The Expository Files

Being Optimistic not Pessimistic!

(Philippians 4:13)

"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (KJV)

"I can do everything through him who gives me strength." (NIV)

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (NKJV)

Paul, the inspired apostle to the Gentiles, gives us a statement of his mind set, which I believe we can look at closely in a profitable manner. Paul was in prison, yet he wrote this, having been there a long time, falsely charged and unjustly treated! The fact is we can do ALL THINGS that are profitable and good, regardless of circumstances! The avenue is provided (The ONLY one in fact) -- through Christ! It is availability to anyone who will apply him/herself, and the source of real strength is Him: who strengthens me.

Attitude we need to succeed!

This should be our mind set regardless of our surroundings! In Paul's condition one might not expect him to be thus so optimistic! Yet, he recognized that he is not limited in what he can do! He left us with this example, as he recognized he was an example (1 Tim. 1:12-16) -- showing us a "pattern" to them which should come hereafter! Listen to his claim to Timothy.

"12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; 13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. 14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. 16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.

Action is necessary!

1. One can have salvation even after making many mistakes. Paul sure had done much wrong, in opposing the disciples of Christ, THINKING he was dong right (Cf. Acts 26:9-10). Yet, later, after being enlightened, he recognized that he had been the chief of sinners. God's grace is sufficient to forgive, Paul could and did serve the Lord acceptably, and he wanted people to know that fact (Phil. 1:12-14). Neither did being rejected by many of his countrymen, placed in prison for doing right, and being falsely charged, cause him to become bitter, despondent, or discouraged, thinking that he could not accomplish any good. In his circumstance!

2. So can any person who will submit his/her life according to the teachings in the New Testament scriptures. That person may have done many things that were displeasing to God and perhaps hurtful to men, but he/she can have forgiveness and then be engaged in the greatest work in the universe -- teaching and persuading others of the greatness of salvation in Christ Jesus!


I Can Vs. I Can't

He who THINKS he can, very likely can and will! Likewise, he/she who THINKS they can't is right, and surely will not, because they will follow what they THINK.

The 12 spies saw and reported! They had all saw and experienced the same thing, in the land they spied out. Yet, they made different claims about what could be done. Why, it was how they viewed the Lord and His instructions! Two said we can, and they did, even though it took them 40 years! Caleb said, when he entered the land forty years later: "Give me this mountain." (Josh. 14:12). He had another spirit, following the Lord wholly (Num. 14:24; Jos.14:8). Joshua and Caleb, had to linger with the others, but they reached their goal -- in time!

He/She who THINKS they can't are correct, also, with that state of mind! Ten said we can't, and they didn't: They died after 40 years wandering in the wilderness! The different was the mind set! We can! How many handicapped people have accomplished so much, while otherwise normal people have failed, by deciding they can't!

Some people fail to begin the Christian life, thinking they can't hold out! Some start and drop out, thinking there are too many difficulties! Many, as Paul, under difficult circumstances finish the course (2 Tim. 4:6-8). With the mind set that they could, they did.

Determination comes from having decided that one CAN and thus they will, because God will enable them to do so! Beloved, let us have the mind set that Paul manifested and therefore, we'll achieve good things on earth and be prepared for the blessing of heaven! Let each of us say with the apostle, "I can do all things through Christian who strengthens me."

The Avenue is SURELY CHRIST!

Being In Him -- that is Christ. One has to look at the position one must be in, in order to reach the goal that Paul, the inspired apostle promises!

1. Look at Saul/Paul's conversion: Being convinced that he had been fighting against the Son of God, he evidenced repentance praying and not eating or drinking (Acts 9:9) for three days, waiting to be told what to do; confessed Christ (Acts 9:6) -- asking what to do, and Ananias told him (Acts 22:16). He acted immediately, and then went to work traveling a different road from what he had been traveling, preaching the gospel, and he never allowed anything to keep him from so working, even though he was persecuted on nearly every side. He kept the faith, finished his course, fighting the good fight of faith till the end! (Cf. 2 Tim. 4:6-8). Therefore he could leave this world in anticipation of better things waiting for him and all whom he had influenced to submit their lives to the same Master, who would love His appearing!

2. Look at his immediate change in behavior. He began to preach Christ "straightway" even among his country men, (Acts 9:20). Beloved isn't it a lovely thing to see a person who has missed the mark, to see that person commit his/her life to Christ and immediately observe the change in their outlook, outreach, and output. How powerful the gospel, how right the gospel for the life of human being. How needful it is to produce real change.

3. Paul faced difficulties from the start; brethren knew of his reputation (Acts 9: 26ff), and were reluctant to accept him. However, there were others who had witnessed his turn around, dramatic change in behavior, and the new goal he had and expressed. He was accepted by the dedicated disciples when they hard the story.

4. This man Paul remained faithful in his service, TRUSTING Christ as Lord, and went throughout the country, regardless of the opposition, explaining how God had from the beginning pointed to the need for Christ to come -- pointed to the message in the prophets (Acts 24:14-17; 28:23-28)!

1. See his faithfulness -- as he explains in (Phil. 4:11-12).

2. He has learned some things, as we all are to grow in knowledge (2 Pet. 3:18; 1:5-11).

3. Beloved, do we have that mind set? If not let us develop it!

Christ is the avenue to real spiritual success.

Ability Provided!

Strength is provided for me, you and anyone who willingly submits! Paul attributed all his success to the strength given him by the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So, must we all recognize and accept that fact: without Him we can actually do very little or nothing that really counts in the eternal perspective (Jn. 15:4).

Conclusion: Look at Paul, Daniel and others --in difficult situation purposed Not to be defeated; understanding each can succeed!

1. Only in and through Christ!

2. He'll give us strength -- when we are weak enough to depend on Him, we are strongest! Beloved each of us can do all things that REALLY COUNT through Christ who strengthens!

By Bill Sexton
From Expository Files 11.2; February, 2004