“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” Ephesians 3.20-21
What is the hardest thing you ever asked God? Was it something you knew He could do or was it something that you thought He might not be ABLE to do? I love the words of v. 20: “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us … ” Not only is God ABLE to do “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think”. He is also willing.
“ … exceeding abundantly above … ” Think on those words. I don’t think most of us have even come close to asking God for the difficult things. Paul tells us here that God is able to more than we can even THINK to ask. And He does that through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us: “according to the power that worketh in us … ” Just about the time I think I am beginning to understand who God is, I read a verse like this and I think, I don’t know the extent of how much God wants to help me at all. I can’t recall a time when I have challenged God with something I thought was really big, and the Holy Spirit reminded me, “God’s Got This! Just watch!”
We must not overlook v. 21: “21Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus … ” Did you catch that? “be glory in the church … ” God is to be glorified in our churches through the person of His Son – and how long is that to be? “ … throughout all ages, world without end. Amen … ” And when you have said “Amen” you can’t say anymore. Just my thoughts …
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3.9
If there was ever any question about God’s heart when He sacrificed His Son on the cross, it is surely answered here. How can anyone reach the conclusion that Christ died for a select few when Peter states so clearly that God is “not willing that any should perish … ”? Perhaps we should ask ourselves if WE really believe that Christ died for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2.2: “And he (Christ) is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”).
Peter reminds us that God “is longsuffering to usward … ” If any one of the apostles understood the longsuffering heart of God, it was Peter. When we consider the various events in Peter’s life that Christ went through with him and saw him recover, we can grasp something of Peter’s heart. I am reminded of Jesus’ words to Peter in John 21 when He asked Peter, “do you love me?” and Peter said, “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.”
The last phrase in the verse above is worth considering: “all should come to repentance.” Who is the “all” here? It is the world for whom Christ died. The tragic thing today is that there are so many in our world that have never heard the name of Christ. They don’t even know that God has a Son and that He died for their sins. Let me ask a question that I have asked before in previous blogs. Is it God’s fault that so many in the world have never the message or is it the fault of the local New Testament church who has failed to send missionaries to remote villages and lands where no white man has ever been seen? I realize the church cannot send someone until they have SURRENDERED all to Christ and have been trained to go. But, an honest question here, are our churches asking for people to surrender – teens, college students, young couples, you name it. Could it be that WE need to pray for God to call some and if He calls US, will we go? Just my thoughts …
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.” John 14.1
When we hear someone say, “I have heart trouble”, we immediately think they are talking about that organ in their body that circulates their blood. And that would be right. But when Jesus says here, “Let not your heart be troubled … ”, He is referring to that spirit that lies deep within each one of us that allows us to express emotion. Jesus is coming to the end of His earthly ministry shortly. Soon He will be taken by the Roman government and falsely sentenced to die. In the preceding chapter Judas has betrayed Jesus and very soon He will be arrested. Jesus has been trying to tell them that He is going away, but they are reluctant to hear what He has to say.
This verse opens the door to many spiritual and practical truths. In the succeeding chapters He is going to tell them about the coming of the Holy Spirit who will “lead (them) into all truth.” But they are troubled by the truth that they will no longer be able to SEE Jesus and talk with Him as they have in the past. So He says: “ye believe in God, believe also in me.” He had always been truthful with them, and the promise He is about to make in verses 2 & 3 should reassure them. “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you, 3 And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that WHERE I AM, there ye may be also.”
“ … ye believe in God, believe also in me.” So here it is in nugget form. Just believe God. Jesus did go away. Jesus is coming again. He is preparing a place for us. And we DO get to go and spend eternity with Him. Let’s just believe it and live each day like we believe it. Just my thoughts …
“He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” John 1.11-14
There is an interesting play on words here. The word “own” is a neuter word meaning things and the word “own” in the next phrase is a masculine word meaning people. The world and all that is in it did not reject the Son of God, but the people who He chose as His own rejected Him. But notice v. 12: “12But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God … ” I her statements like “But how do I know if I am chosen or not?” As many as received Him … it is the choice of each individual to receive or reject Christ.
2 Peter 3.9 says: “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that ANY should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance.” (Emphasis mine) Anyone reading that statement can see the heart of God and His love for us. He WANTS all men to be saved. But first, they must hear that God has a Son who died for them, and that “as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God … ” To be born “of God” means to be born from above or born into God’s family through the power of the Holy Spirit. Aren’t you and I glad that the words of God in these verses include us? I know I am. Just my thoughts …
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1.1
Have you ever wondered when the beginning was? Genesis 1.1 says: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Our finite minds struggle with things we cannot comprehend; at least mine does. The evolutionists would have us believe “In the beginning there was nothing and something somehow made something out of nothing.” I can’t comprehend that either. Whether or not we believe Genesis 1.1 and John 1.1 or what the evolutionists say happened, both of those positions require faith. Believing that “the Word was God … “ and that He created everything requires a lot LESS faith that the other position.
A little further on in John 1 we read: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us. (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full od grace and truth.” It is essential that we link these two verses together, because they bring us to the place of realizing that the son of God became the son of man so that sons of men could become sons of God. THAT gives significance to the Bible, not just certain verses in the Bible.
I may struggle with understanding the attributes of God that help me get a small picture of Who and What He is, but I do not struggle with accepting His love, His mercy, His grace, His peace, and His joy. For me, these are the elements that allow me to keep on going day after day. FYI here are God’s attributes to consider: Omniscience, Omnipotence, Omnipresence, Justice, Sovereignty, Holiness, Love, Truth, Immutability, Mercy, Immensity, and Jealousy. I challenge you to work through these attributes until you at least understand something about each one. It WILL enhance your view of God. Just my thoughts …
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10.13
TEMPTATION – when you think of that word, what comes to mind? Alcohol doesn’t tempt me. Illegal drugs don’t tempt me. Pornography doesn’t tempt me. I could make a longer list, but you get my point. Each one of these things listed is a temptation for someone. My father was a good man, and he never had these things as a part of his life so that was a good model for me. BUT I do have a weakness – a temptation that I struggle with every day (and it did not come from my father).
God has been so good to me. He has enabled me to do a lot of things well. That is a great blessing and it is also a vehicle that can lead to temptation. I often battle PRIDE in my heart and mind, thinking, “I can do that really well. I don’t need to ask God to help me.” And “such as is common to man” has planted itself squarely in my path. But this is what I love about this verse: “but God is faithful … ” Every time the temptation to be arrogant or proud about something I am about to do, God’s Holy Spirit whispers to me, “Jerry, you don’t want to go there. You know the consequences.”
I am reminded of a story about a young preacher who was asked to speak at this little country church. When he was introduced, he was playing over in his mind these words: “Angel, harken. I am about to really wow these people.” When he finished speaking, he hung his head as he walked off the platform, realizing how poorly he had done. An older man in the congregation stopped him and said, “Young man, if you had gone up on the platform the way you can down, you could have come down the way you went up.”
Let this verse speak to you today the way Paul intended it to do. Remember, God IS faithful and He “will with the temptation make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” Just my thoughts …
“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: 24And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139.23-24
When was the last time you said to God, “Search me … ”? The psalmist was crying out to God for a relationship that was totally authentic. If God were to search your heart today, what would He find there? (1) an attitude of ‘I don’t care’; (2) some idolatrous something that you have put before Him; or (3) a heart with a longing for Him that cannot be satisfied with anything less than total surrender, total transparency, and total unveiling of your heart to Him?
The issue is not does God know what is in my heart, but rather do I care that God knows what is in my heart. The psalmist made some deliberate statements: (1) search me, (2) know my heart, (3) try me, (4) know my thoughts, (5) see if there be any wicked way in me; and finally, (6) lead me in the way everlasting. As I read through these statements, I try to put myself in the psalmist’s place. Am I willing to come to God with such transparency and such authenticity that I open myself up to allow God to do in me, to me, and through me anything He chooses?
Look at this last phrase: “lead me in the way everlasting.” Does that seem a little frightening to you? The danger for most of us is that we are not sure we can TRUST God to always make the best choices for us. Are you willing to begin each day with this simple declaration: “Lord, I believe you always have my best interests at heart, and I am willing to TRUST you even when I don’t know where the next step will lead or what Your ultimate goal is for me. This one thing I do know Lord, ‘As for (You), (your) way is perfect.’” That is the way I want to begin each day! How about you? Just my thoughts …
“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. 14For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. ” Galatians 5.13-14
What is Paul talking about here when he says, “ye have been called unto liberty … ”? This is a reference to the truth that they now have liberty under grace (not under law) to live for God. It is possible for some people to mistake liberty for license. If they have the liberty to do something, then that gives them a license to do whatever they want. Paul calls that kind of thinking into check in this verse: “only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh … ” Our flesh has a tendency to want to get even with others who hurt us. So we rationalize our behavior by thinking, “Hey, I am going to heaven no matter what. So I can say and do what I want. Right?” Wrong! “, but by love serve one another.” That throws a monkey wrench into things.
Now Paul expands our thinking on this matter: “14For all the law is fulfilled in one word … ” OK, what is that word Paul? Ready? “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” That is what liberty under grace allows us to do. They may not deserve love, but then neither did we. They may not deserve grace, but then neither did we. You don’t get up in the morning, go into the bathroom, and start yelling at the face in the mirror. And why not? You are looking at yourself. Can you then treat your neighbor with that same kindness? Two times in these two verses Paul uses this word love. (1) “by love serve one another” and (2) “love thy neighbor as thyself.” This is not a warm fuzzy something that isn’t real. It is the unconditional love Christ has shown to us. I’d say we have a pretty big job ahead of us. Just my thoughts …
“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. 10But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep tings of God. ” 1 Corinthians 2.9-10
There are certainly some beautiful sights down here on this earth. We just returned a few days ago from seeing the Grand Canyon. I have never seen such natural beauty in all my life. God really outdid himself when He formed the Grand Canyon.
But Paul’s words here is attempting to prepare us for what heaven will be like: “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.” Even though we use the most descriptive language possible, we cannot come close to what heaven will be like. There are times when we say things like, “This is a little taste of heaven”, but we really don’t know that. I have seen some pretty awesome houses that men have designed and built. But again I will say, nothing can compare with what we will experience when we get to heaven.
Paul goes on to say, “God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit:” The Holy Spirit’s job is to lead us into all truth. Jesus promised that when He was about to go away and leave His disciples. I think it is probably a good thing that God chooses NOT to reveal some of these things to us. The unknown remains a mystery and that should make each one of us all the more anxious to be there and see God’s handiwork. The Holy Spirit is able to know the heart of God – the deep things of God – and when He reveals some of the mystery to us, we are all the more anxious to be there with God and see what He has done for us. “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also. ” (John 14.1-3)
It is real – just believe it. Just my thoughts …
“Blessed is the man that trusteth in the name of the LORD, and whose hope the Lord is. 8For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.” Jeremiah 17.7-8
Jeremiah speaks simple but powerful truth here. He tells us: “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the name of the LORD … ” This is such a simple truth, but it is a powerful truth that tells you and me that blessing and trust are tightly linked together. If I want God’s blessing, then I must trust Him completely and unconditionally. Trust is not something that we do passively. We must exercise our trust in God on a daily basis – and sometimes even moment by moment. With all of the uncertainties of life, the only thing that allows us to deal with today is absolute trust. God is already in our tomorrow so we KNOW we can trust Him for tomorrow as well.
The remainder of this verse says: “whose hope the Lord is.” Is God YOUR hope or is your hope placed in what you alone can do, or what someone else can do for you? You soon discover that either of those options is inadequate.
Verse 8 expands on the truth of verse 7: “he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river … ” A tree that is planted by the waters is certain to have all of its need for water supplied. A “blessed man” is certain to have all his spiritual needs supplied because his trust is in the only One who has the capacity to meet those needs without fail. Failure to trust in the name of the Lord only leads us to a life of uncertainty and disappointment. Just TRUST Him – He knows what is best for us! Just my thoughts …