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Strengthened with God’s Power to Bear Fruit

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Strengthened with God’s Power to Bear Fruit

Colossians 1:11b

Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill

Let’s look at Colossians 1 which is part of the prayer that Paul is praying for the Colossians. He says in verse 11, “May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy.” It’s so rich that it’s very difficult to deal with it in a half an hour.

Paul’s talking of course about what they are going to spend their life doing and what they are going to face doing it. They’re going to spend their life doing everything they can to complete the creation that God has made, to bring about his will on this earth and to fulfill his plan for the earth which is to complete the earth in whatever sense he needs it completed. And he says, “May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy.”

It might be good to remind you that there are two things going on in the world today. There are the guys that are fracking — digging up the coal and oil for commerce of all kinds. Then there is taking place in the world by God’s own power a fulfilling and developing of the order that he has planted in the world but has been momentarily torn apart and desecrated by man’s own selfish will. The problem of pollution is part of that. Man has begun to pollute the earth pretty thoroughly rather than to develop its purity and power.

And there are all kinds of other situations where that’s happening. Syria was not meant to be pouring its people into Croatia and then trying to get up into Germany. That was not the plan at all. The plan was for the Syrians to develop their land with all the riches that God has planted in it. It wasn’t to be for their own selfish development and purposes. This is what has brought about the pollution, fracking and other mess that society is in. It’s because we are using the earth for our own uses (despite what it does to other people) that many are suffering while a few get the benefit. God has planned it that the many suffering will eventually weigh so heavily on the earth that it will fall into absolute chaos from which only he can deliver it.

But God’s plan was that it be developed so that the earth becomes a beautiful place for us to live in harmony and love with one another. There are two developments going on the in world today. There is the development that we carry on with the desire for self- satisfaction. Then there’s a quiet power that God has planned but rarely takes place. You can’t even say that the “Doctors without Borders” express that. They just cause a little pause in the general distraction by the little bit of love for other people that they exude. But generally there is very little of God’s way going on.

I’d like to mention to you very clearly the basis of God’s way. God’s way will involve us probably discovering further details of the atom and of the particle world. It will probably mean developing far more quantum theory and the invisible things concerning the cells of human beings. We are only beginning to touch upon these in our research. It will probably concern many of the invisible things that the world holds and contains, such as energies that are there that we know nothing about at the moment but at times stumble upon. We discover some cure that was there all along. But there are things like that planted in the world by God.

Now it is good to look back to the basis of that development of the world which is in Ephesians 1:21 — a verse we all know very well because it is one of those great prayers of Paul. He’s praying that you may know the power that God has. Let’s start at Ephesians 1:18-23. ? “….having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, ?19? and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe, according to the working of his great might ?20? which he accomplished in Christ when he raised him from the dead and made him sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, ?21? far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come; ?22? and he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, ?23? which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”

In the millisecond of eternity (that is the constant great present NOW that exists this moment in which all who have died for centuries are) he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church. We often overlook that verse. But what it’s saying is that God has taken all the things that are wrong in the world and all the things that have resulted from the world’s independence of Him and he has taken all those things (whether they be cancer or whether the greed that dominates the disposition of wealth in the world), he has taken all the powers and chaos, all the diseases that people have in their own minds and bodies and he has put them under the feet of his son. That has been done, that victory has been won and that health has been wrought. Those discoveries have been made and now exist in eternity above time. And that is what we are called to minister.

It is that power that we touch and that God has called us to communicate to this world in different ways. We think when it was said, “In the name of Jesus Christ be healed,” that that was an unusual miracle. No, that was an unusual sign. Yes, it was a sign but it also came from the fact that that healing had already taken place in Jesus above time. That sickness had been put under his feet. And what was happening was it was being manifested through Peter or through the disciple that touched the man’s head.

That’s what we are called to do. We are called to be used by Jesus to manifest the things that he has already achieved. We think that when a human being changes from being a bitter, self-absorbed individual to an outgoing loving person that that is due to the influence or your example or character on them. Or it’s due to what they read in a book about how live above self. But it actually is a miracle that God achieved in his son before the world was. And so when we talk about service or works or ministry we are talking simply about the way in which God will use our cooperation to manifest something that he has already done. And so our calling is to that kind of ministry.

There are things that God has done in the person that you are going to visit and try to sell jewelry to. There are things that he has done in her battered and twisted life that he has fixed in his son. And he is able to manifest some of those things through you to her. It is a miraculous work and that’s what Paul is talking about here — that you will be given this supernatural strength and power from God himself to do this kind of work.

It lifts it all from this little admirable idea we have that they’ll see the kind of Christian that we are and they will be drawn to that whereas other Christians put them off. Or they’ll see the practical people we are in regards to business and they’ll throw away their idea that Christians are useless people that live off of others. And they’ll have a new respect for our Savior. Not so. They

may do all those things but those things do not involve the spiritual change that God has done through his son by putting that under his feet.

There is an invisible ministry of life that God has called us to that involves taking the things that he has done – you notice that he has put all things under his feet for the church. He has made him head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. So it’s Jesus as the head of his body who has achieved that need to be achieved and they are manifested through our ministry. That’s why he prays that we will have all the power from above that we need and that that is what we need above all things.

So it does lift it all into what it really is – a supernatural ministry of God’s own life. It lifts it out of the realm of just us doing the same kind of thing as the last help yourself book did. It’s not a temporary do-it-yourself thing. We operate in a different realm. We are men and women really much like the story of “The Little Prince” by Oscar Wilde. Briefly there was a statue made of jewels and emeralds. The birds used to take an emerald from the prince and leave it with some poor person who could then sell it etc. It’s not a variation of the human side of that. It’s the supernatural side of that. Christ is there and he is the one. We are taking a bit of him and distributing that to different people. We are applying to different ones what he has already achieved on their behalf. So it is a supernatural work. But it does require what Paul is praying for in Colossians 1:11 because it does require that kind of supernatural power. “May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy.”

The patience with joy is possible because it isn’t work that you are doing yourself. It’s a joyful sharing of a reality that has already taken place. And so when you go out into the shops you do so not to achieve something for God or to do something that he will be able to bless. Instead, you go out with a joyful heart knowing that this is all done. “Lord you have fixed things in this person’s life, you have made everything right and I am there simply to share the light heartedness of that.”

That’s why it’s done with joy. When it’s not done with joy you know it’s your own work. It’s heavy, wears you out, and tires you. When it’s his work and you’re simply distributing what he has done and you’re conscience of that then that is joy and that provides patience. Without that you have trouble with patience. The Greek word for patience is remaining under a thing that has become grinding day after day. You get into the car and drive mile after mile with your strength and your effort trying to do something for God. That is grinding and wears you out. It’s hard to stay with it and so patience grinds on you. You think I’ve done it before and how often have I done this? When it’s a joyful, delighted sense you think, “Lord you have made the whole world right in yourself and have put all things under the feet of Jesus. This thing is right and I am here to let them know that this thing will go alright and has already been fixed.” Then it is a joyful thing when you are sharing a rejoicing achievement.

So it is very important to see what is your work. Is it your job to make that sale? Or is it your job to share the confidence you have that God sees what is needed here, has already made what is necessary to be made and has already completed the sale that has to be completed. Now your job is just to go in there and present. It’s the difference between the joyful sense of a thing done and the burden of responsibility — of trying to bring about this massive task that you have to do.

It’s important to think through it. That’s why Paul says, “May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might…” I don’t know if you know the importance of glorious. We have a

tendency to think it’s people yelling, waving flags and praising the other people. That’s glorious. It’s not. Glorious in the Bible has the meaning of the thing that God has already done in Jesus. It’s all that he has already set at his right hand. He has set Jesus at his right hand. In himself at God’s right hand is all power and all achievement. So glory is something he has done, that has been achieved, that is already over. So it depends very much on where you live or as Watchman Nee said, “Position is everything”. Are you at the right hand of God in Jesus? Or are you down here slogging it out?

I certainly know for myself that it’s a real problem when I spent all my time down here. It gets very heavy going when you get preoccupied with what has to be done down here. But when you begin to spend some time at the right hand of God you ask questions like: “Is Ernest O’Neill dead or is he alive? Is this creature with his bank accounts alive or dead? Is this creature who is slightly overlooked dead or alive? Is this my life that I have to somehow make right? Is this my job that I have to somehow do? Is this my reputation that I have somehow to look after? Is this my position that I have to watch and protect? Or is that poor creature crucified, dead and done away with?

I exist as a bubble here in this world that is really part of Jesus. So it does make all the difference whether you see yourself down here slogging it out or whether you see yourself at God’s right hand. So, that’s why Paul prays, “May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might…”

I am most hesitant to read this because it requires great love of the English language with compound, complex sentences. It was written by Alexander McLaren. He is one of the greatest expositors and he writes long sentences.

“Strengthen with all might. This is still a continuation of the apostle’s prayer for these believers. Having prayed for an increase of spiritual knowledge and that this might be put into practice he proceeds to pray for strength for them so that they can practice what they have knowledge of and to walk worthily, to please God in all things, to bring forth fruit with patience, to preserve in knowledge, and practice fruitfulness. It implies that believers are weak in themselves and insufficient to do and bear anything in themselves but stand in need of strength from above, even of all might and all kind of spiritual might and strength proportionate to the various kinds of services, temptations, and trials they are called into and exercised with.

They have need of every kind strength in order to resist the temptations of Satan, to stand against them and bear up under them, to oppose the corruptions of their own nature that great company which comes upon them, wars against them, threatens to carry them captive (I think he means there the weaknesses of the body, the things we inherit as human beings) and destroy them against which they have no power of their own.

To bear the cross without the presence and grace of Christ is very heavy and includes all afflictions and adversities of every sort which are grievous to the flesh and that which it recoils. To perform the various duties of religion and the whole of the work of their generation they have a will to do yet often know not how to perform. They want renewed strength with their souls and also to persevere in faith and holiness and hold out until the end.

That which strengthens they cannot expect to have from themselves or from any creature but according to his glorious power — the glorious power of God. Power belongs to God. It’s a perfection of his nature and has been and is gloriously displayed in many things as in the creation of the heavens and

the earth and the upholding of all things in their being.”

This week when I was doing my exercise of rowing my right knee was giving a little problem. I saw, “Lord Jesus, you are at our Father’s right hand. This is your body and this is your knee. Thank you Lord, that this is your knee and we’re at the right hand of your Father.” And with that revelation I blasted on with the rowing and as you can guess the knee came alright. So it’s very realistic. Is he in me or has he left this body for me to look after? Is this his body or is it mine? And so it is very real.

It’s Christ in you who does it. He does the miracles and he is that glorious power from on high. The apostles were endued with strength to do what they did and it’s by the same spirit that believers are strengthened with might in the inner man. And so it is a very real thing that you may be strengthened with might through his glorious power. They connect up directly with the right hand of God.

God wants you to be strengthened with might at his right hand and that you live there in your own mind. When I faced my knee situation the other day it was very real. This is either his body or it’s mine. He is the one who holds the sky up at this moment; he is the one enabling those birds to fly. That is your energy and that is the energy you have in me and so I thanked the Savior for it.

That’s what takes you above the holidays or vacations. You can’t live it by depending on your own human strength. You can only live it if he is in you and if you are leaning on him. If you are, then that glorious strength will give you a power that is not your own and will lift you above yourself.

Undoubtedly that will give us pure joy. Every moment that comes when you sink down to this earth, it becomes a message from God to “look up!” That’s all it is. The message doesn’t need to be there. But God sees that you need it to “look up!” That’s why it’s there. So far from looking on a hardship, pain or a downer as a problem or as something opposing you that’s a loving message from your Father. “I’m here! Just look up and it will be gone.”

It’s real that you will be strengthened with might in his glorious power. It’s all just to get us to live in him. It’s not what you achieve by doing it, but to give you the fun of living in reality. Let us pray.