Do you know how much you are loved? Have you begun to grasp how wide, long, high, and deep the love of God is for you? Learn more about this love through Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian believers!
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So I don't know if you do social media or not, it seems like most of us do these days more and more of us are maybe we didn't used to, but almost the whole world is doing social media. And I can't really remember when it was. But I remember seeing a post a few years back that a teenage girl posted that got a lot of attention. And I want to read to you what her post said. She said, my love life will never be satisfactory, until someone runs through an airport to stop me from getting on a flight. About ever had that happen to you anybody run through an airport to stop you from getting on a flight to declare their love for you and that they wanted to be with you for forever? I don't see any hands this morning. Or were too shy to it'd be a good feeling though. I may be one of those things. That would be a really cool moment, right? I mean, we we see that kind of thing happen in movies. I mean, they do it in movies, the music's playing their dramatic moment you see it in TV shows we see it when what is it, Ross chased after Rachel and friends 20 or 30 years ago, right. And the dramatic moment where he's trying to tell her not to get on the plane and she gets on the plane, but then she gets off the plane. And it's just this moving moment to see what happens. Let me guys if somebody would do that, for me, how, how amazing would it be if someone loved us that much that they would run through an airport, to stop us from getting on it to say you are the one that I want to be with for effort. We all want to be loved in that way. Even if it's not romantically maybe like that we want to be loved fully, we want to be loved completely in that way, whether it's, again, romantic love, or by our friends, or by our our family, or, or really even by God. And a lot of times because we want to be loved this way that fully and that completely you and I will do just about anything to get it a lot of times we'll dress a certain way or we'll act a certain way we'll change our whole personalities and do things we had never done before to capture someone's attention that we like and that we want to notice us because we feel like they could be the one who runs through the airport after us one day and stops us from getting on it right. Of course that happens even in our family. Sometimes we try to make straight A's or we try to make the starting lineup on a sports team or first cheer and band or we make it into a great college or establish a great career all in hopes that our own father or mother will love us more fully and completely. Because we don't really feel that outside of what it is that we accomplish for them. Some of us try to read our Bibles and go to church and serve others and and give more money all in the hopes of doing these religious things so that God would truly love us. And hopefully, he wouldn't be disappointed in all of the failures and the things that he sees us. Failing in all of the time we just longed to be fully and completely loved. The good news this morning is that we are we already are loved in that way. And we're going to see that as we look at this prayer that Paul prays in Ephesians chapter three, this is by far my favorite prayer in all of the Bible. There's a lot of prayers throughout the Bible. This one right here that Paul prays in Ephesians. Chapter three is my favorite prayer that is prayed in the Bible. It is one that I go to over and over and over again when I don't know what to pray. And the words aren't really coming. I'll go here and I'll pray this, there's so much in it that I love that reminds me about who God is and what it is that he's done for us. Ephesians chapter three, verse 14, Paul starts off this way and says For this reason, I kneel before the Father from whom every family and are in heaven and on earth derives its name. So we get this picture that Paul's kneeling. He means he's going to be praying and he's going to declare what it is that he's praying over them. Kneeling wasn't your standard typical posture for praying at this particular time it was more of standing it wasn't a known for people to kneel but people more than not stood when they prayed. And so when Paul saying I'm, I'm kneeling, this is just a way of saying, like, I'm really praying this for you, like I'm on my knees praying this over you during this time, but Paul says for this reason. So that brings up the question what reason Why is he on his knees? Why is he about to pray? What it is that he's about to pray? Well, usually we would just back up a little bit and see what Paul said a few verses earlier. But you can't really do that in this case, because if you backed up all the way to chapter three, verse one, you would see that the exact same words that start off in 14 For this reason are in verse one, two, Paul started to pray there, he started to pray at the very beginning of this chapter For this reason, and he's about to go into the same thing. He goes, Oh, but wait a minute, before I do that, maybe I should tell you about a few other things. And so for the next 13 verses, it's like a parenthetical remark here, before he comes back to what it is that he's going to pray. So really, you have to go back into chapter two. And if you go back into there you go, Well, you can't really stop there. And most commentators go, man, when Paul says, For this reason, what he's really basing this prayer on is just about everything that he's already written in the first two chapters of this letter to the church at Ephesus. So let's go back and I'm gonna read every verse to you. Now, I'm not going to do that. But I do want to highlight because there's some amazing things in chapter one and two, that Paul declares to them about their identity about who they are now that they put their faith and trust in Jesus for salvation. And that's the reason that Paul is praying, it's the basis for his prayer. So we need to know some of these things. For example, look at what Paul says in chapter one, verses 13 and 14. He says, and you also were included in Christ, when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, when you believe somebody say when you believed. So when you believed you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession, to the praise of his glory, the moment that you put your faith and trust in Jesus for salvation, something happened. The Holy Spirit Paul says, Here came to dwell inside of you. But it didn't just come in, dwell in some like empty space inside of you, the spirit actually united to your spirit, making you a brand new creation at the very core of your being, which is why Paul could say this in chapter two. As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins. But because of His great love for us, God who is rich in mercy made us alive with Christ. And God raised us up with Christ and seeded us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, so you were dead, say I was dead. But now you're alive, say now I'm alive. And now Paul says you're even already spiritually seated in heaven. We even talked about that last week when we looked at Colossians. One and I brought two chairs up here and talked about what Paul said in Colossians, chapter three, and how Jesus sitting at the right hand of the Father, and we are in Christ sitting right there, the right hand of the Father in a beautiful union with Him already spiritually seated in heaven, you're already in the kingdom of light, as we talked about last week, and so being made alive and in the spiritual union. Paul could say what he did in chapter one, verse 33, praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ, say in Christ, I have every spiritual blessing. There is to have, you have every spiritual, not lacking one of them. You have every spiritual blessing that there is to have in your union with Christ. three verses later, four verses later with Paul would say this and him, we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, you're completely forgive and say, I am completely forgiven. As a matter of fact, because you're completely forgiven. And because you've your union with Christ and your holy, you are no longer identified as a sinner. But a Saint Paul even said that in the very first verse to the saints, who are in emphasis, Paul would go on and say, You're not just a saint, though. You are a masterpiece, a work of art. Ephesians 210, Paul says, For we are God's masterpiece, He has created us a new in Christ Jesus so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago, you are a work of art, a work of art that God uniquely created while you were in your mother's womb, and that he recreated in Christ making you spiritually alive so he could take the gifts that He gave you in the womb and the personality that he gave you in the womb and all of the things about you and channel them now and empower them in a way that He manifests Himself through you As the unique you to put himself on display in a way that he can't do it through anyone else, because you're a work of art, you're a masterpiece. And so is the person sitting next to you, and the one sitting next to them, and on and on. And so there are all these incredible identity statements that Paul is just dropping one after another throughout chapters one and two. And then even right before he writes this prayer out and tells them this in chapter three, because all of these things are true. He could say this in chapter three, verse 12, in him, and through faith in Him, we may approach God with freedom, and confidence. Did you know that because you're in Christ, you can approach God, with freedom. That you can actually approach God with competence. You don't have to cower in fear before him, because of who you now are in Christ. You can approach him with freedom, and in real confidence. And so that is why Paul is saying, For this reason, because all of these things are now true about you. Because you're so different than who you used to be before you came to know Christ. Here's why I'm on my knees in here is what I'm praying for you since those things are true, verse 16, I pray that out of his glorious riches, he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit, in your inner being why so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. Now, wait a minute, I thought Paul said in chapter one, verse 13, that the spirit already came to dwell in our hearts. So if Paul said that the moment we believe the spirit already came to dwell in our hearts, why is he praying here that Christ would come to dwell in our hearts? Once because not really what Paul is praying here, see, if Paul first prayed that we would be strengthened with power through the Holy Spirit where in our what anybody paying attention, in our inner being right, that our inner being is the place of union with Christ, this is the place of our new birth, where capital S spirit is joined to lowercase s spirit, and where we are made a new creation, our inner being is the very core of who we are. In this union that we have with Christ. It's where identity is formed. And Paul prays that from that place, from that place where Christ power now resides, that we will be strengthened from there so that Christ may now dwell in our hearts a different word heart here is different than inner being. Heart is a reference to the center of the personality, our intellect, our emotions, and our will. In other words, it's what we often talk about around here at Colonial hills as our soul. Paul said, in First Thessalonians chapter five, he talks about us being a tripart, being we have a body, we have a soul, and we have a spirit, our soul is made up of our mind and our emotions and our will, that's our personality, if you will. And so when Paul is praying that Christ would come to dwell in our hearts, he's not praying that because he's not there, he would come to live in us, he already dwelt in them in the place of their union when their inner being, he's praying that Paul would strengthen them with power from that place, so that now they would be into experienced Christ who already dwells in them through their emotions, and through their intellect and their thoughts, and through their choices, in that it would move from a place of Christ to just dwelling in them to them actually experiencing Christ in them, and now through them. I love this. I mean, at the heart of it, Paul's praying man, now that you know, all of these things are true. I've just written about now that you know, they're true, I'm praying that you will actually experience them in your lives. They are true, whether you believe it, or whether you think it or whether you feel like and at times, they are true. Now I'm praying that you will experiencing spirits them because they are true. So this is what he begins to pray here. And notice how Paul says that this will happen. So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through what? Through faith, it's not your striving. It's not your effort, not your own strength or your own power. It's not through your religious duties in your checklist that you do. It's it's through faith, it's through dependence. It's through trusting in who Christ says that you are and what it is that he's already done and what thoughts emotions and behaviors lineup of who you are now it's living moment by moment through dependence on him to see him work these things through us. And so so this is what Paul is praying, beginning to pray for them. He's praying for us that we will begin to experience what is already true about Christ in our inner being throughout the rest of who we are. But Paul isn't done with his prayer. He has something very specific that he wants to pray as we start to experience Christ in us and through us now. And he gets into that in verse 17. He says, and I pray that you being rooted and established in love. So let's timeout pause there before we go on. If you have a Bible that's printed, and you have a pen, highlighter, or you've got a device, a Bible app that will highlight things, don't skip past that highlight being rooted and established in love. Because this is written in the perfect tense in Greek, which indicates a past action. With continuing results. What I'm wanting you to see is sometimes you'll hear people teach on this, you'll hear people preach on this particular passage. And what they begin to say is that what Paul is praying is that you would begin to root yourself in God's love, that you would begin to establish yourself in God's love that if you just rooted yourself in God's love, through praying more, and reading your Bible more, and doing a bunch of religious activities, and all of those kinds of things, then all of these things that will happen. That's not what Paul was praying here, Paul saying, since this has already happened to you, since you are already rooted in his love, since you are already established in his love. Now, this is what I'm going to ask to happen, because that also is already true. The next time you feel like you aren't loved or you start to think that you aren't love be reminded, as Paul was praying here, what the truth is, is that you're already rooted in his love, you're already established in his love, you can't get away from his love, no matter whether you think it or feel it or not. So Paul says, I pray that since you've been rooted and established in his love, now, it's a part of your identity and who you are at the inner core of your being. Verse 18, I'm praying that you may have power together with all the Lord's holy people to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Yeah, so Paul says, you're already rooted in it. It's already there. It's deeply entrenched into you. But now, I'm praying that you begin to, to grasp it, that you that you begin to experience the love that you already have in Christ in your inner being that you'll know it, that you'll feel it that will influence your actions. And he says, not just knowing because it surpasses knowledge, right. In other words, there's a there's a difference between just knowing something is true, or knowing a little bit about something and really beginning to grasp and Paul's praying that we begin to grasp His love for us. I will never forget the moment that I became a dad. I don't think those of you who are parents will probably ever forget the moment that you became a parent really, either. I remember the moment that I found out that I was going to get to be a dad the joy and the excitement and in praying for my son and wondering and thinking about what he was going to look like and what he was going to be like and what it was going to be like to be a dad and I I knew that I would love him. And I knew that but I'm just telling you the moment that I first got to lay eyes on him. I lost it. I'm talking like tears like it was Niagara Falls in the in the room. I mean, I was uncontrollable sobbing and having a wipe stuff off. I mean, it was nasty and ugly. But it was just such a joyful moment. I knew that I would love him. But while I was grasping I was experiencing how much love I had for him. In that moment. There is a difference between knowing your loved and grasping that you are loved experiencing His love. I reference to the the teenage girl earlier who posted about how her love life wouldn't be complete until or satisfactory until someone ran through an airport to stop her from getting onto a plane a little bit earlier. We'll God didn't run through an airport. But he left the glory in the riches of heaven to travel all the way here into the hill called Calvary, out of his love for you. He didn't run through an airport. But he did allow people to mock him and spit on him and beat him on that hill. He didn't run through an airport. But he did allow them to take nails and drive them through his hands and drive them through his feet. And he hung on a cross for hours gasping for breath, until he died, because of his love for you. Now, he didn't run through an airport. But he traveled much further and a much greater lengths to rescue you from your sin. And to show you how much he really does love you, as good as it would feel for someone to run through an airport and stop you from getting on that plane. When you truly begin to grasp the links that Jesus went through, to stop you, and declare His love for you, that will change everything. That'll change everything, because you are fully loved. You're completely loved, you are on conditionally loved. And it is a love that runs so high and so wide and so long and so deep that you can't outrun his love. You can try through your behavior through your actions through denouncing him and all kinds of other things. But it runs too far, for you to be able to outrun his love. You can't do it. And this is the heart of what Paul is praying here, what he's praying for them when he's praying for you that you and I would begin to really grasp God's love for us and experience his love in us in through us. Just think about that. I mean, out of all the things that the apostle Paul could pray, all the things that he could pray for the Ephesians. And for us, I mean, for their situations in their circumstances to get better that that they in US would read our Bibles more and that we would pray more and that we would give more and that we would serve more impulses. No, no, no, the one thing you got to know, the one thing that is driving me to my knees and asking the Lord to show you and reveal to you and that you would begin to grasp is how much God loves you. It's more important than anything else I could be praying, Paul says that you would begin to grasp that love. Why? Because that is the heart of everything. That it really is us not resting in the love that we have is a pursuit of trying to get that love through lesser means in just about everything that we ever do. And so if we know how fully and completely we're loved, and we begin to really grasp how fully and completely love Paul knows that will affect everything will begin to rest will be content in here. And it will affect our actions and us not having to run around and chase after convincing everybody else to love us fully and completely because we already are fully and completely loved in him. So Paul says this is why I'm on my knees. But this is such a big deal. It's such a big ask that Paul is making. He has to close his prayer out this way in verses 20 and 21. Now, to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to his power that is at work within us. To Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen. Paul says that you won't be able to fully grasp this on your own. So I have to pray that God who can do immeasurably more in you and through you would actually do this. You can't begin to grasp. You can't know his love because it surpasses knowledge. So I've got to pray that the God who dwells in you in your inner being and who can do a measurably more than all you could ever think or imagine would do that in lead you to grasp to be able to grasp how much it is that he really does love you. And of course because it's a work of him in us and through us he gets all the glory and honor doesn't speak of us and whatever it is that we've done, it speaks of him. And that's why he's able to close it out this way. So this is the prayer that Paul prays over the church at Ephesus and really at the heart of what he wants all of us as believers to know and to guide even our her own prayer lives as well. I mean, first of all, just knowing how much it is that we're love grasping the truths found in this prayer will change a lot of things for us if we begin to walk by faith that those things are true, and allow him to lead us to that point of grasping these things. But he can also be the kind of thing that helps us know more fully how to pray for him, not that this is the only way that we ever pray. But some of us have a hard time praying, sometimes some of us don't really know what to pray. And even when we do, we don't pray this way. But yet we see that this is the heart of the way that the apostle Paul was praying over and for his people, which I really think should impact the way it is that you and I pray. And so I want to challenge you this week, I will encourage you this week to, to pray this prayer, as you pray, you can pray at word for word or you could, you know, just begin to break it up and kind of paraphrase but throughout the whole thing, I mean, pray that you would experience His power that dwells in your inner being that all the way through you that it would impact your thoughts and emotions and your choices and your your actions. Thank him, thank him that you're rooted and established in his love when you're praying. And then ask him to lead you to be able to grasp how wide and long and high and deep His love is for you and, and pray that, that, you know, he's the one who can do immeasurably more in you and through that you would ever be able to dream or ask or imagine and that he would get all the glory and all the honor for what it is that he's doing in you and through you. And so just like last week, as we read through the prayer that the apostle Paul prayed in Colossians, chapter one, I want to give you an immediate chance to respond and pray and allow this to be a way that guides your prayers this morning as the Spirit leads you and guides you. And so Andrew is going to just play kind of instrumentally and you and I are going to enter into a time of prayer together. And again, you pray as the Spirit is leading you. And then I'll come back up and close this out and we'll enter into a time of response. An invitation as we sing this final song together. You pray right where you're at. You can sit, you can stay in you can kneel, you can go somewhere else you can pray silently you can pray over someone. However the Spirit is leading you. You pray in these next few moments. Pray that out of God's glorious riches, he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being this morning. so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, having been rooted and established and love may have power today together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. Now pray that you would know this love that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God this morning and now to him who was able to do immeasurably more than all we could ever ask or imagine according to his power that is at work in us and through us. To him to you God be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen.