Our theme this year is Powerful People and we are going to examine together how God works in and through ordinary people in a powerful way.
Some of the people from the Bible we will look at are more well known than others.
The Bible is a collection of 66 books and letters, 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament.
The Bible covers thousands of years of history and mentions hundreds of different people.
You probably already know significant things about how God powerfully used people like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, Daniel, Isaiah or Apostle Paul.
When we look at some less well-known people in the Bible whose names we might just pass over while reading a verse or passage of scripture, you will discover that God has also used many ordinary people in a powerful way.
People who are not so different from you and me, people who are not perfect, people who do not get everything right, people who fail or fall or stumble, people who humanly speaking were weak by the standards of the world accomplished great things in God’s strength and power.
Jabez is only mentioned 3 times in the Bible, yet his simple prayer of faith gives us a powerful example of answered prayer and blessing receiving from the Lord.
Any idea who Shiphrah and Puah were?
Shiphrah and Puah were two of the midwives assigned to attend Israelite women during childbirth in the years preceding the exodus.
During the time of Joseph, the Israelites enjoyed favour before Pharaoh and his court. After he died, however, another pharaoh took his place.
The Israelites’ population increased and the Egyptians felt threatened and feared the Israelites would take over the nation.
To limit their growth, Exodus 1:16 records how the king of Egypt told the midwives:
“When you help the Hebrew women as they give birth, watch as they deliver. If the baby is a boy, kill him; if it is a girl, let her live.”
But Shiphrah and Puah feared God.
They refused to do what the king of Egypt ordered. Deliberately disobeying their leader’s command, they delivered each tiny newborn with all the skill and ability they possessed.
Their disobedience came to the attention of the king, and he summoned them to stand before him.
Shiphrah and Puah were wise.
They recognized their responsibility to obey their leader, but they also understood God’s law supersedes man’s law.
They knew they could not sin against God by killing Hebrew babies.
“‘Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women,’ they said to Pharaoh. ‘They are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.’”
The Bible tells us God acknowledged their courage and commitment to do what was right and he gave them families of their own”
Shiphrah and Puah are powerful examples of ordinary people being used in an extraordinary way by God.
They were willing to do what was right in the sight of their powerful God no matter the cost to them.
God has enabled ordinary people to do extraordinary things throughout history and He will continue to empower ordinary people to accomplish His purposes.
Maybe some of us think God ‘might’ move in our lives in a powerful way...
Maybe some of us ‘expect’ God to work powerfully in our lives someday in the future...
Are you expecting God to work in a powerful way in and through you today or are you limiting God’s power and the work of the Holy Spirit?
Consider these words from Ephesians chapter 3:
Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to Him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21 NLT)
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
(Ephesians 3:20-21 NKJV)
God is able to accomplish infinitely more or do exceeding abundantly more than we can ask or think.
Matthew Henry commenting on this truth wrote:
“There is an inexhaustible fullness of grace and mercy in God, which the prayers of all the saints can never draw dry. Whatever we may ask, or think to ask, still God is still able to do more, abundantly more, exceedingly abundantly more. Open your mouth ever so wide, still he has the wherewithal to fill it.”
What are your expectations?
God has the power to do more in your life and mine than we can hope or think or imagine.
There may be many things we can not do in our own strength or our own ability as Jesus said in Matthew 19:26 “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”
When we pray according to God’s will all things are possible.
Perhaps our problem when we pray is we often put limits on what God has the power to do.
Often we can think our problem or circumstance or situation is beyond the scope of God’s power or ability.
If we think that our problems are bigger than God is able or willing to handle,
then we show a lack of faith in the powerful God who loves us and cares for us.
A lack of faith may make us expect far less than God is willing to do.
Yet the Word of God is clear when it tells us to expect God to answer when we pray in faith.
Listen to these verses to encourage your expectation:
Matthew 18:19 - “I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you.
John 14:13 - You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.
John 15:7 - But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!
John 15:16 - You didn’t choose me. I chose you.
I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.
James 1:5-6 - If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask Him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.
James 1:17 - Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.
1 John 3:22 - And we will receive from Him whatever we ask because we obey Him and do the things that please Him.
Friends, when we pray, we need to pray in faith and we need to expect our powerful God to do infinitely more, exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think or imagine.
When you pray, are there things you think about, that you do not pray about because you are worried that God will not answer?
Are there things that you do not pray about because in your heart you don’t want God to answer your prayer?
What? Let me give a couple of examples:
If the thought of sharing your faith with other people scares you, you may choose not to pray for God to provide opportunities to share the truth of Jesus with others.
If you are comfortable being in a small church where everybody knows your name, you will never pray for God to grow His church.
The truth is we may expect many things of God, but He also expects us to be willing to follow His purpose for us, our church and our community.
We need to pray in faith, trusting God, obedient to His plans, His precepts, His will.
We can expect God to answer prayer in the right way at the perfect time.
One thing God keeps teaching me through prayer is patience. His timing is perfect in every situation.
God will act at the right time and He is willing to do far more than we ever ask, or think, or imagine.
What is going on in your life right now that needs a touch from the most powerful King of Kings and Lord of Lords?
Your health... your relationships... your family...
your work... your prayer life... your faith...
your daily walk... your witness for our Lord.
Don’t try and carry it on your own, don’t let it draw your attention away from God.
Joseph Scriven wrote some very appropriate words in his hymn ‘What a Friend we have in Jesus’:
What a Friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry, Everything to God in prayer!
Whatever the situation, whatever the circumstance, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Pray and ask God to speak, to act, to move, to bless.
Pray in faith and expect God to move in power.
How big is your expectation of God?
When you pray do you limit your expectation of what God can do?
Are you praying for someone in your family who as yet does not know God?
Are you praying in faith that God will change their heart? Or have you given up praying for that person because your expectation is they will never turn to Jesus and be saved?
The Bible is clear when it says God can do infinitely more, exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.
Don’t let your expectations limit your prayers.
Don’t limit what God can and will do!
Remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 16:20,
“I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”
Throughout the Bible, we read of many people who dared to ask God to do make the impossible possible.
God answered their prayers.
Maybe in your own life, you have experienced God doing the impossible.
When you thought there was no hope, when you thought the odds were against you, when you thought it was impossible for circumstances to change, when you expected the worst, God stepped in and everything changed.
God stepped in and did infinitely more, exceedingly abundantly above all that you could ask or think or imagine.
God is almighty, God is incredible, God’s mighty power works miracles in this world every single day.
God’s love and mercy are poured out into our lives every day; we are His children; our salvation is secure and certain in Jesus Christ; we are empowered by the Holy Spirit; God listens when we come to Him in prayer, God answers prayer.
God can exceed our expectation in every area of our everyday lives.
We must always make time to pray.
It is equally important for us to pray in times of joy as well as times of trouble.
Romans 12:12 simply tells us we should:
Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying (Romans 12:12)
This is an essential command for each of us to follow, isn’t it.
In good times and bad, we are to speak to God,
we are to draw near to Him,
grow in our relationship with Him.
We can have confident and expectant hope in God.
The fact that you are here this morning suggests that you have hope in God,
it suggests you want to know more of God,
that you want to draw closer to Him,
that you want to be in a real relationship with Him,
that you are expecting God to be active in your life today.
How is your relationship with God?
Have you felt His presence and experienced His touch upon your life today?
When you woke up this morning was it with an expectant heart?
Were you thrilled by the thought that God would work powerfully in you and through you today?
Did you come to church today with an expectant heart?
Expecting to worship God...
Expecting to feel His powerful presence...
Expecting the Word of God to speak into your life...
Expecting to see miracles...
Expecting to see lives changed and transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit...
Expecting to be uplifted, refilled, renewed, restored, revitalized...
Did you come to church today expecting infinitely more, exceedingly abundantly above all that you could ask or think or imagine?
Do you know what God expects of you?
As disciples of Jesus, God expects your daily commitment to Him.
God expects you to trust Him.
God expects you to follow Him.
God expects you to love Him.
God expects you to serve Him.
God expects you to speak to Him in prayer.
God expects you to learn more about Him.
God expects you to think about the things of God.
God expects you to tell others about Him.
God expects you to give Him first place in your life.
God expects many things of each and every one of us.
We will never meet God’s expectations of us in our own strength. We need to allow God to empower us through The Holy Spirit.
When we allow God to work in power in us and through us then we will truly be Powerful People for His honour and glory alone.
Be empowered. Be expectant. Be a powerful person.