27 September 2020 (Trinity Sixteenth Sunday Morning Prayer) Ephesians 3
Today, I would like to meditate based on our epistle portion which is St. Paul’s epistle to Ephesians 3. In the end of the chapter, we read Paul’s prayer for the early Christians in the church of Ephesus. Verses 16 to 19 read, “That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God”. In these verses, St. Paul prayed for a few important things: 1) Riches of God’s glory, 2) Strengthening of the inner man, 3) Christ dwelling in our hearts by faith and 4) Be rooted and grounded in love. Let us meditate one by one.
1. Riches of God’s Glory
We read about God’s glory in numerous instances in the Bible. Let us look at two prophets who saw God’s glory: Moses and Elijah.
Moses: When Israelites came out of their bondage land and on their way to the promised land, we read in Exodus 13 verses 21 and 22 how the Lord led them. The “Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people”. When they fought with Moses and Aaron, Exodus 16:10 says that the glory of the Lord God appeared in the cloud. Exodus 24:16 says that the glory of the LORD God covered Mount Sinai and Moses went up to meet God. The glory of God was covered Mount Sinai for six days. God called Moses to come up the mount on the seventh day. Moses was with God for forty days when he received the commandments from God. In Exodus 33:9 and 10 we read that when Moses entered the tabernacle, the glory of the LORD came down and stood at the door. In verse 11 we read “that the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. Although Moses spoke with God face to face like a friend and experienced the God’s glory many times, we read in verse 18 that he asks God to show His glory. We can read God’s reply in verses 21-23: “Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen”.
Elijah: We are very familiar with prophet Elijah. He was very brave. He stood before the king and challenged him. He killed 400 prophets of Baal and made the people to turn to God. In 1 Kings 18:46 we read that, “the hand of the Lord was on Elijah”. He was one of the most powerful prophets in Israel. The queen Jezebel wanted to kill prophet Elijah to take revenge for the death of 400 Baal prophets. Elijah ran away to save his life. The angel of the LORD met him twice and gave him food in the wilderness. He walked 40 days and nights without food and reached Horeb, the mount of God. The LORD God met him in the mount and Elijah covered his face because he could not see the glory of God.
Both Moses and Elijah were mighty prophets who led the Israelites. They came to the rock and saw the Glory of God. Although they lived with God and spoke face to face with God, they could not see God’s glory.
The Almighty Father sent His son Jesus Christ to save humans from eternal death. In Luke 9 we read about Jesus’s transfiguration in the mountain when He went up to pray with His disciples. Moses and Elijah who had seen the glory of God were with Jesus. They were speaking to Him about His death. In Luke 9:30&31 we read, “there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem”. The two prophets saw the glory of the Father Almighty in the Old Testament and Jesus in the New Testament. Jesus died for our sins and rose again on the third day in the Father’s glory. He gave salvation to every one of us. God’s Glory is our salvation, that is, saving our souls from eternal death. Only those who are saved will be with Jesus when He comes again in glory. This is why Paul prayed for the riches of God’s glory, that is salvation.
2. Strengthening of the inner man
We all familiar about the importance of living a spiritual life that is pleasing in the sight of God. In Matthew 4:4 Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God”. In the Old Testament, God the Father gave ‘Manna’ or the heavenly bread to feed Israelites when they were in wilderness. Jesus came as heavenly Manna to establish the new covenant with us. His words are the food for the inner man to grow in Christ. Psalm 119:9 says we can cleanse our way by living according to God’s word. We must spiritually grow in Christ only by cleansing ourselves and repenting of our sins when convicted and obeying the Word of God. Jesus said in Matthew 24:13, “he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved”. Salvation is the first step to inherit the eternal life in the kingdom of heaven with Jesus. We must put our trust on Jesus and invite Him to live in our hearts. Strengthening the inner man that is our spiritual growth is the way to endure till end. Sustaining or enduring to the end is God’s expectation on us. Jesus died and rose again for us to inherit eternal and everlasting life with Him.
3. Christ dwelling in our hearts by faith
God the father gave His only begotten son Jesus Christ to save the whole world. John 3:18 says the one who believes in Jesus will not be condemned. John 5:24 says that the one who put his faith on the Father Almighty will have eternal life. Acts 16:31 says that we need to believe Jesus to be saved. Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me”. The one who died for the whole world is knocking at the doorstep of our heart. If we open the door and let Him in, He will dwell in our hearts.
4. Be rooted and grounded in love
We all know that the New Covenant or the New Testament laws were framed on the Love of the Father. Matthew 22:37,39 say, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself”. These are the two prime commandments given by Jesus. In John 5:5&6 we read, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned”. Following the two commandments of Jesus, we are to love God and our neighbours. We are to abide in Jesus and bear fruits.
St. Paul prayed that the early church receives these four important characteristics for them to inherit eternal life with Jesus. Let us take moment to look at our lives. How is our personal relationship with Jesus? Have we come to the rock Jesus Christ? Have we seen the Glory of God? Have we inherited the riches of His glory, that is salvation? Are we strengthening and growing our inner man with heavenly manna? Only when we are strengthened, we will be able to endure to the end to inherit eternal life. Are our ears open to hear the still, small voice of the One who is knocking? Are we willing to invite Him in to all areas of our lives? How is our love on God and our neighbour? Are we abiding in Jesus? Are we bearing the fruits of the Spirit?
I pray “That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”