Ephesians 3:14-21 14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15
from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I
pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power
through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your
hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in
love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide
and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love
that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all
the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more
than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within
us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all
generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
In the name of Jesus Christ, who dwells in our hearts and works in our lives to
uncover delight in a world of sin, dear Christian friends, Amazed, incredulous, shocked— all words that might describe Jesus’ mother Mary after she witnessed her son change water into wine. She probably knew he could do a miracle like this, based on what she was learning about her son over the thirty years of his life, but neither she, nor anyone else, had seen it before as this was “the first of his miraculous signs” (Jn 2:11).
What was she to make of it? Was this a sign that Jesus could do all things, but
that he might use his power for evil, not good? Was this a sign that Jesus could do all
things and therefore would soon leave her to go on to bigger and better things? Was
this a sign that Jesus could do all things and that she should just take it all in and be
thankful for whatever good he would accomplish?
If the Apostle Paul had been at the wedding where this miraculous event took
place, he might have shared these words before us today to uncover delight for Mary in
PAUL UNCOVERS DELIGHT
IN YOUR TIMES OF...
2 her time of weakness, emptiness and amazement. It is the same kind of effect these
words can have in our lives. Listen to them and look for ways to apply them in your life
and in the lives of those around you, for PAUL UNCOVERS DELIGHT IN YOUR TIMES OF...
I. Weakness II. Emptiness III. Amazement.
What would Paul say to you when the lure of worldly wealth overcame you and
you put in all those extra hours at work, for nothing more than a bigger paycheck to buy
bigger toys, even though it meant your personal health declined, your family life
suffered and your devotional life was non-existent? What would Paul say to you when
your anger careened out of control, leading you to post derogatory comments against
your elected leaders, to shout obscenities at your classmate or to physically or
emotionally harm your child? What would Paul say to you when you thought you could
get through life on your own, so you stopped attending worship and Bible study and
never opened your devotional book or your Bible app?
How fitting these words would be at those times, right? 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.
When does greed overwhelm us or anger control us or spiritual apathy affect us?
It is when we are weak. We remain Christians, but in our weakness we think and act like
those who are not Christians. So, we need the strength and power that comes from
God’s Holy Spirit working through his Word, which we are receiving right now, but
which can be so easily overlooked or accidentally avoided when we prioritize sports or
the internet or extra sleep ahead of the Lord.
Remember these words and rely on God’s strength in your times of weakness.
Find delight in the fact that you do not have to sin. You do not have to fall for Satan’s
temptations. You do not have to follow the wicked ways of the world just because
“everyone else is doing it”. The one who changed water into wine can and does change
your heart of unbelief and sin to one of faith and holy living.
What would Paul say to you when you watch your loved ones die and enter
heaven? What would Paul say to you when you establish a new relationship of love, but
then it is broken off? What would Paul say to you when the career that defines your life
is ripped out from underneath you?
Would these words help? 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.
Your loved one who never dies is Jesus. While other relationships of love are
nice, but the one you must have is with Jesus. The thing that defines you is not your
career, but rather your connection to Jesus as his child of faith.
When your loved one dies trusting in Jesus, see it as an act of God’s
immeasurable love as that loved one has “the salvation of her soul, the goal of her
faith” (1 Pt 1:9). When you suffer through a broken relationship, trust the four
dimensions of Jesus’ love to uphold you When you no longer are employed, depend on
Jesus’ love to care for you until he unveils and you discover the next career path.
3 With these words, Paul uncovers delight in our times of emptiness. That
emptiness in our lives can be caused by many different things, but can always be filled
with “the one thing needed” (Lk 10:42). The conversation you used to have with your
loved one now passed away can be replaced with God talking to you through his Word
and you talking to him through prayer. The time you spent with your significant other
or at work can be filled in with the time you give to learning more about how wide and
long and high and deep is the love of Christ through corporate and personal Bible study
and discussions with like-minded Christians.
What would Paul say to you when you go to the bluff on a clear day and watch
the amazing colors of a Lake Michigan sunset? What would Paul say to you when you
are suffering with a dire illness? What would Paul say to you when you hear once again
in Word and Sacrament that Jesus lived, died and rose again to win forgiveness for every
one of your sins or that the parent, the child, the church member, the classmate, the co-
worker you sinned against has forgiven you of your wrongdoing?
How appropriate would these words be at those times? Now to him who is able
to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at
work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all
generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
With these words, Paul uncovers delight in our times of amazement. We can
find delight because God delivers more than we ask for, not less: more beauty in his
creation, more hope and healing in our lives, more forgiveness for our innumerable sins.
He is the one who is to receive all the glory, honor, and praise from us!
Because the Apostle Paul is no longer here to say these things of our second
reading to you, make sure you continue to hear these words as God speaks them to you
through his holy Scriptures. Follow them and find your delight in them!
And when others need to hear them, make sure you tell them. You are not the
only one to encounter times of weakness, emptiness and amazement. Help others
uncover delight in those times, just as God, through Paul, has done for you.