Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Strength, wisdom, perfection and love

Sermon by Reverend Tony Bethke

Ephesians 3: 14 – 21

  1. that you may be strengthened in your inner being.
  2. that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
  3. that you be rooted and established in love.
  4. and grasp the fullness of Christ’s love.
    The Saving love of Jesus
  5. filled with a measure of the fullness of God’s love.
But notice that prayer doesn't change God, it changes us:
vs 14 I bow on my knees,
vs 16, to be strengthened,
vs 17 and grounded in love,
vs 18 able to begin comprehending his love,
vs 19 knowing the love of Christ, (Christian Assurance)
vs 20 His power at work in us!

"Prayer does not change God, it changes us!"

Harry Emerson Fosdick told this story:

His father said to his mother as he left the house one Saturday morning: “Tell Harry that he can mow the lawn today if he feels like it.” Halfway down the path he turned and added: “Tell Harry that he had better feel like it.”

We’re taught that we don’t know God if we know Him only as an authority figure, that we don’t know God if we only know Him as One who cares and loves. He is a God of Justice and Love.

The Bible teaches that we don’t know God if we know Him only as an authority figure and don’t know God if we only know Him as One who cares and loves. (Grace).

We don’t know God unless His authority and His love has captivated us.

Until knowing God and living under His love and authority becomes a way of life and not an obligation imposed on us by the Church or by fear of death, God does not become a reality.

Until we truly know God, His love and authority at work in us, and our way of life is not an obligation imposed on us by the Church or by fear of death, He cannot become a reality.

The wonderful thing about God is that nothing can separate us from his love. Romans 8: 38 – 39.

So, we truly know God when His authority, power and love has captivated us and we begin to obey him.

Notice too how Paul, quite unconsciously mentions the the Trinity in this prayer:

v14: “Father”!

v16: “Spirit”!

v17: “Christ”!

v19: “God”!

To truly understand the Trinity Carlo Carretto says, “we need loving communication, the presence of the Spirit….only God can speak about himself and only the Holy Spirit, who is love, can communicate this knowledge to us….The Holy Spirit is the fullness and joy of God.”

Ultimately God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are continually at work in us to complete the work God began in us at our conversion!

How would the Church and the world look if we were all rooted and grounded in the love that is beyond our understanding?

A veterinarian’s 3 year old daughter loved going to the zoo and when her father stretched out his arms one day and said, "I love you this much" she said, "Daddy, I love you all the way to the zoo!" It is a two hour drive to the zoo and that was as far as her mind could take her.

A doxology ends the prayer. From it we get a remarkable idea of what God can and wants to do in and through us.

Strengthened in our inner being; rooted and grounded in love; trying to grasp the love of Christ which is beyond our understanding; filled with all the fullness of the creator of the universe!

Jesus, whose "power is at work within us is able to accomplish immeasurably more than all we can ask for or imagine"......which is illustrated by the feeding of the crowd in John's gospel.

What does it mean to belong to a God who is able to increase our resources?

My prayer for myself is that God's power would work in me to such an extent that I would be able to do the unimaginable - that he would give me the grace to have faith when all my outward crutches have been removed.

For me, the unimaginable is:
  • To know the love of Christ in such a way that it sustains me in love for others even when they hate me, abandon or are absolutely unlovable. 
  • To be held in the love of Christ even when all material and physical comforts have fled. 
  • To stand firm in faith even when I'm being encouraged to curse God and die. 
Father, through your Spirit, give us that strength in our inner being. Christ, dwell in us and cause our roots to search out the Living Water and to discover that our foundation is in you alone. 


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