I can . . .

Vol. 4, No. 14 – April 7, 2019

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. –Philippians 4:13

I like to read. In fact, I even like to read to students. One of my favorite books to read to my Middle School and High School students is Alexander and His Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. I have been tempted to read it to folks at some churches with those who complain about everything except for their little S.M.O.T.S groups. If you do not know what that is, it is the Secret Meeting of the Saints groups.

If you have not read the book, you do not need to let another day pass without going to the “store.”

If I reach back a little further, one of the all-time great books for children that is also instructive to moms and dads is The Little Engine that Could. It was originally entitled The Pony Engine, framed in a story that this engine could do what the passenger, freight, and rusty old engines would never be able to do. (That will almost preach!)

Puff, puff, chug, chug, went the little blue engine. I think I can  . . . I think I can . . . I think I can! The little engine finally reaches the top of the mountain to the joy of the funny little clown, and all the dolls and toys. Going back down the mountain it seemed to say, I thought I could . . . I thought I could!

Henry Ford, Sr. put it all into perspective: Whether you think you can, or whether you think you can’t . . . you are probably right!

Paul’s stunning statement is not boastful or wishful thinking. Since there is no do in the Greek, the broken sentence is that of an excited and vibrant man exclaiming, I can! “I can, through Him who strengthens me!”

This is not Eastern mysticism, nor is it New Age “mind voltage;” it is not even some religious philosophy of power in positive thinking. Just four basic words: I can . . . through Christ!

If Jesus Christ, Who dwells within me, controls my mind, my lips, my hands, my feet, He can do anything through me that He desires. This is the endowment of the regenerated person; the person professing is not always possessing what is infused with His strength:

  • I must act and He will enable me to produce
  • I must speak and He will enable me to speak
  • I must think and He will focus my mind
  • I must think, speak, and act (do) all things through Christ!

I have thought from time-to-time how great it would be to have a sculpted body instead of the thing I have created (yes, it is my fault). In my fantasy, I have invited Michelangelo to come and do his thing to give me a makeover body. Since he could well turn a block of marble into a world famous sculpture, he would be a great choice for my re-make. Then I have considered Leonardo da Vinci coming with his great talent of color. He could make me be a masterpiece. I do like music, so I have also considered inviting Beethoven to take control of my voice and instrumental ability – I could even write a symphony!

Then I wake up.

Nuts!

Well  . . . who would you call???

Dwight Pentecost finishes with this statement, All that Jesus Christ is today in glory can be manifested through us, because it is God who works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure.

I cannot; God can, so I should let Him

I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me. –Galatians 2:20

A list for contentment . . .

Vol. 4, No. 12

Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 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. –Philippians 4:11-12

Quite content . . . that is where I want to be.

This section of Scripture is Basic 101 in the Joy of Life course. You will want to read further in this chapter of Philippians, for Paul helps us understand where his mind and heart responds to life. He is just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. He has found the “recipe” for joy, whether full or hungry, hands full, or hands empty. He is a prisoner in a Roman jail (very unlike the amenities of the Chicago jail – if you have not seen the Chicago jail it is well-worth googling the institution).

If Paul was alive today (well, in reality he is!), this is how he might challenge us:

  • Contentment is not an economic quality but a spiritual attainment
  • Contentment is not a state of account but a state of heart
  • Contentment is found in making the most of the least
  • Contentment does not depend on what you have or where you are, but who you are
  • Contentment . . .  In a cemetery in England stands a grave marker with the inscription: She died for want of things. Alongside the marker of that frustrated woman stands her husband’s stone with the inscription: I died trying to give them to her.
  • Contentment is realizing that God has already given me everything I need for my present happiness
  • Contentment is understanding that if I am not satisfied with what I have, I will never be satisfied with what I want
  • Contentment is knowing that the more I release earthly possessions, the more I can grasp eternal treasures
  • Contentment is the power of getting out of any situation all there is in it

—G.K. Chesterton

It is a great blessing to possess what one wishes; it is greater still not to desire what one does not possess. –Ancient philosopher

Is this all not still true today? Where is your contentment? What does the depth of your heart call to you, and when will you get it under control of the Holy Spirit. It is your choice.

Paul: “I have learned by now to be quite content.”

Don’t sweat it . . .

Vol. 4, No. 12

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6

or,

Do not worry about anything, instead, pray about everything.

Worry is that growl in the pit of your stomach, those tense muscles in the back of your neck; the need for Ultra Strength Motrin in the middle of the night.

There was a jailbreak. Anxiety!! Along with the escapee came his cohorts and the anxiety that flooded the neighborhood because of their character of “crimes:” dread, fear, concern, and uneasiness. All this was on the prowl seeking to destroy and steal a very precious commodity, the personal sense of security.

When we worry, our minds become wrapped up in a problem. We turn the issue over and over, examine it from every angle, in the hope of coming up with a solution. When we do not find a quick answer, we double our emotional and mental energy; and become consumed by the dilemma.

The root idea for the word anxiety means to take responsibility. When I am anxious, I have assumed responsibility for what is happening in my life and assume I have to provide for my own needs.

Yet we are familiar with what Jesus said, Do not worry, for your heavenly Father knows your needs (Matthew 6:31-32). It is plain that the answer is not to be all wrapped up in my options, opinions, and schemes, but where my heart resides. I must bow my heart to the One who knows my needs. Mentally and in my heart, I have to make the jump that I do not have to step in and take over responsibility. I can leave it in His hands. He will provide!

If I will, mentally and emotionally leave it with Him, a great promise is offered. The peace of God will guard my heart and mind.

  • My heart is the seat of my emotions and feelings
  • My mind is the center of my thinking, my will, and of my decision-making

Like a squad of Marines, protecting the gates to the base, God, in Christ, guards my heart and my mind. With that kind of neighborhood watch plan, anxiety does not have a chance!

Who is guarding your heart and mind?

If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. –Philippians 4:7 NLT

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