To Him Who is Able
Text: Ephesians 3:13-21
I. Life happens. Things don’t always go smoothly. Problems arise, if for no other reason than that we live in a problem filled world.
A. People get laid off. Homes are foreclosed. Bankruptcy might loom on the horizon.
B. Families can be dysfunctional. Marriages strained. Children wayward.
C. Congregations struggle to reach the lost and have poor results. Members are lost faster than they are gained. People aren’t interested in the gospel.
D. It is easy to look at a situation and feel hopeless.
II. When Paul wrote the Ephesian letter, he was in prison in Rome. He had been arrested in Jerusalem and kept locked up for two years as those holding him awaited for a bribe to release him. He finally made an appeal to be tried by the highest court – to go before Caesar – and he now awaited that trial as a prisoner in Rome.
A. But notice that Paul did not want the Ephesians to get discouraged over his situation - Ephesians 3:13
B. Paul had a prayer on their behalf - Ephesians 3:14-19
C. What a prayer on anyone’s behalf!
D. Paul was confident that God would answer his prayer, not in the manner in which he asked, but in a way that would exceed Paul’s wildest imagination - Ephesians 3:20-21
E. I was talking to a young man about prayer. He wanted to know if it was proper to pray that he find a beautiful wife, or that he’d be able to impress his girlfriend, or things like that.
1. I pointed out that we often pray for the wrong things because we think to materialistically.
2. Is marriage about physical beauty or finding your life’s companion? After all physical beauty fades - Proverbs 31:30
3. Is being impressive important or finding someone who will help you through life’s journey and help you stay faithful?
4. Perhaps we should look deeper at what we really need and ask God for help there and not just simply state what we think we want.
III. When God answers prayers
A. He is able
1. We often set out on tasks with good intentions, but because we have so little control and so little time we can’t always accomplish what we desire.
2. Not so with God - Jeremiah 32:17
3. Abraham understood. When God promises, He is able to deliver - Romans 4:19-21
4. God has no constraints in accomplishing His will. He is bigger than all our problems. Should I fear that He is not up to the task? - Psalm 77:11-15; 145:3-7
5. So when we face hard times, understand that God is able to bring you through to the other side..
B. To do exceedingly abundantly
1. God able to far more than you or I might expect.
2. But then, God doesn’t think in limited terms as we do - Isaiah 55:6-11
3. Think about God bringing the children of Israel out of Egyptian slavery
a. He didn’t sneak them out under the cover of night.
b. He sent ten plagues which decimated the Egyptian’s religious beliefs.
c. He caused the Egyptians to be in so much awe of the Israelites, that they gave them their wealth; thus Israel plundered Egypt without war.
d. He took them through the Red Sea and then destroyed the army of the mightiest nation on earth at that time.
e. Did He answer the Israelite’s prayers to ease their slavery? - Exodus 3:7
(1) Oh, yes! And so much more!
(2) God doesn't do things half-way or just completely, He goes beyond all reasonable expectations
C. Beyond what we ask
1. God knows our needs before we even ask - Matthew 6:8
2. But God responds to our requests in ways we can’t imagine.
a. Again think about the children of Israel.
(1) When they prayed, do you think they imagined going out in such a display of power?
(2) Even when God’s plans were being implemented, the Israelites thought things were being made worse for them, but that is because they couldn’t see where things were heading.
b. The answers to our prayers will likely come from directions we weren’t expecting.
(1) But then, if we were expecting them, we wouldn’t think we were in such difficulty
c. The answers, in the end, will give us more than we even thought to ask - Matthew 7:7-11
D. Beyond what we think
1. There have been times when I was at point A, I needed to get to point B, and knowing roughly how to get there, I would ask how to do the first part of my journey, thinking that once I get underway, I’ll be able to take it the rest of the way.
a. But no, it didn’t work out. Because the person I asked didn’t know my ultimate goal, they only gave me exactly what I asked for. It never occurred to them that I was looking to cross the river. The bridge was out, but they didn’t mention it because it wasn’t important.
b. Little did I know I was in a “you can’t get there from here situation.”
2. That isn’t the way God answers us. He not only knows were we want to go, but He also knows where we need to go beyond that – but we hadn’t thought that far ahead yet. God thinks on a far greater and vast scale than we do.
3. I might be hoping I can pass the next course, God might be seeing that if I worked in a different field I’ll have more time for my children and raise them better.
a. I might be upset that I didn’t pass. I might wonder why God didn’t answer my prayer.
b. But all along God is responding to things in my life that I didn’t even think were factors at the moment and guiding me toward a life better than I imagined.
E. According to the power in us
1. Power? What power. We’re facing the lions of life and feeling pretty puny at the moment.
2. Paul talked about it earlier - Ephesians 1:18-20
a. God demonstrated His power in raising Christ Jesus from the dead, not just as another person brought back to life only to die again later, but spectacularly leaving no doubt and much evidence of His power.
b. God’s same power saves us, raising us from the death of sin - I Corinthians 1:18
c. His power keeps us - Psalm 79:11
d. Operating in ways we cannot fathom - I Corinthians 15:58
IV. To Him be the Glory
A. In the church
1. God picks ways which goes against common thought - I Corinthians 1:26-31
2. When things work out just right, we realize that it wasn’t man, but God - Ephesians 3:8-12
3. When the church comes together to help one another, problems become less of an issue, and God gets the glory - Romans 15:5-9
4. God accomplishes His will through His people and thus is glorified - II Corinthians 4:15
B. In Christ Jesus
1. But greater is the glory the Son of God brought to the Father of all through his obedience - John 17:4-5
a. He received glory from God - II Peter 1:17
2. When we teach the story of Christ, it gives God glory - I Peter 4:11
3. Christ taught us how to live pleasing to God - Philippians 1:11
4. Our faith in Christ is glory to God - Philippians 2:11
C. Forever and ever
1. God deserves nothing else by eternal glory - Philippians 4:19
2. It belongs to God alone - I Timothy 1:17
3. Throughout all eternity, God’s plans never fail.
V. So, are you ready to escape the uncertainties of life?
A. Whatever your problems are, you can stop worrying.
B. Put God first, by being His child, and He will take care of all your needs, exceedingly abundantly beyond all that you may ask or think, according to His power to save you this day.