Power Through Prayer

Jonathan Pokluda // Apr 3, 2012

Since God is all-powerful, praying to Him is the single most strategic thing we can do to change this city for Him. As His children, and as believers who live in a relationship with Him, we can confidently approach God in prayer. Ask God to use you to accomplish His purposes, and it is guaranteed that He will.

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God, our Father in heaven, we do acknowledge you on your throne, the very throne we've fought you for. God, we acknowledge you as sovereign. We acknowledge you as all-powerful. The Scripture says no power we understand is even comparable to the power you have. Father, make that real to us tonight.

As we open your Scriptures and as we study your book, I pray the Scriptures would come alive to us, that it would awaken our hearts, Father, that we would live the remainder of our days and whatever hours you would entrust to us for your honor and for your glory and, as Ephesians says, for the glory of the praise of your name. I pray that would be true of our lives.

Father, I pray you would awaken hearts tonight. For those who have trusted in Christ, Father, spur us on in our walks tonight. Thank you for the promise that we are the riches of your inheritance. Amen.

Did anybody spend the day in a basement or a stairwell? Some of you? Good! Who was here last year about this time when we spent The Porch in a stairwell? Some of you? Good times! It's true. It happened. It's good to be back with you. My name is JP, Jonathan Pokluda, if you are just joining us.

We are traveling through the book of Ephesians, and if you are just joining us here, it's a great time to do so. We're still in chapter 1. Who can tell me a summary statement of the passage (basically verses 1 through 14) from last week? Crickets… What was it? Say it again. I heard you. Spiritual blessings in the heavenly realm. I like it. Chosen. I like it. Did Ryan Nixon whisper that to you? That's what he said earlier. Chosen.

Basically, here's a summary statement of last week. God is freaking amazing! He is awesome! Somebody's going to email me about freaking, because they always do. Don't bother. I weighed the consequences of that carefully. God is amazing! God is sovereign. He's all-powerful. He controls all things so much so that he chose you, if you are a believer or will be one soon, before the beginning of creation before he created anything, and he controls all things. He's sovereign.

Essentially, God the Father chose you, God the Son purchased you, and God the Spirit keeps you. That was last week. God the Spirit keeps you. We just ended there in verse 14 which essentially says the Spirit is going to continue its work in you. I didn't say this, but as I went back and studied for this week, I just realized this idea. Can you lose your salvation?

Verse 14 says it's going to continue its work in you. The Spirit will not let go of you once he has you. That's controversial and some would say, "Well, I think you can lose your salvation. My cousin, Freddy, was a Christian or a pastor. Now, he leads a satanic church. What happened there?" My response to that is he either never trusted Christ and doesn't have the Holy Spirit or the Holy Spirit is going to win over and return him to the fold, but one of those things is going to happen, I believe.

What is evidence of your salvation? If you're sitting here saying, "Am I a believer? I don't know. I said this thing when I was 6 years old." What is the one thing the Scripture says is evidence of your salvation? The Spirit's work. Somebody say, "The fruit of the Spirit." The Spirit in your life is evidence of salvation (you trusting in the finished work of Jesus).

Today, we're just going to see if God is sovereign and if he is all-powerful, what is the single most strategic thing we can do if we seek to want to change this city and claim this city for him? I told this story this weekend at a training day class I taught. When Monica and I bought our home, I was reminded of this.

Monica and I lived in Lake Highlands. We lived in a house in Lake Highlands. That was our first home. Really, it was our third home, because we moved a bunch early on in the first year of marriage. Our third home but the one we were at for a couple of years was this house in Lake Highlands which we loved.

She got pregnant, which meant she was not going to work anymore. She was going to come home, and I was called into vocational ministry, which meant I was going to work for the church. Those were two big things that happened that changed our financial situation considerably, so we were looking at our house, and because our family was growing, we loved the home but it was a small home and we wanted a bigger home, so we placed that home for sale. Because our financial situation was changing, here was the goal: a bigger house for less money.

You don't have to be a math wizard to know that's a pretty difficult problem. We were looking for a bigger house that cost less or essentially the same. We got in community, and they decided, "The most you can pay is really what you paid for this house, so you need to find a bigger house for the same amount of money," so that's what we set out to do.

We sold our house, but in the time we had to find another home, we didn't find one, so we moved into an apartment month to month in a temporary situation as we continued to look for a house. In the duration of that, I found one house. It was a real gem! Just a real prize of a house, it had been vacant eight years. No one had lived there eight years. It had black mold and some foundation issues.

I say it was vacant. That's not entirely true. It was actually the home to lots of rodents. When I walked in, there were two rats doing UFC in the living room. That was interesting. Maybe they weren't doing UFC but something much more graphic than that. I'm not sure what they were doing, but they were doing it in the living room.

The house was crazy. There was a big hole right in the foyer in the floor that exposed the dirt underneath. It was a real gem of a house. We made an offer on this house. They were asking more than we could afford, so we offered considerably less, and they didn't even counter. They just walked away. The foreclosure bank that owned it walked away, so we stayed in this apartment for about three months.

Monica goes to the store, and the Lord laid it on my heart, or something happened to where I thought about that house, so I Googled it. I Googled the address and it came up on an auction. The auction ended the next day, and the next bid you could place is the ceiling we could offer. It is to the dollar (to the $500 literally) of what we could offer on a home.

That was the very next thing you could bid, so I put that bid into this auction site online, because I had seen the house before three months ago. It said, "Congratulations! You're the highest bidder!" The next day, it said, "Congratulations! You won the home." It was like, "Oh, honey. What did you do today?"

"I went to the store."

"Cool. I bought a house."

"Which house?"

"The white house."




"Yes, I did. Congratulations! We're homeowners. Good news!"

"The one with the hole in the floor?"

"Yes, ma'am."


"Oh, yeah."

This is funny. I actually took her to go see the house. I was having some work done to it, so there was a plumber. There was a big pipe underneath. He goes into the hole in the floor to try to repair the leaking pipe and gets stuck. When we opened the door, there was this man sticking out of the floor. He was like, "Hi." I was like, "Hey! How are you doing?"

This house just needed a lot of work. I mean, literally we needed to move walls. There were walls falling down. There was black mold. The carpet, floor, and paint… Everything you could think of. A lot of foundation work. All of these things. Because we had an apartment, we had some time, so we hired what is called a GC or a general contractor. This is a man who basically has contacts. He has a lot of contractors.

What Monica and I saw then was this incredible process where all of these different groups of people came into the home putting it back together. We had these foundation guys come in first and put piers in the ground and lift the house and make it stable again. Then, we had these other guys come in and begin to repair the cracks.

Then, we had flooring guys come in who ripped out floors and refinished floors and laid floors and put new floors in. Then, we had painting guys come in who painted over all of the repaired cracks. We had these biochemists who came in to remove the black mold. We had trim carpenters come in to put the finishing touches on. The painters came back in to repair. All of these contacts this guy had…

I would communicate to him, and he would communicate in great detail to all of these different crews to make sure everything happened according to what we wanted. In fact, one time he missed one word. He didn't say one thing, and they actually did one room wrong. They had to go back and change a chair rail or this thing they put in the wall to move it up a little bit, because there was some bad communication.

What I saw was this incredible process with this guy who was basically head over all of these different organizations that were taking something really broken and repairing it. They were making it beautiful. They were fixing it. As I thought about the Scriptures today, that is essentially our job as the church.

The Scriptures tell us Christ is the head of the church and we are his body. I think, as we think about the body of Christ, we think about the church, but we forget what the word body means. It's this idea that we are literally Christ incarnate. We are literally his hands and feet. We are literally going through this place and, just as the head gives my hand communication to move and just as my brain tells my legs to walk, in the same way the head of the church communicates to us the needs he wants to fix and repair, and we go in, and we do it.

Many of us have different skill sets and different capabilities and different stories and different journeys we use to repair this place which is incredibly broken post fall. That's what Paul is doing or the Spirit of God is doing through Paul in the town of Ephesus. Remember, he gets there and everybody is involved in pagan worship. Nobody knows about Jesus and his death and resurrection. Even those so-called followers of Christ don't understand he died for them.

There are about 250,000 people in Ephesus, and when Paul leaves, Scripture says not one single person has not heard the gospel. Paul arrives and no one has heard the gospel. Paul leaves and every single person has heard the gospel. How powerful is that? Then, we see this incredible church is born into that town. One of the most well-known churches in the Scripture and, in fact, referenced in Revelation, this incredible body of Christ is born into that town and continues to put it back together so much so that we would read about them tonight thousands of years later.

In the same way I needed to communicate effectively to that general contractor…he was the guy in charge…that is how we go to God. In the same way, we have to go to God. In fact, I would tell you that prayer marks the believer. If you're here and you say, "I am a follower of Jesus Christ," the one thing to consider is what your prayer life looks like. What does that conversation between you and the Creator of the heavens and earth look like?

Tonight, we're going to talk about prayer and the power of God, because that's what Paul talks about in Ephesians, chapter 1, verses 15 through 22. If you have your Bibles, and I hope you do, turn there with me. We're just going to look at four things Paul prayed for. Here's why this is important. This series is called Changing the World, so we seek to want to redeem this place for the cause of Christ.

If last week was true and God is all-powerful, which I know we don't even fully grasp what that means (that all power is his), then the single most strategic thing we can do is go to him in prayer and pray for this city and pray for ourselves and pray we would know him and pray others would know him.

Then, as we go in there, he would make us effective, because, remember, he controls all things. If he really controls all things, the single most productive thing you can do is pray. It's the most powerful thing. The most powerful weapon you have aside from his Holy Spirit in your life is going to him in prayer.

Verse 15: "For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all [the saints] , I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers." Remember, he's coming off of this talking about the Holy Spirit sealing you, keeping your salvation for you, and reminding you of the hope that is to come, and Paul says, "For this reason I continue to give thanks for you, that God has saved you. I continue to thank God for you."

The first thing we need to notice as we go through this together is it is important to belong to a body of people who would go through the city and pray for each other. We need to pray and encourage each other. I need to go to God and say, "God, thanks for Ryan. Thanks for Greg. Thanks for Rachel. Thanks for Laura. Thanks for Lauren. Thanks for our team. Thanks for our volunteers. Thank you for those who came to The Porch tonight for the first time. Lord, I pray you would encourage their spirits." We need to be about praying for each other as we move through as one body repairing this city.

Verse 17: "I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better." Now, we're going to see the things Paul prays for. First, that you would know him better. Secondly, "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you…" Thirdly, "…the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people…" Fourthly,

"…and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way."

We're in part two of this letter, and immediately Paul just says, "Let me tell you, church of Ephesus, how I've been praying for you. Specifically, I've been praying for four things." Paul is going to talk about the four things he's praying for, but as we seek to change this city, and I believe Ephesians is going to show us a little bit of a step-by-step plan in regard to how to save the city, if we were to talk about the first two steps of this series (step one is to acknowledge God is all-powerful and step two is to pray to him)…

Acknowledge God is all-powerful and go to him in prayer. That is what Paul has done. It's interesting to me that in this day and age people are very opposed to God, but no one is opposed to prayer. You may have heard there is no atheist in the foxhole. Even Oprah and her following… They are spiritual people. Everyone wants to be spiritual. They want to pray.

They want to ask things, but it's interesting also that they don't know the one they're asking. They don't care to. In fact, they say you can't know who he is or exactly what he is like, and I say, "That's a really, really weak god if he can't show you who he is and define himself to you. That's a really, really lame god."

We worship a "big-G" God who seeks a relationship with us, and to foster that relationship we communicate with him, just as you would any relationship. We talk with him. We commune with him. There are four things Paul asks for in this text. He says, "That you would have wisdom and revelation to know these four things."

1._ You would know him better_. That you would know God better is the best prayer ever. That's the greatest thing I could pray for you guys. The greatest thing you could pray as you leave here is, "God, help me to know you more. Father, magnify my faith in you. God, I want to know who you are and what you care about."

This is Paul's prayer for the church in Ephesus. "I pray that you would know him better." The Greek word for know is going to be in contrast to another word for know that we're going to see in a minute. The Greek word for know there is a relational knowledge. It is a relational knowledge that you would know him and not know about him.

That's my fear for The Porch. That's my fear for the church in Dallas. A lot of us know about God, but we don't know him personally. You see this in Acts 19. Remember three weeks ago where the guys go and want to cast out the demons. They do so in the name of Jesus who they heard Paul talk about, and the demons respond, "We know Christ. We know Jesus, and we've heard about Paul, but who are you?"

Even the demons know Christ better than those trying to do the work, and sometimes I think that's what's going on in Dallas. The forces of evil know God better than those who are claiming to know him and trying to do good. God wants us to know him not know of him. Have you ever met someone like a friend of a friend or a friend introduces you to someone and they say, "It's great to meet you; I've heard a lot about you"?

What does that mean? They knew of you. Then, they walk away. There's a progression in that introduction that they would walk away and say, "Now I know JP because I just met him. Now I know JP." They know of me and they have met me. There's a quick introduction. They may even know some stuff about me, but they don't know me. We're not sitting on the back porch hanging out talking and communing. They don't know me like others closer to me know me.

In the same way, that might happen to you. "I've heard a lot about you." Some of us are going to get up there, and I don't know how this is going to work when you see God, but it's going to be like that. "I've heard a lot about you. I've read some of your book. I heard of you." That's not what God wants from us.

A friend called me the other day. He knew I knew the owner of this company, and he said, "Don't you know the person who is the CEO of this company?" I said, "I do." He said, "Great! Can you do me a favor? Can you ask him if they would use our product?" My friend was selling something. I said, "No. I don't know him like that. I'm not comfortable."

I know him, and if we saw each other, we would recognize each other and shake each other's hand. I have this phone number, but I don't know him well enough to call in a favor to him. For some of us when we pray, that's why it's awkward. We're asking God, "God, would you do this? Would you help me in this job or would you help me with my boss?" It just feels like, "I don't know you well enough to ask you for a favor."

There were two pastors debating this idea of prayer. They were two teachers of the Bible, and they disagreed on the topic of prayer. One of them said, "We need to go to God often. We need to be in constant communication." The other took this stance. He said, "You can't do that! God is the Creator of the heavens and the earth. He's like the president of the world, and you can't just go to him with whatever you want."

To prove his point he used this example. He said, "It's like the president of the United States of America. I can't just go and knock on his door and ask him for something. That would be crazy! I can't just barge in there and say, 'Hey, President Obama! Will you do this for me?' That's what your relationship with God is like. You can't just ask him for stuff."

The other guy said, "With the president, you can if you're his daughter. You can if you're his child. Rest assured. It's okay if she wakes him up in the middle of the night and says, 'Daddy, I can't sleep.' It's okay if she goes into the Oval Office during some important meeting saying, 'Daddy, I need you right now. Something important is going on.'" Why? Because she knows him. They have a relationship, and it is certainly okay for her to interrupt him in that way.

Now, I know President Obama. I know a lot about him. I might know where he went to school. I might know his stances on particular political views. I might even know some personal information about him. I know who he married. I know where they go for fun and anything the media would tell me, so I have all of this knowledge of him, but rest assured. If he has a party, I'm not invited, and if I show up, they're not letting me in, and if I try to go in, there's going to be conflict, and if I continue to push that issue, I'm going to get shot, because I know of him and I have knowledge of him, but I don't have a relationship with him.

This is what God wants from you. This is what Paul is praying. He says, "If you want to change this city, my prayer is that you would know God and that you would know him better and that you would have a relationship with him." This is very different than the next know we see in the text.

2._ You would know the hope he has called you to. Here's what this transition is. The _know here is not a relational knowledge; it's a factual knowledge. It's that you would know the tools. It's like the general contractor who brought the guys to our house. Those guys need to know how to operate the tools they use to repair that place. They have to have factual information about them. They have to know how to operate them.

That's what Paul is saying now. "I want you to have a factual knowledge about this next list I'm going to give you." The first one is, "I want you to know the hope he has called you to." This is the believer's victory in God. This is just the simple truth that God wins. We know how this ends, so you live…

What the gospel allows you to do is to hold this life really loosely. It allows you to not care what other people think of you. It allows you to know there is a God who is going to take care of you. It allows you to know you're going to be with him forever and ever and ever and ever and ever to the power of infinity and not a whole lot here matters outside of knowing him and making him known.

The gospel allows you to hold this life loosely, to not worry, to not focus on anxiety but to live for God and to leverage your life for God. That is evidence of the faith and the Spirit's work in your life. Once you grasp that, you're like, "Oh, there is a God, and he controls all things, and I'm going to be with him forever!" In between now and then there's a little bit of time, so I guess I can know about him and make him known. I'm going to work some and play some and enjoy some things he has given me. Then, I'll be with him forever and ever and ever.

In a million years I'll be with him, and in a billion years I'll be with him, and in a zillion years I'll be with him, and a bunch of years after that I'll be with him. How great is that? He says, "I want you to know the hope he has called you to through the cross, through Christ, and his death and resurrection. I want you to know what's coming," and if you don't know, read Revelation.

Everything God has told us that is going to happen has happened. The prophecies have come true, so we can certainly trust in what he says is going to happen in the future. We just read Revelation and we know Jesus comes in on this white horse with this robe dipped in blood. It's a pretty amazing scene where he just finishes the work he started through us. He just finishes it. That's where this ends. Not for us, though, because then we are with him.

3._ You know the riches of his inheritance._ It says in verse 6 of Ephesians 1 that we have been saved by his glorious grace, and because of verse 17, he is the glorious Father, and now verse 18, because we are his glorious inheritance. That's a lot of gloriousness. Here's the deal. If you read that by yourself at home, you might be tempted to think that rich inheritance is your inheritance. That's not what the Scripture says. It says this, and this is a beautiful truth. You are the riches of his inheritance. Here's what that means.

It almost sounds heretical. You are his prize. You are what he is playing for. He chose you. He wants you, and he's going to take you. Now, all of you like the body of Christ, the church, and those believers who are operating together… He's going to claim all of you. He says, "This is mine. This is my reward. I claimed these people for myself."

Let me put this in really simple terms. He's crazy about you. Every now and then, I'll get this email from somebody who says, "I know God hates me." Here's a great assumption I make in that email: that person clearly does not understand the gospel. Am I saying they're not saved? That is probably what I'm saying.

It's not for me to judge, but I'm just saying, if you think God hates you then you don't understand what God did for you on the cross in the salvific truth that he loved you so much… "For God so loved the world [the cosmos] …""For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."

God loves you so much he gave his most prized possession to buy you or purchase you. He's crazy about you. He loves you. You are his prize. He's going to claim you for himself. There is this day when he's like, "There you are! You're mine! I've been waiting on you for this moment. I've been looking forward to it."

It's not, "I heard a lot about you." He's like, "Oh! There you are! I made you in your mother's womb. Your hair? I made it that color. Your height? I made you that tall. I made you talk like that. All of those things. There you are, just the way I made you! Come in. You're mine." When he was on the cross (the event we'll celebrate this Friday) he was thinking about you.

He was buying you in that moment. He knew all that crazy stuff you were going to do when you were running from him, and he was taking it for you and paying a price for you to cover that so God wouldn't hold that against you but he would welcome you in as his prized possession perfect, holy, and blameless, the Scripture says. It's crazy! It would not be good for us to think of ourselves as prizes because that would be the opposite of humility, but the Scripture tells us we are his prize and that God thinks of us that way. The fourth thing Paul prays for he elaborates on.

4._ We know his great power for us who believe_. It's his great power, but it's for us who believe. This is verse 19. "…and his incomparably great power…" What does that word mean? Nothing can be compared to this power. If you've seen tornadoes, hurricanes, or earthquakes or if you've seen cannons blast, if you've seen the earth shake when volcanoes erupt, nothing you know can compare to the power of God. Not love, not relationship, not feelings, not culture. Nothing.

"…and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way."

There is this big, crazy power we can't fathom, and it exists for us. In that first verse, there are three powers described in the Greek. The first is that word for working. It is a word for power, and this is an energetic power. This is the power that raised Jesus from the dead. This is God's working power.

This is the power we'll celebrate this Sunday in the event that God raised Christ from the grave when he died for your sins. Here's a quick application for you. For those of you who are like, "Let me leave here and give me something to do," here's something you can do. This Sunday, you have a lay-up opportunity to invite someone to come and hear the gospel.

Every single Bible-teaching church in Dallas will share the gospel, I hope and I pray, with their congregation, so if you have a church, which I hope you do that you're plugged in deeply to and that you're a member of where you say, "This is my church where I go and these are the people I'm changing the world with," you need to invite people to go with you because this is a time when they're open to it.

Certainly your server if you order food or your barista at Starbucks or the person at the gas station but also (I'm not just talking about those folks) I'm talking about those you work with and talk with every day, the ones who have turned you down 100 times. Just go back and say, "This Easter, this Sunday, the world is going to stop and acknowledge the resurrection of Jesus. I'd love for you to come with me. Would you just come to church with me? I'll pick you up. We'll have lunch afterward. Will you come to church with me?" All of us should have some invites around Easter. This is something we need to do.

The next power that is referenced here is the word mighty or his might. This is the power that overcomes resistance. This is the power Jesus used to perform miracles to basically advance the kingdom. This is what this power does. When someone turns you down over and over saying, "I don't want to go to your church, and I'm not interested in your God," this is the power that changes their hearts. It overcomes those objections.

All of a sudden, you say, "Will you come with me this Sunday for Easter?" and they say, "Yeah, I think so." You're like, "What?" They're like, "Yeah, I will." That was the power of God. To say, "I can't do that" or, "They'll just say, 'No,'" is to say, "God, you're not strong enough. You're not strong enough to change them. You're not strong enough to intervene there." I assure you he is. I've shared all sorts of stories with you here, and I will share more in the future, but I've seen God do tremendous works in the hearts of people. You need only ask. You need only invite. You need only share.

The third type of power is the word for strength there. This is a power which he provides to us and for us. This is the power of him working through us. Remember, we are Christ's. That's a really strange concept, that you are (all of you, those who are in the room who claim to have trusted in Christ, his death, and resurrection)…

Not just that you claim but have trusted in Christ, his death, and resurrection. You are Christ now incarnate living, his hands and feet moving. Anywhere you are you're inserting Christ into that situation, and this is the power that moves through you. God has given you this incredible power. This is what's really weird.

I thought about how to illustrate this, but I'll just be really honest with you. I think this idea is lost on most of us. I think power is a buzzword, and you're like, "He's telling me I'm powerful, but I don't even know what that means." Essentially, your Christian journey is you understanding the power God has entrusted to you and is working through you.

It has been played out in movies (this scene) over and over and over. Superman, because of who he is born from and because of his real parents, has these superpowers, and essentially the first part of his life is him realizing he has these superpowers until he hits about adolescence and he realizes he's stronger than everybody else and he can fly and he can shoot some kind of crazy laser beams out of his eyes.

That's what I'm saying, basically. All of you can do that. You just need to learn how. No. That's not what I'm saying. Again, the movie The Incredibles is the same kind of deal. It's a cartoon now. They have these powers, but they don't know it. They're basically trying to learn how to use these powers.

I'll go one more with you. The Matrix. Did everybody see The Matrix? They're coming to him and saying, "You're kind of the chosen one." There's that scene where he's fighting Laurence Fishburne. Is that right? He's fighting them, and Laurence Fishburne is basically beating him up. He's saying, "I know you can," like, "I know you're the guy," and he's like, "I don't think I am. I'm not who you think I am. I'm not the guy."

He's like, "No! You are. You just need to realize it." Usually in the movies (it has been played out in lots of other movies, too) when some kind of trouble happens, these guys realize, "I do have the power! I can do this! I can fight in that way!" Then, it's carried out through them. This is kind of what is happening to you right now.

I don't know where you are in your spiritual journey. I know a lot of you, really, are on the other side of salvation. What's crazy about that group is a lot of you think you're a Christian, but the reality of it is you're really learning you're not, and that's a part of becoming a Christian. Then, you trust in Christ. You actually do, and the Spirit comes in your life.

Some of you are believers now, and you're like, "But you want me to share with my boss? That's crazy. I can't do that." Then, you pray about it. You go to God because this power comes from him. You go to him and say, "God, would you give me the courage? Your Scripture says you didn't come to give me a spirit of timidity but one of power, so, Father, would you give me the power?" Then, you share. What he does is that guy comes back around and says, "I noticed you're different." Then, he trusts Christ and that just continues.

The Scripture says Christ has all authority. All authority has been given to him. I don't know that we know what that means. I don't know that we really grasp that. Christ is authoritative over your boss. He's in charge. Christ is authoritative over terrible people. Christ is authoritative over tornadoes. He has authority over hurricanes. The winds and waves obey him. All authority has been given to him. Things do what he says. He speaks and things exist. He has all power. It's all his. He is the head. You are the body. That power now works through you.

The really weird picture, if you like sci-fi… This is how my brain works. The picture I have is this huge enormous hand coming from the sky and reaching out. The hand is essentially made up of people (those who have trusted in him), and it (this hand) grabs someone, and when it grabs someone, they become a part of the hand. Then, they grab someone else. This hand grabs someone else who grabs someone else. As it grabs people, it consumes those people, and they become a part of it. Then, the hand just starts to repair things and make things new and make things beautiful again.

That is what Christ is in the process of doing. If you avail yourself to him and you communicate to him and you ask him, he will use you. I absolutely promise you he will. You ask God, "Will you use me?" and I guarantee you 100 percent money back he will. That's what he's doing. To show you that Christ has all authority, Colossians 1 is a beautiful passage. Verse 16 says, "For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him."

This has happened and it is happening and it will happen. This is something theologians call already and not yet. That is, Christ came and brought his kingdom. Then, he's using us to continue to bring his kingdom. Then, he'll come back. He'll sit on the throne of David, and all of the kingdom will be his. At that point, you will see his authority. At that point, you will be like, "I'm really glad I was playing for the right team. There is Jesus, and all things are under his control." You'll see it.

Abraham Kuyper says, "There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, 'Mine!'" I really like that quote. Basically, the Scripture says that all things are placed under his feet, so we know Adam lost the control. He lost his ability to rule over things by sinning and by choosing something else, but Christ came and restored that to us.

He restored that authority to himself and made us a part of him (his body, the church, his bride), so you have authority, and you just don't have authority; you have power, an incredible power (a power that is bigger than tornadoes). I know we hear that and are like, "Do I really? I don't understand!" You're just like Neo in The Matrix.

We are people who are bringing his kingdom. We're bringing things under his rule. Don't give up. Don't grow weary in doing good (Galatians 6:9). He's going to do it through you. You know how this ends. God wins, and he wants to use you between now and then. His power works through us. We trust in his power. We rely on his power.

As we look at the world and specifically the problems in Dallas, I would say what happens is our tendency is to not trust in his power. To acknowledge that he's powerful but for us not to trust in him plays out in two ways that I've seen. The one is the believer says, "There is just so much! There is so much broken in the world. The world is really messed up, and I can't do anything about it. I don't know where to start, so I just won't do anything." That's the first bad response or wrong response.

The second is, "There is so much wrong with the world I have to do everything. I'm anxious, and I'm worried, and I can't sleep because I'm constantly trying to do everything." That's not trusting God either. The right response is, "God made me to be me, and he has put me in places." He has put me in corporate America. He has put me in public schools. He has put me in grocery stores and gas stations, and he has given me some skills and capabilities. He has given me some things I can do.

He has written a story in my life (some good things and some bad things), and he wants to use me in the situations I'm in. I just need to look to him. I need to ask him and rely on his power to do that through me, and he will. Prove me wrong. Prove the Scripture wrong. John 14:12. One of my favorite stories I read to my girls is that he hushed the storm. The storms come, and the disciples come and say, "Why are you sleeping? Do you not care about us?" He gets up and just says, "Hush!" Everything stops, and they're like, "Who is this man?"

My girls sing this song: "Who is this man who says, 'The winds and waves obey'?" We sing that together as a family. You guys can feel free to sing that as you leave here, if you want. It can be yours. This idea that everything obeys Christ and is obedient to Christ… Let me show you something he says just so you don't think I'm making some of this crazy stuff up.

John 14:12 says, "I tell you the truth…" This is truth. "…anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father…" This idea is that Jesus goes to the Father on our behalf, so we are his contractors, and Jesus is the general contractor. He's the one who has this vision of beautifying this place, and he begins to use us.

Some of you are trim carpenters, and some of you are painters, and some of you are people who lay the floors, and some of you are foundation workers. Some of you are schoolteachers and engineers and baristas and artists. Some of you are wealth managers and financial advisors and stockbrokers. Still others are ministers or camp workers. Some of you are students.

You're these things. You're in these places, and God is going, "I'm going to use you. You're just the expert I'm looking for. My power is going to come through you if you rely on me. If you look to me and acknowledge me and pray that your faith in me would grow and your knowledge of me would grow and if you would hold on to the hope you have in me that is the hope to come and you understand that I love you, that you are the riches of my inheritance and I'm going to claim you for myself, and you understand the incredible power I have, that I am powerful over all things and that power is going to come through you, I'm going to use you!"

We see power today. There's a picture. I don't know if you saw it, but it's basically two 18-wheeler trailers in the air suspended and being thrown like baseballs by the wind. We see power. I looked at before-and-after pictures of natural disasters the other day. One minute there is a 12-story building there, and the next minute there is not even a brick to be seen. We know power.

I've seen the ground open up and swallow cars and people and buildings. I've seen volcanoes flood not water but lava (liquid rock) and swallow people. I've seen not tornadoes but hurricanes wipe out towns. I've seen fires vaporize Chicago and Galveston. We've seen these things, and they aren't even glimpses of the power of God. Those things are puppets under his power. He is in control of all things.

Here's what I'm saying. Today I read that about 100 people lost their homes. One hundred people woke up on a Tuesday. They went to work like normal. By about 3:00 p.m. they no longer had a place to live. Are you tracking with me? There are people who woke up today and thought, "This will be a normal day," and now they no longer are living. They're not here anymore.

That's an incredible force. Let me tell you something. It is nothing compared to the force that will come through there now and begin to rebuild those homes. His hands and feet… They'll come in there, and you can't stop us, evil. You can't stop us. You can't hold us back. We're going to come in, and we're going to nail two-by-fours together and paint and construct and lay flooring and repair foundations and put in windows, and we are going to repair this place now as his hands and feet.

We'll do that. Do you know what? It's easy to get people to do that. If I told you right now there was a sign-up outside because 100 people in Dallas have lost their homes and I'd love to take all of you. We're going to go fix those homes. We're going to go love on them. We're going to comfort those who have lost loved ones. Most of you, if you have a heart beating in your chest, would say, "I'm in. Let's go do that." I'm saying that we'll do that. I'm sure we will. We usually do.

When disaster strikes, God, through The Porch, responds, but you don't have to wait till disaster strikes. It has already struck in your work, in your school, in your relationships, in people you know, and in your families, so that you would step in and you would begin to repair those situations. That is the power of the church, and you don't even have to do it alone. You get in your community and say, "Let's go do this together."

If you're here and you say, "Well, I don't have community," you just go in that room and say, "I need community," and we'll even help you get that. We're here to resource you. There is a life for you that is bigger and better than the vision you have for yourself. It's you changing this place for the cause of Christ. It's his power manifesting through you.

What is step one? Pray, "God, help me understand who you are. Help me understand the hope I have in you. Help me understand that I am your glorious inheritance and that you love me. Help me understand the incredible power you have. Would you use that power to work through me into this very specific situation?" Pray with me now.

God, I do pray you would use us to rebuild this city after this destruction. Father, I do pray you would give us a vision and a hope for what could be. Father, I do pray your Spirit in us would overcome any timidity we have because it is inconsistent with your Spirit. Father, I do pray you would make us a part of this team. Father, I do pray your Spirit would allow us to feel like we're a part of something bigger than us.

Father, I pray we would not waste our lives like so many of our American friends do and like so many of our family members do and like so many of our friends and peers do and like so many of our co-workers do. Father, help us not to waste our lives. You have some stuff you want to do. I know you do, because I've read about you.

I want to know you more, God. I want my friends to know you more. I know you have some things you want to do. Would you see us as faithful? Would you use us? You reign! All glory and honor and power are yours and you reign as God. All authority is yours and you reign as God. Father, use us, your servants.


We pray that truth would mark our lives and we would live like we're backed by the one who controls all things. You don't have to be afraid of people. You don't have to worry about what they think of you. You really don't. You don't have to worry about strangers. Your days are numbered. God knows when you die. It has been written way before your existence.

You can live this courageous life, but you have to be in communion and you have to be in fellowship with the one who created all things. I pray that would be a truth that marks our lives. If nothing else, that every single one of us no matter where we are on that spectrum would leave here praying to the one who created all things, "God, would you help me know you more? Father, would you give me a greater knowledge of who you are? Father, would you grow my affections for you?"

If you do nothing else and don't move from your seat, then just ask God that he would help you know him more and that you'd have a greater understanding of his character and how he loves you, that he's crazy about you, that he doesn't love you like your father loved you but he loves you like a perfect father would love you.

I know some of you don't have a church home. If you have another church home like The Village or IBC or First Baptist Dallas, we're so glad you're here. Welcome! We want The Porch to serve the city in a way that I hope it does and will continue to do, but if you don't have a church home, we do welcome you to Watermark this Friday and Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday and Sunday, we have Easter services. We would love for you to come and make this a part of your home if you're here in town.

If this is your church home, we'd love for you to invite friends, not because we want this place to be big, because there are going to be a lot of people here regardless of whether you ask or not, but because we want your friends to hear the gospel and to be a part of this movement of us changing this city for the sake of Christ.

Let's continue to watch Paul's play by play of how he does that in the book of Ephesians. I do pray you would bring your Bibles. If you don't have one, we have one for you. Some of you need to stay right where you are and just ask God that he would help you know him more. Others of you will be in a room. If we could pray with you or for you or talk with you about a question you might have, we'll be in this room. Others of you are looking for a community and to build relationships. You can go into this room right over here.

The rest of you, if you just want to hang out and meet some people and talk about your crazy tornado day, go out on The Porch café and enjoy free coffee and whatever else is out there. If you would, though, please leave this place as we continue to worship and as we continue to pray. Just wait till you get on the other side of the door to say one single word. Even, "It was good to see you." Just wait until on the other side of the door. I love you guys. Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.