“All things are yours” – 1 Corinthians 3: 21
The context for this bold statement is that Paul is addressing the issue of divisions in the church. What seems to hurt Paul do much is that people are turning away from their sense of unity and splitting into factions, some following one person, some another, and as a result they are going their separate ways.
The underlying issue is probably one of jealousy. If people have envy and jealousy within, they are more likely to form factions, and split off from each other. The way Paul concludes this chapter is by addressing the fact that envy is pointless, why be envious when ‘all things are yours’!
It is probably true that we spend more time thinking about what we do not have rather than what we do have, and looking at what is lacking in our lives can cause us to strike out at those who do have what we want. To this, Paul’s words are so refreshing and liberating – all things are yours. The things in the spiritual life that we want, we can have.
In his letter, James says a similar thing, namely that we fight for the things want instead of simply asking for them.
When we next need something of God, if it is true that all things are ours, then all we have up do is to ask.
“Your name is near” – Psalm 75: 1
This is probably one of the most encouraging verses of the Bible. Whoever we are, whatever situation we are in, no matter what we have done – the name of the Lord is near.
The name of the Lord is everything about him, it is his character, his being, his presence. At all times he is near. His love is near, his compassion is near, his power is near.
When Solomon dedicated his temple, God declared that his name would always be in that place – he would dwell there. It is that same God who is near us now.
Take a moment to stand apart from the situations around you, it might be as simple as closing your eyes for a moment, and remind yourself of this staggering truth – the name of the Lord is near, everything we could possibly need in life is near right now.
Once you have the sense of his nearness, whether you feel it, or whether you can let the truth of it touch you, open yourself up to ask for what you need. Perhaps simply say the word ‘come’.
He longs to give us all we need, his nearness is not something up tantalize us – ‘you could have it, but i am not going to give it to you’, that would be cruel. His nearness is his longing to draw near to us, to be our provider, our resource, our Lord.
“We have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God. – 1 Corinthians 2: 12
The world is very quick to judge who it thinks really matters. Physical looks, background, education, connection, past record are all things that are seen to be important. Perhaps God looks at people in a different way. When we judge people by those standards alone, we are probably being influenced by the ‘spirit of the world’. It is not that people who possess any of these things are disqualified from being used by God, it is just that what God gives a different Spirit – the one who is from God.
None of the things above are bad things, indeed part of our worshiping God with all of our being is to use all that we are for his glory, but the point is that it is not these things alone that mark out what is important to God. What matters to him is a dependence upon him.
The first step to moving in step with the Spirit who is from God, as opposed to the spirit who is of the world is to come before God with humility and ask that he fill you afresh with his Spirit.
Of course his Spirit is within us, we would not be drawn to the things of God unless he were, but it would be slightly arrogant to pretend that there was not more of us that could be subject to him, areas of our lives that could be more under his lordship. The truth is that we need more of him in more of us.
“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 1: 3
Everyone is probably somehow, in some way, seeking peace. From the person trying some form of exercise to still the mind, to the person seeking to make money in the hope that it will buy them security, to the dream of a distant holiday away from all the stresses and strains of everyday life. Peace remains a dream for us all.
When Paul greets the Corinthians at the beginning of his letter, he uses this simply sentence that reminds us that peace is not something that we can find except through God. We many find moments of tranquillity and calm, but deep permanent peace comes from being at one with God and knowing the wonder of being his child. That comes from the submission to the lordship of Jesus.
At the beginning of his Gospel, John informs us that anyone who has turned to Jesus has the right to be a child of God, they have the right to call God ‘Father’ (John 1: 12).
That is where peace begins, knowing that we are utterly accepted by God as a child, that as a loved child we do not have to compare ourselves to anyone else, and that as a child we will never be rejected.
“My mouth will tell of your . . . salvation all day long, though I know not its measure.” – Psalm 71: 15
Our vision of God can never be big enough. What this psalmist is saying is that no matter how much we speak of the wonderful things that God has done for us, we will never grasp the enormity of it. When we look at an image of Christ on the Cross, we can hear ourselves say that he died for our sins, but the enormity of that action can never be contained in a single sentence.
God, the creator of all, took human form and allowed himself to be tortured and killed in a brutal way by those he had created and that he rose again from the dead is indeed a stunning truth. It also has stunning implications, for every person who has ever lived, for every moment of creation there has ever been, for every human action that has ever taken place. The truth that Jesus died and rose again is something that changes everything, and we will probably never understand how or why.
It is worth asking this question of every person that we meet, of every item we hear on the news – what difference does it make to that person or that situation that God allowed himself to be killed, and he rose again?
“Who rides on the heavens to help you” – Deuteronomy 33: 26
We have all probably had the experience of prayer that is not answered as we would like, or at least certainly not in the time frame that we had in mind. Is it that God is so busy that he has so many other things to which he has to attend before he gets round to us, or is he trying to teach us patience and faith. This phrase from Deuteronomy puts a new perspective on it – perhaps there is no delay at all!
The sense of God riding on the heavens to help us is an amazing picture of God hearing our prayers and rushing to our aid. The picture that is conjured up in us is of a warrior riding into our circumstances to sort everything out. Perhaps it is that picture that needs to be corrected. What if the very act of prayer actually does invoke the presence of God in a way that we may not be aware of, but what if he does rush to our side as soon as we open up a situation to him. Our disappointment is often with the fact that he doesn’t sort it out for us, but what is he is there, silently acting, working, influencing – maybe not the situation about which we prayed, but upon our own hearts.
Whenever we call upon him, he is there, at work somewhere – let’s begin to look for clues of his presence and begin to rejoice.
“Jesus met them, ‘Greetings’ he said! – Matthew 28: 9
The Living Bible put this in such a lovely way, in that translation what Jesus says to his disciples is “Good morning!”
Think about it, a few days ago, they had seen Jesus die in public, they had probably spent the next few day in fear of their lives. Rumours begin to circulate that Jesus has been seen, then they meet him themselves and he casually says ‘Good morning’! They probably expected something more from the lips of Jesus in such circumstances!
There is something very beautiful about the casualness of his greeting, it is like it is the most natural thing for them to see him, and why shouldn’t it be, he had told them that would rise again from the dead, why would he be surprised to see them – he knew it was going to happen.
Perhaps that is exactly what he would love to say to us – ‘Good morning’, in that he promised he would always be with us, he certainly is not surprised to find himself with us every minute of the day – it is us who think that he ought to say different things – probably tell us off for something. He doesn’t, he is delighted to be there.
What counts is the response. In Matthew 28, their response was to worship him, as should our response be, to worship him, to acknowledge that he really is there to surrender to the truth of his presence with us.