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Devotional - Top 10 Bible Verses - #4 - Philippians 4: 13 - Can Christ Do All Things Through You?

Discussion in 'Thoughts for Today' started by anthony wade, Dec 5, 2013.

  1. Philippians 4:13I can do all things through Christwho strengthens me. (NKJV)

    As we continue in our series of the top ten most searched Bible verses we come to number four - Philippians 4:13. Back in 2008 I had done a piece on this verse which I present today with modest edits...

    One of the most adored bible verses is Philippians 4:13. It is probably one of the most quoted and referenced. Unfortunately, it sometimes seems that we can lose the true meaning of these great words from the Apostle Paul. We tend to use this verse as a means of encouragement for something that we feel we need or want to do. You have a big exam coming up? Don’t worry; you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you! You want to be a lifeguard but can't swim? Don't worry; you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. While encouragement is always welcomed, this usage misses the mark greatly. There is so much more we need to learn from this verse.

    For starters taking a closer look at how the sentence is constructed we actually see that it implies the opposite of what it says. How? It does indeed say that we can do all things but it attaches a precondition to it; specifically, through Christ. So the oxymoron in the sentence is that we can indeed do all things, if we are willing to admit that we can actually do nothing without Christ! It is only through Jesus Christ that we can do anything, let alone all things! A good example of this is when Peter walked on water. The story goes that the disciples were in the middle of the sea when Jesus approached them, walking on the water. After Jesus assured them He was not a ghost, Peter speaks:

    "Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water." – Matthew 14: 28.

    Peter knew full well that he could not walk on water. He knew if he just stepped out of the boat, he would drown. Yet he also knew that through Christ, he could do all things. The result after Christ bid him to come to Him on the water?

    Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!" – Matthew 14: 29-30

    As long as Peter was allowing Christ to work through him, he walked on water. Once he took his eyes off of Jesus and onto his present situation, he could no longer do all things. Why? Because he was no longer working through Christ but rather believed his own understanding; the fact that the wind was against them.

    This is how it is in our own lives as well. Philippians 4:13 is not saying that we can do all things. It is actually saying that we can do nothing, except through Christ. Christ can do all things through us, IF we allow Him to work through us. Why? Because He strengthens us. One of the greatest bible stories of strength is the story of Samson. Samson was set apart for God; a Nazirite. He once slew 1000 men with a donkey jawbone. He led Israel for 20 years and fought constantly with the Philistines. Because he was a Nazirite, no razor had touched his hair and Samson attributed his legendary strength, to his hair. He was in love with Delilah who was trying to find out the secret of his strength so she could betray him to the Philistines. Eventually, Samson relented:

    So he told her everything. "No razor has ever been used on my head," he said, "because I have been a Nazirite set apart to God since birth. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man." – Judges 16:17

    Delilah then had his hair shaved off while he slept in her lap. When the Philistines came upon Samson this time, he could no longer do all things:

    Then she called, "Samson, the Philistines are upon you!" He awoke from his sleep and thought, "I'll go out as before and shake myself free." But he did not know that the LORD had left him. – Judges 16:20

    The secret was not in his hair, but that he had been set apart for God. The secret was that he allowed God to work in him. Once the Lord had left him, he could no longer do all things. He no longer had his legendary strength. It is God that strengthens us, not our own power or any external thing we attribute it to. It is through Him that we can do what He wants us to do. Eventually, Samson would be made sport of by the Philistines. They had gouged his eyes out and were having him entertain them one day when Samson pleaded one more time for God to work through him:

    Then Samson prayed to the LORD, "O Sovereign LORD, remember me. O God, please strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes." Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, Samson said, "Let me die with the Philistines!" Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived. – Judges 16: 28-30

    It was only through God, that Samson had his strength. It was only through God that he could do all things. When he forgot that and relied upon himself, the Lord left him to his own devices and the price he eventually would pay was his life. We need to always remember that Philippians 4:13 is not only encouragement, but a stark reminder that it is only through Christ that we can do anything at all.

    But going even deeper, Philippians 4:13 means even more. What we usually forget is the context. The preceding verses to 4:13 are as follows:

    I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. – Philippians 4:10-12

    Look at what Paul is saying to the church at Philippi. He has learned to be content; whatever the circumstances. He knows what it is to have need and to have plenty. The issue is not what you have or do not have, but WHO you have in all situations. The next verse is 13, where he declares that he can do all things through Christ who strengthens him. Perhaps a better phrasing would be that he can endure all things through Christ who strengthens him. Paul is not speaking about “do” as an action word. He was not speaking about having to do something. Rather, he is speaking about the state of mind of being assured that Christ is working in all things.

    Why is Paul making this point? God knows that we will have times in our lives where our focus is off of Him. He knows we have a propensity to worry about everything from material needs to safety, to relationships. God is saying here that we can do all things, or in all things, we can be sustained, but only through Christ who strengthens us to endure. Paul should know. He had been stoned, flogged, and shipwrecked. His sufferings were well documented yet here he is assuring us that he had figured it out! He had figured out how to be content through it all; Godly contentment! How? Through Christ of course! By turning his worries over to Christ. Jesus Himself said:

    Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? "Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. – Luke 12: 22-31

    Your Father knows what you need beloved. Just seek His kingdom and what you need, will be added unto you. His message to you today from Philippians 4:13 is not what you can do through Christ, but rather what Christ can do through you. What do you allow Him to do through you? It is God’s hope that we can get to the point of being content in all situations, no matter how dire they may appear. Why? Because being content in the storm is the true measure of someone who is totally dependent upon God. Their circumstances do not dictate their joy but rather their joy from allowing God to work in them, dictates to their circumstances. The truth is that when we are totally dependent on God for our needs then they no longer become our primary concern. When they are no longer our primary concern, then God truly can strengthen us to work in our lives and to work through us. Then we can do all things.

    Anthony Wade – September 11, 2008

    Edited - December 4, 2013

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