Ephesians 3:14-20 (Message)
My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
Submission is not a natural response but a learned one. However, without submission there will never be full acceptance of God’s Power and Authority available through Jesus Christ for His People, so there is an impasse. An impasse restricts movement it is a deadlock. It is a position from which there is no outlet or escape. It blocks all progress becoming an insurmountable difficulty. It is sad to think such a restriction is usually fortified with something as insignificant as pride. To imagine that the trials and troubles that we face could be easily overcome if we simply surrender our way to align our life with God’s Way is preposterous but true. His Word tells us over and over again that through Jesus Christ we are overcomers destined for Eternal life but rather than full embracing this hope that we are offered by faith in Him, we choose lesser things for now with false confidence that grace left unused will be there when we are ready. When will you be ready to let Jesus make your life glorious? What is His Glory all about anyway? Is it really worth having? To all you parents reading this today were the long months of pregnancy worth it? Was the pain of childbirth bearable when considering the joy to come? Would you do it all again if given the chance? Until we believe in our heart and mind that God’s Glory is worth having, Christians miss the potential of their purpose in life. What is your response to the unthinkable? Do you get down on your knees before the Father? Where is the source of your strength? Is it in your flesh or your spirit? Christ is alive in you. He came to you when you called Him, but until you open the door of your heart fully submitting to the Power of His Love and its Glorious Potential – it will never be enough!
“The Shawshank Redemption” was the story of banker Andy Dufresne who was a banker convicted of a double murder and consequently sent to prison. The movie was his life in prison and the money laundering scheme that would allow for his great escape. Two characters were paroled after long sentences to a foreign world that had changed greatly from when their entered imprisonment. One man, Brooks Hatlen, is released on parole after 50 years in jail but is unable to adjust to his new life as a free man and hangs himself. Andy’s friend and close confident, Ellis “Red” Redding is also paroled and finds it difficult to acclimate to mainstream life so he considers committing another crime to remain incarcerated for the rest of his life. He knows how life works inside prison, it has become a place of refuge despite the terrible conditions. But he remembers the promise that he made to Andy and returns to a place called Buxton to retrieve a package. In keeping that promise, Red finds new hope in the form of some money and directions which he uses to be reunited with his friends and live in freedom once again. I believe that many believers are granted freedom but our inability to find our way out of captivity keeps us in bondage forever. Not on the outside, but on the inside.
Romans 8:18-30 (Message)
That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens. All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy. Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.
Hope keeps us in the hard times focused on the good times. Joyful anticipation is born of confident hope. It all arises from the faith that we invest in Jesus Christ. We will have trials or there would be no need to overcome. (John 16:33) Why would the Lord tell us about such instances if salvation flushed it all away? The problem is we feel the pain and pressure all around us but do not realize it is only counter pressure from the enemy trying to stop the release of His Spirit within us! I have been pregnant with five beautiful and wonderful children. The Lord blessed me with relatively easy and uneventful pregnancies for which I am thankful. But there still came a day when I would endure tremendous pain and extreme laboriously hard labor to help them into this world, the Promises of God are no different as we birth His Glory from one’s potential called faith. However, I did not have to learn how to birth a child. I did not have receive specific training to make my body respond to the hormones that would cause this child to come forth. I was just a willing vessel. I cannot produce the process but it is my responsibility not to prevent it. Nothing slows labor faster than fear. Nothing will slow your progress of purpose more than fear either. It is not our job to prepare, promote and produce God’s Promises in our life but to submit our life as vessels for His Glory – nothing more or less. He will teach us how to pray, aid us in our weakness, shield us from the rain, all the while catching every single tear before it ever touches the ground and turning every single detail into something good according to His Plan and Purpose for our life which contains a future and hope. God’s Love will turn every detail in our life into something good. It is His Plan. Will you permit Him to do His Work in you today?
2 Corinthians 3:12-18 (Message)
With that kind of hope to excite us, nothing holds us back. Unlike Moses, we have nothing to hide. Everything is out in the open with us. He wore a veil so the children of Israel wouldn’t notice that the glory was fading away—and they didn’t notice. They didn’t notice it then and they don’t notice it now, don’t notice that there’s nothing left behind that veil. Even today when the proclamations of that old, bankrupt government are read out, they can’t see through it. Only Christ can get rid of the veil so they can see for themselves that there’s nothing there. Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are—face-to-face! They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We’re free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.
Are you excited about your future? Those that put their hope in the Lord are promised a glorious destiny but it is not about today only, it includes forever. The Law or religion was temporary. Its purpose was to show us our lack of potential because of sin. It convicted us as prisoners who now would pursue freedom. We are given the Holy Spirit so when the Son sets us free then we can become free indeed. (John 8:32) The problem is that too often we think that Jesus Christ came so we live out the Law rather than fully embracing the freedom of faith given to us with endless potential which is the basis of confident hope. It is about God doing more than we can think or ask in us and through us to His Glory. The Glory of God demonstrated in the Law is temporary just as Moses facing shining beneath the veil would fade over time. When he went back into the Presence of the Lord it would light up again. But now thanks to Jesus Christ the Light of His Amazing Love shines inside of our hearts making its way out into our life as His Glory changes how we see things, how we live and what we do. This life of righteous permits a persistent light to shine in us and through us illuminating the world so others will find their way to freedom, too. The overwhelming pressure and constant strain is not the world getting the best of you, but rather the Lord releasing us to trust Him more. He knows the Way of Freedom because He made it. He understands your vast potential because He was there when God created you. The Lord knows you better than you know yourself but until pride is no longer a barrier and we fully submit our lives to His Glory – it will seem too much to bear. You are pregnant with purpose today. The Lord knows how to get it out. Will you hope in the joy that is to come with eager anticipation of its arrival or cause it to die inside you because you are afraid to let it out? God gets no glory in our failure, shortcomings and weakness so He has given us everything we need to live a godly life and be the Light of the World no matter who we are, where we have come from or what we used to do.
Colossians 1:9-12 (Message)
Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.
Do not be mistaken. The believer you think is crazy, over-the-top or has lost their mind most often is the one who chose to let go. They are happy in hardship because their hope is in the Lord. They can laugh instead of crying because joy came in the morning. They can walk through the valley of death feasting in front of the enemy because God is, in fact, supplying everything that they need and more than they could ever ask for. It does seem crazy to others because it is an unnatural response to natural circumstances that will produce supernatural outcomes. God is working in us so that we will be in constant pursuit of His Glory rather than setting for what life throws at us. This is why we endure. This is why we are pressed. This is why we are struck down. Not because God is mad at us but because He is in us and the enemy refuses to give up attacking the Kingdom of God, but we are overcomers because Christ lives in us therefore if we will just get up and keep moving – it is from victory to victory and glory to glory as the Lord floods us with joy and peace that the best is yet to come. Our life will be bright and beautiful even in the midst of hurricanes and rain.
Titus 2:11-15 (Message)
God’s readiness to give and forgive is now public. Salvation’s available for everyone! We’re being shown how to turn our backs on a godless, indulgent life, and how to take on a God-filled, God-honoring life. This new life is starting right now, and is whetting our appetites for the glorious day when our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, appears. He offered himself as a sacrifice to free us from a dark, rebellious life into this good, pure life, making us a people he can be proud of, energetic in goodness. Tell them all this. Build up their courage, and discipline them if they get out of line. You’re in charge. Don’t let anyone put you down.
We were created to share in the Glory of God through Jesus Christ. It is our destiny. We have been filled with all of His Power and Authority. We really are in charge of our life here on the earth. Submission to Jesus Christ is not about beating us down but raising up to God’s Glorious standard of life that sin robbed from us. It is not about letting everybody take advantage of you but that through the Light of our Salvation they will be set free to experience God’s Goodness and Glory, too.
2 Corinthians 4:7-12 (Message)
If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus’ sake, which makes Jesus’ life all the more evident in us. While we’re going through the worst, you’re getting in on the best!
God’s Glory is unimaginable to human being so we have difficulty hanging on to confident hope anchored to our faith. What if we are disappointed? What if it is not what we want? Why do I have to miss out in this life? Let me assure as one who has been in hot pursuit of His Glory for the last several years, even if the concept of God, Jesus Christ, His Spirit, and His Kingdom are all false my life has still be made better by my belief in such things. Joy and peace overflow in the midst of hardship and heartbreak. His Love holds me up when I feel like giving up. His Peace keeps me from losing my mind when the unthinkable and unexpected happens. God’s Power is unquestionable and incomparable to anything I have ever experienced in my life. His Ability to change the outcomes and make the miraculous happens blows my mind every single time. I am a vessel of His Glory who is ready to be poured out if that is what it takes to know Him more. I don’t understand everything that is happening in our life but I am fully confident that God is faithful, Jesus is everything and that His Spirit is in me ready to release God’s Full Potential in my life. Lord, today make my life glorious! If it means pain, so be it. Make me broken if it means You will heal me. Make me empty if it means You will fill me. Mold me, shape me, break me, if it means that I will see Your Glory.
2 Corinthians 4:13-15 (Message)
We’re not keeping this quiet, not on your life. Just like the psalmist who wrote, “I believed it, so I said it,” we say what we believe. And what we believe is that the One who raised up the Master Jesus will just as certainly raise us up with you, alive. Every detail works to your advantage and to God’s glory: more and more grace, more and more people, more and more praise!