Ephesians 3:14-21-14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 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, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.20 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, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians in chapter 3 is power-packed. Ultimately, he prayed that the believers at Ephesus would be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. What Paul was essentially praying was that the Ephesians would live a life of fulfillment by being filled with the fullness of God. Fulfillment comes from being filled up by the things God has to offer and by God Himself. Let’s look at the things Paul enumerates.
In verse 16 Paul began by saying, “I pray that out of his glorious riches…”
There is an unlimited reservoir of resources that God has at His disposal, friends. Paul calls them God’s “glorious riches.” Do you realize God created all things and is the owner of all things? He maintains a treasury that is vast, so vast it is hard to comprehend. It contains what is needed to meet our spiritual, physical, financial, and emotional needs. Paul calls them “glorious” riches because they come from Heaven. They come from God Himself.
People who don’t walk with God don’t know about this reservoir of glorious riches. They don’t know that He longs to meet our needs and they go looking to the things of the world in order to get their needs met. The problem with that approach is that the experiences this world offers can never satisfy. They can never fill us up. They only leave us empty, with a longing for more.
When you have a need, look to Jesus to supply it. Talk to Him about the need. Paul tells us in Philippians 4:6-7 that we don’t have to worry about anything, but that we can pray about everything. You want a life change or status change? Pray. You want a new job? Pray. You need healing? Pray. You need a new place to live? Pray. Are you having issues in your marriage or in a friendship? Pray. Are you in a difficult class in school? Pray. Is someone making life difficult for you? Pray. Paul says in Philippians 4:7 that there is a peace that will come over you, a supernatural peace that will enable you to stick something out, a peace that will help you stay calm while you stand your ground, peace to stay in the presence of God which will satisfy your longings, a peace that will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus as you wait on God to move. When you realize that God has an endless supply of glorious riches, you know your time and turn will come, and you know you can trust Him to deliver what you need.
Maybe one of the glorious riches you need today is spiritual power. Our text goes on to say, “16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.” SPIRITUAL POWER
Strength to endure some trial, strength to overcome some challenge, strength to stay focused on the Kingdom of God rather than being consumed by your trial-this is the kind of strength God can give us. Paul is describing a power beyond ourselves. Y’all, I have watched Kenny Bright remain at his sweet wife’s bedside since April. She has been in and out of the hospital, in and out of rehab facilities, and is now at home. She has had physical challenge after physical challenge, and every time I visit her, Kenny is right there with her. Dealing with physical illness is difficult. Being a caregiver is difficult, but I can witness to you that I have seen strength in Kenny that goes beyond the kind of strength a human being can muster. Kenny has had help from Heaven. He has received physical strength and emotional strength, and I tell you his faith in God has never wavered. Kenny has an inner fortitude, a determination that is being fueled by the glorious riches of God in Christ Jesus.
When we go through difficult times, it is OK to pray that the difficulties will resolve and that life will become easier, but in addition to praying that way, we need to pray for supernatural spiritual strength and power to walk through our trials with unbroken peace. The world knows how to pray for pain to stop and for difficulty to end. You see their requests on social media every day. We can certainly take our burdens to the Lord, but in addition to that, we can pray in a way that the world could never comprehend or apprehend; we can pray for a miracle in our inner man that comes because we are connected to the resurrection power of Jesus. When your inner man is strengthened by God you have what you need to go without something you need or want and to live in joyful anticipation of God’s supply.
Paul says he prays the Ephesians will be strengthened through God’s power in their inner man, verse 17, so that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith. When I read this, I get the idea that Paul is praying in this section for the church to grow in SPIRITUAL PASSION. There is a sense that Paul is urging the Ephesian Church to allow God to fully reside, to take up residence, to dwell in their hearts by faith.
For the believer, every facet of life can be saturated by the presence of God. By faith, allow God to tell you how to handle adversity. By faith, give God control of your finances. By faith, ask God to help you parent your children. By faith, invite God to lead your next steps. By faith, pray for God’s will to be accomplished in your current circumstance. By faith, tackle that education or make that career change.
By faith, make room for Jesus to enter into your pain. Allow Jesus the room to settle in you, and you will live settled with Him. Everything you go through is an opportunity to be shaped by Jesus, to be helped by Jesus. The way to cultivate your spiritual passion is to invite Jesus into the middle of every situation.
God has something to say to you in every circumstance. God has something to work in you in every circumstance. God has something for you in every circumstance and the only way to hear Him speak, the only way to to experience His work and the only way to receive His blessing in your trial is by exercising faith.
Go off roading with me for just a second. One of my life verses is Romans 12:11. It says, “11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” This verse is in the chapter about how we are called to present ourselves to God as living sacrifices. An Old Testament sacrifice involved fire. When I think about spiritual passion, I think about being on fire for the Lord. In order to maintain a fire, you have to keep putting wood on the fire. You have to keep feeding the fire. You have to keep stoking the fire. You have to fan the flames at times so that the whole fire will be lit. In order to keep the fire white hot, you can’t walk away from it and expect to find it still blazing hot or even burning at all the next day. No, you have to keep tending to the fire in order for it to stay ablaze.
Do you know that in the Old Testament, it was a priest’s job to keep a fire going all of the time? The book of Leviticus mentions in several places that the fire on the altar was supposed to burn continuously. God literally mandated perpetual fire outside of the Tabernacle. The fire of sacrifice for the burnt offering was to be ongoing, never burning out. There was a connection between a sacrificial offering and a fire that would not be quenched.
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, your spiritual passion, serving the Lord. Don’t let it go out. Keep living by faith. Keep looking for God to show up. Keep praying for miracles and spiritual fortitude to be a witness for Christ in the midst of your chaos.
One reason that ongoing fire was so important is that God started it Himself. We read in Leviticus 9:24, “Fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown.”
Fire, passion, spiritual energy come from the Lord. God started the Old Testament fire! As they looked at the fire, the people would constantly be reminded of God’s power. That fire was a gift from Heaven. It got them started. Sacrifice, obedience to God, which are the essence of living by faith, would keep that fire going.
In the New Testament, John the Baptist declared that the Messiah would baptize people with the Holy Spirit and fire! He was pointing us to the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out on those gathered in Jerusalem. God’s power was demonstrated as the believers who had been gathered together, and were praying, were given supernatural power to speak in languages they had not learned. Those in Jerusalem from every part of the then known earth, heard the Word of God in their own language. Literally, fire fell from Heaven, tongues of fire, and the early church was energized and synergized and organized into a passionate army that advanced the Kingdom of God in power.
As the Spirit of Christ descended on the Day of Pentecost and a perpetual fire was started by Heaven’s hand, Paul prayed that the Ephesians would allow that same Spirit, the Spirt of Christ, to rest in their hearts by faith. Paul was literally praying for the Ephesian Church, that their fire wouldn’t ever go out.
How is the fire in your life? How long has it been since you threw another log on that fire? Are you mindful of the moments that it needs stoked? Do you wake up, like the Old Testament Priest, and put some more logs on the fire? Are you passionate about developing your faith and burning brightly for Jesus?
So, we see Paul praying for spiritual power, for spiritual passion and then he moves on to pray for their SPIRITUAL PERCEPTION.
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 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, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge
I love Paul’s word choice here. He talked about them being rooted and established in love. The idea of being rooted talks about depth and stability. That word “established” speaks about a firm foundation, something that is lasting. And just what is it that they are rooted in? They are rooted in the love of God. Do y’all have any idea how enduring, how strong, how unshakeable the love of God is? Have you taken time to contemplate what it means to be rooted in the love of God? Can you wrap your mind around the dimensions of God’s love?
Do you know the strength of God’s love? His love cannot be diminished. It doesn’t fade with the passing of time. It cannot be demolished. God’s love will never fail. We are superglued to Christ in love. Romans 8:39 says that nothing can ever separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Can you see the love of God when you look at the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross? Can you see the love of God that has made a way for you to be forgiven? Can you grasp the love of God who has a desire to bless you in ways you can’t even think to pray for? Can you picture the dimensions of the love of God, a love so expansive that envelopes you completely? There is no earthly love that comes even close to the kind of love God has for you. Paul prayed for an increase in spiritual perception, in spiritual sight, so that the Ephesians could more adequately grasp God’s love.
God’s love is so difficult to fathom let alone try to describe that scholars have a hard time even translating the word that represents the love that is intrinsic to His character. The Hebrew word for it is “hesed.” It has multiple meanings, representing the multiple dimensions and qualities of God’s love.
It is a covenant-kind of love, a covenant-keeping love. It is translated as “steadfast love.” It is also translated to be “goodness,” “kindness,” “faithfulness,” and “steadfast mercy.” It is like a diamond with many facets to it. It reflects God’s posture toward His people.
God’s “hesed” is never-failing. It is unrelenting. It is forgiving. It is faithful. There is a tenderness to His love and a mercy that the Bible describes as being new every morning. Imagine that. God renews His love or demonstrates His love fresh every day. There is a generous expression of kindness toward us even though we could do nothing to deserve any attention or tender expression from God. God’s “hesed” love is a love that is unending and always seeks our highest good. In love, God will always fight for us and come to our rescue. His is a love that pursues us over and over and over.
Can you see why scholars have had difficulty translating what “hesed” means? His love is so big for us that there isn’t an English word that can capture its meaning. Paul prayed that the Ephesians would have a revelation about the scope, about the strength, about the security the love of God provides. It’s life-changing to have a revelation about God’s love. The love of God is foundational to our salvation. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 Salvation is the byproduct of the love of God. It was God’s reason to give of Himself, to take on our sin, to give His life to redeem us from ourselves and from our sinful ways.
Just as we cannot fully realize the dimensions of God’s love for us, we can’t imagine the weight of the sacrifice that He made when He gave Jesus as our substitute. What did Jesus feel when the sins of the world were heaped upon Him on the cross? There isn’t an English word that comes close to describing the agony, the torture, the shame, the humiliation, the suffocation, the isolation, the degradation, the abuse that Jesus suffered for us, but we have to consider it because as we do, we gain insight about the depth of God’s love for us.
God’s love becomes our motivation for wanting to be with Him, for wanting a close relationship with Him. Do you need a reason to become a Christian this morning? I’m handing it to you on a silver platter. Your reason is the love of God, and once you experience it, you become captivated by it, and it changes you. Oh, how it changes you. You become filled with the love of God, and it transforms you and gives your life a purpose you could never have imagined. God’s love begins to flow through you to those around you, and others then become changed by it. I John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.” As we encounter the love of God, we become lovers of others. It was happening in the first century Church as the Gospel spread like wildfire, and Paul was telling the Ephesians in our passage for today, “We cannot let up on the Gospel message. We must continue to gain spiritual power, spiritual passion and spiritual perception so that God in us can overflow to those around us.”
Look at the end of our text: that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.20 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, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:19-21
The way to fullness is by receiving spiritual power, by fueling our spiritual passion and by desiring increased spiritual perception. What could happen if we turned to God for supernatural strength every day? What could happen if we threw some spiritual logs on the fire in our hearts and stoked that fire all throughout the day, increasing our spiritual passion? What could happen if we lived with a desire for increasing spiritual perception and lived out of that revelation? Paul gives us the answer. He says God will do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine!
I want to join the Apostle Paul in his prayers for the Ephesians and ask God to do it in, for, and through the believers at Teays Valley Church of God. My God be glorified in this church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen!