“The Ability is Available”
Philippians 4:10-13 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. 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. 13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Philippians 4:13 is one of the most quoted of Bible verses. Sadly, it is also often the most misquoted of Bible verses. We have all heard this verse quoted in the context of giving us some sort of super human strength when it comes to being able to run faster, jump higher, or lift more. Philippians 4:13 does not give us the ability to score the winning touchdown, hit the walk-off homerun, or ring the game winning basket. Matter of fact the blessing of Philippians 4:13 teaches us how to emotionally, spiritually, and mentally get through the toughest of times of our life.
The great principle of this text is this: “once I learn how to “be” it then gives the ability to “do”. If we can learn how to “be” low, or how to “be” hungry then we fail to realize our ability to “do” the work of God. Our ability to “do” all things hinges on our learning how to be content. It is important that we understand ability to become unstuck is when we understand that God gives us the ability through his Son, Jesus Christ, to do all things. Everything hinges on our relationship with Jesus Christ. John 15:5 teaches that without Jesus we can do nothing. Jesus Christ is the source of our strength. We are encouraged, enabled, and equipped by applying this piece of scripture to our lives. There is no greater encouragement to the believer than to apply the truth that we can be in whatever state and still be able to accomplish the work of God and the will of God.
Why is this verse so significance when it comes to our ability to get unstuck from the ruts of life? First, we must realize that the deeper our relationship with Christ becomes the less we feel limited to perform the work of God. So many Christians never get out of their rut because they fail to even try. We will never truly know what we are truly capable of doing through our relationship with Christ until we actually try. The will of God can be followed. The work of God can be fulfilled. The ability is available…we just need to learn how to “be” before we tap into to what we can “do”.
- How do we go about learning how to be content in whatever state we are in?
- What does Philippians 4:10-13 teach us about getting out of the rut of life?
- What becomes our greatest hindrance to living out Philippians 4:13?
Isaiah 43:18-19 Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. 19 Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, andrivers in the desert.
If a person begins to listen to those around them close enough, they care hear the concerns of their heart. Over the past few weeks I have heard the work “stuck” a lot. It seems like individuals as well as the church can get “stuck” from time to time. It is part of life and it is something that happens as life happens. Living on a farm, I have definitely experienced the frustration of being stuck. It never happens on purpose, but it will happen nonetheless.
If getting stuck is a part of life, then how does one go about getting unstuck? When I get stuck on a tractor then all I do is call someone with a bigger tractor and they are able to pull me out. I have learned that it is not quite getting my life out a rut is as simple as having someone pulling me out. This question has led me on a journey that I have begun at our church.
Getting “stuck” or getting into a “rut” usually results in the desire of God doing something new or fresh in our life. It is like the oil in our life has lost its potency and we need some fresh oil. Isaiah 43:18-19 shows us that God “will do a new thing”. The excitement of God doing a new thing comes with a stipulation that is very difficult. The key to experiencing God doing a new thing in our lives hinges on what he tells us to do in verse 18. We must forget the past. We all know that past can be paralyzing, but if you were to study the entire chapter of Isaiah 43, we would learn that God does not bring up past mistakes, he brings up past miracles. We all live the idea of forgetting past mistakes, that is something we want to do, but we have a tendency to get “stuck” in past miracles. We need to understand that God wants to do a new thing and not an old thing. He still wants to perform miracles, but he will not do it the same way twice. God never wants us to forget his faithfulness, but we never need to assume that God will perform his miracles in the same manner. Ask yourself the question: “Did Jesus heal people the same way throughout his ministry?” The answer is “no”. God is still a way maker, but in order to get unstuck we do not need to get caught up in the “way” and pay closer attention to the “who”. God will pull us out, but he may pull us out a different way the next time. Therefore, the key to getting out of the rut is by not allowing the process of God dictate the promise of God. God will fulfill his promises…but he may not do it in the same manner.
One of the things that bother me is when people talk about “the good ole days”. It is like when I hear them talk about that period of time (whenever that was) it makes me feel like God is done. Isaiah prophesized by saying God would do a “new thing”. God is not only still working miracles, I truly believe our best days are still before us. Just because God did it a certain way thirty years ago does not mean he will follow the same pattern today. We must not allow the method of God in the past to dictate the miracle of God today.
- How do we become “stuck” in the ruts of life?
- What does it feel like when we become stuck? (Emotionally/Physically/Mentally)
- How does past miracles hinder our ability to see God at work within our lives?
- Does God doing a “new thing” make us uncomfortable, excite us, or both? Why?
Read Daniel 3
Much of our focus is how God delivered the three Hebrew boys out of the burning furnace. We celebrate their faithfulness, their courage, and their boldness. Their unwillingness to bow and conform to movement of the world is a message that has been preached all over the world. I find myself looking at these men and trying to determine what got them through such a difficult circumstance. I ask myself what I would have done if being placed in the same scenario. What would it take to get me through such a difficult trial?
I truly feel as though we get so focused on what these men did during their trial that we forget that what they did before the trial is what truly made the difference. These men did not just decide the same day of their trial that they would not bow.
- Their faith before the fire is what fueled their faith through the fire.
- Their walk with God before the fire is what help them walk with God through the fire.
It is evident that our relationship with God matters now. Everything may be great and there are no problems within your life. Please do not ignore the importance of deepening your walk with God because the trial will come, the fire is going to happen, and your day will come when our faith will be put a test. Our relationship with the Lord before the trial will have an impact to our response for the Lord during the trial.
I find myself asking the question: would my relationship with the Lord be deep enough to get me through something as difficult as a fiery furnace? Maybe I need to strive diligently to pursue the Lord right now so that when that day comes, I will not waiver. Please…lets not neglect our relationship with God. What we do before the fire will have an impact on how we respond during our fire.
Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”
Ever feel like you are moving backwards? Your body is in motion but you are either going in the wrong direction, or not going anywhere. One of the most frustrating truths I have encountered is that the Lord causes us to go backwards before we can actually move forward. The truth this verse gives me is that God does not leave his work unfinished. He takes us all go through moments where we feel like we will never accomplish our dreams, and our vision will never come to fruition. Paul was confident in the Lord’s work and His ability to finish what he starts. I must remember the same principle. God leads us around, and God leads us about. I have to remember this is the Lord’s work. I have to remember my life, plans, and dreams belong to the Lord.
I am sitting here thinking about what Joseph must of felt when God gave him a vision and then God allowed him to be sold off to slavery, and even then sent him to prison. Can you imagine God given you a dream and then the next thing you know your in a prison cell?
This leads me to believe that God is always progressing us, but from our prospective we feel like we are going backwards. I would like to just share some truths that God has given me about moving forward.
- I remember that is as long as I am still breathing God is not finished with me.
- I rehearse my promises the Lord has given me.
- I rejoice in my final destination.
- I resolve that God can do a better job with my life than me.
It is important that I remember these truths…otherwise…I would have given up.
1 Corinthians 15:57-58 “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
Life can rattle us. Lets be real…life can be just down right tough. I think about the command the Lord gives me to be steadfast and unmovable. Then I think about all the things that make me the complete opposite. I think about doubt, distractions, discouragement, and defeat. All of these things can occur and it causes us to waver, and quit. I ask myself the question: “what keeps me going?” I believe this verse gives some helpful insight as to the things we must implement in order to stay unshakable. Lets look:
- My Relationship with God’s Son: The text teaches me that victory does not just come from the Lord, but victory comes through the Lord. This means the closer my relationship becomes with the Lord the more stable I become.
- My Resolve toward God’s Work: I have to constantly remind myself that I am not working for fame, popularity, or applause…I am working for the Lord. Just thinking about being about the King’s business gives me a jolt. Alert!!! It is not about me…can’t ever be about me. My reward is in eternity and it matters very little about my rewards on earth.
- My Reliance on God Promise: God promises us that our labor will never be in vain. God takes record and will not allow the labor for His Kingdom to go unnoticed.
Every now and then I will complain about what God is not doing in my life. These I realize that I am forgetting all the things that God is doing within my life. However; these principles keep me stable, strong, and moving. It is important to take a close look at each of these areas and address the one’s that need work. I, for one, need a reminder from time to time.
Romans 10:1 “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.”
This verse gives an insight to the heartbeat of the Apostle Paul. Paul’s Passion, Paul’s Prayer life, and Paul’s Pursuit was geared toward the Israel’s salvation. I find it amazing Paul’s purpose for life was geared toward the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the salvation of souls. It convicts me to the core to assess the thoughts, desires, and intention of my heart from day to day and find that my desires are not always based on eternal value. I can honestly say that deep down my desire is to see my community come to know Christ. The problem that I face is whether or not I am pursuing it in the right manner. This verse causes me to really evaluate my evangelistic zeal. It makes me assess my schedule, my habits, and my prayer life. Is the salvation of souls really at the forefront of my desires? Is a person’s eternity really the most important aspect of my life? Is things of eternal value really a personal value of mine? What was the first thing on my mind today? What has motivated me today? Did it ever occur to me throughout my day that the people I encountered could be lost? Personally, I have been weighed, I am been measured, and I have been found wanting. How bout you?
Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”
Many times we read, quote, or rehearse verses so much that they begin to lose their potency. This, for me, is one of those verses. I have quoted this verse countless times. I have even preached from this verse. However; today I am have been given a fresh perspective. Today the Lord is charging me, challenging me, and convicting me through this verse to evaluate whether or not I am truly trusting Him.
Trusting the Lord with all my heart is something that requires me to completely disregard my own understanding and logic. I cannot say that I am truly trusting the Lord with all my heart if I am getting frustrated when things are not working out as I have envisioned. I am learning that my frustration with the Lord’s business is actually a lack of trust. Trusting in the Lord with all my heart requires me to not get frustrated with God’s timetable and God’s will. Trusting in the Lord means that my understanding and logic must be put away in order to rely on Him completely.
Today, even though I get disappointed and discouraged, I must look deep within my heart and evaluate whether or not I am truly trusting the Lord with all my heart. My life, my plans, and my dreams belong to the Lord. If that is true, then I must learn to trust him in all areas of my life. I encourage you to do the same.