I’ve kept a journal since the moment I was saved. For fourteen years, I’ve been writing prayers, confessions, sins, victories and sufferings. Once a year, I’ll go back and read over them and in most situations it depresses me. Fourteen years of walking with Jesus and I still wrestle with the same fears, doubts and sins; I recycle my failures. There is some growth for sure, but in most cases I see the negative. It deflates and depresses me. I feel drained of any spiritual power to please God.
Have you ever realized how you seem to recycle the same sins over and over? How you believe the Bible, but the gravity of suffering and sin weighs you down, sucking the life out of you and you feel powerless?
In reality, we actually are powerless. We learn how to fake it and talk in a way to cover it all up, but we feel powerless. Maybe it’s money. It runs out and the debt piles up so giving radically and generously creates anxiety. Maybe it’s your marriage. You get out of sync, it’s icy and rocky and there’s no love, affection, playfulness or laughter. You know you ought to lay your life down for your spouse, but you just have no energy to pursue and serve them. You feel powerless, weighed down, angry and bitter. Maybe it’s your plans. You had it all mapped out, the spouse, the house, the career and one day it all collapses. Your heart melts and drains the life out of you. Trusting God seems impossible. Some of you are new believers and you look at what God demands of you, what He’s worthy of and it looks like a mountain you can’t climb. It all seems impossible.
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5 (ESV)
Though we fake it well, we are powerless without His might working through us. But with His might and power we have all we need. His power is enough for any situation of your life. That’s Paul’s point in Ephesians 1.
HOW DO YOU GET THIS POWER?
If this power is available to us, the how do we tap into it and actually use it?
and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe…Ephesians 1:19a (ESV)
You don’t have to do anything to get the power. You don’t work, merit or earn it. It’s given to those who believe. God freely and graciously lavishes this power on anyone who believes the gospel. If you’ve placed your faith in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, you have this kind of power flowing through your spiritual veins.
Nothing in the world works like this. You don’t get power in this world just by believing. The world says you get power by earning, meriting and being worthy of it. Perform enough then you’re given power. You don’t get it freely. You have to work, labor and sweat.
Why do we give athletes so much clout, money and our affections? Tiger Woods, Michael Phelps, and LeBron James have so much power, because they’ve earned it. They’ve won your affections. In the average football game, the ball is only in play for about eleven minutes. We spend hours and millions of dollars to watch eleven minutes. They gain our affections and so we give these players power.
In business, you actually make a profit and become influential and powerful by clawing, scratching your way. You work weekends with out vacations, exhausting yourself to make a name for yourself.
With education, they don’t just hand out degrees. You have to earn them. You have to study, labor hard and pass your classes. You have to perform well and then you’re given the influence and power.
All these things require your effort and savviness to get you power in this life.
“My drive in life, the reason I wake up and do all that I do, is from this horrible fear of being mediocre.”
I guarantee every one of us have that same fear. We want power; we think we need it. Madonna is saying the way to get power, to be known and not be mediocre is to earn it. The world says work, labor, sweat and be worthy then you’ll get power.
The gospel reverses this. It subverts the world’s systems and values. It says you’re given power then you work, labor and perform. It says believe, trust in Jesus and you’ll receive power, then you get to perform and seek to magnify God through the power He has supplied to us by His grace.
It’s not work then get power. It’s get power then you work.
There’s nothing like the gospel. It is power.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…Romans 1:16 (ESV)
One theologian said the gospel is like a pepper. It doesn’t look impressive or powerful at all. But sink your teeth into it and it’ll explode your senses. The death of a man two thousand years ago is something the world scoffs at. The world denies His resurrection, power and claim as God in the flesh. The world sees this as weak. But sink your teeth into it, giving your life to this God and it will explode into every fabric and fiber of your being, changing everything. That is the power available to you.
You don’t earn this power. It’s free. But it’s not cheap. You didn’t have to pay for it, but someone else did.
WHERE DOES THIS POWER COME FROM?
and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead…Ephesians 1:19-20a (ESV)
Jesus died and rose in your place. He’s the one who earns this power on your behalf. It’s resurrection power. You believe in His work and all of this power will flow into your life, coursing through your veins. It is now given to us, because Jesus is alive. Easter may be over, but Jesus is still alive, reigning and ruling over all things. We celebrate the resurrection everyday.
Paul is in awe of this. He wants us to be in awe of it too.
The resurrection power will take the most depressed, defeated day, spin it on its head turning it into something beautiful and glorious, filling it with value, meaning, purpose and hope.
This ought to make you in awe.
This power is not just theoretically out there; it’s toward you who believe. It’s actually in and toward you. Jesus died and rose for us.
If you read the New Testament, you’ll often find the cross displayed God’s love for us.
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 (ESV)
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Ephesians 5:25 (ESV)
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (ESV)
The cross equals God’s love.
But what does the resurrection mean for us? If the cross shows God’s love for us then the resurrection shows God’s power for us. At the cross, God says, “I love you, I want you, I delight in you.” At the tomb, God says, “I am holding you, I will never let you go from my grip of grace.” It’s about power. God flexed His muscles and extended His power out to those who believe in Him.
that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion. Ephesians 1:20-21a (ESV)
These powers are not weak. Paul was very aware of the attractive powerful dominions and authorities in this life. There are powers and influences around us just longing for us to give them our allegiance. Paul knows this and knows you can trust in them instead of this one. You can trust in your company’s name or your last name. You can trust in your country, your state or city. There are all sorts of powers at work that tug at our souls, tempting and alluring us. Paul’s point is that this power is above all of them. They all answer and are under the power of the resurrected, risen, reigning Christ, our conquering King.
…and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. Ephesians 1:21b (ESV)
Pick any name from all of history, all races, times, continents, religions, and governments; Jesus is above them all. There is coming a day when every single knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
And he put all things under his feet…Ephesians 1:22a (ESV)
Most likely, this is military language. When a king would conquer a nation, that nation would then serve that king. Psalms used the term footstool. The point is the king would prop his feet on the conquered nation. Jesus is the One who props His foot on all earthly powers and dominions.
…and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body…Ephesians 1:22b-23a (ESV)
He didn’t say He gives power to individual Christian only. He gives His power, reigns and is head over the Church. The power is personal and for your life, but it’s not private power. It’s given to His body, His church. It is a community kind of power. If you separate yourself from the church, then you lose this power. The further you get from the community of faith and of believers speaking into your life, the more you lose this power. You need the body of Christ in your life. It is you and Jesus, but not only you and Jesus. It’s all of us together.
…the fullness of him who fills all in all. Ephesians 1:23b (ESV)
This power just keeps going. There is no limit to it. It fills everything. It’s wherever God is and God is everywhere. It fills Austin all the way to the ends of the earth. If God has called you to the nations, there is power going with you. There is power in unreached people groups and all over this globe.
John Piper said:
The risen Jesus Christ is “head over all things.” Head! Implying authority and conscious active rule—over all history, all human beings, all demonic powers, disease, disability, all nature—weather, hurricanes, lightning bolts, tornadoes, volcanoes, earthquakes, floods, global warming—all businesses and industry, healthcare, sports, March Madness, inventions, media, Internet, iPad mania, military might, governments, presidents, kings, chiefs, religions, universities, solar systems, stars, galaxies, molecules, atoms, subatomic particles, and ten thousand things no man has ever yet discovered. Jesus is now head over them all.”
You may say that’s overkill, but that Paul’s point. There is no place where God isn’t King and Lord. He has all power, all authority and all might. This is where this power comes from.
WHAT DO WE DO WITH THIS POWER?
So if we have this immeasurable power, through faith, what does it do in us? What is this power for?
This power gives you unshakeable joy. It will make you live. It will put a spring in your step. It’ll take the most mundane, boring parts of life and fill them with laughter, value, and purpose.
This power will uphold you in any suffering. You can now walk through anything in life and this power will sustain you. If your plans fall through and your money is gone, this power will sustain you. The Messiah died, the friend, rabbi and master of the disciples died. How could any good come from that? But we know the story; only good came from that!
At times it feels like God is killing you, but He’s actually saving you. It feels like His boot is on your throat and is about to wipe you out. But He’s actually rescuing your heart from idols. He’s saving you.
He is sustaining you through suffering, working all things for your good and His glory. Nothing can undo this.
Paul had a thorn in his flesh that he says a messenger of Satan had given him. He pleaded with Jesus over and over again to take it from him. But Jesus said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” (2 Corinthians 12:9, ESV). Paul responds by saying, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong,” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, ESV).
Let’s go back to my journals. There are some dark spots in fourteen years of walking with Jesus. But I’m still here. I still believe in God. I still want and desire Him more than I ever have in my life. Yes, I still sin, but there are a thousand sins I’ve overcome. His power is sustaining me and working these things out in me. I still blow it at times, but I still confess and repent. I resist and overcome sin. I grow and become more holy, because His power is keeping, holding and sustaining me.
God does this for all of us who believe in Him. He never takes His hands off us. He’s always molding, shaping and working us into what He wants us to be until there’s no addiction you can’t break, or hurt you can’t forgive, or sin you can’t resist. Even when you sin, this power is towards you, reminding you it’s not your work or record, but Jesus’ that has cleansed and pardoned us.
This power is toward us and makes us holy, because we are His sons and daughters. God never second guesses saving and redeeming us. He delighted in saving us and is still delighting in saving us as we continue to blow it.
He sings over you and rejoices over you. His power is enough for you.
Will you lean into it? Will you stop relying on your own strength, might, schemes and wisdom and press into this resurrection power our King has given to us who believe?