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ARE YOU ABOUNDING?
by Philip Owen

   We would do well in these last days, when the prospect is for ever-increasing tribulation, to consider the words of the Apostle Paul, a man made of exactly the same stuff as you and I.  For Paul said, “But I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I am amply supplied” (Phil. 4:18a).  These words are not extraordinary in themselves, but they become so when we realize that Paul was writing them from a prison cell—and not from a modern prison cell, replete with all the conveniences of home, but chained between two Roman soldiers.

   This is the same Paul whose testimony was this:  “Are they servants of Christ?—I speak as if insane—I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death.  Five time I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes.  Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep.  I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.  Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches” (II Cor. 11:23-28).

               What a testimony!  Here is a man who, having suffered virtually every anguish imaginable, could say, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstance I am” (Phil. 4:11b).  At the same time, he avowed that he had an abundance and was amply supplied.  How could Paul say such a thing?  Was he superhuman?  Was he lying?  Did he have a grace unavailable to us?  To each question the answer is “no.”  Paul had by simple faith appropriated a large measure of the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  Moreover, his experience, far from shaking that faith, had discovered the object of the faith to be the only unshakeable and all-sufficient thing in the universe.  The wilderness provided no refuge for Paul, the city no comfort, his countrymen no aid.  Even his brethren proved false.  But Christ remained faithful.  “Therefore, my beloved brethren,” he had written to the Corinthians, “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (I Cor. 15:58).

   Here is the key:  Paul could say he abounded in all things because, above all, he abounded in the work of the Lord.  His confidence was in the Lord’s promise that our labor is not in vain.  The more we abound in the work of the Lord, the more we “have all,” abound, and are full.  Remember, too, that this abundance is, first of all and primarily, an inward abundance.  That this is true is evident from the fact that it is the testimony of an incarcerated man who had suffered perils, been beaten, starved, and stoned.

   But there is a promise of physical sustenance added to the spiritual one:  “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).  If you belong to the Lord, you may claim this promise of sure supply.  Would you like to know what that supply entails?  The word itself means “to cram,” “to level up (a hollow),” and “to fill up,” “to satisfy.”  Yes, the Lord has promised to cram us full “according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”  Does that promise assure wealth?  Certainly not.  But it does assure provision without the sorrow the world experiences.  However, we must remember this:  He can fill only what is empty.  If we are full up to the nose with self, so to speak, there will be no room for the Lord to fill us with His blessings.  We must be emptied of self, yielded to the Lord, if we wish the Lord to cram us full of His blessings.  The riches He promises come by Jesus Christ—not be self or selfishness.

   In these last days before the rapture of the church, if you want the Lord’s best, then do not bargain, do not plead your goodness, do not offer your moral life.  Rather, seek Him with your whole heart, desire His will, plead only the blood of Christ.  As the poet said:  “In my hand no price I bring, simply to thy cross I cling.”  Allow the Lord to be your all, to fill you, and you will say with the apostle that you abound, regardless of your state.

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