April 16th 2023: Jonny Raine

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Ephesians 3:14-21

“Child as he was, he was desperate with hunger, and reckless with misery. He rose from the table; and advancing to the master, basin and spoon in hand, said: somewhat alarmed at his own temerity:

‘Please, sir, I want some more.’ The master was a fat, healthy man; but he turned very pale. He gazed in stupified astonishment on the small rebel for some seconds, and then clung for support to the copper. The assistants were paralysed with wonder; the boys with fear.

‘What!’ said the master at length, in a faint voice.
‘Please, sir,’ replied Oliver, ‘I want some more.’”

God is the complete opposite of those men who ran the workhouse. When we ask for more, He gives willingly gives over and over again. Where are we landing in the Bible? We are three quarters of the way through the Bible, in Ephesians, a letter written by Paul, who encountered Jesus when He was trying to kill Christians and close down the church. Jesus sent him on to tell others about Jesus. The church also recognised him and sent him on to tell people about Jesus. When other people became Christians through Paul telling them about Jesus, they then started churches. Paul then went on to other places, to tell other people about Jesus.

Paul would often write back to new churches which had been formed, to encourage them in the gospel, and to teach them how they are to be as God’s people. That is what he’s doing in the letter of Ephesians. So far in the book, he has told them how God has worked in eternity and in time to make them His own people, and how this results in a growing Christian life (chapter 1). In chapter 2 Paul is explaining how God has made Christians spiritually alive, even though we were previously dead in our sins. He is spiritually drawing each believer to each other. So, regardless of whether our background was Jewish or Gentile, we are made one together as a church in Jesus. When we normally create divisions, as human beings, the gospel – the good news of Jesus, breaks them down.

Just as Paul is about to tell them how he prays for them and what his prayer is for them, he interrupts himself and explains God’s plan to unite Jews and Gentiles, what it means to be God’s people. For us, whatever our background or ethnicity, the message is that we are welcome to come to God in Jesus. Paul then goes back to speak about the prayer he prays for his people, then he goes on to explain what it means to live a Christian life because of the change that has been brought to us.

Paul’s prayer shows how he prays in light of all God has done in Jesus. Quite simply, it is a prayer for more. Before we come to the prayer itself, we see the approach to prayer; we need more and more humility, “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Ephesians 3:14). I don’t know if you’ve ever knelt when praying, it’s not a requirement in the Bible. Another posture, which is mentioned in the Bible, is to pray with your hands raised.

Paul points out God’s greatness, His high position. Recapping God’s greatness leads to humility. Paul is not demanding of God, rather he comes humbly submitting to God. He refers to God as his Father. We might have had negative experiences of an earthly father, but God is our perfect Father. We need more humility.

Paul essentially has three requests. If we are asking for more, we already have had some. These are things Christians can never get enough of. God’s supplies are endless. He can keep giving more and more of Himself, “That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,” (Ephesians 3:16).

  1. More Power.

The power Christians have access to has already been a theme of the book, especially at the end of chapter 1. It’s the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. That’s the power that we have access to. Here the focus is first on how this power is brought to us – through the Holy Spirit. Every Christian has God’s Spirit living within them. He is co-equal with God the Father and the Son. He is the means by which God’s power is available to us. Because He lives within us, we have the power of God available to us.

“May be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height,” (Ephesians 3:18). Paul speaks about how he might grasp the four dimensions: width, length, height and depth. This might refer to God’s love, but Paul leaves this thing of immense measurement unspecified – it might be the limitless of God’s power for us.

Why do we need such limitless power? In order to grasp the more of other things God has for us, we need the power of God for us to be able to do. In order to live the Christian life, we need the limitless power of God to do so, to live faithfully for Him. That power is made ours more and more.

  • More Closeness

That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,” (Ephesians 3:17). That’s intimate language. The Spirit lives in our hearts. The Spirit and Christ are so united together in oneness; as the Spirit lives in us, so Christ lives in us. The fulness of the Father lives in us, Christ dwells in our hearts and the Spirit within us. This is something we already have as Christians. As Christians, we already have a closeness with God. We have been made one with the Father through what Jesus has done for us, as the Spirit unites us to Christ.

It’s something we can have more and more of. The closeness we have in God, through Christ, in the Spirit, grows and grows. Sometimes, as Christians, our faith fluctuates, but He is always giving more and more. We can pray we can have more and more.

  • More Love.

“That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,” (Ephesians 3:17). The root and foundation of love is the beginning point of love. He loves us, so we can love Him. “To know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:19). This is a prayer that we would know this love that surpasses knowledge. We’ll never be able to explain the deepness of God’s love for us, but we can have more of it. Just as you think you might be able to understand the extent of God’s love, to begin to grasp it, you realise how vast and limitless His ocean of love for us is. God loves you.

When you realise He loved you even when you were sinful, you realise He loved you more. When you realise that He loved you even when you were an enemy of His and yet He still loved you, then you love Him more. When you realise that it cost Him the death of Son to show you the greatness of His love, you realise how much more He loves you.

When you realise that it took Jesus to take our sin upon Himself and endure the hell we deserved, you realise that He loved you more than you even realised before. When you realise that He holds you securely in His love and His love will not let you go, you realise that He loves you even more. When you realise He loves you despite your wavering faith and continued sin, you realise that He loves you more.

When we think we’ve grasped the fulness of God’s love, you realise something more of what God has done for you. He loves you more than you previously thought. As you see He loves you more, so you love Him more.

The result of this is more praise. When we realise all the ‘mores’ God has in store for us – more power, more closeness, more love for each one of us, we just have to tell Him how grateful we are, how much we love Him and appreciate what He has done for us. The final two verses are quite simply that, “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, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21).

Even in that overflow of praise, Paul can’t help but squeeze in whatever we think or imagine, God is bigger, God is more. Such is the awesome, infinite greatness of God who works in us, who has glory in His people, and in His Son, and whose glory continues from generation to generation, forever.

What difference does this actually make to us? What difference does this make if you’re not a Christian or if you’re not sure, or if you want to share something of this with people who aren’t Christians?

The question to ask is. ‘Is this the kind of God I would want to know?’ If I don’t know this God, is this the kind of God that I would want to know – a God who is generous, kind and ready to share all of His immense riches, all of His glory with His people, a God who empowers His people, a God who draws His people closer to Himself?

If that’s you and you’re not yet a Christian, or perhaps thinking about Him, you can come to Him today. He opens His arms to welcome you today, whatever our failings, whatever our sins, we bring them to Him. In Him we find complete and full forgiveness. In Him we are made His children so that we can call Him our Father. He has shown us His love in Jesus and He want to bring us all to Himself, to give us a life that we can then live for Him. If there is something you are not sure about, then why not start reading about Jesus’ life? Read about how He has revealed God to us. Come back to the church here. Keep coming back week by week and hear about the good news of Jesus.

If you are a Christian, no doubt you have a desire for more. We realise we don’t have it all.  So, we can pray for ourselves; we can ask God to give us more of Himself. As we come before Him humbly, we can ask Him to give us more power, more closeness and more love from Himself.

We can pray that for each other – that’s exactly what Paul is doing here, he is praying for other believers a long, long way away from him. He is praying that they would experience these ‘mores’ of God. As a church you can pray that for each other. You can pray for those who preach week by week. Even when we’re at the end of our capacity, He keeps on giving of Himself to us. He keeps giving out of His grace, out of His loving kindness to us. We keep leaning on Him, we keep looking to Him.

September 11th 2016: Aaron Davies-Whitfield

Worship was led by Aaron Davies-Whitfield who preached from Philippians 2: 19-24, which he entitled “Not my will, but Thy will be done.’ We find Paul is in a place of uncertainty. His letter is written from Rome when he was under house arrest, which can be likened to the bonds and chains of the gospel. Paul is facing possible execution. He truly was an incredible man of God, a giant in the faith. It is staggering how God changed this man, who was out to destroy the church but now he is willing to lay down his life for the church and Christ.

In verse 19 we read, ‘But I trust the Lord Jesus.’ Paul was so captivated by Christ, his every thought and deed were always attached to Christ. He was under house arrest by the wicked Emperor Nero, who prosecuted and martyred Christians in the most horrific ways. Paul does not say, ‘I trust – if the Emperor allows.’ No, he states, ‘I trust in the Lord Jesus.’ Our future must fall into that place, like Paul. When you come to acknowledge Him as Saviour, He is not only your Saviour, He is your Lord. You give your life to Him. Paul faces possible execution, yet Jesus is the one who holds Paul’s future. Notice, in verse 24, Paul write, ‘But I trust the Lord.’ His future was not bleak but wonderfully glorious because of Christ. Whatever comes our way, our future is glorious in Jesus.

Paul was a spiritual giant but he also had feelings. This mighty man of God needed to be encouraged. He says he hoped to ‘send Timothy shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort’ (verse 19). Paul was anxious for the Philippian Church. Notice his feelings were all encompassed in Christ. He was concerned but that didn’t waiver him, his trust was in Christ. We are reminded, ‘Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.’ (Proverbs 3:5-6). Paul was trusting in the Lord. Trust in Him, lean on Him when you don’t understand and He will direct your path.

I wonder how many people visited Paul when he was under house arrest? It’s a challenge to us. How do we feel about those who minister the gospel to us? Do we love and care for them? It’s not always easy to sit under preaching – sometimes it will rebuke and chasten. We don’t pick and choose, it’s His Word. There can be that in us that doesn’t receive the Word. Let the Spirit of God work in us. We need to humble ourselves. Love those, even in their faults.

Paul found no-one like-minded but Timothy, his son in the gospel. In verse 21 we read, ‘For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.’ Where is your heart today? What is your greatest ambition? What are your motives and desires? Where is Jesus in all these things? How sad Paul was surrounded by Christians but none of them sought Christ’s Will. When Christ came to this earth He thought nothing of His own will, He sacrificed everything for the gospel. He laid aside everything.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan the priest and the Pharisee walked passed the man who was beaten and left for dead. It was the Samaritan who stopped and helped. It’s a challenge but one to take on board.

As Christians we can be more mindful of seeking salary not a Saviour. If Paul came to the church this morning, what would he say of us? Everything in this world will fade away – our job, salary, even our families – but all done for Christ will last. Make His name great in our life and your name full of insignificance. ‘Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.’

Looking at the churches around I see an absence of men in the gospel work. God is calling men to the work. The harvest is ripe but the labourers are so few. One of the reasons is we have too glamourous minds – certain things have to be in place before we consider God’s work. The ultimate questions is, ‘Has God called you?’ If God has called you, then He will provide. Men and women look to salaries and locations. In the New Testament, being a gospel church meant being in prison. Where is Christ in your life? We may not be called to preach the gospel but we are all called to live for the glory of God and make disciples, to follow Him whatever that means. Salary, reputation and comfort will all fall aside. We need to go wherever and to whoever if the Lord is calling. Jesus called the disciples – they did not know where they were going and they would lose their lives but they went willingly. ‘All seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.’ We live in a world of ‘My, my, my, me, me, me’ but what about Jesus? In light of all He has done for you, He asks you to be willing to serve Him, He will do everything else. All Jesus is asking is for you to say, ‘I’ll go Lord.’ God is calling.

‘And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8) God is calling you to something. He wants you to be a faithful witness to family and friends or even to the other side of the world. Seek Christ. Seek His will in your life. Surrender your will into His hands.

In verse 22 we read of Timothy, who we know was not a well man; he was a weak and fragile young man but he was willing to go, whatever the cost. When it came to conscription in the Great War men had to leave everything and go to war. We need to serve Christ, to take up the banner of the cross.

The church must go on, the gospel must carry on. But it needs labourers, people willing to forsake their wants for God’s wants.

‘So I will go wherever He is calling me
I lose my life to find life in Him
I give my all to gain the hope that never dies
I bow my heart, take up my cross, and follow Him.’

(From the hymn, ‘What Grace is Mine.’)

You may also like to listen to the hymn, “Here I am Lord’
which is based on Isaiah 6:8

Sunday Morning 22nd May 2016

Gareth Evans - May 16.jpgWorship was led by Gareth Evans of Port Talbot, who preached on Romans chapter 8 verses 18-27 – one of the most famous chapters in Scripture and one of the great theological chapters of the apostle Paul – from suffering to glory, from sin to holiness.

Earlier in the chapter we see the work of the Holy Spirit, now the apostle wants to deal with where the Christian is going. He says our troubles are just for a while, but there are great things to come. One of the great assurances of the gospel is we are not under condemnation (v.8)  The end of the chapter gives us the assurance that sin has been conquered because of what Christ has done for us. There is nothing that can separate us from Him.

Why is there suffering from the day we are born until the day we die? From Eden we are under a curse. The giving of the Holy Spirit into our hearts is the first fruits of what is yet to come. Through the work of the Spirit we know nothing can separate us from the love of God. The suffering we have in this world is nothing compared to the future glory, our eternity. We must first suffer with Christ. Suffering is the condition in which we enter the final glory with Jesus Christ. The world is out of kilter due to sin, the whole of creation groans. We are here in the now, in the ready, in a state of suffering. But Paul says we are not to focus on the suffering because this is nothing compared to the glory that is to come, the glory we will be partakers of. We groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption. We are yet to see the full fulfilment of this adoption. When Christ comes back we will be redeemed, our bodies will be like the body of Christ. We have this encouragement from Paul. Don’t worry or be anxious about our suffering, there is soon coming a time when we will be glorified with Christ.

We must have Christian perseverance. We must be willing to grow, to fight the good fight against sin. We are the people of God so we have to fight against the old nature. We have the first fruits of the Spirit within us, calling us to holiness, to Sanctification. We must persevere through the suffering, God has given us all we need. We must constantly examine ourselves. We are not to be anxious about our suffering, it is a sign that there is something greater to come.

The Spirit helps us in our weakness. Sometimes we don’t know what to pray for but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us. The groaning is a sense of longing for fulfilment of our salvation. The Spirit was sent to be our helper, the Spirit encourages us to walk with God. Though we live in a world that struggles with sin, we wait in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed – those who truly love Him with every fibre of their being. There is great liberation coming – but not all will be saved. There will come a day when it will be clear who are the sons of God, a day when God will judge.

Don’t be anxious. See our suffering from a different lens. Treat our suffering with godliness, calling for the help of the Holy Spirit to deal with it, asking God what He is teaching us. We are to persevere through difficulties. The Spirit helps us in our Christian walk so we can be those who reflect the glory of God.

Sunday 13th December 2015 – Morning Service

john gobbi - dec 2015

Sunday morning worship was led by John Gobbi of Calvary Church, Haverfordwest, who preached from Ephesians chapter 1: 1-12 basing his sermon on “Accepted by the Beloved.”

John told us that we are not accepted by the Beloved for going to chapel, making an offering or doing good deeds. Christ accepts us. He loves us with an everlasting love. The Lord Jesus loves us so much His arms were out-stretched for us on the cross.

The apostle Paul should not have been accepted by the Beloved; he made havoc of the church (Acts 7:58), throwing men and women into prison. He stood happy watching Stephen being stoned to death. Yet the Lord met him on the road to Damascus at noon time, the glory of the Lord shone on him and spoke to him. It was an incredible conversion. It’s a miracle when God meets with us in His Grace, kindness and patience and causes us to know Him.

It’s amazing that the Lord was born into humanity, living a perfect life. Pilot found no fault in Him. The thief on the cross found him perfect. A legion of angels could have rescued Him but His concern was for us and His love does not change. His love is always towards us. Do we daily seek His face? We are His workmanship. He started the work and is going to finish that work. We are greatly loved and highly favoured, accepted in the Beloved. Therefore, we should know His peace – peace with the Father and peace with the Son. Amazing! We are the church, the Bride of Christ.

What if you decided not to be accepted by the Beloved? If we reject Christ, where can we go? We are living in a time of Grace, we need to give our heart to the Lord Jesus. Do you feel accepted in the Beloved? Are you secure in Him? He sets us apart, we are a different people. Keep praying for those who reject Christ. You need to know His strength, His forgiveness.