This weekend at Elevation, Pastor Steven started a sermon series on the book of Ephesians. His first sermon was from the first chapter of Ephesians, and focused on the power of God working in our lives. I've also been reading Ephesians on my own, and recently focused some reading/study time on the same passage. Anyway, it was so good that I HAD to share a little of it with my wonderful, be it small, blog audience.
Pastor Steven pointed out something (as he regularly does) that I know, but I've never really devoted significant thought to. We already have all of the power of God in us. As verses 7-10 in the first chapter of Ephesians say: (and I'm quoting from The Message... a modern language translation of the Bible that I like to use in my personal reading time.)
"Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we're a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for EVERYTHING WE COULD POSSIBLY NEED, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth." (emphasis there was my own.)
God provided us with all the power that we need... the same power that raised Jesus from the DEAD for crying out loud (see verse 20) but we choose to live in weakness. And yes, I say WE because I fall into this category PLENTY of times. Pastor Steven likened this to potential and kinetic energy. I googled to get a little refreshed on that as physics wasn't my best subject in high school. The fact of the matter though, is that all that power, the power that raised Jesus from the dead and sat him at the right hand of God, is just potential in our lives until we make it WORK in our lives through trust, faith, ACTION. We got all the power we'll ever need the moment we became a Christian, but we waste it and forfeit God's blessing when we choose not to act.
Here's the part of this that really gets me... Paul points it out in verse 19. I worry SO much about my strength, what I'm capable of. But it has NOTHING to do with my ability. NOTHING. It all hinges on God's authority... which we know very well never changes, dwindles, struggles. NEVER. But somehow I still worry that I can't do it. Its my perception of power and strength thats the issue. His power never changes... my confidence in his power to be exerted though me... THATS what varies, and that's what causes me to miss out on things that He has for me.
I had a professor in college who used to tell us that "God doesn't call the equipped, He equips the called." Its sometimes hard for me to think this way, but when I refuse to, I'm underestimating God's power. If God can raise people from the dead, part seas, make the sun stand still in the sky, why in the world am I so arrogant to think that my issues are outside his realm of expertise? As I write that sentence, doubting sounds utterly ridiculous, and yet I find myself behaving that way more often than I care to admit. To express it a different way, as Pastor put it (after making a GREAT analogy about Apple products... which made this Mac lover smile) we use the equipment God gave us FAR beneath its potential.
After hearing about the sermon series coming up at Elevation I decided to devote my own Bible reading time to Ephesians for the next couple of weeks. Rarely do I spend so much time in one place in the Bible, so I thought it would be a nice change of pace. The thing that stood out to me initially... and then REALLY hit home after hearing Pastor's thoughts is the following...
In verses 15-19 Paul says (again quoting from The Message)
"That's why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn't stop thanking God for you—every time I prayed, I'd think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength!"
Paul prayed for the believers that he cared for in such a beautiful way. When I read "intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally" I thought WOW, that, more than anything I could say, sums up EXACTLY what I'm looking for in my relationship with Christ. Thats just what I want. I can't think of anything better than gaining intimacy with the Father and gaining intelligence and discernment that will allow me to better love and serve those around me.
This week I'm working on tapping into God's power through my prayer, faithfulness, action. I'm praying Paul's prayer for myself... and I'm praying it for you too. I'm asking God "to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do..."