Have you ever discovered a secret about a way of doing something different or different way of approaching a problem, device, learning something new, etc. How did it impact your experience? For example, have you discovered 1-2 secrets to improving your academic studies recently?
Focus: Paul learned the secret of sufficiency, satisfaction, and contentment in any situation he was in. This secret is actually Christ Himself indwelling us.
I. Read Philippians 4:10-23.
A. Paul uses the word “secret” in Phil. 4:12. Using verses 11 and 13, what do you think Paul means when he uses this word? What is he referring to?
Hint: the word “learn” is important in verses 11 and 12, but verse 13 is also important. Phil. 4:4 can also be used to help.
B. At the beginning of the verses, Paul says that he knows “both how to be based” and “how to abound.” What is the significance of these phrases?
Read the following excerpt to jumpstart your discussion.
In the Christian life we experience both night and day. According to Genesis 1, night comes before day. When Paul was abased, he was in the night, and when he was abounding, he was in the day. Just as day follows night, night in turn will follow day. This means that after the night of abasement came the day of abounding. Paul realized, however, that this day would eventually be followed by another night. We cannot change the principle of God’s universe. In the universe there is night and day, day and night.
The Christian life does not stay on one level; it has many ups and downs. It is normal to be up and down, down and up. It is not normal to remain on one level and not experience ups or downs. Likewise, it is not normal to experience day and not night. Whose spiritual day is two hundred hours long? I do not have such days. I have nights as well as days, downs as well as ups. However, our account should be balanced: the ups should equal the downs, and the debit should equal the credit. When we have such a balance in our experience, we are normal.
According to the Lord’s sovereign arrangement, we need both the ups and downs in order to experience Christ. I thank the Lord for all the valleys through which He has taken me. But with the valleys, there have also been hills. The Christian life is not one vast plain; it is a land with many hills and valleys. It is by the hills and valleys that we experience Christ.
Young people, do not dream that your life will be level and plain. On the contrary, you will face many valleys and many hills. You will encounter all kinds of circumstances. But in these circumstances you may apply Christ as your secret and experience Him. It is crucial that we learn to apply Christ.
C. Paul’s secret was that he could apply Christ and be content in any circumstances. How can we apply this in our lives today?
1) Phil. 4:13 can be read in two different ways. What is the difference between these two? See below.
a. [I can do all things] [in Him who empowers me]
b. [I can do all things in Him] [who empowers me]
2) How can we be those who do all things in Him, and not in ourselves, in the midst of all circumstances? What practical steps can we take to enjoy His strengthening and empowering? See Phil 4:2, 4, 6-7, 21 for some examples.
D. Pray-over Philippians 4:12-13
Phil. 4:12 I know also how to be abased, and I know how to abound; in everything and in all things I have learned the secret both to be filled and to hunger, both to abound and to lack.
Phil. 4:13 I am able to do all things in Him who empowers me.
In verse 12 Paul uses the expression “in everything and in all things.” Pray for one another that you all may experience and enjoy Christ in everything day by day, even in all things this week!