October 23, 2022
The Big Ask – Part 4
Pastor Philip De Courcy
Time:
Ephesians 3: 14 - 21
Scripture: 

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This powerful series will challenge you to understand your role in the body of Christ. Through the book of Ephesians, Pastor Philip will remind us of the joy and blessings God intends for believers to experience in the church as they live as a united family in Christ.

More From This Series

Transcript

Let’s take our Bibles and turn to Ephesians 3:14-21. This is our fourth look at this passage and I said last week it would be our final, but I repent. It won’t be our final. Next Sunday will be our final. There’s so much here, but we’ve got a fourth look at this passage, which we have called the big ask. Why don’t you stand in honor of God’s word? Open your Bible, turn your phone on, follow along, as we read it together. I’m reading from the New King James’s translation of holy scripture.

For this reason, I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might through his spirit in the inner man. That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, that you’ve been rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the sins what is the width, and length, and depth, and height, to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him, who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us. To him be glory in the church. By Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

You may be seated. Reaching the end of a job interview, the human resources person asked a young engineer fresh out of MIT what kind of salary he was looking for. Well, taking the opportunity, the young man eagerly replied, “Well, in the neighborhood of $150,000 a year. Depending on the benefits package.” Well, the interviewer looked at him and said, “Well, what would you say to a package of five weeks vacation, 14 paid holidays, full medical and dental, a matching retirement fund up to 50% of your wages, and a company car leased every two years? Say a red Corvette.” Well, the young man’s eyes became like saucers and he said, “Wow, are you kidding?” To which the interviewer replied, “Of course I’m joking. But you started it.” I like that story.

Here’s a young man with unrealistic expectations. $150,000 starting pay with a package. Here’s a young man wanting too much too soon. Here’s a young man who’s reaching too high and dreaming too big. Here’s a young man who has forgot his place in the pecking order. But what is true of the boardroom, an American industry, is not true of the throne room of heaven. And the grace of God. You can never expect too much when approaching God. You can never ask too much in approaching God. As you and I take up his gracious invitation to ask, and seek, and find the things we need and the things we desire, we will find that His willingness to give far exceeds our ability to ask. He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask, pray, think, according to the power that works in us. The God we pray to, the God we petition, is able to make our cup overflow, to make us more than conquerors, to enable us to leap over a wall, to defy the odds, to make much of little, to make us stronger than the strongest temptation.

Listen, God’s ability to answer is greater than our ability to ask. Listen to these words by William Cooper, the English hymn writer. “Prayer makes the darkened cloud withdraw. Prayer climbs the ladder Jacob saw. Gives exercise to faith and love. Brings every blessing from above. Restraining prayer we cease to fight. Prayer makes the Christian armor bright. And Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees.” Prayer’s a big deal. Make it a big deal. Because it is a big deal. John Chrysostom reminded us last sermon that prayer is the mother of a thousand blessings. Yet I speak for myself, and I think I speak for you, there are times when prayer seems so slight. It seems so inconsequential. It seems so not enough. It’s not a big deal. Or it doesn’t seem to be a big deal. That’s why we often skip it. Although when we do pray, we often do it because that’s what Christians do, don’t they? They pray. So as a good Christian, I’ve got to pray.

But we often do it without a belief in what it can do. James 5:16 would remind us that the fervent prayers of a righteous man or woman accomplishes much. Achieves much. Produces results. The puritans would remind us that prayer is a slender nerve. Well, it seems inconsequential. At times, it doesn’t seem enough. But it’s the slender nerve that moves the omnipotent arm of God. Prayer accomplishes much because it connects us to the God who’s able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or think. So let’s come back to this prayer that we have been looking at now for some four weeks. This prayer of Paul, it’s a sample prayer, and it’s an example of prayer. We’ve looked at the prompt, the posture, the passion, the patriarchy, and we started to look at the petition. And this is where we’ll be today. Then next week we’ll look at the prayers, the doxology, that indeed brings this prayer to a great and glorious end.

Let’s look at the petition. This is verse 16, 17, 18 and 19. Here, Paul prays, and petitions for them, and his prayer is shaped around four desires for them. He prays for consolation, communion, comprehension and completion. And each of these petitions kind of spill into the other and build on the other. He prays that the inner man might have spiritual strength, which in turn will lead to a deeper experience of Christ in the heart, which in turn will enable us to comprehend and apprehend, get ahold of God’s great love, which will result in there being a fullness of God filling our life. So let’s look at these four petitions quickly.

If you’re taking notes, he prays for consolation. He prays for the consolation of the comforter. He prays for the strengthening of the strengthener. To be at work in their lives. Verse 16, that he would grant you according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might through the spirit. Notice, “In the inner man.” We’ll come back to that. Paul wants them to enjoy God’s strength. He wants them to be able to say with the psalmist in Psalm 27:1, “The Lord is my light and the Lord is the strength of my life.” In Ephesians 6:10, “And following, he will encourage them to be strong in the Lord in the power of His might.” There’s a pursuit of divine omnipotence for human impotence. They were in a hostile environment. We saw that, didn’t we? When we study the opening verses in the city of Ephesus, dominated by the worship of the Goddess Diana.

We can read in chapter six that they were up against enemies, invisible, as well as visible. They needed to be strengthened. Back in chapter one, Paul has already prayed for an explosion of power in the church. And the focus there was on the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The power that raised Him, has raised us, and will keep on strengthening us for the Christian life. Here the focus is on the Holy Spirit. Although theologically, there’s a connection isn’t there? Between the resurrection of Christ, his ascension, and then the coming of the Holy Spirit. So Paul prays for their consolation. Paul prays that they might enjoy spiritual power through the spirit, and I want you to notice, “In the inner man.” I think that’s important. That’s where I want to focus just for a few moments in the text. He wants them to enjoy spiritual power in the inner man. What do we mean by that phrase? Well, the deep recesses of our being. The mind. The heart. The will. The resolve.

In fact, isn’t that where we need strength the most? And in fact, that’s where we can enjoy ongoing strength. What does Paul say in 2 Corinthians 4:16? The outward person is perishing. Growing weaker by the day. There’s no stopping it. And eventually, you and I will grow weaker and weaker. But the inner man can be renewed and strengthened day by day. And that’s where we need strength the most. We need strength that will enable us to resolve, to continue to walk for Jesus Christ and live for His glory. This is a strength that Paul prays for that you won’t find in the gym.

This isn’t about rippled muscles. This isn’t about what one can lift. No, this is a strength you’ll not find in the gym. This is a strength you’ll find in the cancer ward. At the funeral parlor. In the midst of a bad relationship or marriage. The strength to remain sweet in the face of sourness. The strength to keep going when everything within you says to stop. It’s strength in the inner man. It’s emotional strength to dry your tears and resolve to continue. It’s willpower to do what’s right in the face of strong temptation. That’s what Paul’s praying for them. Inner strength, emotional strength, willpower. Paul wants us to redefine strong. Paul would remind us that God’s power is unleashed in the midst of physical weakness. When you think strength, think Joni Eareckson Tada. Think of a woman bound to a wheelchair who can’t get herself out of bed. Who has to be served, and fed, and cleansed, and combed. But we’ve met her. What a privilege. She’s been here. What a joy.

The strength to keep a smile on her face. The strength to build a worldwide ministry. To reach people with special needs. That’s the strength that Paul’s talking about. Yes, the outward man is perishing, but the inward man, the inward woman, the essential person we are, can be strong. I love that. That’s a wonderful thing. One writer, Tom Carter, on this very prayer, Paul, says this. We tend to overlook our inner being, don’t we? We emphasize the outward self. Satan doesn’t care if we’re well-fed, well-clothed, popular, rich, and beautiful. If only he can have our hearts. And our inner person.

In the Bible, Samson was strong on the outside but weak on the inside. He could kill a thousand Philistines in one afternoon, but was powerless against inward lusts. All of his physical needs were met, but spiritually he was as weak as a 90-year-old grandmother in a wrestling match. In contrast to Samson, Daniel, a mere teenager, a mere youth, resolved not to defile himself with the pagan king’s food and customs. He didn’t look powerful. He was only a skinny teenager. But his inward strength made him one of the mightiest heroes of the Bible. Make sure you recalibrate, make sure you recalculate. What a strength. It’s moral strength that the Bible celebrates, not just physical strength, or physical beauty. It’s virtue. Ladies, Proverbs 31. You know what? Charm and beauty fades. But a woman that fears the Lord? She is to be praised.

Some of the most beautiful women in the world have wrinkled skin and gray hairs, but the charm of their character, and the legacy of their life, has lived to prove this. I think I’ve mentioned this before, I commend to you a book I’ve just read. It’s called Seasons of Sorrow by Tim Challies. It’s about his wrestling with the loss of his son. His son died suddenly on November the 4th, 2020, playing a game on the campus of Boyce College in Kentucky. He was healthy. The day before life led before him, but he dropped dead in front of his fellow students. Tim Challies in Canada, a Christian blogger, many of us have enjoyed his books along with his wife, Eileen, hear about it, and they are blown away, devastated.

In fact, I’ll let you listen to what he said in a blog the very next morning. “Yesterday, Eileen and I cried and cried until we could cry no more. Until there was no tears left to cry. Then later in the evening,” that’s the day of their son’s death, “We looked at each other in the eye and said, “We can do this.” We don’t want to do this, but we can do this. This sorrow, this grief, this devastation because we know we don’t have to do it in our own strength. We can do it like Christians, like a son and daughter of the Father who knows what it is to lose a son.” I’ve lived on that little story for quite a while. Those are brave words, aren’t they? We can do this. Because we can be strengthened in the inner man to live the grief of losing a son. Read the book. It’s a tonic. Seasons of Sorrow.

But let’s move on. Not only does he pray for consolation, he prays for communion. Prays for communion. Verse 17, “That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” Having prayed that the Lord would be the strength of their life, He now prays that the Lord would be at the center of their lives. Not the circumference but the center. That the Lord would reign, dwell, command their hearts. The word heart here speaks of one’s mind, one’s soul, one’s being. The heart is the command center of life. It’s what generates our desires, and our impulses, and our wants, and our direction. And we’re told in Proverbs 4:23, to guard it with all diligence, for out of it flows the ashes of life. And Paul prays that their hearts would be a throne for Jesus Christ. That Christ would dwell in their hearts. That Christ would command the thing that commands them. That Christ would command the heart, the thing that commands them. That Christ would be Lord over their desires, their wants, their direction, their impulses, their decisions.

Harold Hoehner taught at Dallas Theological Seminary. He’s got a wonderful commentary on the Book of Ephesians. He says this, “The word “Dwell,” refers not to the beginning of Christ in dwelling at the moment of salvation, instead it denotes the desire that Christ may literally be at home in, that is, at the very center of, and deeply rooted in a believer’s life. They are to let Christ become the dominating factor in their attitudes and conduct.” See Paul’s writing to Christians. He’s not talking about their salvation. They’re already saved. According to Ephesians 2:22, God has already made their body a temple, a habitation for the spirit of God. Christ is in their life. He’s present, but is He president? He’s present, but is He prominent? Is He Lord? Is he dwelling happily, and comfortably, and naturally, in your life? Or do you and I make him uncomfortable by doing the things he doesn’t want us to do? The things that are against his will, the things that offend his holiness?

The word, “Dwell” here is interesting. It’s a combination of words. “Oikeó”,” which means to dwell. And, “Kατά,” which means down. You find in the Greek that often biblical writers attach propositions to words, nouns or verbs. And in this case we take the word to dwell, to settle, and we add the idea of down. So the word that Paul uses carries this idea, to dwell down better like this, to settle down. Now let’s take that, and insert that thought into that word. I pray that Christ would settle down in your life, and sit upon the throne of your heart. That he would be at home in your life. That’s powerful, isn’t it? Paul uses the image of a house, and the experience of moving into it. If you’ve just moved into a new house, then this is the idea.

It takes a while to settle down, doesn’t it? Maybe there’s some transforming to do, maybe there’s some shifting that needs to go, on before it starts to feel like home. And you really settle down and it becomes your home. The house becomes a home. And Paul wishes that for Christ within the life of a believer, who once walked according to the course of this world, who once was a son of disobedience, but now has been made alive, and Jesus Christ has entered that person’s life. And Paul prays that over a period of time, within a process we call sanctification, that Jesus will begin to really settle down in our lives. Feel at home.

We all know the awkwardness and the strange feelings we had when we first see it, I did. The awkwardness of going to church, and praying, and studying the Bible for the first time. And loving the saints, some of them not that lovely. Witnessing for Jesus. There’s that kind of awkward stage as you adjust to Christ, and Christ adjusts to you. But as you submit to his Lordship, as you begin to open the doors into the rooms of your life, he begins to take over. And if you’re living a good Christian life, and a joyful Christian life, you’ll be experienced this, and Christ will be at home in your life. And that which was not natural for you to do, will start to become natural for you to do, as Christ lives His life out through your life. Got a question. Is Christ in your life this morning?

I hope so. I hope you’ve received the Lord Jesus Christ, and He has given you authority to call yourself a son or a daughter of God. What a beautiful thing to be born again. To consciously repent of your sin, and put your faith in Jesus Christ, to put your trust where God put your sin, in the Son. That’s the first question this morning, is Christ in your life? If he’s not today, you can be born again. By putting your faith in Christ. I’ve got a second question. If he’s in your life, how far in? Is he still on the doorstep? Is he somewhere in the hallway? Maybe you’ve let him into the living room, and he’s exercising some kind of general influence on your life as a Christian. But how far in? Has he really settled down? Is he at home in your life? Comfortable? Or are you treating him like a guest rather than the master of the house?

Some of our senior saints may have read this little book, My Heart, Christ’s Home. Anybody remember that? By Robert Munger? Yeah. It’s a great little book. Timeless. And this man who came to Christ, likens conversion to what Paul likens it to, Jesus coming into a house. And his challenge is, how much of the house is Jesus allowed to live in? I’m going to paraphrase, he kind of in this little book argues this. Let Christ go beyond the living room where many, many have Christ staying. Invite Christ into the kitchen. Into the dining room. Let Him transform your appetite, your desires, hunger for righteousness and thirst for righteousness, taste and see that the Lord is good. Invite Him into the family room. Let Him transform your relationships. If you’re a husband, let Him teach you to be a good leader of your wife, and to love her as Christ loved the church, and to sanctify her as he has sanctified the church through the washing of the water by the Word. Ladies, let Christ tell you to become a better wife. Will you submit to your husband’s leadership?

Will you help him be all that God has called him to be? Children, Jesus is in your life. He wants to help you submit to your parents, and obey your parents, as he obeyed His earthly parents? For it’s right in the Lord? Have you invited him into the study to transform your thinking? To renew your mind, to think thoughts after God? Have you invited him into the bedroom to transform your view of sex, and the intimate spaces of life? Are there some secret closets that need cleaning? Some hurts that need healing? I think you get the analogy. June and I have been blessed with a friendship. And these friends of ours have been very kind.

They have a home, and they have invited us to come and stay in it, and it’s in a beautiful area of the country. We’ve gone, and they’ll often say to us, “Our home is your home. Make yourself at home.” And we’ve done that on several occasions, and it’s been very, very refreshing. But they went one step further. Some years ago, they gave us a key to their home. They cut us a key. “Our home is your home. Come anytime you want. Stay.” What a joy. What a kindness. Have you given Christ the master key? Is He allowed to go into any room, renovate it, transform it, clean it? I hope so. Not only does he pray for consolation, not only does he pray for communion, he prays for comprehension. He prays that they might know Christ’s love expansively in their hearts.

Look at verse 18, in fact, look at verse 17, the end of it, that you who’ve been rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width, length, depth, and height, to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge. Kind of a paradox, isn’t it? Come to know that which is unknowable. He prays for a possibility and he acknowledges an impossibility. Now this transition shouldn’t surprise us. Because a life rooted in Christ, a life where Christ has settled down into, a heart that has become his throne, is a life marked by love. That shouldn’t surprise us. This transition shouldn’t surprise us. John 13:34-35, “Love one another as I have loved you. And by this will all men know that you’re my disciples.” Love is the genuine mark of regeneration. If you are a stranger to love, you just may well be a stranger to the God of love.

For 1 John 4:7-11 says, “Love one another, for love is of God. And everyone that loves is born of God.” So just as Christ in dwelling is a matter of degrees, our knowledge and experience of God’s love is also a matter of degrees. It’s knowable, increasingly knowable, measurably knowable, and yet ultimately unknowable. We will never be able to fathom the depths of God’s love for us in the plan of redemption. So in one sense, if we were to liken God’s love to a notion, you can paddle in it, you can get up to your waist in it and feel the bottom of it, but it is so deep, and so infinite, and so mysterious, you can swim in it, dive in it, and never touch bottom. It’s comprehensible, comprehendible, and incomprehensible. Remember what the Queen of Sheba said about Solomon’s wisdom? “The half has not been told.” 1 Kings 6-7, “True of the love of God for you and me.”

Now quickly, comprehend. Paul prays that they would comprehend, verse 18, with all the saints, the width, breadth, length, and depth of God’s love. It’s a very interesting word. It means to grasp, to catch, to seize, to lay hold of, to overtake. It’s used in Philippians 3:12 and 1 John 5. So Paul’s praying that they would pursue a knowledge of the love of God in the gospel. That they come to understand the person of Jesus Christ, and the nature of his work, and what he accomplished on Calvary’s cross, and the shedding of his blood, and the atonement that was wrought in his death. We’re to pursue a knowledge of that, and we’re to do it until it overtakes us. Until it overwhelms us. Until it captures us, owns us. Now that will require the help of the Holy Spirit. That will require conformity to the scripture. And that will require fellowship with God’s saints.

Hold that thought, we’ll come back to it. But let me just take a moment to look at these dimensions of God’s love. Paul describes God’s love in geometric terms. How wide is the love of God? Well, it’s as wide as the outstretched arms of Jesus Christ on the cross going west and east. It embraces the whole world, and it reaches you. That’s how wide it is. How long? Well we read from chapter one, it’s an everlasting love. It started in the mind of God, in the council room of heaven, in eternity past, before there was an earth in a heaven, God chose us in Christ, elected us, and then in time adopted us. And we have the gift of the Holy Spirit who’s the promise of a day of redemption when God will keep on loving us in a new perfected form forever. That’s how long it is.

Listen to this. Robert Morgan. “There never was a time when God did not love you. There will never be a time when he does not love you.” Man, if that doesn’t help you leave with the spring in your step, I don’t know what will. How high? Well, he has lifted us up out of our sin, made us alive, and seated us with Christ in the heavenly. And someday the one who is in heaven, at the Father’s right hand, in the Father’s house will receive us unto Himself that where he is, we may be also. How high is this? Love. Well, it took you from the depths of your sin, placed you in Christ, and someday it’s going to land you in heaven, amen? Don’t look at me like that. Amen. The breadth, the length, the height, the depth. Reaching down to us in our fallenness. I mean some of us got to some very dark and scary places, didn’t we?

But the love of God reached us there. For God saves from the gutter-most to the uttermost. Beautiful. Now before I leave that thought, Paul wants them to keep on grasping all of that, keep on measuring all of that. Because if they’ll do that, it will help them love Christ better. It will make them feel secure in their salvation. And it will make the church attractive to the world. That’s a little sermon in itself, but I can’t go there. But I want to come back to this idea. Did you notice with the saints. “With the saints.” Don’t miss that. Paul wants us to comprehend the love of God in Christ. Paul wants us to apprehend the gospel in all of its glory in the company of God’s people. Not by ourselves, not in solitude, not in isolation with the saints. This is done in church. This is done with the church.

Our knowledge of God’s love is discovered and deepened corporately. They say it takes a village to raise a child. Paul would argue it takes a complete church to help us grasp the gospel better, and realize the love of God deeper. I hope you love the church. I hope you’ll keep on loving the church, and through loving the church, you’re going to be helped to love God better. In what way would that be true? Well, I don’t know about you, but as I interact with this congregation and people, their stories of God’s redeeming grace encourage me. When they tell me where they were, and how God find them, and how God has kept them, and God has enriched them. I’m enriched when I hear that. Their story of God’s redemption helps me better understand the story of redemption. Every one a jewel. What about loving, serving, forgiving, and forbearing one another, as we seek to fulfill the New Testament in one another’s?

Doesn’t that help us catch, and grasp, and be seized by the love of God? Where we’re not thinking about the love of God in the abstract, but in the concrete? Where we have to love one another, which sometimes isn’t easy, and forgive one another? But as we do that, we’re comprehending, grasping, catching the love of God. When we worship together, sing these wonderful songs, heartfelt singing together, I don’t know about you, but in company with you, in a good worship service, I’m being seized by the love of God, and I’m beginning to grasp it even more. Listen to this, write this down. “It requires the whole people of God to make sense of the whole love of God.” Now I want to come back to something. Hang in here for a few minutes. I want you to look at something I think is really interesting.

Verse 18, “That you may be able.” He’s praying that they would be able. That word means that they would be strong enough. Let’s just pause. Here’s what’s Paul praying. “I’m praying that you’d be strong enough to grasp the love of God.” Why would you need strength to grasp the love of God? I’ll tell you why. Because some of us struggle to embrace the love of God. Daryl Johnson, in his commentary on Ephesians, talks about that. Here’s what he says. “Some of us experience things in childhood that keep haunting us, drowning out the knowledge of the love of God. Some of us have tapes playing in our minds about how unworthy we are of the love of anyone, let alone God.” Some of us have done things in the past we’re ashamed of and cannot forget, and it keeps us from expressing the love of God. Some of us are facing circumstances right now that seem to call the love of God in to question.

Many of us look around at the misery in the world right now and wonder, “Is God love?” Some of us are disappointed with God. We feel let down by God, and are not sure we can trust the claim that He loves us. We could go on. I think that’s real. But you can overcome all of that. You can deal triumphantly with all of that in the company of the saints. Where the word of God is being preached, and the name of Jesus lifted high, and the cross planted at the center of our lives together, we’ll comprehend together what the love of God is for us. I like the story of the husband who asked his wife after many years of marriage, he said, “Dear, have you ever been in love before?” She thought a moment, then replied, “You know what? No. I was once in a relationship with a man I respected for his great intellect.

I admired another for his remarkable courage. And once I was captivated by yet another for his good looks and charms. But with you, how else could we explain it but love?” I like it. How else can we explain God’s love for you and me? Only in each other’s company. A sea of sinners, undeserving of the grace of God, but now growing in his love. Time’s gone. The last thought would’ve been this. He prays for completion. He prays for completion. Verse 19, “That you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Wow. I love the New King James, and I know many of you read the ESV. Tut I would argue that their rendering of this text is not helpful. Because it gives you the impression, the wrong impression, that the whole fullness of God can be contained in a believer’s life. I would say, “Impossible.”

And I think the NIV catches it. There’s a preposition here that carries the idea of reaching a goal. And that’s why, if you’ve got an NIV, here’s how this will be translated in the NIV, and I think it’s better. “I pray that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” God’s the measure of fullness. And maybe another preposition would be good, “Onto,” “I pray that you would be filled onto the fullness of God.” Look, as we close, I think you’re theologically smart, and you would know, that there’s only one person who has contained the fullness of God. Who would that be? The Lord Jesus. If you go to Colossians 2:9 what do we read about Him. “For in Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead in bodily form.” God showed up in all His fullness in the person of Jesus Christ. Confined to a human body.

But notice what Paul goes on to say, “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily and we are complete in Him.” I think that’s what we’re getting at here. There’s a beautiful play on words. The fullness of daddy dwells in Christ. And we are made full in relationship to Christ. We can understand the fullness of God in Christ, but in what sense does the fullness of God dwell in puny little creatures like you and me? Finish with this analogy. It’s a summer’s day here in OC, and so you’ve got a young family, kids are climbing the walls, the temperature’s rising, so you know what? We need to go down to Huntington Beach. We need to go down to Newport Beach and just let them run along the beach and paddle in the Pacific Ocean. And so you pile them into your SUV, or your car, or your minivan, and off they go. And you get down there and they all jump out with their buckets and speeds and they run riot around the beach, annoying all the sunbathers.

And at some point, that little boy of yours, or that little girl of yours, grasps that little plastic bucket, and goes paddling into the Pacific Ocean, this vast body of water. And they dip that little bucket into that ocean and it gets filled. Filled to the fullness of that bucket. From the fullness of the Pacific Ocean. But you and I know that while the bucket is full from the fullness of the Pacific Ocean, it is not the fullness of the Pacific Ocean in its fullness. Have you followed me? I think something like that’s going on here. That when you and I come into a relationship with God through union with Jesus Christ, we can be filled with the fullness of God. But even when we’re filled with the fullness of God, it’s not the fullness of God that’s filling us, because we’re finite and limited. But where I would change the analogy is that little bucket can only take what that little bucket can contain.

But the spirit of a man and the soul of a woman is elastic. We can grow. We can expand. And that’s what Paul’s praying, that their knowledge of God’s love would expand. And their experience of God’s presence and power would expand. That they would be filled, and filled and filled, and filled, with the fullness of God. As much as they can contain and are willing to contain. John 1:16, “Of his fullness have we received grace upon grace.” God wants to do more in your life. He’s able to do more than you can ask or think. Wisdom, power, love, grace, forgiveness. He can give you that. In a fuller measure. I hope you want that. I hope you’re hungry for more. My acting career didn’t last long. In fact, I had no lines even in the play I was involved in. I was a teenager at my high school. They were doing a rendition of Oliver Twist.

And I was one of the workhouse boys. I remember the evening we did the production, for two reasons. I got beat up on the way to school. Two hoods and thugs jumped on me and my friend Billy Watson and gave us a fat lip. For no reason. Pushed us into the hedge, and stuck their boot in our face. Once we gathered ourselves, headed up to school, there I was. The height of my acting career as a workhouse boy. And the other thing I remember about that night, and you’ll remember about this scene in Oliver Twist, where little Oliver goes up to the cruel headmaster, with his empty bowl of gruel, and says what? “More?” And the angry schoolmaster goes, “More? More?” My friend, you can go. With the bucket of your life. And ask God for more. More grace, more endurance, more wisdom, more love, and He’ll give you it. And you can keep on being filled and filled with the fullness of God until we are made perfect.

Father, thank you for our time in the Word this morning. Thank you for Paul’s prayer. So convicting. He prays like we don’t. We focus on the material, he focuses on the spiritual. We pray for ourselves, predominantly me, my, and mine. And he prays for others. And he prays that they would be strengthened. He prays that Christ would feel more at home in their lives. And that their Christian life would be more natural. He prays that they would comprehend Calvary’s love all the more. And he prays that they would be filled with the fullness of God. And the other thing we notice about his prayers is that ours are small and his is large. And so Lord, we finish this morning onto Him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we can ask or think. With the power that now works in us. To Him be glory in the church to all generations. Forever and ever. Amen.