“The Lord Our Provider” (Philippians 4:15-23 sermon)

I’ll never forget the time, just after Cheryl & I had graduated from seminary; I only had a part-time job, and we didn’t have any prospects of finding a full-time church yet; we had just had our first child, and we were really struggling financially. We had just paid the electric bill — and now the rent was due, and we did not have the money for it. I had literally no idea what we were going to do. The next day, in the mail, we received a letter from Oklahoma from a high school friend of Cheryl’s. She said God had just laid it on her heart to send us a check — and that check “just so happened” to be the exact amount of the rent that we couldn’t pay!  God provided for us in an amazing way — which is just what our verse for today promises: “My God shall supply all your needs, according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” 

Philippians 4:19 is one of those verses that are so familiar to us, and which so many of us love — and rightly so.  But as we saw last week, sometimes we can take the promises of God out of context, which sometimes happens with this scripture as well. So let’s look at what God promises to us here, and then some important conditions that go along with it: 

I.  THE PROVISION OF THE PROMISE

“And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus”

This is a great promise. God will supply all our needs. Cheryl & I are far from the only people that God’s special provision has been shown to. History is FULL of testimonies from the people of God, who have found Him to be “Jehovah Jireh,” the Lord the Provider:

— In fact, that name, “Jehovah Jireh,” first came from the Book of Genesis, Chapter 22, when the Lord told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac on Mount Moriah. When Isaac asked Abraham where the lamb for the offering was, Abraham told him, “God will provide for Himself the lamb.” And of course, when they got to the mountain, and Abraham was about to make the sacrifice of Isaac, God DID provide a ram, right there, caught in the thicket, and he sacrificed that ram instead of his son. And Genesis 22:14 says, “Abraham called the name of that place ‘The Lord will provide,’” or “YHWH-Jireh,” or “Jehovah Jireh” — “The LORD the Provider.”

All through history, God has been “Jehovah Jireh”, “The Lord the Provider” for His people:

— When Jacob and his family were in the midst of a famine in Canaan, God providentially elevated Jacob’s son Joseph to a prominent position next to Pharaoh in Egypt, so he could give them all the food they needed. He was the Lord the Provider.

— When the people of Israel were in the wilderness wandering, on the way to the Promised Land, God gave them manna to eat every morning. He was Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord the Provider. 

— During another famine in Israel, when the widow at Zarephath was about to make her last cake of grain to eat, and then die, God sent her the prophet Elisha, who told her to give him that cake first — and then God would provide for her and her son. She obediently baked him that cake first — and her jar never ran out of flour, and the jug never ran out of oil for food for her and her son, until the famine was over. God was her Provider.

— In the New Testament, Jesus’ disciples saw that that the multitude of 5000 were hungry, and they had no mean to feed them, but Jesus multiplied the bread and the fish to feed the 5000, with 12 baskets left over. Jesus was “Jehovah Jireh,” the “Great I AM, come in the flesh to earth!

God has always provided for His people, who have put their trust in Him.

In about 1835, George Muller began an orphanage in Bristol, England, for the stated purpose of showing how God would provide for His ministry. Muller did no soliciting or advertising for help for his orphanage, and depended totally on God to provide, which He did, time after time. By the time of Muller’s death, in the late 1800’s, Muller’s orphanage had received over 17 million dollars in today’s money. There were times when it was close: once they had no food in the house for breakfast, but Muller told the children to sit at the table, and thank God for what He would provide. Just then there was a knock at the door — a nearby baker said he couldn’t sleep all night, thinking that the children might need some bread, could he bring in three batches for them? Just then there was another knock at the door: a milk cart had broken down just down the street, and the milk would all spoil if they could not take it off it him. The Lord did indeed provide, just when they needed it. Over and over, God was “Jehovah-Jireh,” the Lord the Provider for Muller and his ministry. 

But stories of God’s provision are not tales of yesteryear only. The Jehovah Jireh of Mount Moriah is still Jehovah Jireh today — as Cheryl & I have experienced first-hand — as many of YOU have undoubtedly experienced personally as well. The God we serve, the God of the Bible, is a Heavenly Father, who provides for the needs of His children. It is just as this promise says: “My God shall supply all your needs, according to His riches in glory in Christ.” 

We need to understand and claim that promise today, both as individuals, and as a church. I believe we HAVE done that as a church, by stepping forward to build a 4 million dollar church building in the midst of an international pandemic. This took a great step of faith in a God who provides. Several pastor friends and others from across the country have asked me about us building at this time, and I have said, “You know, I don’t usually build a 4 million dollar building, but when I do, I like to build it during an international pandemic & economic crisis!” But of course God has provided for us, and I believe He will continue to provide, as long as we trust and obey Him. He will meet all our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ, just as this scripture says.

It has been that way with our Angleton Christian School as well. There have been times, when we’ve been sitting in the monthly Board meetings, going: “How is this school going to make it financially? We don’t see how it is going to work!” But over and over we have seen God provide — sometimes in miraculous and unexpected ways — and now God is providing by giving ACS a new influx of students, which in turn helps the school’s financial position greatly. God is providing. (And we can be part of that help, remember, though the upcoming auction Saturday the 30th.). 

We need to claim this verse as individuals and families as well. We need to have faith that God will take care of us. Money should never be our greatest concern as individuals and families: obeying GOD should be our greatest concern. And God will take care of our needs as we do:

— Are we going to be able to tithe? We should obey God and tithe, and believe that He will supply all our needs as we do.

— Do you feel called to go on a mission trip, but wonder if you can afford it? If God is calling you, then commit to go, and trust that God will supply your needs according to His riches.

— Is your job demanding you to compromise your Christian convictions, but you are afraid of the consequences financially if you should leave it? You do what is right before God, and trust that: “My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” 

— Is God calling you into full-time ministry, or to put your child into a Christian school where they’ll have a better influence, but you are afraid you won’t have enough to live on? Remember His promise: “My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ.” 

The Jehovah-Jireh of Mount Moriah is still Jehovah-Jireh today. He is “YHWH the Provider.” “My God shall supply all your needs, according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” It’s an amazing promise, and it is a promise we can and should claim today. 

At one point in his mission to reach the lost peoples of China, Hudson Taylor’s financial secretary told him he had a balance of twenty-five cents in his account. What was Taylor’s response? He exulted! He said: “Twenty-five cents? I’m RICH! Rich, I say! I have 25 cents — and all the promises of God!” It wasn’t the 25 cents that made Taylor rich. He considered himself rich because he had the promise of God: “My God shall supply all your needs, according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” 

II.  THE CONDITIONS OF THE PROMISE

This IS a great promise from God’s word. But we need to understand not only the PROVISION that is promised, but also the CONDITIONS of that promise. Some who would claim this promise, need to look at the context, and some of the conditions that go along it. Let’s look at these and see if you are in position to claim this promise:   

A. The relationship that is fundamental  (to the promise)

He say “MY GOD” shall supply all your needs, according to His riches “IN CHRIST JESUS.”

— First of all, Paul speaks here of God as “HIS” God. He says “MY GOD …”. This is not just “some” God, this is “HIS” God; the God with whom He had a personal relationship through faith in Christ. 

— And then, he says this promise is “according to His riches “IN CHRIST JESUS.” So this promise is “in Christ Jesus.” The promise of this provision is not just for anyone; it is a promise for those who are “in Christ Jesus.” In other words, this is a promise for Christians; for people who have given their lives to Jesus as their Lord & Savior.

See, Paul’s God, whom he calls “My God,” is the One True God, who made the heavens and the earth and everything that is — including you and me. He made us, and He wants to be our Heavenly Father and take care of us, and provide for us, and He wants us to live forever in heaven with Him. That is what He made us for. But the problem is, we have all sinned against God, and Isaiah says, “Your sins have caused a separation between you and your God.” But God solved the problem of our sin by coming to earth in the Person of Jesus Christ, and dying on the cross in our place, as a sacrifice for our sins. Just like the ram in Genesis 22 took the place of Isaac, so Jesus took our place on the cross. (In fact that ram in Genesis is a foreshadowing, a prophecy if you would, a picture of what Jesus would do for us on the cross: He took our place.) God was Jehovah-Jireh, not only for our physical needs, but most importantly for our SPIRITUAL needs, and He provided the sacrifice that paid for our sins in Jesus. So now, whoever will repent of their sins, and put their trust in Jesus as their Lord will be saved; they are “in Christ Jesus.” 

So first of all, that is who this promise is for: not just anybody came come along and pick this up and say “God will supply all my needs.” This is written to Christian people, who call God “MY God,” and who are “in Christ Jesus.” He says in :3 their “names are written in the Book of Life.” THAT is the first thing you need to make sure of here. Is YOUR name written in The Book of Life? Can you call the God of the Bible, “MY God?” Are you “in Christ Jesus”? If you can, then you can claim this promise. If you can’t, then the first thing you need to do today is to give your life to Christ and begin that relationship with Him that is fundamental to this promise.  

B. The “need” that is specified.

We need to notice here that it says “My God shall supply all your —— WHAT?  NEEDS — according to His riches in glory. He does NOT say that He will supply all your wants. There is often a big difference, isn’t there, between our “needs” and our “wants.”  There are several things to think about in regard to this issue of “needs” vs. “wants”:

— Last week we talked about “Christian contentment.” That applies this week too. Have you been content with what you have — or are you “stretching” it too far financially, because you are NOT content with what you have?  Really this all goes back to where you are seeking to find your satisfaction: in the God who made you to be satisfied in Him — or in things you can buy, instead of in God?  If you’re trying to get your satisfaction in life from the things you can buy, you might feel like you have to have the newest fashion clothes and the newest model car, and the newest gadget so you can be up with the “in” group. But God’s not necessarily going to provide for all that, because He knows you don’t “need” it. In fact, He may let you suffer a lack of some of those things, so that you will look to find your satisfaction in HIM instead of in all those other things. In the process you may find out that you can do with less, and you will discover that He HAS in fact provided all that you NEED. 

— And this is not specifically spelled out here, but I think it may fall under the category of “needs vs. wants”: For us to really be able to claim this promise, we need to be good stewards of what God gives us. You can’t go blow your money on all kinds of things you don’t really need, and then turn to your bills and say: “well God promised He will supply all my needs.” No, God DID provide for all your needs — but you already spent it all on something else! The lack is not in God’s provision, but in YOUR stewardship of what He gave you!  

Cheryl & I have had several long conversations with our son Michael about his finances, since he has graduated from college and gone out to work and live on his own. He is making a good, entry-level salary where he is working there in South Carolina, but we wanted to make sure he know that he needs to put his NEEDS first when he gets his check. It’s tempting when you get that paycheck to think, “Now I can go get this, and that, and all that stuff I have been wanting …” but your tithe has to come first. And then your rent, and then your bills have to be a priority. And then you need to start working on building some emergency savings, because you WILL have an emergency. God has provided him a good salary, but he needs to make sure he is spending it on his NEEDS, not just on his “wants.” And I think he is doing a good job with that. We are very proud of him. 

This is really one of the most practical, applicable verses. Some of us need to go home today and have a talk with our husband, or wife, or family, about “needs” vs. “wants.” What do we really NEED to have; and where are we hurting ourselves by giving some of our “wants” a bigger place than they should have in our spending? God has promised that He will provide for His children all that we NEED — but not all that we might WANT. We need to realize that there’s a big difference between the two!  

C. The Givers to whom it is addressed! 

To me, this is one of the most crucial elements to understand about this verse. Just like Philippians 4:13 last week, Philippians 4:19 is one of many people’s favorite verses in the New Testament, and people love to claim it. And it IS an amazing verse: “My God shall supply ALL your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”  BUT, also like last week, we need to see that the CONTEXT of this verse has a LOT to say to us about whether we can really apply this verse to our own lives and situations.

In its original context, to whom was Paul writing here? As we saw, he is writing to Christians in Philippa, first of all. But second, and I believe this is a real key here: Paul was writing to a church of people who themselves were meeting Paul’s needs as he was out ministering for God’s Kingdom. Look at the instances of that in this passage. We see multiple evidences of their giving to his ministry here in verses 10-18:

— Paul said in :10 “you have revived your concern for me.” He’s referring to their ministry to him in prison. We talked about that last week, that in prisons in those days, friends and loved ones were responsible to meet any needs they might have, for clothing, or better food, or medication. So they “revived their concern for him,” and were helping him again there.

— In :14 he says: “you have done well to SHARE with me in my affliction.”

— In :15 he said, at first, “no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone.” So they were “giving” to him. 

— :16 says “even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs.” So even when he wasn’t in prison, they had been sending him gifts to support him in his ministry.

— Then in :18 he says of their most recent gift to him in prison: “I have received everything in full and have an abundance.”

So AT LEAST FIVE TIMES here at the end of Philippians 4 Paul mentions how the Philippians had given to support him in his ministry.

So it is in THAT context then, that Paul could turn to them NOW and say: “And now God will supply all YOUR needs, according to His riches in glory in Christ.” You see how that context matters? He isn’t just making this “blanket promise” to everyone; he is making this promise specifically to people who have been meeting the needs of God’s kingdom work. He says, “You’ve been meeting MY needs — and now God is going to meet YOUR needs according to His riches …”. That context is so important. If we want to be able to claim the same promise these people had, then we need to be the same kind of givers these people were — consistently supporting God’s Kingdom work. 

How can we give to God’s Kingdom work today?  There are a number of ways. Many of us are familiar with them; some of us may not be.

— It begins with our basic tithe. We need to understand that “tithe” does not mean putting 20 bucks in the offering plate (or offering box in our case). The word “tithe” literally means 10%. We recognize that God is the ultimate Source of everything we have, by giving Him back the first 10% of everything He gives us. Our tithes are what keeps the Kingdom work going in this church: it pays the salaries of all our staff; it pays all the bills that keep the lights and water and insurance going; it pays for our Sunday school and discipleship materials; a big chunk of it goes to our missionaries; as well as to the benevolence fund to help people in need. We would not be able to function as a church without the basic tithes of God’s people.

— Then in addition to that, we can give through our new church Building Fund. We actually have a very small amount in our church budget for the new building payment. Most of our monthly payment is made by our members who give above & beyond their regular tithes to our Building Fund, “God’s Vision In Action.” I’ve said this before:  as a church family, this is our “house payment.” We need every church family to do their part in making our “church family house payment.” The amount may be different for every family; but every family should be giving something every month to help make our church “house payment.” We are so grateful for this building; for the strategic place God has given us here to minister. We are reaching people (4 kids saved Wednesday night!) this is really becoming a base for God’s Kingdom work. And we help advance His Kingdom work here when we give to the building fund. 

— Then we can also give directly to missions, like through our Lottie Moon Offering in December, 100% of which goes to support our 3800 Southern Baptist missionaries in 120 countries all over the world. Many of us have chosen to give through what we call the “Acts 1:8 Offering.” We give a smaller amount to that all year long — and then in December we give half of everything given all year to the Lottie Moon Offering, which really adds up! (We had most of our Lottie Moon goal last year BEFORE December, through our “Acts 1:8” giving!  Then we will use the other half of “Acts 1:8″ to send our own people on mission trips. (COVID shut down our mission to Bulgaria this year, but Lord willing we will be going on mission again, and when we do, we’ll have money to help send people, through “Act 1:8”!)

— Then this week we start “Operation Christmas Child” which we talked about earlier. Thousands of these boxes go all around the world, and the gospel is shared with each one who receives a box. I hope you’ll get one on the way out today. 

— And there are SO many other special giving opportunities: to buy candy for Trunk or Treat, to give to ACS, or to special benevolence needs — and on and on!  There are multiple ways to give to God’s Kingdom work. The question is: are YOU a Kingdom giver? Are you putting yourself in position to be able claim the promise Philippians 4:19, because you are kind of Kingdom giver that Paul was talking about in that verse?  

We really need to learn to see our giving for God’s Kingdom work, not just as a “chore” we “have” to do; but as an investment, that one day we will only wish we had done more of.

It’s like when Cheryl & I graduated from Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, and went to our first full-time church in Oklahoma. Our salary there was  $13,000 a year. So our church treasurer sat down with us to do the paperwork and everything, and he said, “Now, you need to take some of that salary and put it in the Southern Baptist Annuity Board and save it up for retirement.” Cheryl & I were looking at each other like, we’re totally poor and have a baby, and we’re gonna make $13,000 a year — and you want us to take MORE out of it for that? We just couldn’t see it. But I remember that wise old church treasurer, Alfred Hofeld, said, “Just take out $100 a month. You’ll never miss it.” Never miss it? On $13,000 a year? But we did it, and we got by. 

But now, 35 years later, as we have added to that at every church we’ve served, and the money has grown — now all of the sudden I’m 62, and getting a lot closer to retirement — and I’m thinking, “Man, it seemed so hard to put that money in then and since, — but now, of course, I only wish I had put in more.”

And the thing is, that is how it is going to be with our giving to God’s Kingdom as well. You’re a young couple with kids and a lot of bills, and here’s this old preacher telling you that the Bible says you ought to give 10% of what you make to the Lord in the tithe. TEN PERCENT? How can you do that, with what you’re making, and the bills you have?  And then give on top of THAT to the building program, and “Acts 1:8” and ACS and Christmas shoeboxes and everything else? Like Cheryl & I as a young couple with that church treasurer, you’re going: “I don’t see how we can do that.” But Cheryl & I have tithed and give on top of that our whole lives, while raising four kids — and so have many of you.  BUT NOW, see, we’re getting closer to the end. We’re getting closer to the end of our lives, and to the return of the Lord. And soon we’re going to be in His presence in glory, and He’s going to reward us for what we have done for His Kingdom, including everything we have given. And on that day, it’s gonna be just like us and our retirement: it seemed kind of hard to do at the time — but when it comes to that day, and the eternal reward we receive that will never pass away — we’re gonna think: as hard as it seemed to give at the time; we’re only going to wish that we had given more. Because everything else we have spent our money on, will literally be burned up and gone forever. But what we have given to God’s Kingdom, will give us a reward that will LAST forever.  

That’s what we’re got to keep our minds focused on now. That’s called giving “by faith.” We can’t see that reward now; but we believe it’s there, and so we’re gonna keep investing in God’s Kingdom. And when it’s hard to do, we’re gonna remember the promise of this verse — which is a promise God made ESPECIALLY to those who are His people; and especially to those who are giving to His Kingdom work: “And My God shall supply all your needs, according to His riches in glory in Christ.”  

INVITATION

This is a great verse, a great promise. 

But have you put yourself in the position to be able to claim this promise:

— Do you know Jesus as your Lord & Savior; is your name written in the Book of Life, are you “in Christ Jesus.” If you don’t know, you can be today …

— If you ARE a Christian, are you living responsibly with what He given you; and are you a Kingdom giver? Some of us need to commit today to be tithers; or to help make our “church family house payment” each month.

Some of us need to go home and have some conversations about our budget priorities; our “needs vs wants,” and make some changes in what we’re doing.

— Others may need a church home …

— or commit to get OCC box on the way out today …. or whatever action God has laid on your heart.

About Shawn Thomas

My blog, shawnethomas.com, provides brief devotions from own personal daily Bible reading, as well as some of my sermons, book reviews, and family life experiences.
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