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1. Our confidence in God is limited by our knowledge of him 

Text: Ephesians 1:17-21; Hebrews 4:14-15.

We thank the Lord for keeping and making us to see another year. We must realise that it is not by our power or by any work of righteousness that we may claim to have that we have been kept alive till now. It is because God wants to give us more time to repent of our sins and to complete the work He has assigned us to do in His vineyard. Whatever work He has given us to do we must be busy doing it now because the night is coming when no one can work.

This is our year of abundant blessing and we must be in great expectation as we live our lives for Him and do His will. Our theme for this month is: ‘The All-sufficient God’ and our messages will reflect this theme. The topic for today’s message is, ‘Our confidence in God is limited by our knowledge of Him.’ I believe that our knowledge of God is the key to a meaningful relationship with Him. It is when we know who He is – His attributes and greatness that we can have the confidence to ask and receive from Him. Apostle Paul prayed for the Christians in Ephesus: ‘That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you  may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come’ (Ephesians 1:17-21). I believe that a child who is reasonable would not ask his dad to give him what he knows quite well that he cannot afford. On the other hand, he may be limited in his asking if he does not know the extent of what his dad can afford to give. But if he is in good rapport with Him, he would confidently ask from him what he knows he can afford. This also applies in our relationship with God. Our confidence in asking from Him is limited by our knowledge of Him. The word ‘confidence’ is defined as trustful relationship or faith in a person or thing. God wants us to have confidence in Him and this is the reason He revealed Himself to us in His Son and the written word – the bible. In Paul’s prayer quoted above, he mentioned three things that are crucial for us to know in our relationship with God. The first is the hope of our calling. What is this hope? It is abundant life in Christ Jesus in this life and eternal union with Him in His heavenly abode after we have put off this body of clay (John 3:16; 10:10). The abundant life that Jesus promised us is a life of victory over the forces of darkness, a life of contentment and of physical and spiritual well-being. The second is ‘the riches of His inheritance in the saints.’ This refers to the fact that as adopted children of God, we have become ‘heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ’ of the resources of God on earth and in heaven (Romans 8:17). This may sound exaggerated but this is our true position with God. The third is God’s great power toward us who believe. This means that God’s incomparable power is made available through His Spirit to help us in times of need and give us victory over the flesh, the world and Satan.

The question is how can we know God? We can know Him through studying His word, through fellowship with Him in prayer, and above all, through a close walk with Him. We need to know Him in Person and not just knowing about Him. Although our God is very deep and unsearchable, what He has revealed of Himself is enough to give us the confidence and boldness to approach His throne of grace, to receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:14-15).

 

 

2. It is not by our power or wisdom that our needs are met

Text: James 1:17; Philippians 4:19

Our theme for this month is: ‘The All-sufficient God’ and our messages will be based on it. Our God is not only all-sufficient but He is also a bounteous Giver. He gives and gives and gives according to the counsel of His will. Apostle Paul wrote: ‘And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus’ (Phil. 4:19). This is a confident statement from a man who had tasted the goodness of God and experienced His faithfulness. He had no atom of doubt in his mind that God, out His inexhaustible riches, was able to compensate the Philippians who had blessed him by supplying all their needs. Our confidence in God is proportional to our knowledge of Him.  When we realise that all the riches of heaven and earth belong to God, and that He is a bounteous Giver and our Father who loves us with everlasting love, we will have the confidence to ask from Him all our needs. The understanding that we depend on Him for our physical and spiritual needs also matters. There is nothing that we bring into this world and whatever we possess – our wisdom, talent and ability have been given to us by God. But many people do not realise this. They attribute their successes and achievements to their hard work and ingenuity and thus give all the glory and praise to themselves. Paul wrote: ‘I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase, So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters but God gives the increase’ (1 Cor. 3:6-7). In another place he wrote: ‘Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God’ (2 Cor. 3:4). Like Apostle Paul, we must be humble enough to appreciate what God is doing in our lives and be thankful to Him. There was a man whose business yielded much dividend that instead of giving glory to God attributed his success to his wisdom and business acumen. He boasted of building himself a financial empire after which he would retire from work to enjoy his wealth. Not long after misfortune caught up with him and he lost all that he had. He lived the rest of his life in abject poverty and poor health. This sounds similar to the Parable of the Rich Fool (Lu. 12:13-20). God told him: ‘You fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ (Lu. 12:20). The moment we feel independent of God, we are indirectly asking God to keep off. When this happens the devil takes over only to steal, kill and destroy (Jn. 10:10). It is only in Jesus that we have abundant life.

There is no doubt that we have some people who look to other sources for the supply of their needs. Such people out of ignorance and covetousness give their lives to the devil. They never know that the devil has nothing good to give to anyone. His gifts lead to suffering, regret and death. But our heavenly Father is the Giver of all good and perfect gifts. Apostle James wrote: ‘Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning’ (Jas. 1:17). We can be joint-heirs of the riches of God if we have been born into His family through faith in Christ Jesus His Son. By His grace, all our needs are supplied and we can no longer lack anything. If it is by grace, it is no more by our own power or wisdom. The Lord Jesus who fed over five thousand with five loaves of bread and two small fish and who sent His Holy Spirit to His fearful disciples after He had returned to His Father in heaven can always supply our physical and spiritual needs if we trust Him. He has invited us to come to Him for help. He said: ‘Come to Me all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light’ (Mt. 11:28-30).

 

3.His grace is sufficient for us

Text: Ephesians 1:3-12

As we continue with our messages on theme, ‘The All-sufficient God’ we want to explore briefly the grace of God in a believer’s life. For this reason our topic for today’s message is ‘His grace is sufficient for us.’ We see the grace of God at work in every area of our physical and spiritual life, if only we have a discerning mind. Thanks to God for giving the revelation of His grace in its ramification to Apostle Paul who wrote profusely on it. He is often referred to as the apostle of grace. This great man of God, when he considered his former career as the persecutor of Christians, a blasphemer and an insolent man – as he described himself, and the mercy of God in Christ Jesus that saved him and put him into the ministry, he was full of appreciation for God’s kindness toward him. This was what he called grace. In most of his letters he highlighted the grace of God in his life and ministry. He attributed all his successes in the ministry to God’s grace and not to himself.

From his experience of ‘a sinner turned saint’ without having any work of righteousness to merit it, one can observe what grace stands for. It is an unmerited favour which only God can bestow on anyone He chooses. It is not surprising to note that God’s grace was in covert operation even during the dispensation of the law, but Jesus came to bring us grace in an overwhelming dimension. Thus Apostle John could write: ‘For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ’ (Jn. 1:17). We can observe the grace of God in the lives of many Old Testament personalities like Jacob – a deceiver and usurper who was made a ‘Prince with God’ and the progenitor of the twelve tribes of Israel who became God’s chosen people; Joseph the hated son of Jacob who his brothers sold into slavery but who later became the Prime Minister of Egypt;  Moses a murderer who became a great Prophet and a Law-giver; Esther an orphan-girl who became the queen of a powerful nation Persia which ruled almost the ancient world of its time; and David, a man after God’s own heart, king of Israel who became an adulterer and murderer and yet from his ancestry came the Lord Jesus Christ . This is just to mention a few. Theirs was the grace of God. But this grace seemed to have operated more in the physical than in the spiritual. Those of them like Joseph and David realised that what happened to them was an act of God to and they expressed their gratitude to Him.

But Jesus brought to us a new dimension of grace which is more spiritual than physical. Apostle Paul wrote about the riches of His grace when he spoke about our calling, election, atonement, forgiveness, redemption, justification, salvation, reconciliation and adoption as sons through the blood of Jesus. By every stretch of imagination we are not entitled to these things because of our fallen nature but through God’s mercies and abundant grace we have been made to partake in the riches of His love by Christ Jesus. These are packages that are comprehensive for our physical and spiritual wellbeing. Thus Paul could write: ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ’ (Eph. 1:3). He also wrote that God has made us ‘to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light and delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins’ (Col. 1:12-14). Having been adopted into the family of God, we become Joint-heirs with Jesus of the inheritance of God. Our salvation is far-reaching. It is salvation from lack, sickness, demonic oppression and from eternal death. Even in our sorrows in this world of sin we can rejoice because He who has promised never to leave nor forsake us but be with us to the end will never fail us because He is faithful. Paul in his trials was told by the Lord, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness’ (2 Cor. 12:9). What problems are you going through at this time? If you are truly in Christ, know that His strength will be made available to you. This will give you inner peace and you will continue to praise and glorify His name.

4. What should be our response to the goodness of this All-sufficient God

This is our year of abundant blessing. And since the beginning of this year and month we have been listening to messages reflecting our theme, which is ‘The All-Sufficient God.’ And I know that the Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who we serve will continue to guide us and meet all our needs throughout this year and for the rest of our lives as we put all our faith in Him and do His will in Jesus Name.

Our God is good. He is faithful, righteous and just. His love is as vast as the heavens; His faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds; His righteousness is as solid as a mighty mountain and His judgments are as full of wisdom as the oceans are with water. We who are His children need not fear because He loves us, he judges evil and will care for us throughout eternity. The bible clearly states that we are complete in Him because when we have Jesus Christ we have everything we need for our spiritual life and for eternity. To have Him is to have everything and when we do not have Him, we have absolutely nothing. That means that we are devoid of joy, peace, purpose, value, hope, fulfilment and meaning which can only be found in Christ. When a person accepts Christ as his Lord and Saviour he enters into an all-sufficient relationship with an all-sufficient God. If we enjoy all these benefits for being God’s children through our faith in Him, how then can we show our gratitude to Him who loads us with all the benefits? This brings us to our topic for our message this morning:

How should we respond to the goodness of the all-sufficient God?

Text: Ps.116: 12-14 ‘What shall I render to the LORD for all His benefits toward me? I will take up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows to the LORD now in the presence of all His people.’

In our Bible reading for today, the Psalmist enumerated all that God did for him when he called upon Him. He said that God answered his prayer by delivering him from death. He also saved his eyes from tears and his feet from falling. He then praised Him for His mercy and protection and for His goodness and faithfulness towards him. After deliberating over the victory God had given him he then thought of what he could do to show his gratitude. He concluded by saying that he would take up the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord and that he would pay his vows in the presence of all God’s people.

The Lord has shown us great mercy that we ought to look about and within us to see what can be done by us to show our gratitude. His benefits are so many that we cannot count them and as such we have to look for various ways by which we can praise and worship Him.

Our response to the goodness of our self-sufficient God is to surrender completely to Him and to live every moment of our lives for Him. We need to be thankful to Him always for the gift of eternal life He has given us by sacrificing His only begotten Son on the cross for our salvation.

Since we have been redeemed, God expects us to tell others what He has done for us for which we are thankful to Him. Through our testimonies of what He did in our lives other people may also give their lives to Him.

God does not require the sacrifices of bulls and rams from us when showing our gratitude to Him but what He wants is the sacrifice of worship, praise and thanksgiving. In Yoruba language there is a proverb which says that a person feels robbed when someone whom he has helped fails to say thank you to him the next day. God is not happy when we are not thankful for what we receive from Him. Remember the bible says that all good and perfect gifts come from God. We are also told: ‘In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you’ (1 Th. 5:18)

What are the things you should give thanks for when you look into your life? Should you only give thanks for the good things you receive and be unthankful for the hard and difficult things you experience? No! God spoke through Paul that we should be thankful in everything. When Job was faced with the trial he went through he said, ‘Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity? Then in another discussion he said, ‘The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.’ When we are going through hard or difficult times like Job, it may be a test of our faith and during this period do we become angry and bitter with God for allowing us to go through that experience? No, we shouldn’t. We should pray that God should give us the strength to praise Him instead and rely on His grace to take us through.  When we praise God during hard times we are putting the enemy of our soul, the devil, to shame because it his desire that we turn our backs to God by complaining and thereby lose our faith in Him.

A popular song writer Known as Fanny Crosby gave us a good example of what it is to praise God during adversity. She became blind when she was six weeks old. Her father died when she was only a year old and her mother had to work as a maid to provide for the family and send her to a school for the blind. When Fanny grew up she married and the only child she had died in infancy.  In spite of all these tragedies she still thought it fit to praise God by composing almost nine thousand hymns to praise God. These are still sung in many churches today. Among the songs she wrote are; Blessed assurance Jesus is mine, To God be the glory great things He has done etc.

What are you going through at the moment? Are you passing through a difficult time? Have you been praying for a breakthrough and nothing seems to be happening? Are you grieving over anything that is causing you to think that God has forgotten you? Remember Paul wrote through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that in everything you should give thanks to God. I know it is very hard to praise God when you are going through hard times in your own strength but through the help of the Holy Spirit you will be able to praise God even in adversity. And I want you to know that you cannot thank God enough for His goodness and his wonderful works in your life. In order to thank Him you need to sit down and take stock of all the benefits he has bestowed on you. A proverb in my language says that anyone who is able to think deeply will be able to appreciate God and be thankful to Him.

Let us join Johnson Oatman (Jnr) who lived between 1856 and 1922 to sing his song titled ‘Count Your Blessings and name them one by one’. We have every reason to be thankful to God and praise Him at all times like the Psalmist who said, ‘I will extol the Lord at all times; His praise will continually be in my mouth.’ Ps.34:1. The good things we receive from Him outnumber the adversities we get.  As we praise God always He will continue to give us opportunities to praise Him.

By Pastor Israel & Fran

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