Ephesians 3: 20-21
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.
SUMMARY OF SUNDAY'S MESSAGE
This year could exceed your greatest expectations. The next 12 months could bring forth more than you could ever imagine. This text in Ephesians ignites faith and raises expectations.
Your resolutions this year are going to be way too small. Most people’s resolutions are based on stopping something rather than changing everything. We can raise the bar if the strength available is greater than my own power. Paul writes to the Ephesians that God has power for us to live on this year which is more than just our willpower.
How can we partner with God’s power this year?
(i) WE PRAY
Paul here is praying for the Ephesian church that they will grasp the immensity of the love of God. Out of this prayer he begins to worship and declares the power of God. People who comprehend the extent of God’s love know that it is rooted in His power. It’s not that we have to choose either love or power - it's both working together.
(ii) WE PROCLAIM HIS POWER
It’s ironic that Paul is proclaiming God’s power from a prison cell. On a previous occasion when he was worshiping God in prison, the earth shook and he led the jailer to faith in Christ (Acts 16). This time however there is no earth shaking and no salvation. Yet that doesn't stop Paul from praising and proclaiming the greatness of God.
We can't allow the circumstances around us to define our perspective on reality. We can't permit pain to shape our view of what God can do. The enemy is always whispering and taunting us: “Where is your God now?” when we are wrestling with depression, pain, problems and suffering. However, we proclaim God’s power in the middle of our circumstances. We keep His power before us. He can do immeasurably more than we can ask or think. So in 2017, take what you can measure and then go beyond it. He can do more.
(iii) WE MAKE THE DECISION TO PARTNER WITH HIS POWER
The text in Ephesians doesn’t say: 'God is GOING to do more than you ask or imagine.' It says: 'He is ABLE to do more....according to His power at work in us.' In other words, we partner with Him.
Jesus would often encounter someone with a particular need and say something like: 'According to your faith it will be done to you.' In effect, He was saying: 'This is available to you, but the extent to which you experience it depends on your partnership with Him.' Make the decision this year to partner with His power.
(iv) WE PUT SOMETHING OUT THERE IN FAITH
God’s power is grounded in His promises. We see this in Joshua 3. These people have lived the same year for 40 years in the wilderness. Now, however, there’s movement coming. God promises that 'amazing things' lie ahead. However they have a part to play. They must go and stand in the middle of the river.
You will never witness amazing things until you leave the edges. God calls us to step in, take the plunge. It's in the impossibilities that we experience the fullness of God's power.
(v) WE PUT EVERYTHING ON THE ALTAR
This year stay conscious of His abundance and stay consecrated on the altar.
The altar is the place where we lay everything down. We often pray and sing that God would send His fire from Heaven. Yet, for fire to come down there has to be something on the altar. Bring a sacrifice for Him to consume. Bring your fears, failings and future and surrender it all to Him.
Don’t live passively or by proxy or on the periphery. Don't build 2017 around your own protection, purpose and plans. Imagine if, at the end of 2017, your testimony was this: 'My God is able. He sustained me in ways and in places I could never have imagined.'
This year will be filled with some difficult things, that’s a given. The best way to get through it is to release your entitlement and surrender your rights into God’s hands. Lay your life on the altar.
Each year the Methodists make a prayer of covenant to God. You might want to make it your own as you begin 2017:
I am no longer my own but yours.
Put me to what you will,
rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing,
put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you,
or laid aside for you,
exalted for you,
or brought low for you;
let me be full,
let me be empty,
let me have all things,
let me have nothing:
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things
to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine and I am yours. So be it.
And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.