A Greater Power
God works when you let Him, the effectual working of His power to us who believe. Believing is not just a mental attitude. Believing is commitment.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? Doing alright today? Oh, I’m fine, thank you. Happy in the Lord. Glad to be back with you. I look forward to these times when I can just share with you from the Word of God. I’ve got my notes and I’ve got my Greek New Testament, and I’ve got my big Bible and a comfortable assortment of different kinds of junk spread around in front of me, including the great big timer that tells me when I am coming to the end of our time together. And you have to have good terminal facilities to be on the radio, you can’t just keep on and on, so that’s how it is. And you and I are back together again, delightful, wonderful. Thank God for it.
We’re in Ephesians 3. We were talking about the mystery of Christ, which Paul says is God’s plan to bring Jew and Gentile together, give them access to his promises, build them into the very body of Christ through the new birth and then give them an inheritance in the Savior, fellow heirs.
And the last time we got together we talked about ministering where he said, “His promise in Christ by the gospel whereof,” Now the whereof refers to the gospel. “I was made a minister of the gospel,” said he. How? “According to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effects of working of his power.”
Now a ministry, yeah. I have a little Cookism definition of ministry, it’s the idea of sharing God with people at the point of their need. You minister to people as you share the presence and power, the word, and the will, and the love of God with people at the point of their need. Ministering doesn’t mean lecturing, and it doesn’t mean just pulpit performance. A ministry may be a very quiet and simple thing. Sometimes you can minister to people just by being with them and expressing love and concern.
You can minister to people by just having a prayer with them. You can minister to people, especially those who may be discouraged, by noticing them and smiling, calling them by name, and encouraging them, many different ways to minister to people. But he says, “I was made a minister of the gospel.” Now he said, “According to the gift of the grace of God.” I wonder whether you’ve thought, preacher, recently, that the work in which you’re involved, and this goes, I’m sure for Sunday school teachers, and evangelists, and missionaries, and social workers, and all sorts of folk who minister to people. Have you thought of the fact that this is God’s gift to you? Now, it’s pretty hard sometimes to think of it in that way, especially if things aren’t going well and you think of it in terms of something that’s a burden, that’s hard to bear, or a challenge that’s hard to face or a criticism that’s hard to receive, but, basically, Paul says it’s a gift. “I was made a minister according to the gift of the grace of God.”
What you are, and where you are, and the opportunities which face you in ministry are part of God’s wonderful gift to you. Never forget that.
Here I’m sitting before these microphones and the tape recorder is running. And I’m looking at the Word of God with you, and even as I speak about these matters there’s a profound moving in my own heart of gratitude to God for his gift of this kind of ministry. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have the opportunity of sharing God’s Word day by day with you this way. And you, my pastor friend, have been given the gift of ministry. Think of that as you make your three calls a day. You do make three calls a day, don’t you? Don’t depend on the fact that you’re supposed to be sitting in your study meditating. Get out among the people. Make three calls a day. A thousand times a year go tell somebody about Jesus. In addition to your trouble calls, and hospital calls, and funerals, you make three calls a day, your church will grow 10% a year.
And as you think of that, think of it as God’s gift to you. He’s given you the privilege of interacting with hungry hearts. There’s been so many times when in the pastorate, you know, I was in the pastorate 18 years. Anything I tell you about these things, I’ve been there, I’m not gonna talk in terms of theory and ivory towers.
I made my three calls a day, I did. And my former church members will tell you that. I was out there and among them. And again, and again beloved, I found that God was sending me to people who were hungry for God, had hunger for the Gospel or they were hung up on something and needed delivering, or they were discouraged and needed encouragement, and I had the chance to minister to people.
Oh yes, it’s God’s gift. Where you are is God’s gift. You say, “Well boy, I wish he wouldn’t be giving me quite so much. These things aren’t going well.” Alright. Wait, last a while. Keep breathing, don’t quit. Dr. Savage, Henry Savage was at Pontiac, Michigan for, I think, 33 years, and I had the privilege of talking with him and being his friend. During some of those latter years of his ministry he told me one time, he said, “You know, Bob, pastorates go in cycles of seven years.” He said, “Things will go pretty well for about six years. And then the 7th year, you’ll have all sorts of troubles, but if you don’t quit and just keep on, and keep sweet, why,” he said, “It’ll pass, and you’ll be good for another seven years.” [chuckle] There’s a lot of wisdom to that, I’ll tell you.
Oh, your ministry is God’s gift. Your Sunday school class is God’s gift to you. Your ability to write letters is God’s gift to you. Your relationship with needy hearts is God’s gift to you by his grace. Think of it that way, and thank Him for it, and use it for His glory, this gift of the grace of God given unto me. Now how? “By the effectual working of his power.”
Paul says in another place, he said, “I’m working hard. I labor according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.” The Spirit of God works in us. He prays through us. “We know not what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself maketh intercession for us with groanings, which cannot be uttered.” He reassures us. The Spirit witnesses with our spirit that we are the sons of God. Yes, he does. He guides us. “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”
He prays through us, he lives through us, he works through us, and this is the working. Now, the effectual working of His power. How much power? Ephesians 3:20, “God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.”
Paul says in Ephesians, when we were talking about that a little while ago when we passed it. Do you remember? “The exceeding greatness of his power, which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead.” Resurrection power, power that identifies you with the life of God. That’s the working of his power.
Now, in theory, that sounds great. How do you bring that down onto Main Street? We tend immediately to think, “Well, we’re supposed to be more religious or we’re supposed to read more, pray more, do something more.” As a matter of fact, the effectual working of God’s power is something that is a by-product of your surrender to Him. Paul, the apostle said, “As ye have yielded,” have, past tense, yielded, “the members of your bodies, servants unto unrighteousness.” “Even so,” same thing, same process, “even so now, yield the members of your bodies, servants to righteousness,” and the result will be holiness.
God will work if you let him. What it boils down to is a conscious surrender to the Holy Spirit of God in situations. See, it’s not enough just to say your prayers in the morning and at night and say, “God, please help me today, and keep me out of trouble. Amen.” And then go your merry way and live a secular life. That isn’t it. If you want the working of God’s power, He’ll work if you’ll let Him, but you have to surrender to Him consciously in terms of situations. What’s happened? What’s going on? Surrender to God in that situation. You follow me?
A friend of mine used to say that whenever he got in any kind of difficulty at all, he’d look up and say, “Lord this is a chance for you to prove you’re almighty. This is the chance for you to work, Lord.” He’d looked to God and remind the heavenly Father that this was an opportunity for God to work. And it’s been a great help to yours truly, when I had sense enough to remember that God wants to work if we let him. Philippians 2:13, “It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”
When I had sense enough to remember that God wants to work when you let Him and I prayed in that vein, and committed what, oftentimes, was an impossible situation to Him, the result was that God did some wonderful things. No time now to go into particulars. Maybe I don’t need to anyway. You can fill in your own. This working of His power is not something that you agonize for, it’s not something that you work for. It is a by-product of surrender. “Yield yourselves to God, as those that are alive from the dead, and the members of your body as servants unto righteousness.” That’s the way it is. So the next time you’re in a jam, the next time you’re discouraged, the next time you’re sorely tried, the next time you’re criticized and feel like fighting back, the next time that you’re broken, you don’t know what to do about it, the next time you are feeling ill, and fear sweeps over you as… And you say, “What if I don’t get better?” I don’t know, there’s all sorts of situations. Things having to do with your family, your children, your grandchildren, your job, your in-laws, your neighbors, yourself, whatever.
The next time you’re in any kind of a situation where there’s pressure, look up, and say, “Dear Father, I’m yours, this is a chance for you to show your power.” And I can guarantee you as you do that sincerely in Jesus’ name, you’re gonna see the difference. God works when you let Him. The effects are working of His power to us who believe. Believing is not just a mental attitude, believing is commitment. And the working of God’s power comes to people who commit the situation to Him. The working of God’s power comes to people who commit the situation to Him. Isn’t that great truth?
Well, you put it to work in your own life, and I know it’ll be a blessing.
Father God today, oh, we love Thee, and we worship Thee, and we pray that Thy power may be poured out through our lives in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Till I meet you once again, by way of radio walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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