I Can Do Anything
Please turn in the pew Bibles to Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
How do you feel today? Has life got you down? Are you struggling? Do you go through each day with a kind of a dull resentment against everything? Do you feel depressed, whipped, defeated? Well, I have got a mantra that will help you deal with the irritations and hardships of everyday life.
A mantra is, by definition, a syllable, word, or group of words that are repeated over and over in an attempt to calm and focus ourselves. Mantras are usually associated with religions like Hinduism or Buddhism. The simplest mantra is the syllable “AUM.” They say you should keep repeating that, but I never got much out of it myself. What I am offering you this morning has nothing to do with Hinduism or Buddhism. I have a Christian mantra that will help you deal with the “I can’t” attitudes that cripple people’s lives.
“I can’t” is an attitude virus. It spreads like a virus through the body of believers creating attitudes of doubt and disbelief. This attitude is of the devil and is not of God. The devil would have us to think that we are worthless, and cannot do anything, and that God is worthless and will not help us. If we have the “I cant” virus, we are defeated by every problem. It does not matter what the problem is, we are defeated before we begin. This is what every coach tells every team. If you believe you are going to lose, you are going to lose. Get rid of those negative loser thoughts.
This dreadful “I-Can’t” virus has its basis in our fears. We are anxious; We are worried; Hence, we better not try whatever we are thinking about doing. That is a poor way to live. We should turn to the scriptures. 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” These are the gifts of God—power and love, not fear.
Fear and anxiety are tools of the enemy, and we need to recognize the power we have in Christ. James 4:7, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” It might have said, “Resist your fears, and they will flee from you.” I have the magic mantra to make your fears flee.
We all like magic. Magicians perform amazing feats with just a word—“abracadabra.” That is not for real. Ali Baba in the Arabian Nights opened the door to the robbers’ cave with a secret command—“Open Sesame.” That is make-believe.
I want to share with you some real magic words. They are the most powerful words in the world. If you believe these words, really believe, they will enable you to overcome any obstacle, conquer every challenge, fight off every foe, bear any burden, and shoulder any sacrifice. So here is your mantra. Write it on your heart, weave it into the fabric of your soul. These words will revolutionize your life. “I can do all things through Christ.”
“I” is the first word of the mantra, and it reminds us of how God works in this world. God works through people. God uses people to accomplish his will. Ephesians chapter 2 says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (EP2:10). The Lord of glory calls men and women to do his bidding, but not just any men and women. God is partial to a certain kind.
God seeks out ordinary folks 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 is why the Apostle Paul wrote in I Corinthians:
“26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.” (1 Cor 1:26-29).
So Paul in our verse from Philippians is not talking to the rich and famous. He is talking to ordinary people, he is talking to you and me. “I can do all things through Christ.” I, not just exceptional people, not just the powerful, or the talented, not just preachers or saints or missionaries—I can do all things through Christ.
“I can do”—those are powerful words. It is a fact of human nature that we seldom accomplish more than we think we can. People who think, “can’t,” can’t. Henry Ford said, “Success begins with ‘I can.’ Failure begins with ‘I can’t’”
Charlie Jones was a veteran sportscaster who died last year. He wrote several books on winning and he told about the lad who was sitting sadly under a tree by the road as a crackerjack salesman drove by. The boy sat by a scruffy looking little puppy under a crudely scrawled sign reading, “Puppy for sale, cheap!” The look on the kid’s face was enough to tell the salesman he was not having much luck. The man stopped his car and walked over. The boy told him his plight. His dog had pups, and his dad told him he could have the money if he sold this last one, but nobody was interested. The salesman offered advice: “You need to think positive. You have to believe that you have the best product in the world. You have to make it look good. You have to make people believe this is the best dog ever.”
The boy listened intently as the man told him everything he needed to know about salesmanship. Finally, the salesman moved on to his appointment. An hour later, he was on his way to his next appointment. The boy with the puppy was still there. But this time the boy was dressed in his best clothes. The dog had been washed and brushed. There was a big bow around his neck. The sign now read, “World’s greatest dog for sale. $10,000 dollars!” “Oh, no,” the salesman thought to himself, “What have I done?” Unfortunately he did not have time to straighten out the youngster.
Later that day the salesman happened down the same street. He noticed that the sign was still there. The boy and dog were gone, but across the $10,000 sign was scrawled in big letters “SOLD!” The man could not believe his eyes. He had to stop and find out what happened. He walked up to the house and asked for the lad. The boy came to the door with a big smile on his face. “Tell me, son. You didn’t sell that scrawny pup for any $10,000?” “I sure did,” replied the boy. Then he hesitated and added, “Sort of. I traded him for two $5,000 cats.”
That was a boy who turned “I can’t” into “I can”—well, sort of. But it is amazing what you can do when you don’t know you can’t. David didn’t know Goliath was too big to kill. Caleb didn’t know the Promised Land could not be conquered. Joshua didn’t know Jericho’s walls were too strong. Elijah didn’t know his enemies were too many. All these people were faced with impossible situations, but they did not believe the situation was impossible, that is the whole point.
One reason we get the “I can’t” virus is that we listen when people tell us what is possible. They say, “That is too hard for you,” or “You don’t have enough experience,” or “You are too old,” or “You are too small.” They say, “I have never seen or heard of anything like that before, so it probably cannot be done.”
Paul’s point in Philippians is that we should stop listening to negative people and dwell in Christ. Then we can start living the kind of abundant life God called us to live. I can do it. No matter how impossible it seems. Jesus Christ within me allows me to have endless possibilities. So have faith in Jesus and start realizing those possibilities.
Faith is more than positive thinking. But it is never less than positive thinking. God has never accomplished anything through folks who say “I can’t!” God has moved mountains, toppled kingdoms, and turned the world upside down with ordinary people who say “I can!” Not I might, not I should, but “I can do all things through Christ.”
All Things. That is a big promise. But no bigger than other promises in the Bible. How about these “all things” promises?
MT19:26 “with God all things are possible.”
MR9:23 “all things are possible to him that believeth.”
RM8:28 “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
Any of those verses could function as a mantra for us. That is we can and should take them and learn them and repeat them over and over, and throw out the “I-can’t’s” and bring in the “I can’s.”
But let us focus on Philippians 4:13. Paul wrote from personal experience. He knew what he was talking about. He knew Christ was the Lord of all circumstances, not just the good ones. Listen to the context. In earlier verses, he said,
11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
Then he adds, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
But don’t leave out the key phrase: “through Christ.” Paul is not promoting any sort of positive thinking. He is not saying that we are powerful beings who can triumph over adversity on our own and we just need to get ourselves together and think positively and we will be all right. You hear a lot of that in our society. Dream big dreams and reach for the stars. Think positively, move toward your goals with determination and you will achieve your goals. That is not what Paul is saying. The power, the secret, is not in you or me. The power is in Christ. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Jesus put the same promise negatively in John 15:5, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). So, it is not about us. It is about him. Unless Jesus Christ is in you, unless he is the Lord of your life, you have no promise of God’s power. There is no guarantee of personal or spiritual success.
So the first step in getting over the “I-can’t” virus is to recognize where the power is: Our ultimate strength is in Christ and Christ alone.
Jesus is the First and Last, the Beginning and the End. He is savior and lord. He is the wisdom of the wise, the Power of the powerful, the Ancient of days, the king of kings. Jesus will never leave me, never forsake me, never mislead me, never forget me,
When I fall, He lifts me up!
When I fail, He forgives!
When I am weak, He is strong!
When I am lost, He is the way!
When I am afraid, He is my courage!
When I stumble, He steadies me!
When I am hurt, He heals me!
When I face trials, He is with me!
When I face problems, He comforts me!
When I face loss, He provides for me!
When I face Death, He carries me Home!
He is my source of existence. He keeps me functioning each and every day. Without Him, I am nothing, but with Him, I can do all things.
So that is the Christian mantra. That is what you should believe and repeat and live every day. Do that and you may be surprised by what happens. Your dreams may not all come true. Your problems won’t necessarily all disappear. But something better could happen.
Phillips Brooks was a noted American minister of the 1800’s. He explained it like this, “Do not pray for easy lives, pray to be stronger people; do not pray for tasks equal to your powers, pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work may be no miracle, but you shall be a miracle. Every day you shall wonder at yourself, the richness of the life that has come to you by the grace of God.”
Let us say it together: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Alleleua.
If you have questions or comments, email Tony Grant
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