Around the world it has been an extraordinary year. On 1 January 2020 many of us began this New Year with optimism about what lay in store for us in the coming twelve months. I am not aware of anyone predicting a global pandemic that would lead to some form of lockdown restrictions in many countries across the globe. The virus caused many businesses to cease trading for an unknown number of weeks and millions of people were ordered to ‘Stay at Home’ unless required for essential work commitments, medical appointments and purchasing of food supplies.
Any figures reported related to the virus will be on the low side because too little testing has been conducted in most countries, but what we do know is that in excess of thirteen million people contracted the virus and currently around 4,900,000 are reported to have tested positive for Covid-19 virus, with more than 7,500,000 apparently recovered from it and sadly more than 570,000 people have died from it.
At the moment although there are some vaccine trials that appear promising we have no certainty that any will provide immunity from this virus in the future. So should we be worried about the future? Although there are many legitimate concerns about food supplies in some countries and certainly economic insecurity in the majority, I want to turn your attention today to words of the apostle Paul in Ephesians chapter three. In the last part of this chapter he had written a prayer for the recipients of his letter. It states:
For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20 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, 21 to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen (Ephesians 3:14-21).
Can I encourage you to read slowly through this prayer today and reflect on what Paul is saying and claim this prayer as a prayer for you today and in the coming days. I particularly want to draw your attention to the last two verses with which Paul concludes his prayer. They are amazing and uplifting words. 20 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, 21to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
What is he saying here about the God to whom we are bringing our prayers?
(a)His infinite ability Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine… How great is your God? If you have faith in the God Paul advocates here, then it is absolutely amazing what He can do. What genuine need do you want to ask Him for today?
(b) His unlimited power … according to His power that is at work within us… This is the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. Remember I John 4:4 The One who is in you (the Holy Spirit) is greater than the one who is in the world (the devil)’. Praise God for that. Many of us are facing genuine obstacles in our pathway at the present time. Please do not despair. In His timescale He can help each one of us overcome them, although not always in the way we would have preferred.
(c) His ultimate purpose … to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. What is it that God will be guaranteed to bless? Things that bring glory to Him! So when you and I are praying about something, ask the question: will this glorify God? Will this request, if granted, bring honour to His name? When our heart’s desires align with His heart’s desire then there is the real potential for a taste of heaven on earth, even here in this community; even here in this church family! If that is not exciting then nothing will excite you!
We must always remember that it is not about us, or about people thinking how great we are. It is exclusively for His glory, so that people will think great thoughts about the One we worship and adore. We want to honour and lift high His wonderful name. I believe we can go forward with confidence into the rest of 2020 knowing that with His help we can in time overcome all the obstacles that currently are causing us concern. Nothing is too difficult for God! Make sure you bring your specific concerns for the next few months to Him and prayer and wait with expectancy for God to hear and answer our prayers, Amen.
Our song for reflection today is: ‘Praise is rising’
A bonus song that has been a real blessing in the United Kingdom during the lock down period is the UK version of ‘The Blessing’ song