A SUPERLATIVE PRAYER
For this reason, I kneel before the Father, from whom His whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Eph. 3: 14-19).
Once again, we must read Paul’s prayer against the background of the Ephesian church. Some of the believers were Gentiles who had, not long before, come out of paganism, superstition and witchcraft. They had been despised by the Jews, but now they were part of a new race and a new culture – the race of God’s people, Jew and Gentile together making up an entirely new people group with a new culture based on the standards and principles of God’s kingdom, with Jesus at the head. He was their new authority and they were under His Lordship which took precedence over everything they had believed and practised in the past.
Paul had not only spent three years preaching in Ephesus and teaching the new believers the fundamentals of their faith, he also prayed earnestly for them and longed for them to have the inner assurance of the new status and standing they had with the Father.
Everything they had come to believe in was based on God’s mercy in reinstating them to sonship in His family. Until Jesus came, God’s name, Father, was not known. Jesus both revealed the Father by His life and removed the barrier of sin by His death so that all of God’s wayward children might hear the invitation to come home. Like the prodigal in Jesus’ story, God’s sons are either slaves to sin by their rebellion or slaves to religion by their pathetic attempt to be righteous by their adherence to rules.
Both have missed the mark but they have never ceased to be sons. God is not interested or impressed by our efforts to gain His favour. He has already done what was necessary to remove our sin and to reconcile us to Himself. He only asks that we accept His free pardon, return to His family and submit to His authority.
God’s love for us is immeasurable – Paul tried to describe how boundary-less that love is – and freely given to us through Jesus. How can we ever begin to experience the love of God in our lives? The first step is to create an environment in our hearts where Jesus feels at home. He cannot feel comfortable where there are attitudes and emotions that contradict His nature. When our hearts are still filled with prejudice, unforgiveness, bitterness, jealousy, anger and fear, He cannot rest.
He has provided the solution to our old ways of thinking and reacting – He has shown us mercy and forgiven all our bad attitudes and actions towards others. He has given us the power of the Holy Spirit who is resident in us to let go of our hurts and grievances, real or perceived – to who mercy to others as He has shown mercy to us. When our hearts are no longer cluttered with the garbage of sin, He will settle in as a permanent resident and being to fill us with the attitudes and emotions that make Him feel comfortable.
Love, joy and peace are the “furnishings” of His home. The more we dwell on the magnitude of His love and recognise His presence in the circumstances of our lives, good or bad, the more we will recognise and experience His love in spite of the ungodly environment in which we live. Really experiencing the love of God comes, not by stoically bearing whatever comes our way but by consciously dwelling on and trusting in His love in spite of everything. Jesus did, and He came out trumps.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love (1 John 4: 18).
Fear, not hatred, is the opposite of love. Fear (the fear of punishment because we think God is still mad with us), will nullify our awareness and experience of the love of God. Our confidence in the Father is founded on our standing as His sons and daughters. Everything we are and everything God has for us is rooted in the truth that we are God’s beloved children. Those who have returned to the Father through faith in His Son, have been forgiven, reconciled and restored to the family and reinstated as His sons and daughters.
God will never punish us for any failure or sin because Jesus has already paid the price in full. Any hardships we experience in life are evidence that we are God’s children. As a Father, He has the right to discipline us so that we can be true reflections of our elder brother, Jesus.
Take heart, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, no matter how tough life is for you; not matter how uncertain your circumstances, if you have complete confidence in the greatness of the Father’s love for you, you will never be shaken, and God will surprise you with His goodness in every possible way. Armed with the reality of such great love, you will be free to be generous with your love and mercy towards others as God has been towards you.
Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Have you read my first book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!
ISBN: Softcover – 978-1-4828-0512-3, eBook 978-4828-0511-6
My second book, Learning to be a Disciple – The Way of the Master (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing), a companion volume to Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart, has been released in paperback and digital format on www.amazon.com.
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