Can Do

September 21, 2014  Philippians 4  Strength - Can Do

 

   Paul in this verse certainly tells us that we can have a can do spirit.   I like how this verse goes in the Amplified Bible "I have strength for all things in Christ who empowers me. I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses inner strength into me, that is I am self sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency.   Sometimes our can do spirit gets challenged.  Sometimes we do not feel like we can get it done.  The enemy or life at times leads us to look at failures and to get our spirits down.   Some days are more difficult than other days.   The Apostle Paul had those days. 

    In Corinthians Paul writes we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself.   Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death.    But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.   He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again.   On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us.   Paul in the darker times of his life kept his eyes on Jesus.  He had the valleys and we will have some valleys also. 

    We see some of those dark times in his life in the book of Acts.   In chapter 16 they were followed by a slave girl who had a spirit of telling the future.  She followed Paul and Silas for days shouting these men are servants of the most high God and Paul became so troubled that he turned one day and said to the spirit in the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her.   Sometimes God may lead you to rebuke the demons in Jesus name.  There is mighty spiritual power in Jesus name.  Paul had a can do spirit.  We can be used of Jesus to impact the darkness around us. 

    A pastor friend of mine Ray Penny shared with me this story.     When Ray was pastor in Melrose Mass every Saturday night a guy would go by his house at about 11:30 at night.   He would squeal his tires at the corner taking off slow down at his house and then throw out a bag of trash week after week.  Ray Penny would go out Sunday morning and pick up his beer cans and trash from his lawn and go to church frustrated angry and it impacted his preaching so he prayed about it.  God led him to the passage in the Old Testament where the children of Israel put blood on the door posts and the angel of death would pass them by.  So he felt the Lord wanted him to claim the blood over his property.  Lord this is your property and I give it to you and I claim the blood over this property.  So he prays and prays and then the next Saturday night squealing tires again and then gets to the corner past his house and slams on the brakes.   He gets up in the middle of the night and goes outside and the trash is not on his lawn but his neighbor’s lawn. 

     He had some neighbors next to him who would party in the summer at the pool.  It would always start out friendly but end up with a huge fight and swearing.   Beer cans would be all over the lawn.  He began to pray about it.   Lord shut this down.   The parties would be on the weekend.  He went over to the fence between his property and theirs and put his hands through the fence and begin prayed over it and claimed the blood over it.   The first week end nothing changed.   The same story again.  Then one day he went outside and there was huge amount of water that came into his lawn.   Their pool broke and he said they repaired it.   That ended the party and the fighting.   Bill McGrath moved beside a bar in Auburn that was a wild and crazy place that even the police at one point did not want to go in.  The bar is now cleaned up.   In Jesus we have spiritual power to change things. 

   In Acts 16 Paul and Silas are beaten and thrown into jail.   This could seem like the end of the world for some folks but not Paul.   That certainly set Paul back in a way but God can work in setbacks.   Paul knew that God was on the throne.   At midnight Paul and Silas are singing to the Lord and God sends an earthquake.   It is get out of prison free.  In Athens Paul was distressed because the city was full of idols but Paul preaches the gospel.   Some are saved and come out of the darkness and idol worship.    In Ephesus there was a riot because the power of God was there and through Paul the town was just about turned right side up.    In Troas Paul preaches until midnight and a young lad falls from the second floor and dies but God raises him up and Paul continues preaching.  Paul’s life was challenging.   Paul faith was challenged and his life was never boring. 

     Paul had a can do spirit even in the midst of his trials.   Paul’s testimony is God will give me strength when I am cold, when I am hungry, when I am being persecuted when I am in jail, when I am being stoned or beaten with rods.   God will be with me when I am ship wrecked.   God gives me strength and God enables me to keep on.  God is with me and Paul would say I am content in all of those circumstances.   I get my life from God not what happens in this world.   He would say I cannot make it on my own abilities and my own strength.  

     We will experience setbacks and trials and we can learn from those things.   Tom Watson Sr. founded IBM and guided "Big Blue" for over 40 years. One of his most impressive moments in leadership occurred when a junior executive lost an enormous amount of money ($10 million) on a risky venture for the company.   Watson called the man into the office and the man entered and nervously blurted out, "I guess you want my resignation?" Watson replied, "You can’t be serious. We’ve just spent $10 million educating you."    Babe Ruth was considered one of the best baseball players of his day. His career lasted for 21 years and he hit 714 home runs. BUT, he struck out 1,330 times. This famous failure was baseball’s biggest attraction.   Thomas Edison had 10,000 failures. BUT, he had over 1,000 inventions.

     God seeks out ordinary folk to use.   God seldom uses the mighty, the powerful, the rich, or the influential   . The reason is obvious.   Too often such people are too full of themselves to be useful to God.   That’s why the Apostle Paul who penned these words wrote, “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called.    Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.    But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.   He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him” 1 Cor 1.

    A young man growing up in the wrong part of Houston became a bully.    He would get in fights in school, in the neighborhood, and began mugging people to get spending money.    He even beat up people just for the sake of doing it. 
He learned to box, and became pretty good at it.   He began to make a lot of money and could have almost anything he wanted. One day, during his training session for an upcoming bout, he heard his mom talking to his sister on the telephone about his favorite nephew.  The young boy had had a seizure and now lay in a coma in the hospital.    Doctors said he would probably die, but that if he came out of the coma he wouldn’t be able to move his limbs, or speak, or do any of the human functions we consider part of living.    He ran into the room where his mom was on the phone and shouted, “Momma, call the hospital and tell those doctors to give him the best of everything.    Tell them I’ll take care of all the bills, to fly in the best doctors from wherever they have to.   Tell them who I am, and that I’ll take care of everything — whatever it costs.”   His mom spoke to the doctors, and then told him, “Son, you’re just going to have to pray.”    He realized then how grave the situation was.   When someone tells you the only thing you can do is pray, things are looking pretty bad. 

       Then it hit him that all of his money, his fame, his influence, his friends — none of that could solve this problem.   It was out of his hands, out of the doctor’s hands, out of everyone’s hands.   For the first time, he was totally powerless.    And for the first time, George Foreman dropped to his knees and prayed.   He wasn’t sure God existed, but he knew that when all else failed, people prayed.    He asked God, if he really existed, to help his nephew.    Then he got back in bed.   A few seconds later, he got back on his knees and offered to give up all his wealth if God would heal his nephew.   Then he got back in bed again.   A few seconds later he got back on his knees a third time and got angry at God for letting this happen to his nephew, a child who hadn’t experienced life yet.    George told God to take his life instead.   Let the boy live and take George’s life instead.   The next morning George’s sister called from the hospital.  His nephew had woken up and could move his eyes, but the doctors said he wouldn’t ever walk again.  She called later that day, and the boy had begun moving his toes.   The next day the boy was talking, and a week later he was on his way home, “walking, talking, and back to normal.” The doctors had no logical explanation.   But George Foreman knew God had just given him a miracle.  

     Three months later in March 1977, George Foreman died in his locker room after fighting Jimmy Young.   He collapsed in a heap, and entered what he describes as “a deep, dark void, like a bottomless pit.”    In his book, God in My Corner — A Spiritual Memoir, George wrote “I knew I was dead, and that this wasn’t heaven.   I was terrified, knowing I had no way out.    Sorrow beyond description engulfed my soul, more than anyone could ever imagine.   If you multiplied every disturbing and frightening thought that you’ve ever had during your entire life, that wouldn’t come close to the panic I felt. … I screamed with every ounce of strength in me, ‘I don’t care if this is death I still believe in God.’  “Instantly, what seemed to be like a giant hand reached down and snatched me out of the terrifying place.   Immediately, I was back inside my body in the dressing room.”    That is an example of God’s power. 

      George accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior, and devoted himself to being a disciple of Jesus Christ.  He realized his human power, his money, and his prestige, were worthless in the next life, and meant to be used as tools to lead others to Jesus during this life.   He went on to win the Heavyweight Championship of the World twice.  He was ordained as an evangelist in the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ and became pastor of a small church.   He also became involved in prison and hospital ministries.   And he recently baptized his own 23-year-old daughter who finally decided to dedicate her own life to Jesus.   That’s God’s idea of power.   God changes people.   God can do something great with broken lives.  God is still working miracles in this ole world.  If we are in the fire or in the valley of the shadow of death God is with us and can lift us. 

    David was confident that God would deal with Goliath.   The giants in the Promised Land were not an obstacle in Caleb’s mind.   Noah built a huge ship when it never had rained before and saved the animals of the world.   Elijah took on the 400 prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel and then God blessed the earth with rain.  Abraham looked for a city whose builder was God.  He wanted something better than the earthly cities.    He traveled in that faith and strength.   By faith and in the strength of the Lord Gideon takes on an army of over 100,000 men with an army of 300 soldiers.  In Christ we can do great things for God’s glory. 

    It has been said.    If you think you’re beaten, you are.   If you think you dare not, you don’t.    If you like to win, but you think you can’t, it’s almost certain you won’t.   If you think you’ll lose, you’ve lost.    It’s all in the state of mind.

    How do you see God today?   Is he the great God who can do more than you ask or think?   Do you see him as loving you and supporting you?    Do you see him on your side as you walk with him?   Is He your closest friend?   Can you do all things through Jesus who gives you strength?   Do you see God as pleased with you or do you picture a God that you can never please?   Can you trust God’s promises and His word?   In your trials of life Jesus has promised you strength.   In your health issues Jesus provides strength, in your finance issues Jesus will give you strength, in your battles with your children Jesus promises strength, in our rush to get everything done Jesus will give you strength.  In our tiredness Jesus will give His strength.  I think that is what the Lord is telling us in this verse.   This should be every Christian’s testimony "I have strength for all things in Christ who empowers me.   I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses inner strength into me, that is I am self sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency.