Present Day Philippians Experience
It was an ordinary Friday afternoon in May when my husband Dan arrived home earlier than usual. I thought he had arrived to begin our date night, but with a dismayed face that would linger throughout the weekend, he announced that he had been a part of a company downsize. After thoughtful conversation, hugs and tears, we asked the Lord to help us keep our eyes on Him.
Dan still wanted to go on our date night and I was so glad we did! After mini golf, we played some skeet ball and exchanged our winning tickets for a plastic compass. Knowing that I struggled with trust, the Holy Spirit whispered in my anxious heart that He was our True North and would guide and provide for us through this 11 month journey.
A practical way the Lord was our Provider, was by prompting Christian friends to send unsolicited financial contributions to us on more than one occasion. They always arrived when we most needed it. We were grateful for their generosity, but mostly overwhelmed at His goodness. Much like the apostle Paul, I believe we echoed similar gratitude to our church family and friends.
Thank You Notes
As Paul thanked his beloved church at Philippi for sustaining him with gifts and prayers in his distressing time, he penned a unique “Thank You” letter to them emphasizing three main aspects about their giving and the glory due to their gracious God.
First, he was appreciative for their financial gift, but he was more concerned about encouraging them for their generosity. He underscored that regardless if he was dining at a king’s table or was shipwrecked and famished, he had learned to be content in every circumstance because Christ’s joy was his strength.
The second idea concerned their extravagant gift to him. He compared their donation to Old Testament worshipers who offered acceptable sacrifices which were well pleasing to God. (Exodus 29:18) Paul boasted about the willing and loving attitude the Philippians displayed in their contributions. He knew they were not wealthy benefactors and that their giving was truly costly to them. He concluded with the picture of the ultimate sacrifice, Christ’s life for us; a sweet smelling aroma as described in Ephesians 5:2.
His final exhortation declared a promise to the Philippians regarding their own financial needs. He expressed his confidence to these generous givers that their God had an inexhaustible ability to supply all their need abundantly in any trial, just as they had contributed to his supply. The familiar saying that you cannot out give God is conveyed here!
He expressed his confidence to these generous givers that their God had an inexhaustible ability to supply all their need abundantly in any trial, just as they had contributed to his supply.
This same assurance of Christ’s strength, joy and provision was conveyed to us also that first weekend after Dan's job loss through a sermon on Habakkuk 3:17-18. The Master Gardner was showing us the side of joy no one readily talks about; that although the fig blossoms or fruitful vines were not producing, (unemployment) we were to rejoice in the God of our salvation, relying on His strength. During my quiet times, the Lord assured me that if we would trust and seek the Kingdom of God above all else, He would give us everything we needed. (Mathew 6:33) There would not be any not lack of “oil or flour” ( 1 Kings 17). By feeding on His WORD our famished spirits would be sustained; his was the ‘real’ nourishment we lacked and needed. (Jeremiah 15:16)
Line of Sight
Although at times we were really stretched financially and emotionally, He ALWAYS provided; oftentimes in a variety of creative ways. He was our COMPASS and SUSTAINER. The oil and flour never ran out. In fact, it seemed to multiply. Our faith and trust in God did as well. He taught us many principles and we hope we incorporated a few of them. One such prayer and promise that captivated and encouraged us is Paul’s prayer for another beloved group of believers centuries ago in Ephesus. He prayed that they would:
… Know the glorious, unlimited resources that he gives through the mighty inner strength of the Holy Spirit, so then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him.” -Ephesians 3:16-17
Our family is living proof, many times over, that He is indeed the God of unlimited resources who provides abundantly with more than we can ask or imagine, according to His riches in Christ Jesus!
Gail Harlin and her husband Dan have been a part of Legacy Church for the past 3 years. They continue to be amazed by his faithfulness through the years and joyfully give and serve for His glory.