“Now, to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask and think, according to the power at work within us.” Ephesians 3:20
This verse is pregnant with expectation and promise. It lifts the mightiness of God above the close refines of our finite minds. It threatens our doubt and encourages our faith. This is a statement that can profoundly grow not only our faith but our perception as well. Answer this question:
What are you expecting from God?
The answer to that question directly gauges our faith as well as our perception. For many of us we do not expect very much from God, our prayers are safely tucked within the comfort of “simple”. Yet, as we have been studding Ephesians we have learned that we have been given a vast inheritance in Christ. But for most of us there is a gap between our reality and that inheritance. The bridge between the two is prayer. Now, let me ask you this:
When was the last time you were disappointed with God?
If we are honest we all have been at one time or another, when what we begged God for didn’t come, when what we thought was such a clear “yes” turns out to be a stark “no”. Our past disappointments have the opportunity to kill our expectation. Sometimes our greatest hurdle in our walk is our last unanswered prayer. This verse tells us that God is able, so if He’s able to answer our prayer but doesn’t does that mean that He just doesn’t want to? Many times, this is where we get hung up, because humanity as a whole, if we are able and we also want to then we do it, sometimes without any consideration of the repercussions that follow. Its human nature to do what we want if we have the ability. So, to us it makes no sense that a God who is able and willing doesn’t.
God’s ability never outweighs His willingness; He is both able and willing. He wants to give us the desires of our hearts. Psalms tells us that He catches our tears in a bottle, those times when our hearts melt and flow out of our eyes, He cares….He’s even moved. John 11 tells the story of Mary, Martha and Lazarus who were very close to the Lord. So, when Lazarus got sick the sisters immediately sent for Him. The trio had witnessed their Lord heal the lame, give sight to the blind, and restore what leprosy had taken. They never doubted He could and until Lazarus breathed his last, they never questioned that HE was willing. But the days rolled by and so did the sisters hope. By the time Jesus arrived Lazarus had been in the grave four days. As Jesus entered the small town, Martha went running to Him, but Mary she stayed behind, it wasn’t until He called for her that she went to Him. Why is that? For up to this point Mary has been the devoted one, the one who hung on His every word….sitting at His feet in the ultimate bible study. I think she was disappointed, it had seemed like the Messiah had let her down. She had thought that He loved them, now she felt pushed aside and forgotten. But what she didn’t know is that was the exact reason why He waited….”Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was ill, he stayed where he was two more days.”. Mary had asked for a healing but Jesus wasn’t willing to do that, He had a resurrection in mind. You see many times we are asking for a healing but Jesus has something much more glorious in mind, even if it’s painful for a moment-in order to have a resurrection there must be a death. But often times we question the hand that crafted our inner beings and breathed the stars into existence. As the caravan of mourners followed Jesus to the tomb, He commanded the tomb to be rolled away, scripture says “ Jesus, once again moved, came to the tomb….and said take away the stone.” The heart of Christ moves the stone away, not only in our circumstances but also in our hearts. Martha immediately responded “BY this time there will be an odor for he has been in the tomb four days.” He responded “didn’t I tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”…..then after praying for the will of the Father, He shouted “Lazarus come forth!”. What represented disappointment just a few moments earlier now was a living emblem of the love and ability of Christ.
Gods ability goes beyond the limits of our minds. That means that any dream, any aspiration, any plan and any prayer that we can come up with is limited. Luke 9:10-17 tells the story of Jesus multiplying 5 loaves and 2 fish to feed 5,000. When faced with the dilemma the disciples responded, “We have no more than 5 loaves and 2 fish-unless we are to go and buy food for all these people?” Do you see the limitations? One is small, the other is larger yet they both limit God. The reason we get disappointment with God is that we pull Him down and try to compress Him into the boundaries of our own minds so when He exceeds those boundaries we get frustrated. Every disappointment with God is because our expectancy is motivated by our own fleshly wills instead of the Spirits revealed will. Here’s the difference: anytime our expectation is focused on our comfort, acceptance, preference or our own names then that’s our flesh’s desire. The Spirits will on the other hand is concerned with our freedom, Christs glory & fame, the body of Christ as well as the lost. While the flesh disappoints, the Spirit strengthens. We can be infused and amped up with the resurrection power by four simple words: your-will-be-done.
Just like the feeding of the 5,000, it’s not always the blessing for us that is the greatest work but the blessing in us. the greatest miracle wasn’t necessarily the multiplying of the loaves and fish but the satisfaction of over 5,000 hungry souls. You see in the context this verse is the praise Paul is giving to a God who gives spiritual strength to the weak through knowledge of His love and the dwelling of Christ in our hearts. This verse is saying to us “I (God) can do far more abundantly IN and THROUGH you than you can ever imagine!
Think how shallow our lives will be if we are only the recipients of blessing instead of the vessel. This promises that abundance in our lives isn’t limited to the tangible realm but is also multiplied within.
Our God isn’t limited by our expectations. He is able to surpass them not only in quality but in quantity. To answer the question we started with: what are you expecting from God? For God to be God; big, capable, willing, and limitless.
Join us in our study of Ephesians!! Here is the link for the study guide