Biographical Sketch of Dr. Stuart E. Lease / Bible Messages by Dr. Stuart E. Lease
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Christ in Our Provision
FATHER How thankful we are for the precious Eternal Word of God, how marvelous it is to have this book in our hands. Were thankful also that we can have it in our hearts that we can store up Your Word in our hearts so that we might not sin against You. Were thankful for the Living Word in Heaven, the Lord Jesus Who loved us and gave Himself for us. Were thankful that He has been delighted to make His home in us by the Holy Spirit Who delights to take the things of Christ and reveal them to us. May our Lord Jesus Christ become more precious to us today as a result of studying Your Word together and applying it to our hearts and lives. I pray in Jesus precious Name. Amen.
Weve come to the concluding portion of the book of Philippians, and of course the theme of the book is found in chapter one, verse 21, For to me to live is Christ [or to me to live, Christ], and to die is gain. Christ, The Life of the Believers Life is the theme of the book of Philippians.And, so as we come to this concluding portion in the book, we see Christ in the area of our Provision.
Now there are three principles that I want to set forth, and then I want you to see them in the portion that were going to study in verses 10-23. Let me read that portion, and then Im going to give you the principles for the portion. But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Notwithstanding ye have well done, and ye did communicate with my affliction. Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God. But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you. All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesars household. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
Now except for those two verses, 21 and 22 which are a personal postscript, were going to deal with our theme from all the other verses in this passage as well as other portions of the Word of God, but emerging from this passage and others in which Paul talks about the matter of Christ in Our Provision; three principles: Number one, God Provides through a Properly Prepared People. God just doesnt bring manna from heaven as He did one time. Now He could do that. God could if He wanted to, even rain money from heaven....literally. Do you think He could do that? I know that He could!......but, God provides through a properly prepared people! Second, Paul was a Responsive and Responsible Receiver. Well see that here in his writings to the Philippians. And third, God is A Good and Gracious Provider. Now when we come down to consider these things, then were going to bring in our theme that all these things are made available to us through Christ.
Number one, God Provides through a Properly Prepared People. I will never forget the first time I attended church in the Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia when Donald Grey Barnhouse was pastor. He had his own inimitable way of conducting a service, and when it came time to take the offering I was greatly fascinated, not only by what he had to say, but by the way the offering was taken. They had these long poles, and they would put them in and out [on the end of it was the bag where they could put the money into]...but I was almost stunned by what Dr. Barnhouse said before the offering was received. In his rather gruff way and rough voice he said, If youre not a Christian, God does not expect you to give to this offering. Giving is a Christians privilege! And you know, Ill never forget that.....Giving is a Christians privilege! He went on to tell them, If youre not a Christian, let the offering go by. God doesnt want your money. He wants you heart! And he was sincere about it! You know, if there were any unbelievers there present, they would have been a little bit ashamed to expose themselves by not giving. But, he was honest in this, and he said, If youre not a Christian, we dont expect you to give! Why?....because God Provides through a Properly Prepared People, that is, people who are born again, who are part of the family of God. Now Paul is not the only one who believed in that principle. Just to underscore the first point there, in writing to Gaius in Johns third epistle.....notice, he tells the well-beloved Gaius [and apparently Gaius was a faithful supporter of the servants of God], Ive borne witness of thy [love] before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well: Because that for His Names sake they went forth, taking [What?] nothing of the Gentiles. Nothing from the heathen! So, its a Christians privilege to give! In this passage there is evidence that there were properly prepared people who gave and were giving. First, through the present provision that was made through the apostle Paul, right here in verse 10 and then again in verse 18. He said, I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last [or finally] your care of me hath flourished again... In other words, he had received a gift brought to him by Epaphroditus from these dear saints there at Philippi, and he says that their care had flourished again....once again you had sent a gift to meet my need! And he said, You were careful and concerned and you wanted to, but you just didnt previously have the opportunity. Now this is not an unkind expression that hes making here. Hes simply citing the problem of communication that they had. They were not able to get their gift to him, even though they wanted to; and now finally, it was possible for them to do that. In verse 18 he refers to it again, I have all, and abound [Im just overflowing!]: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God. You know, its rightly been said that three are blessed, or you are thrice blessed when you give: You are blessed!....the Person who receives is blessed!....and God is blessed!....because it is an odour of a sweet smell to God when believers give when they share, even as theyre supposed to give. Now secondly, notice it was evident that God provided through a properly prepared people through previous provision verses 14-16, Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate [That means to share.] with my affliction. Ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church [or no other church] communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. So that they were the first to share in Pauls ministry in the matter of giving. For even in Thessalonica [where he had gone in southern Greece] ye sent once and again unto my necessity. Later when Paul writes to the Corinthians [and it was earlier than this when he wrote his epistle to the Corinthians.....after this had been done for him], he writes to them and uses these believers there at Philippi as an example for them to follow, [II Corinthians 8] he uses these people as properly prepared people who gave. II Corinthians 8 beginning at verse 1, Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit [or we want you to know] of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia [and that included Philippi as probably the primary area]; How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. Simply stated, they were poor, but they gave much. They were poor, but they gave much! For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power [They were going beyond their natural ability] they were willing of themselves; Praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped [or expected], but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God. Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also. So he exhorts the Corinthians in light of the Philippian Macedonians faithfulness in the matter of giving. They had been prepared in heart, and therefore they gave by their hands because of what God had done in their hearts. Now were going to see a little bit more of this later, but I want to move on to the second point, Paul was a Responsive and Responsible Receiver.
First, he adjusted to his circumstances in life. In Philippians 4:11-12, Not that I speak in respect of want [Paul was never a beggar. Paul always accepted graciously what God provided for him and lived with what was made available to him. He adjusted to his circumstances. By the way, those who have kidded about Paul being from the south, using you all so often and they come to this, they say that he wasnt from Texas, because nobodys happy and no Texan is content in any other state except Texas. But, Paul was content wherever he was in whatever circumstance of life.]: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound [to be raised up]: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. And as a faithful servant, he did not abuse his privileges that he had even as an apostle. In fact, in writing his first epistle to the Corinthians in chapter 9 beginning at verse 1, he says concerning this very matter [Now I dont have time to enlarge all this.], Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are not ye my work in the Lord? Then he says, If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of my apostleship are ye in the Lord. Mine answer to them that do examine me is this, Have we not power [or the right] to eat and to drink? Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas? Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working? [Dont we have the right to give up our job and expect you to support us? And, he goes on to say that [Yes.],Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. But I have used none of these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void. For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! Now really, the gift that Paul was seeking from the Corinthians when he writes to them in II Corinthians wasnt for himself. It was a gift that was to be taken to the churches in Judea and in Jerusalem; so, apparently the nature of the Corinthians was such with their divisions and carnality that Paul could not depend on them to give to him personally. Ive ministered in a number of churches through the years and before coming to minister here in Lancaster, I served in three different churches in New England; and I guess that the thing that amazed me was the way they gave. The first church I served was a Swedish church, a Swedish Covenant Congregational Church, and they were dear people who just loved the Lord and they just loved to give! I was only with them about a year, and in a year I got three or four raises and I didnt even ask for it! It was a thrill to see these people that loved the Lord, love to give! The next church that I went to believe that they begrudged every dollar they gave me. I dont know why.....it was just part of their make-up. The only extra gift that I ever got during that time of ministry with those folks (and you must remember that I was a student, so I was ministering on an interim capacity), was from a widow lady who was living on very limited retirement funds. We had been in her home, and she pressed a five dollar bill into my hand; and she said, Pastor, I want you to have this! Do you know, she needed that far more than I did; but I needed to receive it to be a blessing to her! And I did....and I received it with much thanksgiving, and I thanked her profoundly and profusely for her giving; but thats the only, extra gift we got at all! The third church I served was composed of Armenian people, who came from Armenia; and some of them had literally seen their children freeze to death as they left Armenia because of their faith in Christ! And they knew what it was to pay the price for their faith! While they could not pay me much, every occasion that came along that they could give me something extra, they did. Whenever they knew that it was my birthday, theyd give me something extra then. I graduated from Gordon College while I was there; and they gave me a gift for that.....graduated from Boston University while I was there....they gave me a gift for that. You know, you can pretty well tell something of the barometer of the spirituality of people by the way they give! If theyre properly prepared in heart, they love to give. And if they arent, theyll be skinflints in the matter of giving. You just wont get much from them, and what you get, is given grudgingly; which the Bible says is not the way that we are to give.
Paul adjusted to his circumstances. He rejoiced in Gods provision for him. Notice in Philippians 4, verse 10, I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again... and then in verse 18, I have all, and abound: I am full... He was rejoicing in this provision in which God had made, because it also glorified the Lord as well. Then he also trusted God for future provision. Verse 13 is an indication of this, I can do all things through Christ [or through Him] Who strengtheneth me. And, Paul was not greatly concerned about the future. He knew that his God would provide!
One of the most profound impressions in the matter of giving was made when I was just a little boy, and it wasnt in a sermon. It was in a circumstance that happened in the life of my father. My dad, (and by the way, Im the last of thirteen children. There were twelve of us who lived to maturity; and providing for a household of that size took not only some income, but also some ingenuity on my mothers part in making much out of little as she did throughout all her life)....but Dad had lost his job, and he was looking for work and he didnt find it, and he had pretty well used up whatever cash resources that he had on hand, except some funds that were in a bank account. Ill never forget on the Sunday morning that he was to go to the bank and withdraw some funds the next day, Dad took his old pocketbook (and thats what it really was....an old-fashioned one that men had in those days that had the three snaps on top. Remember?....three compartments on each side)....and Ill never forget, when the offering plate came by, he took that and he unsnapped the whole thing and just let everything just fall out....into the offering plate! Now that was the last of his cash resources, at least that he had immediately at hand. You know?....Thats an example of giving that Ill never forget! The next day.... Dad got a job!....and he never had to withdraw those resources from the bank. Later on, I needed some resources (I didnt know anywhere to go.)....except to Dad. I tried other sources. My father-in-law had given us of their resources, but we still needed some more for a down-payment on the house; and many years later it was probably some of those very funds that made it possible for us to borrow from Mom and Dad to buy a home here in Lancaster. But God provided, and Dad often referred to that. Mom did too. What did they do? They gave! And, my mother has been an example all her life of giving! I remember when she went on Social Security, she got forty four dollars and some odd cents a month to live on; and the first thing that she would do was to take out four dollars and forty some cents for the Lord; and then her whole aim that month was to raise that to five dollars. Do you know?....God provided all her needs, so that she never had to borrow or beg for anything like that? God provided! I tell you, when your heart is properly prepared, as these Philippians were....they were prepared in heart; and so they gave with an open hand because of Gods provision for them! So, God is a good and gracious Provider! First, through His all-sufficient Son, that brings us back to verse 13 and were going to be emphasizing this point later on, I can do all things through Christ Who strengtheneth me; and then in verse 19, ....according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. The channel through which we receive Gods sufficiency is...His...Son.
Secondly, God is a good and gracious Provider from His all-sufficient supply! Notice verse 19, But my God shall supply all your need [Now somebody said that doesnt say, all your greed!.... and thats true] according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. I remember one of my teachers, O. M. Kraybill. He used to say, If I was sent to buy a pair of shoes, by a relatively modest or poor man, he would probably send me to one of the most inexpensive shoe places in town; but if I were sent to buy a pair of shoes by a wealthy man, hed probably send me to one of the most expensive shoe stores in town. Why?....because that would be according to his riches. And what he pointed out to us then, as students, was something that I had to think about often and on through the years. Many times we sell God short; and we think that our God is cheap. But God isnt cheap. He is able to provide for us [How?] ....exceeding abundantly above that which we could ask or think! In Ephesians 3:20 and 21, it indicates that! God is a good giver...He is a gracious giver! He gives abundantly to us! I was so impressed with this truth some years ago, was quite a few years ago now, and ladies always liked this. (My wife is here, and she can verify the truth and accuracy of this statement.) I determined that since I love my wife, and I love her as Christ loved the Church [and we are to love in that way], that hereafter when she asked for five dollars, I would give her ten; and when she asked for ten, Id give her twenty. Now she hasnt yet asked for twenty, so Id have to give her forty....but Id have to scrounge it up somewhere if she did! Now you say, Why do you do a dumb thing like that?.... Its not so dumb, folks. Thats just the way the Lord has dealt with me through the years!.......... Exceeding abundantly above that which we could ask or think! So, she asked for five....I give her ten. Now shes kind of adjusted to that, through the years, as wives do; and sometimes she forgets, as she did just about a week or two ago, and she asked for ten...and I gave her twenty. You know? I think thats a practical thing. You know a thing that amazes me?....is that married men have money for all sorts of things, except their wives (and I dont mean that a wife is a thing, although later on Im going to point out of a woman that thought her husband was a thing). God is a good and gracious Provider! He is our all-sufficient Source, because of His all-sufficient supply!
Notice verse 20, Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Now my father was not a very good giver or receiver. Now he provided for us, but was not great giving gifts or even receiving. In fact, they used to give Dad the same necktie every year at Christmas. Theyd take it....hed put back in his drawer, and theyd get it out next year and wrap it up again....and about the third or fourth year, hed say, Say, that looks familiar; and he wasnt too great at giving gifts. Mom was the gift-giver in our family; and she worked and lived all year long just to give gifts to people. I remember when I was just graduated from high school, we hadnt had a car all our life; and there was an old chevrolet an old man had (It was about 18 years old when it was put up for sale.), and Dad bought that and gave it to my brother and me; and Ill never forget it. The joy that we had in something that our father had given us. You know folks, everything that we have, is because of what our Father has given us. He is the Infinite Source of our infinite supply! And so, we ought to glorify Him, [To Him] be glory for ever and ever. because He is good and gracious and glorious in His giving!
Now the fourth point here is going to lead me into another portion of the Word....one weve looked at a little bit before in II Corinthians 8 and 9 and that is, Grace is the substance and scope of giving! Notice the epistle here in Philippians 4:23 concludes with, The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Do you know grace is very intricately involved in this matter of giving? I want you to turn back to II Corinthians 8 and 9, and I want you to see here (You dont see it immediately on the surface.) and that is, that the word grace occurs 10 times in these two chapters. Now its not always translated grace in the King James translation, but it occurs 10 times in these two chapters of the Word of God. Its the Greek word CHARIS. By the way, you get from that charismatic. Here it is the charisma of Gods goodness in giving is His grace in giving.
In chapter 8, verses 1, 4, 6, 7, 9, 16, and 19 you have seven references to grace. Then in chapter 9, verses 8, 14, and 15 references in the original to grace. Now look at this (You may want to circle these words in your Bible and connect them, so you can find them as you go right through the passage.) Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia...(verse 1); (Verse 4), Praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift [In the Greek, thats grace.], and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints; (Verse 6), Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also; (in the latter part of verse 7), Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also. (Verse 9, and here is one of the most tremendous portions in the Word of God), For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich. [Thats the greatest poverty program theres ever been! The Lord Jesus, ...though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich. Then in verse 16, the word thanks in the Greek is CHARIS But thanks [or grace] be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you. Then in verse 19, And not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace.... Now come over to chapter 9, verse 8, And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work. Then in verse 14, And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you. And then in verse 15, the word thanks in the original Greek is CHARIS: Thanks [grace] be unto God for His unspeakable gift. Ten references to Grace in these two chapters in the matter of giving.
Now I want you to see three things about this matter of grace in giving. First, Grace Relates to God releasing to us of His resources. Thats the reference in II Corinthians 8:9, ....the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ... In 9:8, God is able to make all grace abound toward you... and then in the concluding two verses, verses 14 and 15, there you will see it to Gods releasing to us of His resources.
Then secondly as its used, grace relates to our relinquishing of those resources that weve received, to others. Now youll see that in chapter 8 in verse 1 and refers to the matter in their giving. In verse 4, there its translated the gift. In verse 6, this same grace, the grace of giving, and also in verse 7, ...abound in this grace also...
Then thirdly, Grace Relates to Our Rejoicing in the All-sufficiency of His Resources. Thats in 8:16 and 9:15.
In references to giving in the Bible, here and in other passages in the Philippian passage, the three principles that we talked about from the beginning I want to reannunciate in a little different way. First believers should give. Then servants should receive. And third, God will provide. Now I want to go back over those and enlarge on those slightly. Believers should give. Servants should receive. God will provide.
Now how should believers give? Let me give you several (5) ways you should give: First, in what we saw from the study, believers should give graciously. If youve been saved by grace, be gracious in your living and in your giving. Secondly, believers should give generously. In verse 6 of chapter 9 of II Corinthians, But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Generously! Thirdly, believers should give purposefully. Verse 7 of II Corinthians 9, Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity... And then fourthly, believers should give joyously. Notice what it says here, ....for God loveth a cheerful giver. How many know what the Greek word says there in the original? Our scholars down here ought to know. Do you know what the Greek word there is for cheerful? Its the Greek word for hilarious....a hilarious giver. You ought to get such a joy out of giving that it just thrills your heart, so that you can hardly contain yourself in the matter of giving! Now just to hold that down a little so you dont burst too much when you give, Ill add one more point and that is with simplicity. Now that doesnt mean you give so simply that you can hardly see it, but Romans 12:8 says, ....he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity... I was looking up the Greek word for that, and one translation of that was folded over, and you know if you took that literally, you should never receive a silver offering. It should always be a paper offering, a folded over offering. Well, I found that the word does means, nothing complicated or confused about it. Just give simply and solely, because you love the Lord!
Then, servants should receive. Expectantly. Those who serve God should expect God to provide, and He will. That was seen in the Philippian passages, also in the Corinthian passages. Responsively. We ought to be thankful for the giving that is received. It ought to be received responsively, that is, we ought to take care of the thing that is given. You see that in II Corinthians 8 and 9 where Paul was very careful about the money that was going to be received and distributed. And then, it ought to be received, joyfully with a praise to God for His provision. You know, I believe that God wants any of us who love Him and serve Him to develop a capacity to receive. You know, there are some people who dont know how to receive? Its just tough for them to receive, because they immediately feel obligated, Oh, I dont want to receive anything, lest I have to give. Now Ive never been quite that way. I guess our son is a little like me. Back in 1966, the first summer that I had opportunity to minister at the Ocean City Baptist Church, our children were small at that time (Tim was about eight and Becky was six) and we had told them, We expect you to attend the services with Mother and youre to behave yourself obviously; and if youre good on Saturday, well take you down to the toy shop and you can pick out anything within reason. So Tim and Becky cased that shop every day and we pretty well knew what Becky would get and we were right. She picked a doll. But we never, never in our wildest imagination figured out what Tim would desire. But we very ceremoniously went down there, and they had been good during the week and listened to their father preach....but Becky picked out a So-Big doll, and Tim went over to one corner and said, Dad, this is what I want. Youll never guess what it was. It was a carrier for matchbox cars. It had the compartments, and you could put thirty or so in each one, and he didnt even ask for a matchbox car. He just asked for the carrier. What had he done? He had developed a capacity to receive. He now has three carriers filled with matchbox cars plus another carrier for antique matchbox cars. What a capacity to receive! Almost everywhere I went, I found them to have matchbox cars. May we be so prepared to receive the Word of God and to share its Truth with others.
Looking back over what we have seen relating to our theme Christ Our Life, The Life of the Believers Life as weve seen Christ in our Provision, God Provides through a Properly Prepared People, Paul was a Responsive and Responsible Receiver; and that God is a Good and Gracious Provider. So its up to us to develop and maintain a capacity to receive.
FATHER Help us to have a capacity to receive what You have for us so that we can give it out to others. May we lay up Your Word in our hearts so that we may not sin against You. Give us Your Grace to do this for Jesus sake. In His Name, Amen.
Many years have passed since I first presented this series of messages, but the Truth contained in these messages is just as relevant as when it was first presented so long ago. Truth is eternal and its just as fresh and convicting as was then. Christ is still and always will be: The Life of the Believers Life. I hope that the Lord Jesus will be even more precious to you than He ever was before, and that we will all reflect His Glory to others now and forever. May it be so!
Dr. Stuart E. Lease