What can God do through you?

I’ve been reading the book of Ephesians devotionally for the last few weeks, slowly working my way through the text in study and prayer. The practice of intentional meditation has fostered a deeper level of praise and worship for what God has done for us in Christ.

This morning I finished reading Ephesians chapter 3, specifically verses 20 and 21,

Now to 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. Amen.” (Eph 3:20–21)

Context

Contextually, Paul has in mind the power of the Holy Spirit to unify both Gentile and Jew in Christ, so that they become one new humanity (Eph 2:15-16). Imagine that, a people who are completely and utterly opposed to and different from one another brought together in harmony and unity, so that they are loving and serving one another. Only God can unify in that way. Only God can break down those barriers.

One new humanity at the foot of the cross

God creates one new humanity at the foot of the cross. We are all sinners who are in need of salvation from God’s wrath (Eph 1 and 2). Those who are Christian (followers of Jesus) have been saved in exactly the same way, through the spilled blood of Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit in our life who causes us to recognize our need for a Savior and to believe that Jesus is our Savior (Eph 2).

Seeing God work in and through opposing humanity to create one unified group that loves and cares for one another in ways unimaginable causes Paul to break out in praise as he closes chapter 3 with a doxology.

God can and will do far more than we can imagine

Just as God is able to reconcile two opposing groups to Himself and one another, God is also able to do in and through us far more than we could ever imagine. He reconciles us with people who are different, creating a new bond between us and others of different cultures, races, and nationalities, so we will work together for His glory.

Not only will God create bonds where there were divisions, but God will also do in and through us far more than we could ever ask or think. Our God is a powerful God and He will use us in powerful and mighty ways. Ways that will ultimately bring Him glory.

What can God do through you?

He can do the imaginable. Not for your glory, but for His.

Question for Reflection

  1. How has God used you for His glory?

Pastor, Just Attend

Yesterday was one of those rare days in the life of a minister, I just attended a worship service. I know what you are probably thinking,

But pastor, you attend a worship service every week, that is kinda what you do. That’s your big day. What you have been preparing for and working towards all week.

You would be right. I attend worship every week. When I attend, I worship alongside others, but I also lead the worship I attend – I pray, I read Scripture, I preach, and I distribute the communion elements.

In Your Shoes

Yesterday, however, someone else did all those things. Someone else led the worship I attended. Essentially, I was in your shoes. I was greeted at the door by friendly greeters who didn’t call me pastor. I attended a Sunday School class where I participated as a visitor. I sat in the pew during the service singing, praying, and listening to the sermon with everyone else. As we took communion, I sat next to my son explaining to him what the bread and grape juice (Baptist Church) represented. I just attended the worship service.

Not a Divide

I don’t say “I just attended” to create a divide between those attending and those leading. I don’t believe the clergy are superior to the congregant. I believe in the priesthood of all believers. I have no more of a connection to God than other Christians. We are all called by God to our vocation. So I don’t make that distinction in order to make light of attending worship or to create a divide between the attendee and the leader. Instead, I make the distinction because it is rare for pastors to not be involved in some way in the worship service. It is rare for them to just attend.

Refreshing

While there was a moment during the preaching portion of the service that I missed standing behind the pulpit proclaiming the Word, it was refreshing to attend and worship with other likeminded brothers and sisters in the Lord. It was good for my soul. It provided me rest. It even confirmed to me my calling to preach.

Pastor, Just Attend

Pastor, let me encourage you to take a Sunday off, attend another church where others don’t know you as pastor, and just attend. Don’t agree to read Scripture or pray. Don’t agree to be a guest speaker. Don’t participate in the service as a minister in any way, just attend with everyone else. Just worship with everyone else. Take a break and let someone else lead. It will be good for your soul. It will provide you rest. And it may even confirm your calling to preach. Pastor, just attend.

How Can We Reach the Next Generation?

“He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.” (Ps 78:5–8)

I have been reading through the Psalms as part of a program to read through them all 150 in a month. In this morning’s reading, I came across the above passage. In it, we are told that generational ministry is important. Whatever else we are doing, we need to see the importance of reaching the next generation for Christ.

How do we do it?

(1) It begins at home

If you want to reach the next generation and you have kids, you need to start pouring God’s Word into them. Start early and young. Get in a routine of reading the Bible with your children, even if it is a paraphrased version. A favorite at our house is the Jesus Storybook Bible. It is a great beginner Bible because it introduces them to the storyline of Scripture in a non-moralistic way.

You can also start memorizing Scripture with your kids. This is something I have started doing lately with my oldest. His mind is a sponge at this age, which means it is a good time for him to start hiding God’s Word in there. I am using the Fighter Verses App, and we are working through the Foundation verses for kids.

(2) It continues in the community

If we want to reach the next generation, we have to make ourselves available to them. As well as we need to seek to build relationships with them. We need to show interest in the things in which they are interested. Be an encouragement to them. Let them know we are a resource to them.

(3) It continues on into the church

If we want to reach the next generation, we have to recognize that the things that reached our generation are probably not the same things that are going to reach the generation or two or three after us. Their preferences are different. How they interact with the world is different. What they expect and want out of the church may even be different. We need to be willing to remove any obstacles to them coming into the church. As well as we need to look for ways to serve them.

But, and this is huge, we need to remove obstacles and serve the next generation do in any way we can without diminishing the gospel, and the preaching and teaching of God’s Word. The gospel changes everything, we need to make sure it is central. Life change happens as the Word of God is driven into our hearts by the Work of the Holy Spirit. Watering down its message, changing it, or diminishing the centrality of God’s Word in any way our ministries will not result in us truly reaching the next generation.

The Psalmist tells us it is the truths of God’s Word that we are to teach our children to set their hope on, not fun and games, musical preferences, TedTalks, community service, etc. It is God’s Word that produces fruitful people who are ever seeking to glorify God with their lives, so we must keep God’s Word central, while at the same time removing any preferential obstacles in the church.

Question for Reflection

  1. How else can we reach the next generation?