Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
We’re living under two philosophies. (1) I can do anything. This is humanistic and prideful. (2) I can do nothing. This signifies low self-esteem. Most people are in between these two. We’re all gifted to do something. There are some things God doesn’t want us to do. I cannot jump off the Empire State Building and live. I have enough common sense not to do that. Some handle snakes during worship services. I don’t believe this pleases God. They will say that Paul handled a snake. He did but it was not part of worship. He was gathering sticks. In Matthew 4 Jesus was taken into the wilderness and tempted 40 days and nights. Satan challenged him to jump off the pinnacle of the temple. Although Jesus could have done it and not gotten hurt, he didn’t jump. Why? He said Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. If I go fishing on the lake and a storm comes up, it’s reasonable for me to expect the Lord to protect me. But if a storm comes up while I’m on the shore and I still go out on the lake, then I am tempting the Lord. Just because we want to do something doesn’t mean God wants us to. Jonah wanted to go to Tarshish. There’s nothing wrong with that, but God wanted him to go to Nineveh.
I want to share some reasons that Christians fail.
(1) Trying to succeed without Christ. John 15:5 says I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. The difference maker is Jesus Christ. As Christians we are to bear fruit. A pear tree bears pears. A peach tree peaches and an apple tree apples. What kind are we to bear? Jesus is the vine. We produce what he does. Christian means to be Christ like. Live like a Christian. Will we fail occasionally? Sure, we will. But we are to try and live like Christ. If you cut a branch from a tree and lay it on the ground, it will die. It’s not necessary to be severed from Christ to fail; we fail when we try to function apart from him.
(2) We fail when we’re not willing to admit we fail. We see this in athletes. If they make a mistake in a game, instead of saying “I blew it” they make excuses or blame someone else. Isaiah was in the presence of the Lord and said “woe is me.” He admitted he was “a man of unclean lips.” Why can’t we say “I messed up.” David admitted he failed when confronted by Nathan. Whenever we fail, and we will, let’s admit it. (3) We fail due to the coldness of our heart. If we get away from the fire, we get cold. Stay in the local church with God’s people. All God has to work with is us. He’s chosen to work through us. He wants to. Allow him to do it. If you can freeze up while coming to church, all I can say is “shame on us.” Bring your spiritually cold heart and be warmed. Sometimes we need to be pruned and trimmed. That is part of being fed. I want to be better after I leave here than I was when I came. We need to be helped. In Matthew 13:22 Jesus said He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. He was speaking of the sower and the seed. When we receive the Word, two things affect us. One is the cares of the world. We have them, but how we handle them makes a difference. We are in this world but not of it. We don’t have to be like everyone else. Another is the deceitfulness of riches. People think wealth will bring true happiness. That’s the philosophy of a fool. Seekers of wealth are never satisfied. Why? It always takes a little bit more. Wealth itself is not wrong. It’s the attitude one takes toward it.
(3) We fail when we don’t endure trials. We’re in a big one in this country right now. We can endure through Christ. God brought the children of Israel to get them, as a nation, to the Promised Land. Some compare Canaan to our Promised Land. It is not a proper comparison. When they got to Canaan, they still had to fight. They still died. They still got sick. When we get to heaven, we’ll not fight another battle. We won’t get sick. We will never die. Heaven is better than Canaan. We need to face problems. John and Matthew tell us about the need to feed the multitude. The problem was identified. One option was to send them away. We can’t run from our problems; we need to face them. We might as well. They come back. We can face our temptations through Christ. There are so many promises in the Bible; God will come through on them. In First Corinthians 10:13 Paul said There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. Between me and the trial is a door to escape it. We can bear the temptation if we take that way out. We need to choose it. Peter said in Second Peter 2:9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations. Paul implied that we have no one to blame but ourselves when we don’t endure.
In conclusion, I can say that through Christ we can fulfill every duty. Whatever your role is, you can succeed through Him. You can be an effective Sunday school teacher, usher, deacon–whatever it is. Apart from Christ we’re all a hopeless case. The difference is him working through us. A church will grow through Christ. Jesus didn’t say to lift up the preacher. He didn’t say to lift up the church. He said he must be lifted up. We can do all things through the Lord. He strengthens us.