How Can the Bible Relate to Us Today?

Is God Able? – Part 2 [Ephesians 3: 20-21]

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Ephesians 3: 20-21

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work with us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” [Ephesians 3: 20-21. NIV]

To continue from Part 1, how is God able? I stated that God is able to do all this in proportion to his power that is at work within us. I used scripture from John 14: 12-14 and John 15: 16.  So how is God able to work within us? How can God work powerfully in our lives?  The key is Romans 12: 1-2:

1Therefore, I urge you, brothers [all believers], in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”  [Romans 12: 1-2. NIV]

Our worship, then, is to offer our selves – all that we are – as a living sacrifice to God.  Paul wrote this entreaty of Romans about 57 AD (or CE, if you will). This image was well-known to the citizens of the Roman Empire. This was thirteen years before the Romans destroyed the Temple at Jerusalem, so Jews were still offering sacrifices to God, sacrifices of animals that were to be pure and unblemished to be acceptable to God. Further, the audience without a Jewish background was familiar with the non-Christian offering of animal sacrifices to the Roman and Greek pantheon of gods.

In verse 2, Paul further calls on believers to not act like the non-believing world acts. When I was a child, I was a great fan of Silly Putty™.  I had toy soldiers, and I could press a toy soldier onto that Silly Putty™ to make an inverted replica of that toy. The Silly Putty™ conformed to the pattern of that soldier figure. The Silly Putty™, then, became a detailed representation of that toy. Lying on income tax forms, cheating at work or on your spouse, putting down people at work behind their back, telling untruths about someone – those are all examples of behavior or attitudes adhering to the pattern of this world. These are not God’s ways.

Then Paul uses a contrast as to what kind of believers we should be. He says for us to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. This is interesting. Have you seen a caterpillar form itself into a cocoon? I heard one nature TV show describe a caterpillar as a walking intestine, devouring vegetation that it likes wherever it goes. Then it goes into a sleep state in a cocoon. What eventually comes out of that cocoon is a beautiful butterfly (or moth). If you were to look at a butterfly and a caterpillar side-by-side, you would never guess these were the same creatures. The caterpillar “transformed” by a physical renewal into an entirely different creature.  The Greek word for “transform” here is where we get the word “metamorphosis” which is a biological term for this change from a caterpillar to a butterfly. If a believer wants to be pleasing to God as a living sacrifice – giving up oneself for the benefit of following God with all aspects of their lives – then the believer can and must look to transform their outlook and their behavior markedly like a caterpillar to a butterfly. That is the key to God being able to work within your life powerfully.

Is God able? The sun, this huge furnace 93 million miles away (1.497 X 108 km), is a controlled nuclear reaction called “fusion,” whereby hydrogen atoms are changed to helium atoms. In doing so, the reaction gives off both heat and light. When you go out on a sunny day, and you stick your hand out, you can see your hand due to the light reflecting off your hand. And your hand feels warmth from the sun. That light took about 8 1/3 minutes to get to your hand. The nuclear reaction that warmed your hand has the same heat and light going in all directions in space and not just toward tiny earth. It boggles my mind. Just how many hydrogen atoms does the sun have, anyway? Don’t answer that. And this nuclear reaction is going on all the time. God is over all that. He is in control. He is able.

Do you remember the Hubble Space Telescope picture of the “columns” of dust where “little” specks of light were stars being born? The columns were 1 trillion miles in length or one light year.  A light year is how far light travels in a year at the speed of 186,000 miles per second. And God is over that as well. He’s in control. He’s able.

Nothing is too hard for God. And nothing is too trivial for God that we don’t want to trouble him with it. Think outside the box! We become so involved with what we see or feel that we have difficulty with the kind of faith that is possessed by a child! What does a child pray for? Silly things? They aren’t silly to that child. And they aren’t silly to God. If we would just approach God as simply as a child does, we would have a lot easier time in our spiritual life.

Jesus told his disciples who were arguing who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven as they were jockeying for position.  Jesus’ answer was as follows:

“[Jesus] called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.’”  [Matthew 18: 2-5. NIV]

A child understands that God is able. A child understands that God is powerful.  And nothing is too silly for God if we are approaching God with remarkably simple, believing faith.

I’m done with what I wanted to present, but there is a clarification I wish to make from Part 1 of this study from Wednesday. When we pray, don’t we often pray with the expectations of Scenario 1 whereby Pharaoh tells the Israelites to just leave – no problem? God sometimes work like that. However, Scenario 2 is vastly more complicated. Scenario 2 is closer to how God works as he accomplishes his goals. God answered the prayers of the Israelites to free them from bondage, but he answered them in a way that they certainly didn’t expect, and the answer was far more complicated than anything they wanted. However, God’s convoluted answer accomplished his purpose: for the Israelites to know his power, to bring the loosely-knit Israelites together as a nation – and God really needed the people to follow Moses through everything that was going to happen. God’s answer was immeasurably more than all they asked or imagined.

Therefore, God may not answer your prayer exactly as you expect and hope. His answer may be far more complicated than you wanted, and you may not even see that God is answering your prayer. Plus, God may not even answer your prayer in your lifetime!  To conclude this portion in a simple manner, when God answers, he answers either “Yes,” “No” or “Later.” Whatever your prayer, know that God is able according to the power that you let him work in your life.  

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