If you watch TV very much, you’ve seen one of those commercials that present some “amazing” new product with features so incredible that life without them would be virtually unbearable. Just when you think you’ve endured it all and they’re finally wrapping up their sales pitch, the voice excitedly declares, “BUT WAIT . . . THERE’S MORE!” That’s when you discover that these wonderful people are willing to send you not one, but two of these life-changing products! Maybe today’s item is their indestructible skillet. Just think, if terrorists happened to attack your house while you were using one of them to melt your defective cell phone with a blowtorch, you could quickly grab the other one, hang it around your neck, and use it for body armor. Who could resist such an offer?!!
Then, just when you’re ready to call the number on your screen, the voice on TV throws in a little off-handed remark that changes everything. All you have to do to get the second one is “just pay a separate fee.” How disappointing. We at Gallagher’s Pen would never do such a thing, and there’s a reason for passing along that reassurance.
More to Come ~
Last week’s article, A World Changing Proposition, was presented as an encouragement for all of us to join with Paul and call out to God with a clear and powerful strategic purpose in mind. It was based on the profound petition Paul included in his epistle to the Ephesians (Eph. 3:14-21). At this critical time in our nation’s history, we just couldn’t leave that passage without adding at least one more bit of encouragement. So… forgive me for borrowing from our TV friends, but we just can’t help saying, “BUT WAIT… THERE’S MORE!”
The things Paul was asking God to do went beyond the provision of current needs or relief from challenging circumstances. He was pleading with God for the kind of intervention in the hearts and minds of his people that would affect entire nations and kingdoms from then on. To put it in terms we might use today, Paul wasn’t asking God for a few trinkets from the jewelry department at Walmart. He was asking for the contents of Fort Knox. He wanted an outpouring of the Spirit so powerful that the concentrated forces of hell could never shut it down.
A Powerful Benediction ~
Then, after delivering that list of astounding requests, he concludes with a final benediction that puts those profound requests in a perspective that compels us to join with him and pray for world changing things from God. We can almost feel Paul’s heart exult in confident praise as we read the words he penned.
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21 (NKJV)
More than One Perspective ~
Those words affirm that no need we have and no challenge we face are beyond the capacity of the God we serve. Unlike the world’s idols and the fictitious gods of false religions, this passage proclaims that our God is able to move and to act on our behalf. His willingness and ability to provide for us extends beyond meeting our basic needs. It exceeds all that we’ve dared to ask Him to do, or even envisioned in our minds but never spoke out loud. That revelation is a welcome and powerful deterrent in times like these, when feelings of hopeless frustration and despair are so prevalent in so many places. But there’s more than one perspective on God’s power for abundant provision. Our hopes and expectations for the future can be multiplied if we consider for a moment some of the things He has already done for us that we may not normally think about.
Followers of Jesus often testify of how God brought them to that life changing moment when they turned from sin and trusted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. But until that moment, all of us lived on the mercy of God. That divine mercy withheld the judgment all of us so richly deserved for all those years. What if we could measure the mercy God poured out on us while we were living in rebellious disregard of Him. And what about the mercy He has already extended to this rebellious nation and its lackadaisical churches? Might it be that the mercy He extended for all of us is just that . . . “exceedingly, abundantly above all we asked or thought?” Wouldn’t the God who has already done such an amazing thing be willing and able to do even more?
Unnoticed Grace ~
Many of us occasionally shed tears of gratitude as we sing about the “amazing grace” that saved wretched sinners like us. We love to think about the incredible grace that God offered us by virtue of the sacrifice of Jesus and His victorious resurrection, but there’s grace that comes our way every day that we don’t think about quite as much. What about the grace that keeps us saved? Every one of us fails to meet God’s standard for righteousness every day in more ways than we’re ever conscious of. Yet in spite of that, He invites every flawed and faltering one of us to come into His presence at any point and lovingly accepts us as one of His children. How would you measure the volume and the cost of the grace that allows such a thing? On any scale we might devise, it would be “exceedingly, abundantly, above all we asked or thought.”
We live in a culture that has made “love” little more than doing relational surfing–jumping on one emotional wave after another and riding it as far as you can before its energy dies out. Even so, our hearts continue to tell us that there is something to be had that is more than that. It’s commonplace in our world for people who once pledged undying love and devotion to one another to suddenly declare that the love is gone and the relationship is over, but God introduced a love that’s different. Jesus Christ demonstrated love whose joy and fulfillment isn’t based on what we can get, but what we have to give. The love God pours out on us every day isn’t based on our performance, and He doesn’t withhold it when we fail to love Him back at the same level. Beyond that, He provides enough of it so that we can share it with everyone we know. How would we describe a love like that? Maybe something should come to mind again like, “exceedingly, abundantly, above all we asked or thought.”
The Ultimate Objective ~
Paul’s ultimate desire as he pleaded with God was that there would be “glory in the church.” He wanted his fellow followers of Jesus to display a manifestation of God’s presence and power that would change the world. God heard Paul’s prayer and ordinary people have been changing the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ ever since. Now it’s our turn to pray like that, and the God who has already done exceedingly, abundantly, above all we’ve asked or thought is ready to move, so let’s rise up together and say to this broken and chaotic world, “BUT WAIT… THERE’S MORE!”
“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to Tweet & Share from the pull quotes below. Each quote links directly to this article through Twitter.
“Paul wasn’t asking God for a few trinkets from Walmart’s jewelry department. He was asking for the contents of Fort Knox. He wanted an outpouring of the Spirit so powerful that the concentrated forces of hell could never shut it down.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
“How do we measure the volume & cost of the grace that keeps us saved when we fail to meet God’s standard for righteousness every single day? On any scale we might devise, it would be “exceedingly, abundantly above all we asked or thought.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
“Paul wanted fellow Jesus followers to display a manifestation of God’s presence and power that would change the world. Ordinary people have been changing the world with the Gospel of Jesus ever since. Now it’s our turn to pray like that.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
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