Finding the Strength to Overcome (Sermonette)

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 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, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21)

A while back,  my job successfully hosted an event for the team from USA Networks as they launched their reality TV series titled The Moment. Really quickly, the premise of the show revolves around people receiving “2nd chances” to realize unrealized dreams. Pretty awesome concept especially when, as we watched during the special sneak peak, some peoples dreams are as big as rising to such heights as being an NFL coach.  

During the show (the dreamer we’ll call him) got the opportunity to be mentored by a super bowl winning coach as he prepared for the rare prospect of interviewing to join the staff of Notre Dame’s nationally recognized football team. Why him? Well, earlier in the show we found out that he had been a top recruit straight out of college who went on to have a successful career playing and then coaching in the European football league. Though his future looked bright, he ended up putting it aside when his father unexpectedly passed in order to take care of his mother and family… To make a long story short, upon stepping back onto the field for the 1st time in 16 years to coach, he quickly realized that he didn’t have the strength, training, or know how, to even think about getting a position on the Notre Dame football staff…

How does this relate to you & I today? Sometimes, as we pursue our calling or consider difficult tasks, we find ourselves feeling inadequate. Questions plague our hearts and minds as we struggle with doubt, often leaving us wondering, "Can we do this? Is this the right way? Or have we made the right decision." Much like the dreamer in the show, once we step into the moment at hand we quickly realize that we don’t have the strength, training, or know how to even think about achieving what God has placed before us…

How does this relate to the passage in Ephesians 3:20? In this Pauline letter we find a few things:

First, the true source of our strength is God’s spirit in our inner being. Paul, in his prayer, did not ask for God to increase the talent or wisdom of any individual. He understood that to overcome their current circumstance, what they needed wasn’t a greater gifting. Rather, he prayed in verse 16 that they would “be strengthened with power through His (God’s) Spirit already in their inner being” because God’s strength is far more capable than our individual talent or gift.

Second, the amount of strength in us is directly proportionate to the riches of God’s glory. Paul, in his prayer understood that the Ephesian church didn’t need a little “pick me up” to get through their current trials. If they needed just a little jolt to get them through, I imagine he’d have simply prayed that God would sustain them. Rather, Paul prayed asking that God would strengthen them “according to His (God’s) riches in glory” because God’s glory is unending.

Third, only with God’s strength can we begin to fathom the unfathomable.  Paul didn’t pray for wisdom even though so many times throughout the Bible we find instruction to seek or ask God for wisdom. New knowledge and new strategies weren’t what was needed for the church of Ephesus’ situation. Rather, Paul prayed that they would have the strength to truly comprehend the breadth and length, height and depth of God’s love – an understanding that leads to hope in the incomprehensible.

Fourth, and finally, even with the strength, hope and understanding we have through the Spirit already at work within us, God can still do greater things then we can ever imagine. Paul didn’t praise a God who could meet our expectations or bring about our wildest dreams. Seriously, would any of us really look at a jug of water and see the potential for it to become wine? No, Paul believed in a God who was capable of the miraculous – a God who consistently defies imagination. Paul prayed to and praised a God that can and does far more abundantly (other translations say exceedingly greater, or my favorite IMMEASURABLY GREATER) then all that we ask or think.

Today, as we go about our daily tasks, I’d like to challenge us to remember these 4 points as we seek the face of God for the task at hand. Though our situation often may feel all-consuming. Though we may at times feel incapable… Remember that our true source of strength lies in God, and that that source is as endless as God’s Glory. That when we trust in that strength, we find hope for the unbelievable because we serve a God who can do the immeasurable.