One of my favorite verses of Scripture is found in Philippians 4:13 where Paul the Apostle proclaims, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
A young parent almost always remembers his or her child's first words. WE are also interested in a person's last words. Supposedly they give some kind of insight into that person's values. The seven last words of Jesus have been taken from the gospel records of His crucifixion, and many songs and sermons have been composed as a result. And someone once identified the seven last words of the church as "We never did it that way before."
Today I have a suggestion for improving upon these seven last words of the church. Instead it should be, "I can do all things through Christ ..." These memorable words are found near the end of Paul's letter to Christians in the church at Philippi. Not only are they a good summary of Paul's life, but they are also words the church can live by.
Notice that these seven words are positive. Paul said, "I can." It's always easy to focus on what we cannot do. But it's far better to build on the belief - "I can" and "Christ can!" These words suggest a pattern. "I can do all things." Now Paul didn't do the things he did all at once; he did them one at a time. Then he moved on to his next project. And he enlisted the help and support of other believers to accomplish the task. We are much stronger together than we could ever be by ourselves.
These words also remind us of a Presence. When Jesus works through hearts and minds and spirits that are open to Him, the result is victorious life and effective ministry. Paul's entire life and purpose was the result of Christ living in him. Can the same be said of you and me?
Finally, these words show power ... "Through Christ who strengthens me." Christ and Christ alone is our all-sufficient source of strength. He gives daily power to face and to overcome all obstacles that are in front of us.
When the first seven words of the church become "I can do all things through Christ," the Holy Spirit will then guide the church and her people into the world to minister with love, grace, boldness and power.
("From the Pulpit" is a weekly sermon provided by the clergy members of The Weirton Ministerial Association)