Updated: Mar 27, 2019
A scripture that has popped up so many times over the last 25 years.
It's one of those mornings where I am awake and up on the quiet side of the morning, you even beat the early song of the birds when you rise at 2.30am.
I am nursing a kidney infection and the antibiotics are doing interesting things with my bowels, so I went to bed at 7pm and I've had seven and a half hours sleep, which is good for me. It was at 4:13, when I looked at the time and this verse came flooding back to me.
Anyway, ever since I started out in ministry, Philippians 4:13 has popped its head up so many times. Sometimes in dark circumstance when I've almost should liar to the very words sent by God to encourage me. Other times in celebration as they came as a reminder of what God has already done. Either way, in bad times and good times, this verse has been there.
Of course I'm not a single verse Christian, and the context of the chapter makes for richer reading and understanding.
10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in regard to need, 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. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
14 Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress. 15 Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. 16 For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. 18 Indeed I [g]have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. 19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. 20 Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. (NKJV)
The single verse suggests that we could achieve anything, in Jesus name with no mention of sacrifice or loss or learning. yet the portion of scripture is much fuller. There were friends, there was trial, sacrifice and learning. Verse 13 is pivotal in this portion.
There is a realisation from Paul that he is almost invisible when Christ is displayed through him and outside of that, he affirms that so much of what he does relies on friends.
You may indeed have a similar experience to me. A verse or passage that just keeps popping up, or a message or theme that speaks to your soul.
In application, I'm not clear on who I would want to be, Paul, or one of his close friends. What I do know is that ministry costs and ministry needs friends you can trust.
In my own experience connecting with people across print, internet, Radio and TV, I try more and more to treat everyone the same. Everyone has needs, problems and blessings, we are imperfect, trying to live the best life we can to serve others. In my experience you could probably only use your fingers to count the close friends who will walk with you the whole of your life and they are real, can tell you anything, can challenge you and visa versa. I cherish those friendships so much.
Of course we end up with what this chapter reflects on, the ministry journey.
I guess reviewing this in the early hours of the morning before anyone is awake (except me!), I go back to something I heard in Uganda - It takes a village to raise a Child. In Ministry it certainly takes many influences, good and bad to raise and shape a leader. What we all have to come back to though is the faith of verse 13. That we can do 'all things', but only 'through Christ' who gives us strength.
That in effect says, we can't do anything from our own strength, so stop. Review, take note, take a day off and see, what are you striving at, which areas are you pushing with no result. Why not surrender your effort and partner with Jesus - today.
Hope that helps the someone I was encouraged to write for, who I might not know, who might read this (you get the idea).
I've taken half an hour or so, this morning to pray for as many of you as I can think of. So grateful for friendship, counsel, challenges that shaped me, and of course the laughter along the way.
Bless you Today