Transcendence Week 2: Love & Power
Well, good morning everybody and also to those who watch via the internet and our mobile app. I want to start off by giving a little confession. As you know, we have four services and, last night, I preached I just felt like I bombed. And so, I stayed after by about two hours and Tom and I reworked my sermon and then I got up again this morning and changed it even more. So, you may say, “You are just crazy, Bennett.”
You know what it is? It really comes from the fact that I really care so much about what I say to you all because I want it to be something that changes your life. I don’t want you to come here and just hear somebody speak. I want you to leave here with something that you can take home; that really matters to you. And it’s something that I care about. And so, we’ll see. And for those of you all who were Saturday-nighters and now you’ll watch this on the mobile app and you’re going, “I don’t even know what he’s saying because it’s not like what I heard last night.”
I changed it. So, there you go. All of that stuff being said, we are in a five-week series that is called “Transcendence.” And we’re in week number two. And I always do this at every time I preach. I always assume that there’s some new people here that didn’t hear the week before. I also assume that some of you all may have missed a week. And so, what I want to do is bring everybody back up to speed. And I do this at every time we do a series. Every sermon, I always bring everybody back up to speed because I don’t want anybody to feel like they’re sort of lost in the middle of something. Here’s what we’re trying to do in this particular series.
Last week, we talked about the fact that there’s 43,000 self-help books in print that you can go buy. And all of them are based on this understanding that to have the biggest, fulfilled life – they use Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – that if we can get all the way up to self-actualization, we will be fulfilled. In other words, if you find that one thing that you really like to do or if you could get your goals in place and achieve the things that you want to do, you’ll be fulfilled and life will be great. And we’ve realized that one in three people in America say they’re fulfilled. Which means not a lot of people are fulfilled.
So, whatever we’re doing’s not working. But I also mentioned that Abraham Maslow, at the latter part of his life, changed his hierarchy of needs. What he said was is it’s no longer self-actualization that is the highest form of human achievement. It is this word “transcendence.” This is the word he used at the top of his pyramid. And he defined it by saying, “Transcendence is when I pour myself into others or when I leave a legacy. That is when I am the most fulfilled.”
Which I then made the correlation that that’s what the Bible’s been teaching us all along. The Bible says if you put God first, He’ll take care of your needs. If you go to try to find your life, you’ll lose it. But, if you lose your life, you’ll find it.”
We read these passages of scripture about all these people that are pouring into other people and we see that that’s the Biblical way. So, what we’re doing in this particular series is we’re looking at how to live a massively fulfilled life – and there’s nobody in here that doesn’t want to live a fulfilled life – through intentionally pouring ourselves into others through the church. And the reason I say that is because the Bible’s very clear that you and I are not individuals in and of ourselves that do everything on our own. That we do this thing together. The Lord’s Prayer is not, “My Father which art in Heaven,” it is, “Our Father which art in Heaven.”
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11, 12, 13 and 14 that we’re a body and that we’re together and that we’re to love each other and work together and all these things together. And you realize that if we really want to live a fulfilled life, that we are pouring ourselves, leaving a legacy through the church, and that’s when we really start to live out this great life.
Now, we can say, “That sounds fantastic.” And that’s sort of like what is transcendence. But here’s where the rub comes. The rub comes when we decide to step out and start loving people. When we decide to step out and start trying to serve people. When we step out and start trying to do the things the Bible’s asked us to do, normally, if you’re human, you’re met with all kinds of resistance. Things start happening. You say, “I’m going to love somebody” and then they do you wrong and you go, “Man, I don’t know about this. This is sort of not the greatest thing in the world.”
“Yeah, I know I’m supposed to forgive. But, man. These people have been doing the same thing 100 times. I mean, how many times do I have to forgive?”
And so, what we do is we sort of move into this area where we go, “Yeah, I know the Bible says turn the other cheek and love our enemies and forgive and do all this stuff and love each other and serve each other and all this stuff. But, man. That stuff. It just creates a lot of static in my life. So what I’ll do is I’ll sort of believe that but I’ll live over here in my life and a little bit of that and where I can do this.”
But the problem is is that we’re filled with fear. We’re filled with anxiety. We’re upset. We’re mad. We get frustrated. It’s not working. So, at some point, we’re going to have to understand that when we step out to live this life of transcendence, when we really try to live what God has called you and me to do, we’re going to have to understand God’s love and power in a much different way than we have ever understood it. And that’s what I want to try to do this weekend for everybody at Grace Community Church. I want to try to communicate the ideas of God’s love and power because every single one of us that is trying to be a Christian knows that when we try to do the things that are right and we try to reach out and do the things that God has called us to do, there’s invariably stuff that happens.
And so, what I want to do is I want to take a passage of scripture that Paul wrote, and I just want to read it to you. And it’s going to be tough. Some of you all are going to fall asleep when I read it. Some of you are going to go, “Man. I don’t know what this guy is saying.”
Thank God Peter, in 2 Peter 3, said that some of the things Paul writes are just hard to understand. Thank God Peter said that so that I’m not the only one being critical of the way Paul wrote. You know, Peter would be like, “See Lynn run.”
Paul has to write this way: “There’s a girl named Lynn. She’s 5’3. She’s 137 pounds. She has blonde flowing hair with blue eyes and she has some really cool shoes and some nice pants and she likes to run.”
It’s like, “Paul. Don’t build me the clock, boy. Just tell me what times it is.”
Right? Y’all following what I’m talking about here? So, I’m going to read you a long passage of scripture. It’s not really that long. It just feels long. It’s just a few verses but it’s going to feel long because almost all of it is one sentence. I mean, it just goes on and on and on. And I’m telling you in the middle you’re going to be comatose and going, “What is going on?”
Which is why I’m going to read it and then what I’m going to do is I’m going to go back and take some selected passages out of it so that you know what’s going on. Then we’re going to do some practical take-homes so that we can take that first step in our life of trying to live a life that’s transcendent and live these massively fulfilled lives that I believe the Bible talks about us leading.
Okay? Sounds like a good idea? People online are nodding their head. Here we go. So, here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to read Ephesians 3:13-4:1. Please don’t fall asleep. I’m just going to read it to you.
“So I ask you not to lose heart over what I’m suffering for you, which is your glory. For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened…” – That’s long stuff. It gets worse.
So, “…may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love,” – take a deep breath – “may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and the depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
That’s all one sentence. Isn’t that crazy? It’s a long, long line.
And the he says, “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we could ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. And I, therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.”
Now, that’s a lot, lot, lot of words. And what I want to do is I want to try to explain that to you. You can go back later today and you can read Ephesians 3:13-4:1 and hopefully it’ll make more sense to you. But what I want to do is I want to communicate to you this idea of love and power in the way Paul does to the church at Ephesus, because this is what will change our lives when we’re trying to live this thing out and it doesn’t go the way we want it to go and we start asking the questions, “Why is this going this way? Why are these people not responding? Why are they still doing the same thing? I’m trying to forgive. I’m trying to love. But the same thing keeps going on and on. When is this going to stop?”
I want to try to answer that question for you. To do that, we’ve got to go back and sort of understand what’s going on in the church at Ephesus and then we can make some commentary on scripture.
Paul went to Ephesus in Acts 19, we’re told. And when he went to Ephesus, he went in and preached the Gospel to the Jewish people in the synagogue. And then he went to the Gentiles, which was sort of his custom. He would always go to a town and go to the Jews first and then he would go to the Gentiles. Well, as he preached the Gospel to the Gentiles, he preached to a city that was heavily involved in religion. They had all kinds of gods. I mean, the people at Ephesus, as many people in that world, believed in all kinds of different gods. There was like the agricultural god. There was the god of rain. There was the god of love. And he had all these different gods and the deal was is that if you could sort of get this god’s attention, then you could get what you needed in your life.
So, the people at Ephesus, – which became the church, some of them – they had this idea in Ephesus that if you could understand the secret name of god, whoever that god was, if you could get their name, you could control them and then get what it was that you wanted. So, they were really into this magic and sorcery and witchcraft. It’s interesting because Paul talks about fighting spiritual things in Ephesians 6. There’s no question that he writes that to these people because these people are struggling with all of that type of stuff.
But, in Acts 19, what we’re told is is that the Gentile believers in Ephesus, they went – when the accept Jesus – they went and burnt their books that were full of magic and sorcery. Which is really interesting. The Bible says that in Acts 19. So, Paul has written and come into this place and he’s writing now to them after he’s left. He came in and said, “Listen. There’s one God and He’s bigger than all these other gods.”
And all of this stuff. And they believed and then Paul went away. And, if you know this to be true – Well, I think we all know this to be true, but I hope that you know this to be true. When we come to Jesus and we come to faith, we don’t lose all of the things that we think to be true immediately. There’s progress in our Christian life and things that we may hold onto cultural or familiarly or societal things or ethical things that we may bring to the table that we think. As we grow in the Lord, we realize some of those things change.
Well, the people in Ephesus who had accepted the Lord, they brought in some of their understanding of what it meant to serve God. And one of the things that they believed about god was if the god really loved you and that god really had the power to do the thing that they could do, then if you weren’t getting what it was that they could do, somehow that was on you. Somehow you didn’t do something right or something was wrong with the god.
Now, I know none of us ever, when we think of God when it doesn’t go the way that we want it to go, would ever question whether or not He loves us, right? We would never do that. And we would never question why, if He’s got all the power to do what He can do, why He’s not doing it. I know that the 11:30 service does that, not the 10:15. I know how you all are. Y’all are there.
So, Paul writes to them and he says some things that are very important to them because Paul has ended up in prison. And do them, that’s a deal-breaker.
“Paul, you just told us that this God is so big and so powerful and so awesome and that through the Church, He’s disseminating all of this great stuff to all the powers and principalities that are in the heavenly places. If this God is so big, what are you doing in prison? Why are you in prison. I mean, if your God really loves you and if your God really has power, then why’s this going on in your life?”
And Paul address this and here’s what he says. He says, “So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.”
He says, “I know you’re getting discouraged.”
Now, we have things that we get discouraged over differently than they would in the first century. But we usually get discouraged when we feel like God’s not living up to His deal.
“God, if you really loved me and if you really had all this power, why is this going on in my life?”
He says, “Listen, I don’t want you to lose heart. I don’t want you to get discouraged. I don’t want any of that to happen to you over what I’m suffering for you which is your glory.”
Now, that’s crazy stuff here. Because you can imagine them. They’re going, “Hold on. You’re suffering for us? No, no, dude. You’re in prison. Whatever you’re doing is you. That’s on you.”
He goes, “No, actually what I’m doing here is for you which is for your glory.”
Paul was able to see something that we don’t see. Often times when we’re going through difficulties, we never, ever, ever think of anything other than, “Why’s this going on? What’s going on in the world? Why’s this going on? Where’s God in the middle of all this stuff that’s going on? If He really loves us and if He really has the power, where’s He at?”
Anybody ever thought that? Of course you have. Okay? And Paul’s going to deal with this now because what he says is that we’re not understanding fully God’s love nor His power.
And he goes on to explain this. He goes, “So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.” And then here’s what he says, “For this reason…” – Because you’re losing heart. “For this reason, what I’m going to do is I’m going to pray for you because you’re going to need to see some things that you’re not seeing.”
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father.”
And that’s important. In the Jewish world, do you know how people pray? They prayed standing. That’s how they prayed. Okay. When they knelt, it was like serious business. You just didn’t kneel. You know? Remember that tax collector and the Pharisee in Luke 18 that are praying? They both are standing. One is beating his breast and the other is sitting there going, “God, I’m so good. I did all this stuff.”
Everybody’s standing. Jesus says, “When you stand praying.” He’s always talking about standing. But every once in a while when it was time to really get ahold of God, you would kneel. And you think about that. Jesus at Gethsemane, when He was praying, He knelt. Stephen, when they were throwing rocks at him, what did he do? He knelt.
So Paul is saying, “Listen. I understand that you all are getting discouraged. I understand that the world doesn’t look the way you think it should look. I understand that God doesn’t look as if He’s as powerful as He actually is. So, what I’m going to do is pray for you because you’re going to have to have a little bit different understand of God’s love and God’s power.”
He says, “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father that He may grant you to be strengthened with power.”
He says, “What you all need is you’re losing heart. You’re faint. What I need for God to do for you is to strengthen you with power.”
The Greek word there is “dunamis.” That power is capable power. In other words, most of us are familiar with the super heroes. Like Superman. What is one of his super powers? He can fly. Now, if you go to Batman, he can’t fly. Okay? He has super powers, but he can’t fly. Spiderman has super powers, but he can’t fly. Now, he can shoot webs and he can jump around like a spider, but he can’t fly.
In other words, their power is limited to the things that it can do. What Paul is saying is is I want you to be strengthened with a power that is capable of doing something in your life. What is that? He says that you may know the love of Christ. And this is important because we tend to evaluate love based on feelings. Can I get an amen on that one? We all know that to be true. We don’t want to admit it, but we do. We base love on feelings. And when we don’t feel that God is with us or we don’t feel that God is doing what we want Him to do, we wonder where’s He at and whatever.
Paul says, “Now, listen. I know you’re discouraged. I know the world’s not looking the way it looks. I told you God’s big and He’s awesome and we’re going to go pour ourselves into other people and we’re going to share the Gospel to everybody and we’re going to go out there and get involved and we’re going to have a community that’s awesome and do all these things. And now you’re looking at me and I’m in prison and you’re going, ‘Well, what’s going on? How’s that happening for you, Paul? How are you living this victorious life that you tell us about? How’s that happening?’”
He says, “What I’m going to do is pray for you. Because, what you need to do is you need to understand how much God loves you. You are limited in your view of God’s love.”
And let me try to explain this in a practical way. I had one of my kids one time that wanted to try to run out in front of a car. Maybe you all have never had that. My kids are wild. Pray for the pastor, okay?
Everybody’s like, “Man, Pastor’s kids. They’re supposed to be disciplined and holy.”
My kids prey on one another. P-R-E-Y. There ain’t no P-R-A-Y.
One of them decides to run out in front of a car and so what do I do, man? I grab him and yank him back because he’s going to get hit by a car and be like road kill soufflé. You know? And so I pull him back and of course when I pull him back, it hurts his arms, he falls down, he skins his knees and hits his elbow. And he looks at me and he goes, “Daddy! What are you doing? You’re hurting me.”
And I’m like, “Son, I just saved your rear end.”
I’m from Kentucky. That’s the way we talk. I’m like, “I just saved your rear end.”
He’s like, “What are you talking about?”
I’m like, “You stepped out…”
He couldn’t see any of that. All he could see was his daddy had hurt him. That’s all he could see. He couldn’t see beyond that. He couldn’t see beyond what had really happened. Paul says, “Listen. I need you all to open your eyes. God’s love, sometimes you may look at it, is that stuff’s going on and you’re wondering where He’s at. He may just have saved you. He may just have done something that you can’t understand or that you can’t see. You’ve got your own little world you’re looking at. Maybe there’s more going on than you can imagine.”
Maybe when you try to reach out and love someone and they do you wrong and it hurts, maybe there’s something God’s doing in you or in someone else or in your wife or your kids or somebody around you that that’s going on in your life for. And we can’t see it because all we do is interpret God’s love through the way we feel. He says, “What I’m going to pray for you is that you’re strengthened with power and that you know the love of Christ and that you’re filled with the fullness of God.”
Now, I just recently went to see Tarzan with some of my kids. Cool movie. In the movie, Jane – Which is Tarzan’s wife – gets capture by the bad people. Any good movie has always got the bad people and the good people. You know? Hollywood’s good though, today. They make start liking the bad people. Have you ever noticed that how they do that? They tweak it. But anyways, not in this movie. You don’t like the bad people in Tarzan.
Anyway, it’s a pretty good movie. So, she’s on the boat. She’s handcuffed on the boat. The guy’s got guns. The guy’s got knives. The guys are killers. They don’t care about anybody’s life. And you would think that Jane, being chained on the boat, would be like, “Oh my gosh. I can’t believe that this is going on. I’m so fearful. I’m so full of anxiety. I’ve got all this stuff going on.”
Oh, no, no. She looks at the bad people and she says, “You don’t understand who my husband is. He’s the ‘Ahh-ah-ahh-ahh-ah [beating chest].’ He’s that guy that swings through the trees. He’s going to come and get me.”
Now listen to me. This is huge. When you and I understand who our Dad is, we can be on that boat, we can be at the place of wondering if we’re even going to survive, we can be at the place of even losing life and say, “You just don’t know who my Dad is. You just don’t know how powerful He is. It may look like I’m losing. It may look like the world’s doing me wrong. But I’ve got an understanding of God’s love that’s so much greater than me temporary comfort level. That God is so much more loving to me that He may even let me be in situations that stretch me and pull me to grow me into what I need to become because I fully started to comprehend who God is and what His love is. And I’m filled with the fullness of God.”
Paul says, “I pray for you that you will understand how deep and wide the love of God is for you.”
And when you understand that, when you step out to start loving others and you step out to turn your other cheek and you step out to love your enemies and things don’t go the way you think they should go, you can rest in the fact that, “Hey, you know what? God loves me so much.”
And I guarantee you if I’m doing what God’s called me to do, there is something in here that God is working. I don’t have to look at the temporary circumstances. I can realize who my dad is and know that, somehow, someway, in a way that I can’t comprehend, He’s just pulled me out of being hit by a car. And even though my elbow’s scraped and my knees scraped and I feel really bad, somehow, someway, He’s working together to do something great in my life and other people’s lives.
Not only that, but then Paul goes on to say, “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we could ask or think.”
He says, “Listen, I want you to understand God’s love. But I also want you to understand God’s power. He can do far more than you could ever ask or think.”
Now, if I were to sit you down right now and tell you start going through and labeling out all the things that you could ask God for and all the things that you could think, we could probably sit here for a long time and come up with that list. Paul says He could do more. He can do more than that. Don’t limit God based on your conceptions of what you think God is. He can do more. And it’s understand God’s love and it’s understand God’s power that enables us when we step out and do the right thing.
And if persecution comes or people do us wrong or people don’t accept our forgiveness, we can rest in the fact of God’s love and we can rest in the fact of God’s power and we don’t start looking at the circumstances themselves. We start looking at something greater than that. And it’s when we can get those things operating in our lives that, all of a sudden, we start living a life that is massively fulfilled.
It’s like Paul in the epistle to the church at Philippi. He’s in prison. He’s chained. And he says, “Hey, I know I’m chained.”
Chapter 1. “But, man. The Gospel’s going all out through the whole Praetorian Guard. All the soldiers are getting saved. I’m in prison. I’m not even out there but it’s going out. Not only that, I’m writing letters and the letters are going all out and they’re touching people’s lives. And not only that, I can rejoice. In fact, I’ll tell you again I’m going to rejoice.”
And you go, “What in the world would come over such a guy?”
Because he tells you in Philippians 4. He says, “Listen, I’ve got the secret. It don’t make a difference if I’m poor. It don’t make a difference if I’m rich. It don’t make a difference if I got clothes on my back or if I’m naked. It don’t make a difference if I’m in a big place or a small place. What I’ve learned is I don’t work my life around the circumstances that are going on. I can do anything and everything that comes my way because I can be strengthened. I can do all those things through Christ who strengthens me. I’ve learned that. I’ve learned His love and His power and it changes everything. It changes everything.”
So, what are the take-homes here? Get your paper out and your pen. This is where we get really practical. I’ve given you some theological understanding here about God’s love and power, but I want to bring this here into 2016 some take-homes that will make a difference in you and I’s life.
First of all, if we’re going to live a life of transcendence, if we’re really going to be a church that pours ourselves into other people, if we’re really going to reach the unchurched by being intentional neighbors that reflect Christ, we’re going to have to have Kingdom vision.
Now, you can call it whatever you want to call it. A different set of glasses. A different way to see things. Whatever you want to call it. But we’re going to have to have the idea of seeing things differently than the way we see them. And the way I put this down is:
“Loss” looks = Potential Wins
Let me explain what I mean by that. When you and I are in our life and we see something that looks like a loss – For instance, Mary and Martha. Lazarus died. Does that look like a loss? Absolutely. In fact, he’s four days in the tomb and he stinks. He smells. That’s like he’s rotten. He’s nasty. Okay? He stinks. That’s a loss. But see, not to someone with Kingdom vision. Not to someone who sees the way God can work. Not to someone who understands God’s love. I mean, Jesus didn’t get up. They came to Jesus and says, “Hey, man. Lazarus, man. He’s dying.”
Jesus is like, “I’ll wait a couple of days.”
Would you say, “Man, Jesus. I though you loved me. I thought you loved Lazarus. I thought your love was there.”
He waits two days. He shows up and he’s dead and everybody’s mad and everybody’s upset and everybody’s confused. But see, that loss – or what looks like a loss – actually was a win. It was a big win. And it wasn’t just a win for Lazarus. I mean, you can imagine Lazarus. “Whoa. What just happened, man? I’m all wrapped up like a mummy. Did I die? Man. I’m alive, man. What happened to me?”
It ain’t just he that gets the revelation. It’s everybody around. God’s doing stuff. He may even let you die so that other people can believe. We’ve got to get past this idea of looking at things through the lens of some sort of cultural comfort level. We’ve got to see that God’s love is so much greater. He doesn’t not love you. He loves you with a love that’s so far beyond that that skinned knee and bruised elbow actually – Knee and elbow. You see, I’m from Kentucky. Knee. Elbow.
It reminds me of the joke, you remember? I don’t know if I’ve ever told you this. The teacher goes, “Okay. Wrist. Elbow. Shoulder. Can anybody tell me the parts of the arm?”
Little Johnny’s in the background. He’s from Kentucky like me. He’s like, “I got it, teacher! I got it!”
He’s like, “Wrist. Shoulder. Elbow.”
And they’re like, “No. You’re wrong.”
Another kid stands up and he goes, “I got it, teacher! I got it! Shoulder. Wrist. Elbow.”
“No, no, no.”
And this other little boy stands up. He’s smart as can be. He says, “Wrist. Elbow. Shoulder.”
Teacher says, “Whoa. Man. You are smart. How did you know that?”
“Kidneys [points to head].”
You’ll get that in a minute. It’s pretty funny. Anyway. What I want us to understand is is that we’ve got to stop looking at things through the lens of our understanding and realize that God’s got something more. Read the life of Joseph. You know, Joseph looks back over his life. He’s had all kinds of junk. And he’s able to look back and go, “Man. What everybody meant for evil, God meant for good. God was working in there in a way.”
And you know what? In your life and my life, we’re not always going to see that when stuff’s going on. We’ve got to have faith that God’s love and power are greater than we can understand.
Secondly, and this is huge, a life of transcendence means living a life far beyond what we can do in our own abilities.
Now, listen. I’m going to step on a few toes. I don’t mean to step on a few toes, but I just want to share this with you. Here’s the way we like to do it in America. This is the way we like to do. We want to get our world together. We’re going to get everything together. We want to get everything the way we like it. A little bit of God. We’ll trust God a little bit. But I want to get everything together. And then what we do is we try to manage it. And that’s where all the fear and anxiety and all the confusion and all the getting angry at stuff. Because we’re trying to manage our world. Listen, you’re not living an abundant life if you’re not doing things that you cannot do in your own ability.
I’m going to get real and raw with you here. I was in here praying for you this week. I was praying for this church this week. In the sanctuary. Laying hands on every chair. And I’m praying and it was like, all of a sudden as I’m praying, I really just hear God speak to me. He’s like, “Chip. Your prayers are so limited.”
And I’m like, “Come again?”
He’s like, “Chip. You’ve got an idea of who you think I am and you pray according to that. I’m the God that has created the universe. I’m the God that can do far above anything that you could ever ask or think. I’m the God that can do far beyond what you could ever conceptualize. And you’re praying a very limited prayer.”
And we do that. We pray, “God, if you could just get my wife to do this here.” Or, “God if my husband would just do this.”
We manage those things. But when you start going, “God, I want you to give me a marriage that’s so strong with my spouse that everybody in the neighborhood comes to faith because of the way they see our marriage. God, in fact, I want you to use our marriage to fill stadiums with your glory. God, I want you to use my life to just…”
You see, you start going, “Well, there’s no way God could do that.”
Ah. You don’t know who God is. Don’t limit God by what you think. Don’t limit God by what you know to be true. Don’t limit God by your own cultural ideas and by the things that you think He could do or can’t do. Or, “Why is He letting this go on?”
Maybe He knows more than you know. Maybe He’s got more going on than you could ever imagine. Maybe rather than looking at everything through a negative lens, maybe you start going, “What if God’s really got this thing going on? What if it looks like everything in the world is falling apart but what if He’s working it in a way that the Gospel might spread like it’s never spread before and there might be revivals like people have never seen before in their life?”
What if we saw it that way? Maybe we’d start walking with some hope. Maybe we’d start walking with some belief. Maybe we’d start walking with some faith. God can do far beyond what you think. Listen. You may have a marriage that’s dead. You may have finances that are dead. You may have physical ailments in your body. Let me tell you something. God can do exceedingly abundantly above all that you could ever ask or think. And here’s what I call them. I call them big, hairy, audacious prayers. Pray that way. Pray big.
Pray bigger than you could ever do. Not what you can manage. But throw it on God and say, “You know what, God? You’re right. You’re right, God. I’m going to pray for the world in ways that the world couldn’t even understand. I mean, I know how to deal with this in my own way in my own flesh with my own ways. But Lord, I’m going to pray for some people to come to you that would never have come to you. I’m going to pray, God, that you send revival in places.”
We don’t think that way. We think, “Well, this is the way we deal with it” rather than saying, “You know what? God might be bigger than that.”
And lastly, a life of transcendence will always be a life of “otherness.”
No matter how we turn it, twist it or however we want to move it, it’s always a life of otherness. After Paul says in Ephesians 4:1, he says, “I want you to walk out the calling to which you’ve been called.”
Listen to that. What he says is this: He says, “What I just told you about God’s love and what I just told you about God’s power, I want you to walk in that. That’s what I want you to talk in.” He says, “I’m a prisoner of the Lord, too, by the way. I ain’t a prisoner of Rome. I ain’t a prisoner of the powers. If I’m in prison, that’s where God wants me to be. And it’s for you and it’s for others. I don’t look at it as ‘woe is me.’ I look at it as opportunity, not obstacles. I look at it as stepping stones, not stumbling blocks. I look at it as my big setback that I may be experiencing is a great setup that God’s putting forth in my life. Walk in that. Walk in that.”
And here’s what it looks like. “…with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.”
Let me ask you a question. When’s the last time you heard somebody say, “Hey, what I want is somebody who is lowly?”
See, we gravitate towards the bravado. We gravitate towards the, “Oh, I’m a success. I can do…”
Paul says, “Stop that. That’s not the way Jesus walked. He didn’t look anything like that. What He was is humble and gentle and patient and bore with one another in love.”
And let me tell you something. You can’t bare with one another in love until you’re humble, gentle and patient before that. See, this is what it looks like. It’s a life of otherness. When we are pouring ourselves into others and we understand God’s love and His power in ways that we maybe haven’t comprehended in the past, all of a sudden life changes. Things change and you’re able to say what Paul says to the Thessalonians.
He says, “What’s our hope? What’s our joy? What’s our crown of boasting before the Lord Jesus that is coming? What do you think it’s going to be? What do you think my hopes going to be or my joy? What is it that I’m going to stand there on the day of the Lord and go, ‘Man, this is the thing that fired me up. This is the thing that gave me joy in life. It gave me hope in life. It gave me everything that I was looking for and fulfilled my life.’”
Was it the fact that he ran around the Mediterranean Basin? Was it the fact that he planted a bunch of churches? Was it the fact that he wrote most of the New Testament? Oh, no, no, no. He says to the Thessalonians, “What’s the hope, joy and crown before the Lord? Is it not you?”
You. People. You. In pouring myself into you. In reaching you. Just like Jesus did. Just like He reached out and reached the people. I want to do the same thing.
And Paul says, “When I finally got that and I understood His love and His power in a different way, it changed my life completely and, no matter where I was at, I was able to live a fulfilled life through Jesus who I knew loved me and gave Himself for me and who strengthens me.”
And that’s what we’re all looking for. We’re all looking for those massively fulfilled lives, but it’s going to take a different look. It’s going to take a different set of eyes to see God’s love and God’s power in a different way so that we start walking this thing out.
Dear Heavenly Father,
I thank You for Your love and Your mercy. I thank You for Your goodness and I thank You for Your kindness. I thank You for the truth of Your Word. Lord, the last thing I want to do is give the people at Grace Community Church just something that makes them feel good. Lord, I want to give them Your truth. I want them to know, God, that sometimes it ain’t going to be rosy. Sometimes there’s going to be stuff that goes on. Sometimes we’ll be put in situations that are really, really, really questionable and we wonder what’s going on.
But, Lord, that’s where the faith that we have has to kick in to know that Your love and Your power is greater than we could ever comprehend. Lord, give us that spiritual deposit. I pray like Paul did for his church. I pray for this church and those who are listening online. I pray, God, that You would strengthen them with Your power so that they could see Your love and to know that Your power can do far above anything they could ever ask or think for Your glory and for Your honor.
And we thank You for it in Jesus’ name. And as we leave Lord, I pray that You would help us to continue to be the light that You’ve called us to be. Help us, Lord, to shine bright in this place for Your glory so that people can see who You are and come to faith and that we can rejoice over that. Bring us back safely to when we meet again. In Jesus’ name, and everybody said “amen.”