Question 2: Do I live an empowered, hope-full life?
Ephesians 1:15-23 and/or 3:14-21 (A sermon starter for each passage is provided)
The Bible includes many prayers - you may want to give them a "sampler" of prayers from the Old and New Testaments. Many have found that reading biblical prayers is enriching to their own prayer lives.
Share a story of someone you know who is a "prayer warrior" and why you think of them that way. You may also want to give some examples of how you can tell a lot about a person by their prayers (what's important to them, etc.)
Sermon outline possibility #1: Ephesians 1:15-23 (esp. 18-20)
An "eye-witness" account (anyone ever called as one?) - Paul wants you to be an "eye-witness" (18) with the "eyes of your heart" (Chorus - "Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord"). Paul uses the metaphor of sight also in II Corinthians 4:3-6, where Satan has blinded unbelievers, but God's light shines in our hearts.
- We have hope (1:18)
- This hope comes from a "calling" (sense of purpose) from God. Reference the testimonies of people you've witnessed go from hopeless > hope-full.
- This hope includes an inheritance. Some commentators see this as referring to the believer's eternal inheritance in heaven one day, while others see this as referring to believers as God's inheritance - God considers us His treasure!
- The certain hope vs. uncertain hope (I Timothy 6:17), i.e. "wishful thinking."
- II. We have power (1:19-21)
- "incomparably great" is followed by overlapping words for power, all together carrying the idea of "force" (Dunamis - dynamo; Energeia - energy, being energized or empowered; kratos - strength; ischus (might). This power is for us who believe - nonbelievers can't draw upon power that was shown in Christ's resurrection and ascension (VISUAL - video of Fred Flintstone's self-propelling car vs. a powerful race car).
- As believers, we have the power - we need to gratefully acknowledge it! Examples - power in temptation, power in prayer, power in building bridges to others, power for oneness in marriage, to endure suffering, to do God's will, students to overcome peer pressure, etc. Warren Wiersbe tells the story of William Randoph Hearst once reading of an extremely valuable piece of art, which he decided he must add to his extensive collection. He sent his agent to scour the galleries of the world, only to find it had been in one of his own warehouses for many years. We have the power already in our "spiritual warehouse"!
Sermon outline possibility #2: Ephesians 3:14-21
Anyone can change (3:14-21)…and grow. Read the passage, have them listen to the optimism and sense of expectation. Grace brings power!
- There's the power (16) of the Spirit to strengthen us
- His Spirit (16) in your inner being (16) so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith (17). When Christ dwells, He "makes Himself at home" - that sounds warm and fuzzy, but it also means He looks in the closets, the drawers, the computer - checks all the nooks and crannies of your inner being!
- The work of His Spirit is sanctification. Not just behavior modification, but transformation. Jesus made it clear that God doesn't just polish up the outside, but seeks to change what's on the inside. There's the power (18) of Christ to love us
- There's the power (18) of Christ to love us
- "being rooted and established in love" (17), grasp His love (18), know His love (19). Tie to Wesley's concept of "perfect love" to fulfill the Great Command - "love God completely and others unconditionally." Transformation is about nothing if not love.
- VISUAL of glass and water - as a Christian, being optimistic is not "Is the glass half empty or full?" but filled to overflowing - "you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God!" (19). Sometimes our capacity to receive love has been diminished by bitterness, brokenness, etc. - God not only loves us, but expands our capacity to receive His love!
- There's the power (20) of God to fill us for His glory
Able to do immeasurably "more" - that's optimism, but holy optimism, holy expectation. Old statement - "Saved to the uttermost" - not just superficial, but substantial change; not just someday, but beginning today.
There's a world of difference between expectation (ALL God can do) vs. resignation (that's ALL I can do). Signs of Christians marked by resignation (frustration?): I'm doing all I can...what do you expect? He'll never change! The best I can hope for is to keep struggling.
God gives us the power to experience more!
Reflection & Action
Use the guide for either personal devotions or group discussion.
© Wayne Schmidt