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Ephesians 314-21

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Ephesians 3:14-21
(14) For this reason I kneel before the Father,
(15) from whom his whole family 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 saints, 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,
forever and ever! Amen.

Some people are window shoppers.

They go to the mall not to buy but to look, to try on, to put back – wishing they could
buy but going on to the next display.

Some of these people fear they may spend too much of their precious savings and end
up in financial trouble.

Now that’s a legitimate concern, but sometimes, people have sufficient money but end
up not having the things they really need to live properly.

You read stories of people who die, apparently with very few resources.

Their houses might be run down and in need of repair, with insufficient heat.

Their lifestyle was very frugal and they appeared not to be able to afford much to eat.

And yet, later it’s discovered they had fortune hidden in their homes, untouched,
unused.

Perhaps their death was hastened by their unwillingness to repair their homes and buy
sufficient heat and food.

Take another example of a man who decides he will become a self-employed plumber.

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He knows he needs capital to start a business and he knows he’s got to have savings
to live on until the business gets off the ground, so he saves several thousand dollars.

But he’s afraid of going bankrupt, so he buys very few plumbing tools.

He’s not able to finish jobs properly or on time, so his business fails.

He needed proper tools and he really had the money, but he was afraid to spend it.

These are examples from real life, but something-similar can happen spiritually.

Some Christians never fully buy into the Christian life, they simply window-shop.

They look at the Christian life and all it requires.

Christians are to love others, even the unlovable or enemies.

Christians are to have faith in God, even when the things He asks seem impossible or
don’t make sense.

Christians are to be patient, even when enduring trials.

Christians are to be joyful, even when suffering persecution.

Christians are to be peaceful, although the world around them is filled with turmoil and
uncertainty.

In short, the demands of the Christian life are pretty demanding.

Theses people may do some trying, but they come to believe they don’t have what it
takes to accomplish the demands of the Christian life.

What is truly sad is that they really do have the resources they need to successfully
live the Christian life, but they don’t know it.

Those riches are available to us through Jesus Christ.

God doesn’t dangle the Christian life in front of us like some kind of impossible dream.

He gives us understanding of His will for us and he enables us to perform that will
through the unlimited resources available through Jesus Christ.
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In Ephesians chapter 1, the apostle Paul tells the church in Ephesus that God had
blessed them with every spiritual blessing.

Ephesians 1:3
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the
heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

The Ephesians, however, hadn’t known about their rich spiritual blessings.

So, Paul prayed that they might have spiritual enlightenment and understanding.

Ephesians 1:17-19a
(17) I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give
you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
(18) I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may
know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the
saints,
(19) and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

In Ephesians chapter 2, Paul showed them that all of God’s resources were available
because Jesus had died to make God’s blessings accessible through the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 2:11-18
(11) Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called
"uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that done in the body
by the hands of men)--
(12) remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from
citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and
without God in the world.
(13) But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near
through the blood of Christ.
(14) For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the
barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,
(15) by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His
purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace,
(16) and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which
he put to death their hostility.
(17) He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who
were near.
(18) For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

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But it’s one thing to know that every spiritual resource is available through Jesus, and
quite another to act upon that knowledge.

That’s why Paul prayed again for the Ephesians in chapter 3.

This time he prayed for them to be spiritually enabled.

Once they understood the spiritual blessings available through Jesus and the Spirit,
they needed to apprehend those blessings, seize them, in other words.

How is your Christian life going?

Are you pleasing God and fulfilling His will?

Perhaps the problem is you don’t fully understand the resources and blessings
available to you through Jesus and the Spirit.

Or perhaps you haven’t seized those resources the way you need to.

A library is a wonderful place to find information. But simply knowing that won’t do you
much good. You’ve got to go inside and pull books off the shelf to find what you’re
looking for.

For the resources that God provides through the Spirit, don’t work automatically in our
lives.

The things of the Spirit are a gift from God, but they’re not magic.

We’ve got to act.

We have our part to do.

Let’s go to our text and reflect on Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians.

Verses 14-15 are the introduction, verses 16-19 the prayer itself and verses 20-21 the
doxology, which is a liturgical expression of praise to God.

Paul wants the Ephesians strengthened by the Spirit so that they may intimately know
Christ’s presence and love.


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Paul prays that God, who has the power to give more than we ask or think and to
whom glory belongs, give power to the Ephesians from His glorious riches.

Paul prays that the Spirit will be so strong an influence at the center of their being that
their lives will show it.

Living the Christian life demands strength through the Spirit.

We no longer have to spiritually window shop, looking through the glass at love, joy,
peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control, and
think, “I can’t afford those things, there’s no way I can have them.”

God has given us the Spirit as an inner resource, and there’s no limit to what the Spirit
can accomplish in our lives if we’ll let it.

This is wonderful news, if we’ll recognize the spiritual riches we’ve been blessed with.

Paul also prays that by the Spirit’s work, Christ will permeate their whole being.

Living the Christian life requires Christ living in us.

Jesus moves in at the core of our being and redefines us.

If we’re permeated with Christ, such cherished ideas as independence, self-
determination, and self-fulfillment must be abandoned.

We are no longer our own.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20
(19) Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom
you have received from God? You are not your own;
(20) you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

As Christians, we need to live as if we know that Christ owns the house, this body of
ours.

Regarding independence, we are independent of everything except Jesus Christ.

Regarding self-determination, He determines what we shall be, where we shall go, and
what we shall do.

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Just like Abraham, if Jesus says, “I want you to get up and go,” then we get up and go.

Regarding self-fulfillment, the most important thing in our life is fulfilling His will.

Our will, our desires always take backseat to His.

This is the language of true discipleship.

To be permeated by Christ is to be stamped by His character, to be clothed with Him.

To think we can believe in Christ without being like Him is ridiculous.

If Christ in us doesn’t transform our lives, then we really must question whether he’s
there or not

But, to accomplish all that God wants us to accomplish, Jesus must be welcomed into
our lives.

He can do nothing in us if we resist Him.

Paul also prays that they will be strengthened with Christ, who lives in them through
faith, and that by being rooted and established in love, they will come to know the love
of Christ.

To experience Christ is to encounter His love and to understand His love.

The love of Christ destroyed both the hostility between humanity and God and the
hostility between Jews and Gentiles.

Love should define and control all Christian action.

Love should be the foundation and goal of our lives.

When we understand and apprehend God’s love, we will want to do everything God
wants.

Paul also prays that in the church God will receive the glory He deserves.

The church is not some optional part of Christianity.


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The church is the place now and throughout all eternity where God is given glory and
honor.

Sadly, some still wonder why they have difficulty successfully living the Christian life
when they neglect coming to church for worship, instruction and fellowship.

The New Testament is very clear on this; there is no such thing as individualistic
Christianity.

Christianity is meant to be lived in community with other believers.

Paul’s prayer is a wonderful example of his love and concern for the members in
Ephesus.

As a pastor, I identify with Paul and his prayer, for I desire the same for all of you:

      That the Spirit of God would strengthen you;

      That Jesus Christ would permeate your lives;

      That you may know the love of Jesus, that changes lives;

      That as part of the church, your lives might bring glory to God.

But again I know that these things don’t happen magically or automatically.

Paul’s prayer doesn’t explain how the Spirit works in our lives, but to think we do
nothing in all of this is a big mistake.

Sometimes people will ask the question, “If the Spirit is supposed to empower
Christians, why don’t we experience this power more? Why are the church and its
people so ineffective?”

The problem isn’t with God or His Spirit; the problem is with us.

The Spirit of God doesn’t empower unwilling, inattentive people, nor does the Spirit
move us to where we need to be overnight.

He lives with us and our entire life is a growth process.

The real question is how much do we desire the things the Spirit has to offer?
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How much do we really want to change?

Sometimes it seems we want all the privileges of being a child of God without all the
work and bother.

But nothing in this life works that way.

We need a regular schedule of studying, thinking, discussing and praying in order to
grow properly.

Sadly, we think our lives are too busy for such time-consuming exercises but how else
are we to grow spiritually?

Perhaps we need to look at our busy schedules and do some trimming.

What could be more important than our relationship with God?

I’d like to read a quote from the NIV Application Commentary:

“Your God is too small. That was the title of a book written years ago by J. B. Phillips,
a book that still merits attention. That title could have been drawn from Ephesians
3:20. Surely this is the real problem behind the failure of Christians to understand and
live their faith. The problem is theological; our image of God – the idol in our minds –
does not merit contemplation, devotion or obedience. Our God is too remote,
disinterested, and inept. In fact, he is too much like us. We neither expect anything
from him – unless it is a handout – nor are we engaged with him.”

Those are strong words and yet we should ask ourselves how big our God is, how do
we view him and how much do we want a relationship with Him?

The commentary goes on to say:

“Our view of God can never include all that he is, and his ways and thoughts will
always be far above us. But the God of the Bible is not too small. Here is the God we
need for life. Our contemplation and learning always have one goal, that of the Shema
– to love the Lord our God with all our heart, our soul, and our strength (Deuteronomy
6:4-5). The goal is not knowledge about God, but knowledge of God, the experiential
knowledge that leads to love for God. Such experiential knowledge changes
behavior.”

A very thought provoking quotation.
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Conclusion:

Have we been window-shopping the Christians life?

Have we looked in our own account and thought we don’t have what it takes to live that
way?

Well, we don’t have what it takes.

But God has made available to us spiritual riches through Jesus Christ far beyond
anything we can imagine.

We need to do more than just know that, we must apprehend those riches and
blessings.

Because those riches, those blessings, won’t operate magically or automatically in our
lives.

The Christian life is relational, and relationships require time and effort.

Are we giving God the time and effort necessary to have a close intimate relationship
with Him?

What is more important than our relationship with Him?

I hope we’ll give that question some serious thought.

Prayer
Father God, we acknowledge that our origin is in You.

We owe you our lives.

Let your Spirit work in us to strengthen us.

Make the presence of Christ so real that we sense your love and live from your love.

Help us to understand how deep your love is so that it changes us into your very
image.

You who are all powerful beyond anything we can conceive, we praise you.

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You alone are God.

For the gift of life in Christ, we worship You.

Forever we will sing Your praise.

In Jesus name, amen.




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