Our world’s in a difficult place.
Hunger and poverty.
Girls sold into sexual slavery, sometimes in our own cities and neighborhoods.
I don’t about you, but there are days it’s just too much. I want to throw up my hands and say, “What’s wrong with us?” What’s wrong with our world? What’s wrong with our culture? Why are we so cruel to each other?
Dear God, what do we do about this?
It could almost make a faith-filled girl live in defeat.
It’s why we are still talking about God’s power and we are in Week #3. Today’s reading is just two verses.
God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself. Ephesians 1:22-23 (NLT)
Why are we offered this power?
Is it so that we can point and pray?
Lord, I want that. Give it to me.
Is it so that we can change our circumstances?
Lord, this is not what I expected. Take me out of this hard place.
This is a difficult one to answer, so we can only go to God’s Word. Did circumstances change for believers throughout the Bible?
Sometimes, absolutely. The dead raised. The lame healed. Provision met. Demons cast out. Miracles performed. Many times, God liberated people from jail in extraordinary measures, like a mini-earthquake, just around the perimeters of the prison.
Yet there were times that the situation remained the same, though the people were changed. They were in prison, but hope-filled. A thorn in the flesh (believed to be a physical infirmity) but pressing on. Martyred for their faith, but with the glory of God shining on faces. Beaten, broken, hungry, but grace and faith pouring from their lips.
Paul was ministering in Ephesus. This was one of the largest cities. It had paved roads. There was traffic in and out of the city due to commerce. There was pagan worship complete with prostitutes. There were also faithful followers of Christ.
There was persecution. There was suspicion. There were interrogations.
In this instance, Paul was under house arrest so he was a little more comfortable than most of the time he spent in jail. His usual prison cell was hidden away from light and people. His body so beaten and untended that he smelled terrible, his wounds festered.
God’s power is given to show the way to Jesus.
If power is defined by miracles only, then Paul’s life missed it.
If power is defined only by strength when all seems lost, well. . . even that is too narrow a definition.
The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence. Ephesians 1:22-23 (MSG)
If power is described as living a life that benefits the church and carves a path to Jesus, then Paul lived it fully.
His miraculous release from jail resulted in a guard’s salvation. His beatings spread the Gospel. His letters written in limbo still shine a light today. His message that Jesus is the Messiah drew many to faith.
That power is still for today.
When we believe that God’s greatness is for the benefit of the church, we start to live as if it is for us.
The single believing mom in Haiti.
Those in prison for their faith.
Those who are in ministry,
and those whose ministry is rocking babies and wiping snotty noses.
Those believers who are sick, and those who are well.
Those who are embattled, and those who are trying to set them free.
And this is the crazy part, the part we almost forget.
Its for those who turn away from His love. Those who are deceived to believe that killing others is noble. For those who are addicted, broken, angry at God, and those who think that God has forgotten them.
It’s for them because they are marked, but still unclaimed. As we live in His power, it has the potential to show them the way to Jesus.
This shakes up my faith! Does it yours? It changes my response from despair to determination to take hold of the armor of God. . . for us, for me, for the body of Christ, and for those who don’t know Him yet.
- What is your response to troubling news?
- How does this study change that response? (It may not change your feelings, but it can change what we do with those feelings.)
- Let’s make this practical:
- A teaching like this might challenge you to do something BIG. Yet sometimes BIG in God’s view is a small step in a new direction. It might be saying no to fear and yes to prayer. Share your thoughts to this statement.
- Look up the definition of power and share it here. Which of these apply, or do they?