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ICTC

Philippians 4:10-13

I came across a little piece entitled “Out of the Mouths of Babes,” a collection of humorous insights into the faith from the lips of children. Here is a sampling from that collection:

  • Bouncing out of her first day in the nursery class at Mt. Moriah Presbyterian Church in Port Henry, NY, a 3-year old girl gleefully informed her mother: “We had juice and Billy Graham crackers!”
  • Little Johnny asked his Sunday School teacher, “Mrs. Darvis, are there animals in heaven?” The teacher replied: “Well, Johnny, I’m not sure. The Bible doesn’t tell us if there are animals in heaven.” But Johnny pressed the point. “But Mrs. Darvis, there have to be animals in heaven.” Mrs. Darvis responded: “What makes you think so?” And Johnny said: “Well, every time there’s a thunderstorm my dad says ‘It’s raining
    cats and dogs!”’
  • After church one Sunday a little boy walked up to the pastor and said: “When I grow up I’m going to give you some money.” The pastor smiled with pleasure and said: “Why, thank you. But why are you going to do that?” The little boy said: “Because my daddy says you’re one of the poorest preachers we’ve ever had!”
  • After listening restlessly to a long and tedious sermon, a six-year-old boy asked his father what the preacher did the rest of the week. The father replied: “Well, he’s a very busy man. He takes care of the church business, visits the sick, ministers to the poor and then he has to have some time to rest. Talking in public isn’t an easy job, you know.” The little boy thought about that and then said: “Well, I’ll tell you, listening ain’t easy either!”
  • A Sunday School teacher challenged her children to take some time on Sunday afternoon to write a letter to God. They were to bring back their letters the following Sunday. One little girl wrote: “Dear God, we had a good time at church today. Wish you could have been there.”

Out of the mouths of babes! By the way, do you know where that expression comes from? Psalm 8. It’s actually a remarkable verse, “Out of the mouths of babes and infants, you have founded a bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger.” The Psalmist is declaring that God uses children to proclaim His most powerful truths. Today God is using our children in this church to proclaim to us the great message from Philippians 4: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

I am wearing a bracelet on my wrist. On the bracelet are the letters “ICTC.” That stands for “I can through Christ.” This past summer, our children studied, worked and played under that great word from Philippians and they wore these bracelets as a daily reminder of what they can do through Christ. We have witnessed in worship today what an impact that has had upon them. They have shown us what an impact that verse can have on us. Out of the mouths of our children we are hearing a powerful word from the Lord.

“ICTC” is a reminder that our God stands ready to shoot great jolts of power—spiritual power—into our lives, and that power will enable us to face up to any circumstances we may encounter in life. Paul says: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Notice, please, Paul did not say: “I can do all things.” If he had said that we would have laughed him out of court. It would be absurd for any human being to say: “I can master every situation and circumstance which comes my way.” No, no one can say that and expect it to be true. But that’s not what Paul said. No, Paul said: “I can do all things through Christ …” He was not asserting his self-confidence, he was asserting his Christ-confidence. He calls us to do the same thing. He calls us to build our lives around this great truth our children are trying to teach us. Through Christ, we can indeed do all things.

Now, I’d like to pose two questions which I believe will enable us to assert not our self-confidence, but our Christ confidence—not IC, but ICTC! I can through Christ!

First question: If Christ has the power to change your life, in what areas of your life would He need to begin?

Now that’s a question which, if properly considered, will force us to acknowledge the reality of our own sin. But let’s admit it—that’s not easy to do. Few people are willing to look deep enough into themselves to openly, honestly admit their sin, and fewer still are willing to pay the price of the consequences of that sin and the cost of true repentance in order to turn their lives around. Most people either rationalize away their own sin or they focus on the sin of others in order to turn attention away from their own.

But the fact of the matter is that sooner or later every single one of us, in one way or another, will have to confront the reality of our own sin. I am simply suggesting that we do it now. I mean, Paul says it here: “I can do all things through Christ”—“all things” means all things—“all things” means Christ can help us to deal with the deepest sin that lurks in the darkest corners of our lives.

“The White House in Crisis,” this national nightmare of ours, carries a measure of personal pain for me. You see, the Clinton family and the Edington family have been acquainted with one another for more than twenty years, beginning back when we lived in Arkansas and he was the governor there. While the president and I may view life from different perspectives, across those years we have always tried to be encouraging to one another. As an example, on the night our son, John David, was killed, the president called. We had a long, long visit on the phone. As the conversation drew to its conclusion he said: “I’m sitting here at my desk in the Oval Office looking at a picture of Chelsea. I do not know what I would ever do if death were to take Chelsea from me. And therefore, I have no idea what horrible pain you must be feeling now. But you’ve always been so willing to pray for me. Will you let me pray for you and Trisha now?” And he did—as beautiful a prayer as you could ever imagine. And the words of that prayer became one of God’s ways of touching my soul with healing. So what is transpiring now carries an edge of pain for me. But, you know, when I turn to the Bible, as I always do, I find there time and again the stories of great people—great leaders who were sinners. But when I turn to the Bible I also find there an incredible Biblical promise and principle. It is this: That if we truly, openly, honestly acknowledge our sin and are willing to endure the consequences of that sin and then pay the cost of true repentance and turn our lives around, God, in His forgiving grace will make us to be a blessing to others.

I look at King David, whose sins were grievous indeed. But he acknowledged the sin. He endured the consequences, including the loss of a son to death and the frustration of the dream to build a temple in Jerusalem, along with others. And then, in true repentance, turned his life around and in the mercy of God, later on the Bible says, “he was a man after God’s own heart.” I think of Chuck Colson, one of the key White House figures in the Watergate Scandal. But he acknowledged his wrongdoing, he endured the consequences by serving a term in jail, repented, turned his life around, threw himself onto the mercy of Jesus Christ, and now is one of the most effective witnesses for Jesus Christ in our time. I think of Jeb Stuart Magruder, another Watergate figure. He acknowledged his wrongdoing, served his time in jail, repented, turned his life around, went to seminary, and now serves with great distinction as a Presbyterian minister in Lexington, Kentucky. Therefore, it is my hope and my prayer that the president will openly, honestly acknowledge his failure to fulfill God’s command in his life, that he will endure the consequences of that sin, be it resignation or something equally costly; that he will pay the cost of true repentance, that he would turn his life around and throw himself on the mercy of Jesus Christ. Because I am convinced that if he does, then ultimately, God in His grace, will raise him up to be an incredibly powerful witness for Jesus Christ in this world. Can he do that? Yes. He can through Christ. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

But where does Christ need to go to work in your life? Is it your pride, your arrogance, your determination to try to go it alone in life? Is it the harsh and insensitive way you relate to your spouse or your children? Is it your slavish dependence on money and material things which leads you to cut an occasional corner if necessary in order to get ahead? Is it your fear, the fear of the unknown or the fear of what you know all too well? Is it the fact that you cheated someone or cheated on someone? Is it a problem with alcohol or some other drug? What is it for you? Whatever it is, bring it to the front of your mind right now and once you’ve got it in your mind, drop it into the hands of Jesus. It’s the first step toward turning your life around. Can you do it? Yes, you can … through Christ. No matter what problem or sin or fear or temptation of difficulty you may have, Christ can help you with it. “ICTC.” I can through Christ!

Now the second question. If Christ has the power to change the world, what role can you play in His plan?

Now that’s a question which, if properly considered, forces us to come to grips with God’s will for our lives. It moves us to search for what it is that God wants us to do in life and then it motivates us to go on and do it. Here is what is true: When you and God agree together as to what it is that you are to do in life then nothing can stop you in your purpose. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.

Wrap your mind around this, please. Christianity literally covers the earth. Christians are to be found in every land and nation—in every city, town and hamlet all across the face of this globe. A bit more than half the world’s population is Christian. Christians are to be found in every government, in every social institution, in every profession, in every occupation. In every walk of life, in every class or strata or segment of society Christians are there. And, you know, if all those Christians in all those places were suddenly to decide that they were going to do what they believed God wanted them to do in life, I submit to you that in a matter of days, this world would be transformed into a haven of peace and love and joy and justice and happiness and security. The key ingredient is belief. ICTC. I can through Christ.

When I graduated from high school, they put across the top of the program: “They conquer who believe they can.” I don’t buy that for a minute. There are some people who are far from God and they believe the wrong things and they will not conquer, not in the end. No, I would change that to read this way: “They conquer who, believing in Christ, believe they can.” You see, when Christians believe in themselves because they believe in Jesus Christ, then nothing can stop them in the cause of Christ, which is to change this world in which we live. In other words, there is nothing wrong with self-confidence as long as the self is resting in Jesus. That’s why I am so thrilled to see what’s happening to our children because of the ICTC program. They are learning to believe in themselves because they believe in Jesus Christ and they are going to grow up knowing that through Christ they can help to change this world.

So, our God stands ready to shoot great jolts of power into your life and mine. Claim that power inside your life. Confess today where Christ needs to go to work in your life and then enable Him to go to work there. Then claim that power outside your life. Try to discover what it is God wants you to do in life and then throw yourself into that great adventure without holding back. Out of the mouths of babes, out of the mouths of our children, God is delivering a strong and powerful message to us. You and I can say with Paul: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

ICTC

Yes.

I can through Christ!

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