Click here to listen to the sermon: Podcast 070713 edited
All things are possible through Christ. All things are possible, except maybe leaving a friends house with three children without breaking something. This week went to a friend’s house for the fourth of July, and we spent much of the afternoon in their backyard having a good time. Annaleigh went into the house to use the bathroom, but on the way to the bathroom she got distracted by the dessert that we were soon going to have. Several minutes later she came out and said, “Um . . . guys, I broke a plate, but everything is ok.” I said, “Wait, you broke a plate?” She replied, “Well, actually, I broke some plates, but everything is ok.” I went inside and sure enough, five of the eight ice cream bowls were shattered in pieces on the kitchen floor . . . but everything is ok. Thank you for your assurance, Annie. All things are possible?
I keep a picture on my desk of Walt Disney walking the undeveloped land of what was going to be Walt Disney World. Walt Disney is one of my heroes because of how he was able to tell a good story. I keep this on my desk because this picture represents one of the ways I understand the role of the church. What’s the point of the Church? Well, one of the roles of the Church is to build the kingdom of God, to look at undeveloped land and see a castle, to look out in the world and envision God being a part of it. Walt Disney finally decided on the property in Central Florida because “There’s enough land here to hold all the ideas and plans we can possibly imagine.” That’s incredible vision and faith in your calling to purchase 27,443 acres of land for plans, which weren’t even on the drawing board. Walt never shied away from the seemingly impossible.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. This is one of your favorite verses and for good reason. It’s a verse of encouragement and hope. Paul is writing to the church in Philippi, which has supported him throughout his ministry. He is thanking them for their continued work in the Kingdom. When Paul says, “I can do all things,” he isn’t necessarily talking about developing 27,000 acres or climbing mount Everest or going to the moon; rather he is saying that no matter what life offers, he is choosing to remain connected to Christ. Listen to what he says,
“Be glad in the Lord always! Again I say, be glad! Let your gentleness show in your treatment of all people. The Lord is near . . . I am not saying this because I need anything, for I have learned how to be content in any circumstance. I know the experience of being in need and of having more than enough; I have learned the secret to being content in any and every circumstance, whether full or hungry or whether having plenty or being poor. I can endure all these things through the power of the one who give me strength.”
We are up to our ears in boxes at our house, but it could have been worse. Before we moved we sat down and went through our things to decide what we needed, what we wanted, and what we would like to give or throw away. Moving forces you to have that discussion about what really matters. Paul can endure all things because through his connection with Christ he knows what really matters in life. “I can endure being in need. I can endure having plenty. I can endure the bad times. I can endure the good times. I have learned the secret to being content in any and every circumstance.” The secret is not what happens to you; rather it is WHO happens to you. Again, it is not what happens to you, but who happens to you. Living a life in Christ doesn’t mean you are now good at everything; rather it means that you begin to truly discover to what God is calling you.
Several years ago Darby was sitting at home during the holiday season lamenting that her husband was overseas. She sent him a Christmas card so that he could have a little slice of home while fighting in Afghanistan. When he received the card he sent a letter home saying that the other troops were jealous because he was the only one who opened a Christmas card. Darby thought, “what if…” After she prayed about it for a while, she brought an idea to her church asking, “Do you think we could collect holiday cards for our troops overseas?” The first year they collected 1,200. The next year they collected 12,000, then 35,000 then 48,000. If I asked you to collect 48,000 holiday cards for troops, it might sound impossible, but it’s not. It started with one person meeting a need by sending one card and praying about what to do next. I can do all things doesn’t mean that if we pray hard enough we can fly or shoot laser beams out of our eyes or run faster than a speeding bullet. It means we can do what God is calling us to do, no matter how difficult the task, no matter how long it takes, no matter how much fun you are going to have.
Sociologist, Richard Foster set out to discover why people are happy. He interviewed thousands of people in many different countries. When he came to a new place, he would simply ask around, “Who is the happiest person you know.” Interestingly, he found one nearly universal quality of happy people. “Why makes people happy,” he asked? “Because they choose to be.” It’s not what happens to you, it’s WHO happens to you.
When you are connected to Christ, your vision begins to change. Saul was traveling the road to Damascus, and a great light blinded him. He heard from the heavens, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” He remained blind for three days. Then Annanias, the real hero of the story, visited with Saul—A Christian visiting the great persecutor of the church, and Annanias healed him. Scripture says that something like scales fell from his eyes, and he could once again see. When Christ offers something new, when Christ offers you purpose, your vision begins to change. You begin to see the world differently.
Walt Disney was walking a plot of swamp land and saw a Magic Kingdom. There are some things that Disney does really well. Now, let me give you one of my grand footnotes. I am well aware that Disney World is not going to save your soul, but there are some lessons to be learned. When you sign up for a room at Disney World you have several selections of which view you would like. You can have a pool view or savannah view or deluxe view . . . Disney knows that if you wake up in the morning and the first thing you see out of your window is a brick wall, you will rate your vacation experience lower than if you look out of your window and see a fountain or pool.
Now, that’s a silly example, but my point is that vision matters. What you see matters. Look around. What do you see? Do you see friends and family? Do you see your parents who forced you to be here this morning? Do you see the body of Christ? Do you see that person you’ve been meaning to forgive, but just needed a sign from God to do it? Do you see a revolution? Do you see the world being turned upside down for all the right reasons? When we look in each other’s eyes, do you see the face of Christ looking back? Do you see who’s not here with us this morning, or maybe I should say, can you see who will soon be with us?
All things are possible through Christ who strengthens us and calls us and equips us We can do all that God is calling us to do and it begins with one person meeting one need for the glory of God. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.