October 1, 2018 • Life for Leaders
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
For me, Ephesians 3:20-21 is one of the most significant passages in the Bible. For example, when I began my work as Senior Pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church in 1991, I used Ephesians 3:20-21 as the basis for my first sermon. Sixteen years later, in 2007, I preached my last sermon as the pastor of the Irvine church. Once again, I used Ephesians 3:20-21. If I could have bequeathed anything to my beloved congregation, it would have been a vision of God who “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (3:20). Now, I hope to pass on this vision to you.
This vision of God appears in what scholars call a benediction, a prayerful statement of blessing to God. Yet, you’ll notice that God is not mentioned by name in this benediction. Rather, he is referred to as the one “who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” No doubt here about the subject of this phrase. Paul is clearly speaking of God. But what a way to think and speak about God! No matter how great our requests of God, no matter how expansive our imagining of what God might do, God is able to do far, far more.
How does this truth strike you? Does it puzzle you? Does it encourage you? I respond to it in at least two different ways. Honestly, my first impulse is to feel bad about my lack of faith. Though I have seen God do amazing things and though I sometimes ask him for great things, too often I relate to God as if he were limited by my fears, by my puny vision. So, as I read this passage, I want to repent of my lack of faith and ask for both forgiveness and the gift of enlarged faith that fits the vastness of God’s grace and power.
Second, as I reflect on this passage, I am encouraged to believe more of God. I am emboldened to ask him for more than I usually would, not primarily for myself, but for those around me, for my colleagues and family members, for the organization I serve (Fuller’s De Pree Center), for the church, for our society with all of its challenges, and for the whole world. I lift my eyes above the spot just a little in front of my feet to see the grand horizon of God’s possibilities.
Here’s truth to expand your mind and transform your heart: God is able to do far more than anything you can ask or imagine. He can do this in every sector of your life: in your work and leadership, in your family and friendships, in your church and community, in your studies and volunteer work, and in your efforts to seek God’s justice in the world. Let the truth of God’s measureless ability change your thinking, your prayer, and your living.
Something to Think About:
How do you respond to the fact that God is able to do immeasurably more than all you can ask or imagine?
If you really believed this, how would it change your prayers?
How would it change the way you live today?
Something to Do:
In a place you’ll often see it, write down the words that “God is able to do immeasurably more than all you can ask or imagine.” Let this thought guide and inspire you as you work this week.
Gracious God, when I read this passage, I am reminded of how little I trust you. It is so easy for me to shrink you down in my own expectations, to limit you by my fears. Forgive me, Lord. Expand my mind. Transform my heart. Embolden me. Empower me.
And may it be for your glory. May I live all out for you, holding nothing back, trusting you, seeking you, glorifying you with every fiber of my being. To you be all the glory! Amen.
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.