ascribing glory to God forever and ever. This all came about because the church of Philippi was generous to Paul. So here, Paul affirms praise to God is the right response to the One who meets all needs when God’s people are generous.

TAKE HOME

#1  GENEROSITY opens the door to amazing blessing

Proverbs 22:9a, “He who is generous will be blessed.” In our materialistic culture, generosity is a difficult quality to develop. Personally I can testify, whether you earn little or you’re paid comfortably, being generous results in amazing blessings. I’ve heard countless testimony of believers who finally ordered their finances, gave at least 10% or more, and were abundantly blessed financially and in many other ways.

The Bible is pointed and clear in 2 Corinthians 9:6 to 8, “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.”

Grace abounds . . . sufficiency in everything . . . abundance for good deeds. Generosity opens the door to amazing blessings.

#2  God’s promises do not negate your RESPONSIBILITY to be generous

If you give, it doesn’t mean you can be lazy and not participate in the work of Christ. The promise today is not an invitation for you to goof off. God expects you to work hard, not fold your hands and sigh saying, “God will provide.”

There’s the guy who hasn’t worked for fifteen years, so you ask, “Aren’t you going to get a job?” And he says, “I’m just trusting the Lord.” That’s not contentment, that’s complacency–Peter Pan. The Bible says if you don’t work, you shouldn’t eat. There are no handouts for those unwilling to work. The Bible is not talking to the unable nor the handicapped, but the unwilling. You’re not to be leeching off the government or pursuing hand-outs. (Free samples at Costco are okay.)

“God will meet your needs” is not intended to open the door for you to watch TV 24/7. No, God meets the needs of the generous, hard-working believer. Misers are miserable.

#3  Generosity exposes the condition of your HEART

The elders don’t know what you give each week. We don’t want to know, so we don’t. Those who keep the books know, and they are under the burden of secrecy. But, what if this morning as you left, on the wall just outside this worship center, we posted the percentage of income you give to the Lord’s work? We would never–but if we did, would you be embarrassed? And more importantly, what would your giving reveal about your heart?

Like an X-ray there are several internal issues this sermon will reveal about you. First, if you do nothing about non-generous giving, it simply means you’re more concerned with the opinion of men than God. How can we hear God’s Word on generous giving and respond with, “Phew, I’m glad they don’t know what I give.” The reality is, Jesus knows. You can pretend to be a mature Christian, but unless you give sacrificially, you’re not.

Second, Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” By not pursuing generosity in giving, you are revealing a spiritually weak or sick heart. Third, by not giving generously, you are choosing to not believe God’s Word in Philippians 4:19. And fourth, even though you may hold a place of leadership in this church family, if you are a weak giver, you are not a leader in God’s eyes when you are not generous.

#4  Generosity reveals whether you truly KNOW Christ, the generous one

Jesus Christ is the one who gave the most priceless gift and who continually gives those indwelt with God’s Spirit. Those truly in Christ will want to grow generous. To be like Christ means 2 Corinthians 8:9, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.”

Cry out for God to open your heart. The Christ who owns everything also gave up all. Christ became the God-man, then died in our place, a criminal’s death, and while on the cross, bore all of God’s wrath for your sins. Christ become poor so you could become rich. You must give him your life and turn from sin. Let’s pray.

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ABOUT THIS PREACHER

Chris is the teaching pastor at Faith Bible Church - Murrieta.
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