Does Your Bible Have An Asterisk?

In a random illustration of my Easter sermon I asked a question. I quoted Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Then I asked.

Can you?

Do you really believe it?

Or. Does your Bible have an asterisk? 

Imagine this, “I can do all* things through Christ.”

*—Except that one thing.

*—Well, maybe two. Yeah, there is that one more thing.

*—Honestly... I think there is a whole lot God can’t do in or through me.

Where have you mentally inserted an unbelieving asterisk? What Scripture stops you cold? How is your practical atheism revealed? Why can't you fully trust God to be & do what He says in the Bible?

“I can do all* things through Christ.” 

*—Except leave that worrisome situation in God's hands alone.

*—Except to accept God’s forgiveness and move beyond shame.

*—Except _____________________________________ 

What’s your asterisk? 

Confess it.

Ask faith. 

Live without exception. 

Green Eggs and Ham Theology

I could not, would not, on a boat.

I will not, will not, with a goat.

I will not eat them in the rain.

I will not eat them on a train.

Not in the dark! Not in a tree!

Not in a car! You let me be!

I do not like them in a box.

I do not like them with a fox.

I will not eat them in a house.

I do not like them with a mouse.

I do not like them here or there.

I do not like them ANYWHERE!


Emphatically declares the frumpledy-hatted creature in the Dr. Seuss classic Green Eggs and Ham. Just before he relents. Tries the green eggs and ham. And decides he likes them. 

Life is like that. We don’t like something. Until we do.

While preaching John 9 this morning, I was thinking about the Pharisees. Yes, I can preach and think at the same time. I’d encourage you read the entire engaging chapter now. 

Quick context: Jesus heals a man born blind; nobody believes it; man has to prove he is who he is even to his neighbors; man gets hauled before the Pharisees; even man’s parents get called as witnesses. 

The Pharisees had decided Jesus was a sinner—guilty of breaking their Sabbath—and could not have healed the man before their interrogation had even begun. 

The legalistic Pharisees would not believe it possible for Jesus to perform such a healing. More than would not, it seems that they could not believe it. Such an act was outside their realm of possibility.

The Pharisees had Green Eggs and Ham Theology: Jesus could not, would not… Jesus didn’t fit their theology. 

In verse 27, when the formerly blind man pokes the persistent Pharisees, “Do you want to become his disciples too?,” they get mad and throw him out. Could not, would not fit what you like, get angry and throw them out. Always effective. Get what you want. Ignore the evidence. Go on with life—your could not, would not life. Your God-in-a-box life.

How many of us, how many times, do we put God in a could not, would not box? 

We don’t think He could? We don’t believe He would? We put Sovereign God in a box walled by our own limited experience and incomplete imagination. 

We’re like the Pharisees. We’ve got Green Eggs and Ham Theology. And we wonder why God doesn’t do more in our lives?

Could we, instead, be like the man born blind when he declares of Jesus in verse 25, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” 

Could we?

Would we?


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Zechariah's Prayer of Expectation

Can’t happen.

No way.


You gotta be kiddin’ me?!

Gimme a break.


Zechariah was an old man. A priest, yes, but old. Elizabeth, his wife of decades, must not have been far behind. She had been barren as a young woman. Now she was well passed child bearing age. No children had been born to them. No children would be born to them. So everyone thought.

God works in can’t and won’t. God overwhelms impossible and never. God loves the space between reasonable and unreasonable. God excels at reaching beyond possible into the impossible. God inhabits the realm beyond nature, the supernatural.

When God promises. You can trust it. 

When God says, “Can.” You ask, “When?”

When God says, “Will.” You say, “Yes!”

You can count on Him. He is God. He is Sovereign. He can do what He wants.

Zechariah is burning incense before God in the Temple. You can read this in Luke 1:5 and following. The archangel Gabriel appears. Awesome bunch angels are. They have to skip, “Hello,” and move straight to “Do not be afraid.” Gabriel tells Zechariah that Elizabeth will have a boy. A boy to be named John meaning “God has been gracious.” Oh, yes, in spite of decades of barrenness God had a special, gracious plan. A miraculous plan. John will be a powerful prophet like unto Elijah. Preparing the way for the Messiah will be John’s calling.

“How can this be?,” asks Zechariah, “I’m old. My wife is old.”

Generally, we can agree to the aphorism that “no question is a dumb question,” but I wonder if we need an exemption for questions asked in disbelief of God’s Sovereign will? Our amended rule, not so succinct, would be something like this, “No question is dumb, unless God clearly says something to you and you just as clearly think God can not do it. You’ve just called God a liar. You are in BIG trouble now, Buddy.” That’s the new rule. We’ll call it The Big Trouble Disbelief Rule. You’d do well to follow it. Unless you wanna end up like Zachariah. 

Gabriel shut him up for nine-plus months. No speech. Read Luke 1:19-20. It wasn’t until John was born and taken to be circumcised on the eighth day that Zechariah’s tongue was loosed says Luke 1:64.

When Zechariah offers his amazing praying in song, the Benedictus recorded in Luke 1:68-79, he connects it with the miraculous baby-boy bearing promise of a Sovereign God from verse 13. Zechariah offers an expectant prayer. Expectant of the Messiah. Expectant of his own miraculous son’s role as the forerunner prophet.

Expectant prayers begin with God’s promise. Not hopes. Nor wishes. Not even dreams. But God’s promise. God announced through the angel Gabriel that Zechariah and Elizabeth would have a son. They did have a son.

What is impossible in your life? Who do you think will never change? What do you think can’t happen? That is exactly where God likes to show up. Seek His will. Pray in expectation of His answer. What has God announced for you? Act in faith as He guides you. Find God’s promises for you. Live in all the He has for you.

How can this be?

God said so.

To rescue us from the hand of our enemies, to enable us to serve Him without fear in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days. Luke 1:74-75

Read or listen to this Scripture from Luke 1 in YouVersion. This post is based on the second sermon in my series, The Prayers of Christmas. You can hear the podcast here or subscribe on iTunes.