The Rev. Dr. Robert S. Langworthy, preaching
July 25, 2021
How often we underestimate God – this God “who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine”!
We who believe are meant to help one another realize how extravagantly rich we are in God’s grace.
In his book Practice Resurrection, Eugene Peterson tells of Fred and Cheryl who flew to Haiti to take home a five-year-old orphan named Addie whom they were adopting. As the three of them walked across the tarmac to board the plane to America, that hopeful, trusting little girl slipped her hands into the hands of her two new parents. Her innocently making that gesture was to them as momentous an event as when their two sons slipped out of the birth canal 15 and 13 years before.
That evening, in Arizona, the five of them sat down to their first family dinner together. From the table arose the aroma of sizzling pork chops and steaming mashed potatoes. After the first serving, the two teenage boys kept filling their plates, and soon all that food had vanished. Addie had never seen so much food on one table in her whole life; and her eyes grew as big as saucers as she watched her ravenous new brothers devour it all in a flash.
Fred and Cheryl then noticed that Addie suddenly looked anxious, even scared. Cheryl rightly guessed that, after seeing all that food disappear, this little girl, who had known so much hunger, feared it would be days before she could eat again. So Cheryl took her by the hand, led her over to the bread drawer and showed her the two backup loaves…and then over to the fridge and showed her all the milk, eggs, vegetables, bacon and chicken held there. After that it was on to the cupboard and its shelves of food jars and cans – tomatoes and peaches and pickles; and then on into the pantry and its bins of onions and apples.
Cheryl was opening Addie’s eyes to the reality of her new situation, and assuring her that in her new home there’d always be abundant food and more than enough for her, no matter how much her brothers ate!
We in this church family are to assure one another God’s riches can always provide more than enough.
Paul wanted the Ephesians to believe in that abundance. He prayed that they, and that in turn we their spiritual descendants, would realize how God “by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine”.
Paul bowed his knees before the Father to pray we’d “be strengthened” in our “inner being”, have Christ “dwell” in our hearts, have “the power to comprehend” every dimension of God’s love, and “be filled with all the fullness of God”. We may by faith anticipate Paul’s prayers being answered because God’s resources know no bounds and God delights in dishing out heaping portions of His grace. No act of generosity would drain His wealth; no hesitancy, hamper His openhandedness. Due to the goodness of His heart and the enormity of His riches, we can’t ask too much of Him. His goodness and powers exceed our biggest requests and surpass our wildest wishes. Only our mistrust of Him or our refusal to walk in His will can limit our blessedness. But, if we let Him be not just present in our life, and not just prominent in our life, but preeminent in our life, all bets are off on what He might do for us, in us and through us – and we’d be fools ever to sell Him short!
A man once told how, when he finished fifth grade, his father took him to Walmart and announced, “I’ll buy you whatever you want!” The boy pondered all sorts of possibilities, but it never occurred to him he could choose, say, a bike or a music system. He settled instead for a CD case, a $50 value. Only years later, did he learn that his Dad had a $1000 in his pocket for the occasion. The boy had underestimated his father’s love and resources, and missed out on a greater blessing.
Think how much God has in His pocket and how eager He is to spend it on us. Never underestimate His love and ability! Expect great things from God and attempt great things for God. By His grace we can make new disciples of Jesus, enlarge the family of faith, bless more neighbors and uplift our community more broadly!
We’ll believe this if we believe that God “by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine!”