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Depend on an Inward Power and Higher Purpose

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
–Philippians 4:13

In Philippians 4, Paul said he was able to live above his circumstances because he depended on an inward power. Paul said, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (v. 13). People quote this verse to mean, “I can do anything I want to do.” But that is not what this verse is saying. “All things” refers back to verse 12, where Paul said he knows how to get along in prosperity and in poverty. Paul’s secret to living above his circumstances had to do with the power of Christ, who strengthened him.

Psalm 1 describes a person who meditates on God’s Word day and night like a tree planted by the river that bears fruit each season. What is the tree’s secret to producing fruit in the desert? The secret is the part of the tree you don’t see: the root system. A healthy root system goes deep into the ground to derive the nourishment the tree needs to bear fruit. The tree doesn’t depend on what’s happening on the outside; it depends on that root system. And it’s the same way for you and for me. We learn contentment not by changing our outward circumstances but by developing our spiritual root system–the time we spend studying God’s Word or talking to Him in prayer. When we have a healthy spiritual root system, we are able to be content in whatever situation we’re in. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. We can experience outrageous joy.

Paul also lived above his circumstances because he possessed a greater life purpose. Paul told the Philippians: “You have done well to share with me in my affliction. You yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone” (Philippians 4:14-15). If Paul’s purpose in life had been peace, prosperity, or pleasure, then his imprisonment in Rome would have been a tragedy because it prevented him from achieving his life purpose. But Paul’s purpose was to make Christ known to as many people as possible. And because of that, Paul was able to say that even his poverty, even his imprisonment, was not a tragedy because it helped him spread the gospel to people who would not have heard it any other way. It was because Paul possessed a greater purpose in life that he was able to experience true contentment.

Your life is either self-focused or God-focused. It can’t be both. If you have a purpose in life bigger than yourself, then you can be content and live above your circumstances regardless of your situation: whether you are married or single, employed or unemployed, sick or healthy. Your temporary circumstances don’t matter because you have a higher purpose–to make Christ known. And God says He can be glorified more in your weakness than in your strength.

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “When You Can’t Get No Satisfaction” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2007.

Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible®, copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.


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