(Generic Renovation slide)
Morning. My name is David Sorn, and I’m the Lead Pastor here.
Before I get into our message this morning, I wanted to personally invite you to an opportunity you have to change the world with us.
Some of you know that our church has been going to Africa with SHINE and our dear friend Sammy Wanyonyi for around a decade now.
And it is one of THE most fruitful things our church does for the Kingdom.
This year, our team of 22 (that went to Mozambique) helped personally lead over 1,800 people to Christ to get connected with local pastors for discipleship
And we were part of a broader mission there with literally 1,000 local churches in the city, where 97,000 people made first-time decisions for Christ!
We are going back to Africa in May, and this year we will be going to Ethiopia.
And we want you to come with us.
In fact, this trip is so powerful, and so impactful, that we are praying for 40 people to go with us.
That’s almost double what we’ve ever taken, but we believe God can do it.
Jesus says the Harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.
Will you be a worker?
This is an amazing opportunity to take a deeper step in your faith, and even more importantly, people need to hear about Jesus.
And right now, sub-Saharan Africa is one of the best places in the world to share about Jesus.
Because for now anyway, we can still easily share on the street, and easily set up events in public spaces. It’s working.
Let me pause for a second and show you a glimpse of what this trip will look like:
(back to Ethiopia slide)
If you come with, you’ll be sharing your faith, often, and we will teach you and train you how to do so!
I know many who have gone with us in the past have said it is one of the most impactful and important things they’ve ever done with their life.
And I always tell people the great commission in Matthew 28 has already called all of us to go and makes disciples of all nations.
SO you don’t need to pray and ask if you’re called, “You’ve already been called”
You just need to pray and say, “Lord is there any reason I shouldn’t go this time?”
You can pick up an application (which are due on December 10th) at the Welcome Table this morning or on our website.
It’s not cheap to fly to Africa, but let me say, that the majority of our people raise the majority of the money it takes to go on this trip (and we will teach you how), and many actually raise all of the costs and go for free.
And so even if you’re only 10% interested, pick up an application.
All right, let’s get to today’s message.
We are actually at the end of our study of the first half of Ephesians today.
Let me give you a quick preview for where we are going next as a church:
11/26 – 1/7: In The Beginning was the Word (John 1-2)
Starting 1/14: Gender & Sexuality
Mid to late February: Back to Ephesians
But today, at the end of the first of Ephesians, we come to a great passage on prayer.
And I find that humans have a built-in desire to pray.
Even those who don’t go to church, or say they don’t believe much in prayer…when life gets desperate, what do they do??
Or have you ever just been walking by a public fountain, and seen how many people still throw in coins…to make a wish.
What’s going on inside a person?
We want there to be some Greater Story, some Greater Power, that can bring change to our lives and our world.
And the good news is: He exists, and He can bring that change!
Let’s open God’s Word and take a look at our passage.
For our first 7 messages of Ephesians, Paul has essentially (through 3 chapters) been showing us how remarkable God’s redemption of us is.
How amazing the Gospel is….that is the Good News that Jesus saves us.
And Paul’s praying over and over that we would get a deeper understanding of this.
And so here, at the end of Paul’s prayer & Gospel focus, in many ways, way find the high point of his letter to the Ephesians
In fact, it’s so beautiful, that we’re just covering 2 verses today.
(Ephesians 3:20-21) – NIV
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
WHAT GOD HAS ALREADY DONE IN THE GOSPEL
Look the great lengths Paul goes to explain the power of God.
Because realize he could have just said,
God can you do what we ask
God can do more than we ask.
God can do more than we ask or imagine
God can do more than all we ask or imagine
God can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.
What’s He doing?
He’s going to great lengths to show you just how unfathomably powerful your God is.
And in many ways, church, God has already done immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine…by saving us.
You know, when we’re out on the mission field in Africa, sometimes we see God truly do miracles.
It can feel like the Book of Acts sometimes.
But we always remind people: The Greatest Miracle is the Miracle of Salvation.
I remember hearing my good friend Pastor Josh say one time, “Even if your leg fell off during the first song at church, and God miraculously caused it to grow back during the 3rd song, eternal salvation from God is STILL the greater miracle!”
Because that leg that grew back is still going to die someday.
But think of what God does when He saves you by your faith in Jesus.
We deserved God’s holy wrath, His judgment for our sins.
But because of His mercy, and our faith, He cancels that debt of sin we owed Him…
And then He sends His Holy Spirit to live in us…in us!
The ones that offended Him.
This is unbelievable.
And then, when we die, he’s going transport our souls to an entirely different place (1 thes 4), and renew our bodies (1 cor 15) and where we will live forever in paradise with Him
That my friends is more miraculous than any physical healing.
And what He’s done for us already is immeasurable.
Think of it this way: Imagine an alternate universe where people know about God, and they know He has a Son, but there was no story of God ever sending down His Son.”
Could you imagine, anyone, ever, looking up that Holy and Powerful God and saying, “I know I’ve sinned against you, so here’s what I think you should do …
…why don’t you send down your own Son to die a bloody death to take the punishment for me so that I can be made right?”
When you think of it that way, you realize that God has already done immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine.
But He says He can and He will do even more!
BELIEVING WHAT GOD CAN DO THROUGH YOU WITH THE GOSPEL
And Paul says (middle of verse 20) that He does it according to His power that is at work WITHIN US.
That means that God is using the Holy Spirit, in You, to further His purposes!
That’s why next verse says: To Him be the glory in the Church!
My friend, can you even fathom what God could do through you?
Honestly, I don’t think we think rightly about this enough.
I think rather than sitting and marveling at the great power of our God, too many Christians sit fearing the supposedly great power of the culture
We look all around us, and we see how different the culture is becoming, and it’s almost like we’re waving the white flag…retreating back into a corner.
But God and His Gospel are powerful!
They are the Words of Life!
Not even the gates of hell can overcome it
God can do anything!
This summer I read the very engaging autobiography of the Charismatic Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke.
(Show Reinhard Book Cover)
And I’m sure our theology isn’t perfectly identical…but we would agree on the essentials…
And Bonnke led more people to Christ in Africa than any other human…ever!
And in his autobiography, he tells a story about when he was invited to speak in Kimberly, South Africa in the late 1970’s.
He was asked to hold a number of evangelistic meetings for a local church there.
But every night only “church people” came to the outreach.
And most of them older, and wearing their fancy church clothes.
So Reinhard Bonnke asked the local pastor, where are all the young people?
And the pastor said, “Come with me in my car, and I will show you!”
And he took Reinhard downtown to a warehouse-looking place that was pumping out loud music.
And above the entrance was a huge blinking sign that said one word: DISCO!
Now, in hindsight, this sounds funny to us (you picture people in funny clothes with terrible dance moves), but in reality, in inside were young people that were lost in drugs, and promiscuity, and so much more.
And as they were walking back towards the car, Reinhard felt like God said, “Go inside”
And so he did.
And when he went inside, his heart was broken for the young people.
And as he looked out over them, he felt like God was then telling him to preach the Gospel to the young people at the disco.
By the way, what do you do when God tells you to do something scary? (share your faith w/ a co-worker, quit your job, something scary)
Let me tell you something, if you’re not the type of Christian that believes God at His Word when He says that He can do immeasurably more, then what you do in those scary situations, is nothing.
And there are a whole lot of Christians that do nothing, and then we sit around in our small groups wondering about why God isn’t moving today like he did in the days of the Bible.
But what if you believe God is more than able?
Then you do as Reinhard Bonnke did, and you walk to the owner of the place and you say, “Let me preach to all of the people in the club.”
And the owner said, “No way. I don’t want you ruining my ability to make money.”
And Reinhard said, “Do you think the young people find what they need for life in here?
And the owner said, “It’s strange that you say that because I was literally thinking earlier about how I wouldn’t want my own kids to come here.”
And then a conviction came over the owner, and he said, “Okay, tomorrow night at midnight, you can have 5 minutes”
And so Reinhard comes back at midnight the next night, and when the music stops at 12, he stands up, and starts preaching the Gospel in the Disco Club.
And he preaches about sin, and forgiveness, and God’s redeeming love
And all over the room, the young people start crying.
And hundreds of them give their lives to Christ.
And the local pastor begins following up with them.
A year later, Reinhard Bonnke returned to Kimberly South Africa.
When his same pastor friend picked him up at the airport, he said, “Get in my car, I have a surprise for you.”
And he drives him downtown to the same warehouse.
And the huge DISCO sign… had been replaced by an even bigger CROSS!
For the disco had gone out of business and all of the young people had started a church there.
And it was packed with young new Christians passionately following after Christ!
What could do that but the power of God?
And here’s the thing: We worship the same God!
And God has done amazing things here in this church, in our midst.
We’ve seen over 250 people come to Christ here since we opened this building just over 2 years ago.
But here’s the thing, I bet if the Apostle Paul were here this morning, and we invited him up to speak…
I bet he would say, “This is great, but you haven’t even scratched the surface of what God has the capacity to do through this church.”
Isn’t that crazy to think about?
But it’s true.
And we gotta think that way!
Because we live in a city that needs the Gospel
We live in a city where over 80% of people don’t know Jesus Christ.
Can God use us to reach them and start a movement here in the North Metro?
You better believe He can.
BELIEVING WHAT GOD CAN DO IN YOUR LIFE
And God can do similar things in your own lives.
Many of you are in tough spots right now, with really hard situations.
Some of you have a relative (maybe a sibling or parent) that you haven’t spoken to in years.
And the idea of reconciling feels, impossible
Maybe you are stuck in a work situation that you feel like you just can’t get out of.
Maybe your health has been declining or a sudden change has you scared.
Maybe your marriage is starting to fall apart.
The question here is: What do you believe God can do about it? (whatever it is that you’re facing)
Is God able to do something about it?
I find that in a church like this, a lot of people do have a high respect for the Word of God, and so they answer that question by saying:
“Yes, I do believe that God can do that, and I’m sure He’s doing it in Africa, or in someone else’s life”
But when we think about our own hard situations, it’s hard for us to believe that God is actually going to do anything.
But look at me: This says He is more than able. .
This says…that His power is so strong, you literally can’t even measure it.
He can do immeasurably more!
One of our core values of our church is: We pray the impossible!
Because we worship the God who makes the impossible possible!
But do you believe God can do that in your life?
We have to have faith to ask.
One of the things that really jumps out in the Gospels (the stories about Jesus) is that Jesus was stunned by the lack of faith in people
When He was in his hometown of Nazareth, the Bible says this:
(Mark 6:5-6) – NIV
5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 He was amazed at their lack of faith.
Yes, God often acts despite our level of faith, but the Bible also teaches that our level of faith matters!
If you don’t bring faith to your hardships, you’re going to miss out on “the immeasurably more” that God wants you to see.
Now, this is a church, where we always balance tension.
You don’t want to say on the one hand: “Oh, God does what He wants to do…it doesn’t matter what we pray”
And yet, you also don’t want to say, “I’ll just claim my miracle!”
We don’t command God and tell Him what to do.
But we are told to PRAY WITH FAITH LIKE HE CAN DO IT
When I’ve taught on this Biblical tension before, I liked to explain it this way
We are to pray with such faith that we believe God could do absolutely anything, and yet trust Him with the same level of faith even if He chooses to do nothing.
That’s Biblical prayer.
And praying in faith is a part of it!
And today, we’ve come to a passage in the word of God that is exhorting us to pray with faith again!
And honestly, I think too many of us pray with too much timidity.
“Lord, um, if it’s possible, and I know you’re busy, and um, my mother is having some troubles…could you, um”
We need to pray like they pray in the Bible.
Like Moses at the Red Sea, like Joshua asking for the sun to stand still, like David coming at Goliath, or like Jesus taught us to pray.
To say, “Hey, God, I need you to move that mountain!”
The other day, a friend told me a story about Lillian Trasher who was a missionary to Egypt back in the early to mid 1900's.
She started an orphanage and ended up serving over 10,000 orphans and widows during her time
And at one point during WWII, her orphanage was down to the very last of their food and supplies, so she and all the orphans and widows who worked with her, did an all-night prayer meeting, asking for God to provide.
The next day she received a phone call from the American ambassador asking her to come meet with him.
He asked if she was in need of supplies.
Uh, yes, she said.
He then informed her that there was a Red Cross ship bound for another country during WWII, but it couldn’t make it through.
Because of the oncoming fighting, the ship needed to retreat quickly, so they were planning on dumping all of their cargo.
But then someone came up with another plan (or God put it on there heart) to give all of their supplies to the orphanage.
And so listen to this: The result of the all night prayer meeting was immeasurably more than they thought possible:
They were given 2,600 dresses, 1,900 sweaters, 1,900 pairs of pants, 3,800 blankets, 1,100 towels, 700 kegs of powdered milk, 1,200 sacks of rice.. And on it went…..
I mean, what is too hard for God?
There was a woman who once came up to the famous British pastor, G. Campbell Morgan, and she said, “Do you think we should pray for even the little things in our lives, or just for the big things?”
In Morgan answered, “Madam, can you think of anything in your life that is big to God?”
See, when we think rightly of the God who can do “immeasurably more,” nothing is too big for him.
And so we need to stop categorizing things by how hard they would be for us, but instead by how hard they would be for God.
And nothing is to hard for Him!
He is more than able!
And so we need to pray in faith.
And so in a few minutes I’ll going to ask our elders and prayer team members at this service to come forward and stand at the altar.
And they’re going to be here during the last 2 songs to pray over your prayer requests.
Even ones where you feel like it would take immeasurably more than you can imagine to answer.
That’s what our God does.
Let’s pray in faith.
And so at any time during these last two songs, come forward, share your request, and let us pray over you in faith.
And you can pray too, or just let them pray…whatever you want.
But I want to see many of you coming over these 10 minutes.
And if you’re here, and it feels like the greatest miracle would be for God to forgive you, He can do that too.
If you’re ready to start a relationship with Jesus, to accept His forgiveness, and start walking with Him…
You can come see our follow up team in the front right, at any time during those last two songs, and they’ll get you started in that.
All right, at this point, I want to invite our Worship Team back on stage, and invite up any elders & prayer team members.
Let me pray.