The Wondrous Power of God (Ephesians 3:20-21)
As many of you know, I’ve struggled with health issues my whole life. A few “odd” things here and there when I was growing up would cause Mom to take me to our family practitioner; Mom often joked that the Imel’s kept Dr. McLaughlin in business.
In 2008, though, things really took a downward direction. My legs started giving me excruciating pain and stopped functioning properly. It wasn’t long before I was on a cane, but I grew progressively worse and starting using a walker. If I went long distances (such as the doctor’s office or vacation), I needed a wheelchair; I could not walk far at all.
Obviously, I saw doctor after doctor. One neurologist said my symptoms were all psychosomatic—although diagnostic testing showed physical causes. Other neurologists thought I had early-onset Alzheimer’s or multiple sclerosis or muscular dystrophy, but those tests were either inconclusive or negative.
Finally, I saw a neurologist in Roanoke, Virginia, who specialized in movement disorders. He did something of an experiment and the diagnosis was confirmed and sure—dystonia. Dystonia is a genetic neuromuscular disease where the brain sends faulty signals and causes muscles to contract in abnormal ways. Obviously, since dystonia is genetic, there is no cure. Eight years or so ago, the neurologist told me I’d be in a wheelchair permanently before long.
But there’s one thing that doctor did not know: I had brothers and sisters all around the world praying for me. My brethren were praying that I would be able to continue serving God in fulltime ministry, and here I am. I firmly believe it’s only because of prayers on my behalf that I’m preaching here today.
You’ve surely seen God work wonders in your life. Perhaps you were seriously ill, prayers were offered to God for you, and you’re in this world only because of the power found in prayer. Maybe your life was in shambles because of sin; you came to Jesus in faithful obedience and you received a new life altogether. Maybe you faced some major disappointment—a divorce, the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job—and only God’s great comfort and power got you through that painful time.
This church needs a healthy dose of God’s wondrous power. We have a Bring-A-Friend Day next Lord’s Day. Great things can happen next Lord’s Day, and the seed can be sown for greater things in the future. But we desperately need God’s marvelous power to see those great things happen.
In the Epistle to the Ephesians, Paul praised God for his great power. We want to learn about God’s great power in the church so that we can be prepared for what God is going to do in this church. Paul in his doxology declared: “God has wondrous power.”
Scripture (Ephesians 3:20-21)
Paul often divided his epistles into two sections: 1) Theology (truths his readers needed to understand); and 2) Practical application of the theological truths in the first part of the epistle. This doxology stands as a bridge between those two sections of Ephesians.
Paul began this doxology with the word “now;” the word allowed Paul’s readers to know that he was ending his theological section and was preparing to give his conclusions. What had Paul said in the theological part of Ephesians? Namely that God brought both Jews and Gentiles together in one body. The power of God, in other words, was displayed when God took two competing ethnic groups and made them one in his Son.
“To him who is able” is one word in Greek. The word is in the present tense and means continual action. God, in other words, always has the power to act in marvelous ways.
God is able “to do far more abundantly.” The Greek term means “beyond all measure” or “greatly exceeding all boundaries.” The form of the term Paul used is the highest form of comparison possible. This was the most spectacular way Paul could put into words how powerful God is.
God can do far more than we can ask or think. No one can pray a prayer too big for God. No one can conceive of anything too big for God.
God acts big “according to the power at work within us.” The Holy Spirit’s dwelling in Christians provides the power God uses to act in our lives.
“To him be glory in the church.” Because the church is a miraculous conglomeration of different ethnic groups, the church should praise God.
“And in Christ Jesus.” Christ Jesus praises the Father for bringing different groups together as one in his church.
“Throughout all generations forever and ever.” God always deserves the praise of his people and his Son for all the wonders he has done.
“God has wondrous power.” God displayed wondrous power in the church when he brought Jews and Gentiles together in one body. God will demonstrate great power next Sunday at the church’s Bring-A-Friend Day.
As the church’s Bring-A-Friend Day approaches, what should you do because of God’s great power? Yes, you need to act for God to display his great power.
I talked about my dystonia to start the lesson and how God answered prayers in a mighty way. But action was necessary for God to do so. In the first place, brethren prayed for me. Second, I also had to act. I’ve lost 125 pounds, which makes getting around much easier. I swim 2,000 yards or so every morning before I come to the office; swimming greatly helps with pain management. I normally leave the office somewhere around 4:00 (sometimes a little earlier) to go ride my bike 20 miles or so; cycling strengthens my legs and allows me to move more easily. I don’t say those things to brag and say, “Hey, look at me;” instead, I simply want to make the point that I have to act in order to for God to display his power.
You have a responsibility to help God out so he can use his power at Bring-A-Friend Day next Sunday. But how can you do that? Paul told us in his doxology exactly how you should live because “God has wondrous power.”
You need to PRAY.
Paul said God can do more than you ask. You know prayer has great power; the Lord Jesus spoke about prayer’s great power: Luke 11:9-13.
Throughout the ages, God has answered the prayers of his people in mighty ways:
- Hannah prayed for a son, and God gave her Samuel (1 Sam 1:27).
- When the Philistines drew near to attack Israel, Samuel prayed, and God “thundered with a mighty sound that day against the Philistines and and threw them into confusion, and they were defeated before Israel” (1 Sam 7:7-11).
- Ezra prayed for safe passage for the exiles returning from Babylonia, and God “listened to [his] entreaty” (Ez 8:21-23).
- Zechariah prayed for a son, and God gave him John the Baptizer (Lk 1:13).
- When Peter was arrested, “earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church” (Acts 12:5); God sent an angel to rescue Peter from prison.
Spend serious time praying for God to use his great power at Bring-A-Friend Day.
- Pray that we’ll reach our goal of 100.
- Pray that the seed will be sown.
- Pray for me as I preach.
- Pray for other men who will lead the service.
- Pray that people will come to Jesus because of Bring-A-Friend Day.
- Pray that this church building will be busting at the seams.
- Pray for the friends whom you have invited.
God can do so much more than you could ever ask, so pray, and pray BIG!
You need to PONDER.
Paul said that God can do more than you think. You, therefore, need to spend some time thinking about God and his great power. Imagine God’s using his great power here in Deer Park, Texas.
You wouldn’t be the first saint to dream big.
- Abram was to count the stars and realize his offspring would outnumber them all (Gen 15:5-6).
- David envisioned a temple for God in Jerusalem.
- Ezra and Nehemiah envisioned rebuilding that temple after its destruction by the Babylonians.
- Jesus himself envisioned his message going “to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Imagine what next Sunday will be like:
- A great time of worship and praise.
- Guests getting to know this church and hearing the word of life.
- The word of God being sown in good and honest hearts.
- People coming to Jesus because you invited them to Bring-A-Friend Day.
- The population of heaven increasing because you worked with God.
Dream BIG and know God can do so much more than you can even ponder.
You need to PRAISE.
Glory is to be God’s in the church and in Christ Jesus forever. As the church, we owe glory to God.
- Jude praised God: Jude 24-25.
- The 24 elders in Revelation praised God: Revelation 4:11.
You need to praise God.
- As you pray this week, praise God for the great power he’ll display next week.
- As you’re working around the house or driving your car, sing hymns of praise to God.
- As you give generously, do so with a heart full of praise for God’s power.
- As you commune around the Lord’s table, praise the God who used great power to forgive your sins and raise Jesus from the dead.
- As you hear the word, do so with a heart full of praise for a God who inspired such a powerful word.
Will you praise the powerful God you serve?
God will do great things in this church, for “God has wondrous power.” We will see much good as God works in us.
Do you need God’s power to forgive you of your sins this very morning?