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What Can I Do Through Christ Jesus?
by Michael Chu
2/19/2007 / Christian Living
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13; NKJV)
Paul, the great apostle, wrote his letter to the church in Philippi of Macedonia during his first imprisonment in Rome (A.D. 59 ~ 61) by the inspiration of God. Since then, Paul's testimony in Philippians 4:13, amongst others, has been quoted and ratified by renown preachers and/or writers throughout the world up to our present day. The challenge today is for us, who regard ourselves as ordinary Christians, to experience the same reality as them.
But, first, let's examine Paul's testimony in more detail. (I love testimonies simply because they are so powerful and edifying.) He said that he CAN confidently, single-mindedly and with heart-knowledge. He did not say "might be able to", "perhaps", or "possibly". He was dead-sure to say what he meant, and meant what he said. He declared it as a truism in his life.
Even more astoundingly, Paul said he can do ALL things; not just some of the things. To him, there was no problem too big that God cannot solve it or too small that God is not concerned with. Paul worshipped God as His Lord and Saviour, and made it a point to keep a close fellowship with God, so much so, that God is allowed full access to address all areas of his life. And, he was rewarded with revelations from God.
Paul did not boast that he can do all things by his own strength, but THROUGH CHRIST who strengthens him. The Lord told Ananias in a vision that Paul "is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake." (Acts 9:15 ~ 16; NKJV) The sufferings of Paul for the sake of the gospel are well recorded in 2 Corinthians 11:22 ~ 33. And, although he was called to be a minister and a witness both of the things which he has seen and of the things which Jesus will yet reveal to him (Acts 26:16), Paul was given a thorn in the flesh to keep him from being excessively exalted. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:9~10 (Amp.), "But He said to me, My grace (My favour and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you (sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully); for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in (your) weaknesses. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me! So for the sake of Christ, I am well pleased and take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and distresses; for when I am weak (in human strength), then am I (truly) strong (able, powerful in divine strength)."
In Ephesians 3:16 Paul shed light on how we can be STRENGTHENED with might by the Holy Spirit in the inner man, and that God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us (Ephesians 3:20). Also, in Ephesians 1, he spoke of how God has blessed us with all spiritual blessings and this includes God's exceeding great power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places.
After his divine encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, Saul's eyes were opened. He repented, turned to Christ, and did works befitting repentance, and took on his new name, Paul. He, who regarded himself as the "least of the apostles", "the least of the saints" and "the chief of sinners", acknowledged in Galatians 2:20 (NKJV) that "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." This is the "I" who says that he can do all things through Christ who strengthens him.
Paul has a personal and vital fellowship with the Lord. He declared that Christ is the one who strengthens "me"; not just this or that other person. It was a first-hand experience; heart-knowledge, if you will. He counted his illustrious family background, training and righteousness as loss (dung) when compared to the gain of being found in Christ, and knowing Him and the power of His resurrection (Philippians 3).
The ball is now on our court. We, too, can experience Philippians 4:13 in our daily walk with the Lord. To do so, we need to cultivate good discipline in all areas of our life, including the following:
1. Love the Lord Our God and Love Our Neighbour
Jesus said the first and great commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind. And the second is like it: We are to love our neighbour as ourselves. In Matthew 22:40, He said, "On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." Let's bear in mind and heart that our motive must be that of love (1 Corinthians 13) so that our good disciplines and/or works will not be in vain. Besides, without love, we will stumble in our prayer. "And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment." (1 John 3:22 ~ 23)
Jesus said, "If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and we will come unto him, make our abode with him." (John 14:23)With God working in and through us, we can do all things.
2. Respond with a Believing Heart
Matthew 13:58 records for us that Jesus could not do many mighty works (of miracles) in Nazareth because of their unbelief. In Hebrews 3:12, we read, "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the Lord." Let's not be like the generation of Israelite who missed out on entering into God's rest (Hebrews 3:19).
Rather, let us be like the father of the son, who had a dumb and deaf spirit, who cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief (Mark 9:24). Yes, we can believe God for miracles to unfold before our eyes.
3. Have Faith in God and His Word
It is imperative for us to honour God with our faith. Anything less, would, if I may say so, be an affront to Almighty God. Hebrews 11:6 states that: "But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." We have not because we did not come with faith. Let's also take up the shield of faith, wherewith we shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Then, we can be overcomers and victorious.
"For whatever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" (1 John 5:4 ~ 5) Indeed, the just shall live by faith, which is "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
4. Delight Ourselves in the Lord
At the individual level, we need to desire to spend time with God in our Quiet Time of worship, prayer and partaking of God's word. As we keep at it, our desire will develop into an acquired discipline. Then, we can move on to realise how blessed it is to bask in the light of His presence. Psalms 37:4 urges us to: "Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart." Jesus said, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28 ~ 30)
At the corporate level, also, let us, as with David, say: "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord." (Psalm 122:1); and "One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. To behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple." (Psalm 27:4) Truly, "Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God." (Psalm 92:13)
Paul exhorted us to: "Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice." (Philippians 4:4) And, Nehemiah 8:10 states : ".. for the joy of the Lord is your strength." Yea, the joy which comes from our God will strengthen us. So, let us wait upon the Lord and be renewed in our strength (Isaiah 40:31), lifting our wings and mounting up as eagles.
5. Live Life Without Strife or Worry
When there is still envy, strife and divisions among us, it shows that we are carnal. On the contrary, as believers, going on to perfection, we are to be led by the Holy Spirit. "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." (Romans 8:14)Also, we are to follow Jesus our Good Shepherd and cast all our cares upon Him. Paul wrote in Philippians 4:6 ~ 7 (NKJV), "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
If we are Spirit-led and prayerfully trusting God, we can expect to do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
6. Take Care of God's House
Haggai 1:9 ~ 10 reads: " "You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?" says the Lord of hosts. "Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house. Therefore the heavens above you withhold the dew, and the earth withhold its fruit.""
In Matthew 21:12 ~ 16 Jesus cleansed the temple and caused it to become a house of purity. He pronounced that it would be called a house of prayer. In healing the blind and the lame who came to him there, the temple was transformed into the house of power. The children in the temple saw the wonderful things and they started praising God, transforming the temple into a house of perfected praise.
The house of God is a holy and awesome place. We should upkeep it and keep it sanctified so that it would truly be Bethel (house of God), and the gateway to heaven where the angels of God are ascending and descending (Genesis 28: 12 ~ 22). It's a place for dreams, miracles and breakthroughs. Hallelujah!
7. Practise Good Stewardship
In Genesis 28:22, Jacob said, "And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God's house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee." Even Abraham, the friend of God, the Father of many nations, in whose seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, paid tithes (Hebrews 7:1 ~ 9).
If we forget to pay our tithes and offerings, we are robbing God (from releasing His blessing upon us). Malachi 3:10 says, "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out such a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."
Paul desired, not so much the gift, but that fruit may abound to the account of the saints in Philippi. Having received their gifts, he said in Philippians 4:19 (NKJV) : "And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
Jesus said in Luke 6:38, "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that you mete withal it shall be measured to you again."
God loves a cheerful giver. "But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity; for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound towards you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:" (2 Corinthians 9:6 ~ 8)
Let's examine our giving so that God's grace may abound in us for every good work.
In conclusion, I must submit that we have to continue to study God's word more extensively and thoroughly under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and put into practice what we have learnt progressively, so that we may testify as Paul did: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." In season and out of season. Amen.
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