Are You Content and Living in God-giving Peace?

Today I read, from Google, a list of ten Scriptural passages that should be read every day. Having read them in the past, I agreed that the ten were important. I posted the ten in my tablet’s daytimer and added the most popular Bible verse as an eleventh: John 3:16, although I don’t really need a reminder of that verse. I decided the next eleven Daily Bread email messages will be on each one of the eleven and I will attach the full list on each of those emails. I hope you will find as much peace in these eleven reminders as I have.

The first on Google’s list is Philippians 4:13. In Philippians 4, Paul fills this short chapter with wisdom on being content and living in God-given peace.

Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians, Chapter 4

Philippians 4 is the concluding chapter of the letter sent from Paul to the people that were near and dear to him. It flows with deep love and gratitude from apostle to church. Paul fills this short chapter with wisdom on being content and living in God-given peace.

He exhorts them to replace their anxiety with prayer and thanksgiving, promising that they will enjoy the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding. Paul admonishes Church members to think about things that are honest, just, true, pure, lovely, of good report, and virtuous.

Philippians 4:13

Philippians 4:13 is one of the most well-known New Testament verses, but it’s also notoriously misused. After telling his audience that he’s experienced both poverty and affluence, the Apostle Paul writes these well-known words: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (NASB).

Verse 13 actually refers to Paul’s ability to be content in all things. To achieve this contentment, he needed the strength of Jesus Christ.

 Unfortunately, many people take this verse out of context and use it to reinforce a “triumphalist” or “super-Christian” mentality, instead of seeing that the strength of Jesus in Paul’s life was evident in his ability to be content when he did suffer need. 

The object lesson of Philippians 4:13 is contentment. Paul was helping the church at Philippi know that no matter the circumstances, whether poor, or hungry, or in prison, he was able to endure through Jesus. It was not about achieving anything. It was about being content, no matter what comes your way, through Christ’s strength.

Children, the next time you want to do something (like eat a snack or watch T.V.), but you are told to wait, remember that Jesus can make you strong enough to be patient and behave well while you wait for that food or activity.

When we turn to Jesus Christ, we are able to survive things we wish we never had to face.

Human wisdom would tell us that we should be worried in a lot of situations. But God tells us to spend time in prayer, to think of what we have, and to take action from a higher, enlightened perspective. By taking time to think things through and pray, we receive a calming guidance about where we are and what we should do next.

God gives us His strength by changing our thinking. He gives us the strength “to comprehend” His greatness, His power, His promises, His love. God’s nature and character need to be freshly revealed to us so that we can comprehend.

Because of our judicial union with Christ (Romans 8:1) we have a right standing before God’s Law. We are as righteous as God’s own Son, Jesus Christ. 1 And we live in Christ’s strength. 2

Just as Jesus was not spared the death of the cross, but was enabled to overcome it, Paul was enabled to overcome his trials. 3 Writing from prison, Paul indicated that he learned to be content in any state in which he found himself (Philippians 4:11). Paul learned the secret of facing either plenty and abundance or hunger and want (Philippians 4:12) in the comfort of knowing that he could do all things through Christ who strengthened him (Philippians 4:13).

We should put Philippians 4:13, this precious statement of faith, in connection with John 15:5: “For without Me you can do nothing.” With Jesus we can do all things, without Him we can’t do anything.

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Consider the Daily Bread email message sent on 7/31/2023:

Phil 4:13

Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Him who strengthen me. (NASB)

Paul is saying that the reason he can be content in whatever situation he is in is that he knows the Lord will provide for him no matter what. Paul knows God has not forgotten him in prison. He knows God still cares for Paul even though he is suffering, and he knows that in the end, God is with him no matter what.

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  1. Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 1985), pg. 953.
  2. George E. Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1974) pp. 492-493.
  3. Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 1985), pg. 391.

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