"Responding to Love"
Paul wants us to know how much we are loved. He wants us to think about the greatness of the love of Christ so that YOU can be filled with God. How do you respond to that type of love?
Responding To Love
A. The Revelation opens with John’s vision or transportation into the heavenly realm. But “in the Spirit” on the Lord’s Day, John comes into the throne room of God. There he sees the voice of the one speaking to him. It is the Son of Man in a form that is anything but human. His hair was white, his eyes like flames of fire, his feet were like bronze and his voice was like the roar of water. In his right hand he held seven stars and from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword and his face was radiant.
B. Listen to what John writes (Rev. 1:17-18). As he continues in chapter 4 John would write that the four Living Creatures continually said, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come.” Then the 24 elders joined in with them crying out, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God to receive glory and honor and power…”
C. What is it like for you to pray? What is like when you come before the Holy God who created the heavens and the earth? What is like to enter into a place where all power and love are extended? How do you respond to the love of God who came to earth to grant you and me as part of God’s family with the riches of His glory and strengthen us by his Spirit? How do you respond? Paul…on bended knee.
D. READ Eph. 3:14-15.
I. Strength of the Inner Man
A. Paul comes before God, not for himself, but for this group of Christians that he loves. He comes before God who binds us together with cords that cannot be broken because we are the family of God.
B. Our father in heaven is what makes us family. We are family because of the blood of Jesus. We are family because of faith in father. We are family and family needs one another. But as family we sometimes get stressed, upset, hurt, angry, or simply overwhelmed.
C. What does a church family need from the father of this family? Strength. Spiritual strength. Paul prays that would find that strength in Spirit (READ Eph. 3:16-17a).
D. What is this “inner man?” I like the way Adam Clarke’s Commentary puts it, “Every man is a compound being; he has a body and a soul. The outward man is that alone which is seen and considered by men; the inward man is that which stands particularly in reference to God and eternity. The outward man is strengthened by earthly food; the inward man, by spiritual and heavenly influences.”
E. Paul’s prayer is that our inner man is strengthen by the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives. That strength empowers us to live holy lives. That strength comes not from my will but from God at work in me. It is power that is found when we as a church live in submission to God’s will so that we as a church and each of us individually experience the power of living a life worth of our calling.
F. Paul falls on his knees and prays for that to happen in Ephesus and I hope we pray for that to happen in this congregation. Think of the revival that begins when we as church are strengthened with power from above. But that is not the only thing Paul prayed about.
II. Love Fulfills
A. Listen to the rest of Paul’s prayer. (vs 17b-19)
B. Love. Look at the prayer that Paul shares. Paul sees love as what grounds us in Christ and unifies us as the family of God. Paul wants us to “comprehend” that which surpasses knowledge! How do you do that? Paul is so wrapped up in love that he finds that as the depth of our strength of the inner man.
C. Everything I do is limited to my knowledge and understanding. I want so much to break outside of myself and grasp the love of Christ, but that is so difficult.
D. How wide, long, high and deep is the love of God? God loves you and me so much that our human mind cannot take it in, instead we experience it through the unity of the church family. It fills us to the fullness of God.
E. It is time to get out of the box mentality. I put life in a box. I put all my success and failures in a box. I put my relationships with people in a box. My box is my life and how I handle everything in life, but I can’t fit this type of God into my box. God is bigger than my box. He literally explodes my box and instead seeks me to find my fullness in his love. Love that expressed in my salvation. Love that is expressed in this church family and how you treat me. Love that is expressed by lifting me up from the sinking sands of life and placing me on solid ground.
A. So Paul simply has to proclaim the greatness of God. Listen to this closing. (READ vs 20-21).
B. With God you always get more than you expect. Life may treat you unfair and might give you the feeling that everything is tough all the time, but Paul says, God is ABLE to do MORE than you can IMAGINE. And that power is at work inside you as a Christian.
C. The problem is not that church is too weak to wage war against the world. The problem is not that Christians are too weak to fight the prince of the air. The problem is we live in a box, we put our God in a box and we never grasp what Paul prayed we might strive to grasp 2000 years ago. It is time to destroy the box we call life. It is time to surrender to a God who is beyond what you can imagine, but loves you with a love that surpasses knowledge so that we can live outside the box.
D. God exceeds all expectation. There is no sinner he will not forgive. For when God calls you, he enables you. There is no situation in your life that cannot be handled. For when God allows you to go through suffering, he goes through that valley with you and his rod and staff guide and comfort you. The prayer today is that you reach out your heart to a God who already has given his blood to cleanse you.
E. Will you let God take over the box of your life, the box of this congregation, and live the abundant life? If we can help you, please come as we stand and sing.