WHAT GOD HAS TO OFFER
Scripture Reference: Ephesians 3:14 -21
I like what David Jeremiah once said, “Everywhere you go, you meet them --- the ones who sit on the back row of life, whisper, and roll their eyes. These are people who aren’t really headed anywhere, and they’re eager to criticize those who are.
Today, we call them cynics. In Jesus’s day, they were called Pharisees. We don’t know what they were called in the early days of this country, but even then they were around. There is a story of Benjamin Franklin speaking to a crowd on the wonderful guarantee of liberty provided by the United States Constitution.
Midway through his talk, one of these cynics called out, “But what about this ‘pursuit of happiness’? Where’s our guarantee of happiness?” Franklin smiled and replied, “My friend, the Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness; you have to catch it yourself.”
I appreciate what Benjamin Franklin said and I am sure you do to because what he said has been discovered. Happiness is no entitlement. There’s no government funding for it. You can’t buy it at the health-food shop or the ritziest store in the mall.
Contrary to popular opinion, wealth isn’t even a distant relative of happiness. Yet there seem to be a lot people in this world who are in pursuit of things they feel will bring happiness only to find out that it eludes them.
A completed college degree, their faith, the church, that wide-screen television, the luxury automobile with the new car smell, the home with the huge yard in the back. You will have to admit with me that there are some things in your possession or in your life that has lost its fizzle, its edge, its spark.
It doesn’t challenge you or give you excitement like you received in the beginning. What is it for you on this first Sunday of the New Year? The marriage you are in…your baby’s father…the career you chose…the man or woman you have been dating…the kids athletic activities…your financial status…your faith…your relationship with God.
Have you been in neutral for so long that you have become one of those cynics? You haven’t really seen God much in your life so you jump on others who claim to have God moving and working in their lives. Hang on this may hurt a little.
You sneer at the so called sham Christianity seen in the televangelists audiences yet the true Christianity that you say you have shows no evidence of changing you, growing you, or declaring you a healthy spiritual life.
In their audiences and in their infomercials the folks are praising, shouting, serving, giving, praying, and high fiving…you swear it is suspect behavior, but yet with the truth you say you are receiving you are no closer to God, giving less, serving sporadically, praying less, and less forgiving.
You no longer believe that God can so you made it a habit last year to doubt that He has in others or stayed away so as not to feel convicted if what is happening in another’s life spiritually is running in contradiction to how you are living your life.
Yet when we look around you can’t help but run into people who has a sense of purpose, passion, and practice that almost makes us envious. They don’t seem to be troubled by anything or anyone.
When you get around them they have a real, living excitement for life. Not some cheap, store-bought, amusement park-simulated excitement --- I mean that genuine article.
You see them in the front of you on Sunday morning, you see them two offices down, you them one aisle up in the supermarket, you see the glitter in her eye and the gleam in his in the movies. And deep down you say to yourself, “I want that kind of living.”
I want the kind of living that causes me to leap out of the bed in the morning, filled with laser-intense purpose, exhilarated about the prospect of another twenty-four hours on earth.
I don’t want to be purpose-impaired, with a surplus of longing, yearning, hopelessness, loneliness, and passionlessness. Can’t you remember the times when your blood was really pumping, when your heart was skipping beats, and when it seemed there was some purpose you were reaching toward with everything in you?
The Spirit of God has set a goal for us this year and that is “Above and Beyond”. We are going to be challenged to become “Above and Beyond” people in a relationship with an “Above and Beyond” God.
No mediocrity this year, no complacency, no business as usual. We need to move. The cloud is not setting, but moving. Our path has been set; we are to move from being members to ministers to missionaries.
No matter where you are found this morning it is time to move. If you have just been a member it’s time to move. If you have just been serving it’s time to move. If you have been sharing its time to move further out than you have gone before.
This is a return to purpose. This is a realignment of the tumblers on a safe so that the right combination will open up to us the joy of living, the peace of enduring, the wisdom of right thinking, and the glory of our Lord. This is to reclaim what God said He would do if we were operating in His will.
Ephesians offers us the Scripture that will speak to us throughout this year; two verses that make up a glorious doxology and benediction. It will be the verses that we will memorize, that we live, and glorify God with.
It will be the verses that will draw you out your comfort zone into the twilight zone. The zone where you will feel that all God will be doing in your life shouldn’t be happening to you. That God shouldn’t care enough to bless you in the good times and strengthen you in the worse of times.
This Text – will help you Breakthrough the Box; Lift you above your Limits; will get you beyond the Boundaries. You are going to relearn this truth…you will always get more than you expect with God. Listen to the text…
New King James Version - 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.
· New International Version - Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine – God is able to do so much more you can’t even measure what God is Able to do.
· The New American Standard Version – Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us
· The New American Standard Updated Edition Translates this…Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.
This is a fun phrase in the original language…Paul uses a double compound word…he makes up his own word phrase. He is so caught up in the BIGNESS and AWESOMENESS of God, he creates a new word phrase to make his point.
He stacks these words upon each other in an attempt to say…
· God is not just Big but He is – Big-uhmundo-huge-a-riffic
· God is awe-Magni-great-more-big-fully. Super-beyond-erful Beyond words.
Paul is morphing all these words together to make his point…Paul is saying that God is -- Incredibly Incredible. Extravagantly Extravagant. Awesomely Awseome in His Awesomeness. Outrageously Outrageous. Fantastically Fantastical. Amazingly Amazing. Infinitely Infinite – all the time.
How will the “Above and Beyond” God connect with us so that we can become an “Above and Beyond” people?
I. God Works In Us
If we are going to be “Above and Beyond” people we must recognize that God works in us. He has to change some things within before He will change things from with out.
A. Through Prayer (v. 14)
14. For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Listen, this is a prayer about enablement. Paul is seated with Christ (2:6), built upon Christ (2:20), and is bowing his knees to the Father (3:14). This is what makes it possible for him to walk (4:1), grow up (4:15), and stand against Satan (6:14ff). Our spiritual position in Christ makes possible our victorious walk on earth.
B. Through His Spirit (v. 16)
16. that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,
How marvelous that God does not give the Spirit’s power to us “out of His riches” but “according to”—which is a far greater thing. If I am a billionaire and I give you ten dollars, I have given you out of my riches; but if I give you a million dollars, I have given to you according to my riches. The first is a portion; the second is a proportion.
C. Through Faith (v. 17)
17. that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
II. God Works Through Us
A. His Power For Inner Strength (v. 16)
16. that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,
The presence of the Holy Spirit in the life is evidence of salvation (Rom. 8:9); but the power of the Spirit is enablement for Christian living.
He strengthens us so that He can use us. An infested home can not be occupied no more than an infested heart can be occupied. The Holy Spirit works eliminates the infestations of sin so that Christ can feel at home within us in order to work through us to build up others and bless God.
This power is available for “the inner man.” This means the spiritual part of man where God dwells and works.
The inner man can see (Ps. 119:18), hear (Matt. 13:9), taste (Ps. 34:8), and feel (Acts 17:27); and he must be “exercised” (1 Tim. 4:7–8). He also must be cleansed (Ps. 51:7) and fed (Matt. 4:4). The outer man is perishing, but the inner man can be renewed spiritually in spite of outward physical decay (2 Cor. 4:16–18). It is this inner power that makes him succeed.
B. His Power For Understanding (v. 18)
18. may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height 19. to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
18. and may you be able to feel and understand, as all God’s children should, how long, how wide, how deep, and how high his love really is; and to experience this love for yourselves, though it is so great that you will never see the end of it or fully know or understand it. And so at last you will be filled up with God himself. – Living Bible
Listen, if you don’t learn to go deep this year, you want go high. God has given us power to understand just how much Christ loved you.
The trials of life test the depth of our experience. If two roommates in college have a falling out, they may seek new roommates, for after all, living with a roommate is a passing experience. But if a husband and wife, who love each other, have a disagreement, the trial only deepens their love as they seek to solve the problems.
C. His Power For Above & Beyond (v. 20)
20. 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,
III. God Is Glorified In Us
21. to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
A. Through the Church (v. 21)
To Him be Glory in the Church…means that we, as the Church, the Called out ones of God, are to present God in all His Brilliant Splendor, that He is to be seen in all His Majestic Beauty.
To Him be the Glory in the Church -- This is our purpose. This is our mission. This is our desire. This is our value. This is what we live for…this is our essence. Our lives are to be His Glory! Our Love is to be His Glory.
B. Through Jesus Christ (v. 21)
Jesus isn’t just taking a Vacation with you. Your Heart becomes His Home. His address is now your life. He lives with you and in You – a Permanent Residence
C. Through out all ages (v. 21)
God is Able – that would be enough said. God Can! God is! God is Able to do! That would be enough to have our hearts beat with Confidence and Faith.
Our hearts can beat a few beats faster why because our God is Able to do more than what we ask or imagine…Go God! Our hearts should be pounding in praise, why our God is Able to do abundantly more.
Our God is Able to do abundantly more beyond all we ask or imagine. Our God is Able to do FAR MORE ABUNDANTLY BEYOND ALL. You don’t believe He is an “Above and Beyond” God? Listen…
ü The Lord not only forgives a Sin – God can Forgive ALL your Sin
ü God not only loves you when you’re good – God loves you when you are bad.
ü God not only gives you the Hope of Heaven Today – God is preparing Heaven for You for All Eternity.
ü God not only gives us our daily bread – He gives us Steak and potatoes, the corn, the peas, the beans, the macaroni and cheese, a fresh green salad, hot apple pie and a scoop of your favorite ice-cream…and if you are still hungry – he’ll let you pick up a Krispy Kreme donut for a snack.
God is Able to do MORE>>>>His Ability is --- Incredible, Outrageous, and Extravagant. He exceeds the Expectation…You Get more than what you expect…God is Faithful. God is Able.
ü God didn’t make just a single drop of water He made Oceans of water
ü God didn’t create just 1 star – God made Galaxies
ü God didn’t just make a single kind of bird – God created 1,000s kinds of birds
ü God didn’t just make a hill – God made the Rocky Mountains
ü God didn’t just make the Sun – God Sun sets and Sun rises…
I want somebody to know that this year that there are
ü No Limits to His Love
ü No Boundaries to His Blessing
ü No Fences withholding His Faithfulness
ü No Lines drawn separating us from His Salavation
ü No GuardRails against His Grace
ü No Containers holding His Compassion
ü No Restrictions to Experiencing His Righteousness
If God is able to do all that – what can He do with your Life? What can He do with your Heart? With your Hands? With your Talents? With your Gifts? What can He do With Your Family? With your Friends? With you at School? With you at work?
What can He do with your Future? With your Potential? With your Love?
What can He do with your Challenges? With your Weakness? With your Problems? With your Disappointments?
God is Able to do far more and abundantly beyond ALL we ask or think...
By the way – I am Glad that God is not limited to what I ask or think because there are times when my askin’ is lackin’ and my thinkin’ is stinkin’.
I’m glad that God is God and I’m not. I don’t get it - all the time and I don’t get it all – most of the time.
I don’t know what God knows. I don’t see what God sees. I don’t understand what God understands. I’m not where God is…
I’m OK with that. I’m OK with letting God be God – I’m pretty sure that God is OK with that because I really don’t think I have a choice in that matter anyway. God is God and God is Able…