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DEVOTIONS FOR MEN
As Paul concludes his letter, he reminds them one more time that mature faith yields true contentment that is not dependent on circumstances (see v 11-13). It's important to note this as the context for one of the most well known and most misunderstood verses in the New Testament: Philippians 4:13 (NLT) "For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength." Out of context, this verse could mean a lot of things, most of which are misleading or directly contradict other scriptures. For example, Paul is NOT saying, "Christ can help me achieve any goal I set or any dream I dream."
Of course God gives us wisdom, talents, opportunities, relationships, resources, and many other blessings that can create and fuel goals and dreams. Some of the goals and dreams that burn in our hearts do come from Him, and He will definitely help make the ones that do happen in His time. Still, that's not what Paul is saying here. He's not talking about Christ helping us achieve; he's talking about Christ helping us endure and thrive no matter our circumstances. Re-read the rest of Philippians 4 and the earlier posts to explore this truth more.
Having said all that, however, there are a few more things we can glean from Paul's concluding words to his dear friends in Philippi. First, he is thankful and praises God for the ways that they have reached out to Him and made His life better. It's clear that they send him financial help and implied that they probably sent food, blankets, clothes, or other kinds of "gifts" besides money. Paul doesn't write these off as meaningless details because he is content no matter what. Instead, he takes time to thank them. He celebrates that they have been part of the answer to His prayers and made his life better in tangible ways.
As we wrap up 2015 and begin 2016, please take a few moments to acknowledge the ways that people in your life have done these two things for you. Have you prayed for something in this past year and God used a friend or a family member (or a team of them) to meet your need? Has someone gone out of their way to make your life better--even if you could have survived without the extra blessing? Tell them! Thank them! Thank God for them. And start thinking and praying about how you can bless them in the coming year.