Ephesians 3 14-19 God is able August 8,2004
Ephesians 3:14-20—God Is Able—August 8, 2004
Good morning. How many of you know that God is able? This morning is more of a sharing than a preaching. It’s just where I am at and how I see things around us.
We were in Montreal for a few days this week and had a wonderful time visiting with family. While we were there I noticed almost every business, the hotels, restaurants, shopping malls consisted of people from East Indian or Middle Eastern descent. Much of the West Island of Montreal consist of Muslims and Hindu’s. I thought to myself. People can come from other countries, set up shop and home in this country and never hear about Christ as Lord and Saviour.
Here Linda and I we were in the least evangelized place on the planet and I was just overwhelmed. I felt so helpless. What can I do, what can I say? God is able. Then there are other situations where I just look and shake my head. How do you help the person on drugs? How do help the person addicted to alcohol, or pornography, or gambling, or food. God is able.
Do you just throw up your arms? Many do, but for me, I do not think so. What do I do? I find myself returning time and time again to Ephesians 3:14-21. Allow me to read it for you. It is a prayer where we find Paul on his knees before God who is able. Paul was driven to his knees in prayer, driven to go before the Father because as Christian we can approach God with freedom and confidence. Amen!
Do you want to know what I personally believe? I personally believe that:
Satan would rather have me witness than pray.
Satan would rather have me study my Bible than pray.
Satan would rather have me fellowship with other believers than pray.
Satan would rather have me preach or teach than pray.
God is the all-powerful God of the universe. He has the power to answer prayer and to do great things. If I pray first and then witness, study, fellowship, preach or teach, I will be doing it in the power of God! I must remember that Jesus said, "Without me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)
I find myself going back again and again and again to Ephesians 3:14-21 because the substance of what Paul prays falls into three requests: First he prays that we would be strengthened with power. Second he prays that we would grasp the extent of God’s love. And finally, he prays simply that we would be filled with God.
We will have a ministry time following this message. How many of you need to be strengthened with power and would like to grasp the extent of God’s love and simply be filled with God? I believe we all do. We will have people helping to minister, to catch you if you just can’t stand in his presence. Are you ready for Paul’s first request?
Request #1: We Be Strengthened with Power (vs. 16-17a).
Paul’s first request is for strengthening. It begins with an affirmation of God’s ability – God’s resources – to hear and to answer prayer. He asks that out of his glorious riches God would do this strengthening. God’s resources are abundant. We must be mindful of who it is we ask, and what God is capable of doing in response to our prayers.
The next phrase is the meat of this first request – that we be strengthened with power. How many of you need his power? Too often we live our daily lives feeling like we are in control and powerful and not in need of any help. Any sign of “weakness” is deplorable and to be avoided at all costs. And this prevents us from forming deep relationships with others, because we feel we can’t rely on anyone but ourselves. Our message as Christians is radically different!
Paul said the ONLY thing he would boast about was his weakness! Our message as Christians is first that we need a Saviour, and second that we need each other in order to live obediently to our Saviour.
Paul prays that we would be strengthened in the face of our weakness, by the power of God. As we work through the rest of this prayer, we will see that Power is one of the major themes of this prayer – through all three of the Paul’s requests we find this word and the concepts behind it repeated.
The point is clear – Paul is praying that the strength and power would be something we can each experience. This request is for God to give power and strength to the very core of our being through the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:9 makes it clear: “…If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” Paul is praying for the power of the Holy Spirit.
Someone has said that if God took the Holy Spirit out of this world, most of what we Christians are doing would go right on and nobody would know the difference! God is able.
The word power translated from the Greek word is dunamei, from which we get the words dynamic and dynamite. Do you ever feel spiritually weak? I know I do. Many of us seek strength through friends or family members. We often wait until there is no one left to talk to before we turn to the Lord.
Friends, only the Holy Spirit can strengthen our spirits. He is the one who refreshes, revitalizes and empowers us. And He does it on the inside where God dwells and works. Even though our bodies grow weaker, our inner being can grow stronger. 2 Corinthians 4:16 says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” As our bodies grow old and frail our spirits can grow strong in the Lord.
2. Request #2: We Grasp the Extent of God’s Love (vs. 17b-19a).
Paul’s second prayer request is that we might somehow be able to grasp the extent of God’s love (read).
Once again we see the theme of power. Paul recognizes that it will take the power of God to reveal the extent of the love of God. Notice the clause that follows – “together with all the saints”. Paul is not praying that you would know God’s love and I would know God’s love and all of us would know it. There is something else to it – it is saying that a significant part of coming to grasp the extent of God’s love will only happen together! In community. In unity. Have you ever noticed how often God chooses to act in our lives and the vehicle is another person?
The meat of this request is that we might be able “to grasp how wide and long and deep and high is the love of God, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.” And though it surpasses our understanding, Paul prays that we would know it. Paul is not praying that we would simply understand in our minds that God loves us, but understand it in our hearts.
As the Holy Spirit empowers us, we are then able to go deeper in our walk with Christ. We see this in verse 17: “So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love…”
Paul uses three pictures to convey the idea of spiritual depth and our fellowship with Christ when he chooses these three verbs: “dwell,” “rooted,” and “established.” Paul’s prayer is that Christ would dwell in our hearts.
This word is a compound form of two Greek words, “kata” (down) and “oikos” (house). It literally means, “to settle down and feel at home.” Jesus wants to be more than just a guest in our lives; Christ wants our home to become His home.
Robert Munger wrote a booklet entitled “My Heart: Christ’s Home,” in which he pictures the Christian life as a house. Jesus comes into the house and goes from room to room. He goes into the library of the mind and begins to clean up the trash found there. He replaces it with His Word. He enters the dining room of the appetite and finds many sinful desires listed on a worldly menu. He replaces things like materialism, pride, envy and lust with humility, love and purity. When he finally comes to the closet, the owner of the house hesitates to open the door to all his dark and secret sins. He can’t bear to have Jesus look inside. But Jesus does come inside only after He’s invited and cleans it up. Jesus then settles down and feels at home.
Do you have some rooms in your life that you haven’t allowed Jesus into? Let Him come into every area of your life and do some cleaning with his penetrating holiness and matchless grace. Jesus dwells in our hearts through faith. Our faith in Him means that we invite Him to do some housecleaning. We put our faith in Him so that He can do the needed renovations in our life. God longs for us to be anchored deeply to His love. In Paul’s petition, he prays for strength. He prays for depth. His third request…..
3. Request #3: We Be Filled with God (vs. 19b).
The final request is a simple one. It is simply that we might be filled. Not just a bit. Not half full. But full “to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
I don’t want to try to explain this. I just simply want to pray it for you, and ask the worship team to lead us as we seek and expect God to answer this prayer of Paul’s.
This is an amazing request – a bold request! That you would be filled – completely with the love of God to the degree of the fullness of God. How full is that? Let me ask you this morning – how full are you? How much of the love of God fills you? You can find the answer to that question by looking at yourself internally first – do you feel it? - and secondly by looking at how you treat the people around you, for if you are truly full, it will overflow into the relationships around you. If you are not satisfied, then pray this prayer and ask God to fill you. As believers we have been created to be the containers of God. He desires to pour His life into ours and fill us until we’re full. “Filled” comes from a word that means, “to be overflowing, like a cup that is running over.” It means total dominance, to come to the place in your life where you are totally overwhelmed by God’s presence. It means giving everything to God and leaving nothing of your self.
If you don’t live with this kind of fullness, try praying this prayer for yourself and for others. Are you willing to say to the Lord, “Lord, fill me up so that my life is all you and none of me?”
Think of an empty cup. How do you get all the air out of it? There’s only one way by filling it with something else. The only way to really understand this is by experiencing it for yourself.
Conclusion: Paul prays three things for us: that we would be strengthened with power, that we would know the extent of God’s love for us, and that we would be filled. You need those things this week as you go as lights into a darkened world. God is Able….
A little girl turned to her mother after church and said, “Mommy, the pastor’s sermon was confusing today.”
The mother asked, “Why is that, honey?”
The little girl answered, “Well, he said that God is bigger than we are. Is that true?”
“Yes, that’s true,” the mother replied.
“He also said that God lives within us. Is that true, too?”
Again the mother replied, “Yes, that’s true.”
“Well,” said the little girl, “If God is bigger than us and He lives in us, wouldn’t He show through?”
Good question. Does God show through in your life?