"I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need." (Philippians 4:12)
I doubt many of us think of plenty as something that needs to be faced. When we face a thing, we typically consider that thing to be negative. We face adversity. We face trials. We face bad news, unemployment, sickness. But plenty—we embrace that. We pray for it. We long for it. We certainly don’t face it as if it it poses danger or is a difficulty that must be endured.
But we should.
Plenty attacks our hearts. Plenty spoils us. Plenty gives us a sense of entitlement. Plenty makes us want even more. It undermines contentment. It sets itself up as a god to be worshipped. At its worst it chokes out the word of God and hinders its fruit in our lives.
Having plenty is no more a sin than having nothing, but it must be faced head on with a spirit of protection and carefulness. We must rely on the strength given through Jesus Christ to endure the undertow that threatens to sweep even the strongest Christian away in its ease and comfort.
“The hope of the righteous brings joy”
When you read about hope in the bible, it’s not the kind of hope that says “I hope it’s sunny today.” The hope the bible speaks of us an absolute expectation of coming good. The book of Hebrews calls it “a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul” because it’s based on Jesus Christ. The faith we have in Him and what He has promised us is the “assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” The Greek word translated hope in the New Testament is “to anticipate, expectation, confidence.”
- Colossians 1:3-5; We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel
- Titus 1:1-2; Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began
- Titus 2:11-14: For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
- Titus 3:4-7; But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
- 1 Peter 1:3-5; Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Of the righteous
Hope founded on one’s own righteousness would not be hope at all but a false expectation. Let the double-minded man not suppose he will receive anything from the Lord. But those who are made to be righteous through trusting in Chirst’s death and resurrection–they have a hope sure and steadfast.
- Romans 3:19-22; Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it–the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.
- Romans 4:4-8; Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”
- Philippians 3:8-9; Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith
When the vanity of this life is overwhelming, when the trials and sufferings cause you to groan in anxious anticipation, let that desire for a better country where righteousness dwells bring you joy. For soon–very soon, in the twinkling of an eye–we will be with the Lord forever.
- Psalm 16:8-11; I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
- 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17; Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.
- Psalm 116:15; Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.
“Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.”
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread?
In John chapter 6 we read about a crowd of people who were following Jesus, not because they believed in Him necessarily, but because He fed them physically. It says there, “Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal;'” John 6:26-27.
Do not expend all of your effort in the pursuit of physical things. Do not exert yourself in toil for things that cannot satisfy. On the contrary, be diligent to seek the food which does not perish. Seek the Bread of Life.
- John 6:32-35; “Jesus then said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’ They said to him, ‘Sir, give us this bread always.’ Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.'”
Listen diligently to me…Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live
The only thing that will ever truly satisfy us is God Himself. We were created for fellowship with Him and will find our true belonging, our only true contentment, when we turn our ear to Him and come to Him.
- Psalms 63:5-8; “My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.”
- Psalms 65:4; “Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple!”
- Psalms 107:8-9; “Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.”
- Jeremiah 31:12-14; “They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion, and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the LORD, over the grain, the wine, and the oil, and over the young of the flock and the herd; their life shall be like a watered garden, and they shall languish no more. Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow. I will feast the soul of the priests with abundance, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, declares the LORD.”
- Jeremiah 31:25; “I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.”
“You will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
You will not abandon my soul to Sheol
In his first sermon, on the day of Pentecost, Peter quoted this verse saying it speaks prophetically of Christ’s resurrection. Christ, the Holy One of God, was not abandoned to hell nor did He see corruption. He rose again!
Now, since Christ rose again, we know for certain that we who believe in Him will also rise again.
- Romans 6:5 “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.”
- 1 Corinthians 15:21 “For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”
- John 11:25 “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.'”
- John 5:24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”
In your presence there is fullness of joy
The joy we so desperately seek after will never be found on this earth. Yes, we can be joyful in part, we can be happy and content to an extent; but true, full, complete joy will only be found in God’s presence.
- Psalm 17:15 “As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.”
- Galations 5:5 “For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.”
- Romans 8:23-25 “We ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”
- 2 Corinthians 5:1-8 “For we know that if the tent, which is our earthly home, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened–not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”
In this life we will always groan. We are homesick. We want to be where God is. In His presence there is fullness of joy.
It shouldn’t be necessary to say, but just as a reminder: eternity is forever.
No more sorrow, no more pain, no more tears forever. Not just the numb absence of pain, but pleasure forever. Always joyful, always happy, always content, always in God’s presence.
- 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 “For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”