(August 26, 2001)
Our time this morning will be centered on just a two-verse passage. But these two verses are filled with a ton of encouragement.
The verses are sort of tacked on to the end of some words from Paul who tells the Ephesians how he is praying for them.
He talks about how he wants God to show the Ephesians how wide and long and high and deep God’s love is. He prayed that they would be strengthened with power through the Holy Spirit.
But how could He pray this? Because He was aware of the glorious riches of God, and, as we see in the verses at the center of our discussion this morning, His power as well.
Please follow along as I read our passage this morning.
I have printed it in your bulletin, so you will not have to look it up in your Bible if you don’t feel the need.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
My purpose this morning is to promote an attitude of excitement for what I believe God can and will accomplish in us as individuals and a church, and therefore what He can and will accomplish through us to bring people to Himself.
To do that I want to focus on three things about God that Paul points out.
The first of these is…
I. His Power.
God is a big ol’ God. He’s not some wimpy God. He’s the real deal. He’s almighty, and He’s all-powerful.
Look back at verse 20:
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us
You cannot think of anything that He is unable to do inside of His character. The only things God cannot do are such things as lying, cheating, stealing, whatever. He cannot go against His character.
Aside from this, God can do absolutely anything. He can move mountains. He can set and remove kings and presidents.
He can control the weather. He can give and take life. He can grant honor and He can bring people down.
He can grant wealth or bring poverty. He can bring feast or famine.
He created the heavens and the earth. And while Carl Sagan could only estimate the vastness of the heavens, God holds them in His Hand. And He can do with them as He pleases.
The point here is that…
*He is able.
It gives me encouragement. It gives me comfort. It gives me security. It gives me optimism that God can handle it and is in control.
And it gives me hope for today and the guarantee of heaven when I die.
He is powerful. Beyond our wildest imaginations.
And so when I am convinced that God wants to accomplish things through this body of believers, I get excited!
My job isn’t to make those things happen, my job is to be usable so God will allow me to be there when it happens.
I have told you time and time again that I am convinced God wants to use Aberdeen Wesleyan Church to reach multitudes of people for Christ.
And instead of looking at present circumstances, or at my situation, or whatever, I choose to look at the power of God and I ask, “Why not?”
His power makes it possible.
Along with His power, let’s take a look at…
II. His Partners.
Verse 20 says that God is able to do His wonderful work according to His power that is at work within us.
For the purposes of all-powerful God to be accomplished, He has chosen to use weak vessels like you and me.
And without His working within us, it would be hopeless. Yet God has provided for our needs in equipping us to be His servants.
He provided not only His Word, but also His Holy Spirit so that His Word could have maximum impact in our lives first, enabling us to be wise in how we reach out to those around us.
He worked to bring us out from the punishment we deserve for our sins, and not only gave us a place in heaven, but made us new creations in Him so we could radiate the power of God to change lives.
The point here is that…
*He works in us so we can work for Him.
We can be filled with the same power and knowledge Paul wanted for the Ephesians.
There is no reason we cannot share in the same wonderful blessings given to these people.
And this allows us to partner with God in the work of the Great Commission to make disciples of Jesus in all nations.
Before we conclude this section let me be quick to say that we need to reclaim an attitude of humility as we reflect on this partnership.
Anyone here would be honored to receive a call from President Bush asking for our assistance in something.
Yet we have the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords telling us not that He wants advice, or an expert opinion, nor for us to head some committee, but to be actively involved in reaching the world with the message of salvation.
Folks, get excited about the fact that God Himself wants you to be a part of His plan to draw people from every tribe and language people and language!
Make a conscious decision to become partner – and I don’t mean a silent partner!
Some of you might be afraid to allow yourself to get involved. That’s okay – let God calm your fear, and watch Him work through your fears.
On summer night during a severe thunderstorm a mother was tucking her small son into bed. She was about to turn the light off when he asked in a trembling voice, "Mommy, will you stay with me all night?" Smiling the mother gave him a warm, reassuring hug and said tenderly, "I can’t dear, I have to sleep in Daddy’s room." A long silence followed. At last this was broken by a shaky voice saying, "The big sissy!"
This little boy new that his dad shouldn’t be afraid. His dad was a grown-up who should know better.
He also knew that even in the scary storm there was security with his mom.
There is security in our partnership with God. He gives us opportunities, and gives us the wherewithal to handle them.
And so I look out at a county of 35,000 people and I ask, “Why not?”
We have looked at His Power, seen how we can fit as His Partners, and now I want to take a look at…
II. His Praise.
Verse 21 says…
to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
God is glorified as His power is displayed in our partnership. As He works in us, He can work through us, and that brings Him the honor He deserves.
The point here is that…
*The Father is honored…
And this verse tells us that He is honored in at least 3 areas. First, He is honored…
A. In the church.
He is honored in our worship and our service, as individuals and as a body, as well as when we work with others in the body of Christ.
This evening’s activity at the park would be a wonderful opportunity to worship and be aligned with others who seek to honor God in worship.
And you may just be given the chance to minister to someone who is seeking the Lord.
The Father is also honored…
B. In His Son.
Jesus, in His prayer in John 17 says that He brought glory to the Father by completing the work given Him by the Father.
We are to carry on this mission by the power of the Holy Spirit, bringing glory to the Father through spreading the name of Jesus everywhere.
And one day, when Jesus is declared to be King and all creation bows down, the Father will be glorified, through His Son.
And we bring glory to the Father by being Christlike in all we say and do.
Thirdly, the Father is honored…
C. In all generations.
Christianity has survived, if not thrived, for 20 centuries, and it is because previous generations have been faithful to pass on the importance of living for Christ, since He died for us.
And it is up to us to continue passing it on. I know that one of my greatest joys will be when my grandchildren start coming to Christ.
I pray that I will be the kind of parent that gives an accurate portrayal of love and devotion to Him that will not will bring embarrassment to Christ or my family.
This will go a long way to helping my children desire to pass on their own love for Christ.
Yet even if I fail, and none of my heirs and descendants serve Him, He will still be glorified, because there are plenty of people who will love Him, regardless of my involvement.
But as I have said before, I want to be involved, so I need to make sure I honor Christ in all my generations.
When reflect that He wants to be honored, and that drawing people to Him brings Him honor, I pray and ask God, “Why not?”
Why not expect God to do big things here in the Aberdeen area? Why not expect Him to use this bunch of folks right here to impact this area and bring many souls to Christ?
Why not look for God to use us to reach beyond our county to reach people around the world?
Why not? There is only one reason: we refuse to believe He can and will do it through us. And I’m here to tell you that I refuse to believe that.
There’s a story about a child psychologist who wanted to observe how different children respond to negative circumstances.
They got a room and filled it with horse manure. Putting the pessimistic child in there, they observed how he responded.
Predictably, he whined and cried, and despaired that he was in a room full of smelly manure.
They put the other child in there, and the little guy started tearing around the room, digging in the manure with an excitement that baffled the on-lookers.
After a few moments of watching this, they asked him why he was so excited.
He replied, “With all this manure in the room, there’s got to be a pony in here somewhere!”
I am an optimist, and I make no apologies for it. I have faith that God is looking for people to bring people to Him, and that He wants to use us to do it.
I am convinced that we cannot fail if we trust in Him and obey. Why, because the Creator of the universe, the one who holds it in His hand, is the one who not only tells us to go, but gives us the power in Him to do it!
Do you see why I’m so excited? We can’t lose! And His power in our partnership will bring Him praise.
I mentioned in the introduction that I believe God can and will work in us so He can and will work through us to bring people to Himself.
I was visiting with Doug Harms a couple weeks ago, and we were discussing a few things. And as I mentioned to Doug once again how I felt that God was about to do some big things in and through our church, Doug quietly said, “It’s already starting to happen.”
Folks, it is already starting to happen. I see a sense of anticipation in the eyes of your leadership. We are seeing growth in our attendance. We have baptized some people. We will be receiving some more members here in the near future. Certain youth have also indicated a desire to become members of the church. At least 2 children have indicated they want to receive Christ as their Savior. God has brought people into my path with whom I can share the gospel.
The interest shown in the upcoming Firm Foundations class is very encouraging. Your leadership is suggesting certain ideas for our worship services, and have jumped on board with the vision of making this church a place where the love of Christ is evident from the moment a person walks through the door. They have committed themselves to pray for their friends and family in the area who don’t yet know Christ as their Savior.
They see the pony. Let me invite you to start furnishing the stable.
Start asking God for ideas and ways to accomplish His tasks, and as He does, keep asking yourself, “Why not?”
God does a lot with two verses from Scripture, think about what He can do with a bunch of people who are sold out to Him and His passion for people.