Devotional: All Things? Really?
All things? Really?
What a truly remarkable statement. It’s like the grand finale of Philippians chapter four. After wrestling with anxiety, learning to pray about everything, recognizing the need for the peace of God as a guardian for our hearts and minds, and, finally, learning to think with the right attitude and find contentment, the apostle Paul makes a bold statement: “I can do all things through Christ.”
Does he mean he can jump off tall buildings and fly? Or wish for a million dollars and expect it to appear? That would be akin to Jesus’ experience in the wilderness when Satan tempted Him to jump off the cliff or command bread to appear (Matthew 4). Jesus had His priorities right. He did not want to attempt any action or try to make anything happen that was not totally in the will of God. Paul says he can do all things THROUGH CHRIST—that’s a very important distinction as opposed to becoming so smart and powerful that you believe you should do whatever you want—because you can.
How do you know that what you are praying to accomplish is in the will of God?
By tapping into the hidden resources that God provides us for our lives. We see an example of this in nature. Great trees send their roots down into the earth to draw minerals and water. The most important part of a tree is the very part you cannot see—the root system. So also, the most important part of a Christian’s life is the part only God the Father sees—the deep, abiding relationship between a believer and God, and the inner strength and power that our heavenly Father gives us to handle the demands of life.
But this strength can only come from once source and Jesus described it for us in John 15: 4-5: “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”
Jesus tells us that apart from Him we can do nothing, while Paul has passed on the powerful lesson of his own experience, “I can do all things through Christ.”
Most of us can barely muster up enough strength to get through a day or a list of tasks. But through these two verses we are given the secret to fulfilling all that God has for us.
“If you want your life to flow more smoothly—if you want to be more productive, and learn to be more selective, and your prayers to be more effective—then live in the zone: Abide in Christ.” —Steve May1
- May, Steve, Preaching Library Volume One: Preaching Through the Year (Lulu.com, 2006), p. 244.