Rooted in Love-04/19/2020

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Message: Rooted in loveText: Ephesians 3:14-21

Introduction: Pastor Steven Sheane writes

Love brings conversion, connection, comfort and collaboration… together we find love.
Someone once wrote: If you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you it’s yours. If it does not come back, it was never yours to begin with.
If it just sits in your living room and messes up your stuff, eats your food, takes your money and is always giving you attitude then you either married it or gave birth to it!

We currently remain under our ‘stay at home’ order. And in conversation with some of you I’ve heard that

love has had opportunity to grow as you’ve lived very close together, in the same home, this past month or so.

But what about those who are single or are physically separated from their loved ones, because of a strange set of circumstances beyond their control.  

Talking to them, I’ve learned that

being isolated from others, has left them yearning, longing for… love,
a sense of belonging that the various expressions of love in our church community affords… when we’re face to face.

And folks, this is bigger, moving well beyond our small church community.

Background: Last Sunday, we looked at Ephesian 1:15-23. It was Pauls prayer for the Christians at the church in Ephesus,

that they would know God in a deep and intimate way
so that the knowledge of God would influence how they choose to live in the present.

In our text this morning, Paul again is praying for the Christiansin Ephesus… and for us today.

This time that we would know God’s love in a deep and intimate way.
so that the knowledge of God’s love for us would influence how we choose to live in the present.

Transition: OK. Open your Bibles to Ephesians 3:14, or you’ll find it in your Worship Resource Insert.

I. Ephesians 3:14-19  Paul’sprayer

A. Ephesians 3:14-16  To be strengthened

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from Whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being

Paul begins his prayer as all of our prayers should begin…

to God our Father
and recognizing that as Father and Almighty God, He has the power to meet all our needs and to answer all of our requests.

Folks, when we pray,

we’re not praying to the ceiling if we are looking up or to the floor if we’re looking down.
Were not praying in our minds as if that was the locus of our prayer.
Were not praying to some inanimate thing or being.

Were praying, talking to a person, the person of God,

the creator and sustainer of all things and who, in His great power, holds all things together.

We’re talking to that very same Almighty God

Who has revealed Himself as Father to those whove placed their faith in Jesus.

God, is not just someone out there; high up in the heavens, distant:

Who is almighty, holy, majestic, righteous.

Hes the God whos in here, in our hearts, close:

Whos kind, merciful, gracious, forgiving, loving!

Paul cries out to God, to his Father,

that out of the depths of His riches in the heavenly places,
God would come close and bless Christians with the strength that comes from God’s Spirit that lives in them.

Look, the Ephesian Christians were in a bad place; a time of trouble and their ability to trust in God, their willingness to obey God, was fading…

Not unlike today

as we struggle with the increasing lack of motivationfrom not going out.
The burden of loneliness due to our forced isolation.
And the anxiety and fear of our dwindling finances.

Christians too lose heart, they lose the power to keep moving forward, trusting God with each step they take. And they often look outside their faith, to follow the leading of the world around them.

In verse 17, Paul prays for that very faith.

B. Ephesians 3:17a  To have faith

17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith

Understand, this is not a prayer that they would be saved.

That by placing their faith in Jesus, He would then enter and live in them.

No, Paul wrote this letter to the Christians, the saints, in Ephesus. So in keeping with the context of the prayer, that Christians would grow deeper in their knowledge of God’s love for them,

Paul is asking God to increase our faith in Him,
so that the union we have with Christ, who lives in us, would be stronger, deeper and more intimate.

ILL: A wounded soldier was dying in a hospital, the lady who watched by his bedside said to him, “My dear boy, if this should be death that is coming upon you, are you ready to meet your God?” He said “I am ready, dear lady; for this has long been His dwelling place”; and as he spoke, he placed his hand upon his heart. “Do you mean,” questioned the lady, gently, “that God dwells and rules in your heart?” “Yes,” he answered, but his voice sounded far off, sweet, and low, as if it came from a soul already well on its way “through the dark valley of the shadow of death.” (Biblical Illustratior)

The secret of standing up under the burden of hard times,
the answer to fear and anxiety when we cant see beyond our need,
the hope for the loneliness that isolation can bring,
is having a strong enough, a deep enough, faith that Jesus has not left us alone, that He is still living within us… within me…

And as we’ll see next… that He loves me, in a way that gives mesecurity, peace, and strength, even in life’s most troubling times.

C. Ephesians 3:17b-19a To know the love of Christ

that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge

Here’s where Paul gets to the heart of his prayer.. that we might know,the love of God in Christ in a deeper more intimate way.

And inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul gives such a needful and meaningful description of that wonderful, amazing love God has for us.

Paul prays that we might be rooted and grounded in love. In some ways were all grounded by this virus:

We can’t really go anywhere.
We can’t really do most of the things we enjoy about life.
We have to stay at home.

Like children who misbehave, we’re all grounded.

But… I, don’t know about you, but I feel that the ‘stay at home’ order has left me, us, in an altogether different way… un-grounded?

Perhaps it’s because there are far too many variables related to the Coronavirus?
Perhaps it’s because our political leaders and those in the media, are so often in conflict with each other, that we just don’t know who to believe?
Perhaps we’re feeling un-grounded because we’re wondering where God is through this?

And if He truly does love us… love me;

then why do I feel so bad, why am I so lonely.
Why is my heart breaking for those who I’ve lost to the virus?
Why can’t I sleep at night because my mind keeps working through scenario after scenario of how well pay the bills when one or both of us are laid off?

Look, I’ve been thinking some of those same things.

Not just for me, but for some in my family and in the church. And a simple song keeps coming to mind.

One that most churches today don’t sing because it’s just too old and simplistic.
I added a verse to help assure us that even in times of hardship, Jesus is with us and loves us deeply and unconditionally.

‘Seek Ye First’

There are some very theologically deep concepts in that simple song. It’s so deep, yet, so simple. I think that’s what Paul’s praying that we would see concerning God’s love for us.

It’s so simple that we can have God’s love for us as the foundation for our lives.

We can root and ground our hopes; our family, our finances, our health, our present and our future, in God’s amazing love for us.

And it’s so theologically deep that we need to pray for Holy Spirit strength, to comprehend, to understand the pervasiveness of God’s love for us.

That we would never get to the point that we take His love for us, for granted.
That we would continually seek to know the boundlessness of God’s love for us,
so that as seasons change and circumstance are no longer pleasant, we’ll have the strength to remain faithful.

Sidebar: that you,may have strength to comprehend with all the saintsthe love of Christ

Paul is praying, asking God on our behalf, to see that God’s love for us, is never separated from God’s love for the saints, the body of Christ. This us huge

To grow in God’s love, we need to grow in our relationship with each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.

that you,may have strength to comprehend with all the saintsthe love of Christ. Yes, we are physically separated… But, the Holy Spirit inside us, reminds us that we need each other:

To know God in a deep and intimate way

so that the knowledge of God would influence how wechoose to live in the present.

To know God’s love in a deep and intimate way.

so that the knowledge of God’s love for us would influence how we choose to live in the present.

For it’s in community, that we best understand and experience God’s love.

Right now we’re finding creative ways to ‘do’ community. But be patient, God will bring us back, face to face, soon.

D. Ephesians 3:19b  To be filled with God that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Paul certainly has high hopes and aspirations for us doesn’t he?

How can something so smalllike us contain Someone Who fills all things like God?

that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Here’s what I see:

There is no room for mediocrity in the Christian life.
There is no room for cafeteria style Christianity where we pick and choose what we’ll have of God and what we won’t.
There is no room for partial obedience, for sometimes faithfulness, for God being a spare tire we only take out when we get a flat.

Paul, I believe, is rewording something he wrote to the Galatian Christians: Galatians 2:20 (ESV)

20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ Who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Its an all-in, kind of Christianity.
Its a death to self, kind of Christianity.
Its a never turning back, kind of Christianity.
It’s an ‘I want all of God and all that He has for me’, kind of Christianity.

That seeks to know and experience God and His love, in the fullest way possible, all the time, every day.

Look, God filling us, is not based on, His willingness, but our surrendering.

The more we surrender, the more we yield to His leading in our lives, the more He fills us with Himself.

Transition: WOW.. Paul has set the bar, high, didn’t he?

II. Ephesians 3:20-20  Paul’spraise

A. Ephesians 3:20  God’simmeasurable power

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

The bar is set very high,

so that’s why Paul is praying for us.
That’s why we need to follow his example to not only pray for ourselves,
but for our brothers and sisters in Christ who journey with us at CBC.

God has the power

To intervene in our lives, to change our hearts, to make His desires our desires, to be so consumed by His love for us, that we deny self, take up our cross daily and follow Jesus.  

There is nothing that we can ask that’s beyond God’s ability to provide. And here’s the catch… according to the power at work within us

To the extent that we are surrendering to the leading of the Holy Spirit who lives in us,
to the extent that we are yielding our lives to the fullness of God,

Well have His power within us,

To know God in a deep and intimate way

so that the knowledge of God would influence how we choose to live in the present.

To know God’s love in a deep and intimate way.

so that the knowledge of God’s love for us would influence how we choose to live in the present.

People will see that transformation!

And that’s what verse 21 is all about.

B. Ephesians 3:21 God’s unending glory

21 to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

That we, individually and we corporately as the body of Christ, would bring glory to God, today, tomorrow and until Jesus returns.

When we surrender, when we yield, when we grow deeper in our knowledge of God and of His love for us, the church will be doing what it was meant to do:

Be a light that reflects God’s glory to the world around us,so that they may be drawn to Him through faith in Jesus.

Let’s be that church and let’s start right now, in the middle of this pandemic, that people will see Christ in us and give glory to God.

Conclusion: We live in a time when people are losing heart. There’ll be days, Christian, when for you not to lose heart, will depend on whether you are nurturing a consistent prayer life today.

Praying…to a God who is able…

is the secret to not losing heart.
It’s the answer to hope that’s wavering or been lost.

We can find rest, peace and yes, even joy at this unsettling time, when we bask in, live in, the unimaginable and overwhelming love, that God has for us.

Let’s pray