Friday, July 26, 2013

Exceedingly Abundantly

                I woke up with “exceedingly abundantly” running through my mind this morning. I have been reading this book about prayer. I thought my prayer life was okay. I pray, and God answers. But there has been something missing in my prayer life that I was not even aware of. I pray, but sometimes it feels as if I am doing it out of habit and routine. This book has made me see that I am lacking confidence in the power of God when I pray; that I do not yet fully comprehend the power of God, and His ability to do exceedingly abundantly above all that I could ask or think.
                “Now to Him who is able to 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
                Paul was a great man of prayer, and he also had great confidence in the power of God. He writes in verses 14-19 a prayer to the saints in Ephesus. He prays that God would strengthen them, that Christ would dwell in them, and that they would be rooted and grounded in love. Then he tells them that he prays that they would be able to “comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height-to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Eph. 3:18-19)
                    You are probably thinking how can we comprehend something if it is incomprehensible? How can we understand something that passes knowledge? How can we, mere humans, be filled with the fullness of God? It is not possible, is it? I believe it is. I believe what God is trying to tell us is that we do not have confidence in His power, nor in His ability to work in us.
                Paul says that “to Him who is able”. What he is saying to us is that God, the Creator of heaven and earth, your Creator, has the power and the resources to work in us and to do for us above all that we could ever ask or think. His power is “exceedingly abundantly” far above and in great quantity able to supply us with whatever we need. God is able to work in us according to His power, not ours. He is able to see our hearts desires and hear our petitions and say, “Yep, I can do that.” But it is not a question of whether He can; it is a question of whether we believe that He can.
                The confidence that we have is not in our ability, it is not in our strength; it is in the ability of God. God speaks to us today and says, “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me? (Jeremiah 32:27) Paul says that God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think. He is able to go beyond what we could imagine.  If you can think it, God can do it. Look at creation itself. Look at the leaves on the trees, the animals, the stars, the moon, the wind. If God can create all of that out of nothing, imagine what He can do in your life if you only believe.
                We limit God and His power because we limit our understanding of Him. Paul tells us that there is no limit to how far God will go for His children. Pastor Chuck Smith paraphrased Paul’s words like this, “God loves you so much, I pray that you might know the depths of God’s love for you, the height of God’s love. If you could only fathom the depths, if you could only explore the heights, if you could only see the lengths to which God was willing to go to save you. The depths to which Jesus was willing to come in order to redeem you.  The heights to which God intends to bring you…” (Blue Letter Bible Commentary on Ephesians 3)
              Paul wants us to know the depths, the heights, the length and the width of God’s love for us, and to know in confident faith that God is able to show us and to teach us the riches of His love for us. Paul wants us to comprehend, to lay hold of with our minds the greatness of His love for us. To know means to know by experience. God wants us to let go of our human limitations and grasp the understanding that God is not limited, nor does He want to be in your life. He wants to dwell in you, to give you the fullness of His love, to give you the fullness of His grace.
                We have a tendency to bring our petitions and prayers to God in categories. We have our petitions that are easy, “God heal my cold.” We have our petitions that are medium sized. “Lord, I am having trouble with this; do you think you can help me?” And lastly we have our super-sized, no way will this ever happen petitions, “Lord, I don’t think you can handle this one, so I am just going to wait it out, or figure it out for myself.” But Paul is telling us that there is nothing outside of God’s ability, there is nothing that He would not do for us, if we would only believe that He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.
                Our prayers are hindered by our own disbelief in God’s ability. We believe that God created the heavens and the earth in six days, but we do not believe He is able to help us with our problems. We believe that God raised Jesus from the dead, but we do not believe that He is able to provide for our every need. Confidence in our prayers means that we believe that God is able, that He wants to go to the depths, to the lengths, to the heights, and to the widths of heaven and earth to show you His love, His grace, His mercy, and His ability to be the God He says He is.
                The writer of Hebrews tells us that we are to “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) Boldly, with confidence in your God who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think. If you can think it, God can do it. The only limits to God’s power in your life are the ones you put on Him. The only limitations to the ability God has over your life are the ones you set. Our God is able to do above and beyond all that we could ask or think in our lives, in our hearts and in our prayers.
              “To Him be the glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:21