Calvary Road Baptist Church

“OPENING YOUR OWN CAN”

Philippians 4.13

 

I would like to open this message with some material that I read in the Sword of the Lord more than twenty years ago. It has to do with the subject of my message, which is entitled “Opening Your Own Can.” Henry Ford once said, “If you think you can you are right; if you think you can’t you are right again. You won’t be able to, for as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Someone else suggested that success comes in “cans,” and added, “That is right, for failure comes in ‘can’ts.’” Napoleon is quoted as saying, “Impossible is a word found only in the dictionary of fools.” Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “They can conquer who believe they can.” The late Jack Hyles said he had taken the scissors and cut two words out of his dictionary, “quit” and “compromise.” Those wishing to succeed in life should also cut out the word “can’t.”

It is said that many tasks that were thought impossible could have been achieved had the person only had the correct mental attitude. The Word of God mirrors that sentiment to a degree, but goes much farther with it. The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4.13,

 

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

 

That verse has ten English words, reflecting seven Greek words, that can completely change a person’s life. The first five English words look like the phrases and platitudes of men: “I can do all things.” How many men have said those words, or words to that effect, only to have failed in the end? However, Paul’s first five words are different. You see, his words were never meant to stand alone. “I can do all things” is actually an empty boast that means nothing without the phrase “through Christ which strengtheneth me.” However, if we remind ourselves that Paul wrote these words from Roman imprisonment they are all the more meaningful.

Notice the phrase for just a moment. I want to explain some words to you. See the phrase “I can do”? That phrase comes from a single Greek word, iskuoo, meaning “to be strong, to have strength, to be able.”[1] Thus, Paul is saying, “I am able to do anything, I am competent to perform any task through Christ, which strengtheneth me.” That’s great! Notice another word. The word “strengtheneth.” This word comes from the very common Greek root word, dunamis. It is the word Mr. Nobel adopted to describe the chemical compound he invented. You see, Mr. Nobel, the man whose foundation began to give out the Nobel Peace Prizes was a chemist. The compound he invented and made a great deal of money from was dynamite.

What Paul is declaring for our benefit is this: I am both able and competent to perform any task, to do any thing, through Christ. Why? He has empowered me. He made me powerful. He has dynamized me. Empowered me to do what? Dynamized me to do what? Anything I want to do? No. That is prosperity theology nonsense. Empowered, dynamized to do anything God wants me to do. What this means for you and me, my friend, is that God, through Jesus Christ, has given you and me a giant can. All we need to do is open our giant can. This can does not have a pop top. It’s rather like a sardine can. You need a key to open a sardine can. But with the Christian’s can you need five keys.

Let us examine the five keys that must be used to open the Christian’s can.

 

THE FIRST KEY FOR OPENING YOUR CAN IS THE PARDON KEY.

 

Every man and woman is born into this world in need of God’s abundant pardon from the soul deadening shackles of sin. God’s pardon is so vitally necessary that without it your immortal soul will be consigned to eternal Hellfire. Think about those men and women you know who attempt to live their lives without the pardon that God provides, perhaps a son, a daughter, or a spouse. Though many people might appear to live successful lives, the fact is that all men and all women who have not experienced the pardon that comes by receiving Christ as personal Savior from sins are in reality failures of the first order.

Consider the fact that the Apostle Paul teaches, in Romans 5.6, that an unsaved person, an unpardoned person, is without strength. They have no power. They have no might. Not really. Therefore, though an unrepentant sinner may give all appearances of success, in fact he has not the power to really succeed at anything of eternal significance or importance. And what about our Lord’s words in Matthew 16.26? He asked how it profits a man to gain the whole world and then to lose his own soul. The answer, of course, is that he cannot possibly gain the whole world while losing his own soul and come out ahead. Such a person as that is a failure.

No my friend, the first key you must turn to succeed is the Pardon Key. Trust Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and live. Continue in sin and you cannot succeed, for you must eventually die . . . and no man who ends up in Hell can be described a success.

 

THE SECOND KEY FOR OPENING YOUR CAN IS THE POWER KEY.

 

This is the power of the Holy Spirit which is available to all who know Jesus Christ as Savior, who are indwelt by the One described by Isaiah as the Spirit of might.[2] What must the child of God do to have the power of the Holy Spirit? Nothing. Nothing at all. Power in your life is one of the necessary consequences of the Holy Spirit’s unencumbered presence in the believer’s life. Did not Jesus say, “You shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you?” Sure He did. And you will receive power from the indwelling Spirit . . . if you will not interfere in His working in your life by neither grieving or quenching Him.[3]

We have been commanded by God to be filled with the Spirit, Ephesians 5.18. Correctly interpreted, this means that we are directed to allow the Holy Spirit to have as much of us as He wants, to yield to Him, because we already have all of Him. Amen? Colossians 2.9 proves that. However, so many people beg for what they call spiritual power. Why do that when it’s a direct consequence of the Spirit being in your life? That’s like begging for food right after your father tells you to come to the table and eat. That said, we can’t come to our heavenly Father’s table with dirty hands. Wash them and you shall be full.

If we would simply obey God . . . if we would simply wash our hands and submit to His command to be Spirit-filled . . . we would be in possession of that second key for opening our can of success. For when you have the fullness of the Spirit you have the power of the Spirit.

 

THE THIRD KEY FOR OPENING YOUR CAN IS THE PRAYER KEY.

 

To turn this key and open your can of success you must believe the promises of the Word of God related to prayer.

 

·         You must believe that you need but ask and it shall be given you, Matthew 7.7.

·         You must believe that everyone that asketh receiveth, Matthew 7.8.

·         You must believe that you have not reason to worry, but that your problems are God’s problems and you can turn them over to Him for satisfactory solution, Philippians 4.6-8.

·         You must believe that wisdom asked for of God is wisdom received, James 1.5.

 

These and many, many other promises in the Word of God are related to the child of God being able to call down answers to prayers from heaven to enable you to succeed in your Christian life.

But there are some who say, “My prayers don’t get answered.” If you say that, let me give you some likely reasons behind your complaint. First, maybe your prayers are getting answered, but not right away . . . and you’ve forgotten that you asked God to do something for you. Because you’ve not trusted God enough to keep track of your prayer request, you’ve sinned by not being thankful for answered prayer. Second, maybe your prayers are not, truly, being answered. There are specific Biblical reasons why prayers don’t get answered. Here are a few:

 

#1     You are unsaved. God is under no obligation to either hear or answer the prayers of the lost.

#2     Your motives are wrong. God will not answer a prayer so you can feed your lust, James 4.2.

#3     Your family life is wrong. God will not answer the prayers of a man who will not dwell with his wife according to knowledge as a spiritual leader, as an example, First Peter 3.7.

#4     Bitterness and an unforgiving spirit, or any known sin you refuse to deal with, guarantees God will not answer your prayers. Psalm 66.18 says, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the LORD will not hear me.”

 

There are other reasons, but the point is clear. If God does not answer your prayers, it’s your fault, not His. You do have the key of prayer, and the infinite power of God to answer your prayers, as a key to open your personal can of successful living. If you will.

 

THE FOURTH KEY TO OPENING YOUR CAN IS THE PROGRAMMING KEY.

 

We have all heard the phrase “You are what you eat.” This is true in the spiritual realm more than the physical realm. How can anyone who lives on a diet of fast food expect to be really healthy? A computer, which is what we in some biological sense are, is what it is programmed to be. How are you programmed? Do you control your personal programming? Remember the programmer’s adage: “Garbage in, garbage out.”

This is why the Word of God pays so much attention to the thought life of a child of God and to what a believer listens to. Listen to these verses that talk about your personal mental programming:

 

Joshua 1.8: “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth: but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous and then thou shalt have good success.”

 

Psalm 119.11:  “Thy word have I hid in mine heart that I might not sin against thee.”

 

This refers to more than merely memorizing Bible verses.

 

Proverbs 19.27:  “Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge.”

 

Stop listening to losers and their failure philosophy.

 

Philippians 4.8:  “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

 

How do you allow yourself to be programmed? Do you listen to junk and trash? Do you look at junk and trash? Do you spend time with people who are depressing and negative, who instruct you by word and example to fail and not succeed? It is no secret that losers hang out with losers. Or do you meditate on the Word that you might not sin? That you might succeed?

The key to success in the area of programming is also at your disposal. Use it if you will succeed.

 

THE FINAL KEY TO OPENING YOUR CAN IS PERSISTENCE.

 

Persistence is the bulldog determination that you will, by the grace of God, overcome any obstacle, resist any hindrance, to your personal success. It is pressing toward the mark. It is the determination to use stumblingblocks as stepping stones. It is spiritual grit. Persistence recognizes that success is the harvest of good seed sown, and that success will be reaped by those who faint not, for if you faint in the day of adversity, said Solomon, your strength is small.[4]

But our strength is not small, for we have been strengthened through and by Christ Jesus. We are strong, by God’s grace. We are capable, by God’s grace. We are competent, by God’s grace. Our goals cannot withstand our assault, by God’s grace. Our objectives cannot go unrealized, by God’s grace. Our needs cannot go unmet, by God’s grace. Our desires cannot go unfulfilled if you will but use the keys I’ve described to open your can.

 

Are you an unsuccessful person? You are if you don’t know Christ as your Savior. Are you an unsuccessful Christian? Though you are ultimately successful, because you’re going to heaven someday, have you allowed personal success to slip out of your hands here and now? If your answer to the first question I’ve just posed is “Yes,” this is what you need to do: Turn from your sins and flee to the safety of Jesus Christ. This deals with your pardon. Next, obey God’s command to be filled with His Spirit. Then you will have power. Pray, specifically, without hindrances in your life. Program yourself by training your thought life and developing godly habits and character. And persist.

To help you and to help me, I’ve formulated a plan for us. I would ask you to go along with me on this plan for success. Will you hear me out? First, learn to hate the word “can’t.” It’s an unbiblical word. Paul said “I can.” Amen? Read this poem.

Can't is the worst word that's written or spoken;

     Doing more harm here than slander and lies;

On it is many a strong spirit broken,

     And with it many a good purpose dies.

It springs from the lips of the thoughtless each morning

     And robs us of courage we need through the day:

It rings in our ears like a timely-sent warning

     And laughs when we falter and fall by the way.

Can't is the father of feeble endeavor,

     The parent of terror and half-hearted work;

It weakens the efforts of artisans clever,

     And makes of the toiler an indolent shirk.

It poisons the soul of the man with a vision,

     It stifles in infancy many a plan;

It greets honest toiling with open derision

     And mocks at the hopes and the dreams of a man.

Can't is a word none should speak without blushing;

     To utter it should be a symbol of shame;

Ambition and courage it daily is crushing;

     It blights a man's purpose and shortens his aim.

Despise it with all of your hatred of error;

     Refuse it the lodgment it seeks in your brain;

Arm against it as a creature of terror,

     And all that you dream of you some day shall gain.

Can't is the word that is foe to ambition,

     An enemy ambushed to shatter your will;

Its prey is forever the man with a mission

     And bows but to courage and patience and skill.

Hate it, with hatred that's deep and undying,

     For once it is welcomed 'twill break any man;

Whatever the goal you are seeking, keep trying

     And answer this demon by saying: "I can."

— Edgar A. Guest

 

Now, commit yourself to quote Philippians 4.13 twenty times a day for the next seven days. Who will make that public commitment? As I conclude this message I invite you who need to be saved to consider the claims of Jesus Christ. You who need to deal with specific sins need to address them. And you who will publicly commit to repeating this verse with or to someone else, a Christian friend or family member, to raise your hand. By God’s grace, during the next week, we will change our personal attitudes to agree with God’s Word so that we will begin to enjoy more spiritual success. Amen?



[1] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 562.

[2] Isaiah 11.2

[3] Ephesians 4.30; 1 Thessalonians 5.19

[4] Proverbs 24.10


Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org