The Secret of Facing Need

 January 26, 2003

Tom Lowe

Title: The Secret of Facing Need


Text: My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.  (Phil. 4:19)

Scripture Reading: Philippians 4:4-20


When you are confronted with special needs for yourself, your family, your job, or your church, what do you do? 

When Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians he had some great needs himself.  

The great servant of Christ was a prisoner in Rome. 

He acknowledged in the letter that he was having trouble (4:12) and that he was feeling some stress (4:14); and he referred to his needs and to their needs also (4:13-19).

Paul has learned the secret to facing need. 

This is the key to Christian living. 

Today we are going to look at some specific ways to deal with our needs.

Our Scripture reading this morning is Philippians 4:4-20.  Let me read this passage to you.

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
5 Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand.
6 Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
7 And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do; and the God of peace will be with you.
10 I rejoice in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me; you were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity.
11 Not that I complain of want; for I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content.
12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound; in any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want.
13 I can do all things in him who strengthens me.
14 Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.
15 And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving except you only;
16 for even in Thessalonica you sent me help once and again.
17 Not that I seek the gift; but I seek the fruit which increases to your credit.
18 I have received full payment, and more; I am filled, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.
19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
20 To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.


We are going to be given nine things to do when we face need. 

It’s amazing that each are positive reactions; the very opposite of how we usually react. 

There is no complaining, no feeling sorry for ourselves, no panic, no depression, no anger, and no negativism. 

The apostle Paul knew how to face need, because he had to face a lot of difficult problems as he served Christ. 

So let’s see what he says that we should do when we face needs in our life.

First, he says we are to be enthusiastic, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice” (4:4). 

When we have a need, we are not to hide it, or disregard it; we are to rejoice in the Lord. 

This is a command to a Christian, a believer.

That means regardless of the day, whether it is dark or bright, whether it is difficult or easy, whether it brings problems and temptations or clear sailing on cloud nine, we are commanded to rejoice. 

He repeated it, incase we missed it the first time; “again I say rejoice.” 

Joy is something we cannot produce ourselves. 

It is a product of the Holy Spirit. 

There is no power in a Christian’s life if he has no joy. 

One who does not experience the joy of the Lord has no power at all. 

God has given to us all things to enjoy, and to enjoy means to rejoice. 

That’s your strength, that’s your power. 

You can’t be a Christian with power and be without joy. 

Joy is the source of power. 

There is a little song that used to be sung in Bible schools with these words: 

Down in the dumps I’ll never go;
That’s where the devil keeps me low.

That song has a sound theological message, because this is exactly what the devil tries to do. 

He attempts to take away our joy, because it is the source of power. 

Our focus is to be on the Lord, not on our need.

It was one of those never-should-have-got-out-of-bed days for a certain preacher. 

He cut his face while shaving. 

Then he burned the toast for breakfast. 

After he rushed out the door so he wouldn’t be late for an appointment, one of his tires blew out a few miles down the road. 

He finally got his car back on the road and was going a few miles over the speed limit when a police officer stopped him and gave him a ticket for speeding. 

By that time he was extremely upset, and he made a rather sorry picture as he complained bitterly to the policeman about the kind of day he was experiencing. 

“I know what you mean,” said the officer.  “It used to happen to me that way-before I became a Christian.”

Next, Paul says that when we are facing needs, we are to be gentle. 

He said in verse 5, “Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand.” 

Christian enthusiasm is not without reason. 

The word “forbearance” means a readiness to listen to reason. 

It’s an attitude of yielding one’s rights, thereby showing consideration and gentleness to others.

The tendency of the world is to become hard and tough, to demand one’s rights, but this is not the Christian response. 

We are to be gentle toward all people.

We need to be reasonable believers, not bigots in our faith. 

Of course, we ought to have deep convictions, but we should not appear like bigots, riding a hobbyhorse, always emphasizing some little point. 

What we need to do is emphasize the big point-we do have one-the big point is the person of Christ. 

If we are going to ride a hobbyhorse, let Him be the hobbyhorse. 

“Let your sweet reasonableness be known to all men.”

Paul’s third point is found in verses 6 and 7.

We are to remain peaceful when we have needs. 

He said, “Have no anxiety 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 passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” 

The natural tendency in the time of need is to worry. 

Every night Americans take millions of sleeping pills. 

Worry is not the answer! 

We can either worry or pray. 

We have been given a new commandment in these verses. 

This is how I would state the command in my own words, “Worry about nothing, pray about everything.” 

Does this mean we are to look at life through rose-colored glasses, that we are not to face reality? 

Are we to believe that sin is not real, that sickness is not real, and that problems are not real? 

Are we to ignore these things? 

No, Paul says we are to worry about nothing because we are to pray about everything. 

When we worry, we are sinning by showing a lack of trust in God. 

Instead, we are instructed to commit our requests to God in prayer and allow Him to be Lord in our lives. 

That means we are to talk to the Lord about everything in our lives. 

Then Paul says that we will have peace.

Peace comes through prayer. 

Paul called it a special kind of peace; a peace that is beyond our ability to understand. 

One way I can perhaps come close to describing the kind of peace that Paul is talking about is to relate an experience I had in high school. 

I attended a Fellowship of Christian Athletes camp in Estes Park Colorado between my junior and senior years. 

A friend of mine accompanied me one day and we climbed to the top of Longs Peak. 

There we were above the clouds and we could see all the way back to Kansas. 

We were overcome by the majestic view of God’s creation, and both of us prayed and gave our lives to God. 

The peace that came over me is beyond my ability to describe. 

But that is the peace that God gives His children even though nothing may have changed. 

The storm may still be raging. 

Although the storm has not abated something has changed in the individual. 

Something has happened to the human soul and the human mind. 

In our anxiety we want God to change everything around us; instead He changes us. 

Prayer is the secret of power. 

We enter with worry, we come out in peace. 

This is the way to respond to need.

The forth way we are told to respond to need is by being positive. 

Verse 8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Think positively, not negatively! 

Think spiritual thoughts. 

Think high thoughts, honest thoughts, thoughts worthy of respect, and live by God’s standards. 

Think agreeable, loving, and pure thoughts. 

Carefully reflect on these thoughts and keep practicing them! 

These are the thoughts, and this is the life that the God of peace will bless!

Next, Paul says that we need to be teachable.

He said in verse 9, “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do…” 

The Lord has a purpose for the need in your life.

Another word for “do” is practice. 

Paul said something here that would be foolhardy if I said it: “Do what I do.” 

I don’t want my grandchildren; Chloe, Deacon, Manny, Justus, Colton, and Kara to follow down the pathway I went. 

I don’t want them to have their grandpa for an example. 

But Paul could make his life an example to other believers. 

He could do it because he had made Christ the very center of his life.

Sometimes the Lord uses a need to develop us. 

What happens to us is not as important as how we respond to what happens. 

The Lord is developing spiritual qualities in our lives. 

In this chapter, we have discovered several of these qualities: gratefulness (v. 6), joyfulness (v. 10), contentment (v. 11), flexibility (v.12), and faith (v.13). 

What quality is he developing in you?

Sometimes the Lord uses a need to improve us. 

A need that we have may cause us to search our hearts and ask the Lord, “What’s wrong?”

Sometimes the Lord uses a need to test us. 

When we have a need and the funds for it are not available, the Lord may be testing us. 

Whatever our need, and whatever God’s purpose, we are to thank him.

Paul also said that we are to be content. 

Verse 10 says, “…I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content.” 

It didn’t matter whether he was in prison or out of prison. 

Many of us think that if things are going right and if we are in the right place, then we will be contented. 

That means that we are depending on the circumstances of life for our contentment. 

But Paul had learned to be content regardless of his circumstances. 

Contentment is an attitude that none of us possesses naturally. 

It is something we have to learn. 

Paul learned it: he had not always known it. 

Our natural inclination is not to learn to be content. 

Rather, it is to complain of our circumstances or to covet what we do not have. 

Contentment is realizing that God has provided everything we need for our present happiness. 

The opposite is covetousness, lusting for more and more.

We are also to be expectant. 

“…I can do all things in him who strengthens me” (v.13). 

This is one of the greatest verses in the Bible. 

This verse is positive and personal: Paul declares, “I can.” 

It is powerful, for he says, “…do all things.” 

When Paul says all things, does he literally mean all things? 

Does it mean you can go outside and jump over your house? 

Of course not. 

Paul says, “I can do all things in Christ,” that is, in the context of the will of God for your life. 

Whatever Christ has in mind for you to do, He will supply the power to do it. 

Whatever gift He gives you, He will give you the power to exercise that gift. 

Christ is the One who will strengthen you and enable you to do all that is in His will for you. 

In the face of your need, you can be defeated, or you can be expectant of the victory Jesus gives. 

Then Paul says you are to be generous. 

In verses 14-18, Paul complimented the Philippian Church for their generosity. 

They were close to the apostle Paul; for they were the ones who had supported him-Paul was their missionary. 

Wouldn’t you love to have had Paul as your missionary and to have had a part in his support?

In time of need, we tend to be stingy; but the key to being truly fulfilled and satisfied is to be giving, even if we have needs.

Finally, Paul says we are to be fulfilled. 

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (v. 19). 

All our need is supplied and satisfied. 

God’s treatment of the Philippians will correspond to their treatment of Paul. 

This is the divine principle of giving and receiving. 

But notice, when Paul says all your needs, he doesn’t include luxury items. 

However, God does supply luxury items many times. 

When He does, it is surplus. 

He does it out of His loving-kindness.

What about your needs? 

How are you responding to them? 

What are you doing with them? 

We need to take our eyes off the financial page and put them on God. 

Paul wrote in God’s Word, “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Jesus Christ” (v. 19).


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