18At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God. 19And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
20Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen.
Philippians 4:18-20 NLT
Paul is so grateful for what he has and he is thankful or the provisions sent to him by the Philippian church. Even when he was having difficulties, Paul said he had learned contentment. Its true, God meets our needs in a variety of ways. Paul expresses confidence for God’s supply not only for himself but also for the them:
“This same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.”
To live in the “abundance” of your relationship with God through Jesus is to live confidently and generously. To live in the abundance of Jesus allows you to be a connecting person in your relationships. This kind of life is in contrast to a “stingy” demeanour about life. The stingy person acts as if all the glory of life depends on themselves. But for us, as followers of Jesus we have the promise of God’s great supply and grace even when we feel that we don’t immediately have enough money, strength, will-power, kindness, peace, joy, or even love.
He can supply. He will supply–from what may seem to be likely and unlikely sources.
19So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. 20Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. 21We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. 22Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22
Jesus has radically altered the landscape of humanity with His death, burial and resurrection. Now together with all those who call on Him, we are being built together for a purpose that will culminate in His return and the redemption of all creation in Him. Now our lives are being altered by His grace. Such that together we are “holy building.” Jesus is the cornerstone; the apostles and the prophets are the foundation. Now we are being built up and inhabited by the Spirit of God. Now the church is made up of Jews and Gentiles united by faith in Christ as the people for God.
In carpentry, joining is an incredibly skilled process of linking two or more boards together. The craftsmanship when this is done well — is beautiful! The church is meant to display the beauty of God. The knowledge that I am being “carefully joined together” with others as the church by a master craftsman changes the way I see the church. Now, my participation in the church is not just an optional part of my life. You are an essential part of the church! This reality is meant to be an essential part of your identity in Christ.
17But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, 18because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us. 19For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? 20For you are our glory and joy.
1Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone, 2and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith, 3that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. 1 Thessalonians 2:17-3:3
When loneliness strikes us it doesn’t matter if we are in a crowd or in the confines of our home, it’s like getting hit in the gut. We have been wired for connection! The Apostle Paul’s affection for the people of Thessalonica was intense.
Paul missed them. Indeed he had been torn away from them (Acts 17:1-10) and his desire to know how they were doing compelled him to risk “being left in Athens alone.”
For each of us the lonely factor is different. But when it strikes, it serves as a deep reminder of our need for communion — knowing and being known. God designed people with this capacity. Even in the beginning, God allowed Adam to experience alone-ness in the Garden (Genesis 2:18-25). Adam’s aloneness was purely a desire for “like” connection without the twistedness of The Fall (Genesis 3) that is our reality.
For us, loneliness creates its own internal weather system. Even as we desire connection, loneliness creates a kind of self-consciousness in which we begin to doubt our loveability.
The good news: You are not a freak. Let the awareness of your aloneness bring you into the graceful mindfulness of God, our Heavenly Father who is close not far; who has risked conception and the Cross through Jesus; who has made His dwelling in you by His Holy Spirit. Let the awareness of your aloneness be infused with the grace of Jesus, so you may receive people as gifts from God not to be used but to be celebrated.