“and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might” (Ephesians 1:19, NASB95)
When we seem powerless it is so easy to get overwhelmed by the things that press in. Here Paul tells the Ephesians believers that it is his prayer for them that they would know not only God’s greatness, strength and power, but that in His surpassing greatness they would know His power working in them. Our God is infinite in every way. His attributes are immeasurable. He is worthy of all glory and there is none like Him. He created all life and all that life needs to live. We read in Colossians that He did this through His Son and that He has entrusted all of this to His Son who holds all things together.
“He [Jesus Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.” (Colossians 1:15–20, NASB95)
Our God is GREAT!!! He is beyond GREAT!! There are no words that can describe his GREATNESS! His greatness surpasses all that we can think or imagine. It definitely surpasses all that we could ever describe. Yet, God has revealed Himself to us in such a way that we can know Him and continue to grow in our amazement of Him as we continue to grow in what we know. We can know a little and still know Him and we can know vast volumes and still have more to know. And in knowing Him it is not just the knowledge of His greatness that Paul desired they would grow in, but that they would grow in their understanding of how He has directed His power to those who believe.
There is a verse that I’ve heard and seen often quoted over the years. I’ve heard it roll off tongues in difficult settings, and I’ve seen it written with Sharpie’s on athletes shoulders and written on post it notes stuck in strategic places. It is these simple but very powerful words found in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13, NASB95) Paul had just written about how God had taken care of him in all kinds of situations, and how he (Paul) had grown in contentment as he had seen God provide. Paul knew that the strength and the provision for the ministry he had been given came from God, and he had learned to rely on God to make provision for those things God that called him to do. Out of that, Paul said that he could do all things through Him [Christ] who strengthened him [Paul]. Paul knew that God put His power into these things and that it was according to His glorious power that it all happened. Paul knew that God had directed His glorious power toward him [Paul], and in that he rejoiced and gave God the praise.
This is the prayer that he had for the Ephesian believers, that they would know God’s surpassing greatness shown to them through His unlimited power directed toward them. Paul also reminded them in this that God’s power was not directed willy-nilly, but that it was in accordance with His purpose as He directed His mighty strength toward these ends. God’s will may not be that we become the strongest or the fastest. His will may not be that we rise to the top executive positions or be problem free, living without cancers or other diseases. In fact, we know that it is often in the converse of these that God demonstrates His great power. We read in 2 Corinthians of a thorn in the flesh that had been given to Paul that he prayed three times for God to remove, only to have God say, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” And rather than continuing to persist with the issue, and mumble and groan and complain about the particular obstacles he had in his life, Paul responded, “Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9–10, NASB95) Clearly Paul knew the source of his strength, and in writing to us he encourages us to look to God in the same way, praying that we might truly see God demonstrate His surpassing greatness through His power directed in His strength toward us. He is the Almighty One.
“Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before Me, and be blameless. “I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will multiply you exceedingly.”” (Genesis 17:1–2, NASB95)
“Then God appeared to Jacob again when he came from Paddan-aram, and He blessed him. God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; you shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” Thus He called him Israel. God also said to him, “I am God Almighty; be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come forth from you.” (Genesis 35:9–11, NASB95)
“God spoke further to Moses and said to him, “I am the Lord; and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name, Lord, I did not make Myself known to them. “I also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they sojourned. “Furthermore I have heard the groaning of the sons of Israel, because the Egyptians are holding them in bondage, and I have remembered My covenant. “Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. ‘Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. ‘I will bring you to the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you for a possession; I am the Lord.’ ”” (Exodus 6:2–8, NASB95)
As I read these verses and others concerning God’s promises to the His people these words stood out, “I am God Almighty … I will….” And flipping to the other end of Scripture we read,
“And they sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations! “Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy; For all the nations will come and worship before You, For Your righteous acts have been revealed.”” (Revelation 15:3–4, NASB95)
“Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him….”” (Revelation 19:6–7a, NASB95)