194 years of worship at Penuel was celebrated with guest preacher Reverend Norman Gilbert of Cosheston Gospel Mission Church who spoke on Ephesians chapter 3, focusing on God’s provision and power.
In this week’s news we have heard about the proposed plans for the Hinkley Point nuclear power station, which is set to produce 7% of electrical energy in the U.K. Norman then asked, “How big our God?” He reminded us of the children’s song, “My God is so big! So strong and so mighty. There’s nothing my God cannot do.” What is our perception of God? Our God has more power than 7% potential in His care for us!
The Ephesian Church Paul is writing to are Christians, people who are established in faith. Ephesians chapter 1:7 tells us the people are redeemed: ‘In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His Grace.’ The people are forgiven, sons and daughters of the living God, forever they are His children. Paul is saying because we are His, we have a seal of approval. Chapter 1:12-14: ‘We who were the first hope in Christ might be to the praise of His Glory. In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of His glory.’ When a person becomes a Christian they are sealed with the Holy Spirit. If we are Christians we become priests, kings, joint heirs.
Paul wants the Christians in Ephesus to remember that they are a people who have known great blessings and can turn to Him at any time. If you are a child of God you now have tremendous resources at your disposal – the answers to all our problems in life, a God who can provide for the needs of His people. In chapter 3 Paul wants us to apply this knowledge, to be able to apply these great truths and power. It is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.
We live in an age of chaos – everything is about the here and now. In the past everything stopped on a Sunday. Some people were bored, reflecting their empty lives. For a Christian the Sabbath is a lovely day when you can stop the business of life.
Paul writes in chapter 3: 13-14, ‘So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory. For this reason I bow my knee before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.’ His prayer is that you have been brought into the Kingdom, that you apply and do not lose heart. Don’t feel inadequate, don’t feel as if you have limitations and cannot cope. Don’t be disheartened and lose the enthusiasm for God.
We read in Ephesians 3:16, ‘according to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being,’ and in 2 Corinthians 4:16, ‘So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.’ Outer man is decaying but Paul tells the Corinthian church that the inner man can be renewed, built up and strengthened in the Lord. Our culture focuses on the outer man, but the inner man can get stronger and stronger is we have faith in God. Believe in Jesus Christ. He is in heaven seated at the right hand of God, yet the Holy Spirit can dwell within us.
One of the fundamentals of the church is to show love. Paul wants them to be a people who praise and pray. We can give thanks and glorify God in every situation. Keep Ephesians 3: 20-21 close to you: ‘Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.’ Paul wants the church to know our God is unlimited, He can do more than we can ask. Our God can do all, He is so big there’s nothing He cannot do. He is the God who receives praise from His people and gives them all that they need for their Christian walk. Don’t lose heart and be totally despondent with worldy issues, there is nothing too hard for God. The virgin birth was a miracle. To Mary it must have sounded absolutely impossible but the angel told her all things are possible with God. His Son was born of a virgin, was crucified and raised from the dead after three days. God is unlimited. This should be the starting point for the Christian, for the church. We can list our worries because our God is able. If He is able then we need to come to Him, to ask Him.
Joseph Scriven, who wrote ‘What a friend in we have in Jesus’ fell in love but on the eve of his wedding, tragically his wife died. Broken-hearted, he emigrated to Canada, where he worked as a teacher. He later fell in love but sadly she also died. What did he do? He became a Baptist preacher, someone who encouraged people. At the time he was about to marry he received word that his mother back home in Ireland was dying. Unable to be with her, he wrote her a poem, ‘What a friend we have in Jesus’
What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.
Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Saviour, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.
Blessed Saviour, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there.
We have a God who is able, we need to ask Him to help us. He is able to do exceedingly more than we can even ask Him. We have a Father who knows our every need, a God who loves His children. God never fails to answer prayer. Sometimes He says yes, sometimes He says no, sometimes He says wait. He always answers. Ultimately, it is His Will that needs to be done.
We are to be those instruments He can take and use to display the power and glory of God. God fills us with the Holy Spirit, the power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead. If you were in the Ephesian church when this letter was written you may have asked, ‘What hope is there?’ The people were under persecution. Yet 2,000 years later there are 2 billion Christians in 2016. The aim of the church is to glorify God. His glory is to be displayed amongst His redeemed people. In Psalm 19:1 we read, ‘The heavens declare the glory of God.’ We need to declare the glory of God. God moves in people’s hearts and changes people’s lives. Are we displaying the glory of God?
The church of Jesus Christ is being built. God is in control. We are His bride, the Bride of Jesus Christ. We want to magnify and glorify the bridegroom. It is not perfect here, it is still in progress. We are outposts of heaven, we are mirrors that reflect the glory of Jesus Christ. Believe in a God who hears and answers prayer, a God who will keep us faithful custodians of the church. We want to see Him using us for His glory and praise.
God has kept a witness here in Penuel for 194 years. Remember, God is able, but also remember to ask according to His power that works in us.