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Jack Graham - Beyond Imagination


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    Jack Graham - Beyond Imagination
TOPICS: Imagination, Prayer

What we see here in Ephesians chapter 3 is one of the greatest prayers of the Bible, delivered, authored by the one I consider to be the greatest Christian who ever lived, the Apostle Paul; a man who was transformed by the grace and power of Jesus Christ. This prayer is a prayer for the church, all of us together. It is also a prayer for you, for you to personalize. And this prayer, the theme of the prayer, the thrust of this prayer is that all of us and each of us would experience more and more of Christ. That you would experience more of His love, more of His power, and more of His greatness and goodness and glory and blessing in your life. There is so much more that God has for you! Don't settle for where you are in your Christian life. Don't get stuck somewhere in the past. But I want you to see in God's Word today as we pray together, that God will energize us with more power, more strength, more love and more faith, that we would embrace all that God has, that we would experience more than we could possibly imagine... beyond our imagination.

So let's look at the prayer, beginning in verse 14, Ephesians 3:14-20, "For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant to you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith-that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled", here it is, "with all the fullness of God. Now unto him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever". And everybody said... Amen.

What a prayer! Paul said, "For this reason I bow the knee to the Lord Jesus Christ"! There are many positions, and really any position that we may pray. Traditional Jews in the Old Testament, and even today, pray while standing. When we go to the Western Wall, known as the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, there we see pious Jews rocking and bobbing from side to side with the Scriptures open, praying for the peace of Jerusalem, standing in the presence of the Lord. It is certainly appropriate to stand in His presence, to praise Him in standing and to pray and ask Him as we stand before Him. It's also appropriate to pray lifting up our hands to the Lord. The Bible says that we ought always to pray, 1 Timothy 2:8, "lifting up hold hands" unto the Lord. When we lift up hands it is a sign of embracing all that God would desire to give. It is a sign of adulation and adoration unto God.

There are times you can... we have prayed, of course, desperate before the Lord. There are times that I've prayed... that you've prayed... that we've just stretched out... just laid out on the floor... put our nose in the carpet and cried out to God in desperation! Sometimes in brokenness before Him. But of all the postures and the positions of prayer, perhaps the most prominent, the one that Paul mentions here, when he says, "I bow my knee to the Lord Jesus Christ". When we get on our knees... when we hit our knees to invite and invoke His presence and power in our lives, it's a sign, of course, of our humility before the Lord, that we honor Him, that we hunger for Him, that we surrender our lives to Him as His servant to give ourselves unconditionally to Him. This is the way, Paul says he is praying at this moment.

Now let me remind you that Paul is in prison. He's not in the pulpit; he's certainly not in a palace; he is in prison facing the end of his life. He ultimately died a martyr's death. And while he is in chains in jail, he's still full of God, and therefore, he is free. He is free, His spirit is free! And when you read this prayer that we've shared already today, it... it is filled with passion, it is filled with emotion! Paul is excited. I can just see him there in the cell in the chains, walking up and down, pacing up and down, praising God, praising the Lord and then hitting his knees. You ought to hit your knees regularly. How long has it been since you hit your knees in humility before the Lord. So Paul prayed. He said "For this reason I bow my knee..." For what reason?

Well, back up just a bit because the book of Ephesians, one of my personal favorites in all of the Bible, this is a blessing book, and it's really divided into three sections. The first three chapters of Ephesians has to do with the wealth or the worth of the believer... who we are in Christ; our identity and our security in Christ. Chapter 4 and 5 in the book of Ephesians has to do with our walk, the practical application; the living out of our blessing; not only to be blessed but to be a blessing. And then chapters 5 and 6 of Ephesians is the warfare of the believer, our spiritual battles. The wealth, the walk, the warfare of the believer!

So this prayer is a hinge between the first three chapters... our worth as believers, our wealth as believers, and the following chapters... our walk and our warfare. And in the middle of that Paul prays that we may apprehend... that we may comprehend that... that we would be enabled to face with strength and love and faith the purposes and the plan of God for our life, and all of the blessings that we are to receive from Him. Much more, far more, beyond our imagination more than we could have ever dreamed or even prayed. God wants to do so much more in your life than you could possibly imagine.

Part of our vacation we spent in southern California... San Diego. We love going there; it's nice and cool. And we were there and we were staying right by the Pacific Ocean. Every morning ah, we would see those Navy Seals there on Coronado Island about 6:00 AM, in full regalia uniform, in combat boots, running up and down the sandy shores of the Pacific, 6:00 AM, in line, getting' after it. I was drinking my coffee thinking about exercising. But it was so inspiring. But more inspiring is the vastness of that ocean. Deb and I and our family, we used to live in south Florida on the Atlantic Ocean in West Palm Beach, and I always was taken by just the majesty and the beauty of the ocean.

And when our family was there... part of our family was there. Our two grandchildren were there, Jason and Dillon Claire. And as I looked at that ocean and thought about and talked about the things of God and the blessings of God upon our lives, I just began to pray and review in my mind what God has done. And in the vastness and the vitality... the power of that ocean I remembered what I pray for our children and our grandchildren... our children's children. I want them to know that the God of the mountain, the God of the ocean is a great and glorious God! That He can do anything! That God is able to do more than you could possibly imagine!

I want our family and the future generations to know that! I want them to know that God is faithful, that God is trustworthy! That you can pray and ask and believe, and God will deliver in His own time and in His own way beyond what you could have expected! I want our children to know their... and their children their identity in Christ and their security in Christ! I want them to know that there's no battle that they face in life but that God is not able to deliver! I want them to know that no matter what burdens they face in life that God will carry their burdens or enable them to carry their burdens by His grace and power! God can do anything but fail! That's what I want our children to know! That's what I want the children of this church to know! My son's in the ministry. Many who are on this staff... that's what I want them to know... that the best is yet, that God is not finished!

In First Chronicles chapter 28, the man after God's own heart, David, was turning over the reins to the kingdom to his son Solomon. The temple was being built. The work of Christ... or the work of God... the kingdom of God was going on. And so David delivered a message to his son. Here's what he said, verse 20. This is one to mark in your Bible. I'm meditating on this verse daily. 20) Then David said to Solomon his son, "Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished". God is just getting started with us! And my prayer and my plea, as was the Apostle Paul for the church and the spiritual children of God's family, is that the next generation to Him be glory in the church throughout all generations that from generation to generation... I am believing God...

If Christ tarries, I am believing God that this church will be a bright light for Jesus Christ for at least another 150 years into the future. That is ministry, that this mission of Christ will go on from generation to generation! I'm believing God for that for His glory! Paul then prayed for strength to accomplish this. And that's why in Ephesians 3 in verse 16 he says, "that according to his riches..." Not out of but according to, that is equal to His riches. Not just a little bit out of His riches but "according to his riches of his glory that He would grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your innermost being". Earlier the Apostle would say, "though the outward person is decaying and wasting away, the inner person is being strengthened day by day".

The prayer that we are to pray is to pray for the power of God's Spirit... His presence to fill us, therefore to energize us and strengthen us. And we need to pray this daily because there's something about life that can zap us, right? And sap us! Whether it's adverse circumstances or failing health or draining people or unresolved conflicts and broken relationships: sometimes failure, our own personal failures and the consequences of sinful behavior can drain us of strength. Therefore we need to pray on our knees, "Lord, strengthen my inner man". To be strengthened in the inner man! This is the opposite of verse 13, of losing heart. That we are encouraged! The word for power here that we were to be strengthened with might or power is the word dynamos. It means dynamite or dynamo! That the power of the atom... the power of God! He went on to boldly pray that the very fullness of God would be in us!

Our opportunity is to experience the presence and the power of Jesus in our lives. And the prayer is that our capacity... our hunger for Him would grow and grow and develop. We pray for inner strength, for strength to go on when we're grieving... when we're hurting. And then we're to pray for a growing love. He says in verse 17, "that you may be able to comprehend with all the saints... that you may be able to comprehend together with His church the height and the depth and the breadth... breadth and the length of the love of God which passes... surpasses our thinking beyond our imagination, the infinity eternal love of God". Paul said, that you would be rooted and grounded in love. He's so excited he's mixing his metaphors here. Rooted is an agricultural term. Rooted... like a tree firmly so... solidified and rooted down deep.

Then he moves over... rooted and grounded: that's an architectural term, like... like a life planted on a strong foundation. That we would be rooted and grounded in love, the incomprehensible, infinity love of God! The immeasurable love of Christ! He gives us four immeasurable. He attempts to measure the immeasurable here. He... he speaks of the width of God's love. How wide is the love of God? Here's how wide the love of God is. Wide enough to include every person on the face of the earth! John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son". Wide enough to include anyone and everyone because God desires that all would come to repentance and be saved. 2 Peter 3:9, "God is not willing that any should perish but that all would come to repentance".

Get rid of any theology that tells you that God only selects a few! But God loves you! Jesus died for you! And Jesus died for everyone! That's how wide the mercy of God... the love of God is! How long is the love of God? He speaks of the length of the love of God. Long enough to last forever! God's love is eternal because God Himself is eternal. And God is love. Look, because God's love is eternal that means that God loves you in the future and that God loves you in the past even before you were born. Before there was ever a drop in the ocean, before there was a star in the sky or a moon for man to walk on; before there was a breath on earth, God loved you! His eternal love graced you. Because Jesus the Lamb of God was slain before the foundation of the world! And it reaches not only into the past, but it reaches into the present and into the future.

There's nothing you can do to make God love you less than He loves you right now; there's nothing you can do to make God love you more than He loves you right now. Because He loves you perfectly, and the Scripture says, 1 John 4:18, "Perfect love casts out fear". We are strong in the love of God! Spurgeon, the great British preacher said, regarding the length of God's love, said, "Your old age cannot wear it out, your continual tribulations cannot exhaust this love, your temptations cannot drain it dry"! How wide is it? Wide enough for everyone. How long is it? Eternal. How high is the love of God? He speaks of the height of the love of God. So high that it can take us from here to heaven! So high that we can now have access into His presence; adopted as His children!

And how deep is the love of God? So deep that God Himself in Christ plunged His soul into the abyss, into the pit, into hell itself to snatch and rescue your soul from hell. That's how deep is the love of God! And while His love is immeasurable and incomparable and incomprehensible, we make it our prayer, we make it our purpose, our holy ambition to learn and live more and more of His love. This love is made knowable in Jesus. This love is made knowable in His word, and notice, this love is made knowable in His church. He said, "That you may comprehend with all the saints". Now listen to this, don't miss this, "that you may with all the saints comprehend this love beyond our thinking". Because we see the love of God in each other. This love is not really learned or lived in isolation. We love more when we worship together, when we serve together, when we witness together, when we show mercy together, when we pray together, when we fellowship and connect together.

Church isn't just a place to hang out every now and then. It's where we grow in the love of Christ together. Not just a place we show up and pop in and out, like the burger joint. But together we experience the love of Christ. We show the love of Christ together. Pray that God will give you more love for Him because when it gets right down to it, Matthew 22:37-39 "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and your neighbor as yourself". And then quickly one final thing. He prayed for more faith, that God would give us a greater faith. That's the doxology of this in verses 20 and 21; a verse that literally is inscribed on one of the pillars of this church. "Now unto Him who is able... Now unto Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly... Now unto Him...!" That's what I call the verticality of the church. We've been saying for years that... that the task of the church is not to first go out to get horizontal but to go vertical... To get God in the church, because Jesus said, John 12:32 "If I be lifted up, I will draw all unto Myself".

So many churches unfortunately are empty of Christ! Imagine going to a... a ball game and and... there's no baseball! Imagine going to a movie and you see nothing but a blank screen! How long would you stay? Imagine going to a burger joint and they don't have beef! Imagine going to church and they don't have Jesus! No wonder people don't go to church anymore! So many churches are void of Jesus! The glory of God has departed! We must go vertical! It's not our goal to get people back in church; it's to make sure that God gets back in church! That Jesus is in the house. And when Jesus is in the house He draws all unto Himself. (I'm about to get a preach-on this morning, I'm telling you!) Not only the verticality of the church but he talks about the vitality of the church (we've already talked about that), now unto Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly, the God who is able will strengthen us. He speaks here in this conclusion... I mean this is all right there in this text folks! He speaks of the vision of the church.

What is the vision of the church? That God would do exceedingly abundantly above and beyond all that we could think or to ask or dream or pray, beyond our imagination! Has God done that? Don't settle in your life for just enough! Pray and expect God to do so much more than you can possibly imagine! And He will! I'm here to say that He will. He has, He will! Don't settle for the monotonous routine of just showing up at church every now and then. Cry out to God! Hit your knees. Ask God to give you inner strength to live for Christ. Ask God to give you a love that is long enough, wide enough, deep enough, high enough to embrace the world for Christ. Ask God to give you a greater faith to believe and do what He has calling you to do. Fulfill your purpose! The best is yet! The best is yet!
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