Ephesians 3:14-21Amplified Bible
14 For this reason [grasping the greatness of this plan by which Jews and Gentiles are joined together in Christ] I bow my knees [in reverence] before the Father [of our Lord Jesus Christ], 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth [a]derives its name [God—the first and ultimate Father]. 16 May He grant you out of the riches of His glory, to be strengthened and spiritually energized with power through His Spirit in your inner self, [indwelling your innermost being and personality], 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through your faith. And may you, having been [deeply] rooted and [securely] grounded in love, 18 be fully capable of comprehending with all the saints (God’s people) the width and length and height and depth of His love [fully experiencing that amazing, endless love]; 19 and [that you may come] to know [practically, through personal experience] the love of Christ which far surpasses [mere] knowledge [without experience], that you may be filled up [throughout your being] to all the fullness of God [so that you may have the richest experience of God’s presence in your lives, completely filled and flooded with God Himself].
20 Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen.
The Word of God for the Children of God.
Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.
Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.
God gave us Jesus as a way of saying, “I love you and you are special to me.”
That is a really great gift, isn’t it?
Much better than Valentine’s cards, or candy, or flowers.
Still, we have those special people in our lives whom we need to give our fullest possible attention to – our wives, our sweethearts, our very good friends, those co-workers who work with us and beside us and those whom we may supervise.
Treat them special because they are special – who and what and why they are is absolutely 100% irreplaceable – every single one of their lives utterly matters.
They need to know that they are truly respected, loved and deeply appreciated.
God’s Unconventional Love versus Valentine’s Day
Ephesians 3:14-19The Message
14-19 My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
Everyday is a special day when we open our eyes, take that next breath, set our feet upon the floor, walk forth into the kitchen get that very first cup of coffee.
We look outside, greet the morning, are welcomed by the dawn’s new sun.
Tomorrow, however, is a wee bit more of a special day.
Yes, it is Valentine’s Day.
But does everyone know the origin of this day?
It is a very old tradition which started because of a Bishop named Valentinus.
He lived back in the days of the Roman Empire.
Long ago, Roman officials were against young people getting married in the church.
Many young Christians wanted to be married by the priest, in the church, with God’s blessing.
Valentinus was sympathetic to these people and continued to help marry them, even though he was often threatened by the government authorities.
Sadly, he was taken to Rome and put to death for his faith and his defiance of the Emperor’s rule.
In memory and honor of Saint Valentinus, young couples started talking about choosing a Valentine, when they were actually talking about choosing a bride.
Now we call this day, Saint Valentine’s Day.
In the modern era, many people give their sweethearts Valentine’s Day cards with hearts all over them.
Some people give candies or flowers.
A red carnation or a red rose means “I love you.”
These are all ways that people show their love.
But God also gave us a gift to show us that He loved us.
It was Jesus. God gave us Jesus as a way of saying, “I love you and you are special to me.”
That is a really great gift, isn’t it?
Much better than cards, or candy, or flowers.
Today, let us meditate on biblical love, the greatest love of all time.
There once was a very old pastor, who was suffering from a long battle with cancer.
A few days before his death, he continued to hold on to a special verse that was the source of his inspiration.
He placed a bookmark where his favorite scripture passage was written:
“Who shall separate us from the love Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Romans 8:34-35 KJV).
Despite facing such a trail in his life, the old pastor was most certainly blessed with the power “to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ;” a love that surpasses knowledge.
As children of God, we understand the fact that the root and foundation of creation is love.
It “surpasses knowledge.”
We know about human love.
Human love comes with the understanding that love comes as a reward for being good, for being faithful, being trustworthy and true, for being kind, for giving gifts, and for acting and for responding with appropriate behavior.
But this is not the same as the love which is embedded in the foundation of creation.
This is not the love that surpasses knowledge.
This is not the love that Paul prays we might have the power to grasp.
God’s love flows freely, without consideration of reward or any plan of equal or unequal or non-existent compensation.
This is a love that is not inherent to human nature.
We are more inclined to return love for love.
But the Scripture says,
“… how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:20-21).
If we are to approach love in the way of biblical love, we must meditate on what it means when the Bible says, we must love God and each other as ourselves.
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit–fruit that will last–and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.” (John 15:13-17)
Today, I would like to meditate on 3 questions about this amazing kind of love.
The first question is this:
Where does Love come from?
Where Does Love Come From?
Now some of you would answer, ‘that’s easy–it comes from within.’
Some may say, ‘It’s something that happens naturally as we mature as human beings.’
However, remember how hard it is to teach children to share?
That sharing instinct is not natural to them, but it is taught.
A human instinct is: self-survival.
C.S. Lewis, the famed English scholar, studied the various Greek words for love.
He came to distinguish the difference between what he called “needed love” and “gift love.”
Needed love is described as self-evident.
It is the most common kind of love in our world.
It is a mortal and human concept of love.
I love you, BECAUSE you love me.
I love you, because you provide for me, because you support me, and because you meet my needs.
Mr. Lewis illustrates that when we humans say to another, “I love you,” what we are really meaning is, “I need you, I want you. You hold value in my life.”
Now in contrast to “needed love” Mr. Lewis describes “gift love.”
This form of loving is born of fullness and wholeness.
The goal of gift love is to enrich and enhance the person whom it loves.
It does not require anything in return, nor does it hold requirements.
“Gift love moves out to bless and to increase rather than to acquire or to diminish. Gift love is more like a bountiful, artesian well that continues to overflow than a vacuum or a black hole. (C.S. Lewis)”
Mr. Lewis concludes this is what God’s love is all about. God’s love is gift love, not needed love.
This, of course, is the meaning of agape love; unconditional love.
Are we capable of agape love– loving as God loves?
To an extent we are.
But, we must go to the source of love, and the source of all love is God.
Jesus says in John’s narrative today, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. (John 15:13)”
Perfect love does not come from within, it only comes from above.
And when God lives within us, we become capable of expressing perfect love.
Please take secure hold of your BIBLES and turn with me to 1 John 4:7-11.
In his first epistle, John writes,
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” So, that is the answer to the first question: where does love come from? It comes from God. Then John adds, “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:7-11).
The Second Question is ….
What does this Love look like?
A young girl came home one day bursting with good news.
“Mom, Dad, I know why we had to learn grammar!” she exclaimed.
“It is so we can understand God.”
Her mom and dad gave her a puzzled look, so the young girl explained.
“God is love, and love can be a noun, an adjective, an adverb, or a verb.”
What a powerful concept!
Now doesn’t that preach a sermon or three lasting all the live long day!
Love isn’t just a vague feeling.
It is an action, an attitude, a spirit, and a character trait.
Since Jesus was filled with the Spirit of God, his every attitude, thought, word, action and deed was motivated by the love of God for Him and too, vice versa.
He was motivated completely and without reservation by love.
So, what does love look like?
Gift love is best illustrated with Jesus, a blameless man, hanging on a cross simply and solely because of God’s love for us.
We cannot meet any of God’s needs or even all of God’s commands.
But God’s nature is to give love, unconditionally, unconventionally, even at times when we do not deserve it.
As John writes,
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10)
God’s gift love is a pure and perfect love.
It is an unconventional, never-ending, and everlasting kind of love.
It does not ask for you to meet up to requirements, and it does not ask for compensation.
No matter how many times we sin or fall short of the Glory of God, His love never left us.
No matter how many times the world rebuked Him, His love never left us.
What does love look like?
There is no Greater and more Powerful image than Jesus on the Cross.
That is perfect love.
Perfect love looks like God, for He is love.
God and love are not two realities; they are one.
God’s infinite power of being is: the infinite power of love.
In every movement of love we are dwelling in God and God in us.
And when we accept the Holy Spirit into our lives, we allow God’s perfect love to be pictured through us.
We can also illustrate perfect love through the way we live.
Through every attitude, thought, word, and deed, we have.
Christians are called to be a reflection of the image of God.
We reflect God’s perfect love so that others can also see what true perfect love looks like.
Love unconditionally, unconventionally to all.
Now, the third and last question is:
What does such love require from us?
Jesus answers this question in John 15:13-17,
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit–fruit that will last–and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.”
Jesus has issued the command: “Love each other as I have loved you.”
We are required by God’s command to love others as he has loved us–not with needed love, but with gift love.
Not because of anything they can or have done for us, but because of what our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has done for us.
Luke 6:27-32Amplified Bible
27 “But I say to you who hear [Me and pay attention to My words]: [a]Love [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for] your enemies, [make it a practice to] do good to those who hate you, 28 bless and show kindness to those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 Whoever [b]strikes you on the cheek, offer him the other one also [simply ignore insignificant insults or losses and do not bother to retaliate—maintain your dignity]. Whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. 30 Give to everyone who asks of you. [c]Whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. 31 Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. 32 If you [only] love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.
The world lives by the philosophy: “Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.”
To do good for people who are incapable of doing anything for you in return.
This is gift love, agape love. It is the love of God.
And of course, dear brother and sisters, this is the hardest form of love to give.
It is hard to love someone unconventionally when they cannot or will not or refuse to do the same for you.
But when the Spirit of the Lord is within, He will give you the strength to love.
The strength to be patient and compassionate.
The strength to reflect agape love to others who do not know God.
For the greatest command was to love God, and the second greatest command was to love one another.
Concluding Reflection’s: Love That Surpasses Knowledge
Ephesians 3:16-19Easy-to-Read Version
16 I ask the Father with his great glory to give you the power to be strong in your spirits. He will give you that strength through his Spirit. 17 I pray that Christ will live in your hearts because of your faith. I pray that your life will be strong in love and be built on love. 18 And I pray that you and all God’s holy people will have the power to understand the greatness of Christ’s love—how wide, how long, how high, and how deep that love is. 19 Christ’s love is greater than anyone can ever know, but I pray that you will be able to know that love. Then you can be filled with everything God has for you.
Love is commonly considered an emotion—a feeling, inclination of the heart.
Love involves knowing the person we love, and yet even that knowledge is not the end of love.
Paul reminds his readers of this basic truth when he prays that they may “know this love that surpasses knowledge.”
Paul is talking here about the love of God, and he’s saying that it’s not enough to know about God without having love for God.
The standard of love that believers strive for is to “be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
That’s a high standard indeed!
God is, in every way, far beyond what our minds can comprehend or our hearts can contain.
We will never achieve this total fullness!
But what a powerful prayer this is—and what a wonderful goal to guide us in living our life!
To be continually growing in this “fullness of God” and his love is the delight of discipleship.
This is a wonderful prayer offered for us—but it’s also a prayer to offer on behalf of others.
What a transformation of our relationships when an entire community of Christ’s disciples experiences together a growing fullness of God’s love.
It’s beyond our ability to imagine!
Valentines Day is known as the day of love.
But God’s love lasts for eternity.
It is a perfect LOVE that loves unconditionally and unconventionally.
Where does perfect love come from?
It comes from God alone, and works within us when we become His children.
What does perfect love look like?
It looks like Jesus, a blameless man, hanging on a cross, for a world which did not deserve Him.
And as His children we reflect that image through our actions, our attitudes, thoughts, words, and deeds.
And what does such perfect love require out of us?
It requires us to move beyond “needed love” and give “gift love”.
To look around at others who are in need of God’s love and to give it to them–not asking what they can do for us, remembering what Christ has done for us.
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
We bow our hearts before You, Father God. You are the Creator of everything we see in heaven and on earth. We pray that out of Your glorious, unlimited resources, You would strengthen our hearts and minds through the power of Your Holy Spirit. May Your love be the rich soil in which our lives are rooted. May Your love be the only firm foundation upon which we build, so that, together with all Your people everywhere, we would come to truly understand how long, how high, how wide and how deep Your love really is—how it far surpasses anything we can imagine. God, fill us with the fullness and the power that comes from You alone, so that our lives would reflect your goodness and grace to the world around us. Lord, fill us to overflowing with the knowledge and the wisdom of your fullness so that we love you more and serve you better. Help us to keep offering this prayer for others, that we may all grow in you.
Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.
Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.