Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Meditation for the week of August 13, 2006

Philippians 4:13 I can do all (these) things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Does this verse give us the ability to play Superman and jump off a roof and survive? Can we stop a speeding bullet or even do miraculous things for the Lord based on this promise? Of course not! The Bible is a practical book but sometimes we make it very impractical by the way we interpret it. Usually that means that we take the verse out of its context.

When Paul says that he can do all things through Christ Who strengthens him, he is referring to the things in the previous verse, “I know both how to be abased (humbled), 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 ( Philippians 4:12).” Paul had experienced want and he had experienced plenty and he was content in both conditions. Now that is a lesson I would like to learn since being content in the circumstances where the Lord places us is one of the things we should be able to do through the strengthening power of the Lord.

Sometimes this verse is used in such a way as to discourage those who are serving the Lord rather than encouraging them. When we desire to see loved ones saved or restored to the Lord and we pray about it but nothing seems to be happening, this verse should not make us feel guilty as though we are failing somehow. When we have personal weaknesses or sicknesses (Paul calls them infirmities) where the Lord reminds us that He is not going to change the situation but is going to give us grace to bear the circumstances, we shouldn’t feel like the Lord has forsaken us (2 Corinthians 12:9). When we are called to a ministry that seems to be going nowhere, we need to remember that Isaiah was sent on “Mission Impossible” in Isaiah 6:9-10. He was to preach until there was no one left to listen to his preaching, but he wasn’t going to be able to change the hearts of those who had already rebelled against God (Isaiah 1:2). God would use Isaiah to prove that He would do everything possible to warn the Israelites of coming judgment and to prove His love for them so that they would be without excuse when the judgment came. But Isaiah was sent on the mission with Lord telling him not to expect success.

I personally have never saved an individual. I wish I could but that is something that only the Lord can do. I have had the opportunity to preach the Gospel and witness the Lord save individuals as the Word of God convicts them of their sin and turns them to the Lord for salvation. On several occasions, I have held meetings where I didn’t think the Lord had worked at all and later found out that a work had been done that I didn’t know about. We cannot do all things since there are some things that only the Lord can do. I do not expect to ever physically raise the dead. I am not convinced that I will ever cure someone of cancer. But I have been called to preach the Gospel and I can do that through Christ Who strengthens me. And while I am doing it, I can assure you that there are sometimes when we who believe that we should not charge for our services (Matthew 10:8), abound and have plenty in a material way to do our work and sometimes we are abased and wonder if we can even feed our families. But since we have been called to do these things, I have personally seen God’s hand work miraculously to keep us doing a work that we could not do if we were “on our own” instead of being strengthened by the Lord.

If we understand what the Lord is strengthening us to do in this verse, it is a great encouragement. If we think that this verse is promising us that we should be able to do everything that we want to do, we are going to be greatly discouraged when things do not work out the way we had thought that they should.

Bruce Collins

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