God Is Able

God Is Able

Warning Label from Football Helmet Makers

Schutt Sports, a major supplier of football helmets for the National Football League, issues the following warning label on all their helmets and on their website's homepage:
WARNING …. NO HELMET SYSTEM CAN PREVENT CONCUSSIONS OR ELIMINATE THE RISK OF SERIOUS HEAD OR NECK INJURIES WHILE PLAYING FOOTBALL.
The warning label continues with some information about the symptoms for concussions and concludes by repeating the original warning: "TO AVOID THESE RISKS [OF PLAYING FOOTBALL], DO NOT ENGAGE IN THE SPORT OF FOOTBALL."
A visitor to the website can't access any content until he or she checks a box next to the words "Please indicate that you have read and understand [this warning label].”

Opening Illustration: Two Boats and A Helicopter

So it's raining really hard. There's a fundamental Christian living beside a river and it starts to flood. The sheriff's deputies come by and tell him he should leave before the river cuts off the road.

"The Lord is able and He will save me," he tells them.

The river is up to the front porch and the some folks come by in a boat and tell him to hop in and they'll take him to safety.

"The Lord is able and He will save me," he tells them.

The water rises above the first floor and the man has to climb on his roof. The National Guard comes by in a boat and begs the man to come with them.

"The Lord is able and He will save me," he tells them.

The waters keep rising and the man is clinging to his chimney. A helicopter appears and lowers a rope, but he refuses to go, telling them "The Lord will save me."
Finally he is standing on top of the chimney and the river is still rising.

"Lord," he calls out, "Lord, why have you forsaken me?"

The sky splits open and a HUGE voice booms out... "I sent two boats and a helicopter... What more do you want?" 
Is Your God Able or Missing In Action?

Background:
When was it written? Around 60 A.D. Some sources say that it was written around the same time as Paul’s letter to the Colossians, since it’s similar in style and purpose.
Where was it written? Possibly from the prison cell where Paul was being held in Rome.
To whom was it written? Ephesians is primarily written to Gentile (non-Jewish) followers of Christ—most likely the church in Ephesus. (Unlike some of Paul’s other letters, it doesn’t begin with individual greetings. For this reason, there is debate about whether it was specifically intended for the church in Ephesus, or if it was meant to be circulated more widely.)
Why was it written? Paul wrote this letter to encourage Gentile believers, and to make it clear that Jews and Gentiles have been brought together as part of one body in Christ. Paul is also concerned that his audience be made aware of the moral laws they may have been lax in following (or that they were unaware of).
What does it say? Ephesians is first and foremost an encouraging letter. Because of Christianity’s strong roots in Jewish history and religion, it was natural for early Christians to wonder if Christ’s gospel was limited to Jews, or if Jewish Christians held a special status because of their ethnic heritage. Paul clearly wants his Gentile brothers and sisters to know that in God’s kingdom, they are first-class citizens alongside their Jewish brethren. To get this point across, he uses a number of phrases and metaphors that imply unity: the “body of Christ” as a description of God’s kingdom on earth, and marriage as a mirror of Jesus’ relationship with the church.
Paul also reminds his audience that since they now belong to Christ, they must start living their lives differently. They need to distance themselves from immorality and strive for spiritual purity. It’s in the context of this discussion that he uses the famous metaphor of the “armor of God.”

Ephesians 3:1-20 (NIV)
For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—
2 Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. 4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. 6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. 8 Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
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.

God Is Able…

I. God Is Able To Make The Gospel…Available vs. 6
Ephesians 3:6
6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
Illustration: The Scandal of the Gospel
The Gospel is scandalous.  Really it is.  We have an entire world that has done nothing but behave badly.  The entire world is evil.  All types of evil.  You name it, we’ve done it.  Not just once but over and over again.  Angela and I were watching the TV the other day and the program was reviewing the top 10 most scandalous political downfalls in this century.  Man, from 1-10, they were all bad.  Each scandal devastating.  Each scandal rocking marriages and crumbling political carriers.  From moral failures to racists comments, each worse than the other.  
Yet each politician got what they deserved right?  Think about it, what is more scandalous than the scandal?  Deserving punishment and scorn, Jesus instead gives grace.  Not just to those who He had promised, but He gives it to everyone.  EVERYONE!  Scandalous.  How could this be?  The answer, because Jesus made it so.  He took our sins, place them on the cross and died then and there for it all.  He became our bad behavior.  He became sin.  He bore our scandal on his shoulders so that forgiveness could be available to all.  
Illustration:Oregon Shooting
Just a few days ago, a shooting at a local community college in Oregon occurred.  Shooter Rand McGowan attended a class.  Several students noticed him but didn’t think much about it as it was not uncommon for students interested in attending the college to audit classes.  It was not long after the class started that Rand stood up and told the professor that he had wanted to do this for a long time. He began to ask students to stand up and declare if they were religious, specifically Christian.  If a student said they were Christian, he shot them and killed them in the most cold and callous way. 
Why do I share this story with you?  Jesus died for Rand McGowan.  In the moment that he shot Christians, the modern day martyrs were offering him what he was trying to deprive them of…namely life.  With every yes and subsequent gunshot, the Gospel message was being to extended to Rand.  With every believer that boldly choose a bullet instead of life, the Gospel message was being offered…to the gunman.  Over and over again.  10 victims said “yes”, I am a believer in Christ.  10 times this shooter had to deal with this stunning admission.  Look at what Jesus says…
Matthew 10:39 NLT
If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.

So, what should our response be?  We should be angry.  We should demand justice and punishment.  Yet, as humans we constantly deny the Lordship and authority of Christ in our lives.  I do it. You do it.  We are all guilty and God should be wrathful to me and you.  But that is the scandal of grace.  Instead of punishing me and you, He punished His Son thus making a way for us all.  God forgives us.  

Quote:
Forgiveness is far from easy, but if we’re honest, that which is right is rarely easy. It truly can be a fight to forgive. C.S. Lewis once said, “Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.” This is too true, isn’t it? And how are we to forgive something as reprehensible as a mass shooting? We forgive others by the same grace God forgave us, motivated by the love Christ has for us.

That is the Gospel.  That is the Gospel to be preached to every man in every far off distant place in the world.  

Mark 16:15 (NIV)
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.

Galatians 3:28 (NIV)
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

God Is Able…

I. God Is Able To Make The Gospel…Available vs. 6

II. God Is Able To Make The Sinner…Altered vs. 7-9
Ephesians 3:7-9
7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. 8 Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.
How Was Paul Transformed?
A. Paul Was Egotistical
Point:
How was Paul an egomaniac?  Paul gives us his resume in Philippians 3: 4-6.  Let’s read it together.  

Philippians 3:4-6 (NIV)
If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.

Paul was a full blooded Jew.  Meaning that his father and his mother were both Hebrews.  In Philippians 3:5, Paul even claims that he was “an Hebrew of the Hebrews”.  Paul came from a great ancestry pool.  He was from the esteemed tribe of Benjamin.  Paul was also from the center of education and religious thought.  He hailed from Tarsus.  Tarsus was a considered a “free city” meaning they could self govern and each citizen claimed Roman citizenship.  This was rare for any Jew to possess.  Paul considered himself progressive because of the city he came from.  Paul was also educated.  He was taught by famed Rabi Gamaliel.  So, his secular education was from the finest cities in the world and his religious education came from the best teachers.  Paul might have been a citizen of the greatest empire in the world but he lacked citizenship in heaven.  He might have possessed a great education, but he had missed the point.  

Friends, it would be easy for us to be egotistical as well.  Have you ever caught yourself saying, “I’m beyond this simple Bible teaching” or “this just isn’t deep enough for me”?  If so, you might have an ego problem.  

Have you ever looked down on someone because they are not from the same city, state or country than you?  If so, you might have an ego problem.  

Have you ever found yourself looking down on other because they were less educated than you or they don’t come from a background as prominent as yours?  You might have an ego problem.  

You see, Paul knew that there was not room for a human ego when following Christ.  Remember, EGO is really just edging God out.  The more of you there is, the less of him there can be.  He knew that before the cross we were all the same.  

Philippians 3:7-8 (NIV)
7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 
B. Paul Was An Executioner 

Point:
You might recall that Paul was present at the murder of Stephen.  Stephen had just delivered a powerful testimony to the power of Christ to the Sanhedrin.  The religious elite, including Paul were angry.  They dragged Stephen out of the city and stoned him to death.  Paul, then Saul, guarded the cloaks of those killing Stephen.  Paul was an accomplice to murder.  

You might be thinking, “pastor, I’ve never murdered anyone” or “I have never been a part of such terrible activity”.  Well I would hope not but how many times have we murdered someone in the privacy of our own minds?  

How many times have you wished ill on someone else or harbored ill feelings against someone else?

How many times have we refused to forgive? How many times have you slandered someone, spoke wrongly or falsely accused someone?  Brothers and sisters, we are all guilty of murder.  Jesus knew in our hearts we had the ability to murder.  Listen to the words of his apostle John.

I John 3:15 (NASV)
Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

C. Paul Was An Extinguisher 
Scripture: Acts 9:1-5 ESV

Acts 9:1-5 ESV
But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. 4 And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5 And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.


Point:
One of the worst things that anyone can do, Christian or not, is to stand in opposition to God.  Paul, then Saul, is confronted with the risen and living Lord on the road to Damascus in Acts 9.  On the day that Stephen was murdered, persecution had broken out against the church.  Paul was moving from house to house capturing Christians and throwing them in jail.  Act 8:3 tells us that “Saul began to destroy the church.”  Wow!  Did you hear that?  One man began to destroy the church.  That is not something that I ever want written of me.  

Friend, as one person can build and encourage the church, one man can also bring it down.  Have you ever thought to yourself “am I adding to the church or am I taking away from it?”  Paul had a terrible attitude towards God.  He had a terrible attitude toward the church.  He had a terrible attitude towards God’s work and he did whatever he could to damage it.  Strangely enough, I have met people in the church with a similar attitude.  Are you one of them?  If so, let go of that anger and allow God to move in your heart and change your attitude.  

Friend the same man who was an ego maniac, a murderer and stood in direct opposition to God was changed from the inside out.  It is possible for me, for you and for everyone.  HE IS ABLE!  Here is the proof.

Acts 9:15 (NIV)
But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel.”
God Is Able…

I. God Is Able To Make The Gospel…Available vs. 6
II. God Is Able To Make The Sinner…Altered vs. 7-9

III. God Is Able To Make The Church…Applicable vs. 10-11
Ephesians 3:10-11
10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 
Point:
Friends, God had big plans for HIs church.  His church is to be a conduit of grace and peace for the world.  It is a place where discipleship takes place.  Francis Chan, in his book Multiply has this to say about the application and purpose of the church: 

“God has entrusted local churches with godly leaders who teach us His Word and care for our souls (Heb.13:17; 1 Pet. 5:1–8; 1 Tim. 3:1–13; 5:17; Titus 1:5–9). God has united us together in local churches to keep one another from sinning and straying from Christ (Gal. 6:1–5; Matt. 18:15–20). God has commanded us to gather together in local assemblies where we preach God’s Word, celebrate the Lord’s Supper, baptize new believers, and pray for and encourage one another (Acts 2:42; Heb. 10:24–25). Then we scatter to care for believers and to share the gospel with unbelievers (Acts 2:43–47). ”

What does this mean?  It means that the church is the foundation for every spiritual activity in our life.  It means that apart from the church, real meaningful spiritual growth is impossible.  It doesn’t mean that you can’t have personal Bible studies or small groups outside the church building.  Yet, the church is our source of fellowship, ministry, discipleship, worship and evangelism.  It is a place to show Jesus through our actions and attitudes…through ministry, to grow in Christ in discipleship and fellowship and to go for the Lord with evangelism.  

Illustration: Sanctuary 
Sanctuary--the practice of a wrongdoer taking refuge in a church to escape physical harm--was an important social practice in Europe from late antiquity well into the Middle Ages. Although the state no longer formally recognizes sanctuary, the practice regularly resurfaces in times of genocide and political injustice. The historical and biblical roots of sanctuary inspired some citizens of a small town in France during World War II to make their own town of Le Chambon into a sanctuary for Jews during the Holocaust.[1] Similarly, in the “sanctuary movement” in the 1980s in the United States, American churches sheltered illegal Central American immigrants fleeing violence.[2] Less happily, during the Rwandan genocide of 1994, the Hutu lured the Tutsi into church buildings by promising them sanctuary--an offer that clearly seemed plausible in their social setting. Tragically, the Hutu killed the sanctuary seekers: church buildings were the “killing fields” of Rwanda.[3] Sanctuary has mattered in significant ways even in modern history.

Illustration: 
A new church just opened in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  They have services.  They have preaching.  They have music.  The only thing they don’t have is God.  That’s right, it is an atheist church.  The pastor of the church, if you can call him that, realized that people are starving for community and wanted to provide an outlet for people to belong.  

Friend, let me tell you something.  Any church that exists apart from God is no church at all.  I would maintain that community can be found at church but that is not why the church exits.  I believe that ultimately people are hungering for God and are filling it with some self centered and self focused.  

Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
God Is Able…

I. God Is Able To Make The Gospel…Available vs. 6
II. God Is Able To Make The Sinner…Altered vs. 7-9
III. God Is Able To Make The Church…Applicable vs. 10-11

IV. God Has Made His Promises…Accessible vs. 20-21
Ephesians 3:20-21
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.

Point:
Can you think of some promises that God has made to you today.  I can.  

He will never leave you.
He will never forsake you.
He will be with you wherever you go.
He goes ahead of you.
He will provide for you your needs.
He knows your name.

The list is endless.  Yet, whatever you think that God can do, He will do more.  Whatever dream you may have about God’s endless love for you, He loves you more.  He is able to do immeasurably more than you and I can ever know.  How do I know this, because His Word promises this to each believer.  

The Jews didn’t know that salvation was theirs through grace, but it was.
The Gentiles didn’t know that they had access to salvation but they did.  
The world has no idea that there is peace found in Jesus, but they can.  

Because of Jesus, God can do so much more than ever before.  His promises are accessible.  

Illustration: 
The promise of a future inheritance is one of the many promises God makes to us in the Bible. But the concept itself is difficult for us to comprehend. One way to think about it would be to turn to some familiar names across the pond.
When Princess Diana died in 1997, she left a sizable inheritance for her two sons, William and Harry, in the amount of $20.4 million. With investments and interest, that amount grew during their teens and twenties to $31.4 million. But the provision was such that William and Harry were only able to inherit this considerable estate after their 30th birthdays. In June 2012, William turned 30 and inherited his portion. Harry will inherit his portion on his 30th birthday as well. The estate is theirs. It is has been promised to them. It is in their names, and it has been set aside for them.
In the same way, as followers of Christ, we have an inheritance. Based on Jesus' promise, it is ours. It's in your name, and it's set aside for you. At the right time, you too will receive your inheritance in full.
II Corinthians 1:20 (ESV)
For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.


God Is Able To Meet Your Needs Today! Trust Him!

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