6-Week Series: Against All Odds

Sermons

Summary: with God’s power we can be patient in difficulty and endure an increasing load longer and longer with joy in our hearts as we see His will accomplished

Worthiness

Do you ever feel worthy of the LORD’s blessings? In general, I don’t. I think most of us don’t feel worthy, and that sense of unworthiness may increase with age. Jesus said “I do always those things that please the Father”. And when He said that, many who heard Him believed in Him (John 8). If I said that, I am certain no one would believe me. What was it about Jesus that resonated with people so they knew He was pleasing God? Paul may have his finger on the key to understanding what we have to do to please God-

Being Fruitful in Every Good Work

I suppose there are many bad works we might be able to do-we can tear people down, insult them, be rude and thoughtless and inconsiderate. We can gossip and speak badly of people when they are absent, while speaking sweetly to them when they are present. We can actively push for evil, paying bribes, encouraging hatred and division and strife and even violence and destruction. We can find benefit from the hurt or addictions of others, or get lost in our own addictions to pleasure or power or intoxication or thrills. These are the works of darkness the enemy of our souls constantly works to encourage and expand among us. But every good work: love, kindness, goodness, speaking truth in love, blessing and encouraging-these are the good works that establish God’s kingdom on this earth. Paul doesn’t stop with all of these good works, however-these are the kinds of things we might intuitively list as ways to please God. But Paul lists unexpected things like increasing knowledge of God, patience and endurance (or long-suffering)

What God’s Power is for-Knowledge of God: Patience, Endurance & Joy

I think we sometimes misunderstand the purpose of God’s power in our lives. We may intuitively look to Him for power to overcome in difficulties, or to fight a good battle against our enemies, or to move mountains and fulfill our dreams-maybe those are all good uses of God’s power. But Paul mentions none of these things. Instead, Paul focuses on the power of God as the means by which we become better human beings. His power is manifest in us first as we learn to know Him better. As we studied in Ephesians, we should seek to be filled with the knowledge of the height and depth and width and breadth of the love of God-that requires a powerful revelation from Him (chapter 3). Have you ever had a friend who helps you be a better person, the better you know him or her the more you are drawn to higher heights of forgiveness, wisdom and grace? If you haven’t, pray that God brings such a person into your life, and/or become that person for someone else. Jesus is that kind of Friend. To know Him is to become more like Him. John said “we know that when we see Him we will be like Him for we will see Him as He is.” Knowing Jesus makes us more like Jesus. Seeing God as He is requires that we acquire attributes of His goodness, knowledge, grace and truth. What better manifestation of God’s power in our lives could there be? But Paul doesn’t stop there.

Patience, Endurance & Joy seem unrelated. If you have to be patient-you’re in a hurry and the line in front of you is long, and the person in line in front of you starts an argument with the attendant you’d hoped to talk to next. This is not a joyous scene. Endurance is that ability to bear under a load. Last year I started doing strongman workouts. All strongman workouts involve taking something as heavy as possible and lifting or pushing or pulling or carrying it as far as you can. Just the thought of a strongman workout is painful to me. Endurance work hurts. Endurance in life also hurts. But with God’s power we can be patient in difficulty and endure an increasing load longer and longer with joy in our hearts as we see His will accomplished. This is a paradox-like the beatitudes of Jesus. Paul might say “Blessed are those who are patent and endure a heavy load, for they shall be filled with joy”. Strength exercise produces dopamine and endurance exercise produces serotonin-both of these are feel-good hormones. Maybe there is a spiritual serotonin and dopamine for those who are willing to endure hardships and heavy loads for Jesus.

Prayer for Today

Father,

Today, give me Your Power.

Anoint me with Your Spirit so I can know you.

Teach me patience. I know that’s a dangerous prayer, but make me patient anyway. Teach me the joy of enduring greater weight for you. Let the heavy load that would have crushed me yesterday become light tomorrow. Make me stronger each day.

In the name of the One who left all power to become a weak baby—enduring patiently the cross You set before Him, for the joy that was set before Him.

Amen.

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