God Is Able
by David Thurman
via Gospel Minutes, Vol. 58, No. 12, March 20, 2009.
Times are hard right now. The economy is in a major recession, with no end in sight as I write this. Many people are facing factory layoffs. Many are looking at foreclosures and still others are thinking of bankruptcy.
Maybe you are not affected by this. But, maybe you have marital problems, or family dysfunction at home. Or, maybe your children are not doing so well in school or in the neighborhood. Maybe your congregation is struggling with paying its bills or with reaching out to the community. Maybe it looks as if things will not get better at home or at the congregation or at work. It is easy in our current situation to feel hopeless, to feel despair.
That is where God can be your best choice. God is not fazed by economic downturns. He is not afraid of family or financial problems. God is much bigger than that. And that is why you need to remember the wonderful statement the apostle Paul makes in one of his letters, the letter to the Ephesians.
"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, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen" (Ephesians 3:20,21).
In just two verses, Paul reminds us of some very important qualities of God and the results for our lives.
God Is Able
The first phrase is wonderful to read. God is able to do what He sets out to do. Nothing can thwart the Will of God. While politicians struggle with ways to get the economy going, God is not bothered or distracted from doing what He sets out to do. While we have to live with the roller coaster of the economy, God is not constrained by such small things. Whatever He wants to do, God is able to do.
This is important. As you turn toward God in hard times you will need a Father who can keep your family together, keep your job open, keep your bills and mortgage paid. God can do those things even in the middle of a recession. The God who formed the heavens and the earth is bigger than all the problems the world throws in our path.
So, don't be afraid. You may be going through hard times right now, but God is able to bring you through successfully to the other side of your problems. Don't believe that the world is bigger than the Lord. God is able to do what you need Him to do in your life.
Not only is God able to do what He sets out to do, but He will do it in an over the top manner. God can do so much more than our feeble minds can grasp. "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8,9). God's plans are beyond us. We cannot, in our present situation, see all that He is doing let alone all He can do. And what he will do is beyond our grasp in any case.
I think of the children of Israel. They saw ten plagues and still Pharaoh was stubborn. So, God did more than just save them, He saved them spectacularly by drowning the world's best army in the Red Sea. I think of Elijah, fighting his lonely battle against idolatry. God didn't just do something, He did something spectacular by sending fire to devour Elijah's sacrifice, and then ending a three year drought in Israel. I think of Jesus, laid in a new tomb after His death. God didn't just bring another person back to life, He raised His Son and in spectacular fashion, He overcame Satan and death. God can do exceedingly, abundantly when He get into action.
Beyond What We Ask
God knows our needs before we ever ask Him. But God will respond to our requests in ways we cannot imagine. While we may ask for help, God will come to deliver us. While we may ask for food, God will see to it we are fed for a lifetime. While we ask for recovery from illness or surgery, God may raise us up to be even healthier and stronger than before. God goes beyond what we are able to ask.
We see so little of His great plan. We can only get glimpses of all that He is doing and will do. So, when we seek His help we ask for what we know. But God will move well beyond what we ask and give us what we need to be His people and to accomplish His Will. Jesus said it best. "Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened. Or what man is there among you, when his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he shall ask for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him?" (Matthew 7:7-11). God stands ready to answer your needs, and He will do it in a way that is beyond our understanding.
Beyond What We Think
What can you imagine? What is in your mind in terms of your finances, or your family, or the church? God can do more than you think. While we make plans for education and careers, God thinks bigger than we do. While we look of ways to cope with an economic downturn, God thinks in bigger terms. So, whatever is in your mind about the challenges of your life, know that God can plan and work on a much grander scale.
This point really challenges me. I can see, in my mind, the church of Jesus reaching out and converting many people in a community. God can see it reaching the world. I cannot imagine how that can be done, but He can. I can imagine the church where I preach growing, maybe adding a few dozen members this year. God can see much more than that.
I would challenge you to do some thinking, some imagining of what you would want your home life to be, your work place, your congregation. Then, turn to a God who can see it in much clearer terms. Then know that whatever you envision, it will not come close to what God can actually do.
According to the Power in Us
Many times I don't feel very powerful, especially in the face of a lost job, or an illness, or shrinking income. But God says that He has a power at work in us. God is doing things in our hearts and our lives that will turn life around. God saved you, and when He did, He put within you the ability to be what He wants you to be and to go where He wants you to go. All the harsh circumstances of life will not derail the power at work in you.
This power is from God and will work its way in us as we surrender to it. That is why we keep on asking and seeking, so that we will be ready when God begins to move in us and make our world different. God has not and will not leave us alone to facer the problems of life. He will be there and will provide what we need when we need it.
Paul explained this earlier in his letter. "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 1:18-20). The same amazing power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in us, keeping us saved and keeping us in His Will. God is working in us in ways that are beyond our imagination. So, Satan and all his attacks are destined to fail.
Glory in the Church
Nowhere does this power come through as well as in the body of believers called the church. When people of different backgrounds, different ethnicity, different cultures come to Christ, they are all added to the one body of Christ. While the world would look at this as foolish, God uses this "foolishness" to stop all the critics.
As the church comes together in harmony and unity, all of a sudden the power of Satan is diminished. As we praise God and offer Him the glory, Satan and his efforts go by the wayside. The role of the church is powerfully demonstrated here. It is in the body of Christ, the believers who make up the church that God finds His glory. It is in changed lives, surrendered hearts and loving attitudes. In that atmosphere all the worst things in the world can't discourage us. Money may be a problem, but a group of loving people are there for me. Family issues may come up, but a group of loving friends will walk me through the challenges and love me no matter what. The church may seem to be in decline, but God and His people will succeed when all is said and done. That brings glory to God.
Glory in Christ Jesus
Paul brings to a close with an emphasis on two things. The first was the church, as we saw. The second is God's only begotten Son. What Jesus did on the cross is so amazing, so wonderful, so powerful that it brings glory to God always. Why do we get so worried about life and its problems, when God has already demonstrated His love for us by sending Jesus? Why do we think a recession is the worst thing that can happen, when God has already beaten Satan and his powers to give us a victory? In Christ, nothing can defeat us. On our own we certainly are too small to face down a recession. However, we can face it with faith in the Son of God.
So, our duty before God is to bring glory to the church by bringing glory to the Christ. We do that best by submitting to His Will in all things. The more we look and act like the Son of God, the more glory is poured out upon God. God gets the credit He richly deserves when we act like Jesus,. talk like Jesus, and love like Jesus. Our role in all this is simple: bring glory to God by being more and more like His Son. "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men, And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross" (Philippians 2:5-8).
Forever and Ever
This glory toward God through the church and the Christ will go on throughout eternity. God's Plan will not fail, His people will be saved, His church will march on. These are not guesses, these are the promises of God. While we fear the challenges of the economy or of our families or our congregations, God just keeps on doing more then we can ask or think to lead us to victory.
Are You in Christ?
You can escape the turmoil of uncertainty. You can stop worrying about the recession, or all other issues. You do that by being in Christ. You get into Christ by doing His Will. By being baptized into Christ and for the remission of your sins, (Romans 6:3,4; Acts 22:16; Galatians 3:26,27). In that act of submission, you turn your life and its worries over to God. Are you in Christ? If not, please obey Him today.