“I can do SOME things through Christ who gives me strength.” declared the pastor from the pulpit.
The twisted version of the verse caught my attention a number of years ago while sitting in a church service. The majority of us knew that was not the way Philippians 4:13 went. The congregation was quick to respond in disagreement along with a little chuckle.
After the short pause that allowed us to reflect on what had been said, the pastor proceeded with a question…”but isn’t that how we live it?”
Busted!! I had grown up in a Christian home all of my life. Growing up I memorized many passages and verses in the Bible. I had heard all of the stories, attended Bible College, worked at Bible camp, sang all of the worship songs, belted the alto harmony in the church choir, led Bible studies and Christian clubs.
Yet, I did not live my life as “ I can do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength.” I wasn’t rebelling. So I thought. But I had to say that I wasn’t really believing either.
Sadly, what dictated my belief system over the truth from the Bible was my circumstances and experiences. Live long enough and there are enough of those situations to create a theology that does not line up with what God says in the Word. So what is the purpose of the Word of God if it doesn’t trump life’s issues or influence decisions that needed to be made. Is it a book just filled with “nice” stories?
That Sunday morning jolted me into reading my Bible through a new lens. What other passages did I “know well” but didn’t live as if they applied to my life?
What was I going to do with verses like…
“God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7?
If He has not given me that fear, why would I accept it as if it was my lot in life? What would cause me to live like I have to consent to, make room for, or own fear? God is telling me there is a way out of fear. The answer was in those very pages and in the finished work on the cross.
Do I believe it? Do I react in faith, trusting God to be true to His promises?
“The Word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” Hebrews 4:12
The Word of God IS relevant for today. It is accomplishing and achieving. My circumstances do not change the truth in the Word. But…the Word can and will alter the experiences in my life or how I respond to them. It brings healing, encouragement, comfort, protection, wisdom, peace, joy, courage, boldness, and so much more. Do I know it? Do I believe it? Does how I speak or live line up with the truth in God’s Word?
On my mirror above the sink in my bathroom, I have written Psalm 119:5 –
“Oh that my life would consistently reflect your Word.”
It was my verse of the year many years back. After 365 days I did not feel like I had mastered it and was convinced it would be my lifelong journey. That is my desire. I want to live my life as a reflection of God’s Word not as a victim to my circumstances. It will take knowing and believing the power made available in the Word of God. But…
“I CAN do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13