Everything!

“Everything” is all-inclusive! When I was a little girl, my mother helped me learn me how to pray by giving me a simple prayer outline. She suggested that I pray, “God, thank You for ______ and ______.” I was to fill in the blanks with two things for which I was thankful that day. Sometimes it would be easy for me to fill in the blanks. Other times, I might just pray, “Thank You, God for everything!” This could have been my prayer because my heart was so full of gratitude that I could not choose two specific things. Or, it might have been an easy way out because I was too tired to think. Today, when I think about thanking God for everything, it involves a greater risk than I perceived as a child. Can someone be thankful for a diagnosis of cancer? Can another person be thankful for losing their job? At this point in my life, I do not always find it easy to thank God for everything. However, I do still pray about everything. I have discovered some all-inclusive scriptures I want us to think about today.

Jesus looked at them intently and said,
“Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God.
Everything is possible with God.”
Mark 10:27 NLT

Nothing” can be replaced with “everything” when we allow God to work on our behalf! This verse from the gospel of Mark is Jesus’ response to the rich young ruler who asked what he must do to inherit eternal life. Humanly speaking, neither this man nor any of us can do anything to inherit the kingdom of God. Admitting that we can do nothing opens the door for Jesus to do everything for us. Jesus did it all! He died on the cross to pay the price we cannot pay.

The other factor we need to remember is that when we are filled with the Holy Spirit and His power, we become capable of doing the impossible even though we are human. I recently heard Bill Johnson  encourage us to not run from the impossible. We are told in Acts 1:8, But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.” The power of the Holy Spirit is the power of God for whom nothing is impossible and we can receive that same power. Bill Johnson pointed out that this power of the Holy Spirit in us is enough for us to do the impossible. We can do the impossible not because we are human, but because Christ through the Holy Spirit lives and works through us. This leads us to the next scripture.

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13 NLT

Everything” is “every thing.” From this verse, I gain the confidence that I can do everything that I encounter in life because Christ promises to give me the strength to do what I need to do through the power of the Holy Spirit. I should never say, “I can’t.” When faced with a regimen of chemo treatments for a cancer diagnosis, one may feel overwhelmed and be tempted to cry out, “I can’t do this!” However, Paul assures us that we can do the “everything” facing us because Christ will be with us and working for us during the duration of the treatment. Years ago, my uncle underwent numerous treatments for cancer and I remember my mother commenting that she did not know how he was able to keep going in spite of the side affects etc. However, less than a year later, she faced similar cancer treatments and I witnessed the grace of God sustain her during her time of trial. I need to have the mindset of “I can” rather than “I can’t.

If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
John 15:7

Everything: can be “whatever.” This verse can be dangerous if we do not focus upon the complete verse. We must not skip over the “if” qualification for receiving what we wish or ask for “ if you remain in Jesus and His word”. In I John 5:14-15 the “if”qualification phrase relates to God’s will, “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.” God is able to do everything we ask when we become so attuned to Him that whatever we ask is always in accordance with His will. Although God may not answer in the way we expect, He is able to give us everything as He promises when we surrender everything to Him allowing all our thoughts and desires to be His thoughts and desires. Psalm 37:4 NASB says, “Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desire of your heart.” When we delight in Him, our desires are transformed into His desires.

Now there is another “if” scripture for us to consider.

“What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked.
“Anything is possible if a person believes.
Mark 9:23 NLT

Anything” is “everything!” In this scripture, Mark tells of a man who came to Jesus asking if He was willing and capable of releasing his son from the influence of an evil spirit. Because this man was thinking of Jesus’ capability from a human perspective, he was questioning Jesus’ ability to set his son free. Jesus responded by reassuring the man that through faith and trust anything and everything is possible. Like this man, we must be careful that we do not prevent the Lord from doing what He promises to do because of our lack of faith. We also need to remember that although anything is possible, God will only answer our prayers in His way according to His time.

And we know that God causes all things to work together
for good to those who love God, to those who are called
according to
His purpose. . . . predestined to
become
conformed to the image of His Son,
Romans 8:28-29

All things” is “everything!” The point to remember from this scripture is that while God is capable of causing everything to be used for His good, He does not cause everything that happens to us. Referring back to my simple prayer outline, I can pray “Thank You, God, for how You are going to use my current experience, whether it be positive or negative, for Your glory.” That is quite different from asking a recently unemployed person to pray, “Thank You, God, for my losing my job.” I like the thought that God gives us all kinds of situations so He can give us all things.

When we encounter all kinds of situations, God has the opportunity to reveal His faithfulness to us by showing us how He actually uses all the things we experience for good. God will use everything we encounter to make us more like Him. We may not like everything we experience but we still need to embrace everything and allow God to turn negative situations into positive life lessons. 

“Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth
by your great power and outstretched arm.
Nothing is too hard for you.
Jeremiah 32:17

Everything” can meannothing.” Nothing is too hard for our Lord who created everything with His hands. Today, everything we experience passes through the hands of Him who created us and our surroundings. He continues to hold everything in His hands, so we do not need to fear anything we experience. If He could create this world we live in, then He can take care of it. There is no reason for us to doubt His ability. Truly, there is nothing too hard for God to do!

In Genesis 18:114, the Lord asked Abraham, “Is anything too Hard for the Lord?” My Reader, how do you answer this question? How does your response to this question affect how you feel about everything that happens in your life and how you handle every situation you encounter? May you remember the words of Colossians 2:10 in the Living Letters, “So you have everything when you have Christ.”

(Click on images to find the credit for appropriate images.)

 

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Fifth of the Seven Last Words

I thirst. I thirst. I thirst. I thirst. I thirst. I thirst. I thirst. I thirst. I thirst. I thirst.
John 19:28

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Another week – another word. The fifth word is known as “The Word of Distress.” Most likely, these are the most human words ever spoken by Jesus. This is the only statement from the cross when Jesus expressed a physical need of his body. Hear these two words now spoken by the Son of God who once spoke all the waters into existence. He formed the oceans and the rivers, the lakes and the springs, the wells and the reservoirs. He created water and now he is crying out for water! He caused rain to fall from the sky upon parched dry ground and yet now his mouth is parched and dry as he utters these words. My Reader, join me as I think about these two little words: “I thirst.”

Later, knowing that everything had now been finished,
and so that Scripture would be fulfilled,
Jesus said, “I am thirsty.”
John 19:28

 When reading the complete scripture verse of John 19:28, I find it interesting that it says Jesus had to express his thirst in order for scripture to be fulfilled. It must be the case because this is the fulfillment of the prophecy spoken by David in Psalm 22:15, “My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.” However, I am quite sure Jesus did not need the prompting of any scripture verse for him to know he needed water at this time. He had not had anything to eat or drink since he shared the Last Supper with his disciples the previous evening. I would be crying out that I was hungry as well as letting it be known that I was thirsty! I think about all Jesus has endured since his last meal – questioning, mocking, beating, scourging etc. He now was dying a physical death because of blood loss and possibly an infection caused by the nail wounds in his hands and feet. There probably was a fever in his body causing his mouth to be parched. I only need to think of how thirsty I can be when I have a fever with the flu – and that is miniscule compared to what Jesus was experiencing. Yes, he was physically dehydrated, but was there more being said?

Another time when Jesus was thirsty is recorded in John 4. He asked a Samaritan woman at the well for a drink of water. But the conversation went to a deeper level. In John 4:10 Jesus told the woman, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” He went on to say in John 4:13, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” I notice that He did not say He was the living water but that he would give living water to her that would cause her not thirst again. Jesus was referring to the Holy Spirit as being the Living Water. Another scripture where Jesus referred to thirst being satisfied by the Holy Spirit is John 7: 37-39, “On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.” While on the cross, I would not be surprised if Jesus had called out for the Living Water to satisfy his spiritual thirst as well as liquid water to quench his natural thirst.

My Reader, what are you thirsty for? I pose this question to you as well as to myself. If we are thirsty for liquid water, we pour a glass of water, put it to our open mouths and drink. We drink until we desire no more. If we are thirsty for spiritual water, we need to go to the Word of God, open it to a specific passage and read. Do we read until our spiritual thirst is satisfied? The amazing thing is that the more we drink spiritually, the thirstier we become! We taste and see that the Lord is good and we just want more and more – that is the way God designed us. I think of what David describes in Psalm 42:1-2, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” One glass of water will not quench my physical thirst forever and neither will drinking of God’s Word one time satisfy my spiritual thirst forever. Let us remember that Jesus’ expression of thirst are some of the last words he spoke on earth. Now let us listen to some of the last words of scripture spoken by a voice from heaven in Revelation 21: 6. “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.” Jesus paid the cost so we can now freely drink from the water of life. Jesus experienced both physical and spiritual thirst so our spiritual thirst can be fulfilled for all eternity. Call out to Jesus today saying, “I thirst!” He will hear you because he once said these words himself. He will respond to you by telling you to come and drink!

Joyfully,
 Cheryl
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