In the collection of stories called Arabian Nights there is the story of Aladdin. He finds an old oil lamp which when rubbed releases a powerful genie who is ready to do anything for Aladdin. While Aladdin’s story is a myth, we have a story that’s true and far better. In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, written from prison (Eph. 3:13-21), he prayed that their “inner man” would be strengthened. He also wanted them to know the love of Christ which is beyond comprehension. He wanted them to be controlled or filled with all that God is and offers, not just with some of His blessings available to them. Then he told them about something far better than a genie in a bottle. They had a mighty God “who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20). Wasn’t Paul in prison when he prayed this prayer for them? Do you think he enjoyed prison? Probably not. So some might say that while God was able to do what Paul and the Ephesians wanted, He didn’t always do it. However, if we are filled with all the fullness of God, we will want what He wants and we will expect our miracles to be in keeping with His plans. We might not pray for release from prison, but for a fruitful prison ministry while we are there.
Do we have confidence that God really did send His only Son to reveal Himself to us? John tells us that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1:14). Do we really believe and trust in the truth that this unique Son of God was also the Son of Man and that He had the power to die for our sins? If we do, we’ve already been recipients of blessings that far exceed the blessings of any religion man has ever devised. We have peace of mind now, and we have hope for the future because we have a God who bears our burdens instead of asking us to bear His. He saves those who trust Him.
If we are saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8), we can expect blessings that far exceed our measly expectations. We can’t pray for God to harm our enemies, because that is not His way (Mt. 5:44). But we can pray for Him to change them so that they are no longer our enemies. We can’t pray for Him to remove death from our lives because things haven’t worked that way since Adam sinned. But we can pray for Him to use death to help the unsaved see that those who accept Jesus as Savior go to a place where there is no more sin, death, sorrow, pain – and no more night (1 Cor. 15:54-57; Rev. 21:25). And I suspect there are many more things He wants to do for us that are in keeping with His will and His love for us.
Are you burdened about unsaved loved ones today? He is able. Are you burdened about some sickness? He will not forsake you during it. And He just might cure you, because He’s able! Are you concerned about your financial situation because financial markets worldwide are in turmoil? With regard to your needs, the Lord has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). Believe Him, because He is able.
We may have great concerns about the future when we consider war and man’s inhumanity to man; but just as the Lord was with David when he fought Goliath in the Valley of Elah (1 Sam. 17:19), He has also promised to be with us. I take His promise to David personally: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me” (Ps. 23:4).”
The story of Aladdin’s lamp is a myth, but the Lord is real and available to all who call on Him. And He is able to exceed all our expectations.
By Bruce Collins
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org