“This is my life work: helping people understand and respond to this Message. It came as a sheer gift to me, a real surprise, God handling all the details. When it came to presenting the Message to people who had no background in God’s way, I was the least qualified of any of the available Christians. God saw to it that I was equipped, but you can be sure that it had nothing to do with my natural abilities.
And so here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head, the inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ. My task is to bring out in the open and make plain what God, who created all this in the first place, has been doing in secret and behind the scenes all along. Through followers of Jesus like yourselves gathered in churches, this extraordinary plan of God is becoming known and talked about even among the angels!
All this is proceeding along lines planned all along by God and then executed in Christ Jesus. When we trust in him, we’re free to say whatever needs to be said, bold to go wherever we need to go. So don’t let my present trouble on your behalf get you down. Be proud!
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.” Ephesians 3:7-20 (MSG)
When you were a kid, cardboard boxes were awesome. They could turn into a fort, a castle, a pirate ship, or anything you could imagine. The cardboard boxes that were big enough to play inside of were the best. Eventually, we outgrow the boxes. But, sometimes our faith never outgrows the box.
As Paul was writing to the church at Ephesus, he sent them a prayer of encouragement. Paul had been facing trouble and hardships, but he wanted the Ephesians to not focus on the trouble. Rather, he wanted them to focus on the power of Christ to work in any and every situation. He ends by confirming the greatness of God’s power. In a sense, he wanted to remind them that God could do far more than they could wrap their minds around. As a backdrop, Paul was just reminding the Ephesians about how God had worked this truth into his life. As stated about himself, Paul was the least likely for God to use. He had persecuted Christians, and he did not believe that his natural abilities qualified him. Yet, he understood one key, powerful principle. God’s ability to change a life is beyond what we could imagine. We don’t deserve salvation. We can’t earn it. But, God simply gives it to those who will receive it. With this point as our context, if God can save us, what can He not do?
Sometimes we like to rewrite verse 20. We write it to say, “God can do some things…” And in that belief, we limit God’s power to work freely in our lives. We know God can save us, but we just aren’t sure if He can provide for us. We know God cares about creation, but we are just not sure if He cares about the dreams inside of our heart. So then we end up living like God can do some things for some people. And in that belief, we create a really small box for God. God does not live in a box, but when our limiting beliefs make Him small, our faith in God is small. Some might say that they don’t want to believe God for too much, because they might become disappointed. However, when we take the truth of this verse to heart, we open wide the door of faith and allow God to go beyond our wildest dreams. So, cut open the cardboard box, because God cannot fit in it anyway. When we believe in God’s limitless power, we experience His power in our lives in a whole new way.
Scripture taken from THE MESSAGE. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.