Can You Imagine?

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20-21. 

Young children tend to be curious, possess great imaginations, and have seemingly unlimited creative capacity. The dog can morph into R2 D2. A stick can become a light saber. And a couch turns into the Millennium Falcon.

Chances are, although you are no longer a child, you still have a healthy imagination. Imagination plays a powerful role in our lives, so it’s not surprising that the apostle Paul mentioned it in his prayer for the followers of Jesus in Ephesus (Ephesians. 3:14–21). In verse 16 he says, “ I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.”

Paul prayed that they would be able to grasp and experience the full dimension of the love of Christ (vs. 17–19). In closing, Paul gave glory to God who “through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” (v. 20). He is giving us a reminder that regardless of your imagination, God has something better.

Think about that for a few moments. God, working through you, has plans that you can’t even imagine and haven’t even crossed your mind.  That should boggle our minds.  

You see, God’s plans are greater than ours, not just because God is bigger than us, but also because God’s ultimate objective is so much greater than what motivates us daily. We tend to pray about our daily needs, our daily wants – and God does care about those things – but He knows we will be most fulfilled when we have experienced His will for our lives. We taste life to the fullest when we are in a relationship with God, and when we are living each day with a divine purpose.

God, who He is and what He does, will do, and has done is immeasurable. We only see and know a slice of the whole pie in the sky.  All we ask of God isn’t all He intends to do through us. The more time spent with God in His Word, the Bible, and in prayer and worship, the more we begin to see through His perspective.  

Paul is praying for the Ephesian church to be blessed beyond anything they have ever dreamed. But he is also praying that the glory of God will be experienced through this church.

May we be reminded that our imaginations are so small compared to what God has planned for our lives through His power and glory.

Discussion Question:

  1. How do you rate your imagination? 
  2. How does knowing that God can “accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” impact our lives? 

Show Me Your Glory

“Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” And the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.” – Exodus 33:18-23.

Every Christian will face some difficult times in their lives. None of us is exempt from seasons of hardship, and the pain and discouragement that can accompany those seasons. Many people believe these seasons help us grow spiritually because it is God’s way of stretching us or bringing us back to Him. Moses is an example.

Most of us know the story of how God had brought His people out of slavery in Egypt and into the desert. God had proven His sufficiency. He had provided them water in the desert and food in the form of the manna they collected each morning. He had protected them from hostile enemies. But as we read in Numbers 11:1 that “…the people complained in the hearing of the LORD about their misfortunes.” At the foot of Mt. Sinai, they had seen an overwhelming display of the divine majesty and power as God appeared in the fire, smoke, thunder and lightning, and earthquake, and spoke to the nation.

While Moses was on the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments, however, the Israelites complained, so Aaron made a golden calf to represent the God who brought them out of Egypt. The people offered sacrifices to it. At this point, God told Moses to go back down to the camp, which he did; and seeing the disgraceful display of idolatry, he smashed the tablets, burned and then ground the golden calf into powder. It was one of the worst days of Moses’ life. Devastated, he poured out his heart to God on behalf of the nation, frustrated with the people. He asked for someone to go with him as he led them. The Lord responded in Exodus 33:14: “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” But that wasn’t enough for Moses. Above all, He pleaded, “Please show me your glory!” (Exodus 33:18).

I hope you noticed the impact this crisis had on Moses. He saw his own limitations. He asked God to give him help in His assigned task, and God responded with the promise of His presence. While that would have been sufficient for most of us, Moses wanted more. He wanted a glimpse of God’s glory.

This a textbook example of how to handle the bumps in the road in our lives. It doesn’t take long before we realize there are issues and problems that we simply can’t handle on our own. Some situations simply overwhelm us—serious or terminal illness, severe financial problems, strained relationships to name a few. We need help. The Lord wants us to find that help in Him. He wants us to seek His presence, for He has promised that He will never desert us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

Sometimes, however, even that doesn’t satisfy us. Like Moses, we want more. We want to know God with a deeper and more satisfying intimacy; we hunger to glimpse His glory. And the reality is that were it not for the hardship, we would not be driven to seek the Lord and to know Him better.

So when faced with difficulty, try not to get stressed or depressed. Use the difficulty to learn more of God’s ways, and to know Him as you have not known Him before. Learn to see His Glory.

Discussion Question:

  1. In what ways do you work at your relationship with God? If “work” doesn’t describe your efforts, what word does? Why?
  2. What types of uncertainty do you have in your life? What does it look like to have confidence in uncertainty? How do you trust God in times of uncertainty?
  3. Read Joshua 1:5-6, 9. What types of things do you fear? Why do you fear them? How can you respond with faith when fear rises up inside of you?
  4. How does God’s presence with the Christian create strength and courage in the Christian? What effect does knowing God is with you have on you?
  5. Pray and seek God’s presence this week.

Weakness is Our Strength

One of the tools often used in business is a SWOT analysis. S.W.O.T. is an acronym that stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. A SWOT analysis makes sure you’ve considered all of your business’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as the opportunities and threats it faces in the marketplace. Knowing and leveraging your strengths is critical to business success. And knowing your weaknesses that detract from the value you offer, or place you at a competitive disadvantage is also critical, because these are the areas that will need improvement.

We are typically afraid to look at, much less articulate, our weaknesses because we are taught to concentrate on our strengths. We prefer not to dwell on those things that we do not do well. But suppose you were doing a one-sentence S.W.O.T analysis on weaknesses for you personally. What would you list as weaknesses? Would your weakness be expecting so much of your limited time that you feel paralyzed by the number of demands and opportunities; or maybe it would be the inability to maintain strong relationships, or the ability to tithe regularly, or maybe your knowledge of the Bible is not where you want it to be. If your list of weaknesses ends up being longer than you expected, you’re not alone. Most of us have areas in our life where we feel inadequate, or where we simply placed it in our queues with a low priority which means we will get to it when we can. Or maybe we simply don’t have the skills in that area.  

Fortunately, God’s power is the perfect counterpart to our weakness. It’s more than enough and more importantly, it is completely available to you. God isn’t scouring the universe looking for a perfect person through which He can display His power and glory. He’s looking for the person whose weakness provides God and His power with an opportunity to make their life unexplainable. An opportunity to turn our weaknesses into a Christ-exalting experience. No matter what you’re going through, no matter what or how many weaknesses you have, there’s no reason that can’t be you.

The truth is that the church never ran, and wasn’t designed to run, on human strength. The church runs on divine and supernatural strength. And God tells us, through Paul, that the way to access God’ supernatural strength in our lives individually and collectively as a church ministry is through weakness. So God has given us this door that we can open up for his strength, but most of us have locked it, closed it, or nailed it shut because we don’t like to think about our weaknesses. We don’t like to think about our insufficiencies.

If there’s one thing I hope you you take away from Sunday’s message is that it’s OK to have weaknesses. It’s in your weakness that you find God’s strength. It’s our weakness that draws us to him. In 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

The Holy Spirit will help us in our weakness. When we feel weak or vulnerable, our power comes from the Holy Spirit residing within us and turning to Him alone for guidance and direction. Romans 8:26 says, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”

So as we fast and pray for God’s will in our lives, don’t focus too much on finding your strengths. Give attention to identify and exploit your weaknesses. God has not given them to you in vain. Identify them. Accept them. Exploit them. Magnify the power of Christ with them. In the end, you will find that weakness in God’s hand is a strength.

Discussion Questions:
1. What top two strengths (natural talents or learned abilities) has God wired into you from birth or helped you develop over the years? In what way have you used or could you use those strengths to do God’s work on earth?
2. In what way could any of your weaknesses be blocking your desire to serve God wholeheartedly?
3. What are the weaknesses that Paul has in mind here when he says, “The power of Christ is made perfect in weakness”?
4. What is the purpose of such weaknesses? Is there a goal or an aim for why the weaknesses exist?
5. Pray and ask God that your weaknesses will be filled with the power of God and that God will be exalted through them.