A Benediction for 2018 and a Blessing for 2019
A Benediction for 2018 and a Blessing for 2019
Dr. Steve Horn
December 30, 2018
Introduction to Text: This morning, our subject is “A Benediction for 2018 and a Blessing for 2019.” With days to go in 2018, it seems appropriate to worship to give thanks to God for the blessings and benefits of 2018 while at the same time ask His blessing and favor upon the coming year.
We are blessed to have not only teaching on the subject of prayer to read in our Bibles, but to have actual examples of prayer. The text before us is a prayer. I think it appropriate for our consideration today.
Text: Now to him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us— 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Introduction: Ephesians, along with Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon are usually grouped together as a unit that we call Paul’s Prison Letters. As the description suggests, the general feeling is that Paul wrote these four letters while in prison. Paul’s references to being a prisoner in Ephesians 3:1 and 4:1 are probably more than just figurative language of Paul’s life as a Christian. The same holds true for his reference to his chains in 6:20. These descriptions almost certainly are in reference to his current status of imprisonment.
Ephesians has the classic division of theology (1-3) and practice (4-6). Like Romans 12:1, Ephesians 4:1, begins “Therefore.” This transitional word precisely divides the book into the equal parts of theology and practice.
The transition from theology to practice is a prayer. Though brief, the prayer is insightful of several things that ought to be at our attention as we move from one year to the next.
This prayer . . .
Demands that God gets all Praise.
“Now to him”
Rightly, this prayer of doxology begins, “Now to Him.” One of the core values that we try to keep before you at all times is that all that we are able to do as a church will be “all for God’s glory.” What is true in the church should be true in our individual lives.
As we reflect a moment on the joys and blessings of 2018, let’s make sure we praise His name. As we look to 2019, let’s depend upon Him for all things and then give Him praise for all things.
Many years ago I attended a meeting of our local Baptist churches. The preacher for the evening was a man about my same age and build at the time. He preached an excellent sermon that night. When we were leaving, an elderly lady extended her hand to me and said, “That was a wonderful sermon. Thank you.”
I responded, “Yes ma’am it was a wonderful sermon, but it wasn’t me.
“Oh, she said, “I know it wasn’t you, it was God, but thank you.”
I had to respond, “No, it really wasn’t me, it was that guy right over there.”
But, she was right. We give all glory to God for all things. “Now to Him.”
Directs how we ought to Pray.
“who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think ”
- According to His Ability.
This idea is a fascinating one. Paul Himself recognized his own limitations in describing all that God could do. As one commentator put it:
He gropes for the highest form of comparison available and finds the very rare compound adverb….Something of the force of the writer’s rhetoric can be captured by showing the build-up of the thought reflected by his language. God is said to be able to do what believers ask in prayer; he is able to do what they might fail to ask but what they can think; he is able to do all they ask or think; he is able do above all they ask or think; he is able do abundantly above all they ask or think; he is able to do more abundantly above all they ask or think; he is able to do infinitely more abundantly above all they ask or think. And what is more, says the writer, the inexpressible power is at work within us. (Andrew T. Lincoln, Word Biblical Commentary, p. 216)
- According to our Inability even to comprehend what God can do and will do.
- The prayers that precede in 1:15-19 and 3:14-19.
- Jude 24.
- Break records for evangelism
- Reach people through Sunday School reorganization
- Pay off our debt
- The needs of First Baptist Christian School
This is something of my list, but the truth is that God can do more than this.
Praying this prayer with this attitude requires faith.
- Campbell Morgan, a preacher of another generation, was asked by someone, “Do you think that we ought to ask God about the little things? Or should we just ask Him about the big things? He answered, “Can you think of anything that you ask that is big for God?”
This is a prayer that lacks comprehension of the limits, but is loaded with confidence. The language here connotes that inexpressible confidence. It’s like asking someone if they can do 10 pushups. Somebody will say, “I can’t do 10 pushups.” Somebody else will say, “I can do 10 pushups.” Somebody would be able to say, “I can do more than 10 pushups.” Somebody else can say, “I can do far more than 10 pushups.” And then there is somebody who will be able to say, “I can do so many pushups that you will lose count and what is more you will never see a more perfect pushup.”
That’s how we pray!
Defines by what Power these things get done.
“according to the power that works in us”
The power described here goes back to the prayer for power in chapter one. What is Paul’s reference point for God’s power? The resurrection!
- What are you thanking God for as this year closes?
- What are you believing God for as a new year begins?