“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
In context this verse is talking about money, namely the ability to live with or without. With the souring economy and the threat of natural and man-made disaster more and more real, it’s important to realize what Paul is saying. He says that he has found the secret to getting along and being content no matter his financial situation. He says he knows the secret to living with an abundance and he knows the secret to being in need and going hungry. Here it is: I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. That’s his secret. Notice he says he’s gone hungry. You may go hungry, but Christ can fill you and strengthen you to handle it until your next meal comes.
Just a little further is another verse often quoted without its context.
“And my God will supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:20
Here Paul has just finished talking about how the Philippians had sent him several gifts to meet his needs. He says you have met my needs and my God will meet your needs. This is how it works in God’s economy. In verse 17 Paul says how their giving increases their “account.” When you give in Christ, you end up with more, not less. You may go through a time of need, but God will come through, and He will give you the strength you need as you wait expectantly.
“But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.” Luke 8:15
Everyone who had seen Jesus knew there was something different about him. Even those in his hometown wondered at the words coming out of his mouth. Everyone recognized something was there. Some were drawn to it. Some were threatened by it. Some tested it. Jesus didn’t really let people sit in the “not sure” camp. He pretty much forced people into the love me or hate me category. The Pharisees accused him of having gotten his power from the devil. Others believed He was from God but didn’t realize He was God in the flesh.
The parable of the sower describes four types of people. It describes four types of people and we see them all in the Scriptures. There were those whose hearts are hard and even though they have seen and heard they won’t believe. There were those who believed Jesus had power from God and went to see or experience a miracle but they weren’t ready to follow Him. There were those who decided they did want to follow Jesus, but they couldn’t make the full commitment to leave their lives and follow. Then there were those, like the first disciples, who left it all to follow Jesus. They made the daily commitment to pick up their cross and lose their own life to follow Jesus and gain true Life.
The Scriptures say it is only these, who hold fast to Jesus and persevere in following His commands, who will bear fruit.
Peter and Andrew and James and Johns were two sets of brothers who worked as partners in a fishing business. They fished at night because that’s when fishing is best. They weren’t fishing for pleasure. This was their job. This was how they fed and provided for their families. And that’s why they didn’t give up all night when they hadn’t caught any fish. When dawn came, they kept on fishing. Their families needed to eat. How else could they take care of their families if they didn’t catch fish? When the sun was up, they kept on fishing. They finally packed it in as the shores filled with people. They were washing their nets and listening to Jesus teach the crowds on the shore.
When he’s finished teaching, Jesus tells Peter to go out into the deep water and let down their nets. They obey, but they think it’s futile. They pull so many fish into the boat it’s almost sinking. James and John need to help them out. It’s the biggest payload they’ve ever had. But Peter recognizes the presence of God and fears being in Jesus’ presence because he is a “sinful man.” On shore they leave the fish in the boats, worth maybe more money than they had ever seen at one time, and they walk away, away from trying to provide for themselves. In a instant of realizing who Jesus was they were prepared to leave it behind and trust.
They don’t always understand that provision, but they get to experience God’s supernatural provision again and again. Are you ready to walk away from your means of providing for yourself if it means obeying and following Jesus?