With God, All Things Are Possible
With God, All Things Are Possible
‘When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade,’ wrote Norman Vincent Peale, who published his best-known book, The Power of Positive Thinking, in 1952. It stayed in The New York Times bestseller list for 186 consecutive weeks. Much of what he had to say was extremely good and helpful. But, the words of Jesus go way beyond the power of positive thinking.
Norman Vincent Peale said, ‘A positive mental attitude is a belief that things are going to turn out well, and that you can overcome any kind of trouble or difficulty.’ Jesus said, ‘With God all things are possible’ (Matthew 19:26). This is far more than the power of positive thinking. It is the power of God that makes what seems impossible possible. Nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37).
Through Jesus, the universe was createdProverbs 3:11-20
The fact that with God ‘all things are possible’ is proven by the fact that God created the entire universe out of nothing: ‘By wisdom the LORD laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place; by his knowledge the deeps were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew’ (vv.19–20).
The writer of Proverbs sees wisdom as a person (vv.13–18). Through the lens of the New Testament, we see that that person is Jesus. St Paul tells us that ‘Christ [is] the power of God and the wisdom of God’ (1 Corinthians 1:24).
Until you find a relationship with Jesus, life will not really make sense. The entire universe was created through Jesus (John 1:3). He loves you. In a relationship with him you find God’s wisdom and God’s power.
When you find Jesus, you find the source of all wisdom. This is the way of blessing (Proverbs 3:13a). It is also the way to understanding (v.13b). It is far more profitable than all the material blessings (vv.14–15a). In fact, ‘nothing you desire can compare with her’ (v.15b).
This is the path to long life (v.16, which is ‘eternal life’ in the New Testament, see John 3:16). Here you find true ‘riches and honour’ (Proverbs 3:16). This is the way to a peace beyond understanding (v.17). Here you find the ‘tree of life’ (v.18).
Lord, I seek you today. Give me wisdom, peace and power to live the kind of life you want me to lead.
What is impossible in human terms is possible with GodMatthew 19:16-30
Do you sometimes find yourself facing a seemingly impossible situation? It might be a relationship that seems to have broken down irretrievably, or an issue to do with health, finances or something else where change seems impossible. With God there is always hope, no matter how bad things look. Nothing is impossible with God. His power makes all things possible.
The context of Jesus’ words that ‘with God all things are possible’ (v.26) is the account of the rich young man to whom Jesus calls, ‘Come, follow me’ (v.21b). He tells him, ‘Go, sell your possessions and give to the poor’ (v.21a). But it is too much for him to give up and the young man goes away ‘sad’ (v.22). Jesus points out how hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven (vv.23–24). Yet, with God ‘all things are possible’ (v.26).
Jesus says that, humanly speaking, it is impossible for anyone to enter the kingdom of God (v.26). Worldly riches are of no help. In fact, they are more of a hindrance. Jesus says, ‘It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the kingdom of God’ (v.24).
Some people have suggested that this is a reference to a gate in Jerusalem that was called ‘the needle’s eye’. A camel would need to unload all it was carrying on its back to go through it. Other people have pointed out that a word very similar to ‘camel’ means a sort of rope. Maybe he was talking of threading rope through the eye of a needle.
These attempts to rationalise the words of Jesus miss the point. The point is that it is totally unthinkable for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. But what is impossible in human terms is possible with God (v.26).
In answer to the disciples’ question, ‘“Then who has any chance at all?” Jesus looked hard at them and said, “No chance at all if you think you can pull it off yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it”’ (vv.25–26, MSG).
In this world the rich, the powerful and the famous are the ones who people look up to as ‘first’. The poor are looked down on, ignored and seen as ‘last’. But in the kingdom of heaven the reverse is the case. Jesus says, ‘But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first’ (v.30).
This is God’s powerful upside-down kingdom. Jesus asks the rich young man to give to the poor because he wants the man to place his trust in him and because the poor are such a high priority in the kingdom. They should be for us too: the thousands of children dying each day through desperate poverty and starvation, the oppressed people of so many countries, the homeless on our streets, the voiceless and the vulnerable.
Jesus rarely told people to give away everything but in this case, he did. For everyone, there is a ‘cost’ to following Jesus. There is the cost of being willing to fly his flag in a hostile world. There is what may seem to be a cost of giving up things that we know to be wrong.
Whatever ‘the cost’, it is nothing compared to what it cost Jesus to make ‘eternal life’ (v.29) possible for you and me. And it is nothing compared to the cost of not following Jesus. The rich young ruler missed out on so much.
Furthermore, it is nothing compared to what you receive: ‘And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life’ (v.29). Jesus promises that for everything you give up, you will receive far more – in this life and, even more significantly, into eternity with Jesus.
Lord, help me to be willing to give everything I have for the sake of the kingdom of God. Thank you that the greatest and most enduring riches come from following Jesus.
In your life, nothing is impossible with GodJob 8:1-10:22
Sometimes when we see the suffering of others it is tempting to come up with glib explanations. In the advice of Job’s friend, Bildad, we see an extraordinary mixture of truth, half-truth and falsehood (8:1–22).
When Job replies, he says, ‘Indeed, I know that this is true. But…’ (9:2). In other words, he points out that some of what Bildad said was true, but not all. He rejects his glib explanation of why he is suffering.
Job’s words are far more authentic. They come from the heart. He cries out to God, ‘I could only plead with my Judge for mercy’ (v.15). He wishes he had never been born (10:18–19). He admits his struggles and doubts, and even his anger at what is happening to him. He says, ‘I loathe my life; therefore I will give free rein to my complaint and speak out in the bitterness of my soul’ (v.1).
Yet in the midst of all this he recognises that nothing is impossible with God. Job says, ‘God’s wisdom is so deep, God’s power so immense... He moves mountains before they know what’s happened, flips them on their heads on a whim... We’ll never comprehend all the great things he does; his miracle-surprises can’t be counted’ (9:4–5,10, MSG). ‘You gave me life itself, and incredible love. You watched and guarded every breath I took’ (10:12, MSG).
There is an extraordinary mixture here of honest struggles and faith. Job does not try and pretend that everything is all right, or that he can explain it, yet through it all he clings to what he knows of God.
God was able to do in Job’s life what was impossible by human effort. God restored Job’s fortunes and ‘blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first’ (42:12).
Whatever struggles you are facing at the moment, however difficult life looks, however impossible the situation seems, it is important to remember his love for you and trust that ‘with God all things are possible’ (Matthew 19:26).
Lord, thank you for the example of Job – his faithfulness and trust in you even during the struggles of life. My life is in your hands and at your disposal. Thank you for your amazing love. Thank you that with you nothing is impossible.
Alpha has just started again at our church. It is so exciting to see all the people who have come to explore faith. With God all things are possible (v.26). I can’t wait to see what God is going to do this term in the lives of those on the course.
Verse of the Day
‘With God all things are possible’ (Matthew 19:26).
Norman Vincent Peale, The Power of Positive Thinking, (Prentice-Hall, 1952)
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.
Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.