“To him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than all we ask (that word is also translated desire or think) to him be glory (Eph. 3:20).
It’s almost Christmas time. What do you want for Christmas?
It’s a good thing God is able to give us not just what we want…but more than what we want because we really don’t know what we want, and maybe we want hell.
Jesus said, “Ask and you shall receive.”
C.S. Lewis wrote: “All get what they want–they don’t always like it.”
Lewis wrote a book called The Great Divorce, I think it’s the best description of Hell (That is Hades) that I’ve ever read. In The Great Divorce, everybody gets what they want–great mansions full of gold, in which each person sits entirely alone.
Jesus said, “Love your enemies and great will be your reward.”
But so often we don’t want to love our enemies and we think what kind of reward could I possibly receive from loving my enemies? Can you imagine that reward?
He also talked about “heavenly rewards.”
Can you imagine those rewards?
Maybe the rewards we typically want (the things we think would be good for us) would actually leave us isolated and alone, and the rewards that God has in store for us, and the journey towards them, are far better than anything we can imagine.
Paul wrote, “To him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than all we ask or think (all we desire or imagine).“
How do you imagine more than you can imagine?
I don’t know exactly, but it seems that Paul wants us to try: In Ephesians 3:19 he writes that he prays for those who read his letter “to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge that they may be filled with all the fullness of God.” “Filled with all the fullness of God…” Can you even begin to imagine being filled with ALL the fullness of God?
Imagine what you could do.
Isn’t that exactly what we want? To be “filled with all the fullness of God”?
Do you think God is able to fill you with all the fullness of God?
What would a human—being filled with all the fullness of God—look like? Paul claims we don’t have to imagine. We already know—Colossians 2:9 “In Christ all the fullness of Deity–Godhead dwells bodily.” He’d look like Jesus, the Messiah—the sacrificial lamb—beaten, bruised, and bleeding.
Do you still want to be filled with “all the fullness of God?”
Maybe not . . .
We can’t even imagine wanting to will what He wills to do. God wills and wants to die for you. No one took Jesus’ life from Him. He gave it. He laid it down and wanted to lay it down.
Jesus said, “Love your enemies and be like your Father in Heaven.” You see, no one constrains God to love His enemies. God only does what God wants to do and wills to do. But make no mistake. The cross hurt. It cost Him. Jesus “endured the cross, despising the shame,” yet He wanted to endure the pain for you.
In Acts chapter 20—as he’s about to set sail for Jerusalem where he knows He will be tortured, imprisoned, and will never see them again in his life, Paul tells the Ephesian elders a beatitude that sums up all the beatitudes. He says, “Remember the word of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed (makarios–happy–to feel happy) to give than receive.”
In the garden, we took (the fruit).
On the tree, God gave…so we could know The Good.
“It is more blessed to give than receive.”
Jesus said, “Blessed–happy are you poor, for yours is the Kingdom of Heaven.” “Blessed are the poor in spirit of them is the Kingdom of Heaven.” See? Heaven may be paved with gold, but it consists of people that are poor in spirit and insanely happy.
It truly is more blessed to give than receive.
But how does God’s will become our will?
How do we truly believe that and live that out from the core of our being?
How does God’s desire become our desire?
The answer is Christmas. And Christmas is a miracle. That’s why Paul prays that it would happen. We can’t make it happen. We can’t will it to happen, but we can wait for it to happen and look for it to happen.
I can’t make you love God. You can’t make yourself love God.
But I can say this:
Pay attention to babies who give you nothing in return…
Pay attention to peasant girls and poor people.
Pay attention to people on the other side of the wall.
Pay attention to “the last and the least of these.”
Pay attention to dirty, stinky, crappy mangers.
Pay attention to the empty spaces in your own flesh.
Don’t listen to the principalities and powers, the world rulers. Christmas happens in the last place they’d tell you to look, and so thousands walked right past the manger and past a baby filled with: “all the fullness of God,” for it was: “exceedingly abundantly more than all they could ask or imagine.
Maybe you’re like Mary, and actually even are Mary (you bring Jesus into this world—even today). Christmas happens inside of you. Love makes a space in you, an empty place, a question, a sorrow, a pain, a longing, a space like a womb. Love makes a space and then fills that space. And when a mother holds a newborn baby, she forgets the pain for joy. And I bet she experiences new desires.
What do you want for Christmas?
Do you want Christmas to happen inside of you?
Do you long to see Emmanuel—”God with us?”
If so, wait . . . and look . . .
“To him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than all we ask to him be glory (Eph. 3:20).
This devotional was prepared by Kimberly Weynen, Peter Hiett’s assistant. It’s a combination of devotional thoughts from Kimberly and excerpts from Peter’s sermon entitled “Exceedingly and Abundantly More Than We Ask of Think” To read, watch or listen to the sermon in its entirety click here: Exceedingly and Abundantly More Than We Ask of Think
*Discussion Questions are available here: Discussion Questions 12.16.2012
Image credit: www.LumoProject.com & K. Weynen