Ephesians 3:14-21 John 14:8-14 November 17, 2013
One day I had a phone call with my child’s case manager. I asked her about the options we have for when my child is released from the residential facility. Before allowing me to say anything else, she interrupted me and said, “I am proud of you. You are at the point of thinking about life without your child being in residential treatment.”
Until she said that, it had not occurred to me that I had reached that point. It sure was a blessing for me to recognize that I am ready for life after my child is done with residential treatment. It helped me realize something about churches.
Churches can get to the same point in their thinking. It is healthy for this church to be looking toward the future. Are we at that point? Are we ready to imagine the future that God has for us? If we are not ready to imagine the future that God has for us, then maybe there are items in our way. I saw a church marquee, just down the road from where we are sitting, that has this statement on it: “The call of God is sometimes hard to hear.”
There are several items that could clutter up our ability to hear from God. Some of these items include: ignorance of how God speaks; our selfishness; fear of what God could ask us to do; and being hurt.
When we refuse to read the Bible, then we have to acknowledge that God won’t speak to us. It is through reading the Bible that we are aware of the many ways God can speak to us.
We humans are selfish. We do not want to be involved with other people, unless it is a select few whom have known for years. Then when we are in a place where we need people to show concern for us, sometimes we find ourselves all alone. Yes, there are times that we can be so wrapped in ourselves that we are unable to hear from God. As we are living as believers in Jesus Christ, it is quite difficult for us to be concerned only with ourselves. It sounds like it is time we stop acting like Christians and we start living as Christians!
What will God have us do? Maybe we are afraid that God will ask us to become preachers or missionaries. I have to break the news to you, when you are following Jesus Christ, you are already a missionary! Where you are right now is the mission field that God wants you to be working. Sooner or later, we all get over this fear.
Then there are times we are hurting. Someone has either said or done something, or they may have not said or done anything, but we are hurt. My mom warned us kids about wearing our feelings on our sleeves. When the feelings were on our sleeves, we were going to get hurt. There are times that life slaps us and we are hurt. Yes, mourning for a loved one, grieving a problem in a relationship, or a job loss, are hurts that we have to work through. These hurts force us to change and recognize who we are.
As we work in the clutter of our lives, God is already speaking to us about our present and our future. Our present reality is that people are praying for us. We are praying for each other. We see this modeled in how Paul prays for his readers. As we know who we are, we are able to prepare for the future. We realize that it is God who has been working, and will continue to work, in our lives.
- So, who are we now? (3:14-19)
- Paul prayed for his readers (I pray for you)
- We are strengthened in our lives by the Holy Spirit
- We can have Christ dwelling in our hearts!
- We can know what the cross means – Gregory of Nyssa – “Its distinctive shape – ‘the four arms converge in the middle’ – became a universal symbol of ‘the one who binds all things to himself and makes them one.’ Through him the things above are united with those below, and the things at one extremity with those at the other In consequence it was right that we should not be brought to a knowledge of the Godhead by hearing alone’ but that sight too should be our teacher.’”
- We can have the fullness of God in us!
- We are saints, the people who make up the church. God knows us and we gain understanding of who we are from him. We realize God has immense love for us through Jesus Christ. The cross of Jesus brings us and God together. The cross of Jesus brings people into the church, and brings us together. Since we are brought together through Christ and given power by the Holy Spirit, what is next?
- God is able to accomplish far more than we can imagine (3:20-21)
- God is at work in our lives
- We can ask great things of God
- We can imagine great things happening in & around us
- God gets the glory in the church & in Jesus Christ
- Yes, we do have to remember that it is God gets the praise for the wonders that happen in our midst. That is not to say we are blamed for blunders, because we know that God can even use the blunders that we do for our good. We want God’s power to be evident in our lives. We give praise and glory for the wonders that he is doing in our lives.
- What can we imagine?
- Ask God – for peace, growth, new believers, & revived older believers
- Imagine from God – our neighbors knowing God, filling the pews around us, peace among believers
- Yes, we can ask God for wonders. Yes, we can imagine wonderful things. Somehow, God goes beyond all we can ask or imagine. He works in ways that we don’t comprehend. In God’s work among us, we do see that what we ask and image is part of what he is doing!
It is a wonderful place to know that we are part of someone’s prayers. It is good to know the fullness of God in our lives.
It is getting to that point which enables us to begin to ask and imagine great things for and through the church. What can we imagine? What can God do with and through us? Whatever the answers are, let us continue to give God the glory for his work.
 Thomas C. Oden, The Word of Life, (HarperSanFranscisco, 1989), p. 332