Summary: POWER, PRESENCE, SATISFACTION...The only thing we’ll crave when we experience his fullness is more of His filling!
• Movie – Saving Private Ryan. It is loosely based on the story of four brothers who served during WW II. Because it was believed three of them had died in battle, a Division was sent deep into enemy lines to bring the last one home alive. It is this scene where Tom Hanks, playing Captain John Miller, catches up with Private Ryan but just before the extraction Captain Miller gets shot. Let’s listen in on his dying words to Private Ryan and then fast forward to years since….
• Seems to be Paul’s words whispering in our Gentile ears in the whole book of Ephesians
o We are abundantly free because of Christ and we cannot even imagine the depth of God’s love for us! God’s plan for us and the way he pulled it off is beyond our comprehension! We can only stand back and say WOW! (Ch 1)
o We were spiritually dead but are alive because of Christ (Ch 2). Hear 2:1-6, The Message!...
o Separation between Jew and Gentile (Elaborate…). Social class was abolished through Christ and all are on equal ground (Ch 3) - 3:1 “This is why I am in jail for Christ, having taken up the cause of you outsiders, so called” – “Don’t waste it.”
o Sacrifice of Christ – “Don’t waste it”
o Gift of Salvation – “Don’t waste it”
o Paul re his own suffering and labor for the Gentiles – “Don’t waste it.
3:14-15 “For this reason…”
When we labor, sweat, sacrifice and invest in something, we protect it at all costs. It means everything to us. Paul was beating for this work. He was misunderstood because of this work. He was receiving treatment that he was familiar with dishing out before he believed Jesus to be Messiah.
No wonder he pleads with God with soul-wrenching prayer. One writer offers that “Paul’s kneeling posture here means more than bending the knees. Rather he prostrates himself in agonizing entreaty before God for the Church.” He desperately wants the Church to know the indescribable love of God.
We must pray seriously, deeply, for the Church. The Church is God’s vehicle of life and deliverance from death. I remember years ago a Christian comedian, Mike Warnke, saying in effect “the Church is not perfect but it’s the only boat afloat. It’s all we got.” We fail to appreciate her because we’ve always had her. If authorities walked in here and closed our doors so that public worship could not happen any more, we would be devastated. WE MUST PROTECT THE CHURCH! WE MUST VALUE THE CHURCH! WE MUST GIVE ALL FOR THE CHURCH! Jesus died to birth the church and countless followers of Jesus died for the church. What are we prepared to give?
God’s love for the Church is manifested through three gifts that he gives us. These gifts are YOURS!
• First impressions
o WWF and body-slamming 250 pounds on the mat!
o Men – suggest something to our wives and they agree – now that’s power! It is short-lived but we’ll take whatever we can get! “My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding” – the husband was raving about being the head of the home. His wife says to their daughter, “He’s the head, but we’re the neck – and the neck controls where the head moves!”
This is not a brute strength or violent force. It is a strong, steady, confident strength that no circumstance can move, no other power can shake. We are bombarded with pressures and we’re faced with evil all around us. What we have to help us deal with these realities is the power of God’s presence within us – 1 John 4:4b, “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” The Message: “the Spirit in you is far stronger than anything in the world.”
• Example: Jesus standing before his accusers. He endured the spitting, and slapping; the insults and punching; the rod on his back and the nails in his flesh yet he never opened his mouth to oppose them. That’s strength.
• Numbers of people who walk away from God and sometimes for apparently small reasons – painful yes, but to leave the church, leave God, one wonders how. Sadly it is often the result of not having that quiet, confident gift of God’s power.
• The world intimidates us into quiet submission or silent witness…
One New Year’s Day in a Tournament of Roses parade – a float sputtered and died in the middle of the street, out of gas. The whole parade was held up until a can of gas was brought to the float. The float belonged to the Standard Oil Company! Volumes of oil resources yet its truck was out of gas!