Absolute Power

Imagine with me for a moment…

You’re on a boat. The horizon stretches bright and firm before you. You are with your best friends…

[35] On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.”  [36] And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him.  [37] And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling.  [38] But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”  [39] And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.  [40] He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”  [41] And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”  (Mark 4:35-41 ESV)

We cannot read the Scriptures without at some point coming to terms with the extraordinary display of the awesome power of the God it portrays. And power, by very definition, must have an effect. For the disciples, the power of God as seen in Jesus that day on the lake, caused them to bow in holy fear, whispering to each other in bewilderment, wondering who it really was that rode with them on the waves.

And that is the effect the power of God must have on us today.

The power of God is not simply some intellectual truth to grasp and recite. The power of God is real, and it is dangerous, and it is wonderful, and it is comforting; and we must come to terms with how we will respond in the face of it.

Among the countless effects the power of God has, I have chosen six that are significant for us to grasp today:

Six Effects of God’s Absolute Power

  1. Destroys Excuses
    [18] For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.  [19] For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  [20] For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.  [21] For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  [22] Claiming to be wise, they became fools,  [23] and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.  [24] Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,  [25] because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. (Romans 1:18-25 ESV)
    The power of God is big enough and strong enough, to destroy every argument, every reason, and every excuse for why it is acceptable to rebel against the divine right of God to be both served and worshiped. No excuse will stand. All that will remain is the absolute, all pervasive, power of God.
  2. Creates Hope
    [26] But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26 ESV)Following a discussion about how difficult it was for the rich to enter the kingdom of God, in fact, Jesus had just said that it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, the disciples became understandable discouraged. In their despair, they quickly questioned Jesus, “Who then can be saved?” I want you to hear this, this was not the question of an intellectual, wondering about the theory of salvation. This was the cry of a heart losing hope. Now look what the power of God does. The power of God declares that the most hopeless situation, where impossibility reigns, can be suddenly overcome through this profound truth: ‘with God all things are possible’. Your salvation was secured by the power of God. What was impossible for us was achieved for us through the absolute, all pervasive, power of God.
  3. Develops Confidence
    [17] ‘Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you. (Jeremiah 32:17 ESV)This is the God who simply spoke, and everything known and unknown in this universe spun into existence. This is our God! Regardless of the minute intricacies or mammoth grandeur of creation, God’s powerful word formed it. And regardless of the intricacies or grandeur of your problems – nothing is too hard for God. Nothing. Not even that thing that you’re thinking about right now. Nothing. There is not one thing that escapes the absolute, all pervasive, power of God.
  4. Affirms Divinity
    What does it mean for God to be God?In this world of rapid change, technological advancement, and medical breakthroughs – sometimes it is easy to lose sight of that which makes God God. So read this slowly, and hear the claims of the Divine:

    [8] “Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors,  [9] remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me,  [10] declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’  [11] calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it. (Isaiah 46:8-11 ESV)

    So in this world that is infatuated with all things new, let us remember the things of old. And in doing so, let us affirm the claims of the Divine, in the absolute, all pervasive, power of God.

  5. Produces Assurance
    [20] Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,  [21] to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21 ESV)Build in your mind for a moment the most extravagant, outrageous, ridiculous demonstration of God’s power you can imagine… God’s got it covered. In fact, it doesn’t even come close to scratching the surface of what God is capable of.

    The term, ‘far more abundantly’ is what is called a superfluous term. The dictionary defines superfluous as: unnecessary, especially through being more than enough. Paul didn’t need to say all those things about the power of God’s ability, but he scrambles for words to capture the enormity of the absolute, all pervasive, power of God.

  6. Celebrates Weakness
    Of the six effects of the power of God, this is the one I want to grasp onto most… and I think, so ought you. And this is why:This broken world will crush us under it’s awful weight, and all our personal resources, support systems and social networks are not enough to ease the ache of our hearts. Disease decays, disability robs, violence destroys, depression swallows and death takes all.

    This world reveals our weakness and exposes our need for a strength and power greater than our own. In fact, it is our very weakness that allows us to see the clearest expression of the absolute, all pervasive, power of God.

    [9] But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  [10] For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV)

    And it is here that the upside-down kingdom of God breaks through. The surprising truth that God’s power is somehow perfected in our weakness confronts us, but also lifts us up. So when our weakness is the cup that God fills to overflowing with His power, Paul says that our weakness is worth boasting in. Because in that moment, a divine transaction takes place and God’s power becomes our strength.

    The only answer to the weakness of our lives is a declaration of the absolute, all pervasive, power of God.

    I think one of the clearest places in Scripture this is seen is in the life of Job. Stripped of everything this world would identify with strength, rotting in the oozing boils that covered his body, grieving the loss of all he held dear, Job was as weak as most of us could imagine. Job had nothing left; his own wife looked at him in disgust and said, “Job, just curse God and die.”

    We would think that what Job needed were answers, a reason for his suffering, and that would somehow strengthen his weak existence. But he didn’t get answers or reasons. What he got was a revelation of our Omnipotent God.

    And now, with Job, we must bow in our weakness before the absolute, all pervasive, all conquering, cross carrying, death defeating, grave shattering, life giving, power of God. And then see beyond Job, to the suffering servant, bruised, crushed, exposed, and pierced on the cross of Calvary. That moment where the power of God was perfected in weakness and spilled over to become our strength.

To the praise of His glory.

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