Summary: It is possible to plan and live beyond our wildest imaginations.
“Xtreme Faith: Living Beyond Your Imagination”
On October 30, 2005 I preached my first sermon as your pastor. I felt God wanted me to use the moment to cast a challenge to dream great dreams because we believe in a great God. To do so I preached on one of my favorite passages – Ephesians 3:14-21 – and laid out some principles for a vibrant faith. A short time later, Dubbs shared with me that this very passage was a key to his life and ministry here at Hope. I knew then that God had brought us all together.
A few months ago, when I decided to do this series on Xtreme Faith, I kept thinking about how I tend to limit what God can do in my life because I limit Him to the extent of what I think and imagine. Once again my mind went to this Ephesian passage and I decided it needed to be part of this series. As I was studying it again the things I was thinking began to sound very familiar – so I checked my files and came across that October 30 message and re-examined those principles. After reflecting on them and looking at what’s happened in those 5 plus years, I believe those principles more than ever. So let’s revisit the principles of this Xtreme Faith.
Is it possible to live beyond our wildest imaginations? As we think of our future, as individuals and as a congregation, do we to plan beyond our wildest imaginations? The apostle Paul believes we can. “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, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
Paul speaks to us, first, of THE POTENTIAL BENEATH THE DREAMS. “Now to him who is able…” GOD IS ABLE. The first three chapters of Ephesians articulate the blessings of life in Christ. Paul wrote that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing; we are holy, blameless, and covered with God’s love; we have been adopted into God’s family; we have been, are now, and always will be forgiven. We are marked by the Holy Spirit to show that we belong to Christ; we have been raised to sit with Christ in glory; we are God’s work of art, His masterpiece. We have been brought near to God; we share in all the promises of Christ; we can come freely into God’s presence; and we are filled with the power that raised Jesus from the dead. God has truly, richly blessed his people. God is able.
Paul spoke from experience, for Christ had blessed his life. Paul, you may remember, was a leader of the anti-Christian movement of his day. He made it his personal mission in life to root out, persecute, and even kill Christians. Then, while on his way to a crusade in Damascus, he met Jesus in a vision. His life changed dramatically. He went from chief persecutor to chief apostle – and was used by God like no other before or since! God truly, richly blessed him. God is able.
Let’s look at Hope Church for a moment. I can’t help but wonder what the founding members dreamed. Could they ever have envisioned this moment, today, in this place? As visionary as they were, I am sure that what has happened is beyond their wildest imaginations – but it proves that God is able. And WHAT GOD HAS DONE PROVIDES THE FOUNDATION for our dreams. Consider what He has done. Hopes early history was a struggle – so much so that Classis wanted to shut her down and consider this church plant a failure. But God had other ideas. Hope grew. In fact, Hope had the original building, to which she made two additions. Eventually she bought a parsonage. Then the current property was purchased and a new building was constructed. Two years after it was completed (1971) membership growth dictated that there was a need for more Sunday school rooms and youth activities. Another building project was underway. By 1977 growth in membership led to another addition, which has served until today. But in 1980, summer attendance reached the point where 2 services were established for summer Sunday mornings. And now, with current attendance and membership, and active, growing youth and children’s ministries, we expanded again. And their ministries continue to grow. Now we have two worship services year round and the total number of people worshiping each week has significantly increased. And time doesn’t allow me to share the details of increased ministries in our community. And this has all happened in the midst of a severe economic turndown – God has honored your faithfulness. As Steven Furtick wrote, “If your greatest fear stems from a lack of resources to do God’s will, the perspective of faith will show you the sufficiency of Christ.” God has proven more than able and that is the foundation for our dreams!