I invite you to take a few moments with me to reflect on today’s Upper Room Devotional below.
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the thoughts and words of this reading that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
Philippians 4:10-20 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Acknowledgment of the Philippians’ Gift
10 I rejoice[a] in the Lord greatly that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned for me, but had no opportunity to show it.[b] 11 Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. 14 In any case, it was kind of you to share my distress.
15 You Philippians indeed know that in the early days of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you alone. 16 For even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me help for my needs more than once. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the profit that accumulates to your account. 18 I have been paid in full and have more than enough; I am fully satisfied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
Years ago some friends of mine were driving across Texas on I-20. Since it was around 2 am, there wasn’t much traffic. You know how it is at that time of the night. They were sort of groggy and everything seemed a little surreal. Then, they recounted later, it became more surreal. A hearse passed them in the left lane pulling a U-Haul trailer. They looked at each other and said—almost in unison—”So, you CAN take it with you!” But, we all know the truth: all of the stuff in the U-Haul—and all of our other possessions—are transient. All of it is temporary. It doesn’t ultimately satisfy nor does it last.
Jesus says, “Take care, be on your guard against all kinds of greed. For one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” (Luke 12:15) Do we really believe that? That one’s life is not the sum total of what we possess? We don’t always behave as though we believe that. But, again, when it comes down to it, our life doesn’t consist in the abundance of possessions.
Rabbi Stewart Vogel remembers watching a TV interview of people who had become instant lottery millionaires. The interviewer asked the question: “How many of you are happier today?” And not one person raised their hand. And one of them went on to say, “How many new suits can you buy? How many cars can you drive? Every time you get something nicer it isn’t good enough because you see and you want something even nicer.” The Ten Commandments, New York: Harper Collins, 1998, p.307)
Someone asked John D. Rockefeller, “How much money is enough?” And his famous answer was, “Just a little bit more.”
What God is calling us to and what God is wanting to give us is contentment. Contentment comes from focusing on what is most important in life—what endures, what lasts. It’s a growing process. The Apostle Paul said in Philippians 4:11, “I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances.” That implies that Paul didn’t always know that. He wasn’t born with that knowledge and understanding. He learned contentment as he grew in his faith. It didn’t happen overnight for him.
There must have been times, earlier in Paul’s life, when he was not content. There must have been those times when he thought, If only I had that or if only circumstances were different, then life would be worth living. But Paul learned where to find what he had always been looking for. And when he did, everything else paled in comparison. He said, “Yet whatever gains I have, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Jesus, Christ. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and I regard them as rubbish in order that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:7-8) True contentment.
I had the opportunity a number of year ago to attend an event where the speaker was David Robinson, the retired superstar center for the San Antonio Spurs. He spoke about what his faith meant to him and how it rearranged what he valued most. He recounted how he had several cars, two houses, and more money than he ever dreamed he would have. Yet, he looked at Michael Jordan embracing the Chicago Bulls’ first championship trophy and he was envious. He wanted some of what Michael Jordan had. He said that what he had should have been enough—more than enough. It was that experience that made him realize that material things ultimately can’t satisfy our deepest needs. For him, that was his wakeup call. It was that experience that caused him to search for what really satisfies and he found that in his faith in Christ. In Christ he found abundant life.
Paul says in our reading for today, “I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
There is a lot of theology woven into hymns. To enhance today’s reading, I recommend listening to “Take My Life and Let it Be”. I hope you will take a few moments to let the words of this message and the emotion that always connects us to music connect with your soul. Listen to this hymn on SoundCloud.
- Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
*Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in endless praise.
- Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.
- Take my voice and let me sing,
Always, only for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee.
- Take my silver and my gold,
Not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use
Every pow’r as Thou shalt choose.
- Take my will and make it Thine,
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own,
It shall be Thy royal throne.
- Take my love, my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the words and music that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster