Ten powerful words!

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Philippians Chapter 4

This week’s reading is from Philippians 4:13. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” The ten words in this verse are almost like magic words. Magicians perform amazing feats with just a word “Abracadabra.” That’s not for real. Ali Baba in the Arabian Nights opened the door to the robbers’ cave with a secret command “Open Sesame.” That was make-believe. Those of us who grew up watching Captain Kangaroo will never forget his magic words, “Please and thank you.” Those are good words for sure, but not necessarily magic!

The ten words in verse 13 are for real. I might go as far as saying that they are the most powerful words in the world. These ten little words, if understood and believed, and really believed, will enable you to overcome any obstacle, conquer every challenge, fight off every foe, bear any burden, and shoulder any sacrifice. Just seven little words! “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” These words apply to you and me as certainly as they did to the Apostle Paul. This “Can do” attitude absolutely has no limits. It is a sad fact of human nature that we seldom accomplish more than we think we can. No matter what challenges we are facing with these ten words we can overcome and succeed. It is amazing what you can do when you don’t know you can’t. David didn’t know Goliath was too big to stop. Caleb didn’t know the Promised Land couldn’t be conquered or that he was too old at 85 to continue to fight and win battles. Joshua didn’t know Jericho’s walls were too strong. Elijah didn’t know his enemies were too many.

Faith is more than positive thinking. But it is never less. God has never accomplished anything through folk who say “I can’t!” Often, though, He starts with people who say “I can’t” but He changes them to “I can” people like when He first called Moses to lead Israel. He was an “I can’t” person, but God changed him into the leader of a new nation. God has moved mountains, toppled kingdoms, and turned the world upside down with ordinary folk who say “I can! I can!” Not “I might, I should, or I could if only.” I can do all things through Christ. So how can we knock the “T” out of can’t? We knock it out through faith and perseverance, not faith in ourselves, but faith in God. Perseverance is the ability to keep on going even when the going gets tough. I think that many times we quit too soon. In many cases, if we had just continued we would have accomplished what we were trying to accomplish, but we quit too soon. The truth is this: Through perseverance and faith IN CHRIST “I can”, “You can”, “We can” do all things!

Trying to find myself

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Philippians Chapters 1 through 4

Many times I have heard people say that they are trying to find themselves. Some seek to find their identity in a career, some seek to find their identity in their degrees, and some seek to find their identity in their relationships. In the movie Jerry McGuire there are some famous lines like, “Show me the money” and “You had me at hello,” and when Tom Cruise looks at his wife and says, “You complete me.” Complete me? Think about this. Now Roxanna and I have been married for 40 years. We never had a song, movie, or book written about us, we just had each other. While I love her and know in my heart she is God’s gift to me she doesn’t ‘complete me.’ She makes me a better man, but she doesn’t ‘complete me.’ If you were to ask her the same question, she’d tell you that I don’t complete her. I know that’s hard to believe with me being who I am, but I don’t fill the God-shaped hole in her heart, nor am I supposed to. That is God’s job. To expect another person or relationship or a career or a degree to complete you and fill the God-shaped hole in your heart is setting you up to fail. It is unfair and unrealistic. In Philippians 3:9, Paul says that he gave up all the things that he was pursuing to find his identity. He realized what was missing was that he needed to “be found in God.” What Paul is saying here is that he found himself when he opened his life up to God. He was ‘completed’ in God. Rather than trying to find our identity in other things or other people we need to realize that until we find ourselves in God we will never be complete.

Being thankful for ALL things?

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Ephesians Chapters 4 through 6

This week’s reading is found in Ephesians 5:20. “Giving thanks, always, for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” When I read this I felt prompted to stop and just meditate on all the things I was thankful for. As I was doing this a few things came to my mind that I was not thankful for. So I began to pray and ask God how could I be thankful for ‘all’ things since there were some things that I was not happy about in my life. I sensed the Holy Spirit challenge me to find something I could be thankful for even in those situations that were difficult. I began to think of things that I could be thankful for, grateful at least that the situations were not as bad as they really could have been, relationships that maybe were not as good as they could be, but at least there were some good things in that relationship to be thankful for, health that maybe was not perfect but still grateful that I was able to do all things that I could still do. In the process of doing this, I felt a true sense of the presence of God and actually a birth in my spirit of a seed of hope. Maybe these things were not as bad as I had thought and even if they were, there was hope that they could get better. Complaining starts first in the mind and then finds its way out of our mouths. When we complain it is almost like pronouncing a curse. When we are thankful in our minds that thankfulness also finds its way out of our mouths. Being thankful, though, is like speaking life into situations. It drives away darkness and despair. Be thankful for ‘all’ things, both the good and the bad. Every time the temptation to complain springs up in our minds, ask God to help you find at least three things to be thankful for in that situation. I believe God will honor this and bring new life in places where there once was only despair.

Walk worthy of your calling

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Ephesians Chapters 4 through 6 

This week’s reading is found in Ephesians 4:1 “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called.” Is this possible? Can we actually walk worthy of our calling? Paul is saying that you are ‘already worthy’ now learn how to walk accordingly. Once you finally know who you are then you will know how to act. We don’t need to argue with God. We have been chosen by Him to be His ambassadors. Humility comes from accepting His choice. False humility comes from arguing with God, denying what He says and what He has done for us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

The word “calling” used here means vocation, career, or mission in life. It means that Christian living is “goal oriented.” You have a direction and a purpose that you are striving for. This is not only true for those who are called into full-time ministries, like pastors, missionaries or evangelists. ALL CHRISTIANS ARE CALLED. All Christians have a HOLY CALLING. This is not just to a certain vocation, but also to a way of life. What we are doing should be what we are called to do. Walk worthy of that calling. The day-to-day behavior of the saints must match their status, for we are members of Christ’s Body, the Church, and called to share in our Savior’s glorious destiny.

Like it or not the world watches us. The believer at work is under constant surveillance. When we speak of our Savior and the life He offers, everything we say is filtered through that which has been observed by others. The very best platform upon which we may build a case for Christianity rests on six massive pillars:  Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. How do we walk the walk?  Do we walk worthy of our calling? Our calling is a sacred way of life. “’Say, Bob, ‘What is your job?’ ‘Why I am an ordained plumber.’ ‘What is your job, Joe?’ ‘Why I am an ordained computer technician.’” What is your job? Your work is your calling, your family is your calling, and your neighbor is your calling. It is your ordained responsibility. It is your pulpit. Are you walking worthy of your calling?

 

Everyone needs an E3:20

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Ephesians Chapter 3:20

Everyone needs an E3:20 experience. Everyone needs an E3:20 story in their life. What does E3:20 stand for? It stands for Ephesians chapter 3, verse 20. “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.” The Amplified Version says, “Now to Him Who, is able to carry out His purpose and do superabundantly, far over and above all that we dare ask or think, infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams.” The words, exceedingly, abundantly, above all mean the same thing, “more than.” So we could actually read this passage like this, “Now to Him who is able to do more than, more than, and more than, we ask or think.” Do you get the point Paul is trying to make here? He is overemphasizing the truth that God is not hung up on just providing exactly what we need, actually, Paul is saying that God is hung up on providing “more than” we need. Many times we hear people say that God is not interested in our “wants” but He is interested in our “needs.” While it is true that God is interested in our needs, this verse makes it very clear that God is interested in our “wants.” This verse is saying that God is interested in “more” than our wants. When it says, “above all we ask or THINK” this is saying that sometimes we don’t even know what we want but God does and He is willing to provide even when we don’t ask Him for it.

I truly believe everyone should have an E3:20 experience in their lives. Actually, we should all have several E3:20 experiences. ‘Coincidences’ that we know were not coincidences but were actually times that God fulfilled Ephesians 3:20 in our lives, times when God did ABOVE what we asked or times when God did more than we even thought. When I was building our house next to the church, we received the blueprints and I began to change them. One of the changes I made was to eliminate a large stone fireplace that covered the entire wall in our living room. This was going to save us about $5,000. We didn’t have much money so every bit counted. I decided to just leave the wall, a plain wall. My friend, Mark Poland, came over to measure for my windows. When he came into the living room, he asked me what I was going to do with the big plain wall. I explained to him that I was just going to leave it plain. He said that a large bow window would look great there. I told him that a large bow window would cost me as much as the fireplace that I whited out. He agreed, but then he said that sometimes his company had mismeasured windows they sometimes sold off cheap. Why not give them a call and see if they had any mismeasured bow windows? We called his company and he put the call on speakerphone, so I could hear it. He asked them if they had any mismeasured bow windows. They said that it was strange that he would ask for a mismeasured bow window. Just the day before, they had received the largest mismeasured bow window in their company’s history! The window was made for a special house that had six-inch walls and an eighteen-inch overhang. My house just happened to have six-inch walls and an eighteen-inch overhang! Almost all houses are built with four-inch walls, but when I built my house I wanted the extra insulation, so I put in six-inch walls. The length of the bow window just happened to be exactly what I needed, twelve feet. The manager gave us the window for free!  All we had to do was to pay a hundred fifty dollars to ship it and Mark helped me put it in. When we had put it in I was standing in my living room just admiring the window. I was thinking, “Wow it would have been great if I could say, that I prayed for that window. That would be an awesome answered prayer!” But then God reminded me of this scripture in Ephesians that says He gives us above and beyond all that we can ask OR THINK! It was better that I didn’t pray for it. I didn’t even think of putting one in. I surely didn’t even have the faith to ask God to provide a bow window. I was just going to be happy with a big wall, but God wanted me to know that sometimes it just gave Him joy to bless me with things I didn’t even think to ask for. Some people get all hung up about praying the exact and correct way. It is important to pray correctly, but I want to go on record that God is able to give above and beyond all that we ask or think. Exceedingly and abundantly above all that we ask or think. God wants us to have ABOVE our needs. Paul uses triple adjectives, “exceedingly, abundantly, and above.” This is done to OVER EMPHASIZE the point he is making. Make no doubt about it. God can do it, and will. God’s ability and willingness are not separated, as Satan often tells us. “Oh yes He can but will He?” Of course He will. That’s the whole point. Superabundance is God’s way.

Jesus talked about this when He told the story of the prodigal son. When the prodigal son was thinking about returning to his father’s house, he said, “In my father’s house there is bread and enough to spare.” That is what drew the wayward son back home. He knew his father was a loving, giving father. Ephesians 3:20 is one of those verses, every Christian should spend some time meditating on. Too many people never tap into the tremendous resources that God has made available to us. He will do ABOVE all that I ask. He will do ABOVE all that I think. He will do ABOVE! He will do ABOVE all that I ask OR even think! Ephesians 3:20 is telling us that God is bigger than our best prayers! God answers prayers you might not have even thought to pray! How great is that?