Soul Surfer Series Sermon 4
~Immeasurably More ~
Tyson Graber, Herscher Christian Church
What do these verses mean?
“God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine...”
God is not limited by what you ask of Him. He can give so much more. God is also not limited by our creativity. He can and will do things through you that you would not even be able to dream up right now.
What God is saying here is that the ability of God to use us for His glory go beyond even what we can dream. So, take your biggest dream. The dream of seeing your family’s lives changed for Christ, the dream of teaching others about God’s Word, the dream of overcoming a sin or a fear, the dream of being a leader for Christ, the dream of helping this church plant other churches throughout Ilinois and the world, the dream of being a missionary someday for the Lord’s glory, the dream of leading your neighbor, friend, or spouse to Christ. God is saying, “I can make THAT happen and immeasurably more!”
Immeasurable = incapable of being measured; limitless.
So when you begin to dream and are drawn to doing something for Lord, but begin to think, ‘..but I could never do that,” you are incredibly wrong. You are incredibly wrong at that moment and you are going against God’s Word, because He can use you in that way and to a degree much more than you can imagine.
God can do things through you and He can break all the barriers and do things in you that you can’t even dream of. HOW? Is it because of you, who you are? NO! What did the scripture say???
“According to His power that is at work within us…”
God will do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, and He is not going to do it separately on His own ..., He chooses to do it through you .., through me .., and through this church. Does God want to work in and through your life in ways that will just blow your mind? Yes!
In the movie, SOUL SURFER, there is a powerful scene when Bethany realizes she is impacting thousands of people for the Lord when she receives bags and bags full of letters from people all over the world who have been inspired by her. She definitely didn’t ask God that she would be an inspiration for so many people she’d never met, nor could she have even dreamed up something that big, but God took her pain and laid out at plan bigger than she could dream.
Make no mistake, Bethany did allow God to use her. What many thought was a handicap of not having a left arm, she allowed God to do something that she did not expect him to use ..., the pain and setback as a platform for Him to reach people who would have never really been impacted for the Lord.
So the question for many of you right now could be, “How do I figure out what God wants to do in my life?” It’s easy to stress out over this and wait for God to tell us precisely what He wants us to do. In the Bible, God has given us direction for what He wants to do through us.
In 2 Corinthians 1:3–4, Paul says,
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”
How can we comfort or minister to others with the same comfort and ministry we have received from God? God is going to use your trouble and your pain to serve others and bring glory to Him. So whatever it is in your mind that you think disqualifies you from being used by God ..., whatever you think has been your greatest pain, God will turn around to be used for His glory.
God Never Wastes Hurt.
If you look back at the experiences you have gone through, most often you will have clues as to what God is calling you to do.
In 2 Thessalonians 1:11–12, Paul also says,
“With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
I pray that as you face trials and troubles, I pray that as we face trials and troubles that we would be worthy of God’s calling, stand up in our faith, and live a life that would bring glory to the Lord. That is where the rubber hits the road.
Let’s say you inherited a million dollars, or you landed that dream job, and the rest of the world knows it and is watching. In those moments, the world is not impressed that you are happy and are smiling and have a good attitude. This isn’t causing them to ask, “How were they able to be so happy? I want to know Jesus so I can smile when something good happens.”
The lost world is not looking at us and amazed by our attitudes when everything is going well, no. They will be drawn to see Christ in us even more when our world is tested and seemingly falling apart. They notice when we are in the midst of a trial and a storm. Then, when they see the smile on your face and the contentment in your heart, THEN they are drawn to the Lord and God is glorified. Then is when they often say, ‘I want what they have. How can they be fulfilled in the midst of this pain? How can they be happy in so much hurt? There is something different about them, what is it,’ ... and they will ask.
It is Christ in us and working through us. Jesus is the answer! We need to be quick to say Jesus Christ is the answer. That needs to be our prayer. The Bibles says,
"We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
What I am saying today through God’s word is this; God wants to use us and some of the greatest moments of God working in us is through our weakness and in our moments of pain ... much like Bethany Hamilton.
God is looking for people who will love and serve him, not just in the good time, but also and maybe best in spite of the difficulty and pain. God wants to use each of us. God wants to use you, not because you are the most qualified or the most perfect, God wants to use you because you allow Him to. He wants to do more in your life than you can imagine because He loves you.
How do you know what to do?
When you do those three things on a consistent basis, God will use you and will broaden your dreams. God took the life of Peter and used him more than Peter first thought was possible or even comfortable with. Turn with me in your Bibles to Acts 10.
At this point in the history of the church, Peter is a clear leader and preaching Christ, but at this point he's preaching only to the Jews. God makes it clear that He had also selected Peter to take the gospel to the Gentiles—everyone who is not a Jew.
But the Gentiles were outside Peter’s sphere of concern, outside his dream. It makes sense: Peter was Jewish. He loves his Jewish people. He is most comfortable in a Jewish world.
But God hears the prayers of a Roman named Cornelius, a Gentile like me and most of you, who was crying out to Him. Cornelius was doing all he knew to do to follow God. He’s caring for the poor and serving people humbly, but he still hasn’t found what he’s looking for. God sees Cornelius’s heart, but since Cornelius is not a Jew, there is no one ready to help him. No one who is a follower of Jesus Christ cares about this Roman man…yet. So, God speaks to Cornelius through an angel to go and send for this man Peter. Meanwhile, Peter is spending time at home praying, and that’s where this story unfolds.
Read Acts 10:9–20
For Peter, there were things that were clean and things that were unclean. There were only certain animals that the Hebrew scriptures specified could be eaten. This was huge for the Jewish culture, and it was huge for Peter. Eating “kosher” was one of the ways that you showed you were a good Jew. So Peter is hungry, but not for anything he sees in his dream. Peter just looks at the food in disgust. And God says, ‘When I tell you something is not unclean, don’t you dare call it unclean. You eat it. You value it!’
Is Your Dream Big Enough?
Now this dream is not really about food; it’s about people. What God is saying through this dream is, ‘Peter, your vision is too small, your dream about your ministry is too small. I am expanding your sphere of concern. I am deepening the burden of your responsibility.’
This is huge! Whenever God gives you a dream or a vision for your life, He raises the bar. God wants to call you to a more heroic life and life to the full. If you will allow Him to expand the parameters of your concern, your dreams will increase, as well.
So God is saying to Peter, ‘You have a vision for all the people of Israel, but it’s way too small. You can’t focus on something as small as a nation when the whole world needs you.’ So God expands the boundaries of Peter’s concern and deepens the burden of his responsibility.
Peter had a dream but it was too small. ‘Peter, I sent my son Jesus to, not only save the Jews, I sent Jesus to die for everyone.’ God is saying the dream that I have is bigger than the dream that you have. Maybe your dream is still small is because your concern is still to small.
In Soul Surfer, Bethany’s primary hope is that she could just go back to how life used to be before the attack. As she realizes that this dream is virtually impossible, her natural response is sadness and hopelessness. But then she steps out of her comfort zone by going on a mission trip to help people in Thailand recover from a horrific tsunami. Through that experience, Bethany’s whole perspective is turned upside-down. Her heart is broken through interacting with so many people whose life experiences were far worse than hers. In those moments, God began to grow her level of concern for the poor around the world and enlarge her dreams for what she could do, as well.
What are the things in life that you are most concerned with? Getting that raise or promotion? Bringing in this years crops? Keeping peace in your home? Making sure your kids pass their tests. Getting your next vacation planned.
None of these things are inherently wrong, but is it possible that your concerns are too small? Let me ask another question. What do you think Jesus is most concerned about?
Here are a couple things that come to my mind:
Let me make it perfectly clear. If your concerns look nothing like God’s concerns, then your concerns are too small. It’s not that God doesn’t care about your career, your family, or your happiness, but He’s longing even more that you would join Him in dreaming for something bigger…something more meaningful.
Just like with Bethany, as God grows your concerns for others, He will grow your ability to make a difference in your world. It may be a difference within your family. It may be a difference in your neighborhood or your church body. He may even give you the opportunity to make a difference in the whole world.
In Peter’s story, he obediently visits this complete stranger named Cornelius. Peter is amazed to hear that God had actually spoken to this Gentile and told him to go and find Peter. So Peter goes against everything he has ever believed and actually tells these Gentiles about Jesus. Listen to what happens.
Read Acts 10:44–48
Cornelius’s (and many other's) salvation depended on whether Peter was willing to raise his level of concern to the Gentiles. Cornelius’s dream would not have become a reality unless Peter acted and was responsive to God’s call. The same is true for you. There are people in your world who will not be helped, reached out to, listened to, or saved unless you are willing to raise your level of concern for them. If you are a follower of Christ, then it’s your move.
There is no doubt that it was God orchestrating the connection between Peter and Cornelius. He was speaking to both of them. When you start allowing yourself to be concerned with the things that God is concerned about, He loves to connect you with others who are dreaming the same way. He will take your dreams and do things through you beyond what you could ever ask or imagine.
I guarantee you that there are more people you know that care passionately about…
God will do more immeasurably more than you could ever ask or imagine, but it must start when He increases your level of concern for the people around you. Are you ready to catch the ride of your life?
I believe that God could do immeasurably more than that through you.
I want to wrap up our SOUL SURFER series with one last video of Bethany Hamilton. It includes a challenge from Bethany to all of us.
[Play the “Living in God’s Purpose and Plan” video clip in the Week Four]