16. The World of Possibilities

Lessons in Growth Meditations: 16. The World of Possibilities

Luke 1:37    For no word from God will ever fail.”

Holy Ground? I believe we are walking on holy ground in these studies, ground that looks so familiar but ground that has been made different by the presence of God, and that is the emphasis behind these studies that consider the ‘resurrection life’ of the Christian, the life empowered by the Holy Spirit.  Moses in the desert (Ex 3) came to Sinai, unknown to him as what would become “the mountain of God.” (3:1) and observes a bush that appears to be on fire and yet is not being burned up. He wanders over to take a closer look and encounters the Lord and is told, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” (3:5) It looked just the same but God was there.

Endless Possibilities? That is what I have come to feel about where we are in these studies. We are touching on things which I suspect we would all say we agree with, but there is a reality here that goes beyond surface appearance or surface understanding. Now I know I have made this comment before, but I believe we now need to stop and consider the reality, what does it mean? The comment? Because of the presence of the Holy Spirit indwelling us and because Jesus is seated at his Father’s right and ruling over his kingdom, which includes us, we are living a life of endless possibilities beyond that expected of any other person (the non-Christian, the unbeliever).

The Living God: What do I mean by this? Stop and think about this. We are in relationship with the living God. Listen to Hezekiah’s words in prayer describing our God: “Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.” (Isa 37:16) Listen how the early Christians prayed: “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David.” (Acts 4:24,25) Old and New Testament believers are in accord and we need to join them: our God is the Almighty God of Creation, all-powerful, all knowing, all-wise and He rules over all the world, despite what you see happening (which is because He allows freedom of will) that caused both the Psalmist and the early believers to cry, “Why do the nations rage  and the peoples plot in vain?  The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one.” (Psa 2:1,2 & Acts 4:25b,26) Yet, He is clearly Sovereign Lord.

God’s Activities: So what sort of things does this Sovereign God do? What do we see of Him in the Bible that makes me say, the Christian life is a life of endless possibilities? He calls people and gives them new direction to their lives (e.g. Abram, Gen 12:1,2). He steps into the lives of those suffering in this Fallen World and meets them at their point of need. We see this often in the case of women who could not have children: e.g. Hannah – 1 Sam, Sarai – Gen 12 on, Rebekah – Gen 25, not to mention Elizabeth and Mary – Luke 1.  Our starter verse is in respect of Mary that many will remember from other versions as, “For with God nothing will be impossible.” (NKJV) The balancing verse was spoken by Jesus: With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Mt 19:26) Notice the key words: “with God”.

New Life – New Possibilities: The Luke 1 verse is particularly significant I believe. The context is the inability of a woman to bring forth new life. God’s words declare that it doesn’t matter what the appearances seem to be saying, He can change anything. Now once we really take this in, the idea of the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit in the ‘resurrection life’ of the Christian takes on new meaning. Because God indwells us, the presence of His power in us means that the future is a new open book with possibilities beyond anything of which we could have dreamed. Impossibilities become possible, things we never dreamed of, become items on the Lord’s agenda. This can apply to singleness, barrenness, need of new purpose and direction in life, need of a career or job change. All it requires is our openness to Him.

Now that is easier said than done. God chooses Moses, but Moses can’t see it (see Ex 3 & 4).  God calls Gideon, but Gideon thinks it is a joke (see Judg 6). God calls Jeremiah but Jeremiah things he will be looked down on for being too young (see Jer 1). Zechariah thinks he is too old and Mary worries about being single (see Luke 1). So we’re in good company if we struggle with this.

Distracted by ‘Concerns’: So often we allow the bad things of the world to fill our vision, we allow the enemy to make us think negative thoughts about ourselves, so often we allow worry to prevail. I recently watched a grandmother expressing her concern for the grandchildren and although it was her concern, I couldn’t help thinking how her thoughts were so negative so much of the time, worrying about the ‘what might be’ instead of enjoying the present. ‘Over concern’ focuses on the ‘what might be’ and so often that is a negative thing.

Think afresh: see the angelic presence with you, sent there by God to guard and protect you (and take away the worries of ‘ghosts’ of small children at night.). See the sovereign oversight of the Son of God at the Father’s right hand – for YOUR benefit! Ask him to make you a person of vision – of what he can make you, of how he can use you.  Above all, ask him to burn this idea of “all things are possible with God in your life” into your heart and mind.

Can we allow Him to make us messengers of the now word of God for others, bringers of words of revelation, words of wisdom? Can we dare ask Him to make us channels of His power or authority to bring changes to the world around us, bringing them into the ambit of His rule, the rule of His kingdom? Are there ‘mountains’ to be moved (Mt 17:20, 21:21) or ‘giants’ to be slain (1 Sam 17) in the name of the Lord?  Are we truly His sons and daughters available to bring in the kingdom of God, the rule of God, where all things are possible, and nothing is impossible – with God? May it be so!

Postscript: Since originally writing this meditation, and particularly since writing No. 14 where I gave a mini-testimony about God speaking, another incident occurred which bears relating. Again I woke feeling weary and tired and, as I looked into the week ahead, I grumbled to the Lord that I was doing too much and couldn’t cope. Heaven seemed to remain silent and after a few minutes of further praying, I got up to leave the room and quite distinctly heard in my spirit, “Go and look at the flip-top calendar.”  We have on the window sill of that room one of those calendars that you flip over each day and it shows a verse. Having been through it several times in the past, I never use it now and without thinking much about it, I retorted in my mind to what I took to be the Lord, “I don’t know what the date is.” Bad mannered little child of God!! Instantly came back, “Son, go and look at the calendar in the next room.” I went into the kitchen and looked up the date and returned to my prayer room and flipped the cards over to the present date. There I read, “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work – 2 Corinthians 9:8” I heard from heaven and repented. The week changed.

4. Against all Hope

Meditations in Romans : 4:  Against all hope

Rom 4:18   Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

We concluded the previous meditation considering the reference in verse 17 to “the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.” and the challenge came never to write off any person as for ever spiritually dead, for God comes and does what we consider impossible and brings life where we think it can never be. This is at the heart of Christian doctrine: God is a life bringer!

But we need to realise the impossibility that challenges faith sometimes. Paul continues, “Against all hope.” When you gaze on a dead body being lowered into a grave, there is no hope. When they have switched off the life-support machine, there is no hope. In the material, human world, there is going to be no last minute reprieve. It is finished. In an aging human body, male and female, there comes a time when child bearing is well and truly passed. There is no hope. This is what the situation was with Abraham. What made it worse was the fact that his wife had never borne a child. It wasn’t just a case of a wish for another child in old age.   The scriptural record is quite clear: “Now Sarai was barren; she had no children.” (Gen 11:30) And then God speaks. This is the bizarre thing: faith flies in the face of the absence of hope, in the face of the impossible. Humanly it’s just not going to happen – and then God speaks and says it will!

It is at this point that we have a choice: to believe God or to focus on the impossibility and declare it cannot be so. And so then we read, “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed.” (4:18) It was utterly hopeless, but this amazingly frail believer did just that – he believed God. His knowledge of God was limited, he came from a pagan background, and he had every reason for not believing – but he believed!

He believed God and so “became the father of many nations.” This was spiritually true. Because he believed and continued to try having children, God enabled he and his wife to have a child in old age, Isaac, and from Isaac, Jacob and the nation of Israel and eventually into Israel, God’s Son, Jesus, and through him, children of God from every nation on earth. It was exactly as prophesied: “just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be” (4:18) quoting Gen 15:5 – “He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars–if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” That had been God’s promise and in the fullness of time that was what happened.

But Paul restates this again so that we will not forget it: “Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead–since he was about a hundred years old–and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.” (4:19) Faith does not ignore the facts; it faces them but believes God. It is the attitude that says, “Yes, I can see that there is absolutely no hope of life here – but God has said there will be, so I will believe Him!” Notice the phrase, without weakening in his faith.” Faith holds on and actions follow. He might have said, “Oh, this is crazy, this is hopeless, I’m giving up this pointless activity!” but he didn’t. Paul then reinforces that: “Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God.” (4:20) Unbelief is the opposite of faith and Abraham didn’t allow unbelief to rise up and quench faith.

No, something else happened: “Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God.” (4:20) He believed and then God spoke again and again, confirming and strengthening his faith. God sees our heart inclination to believe and He comes and strengthens that resolve and speaks the word again and again into our hearts.

But it really started with Abraham’s simple faith: “being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.” (4:21). It was then that God strengthened him, and encouraged him so that he and Sarah persevered and eventually gave or brought glory to God.  Yes, He is the God who brings life where there is none!

The challenge of this passage is obviously, will we believe the Lord when He speaks. We believed Him when we came to salvation for we declared our trust in Jesus, but that was just the starting place. The Bible declares a number of times, “The righteous shall live by faith”. Now, yes, that does mean that life flows to the righteous when they exercise faith and come to Christ, but it also means that their ongoing lives will receive the life of God as they exercise faith. Faith is the channel, if you like, which allows the blessing and life of God to flow to us. It is that important!