Sermon for 10.15.23 “I’ve got a secret”

Pentecost 20 (Proper 23), Oct. 15, 2023
Text: Philippians 4:4–13
Theme: I’ve got a secret
Other Lessons: Isaiah 25:6–9; Psalm 23; Matthew 22:1–14

A. In the Name of the Father…Amen.
B. The Epistle lesson serves as our sermon text for this morning.
C. Grace, mercy, and peace be yours from God our heavenly Father through
our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
D. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:
LSB 919 Abide, O Dearest Jesus (stanzas 1-3)
Abide, O dearest Jesus,
Among us with Your grace
That Satan may not harm us
Nor we to sin give place.

Abide, O dear Redeemer,
Among us with Your Word,
And thus now and hereafter
True peace and joy afford.

Abide with heav’nly brightness
Among us, precious Light;
Your truth direct and keep us
From error’s gloomy night.


A. In our worship together on this Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost, we are
directed to the rich banquet that is our life as God’s people redeemed and
chosen in Christ—both here in time and hereafter in eternity.
1. This week’s Collect reminds us that because of our sinfulness, we
deserve only God’s severe judgment—no lavish banquet!—yet He still invites
us to trust in him for our salvation because of the greatness of his grace
and mercy.
2. In today’s Old Testament Reading (Isaiah 25:6–9), we are given a
description of the joyous feast of eternal life that awaits us in heaven, a
feast we can anticipate in true joy even now because our death has been
conquered once and for all!
3. In the Epistle (Philippians 4:4–13), Paul can only recall abundant
banquets in his past (4:12), yet he affirms that even while our way to
heaven may be in hunger, we can rejoice in all circumstances—for God grants
us peace and strength through his Spirit!
4. And in this Sunday’s Gospel (Matthew 22:1–14), Jesus’ parable of the
royal wedding banquet of the king’s son, Jesus shows us that salvation is
extended to all by God’s free grace.
B. Knowing all this, we can truly celebrate the peace and contentment that
God pours out upon us. How so?
1. By letting others know of the joy we have in Christ,
2. By the gentle attitude and selflessness we strive to exhibit in our
dealing with others, and
3. By testifying by our attitude that anxiety has been lifted and peace of
heart given to us:
A. even as we maneuver through all the ups and downs of life in the here
and now,
B. waiting to be welcomed into our Lord’s heavenly kingdom.
C. Joy is a key word and a key concept in the apostle Paul’s letter to the
1. Here in chapter 4, it is good for us to remember that even while Paul
was in prison, his joy abounded beyond all the adversity and suffering he
was encountering.
2. In addition, he was ever mindful of the ministry and love poured out
upon him by warm-hearted Christians.
3. Yet at the same time, he knew how to rebuke the Philippians lovingly.
4. In connection with the “secret” he talks about in verse 12 and that
which Paul deals with in verses 5–7, it is encouraging to know that this
secret can pass all misunderstanding as well as all understanding.
5. What great assurance we are given in verse 13!:
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
6. Do you believe that we can do “all things” through Christ who
strengthens us?
7. What a blessing it is to realize that while there is every need for
grace, there is always grace for every need.
8. And the divine supply of our Lord’s grace is inexhaustible, since it
comes from His riches in glory.
9. Without saying it in our text for this morning, Paul tells us: “I have
got a secret” and he wants to share it with us.
I. To learn Paul’s secret, we begin by recapping what we were told in last
Sunday’s Epistle.
A. Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians while he was in prison.
1. To a church that was undergoing persecution.
a. From Rome
b. From those within the Church.
2. To a church that disagreed as to what identified each individual as
being a Christian.
a. Did one have to follow the Jewish ceremonial laws in order to be a
B. Paul himself came to the realization of how easy it is to make a “wrong
1. He’d spent his younger life piling up every conceivable work of the Law
to be a good Israelite.
2. Then he’d learned we are raised up instead by the power of Christ’s
death and resurrection.
3. So now he counted all the old things as rubbish.
4. But in Christ he could still keep “running the race” while on his
earthly pilgrimage.
II. Now while he was in prison, the Philippian congregation had sent Paul a
gift, though he was quite content.
A. The size and details of the gift are not identified.
1. However, it was almost certainly a collection of money.
2. The gift supplied not only Paul’s physical need but also, more
important, his need for their love.
B. For some reason, the gift was delayed in getting to Paul.
1. Still, the apostle rejoices, for he knew that the Philippian
congregation was concerned for him all along
Philippians 4:10 (NASB95)
But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your
concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked
2. In addition, he eases the minds of the Philippian congregation regarding
the gift’s delay by assuring them with these words:
Philippians 4:11–12 (NASB95)
11 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever
circumstances I am.
12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live
in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of
being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.
III. Well, what was it that allowed Paul to be content?
A. Three things:
1. he had learned he could rejoice in the Lord always,
2. he had learned to have reasonableness (moderation, forbearance) in all
things, and
3. he had learned not to be anxious about anything.
B. Paul could “rejoice in the Lord always” (verse 4)!
1. There are many kinds of rejoicing.
a. There is rejoicing in committing sins.
b. There is rejoicing in receiving gifts—which may be by no means sinful.
2. However, the rejoicing of which Paul is speaking here:
a. Is a lasting rejoicing that remains when all other rejoicing vanishes.
b. Is a rejoicing in the Lord who has won for us salvation and saved us
from eternal death.
C. Of equal importance is what Paul says in verse 5:
Philippians 4:5 (NASB95)
Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.
1. This is something Paul had to learn, perhaps under difficult
2. The message of the Gospel should affect all of our actions.
a. Even as our God has forgiven us, we should forgive others.
b. We should conduct ourselves with love and genuine concern for others.
3. Even if we are suffering wrongly at the hands of others, we should
follow the example of our Savior when He went to the cross to die there for
our sins.
4. And we should remember that the “Lord is at hand” to take us out of this
world of strife.
D. Paul knew, practiced, and directs us not to be “anxious about anything”
(verse 6).
1. Be careful to worry about nothing
2. Cast all your cares upon the Lord.
3. Already now we can give thanks for His answer!
IV. So, then, what is Paul’s secret that taught him this?
A. Again verse 12 of our text:
Philippians 4:12 (NASB95)
12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live
in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of
being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.
B. Here’s the secret (it is like Paul is calling up us to lean in closer to
hear him): having Christ is having all.
1. That’s what Paul means when he says:
Philippians 4:13 (NASB95)
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
2. Remember last week:
a. Paul learned that everything he’d formerly counted on was rubbish.
3. What mattered most to Paul?
Philippians 3:8 (NASB95)
More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing
value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of
all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,
C. By virtue of his living union and identification with his Lord Jesus
Christ, who always was, is, and ever would be his strength and his tower,
Paul could face any and every circumstance!
1. Neither the abundance of things nor the lack of them moved Paul away
from that which was the most important.
2. When we have Christ:
a. We have forgiveness of sins.
b. We have eternal joy.
c. We have the certainty that He is caring for us now—in whatever the
d. What does this mean? What verse 7 of our text says!
Philippians 4:7 (NASB95)
And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your
hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
D. You and I can now say the same!
1. What Paul wrote to the Philippians in this heart-felt letter he also
says to us:
a. Rejoice in the Lord always!
b. Let all people know our forbearance (reasonableness, gentleness).
c. Have no anxiety about anything.
d. Our Lord Jesus Christ suffered and died on the cross to take away our
e. He rose from the dead.
f. He has placed faith into our hearts and has kept it there through the
working and power of the Holy Spirit.
g. And He is coming soon to bring us to His heaven to live with Him forever.
h. We know that!

A. Knowing this secret can certainly make it possible for us to look beyond
the problems and obstacles we face in our lives here on earth.
1. We can cast all our cares on him who is our strength and our tower.
2. We can have true peace!
B. We, Too, Now Know Paul’s Secret of Having the Peace of God in Every
1. It’s all about Having Christ.
2. And when you have Christ, you have everything you need. Amen.
C. Let us pray:
LSB 919 Abide, O Dearest Jesus (stanzas 4-6)
Abide with richest blessings
Among us, bounteous Lord;
Let us in grace and wisdom
Grow daily through Your Word.

Abide with Your protection
Among us, Lord, our strength,
Lest world and Satan fell us
And overcome at length.

Abide, O faithful Savior,
Among us with Your love;
Grant steadfastness and help us
To reach our home above.
Text: Public domain
D. The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts
and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.
E. In the Name of the Father…Amen.