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Psalm 17:6-7
I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
    incline your ear to me; hear my words.
Wondrously show your steadfast love,
    O Savior of those who seek refuge
    from their adversaries at your right hand.

Psalm 47:1-2
Clap your hands, all peoples!
    Shout to God with loud songs of joy!
For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared,
    a great king over all the earth.

Psalm 77:13-14
Your way, O God, is holy.
    What god is great like our God?
14 You are the God who works wonders;
    you have made known your might among the peoples.

Psalm 107:1-3
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever!
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
    whom he has redeemed from trouble
and gathered in from the lands,
    from the east and from the west,
    from the north and from the south.

Psalm 137:1-4 [This Psalm of Lament is also one of the Imprecatory Psalms]
By the waters of Babylon,
    there we sat down and wept,
    when we remembered Zion.
On the willows there
    we hung up our lyres.
For there our captors
    required of us songs,
and our tormentors, mirth, saying,
    “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

 

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. – Ephesians 3:14-21

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Spring-fed-Creek | Dogwood Canyon Nature Park | October 2019

Perhaps you’ve seen the movie Last Crusade. In it Indiana Jones has to make his way across a chasm wider than he can possibly jump. There is no way across. But he is told he must walk out onto the chasm by faith. As he walks a stone bridge magically appears. He passes his test of faith.

I’m not sure whether this is a good illustration of faith. But I am certain that I like the idea of faith finding the promises of God to be true rather than causing these promises to be. Faith does not cause God to do good. Faith does not cause God to make promises. Faith discovers and believes in the goodness of God. Faith receives the promises of God.

Most important is the object of faith. Faith in a false god – no matter how strong and sincere – will never save. Faith in a mediocre god or partially-true promise will yield only mediocre or partially true results.

The wide, deep, high, and long love of God is a pure and perfect object of our faith. That love is shown to be wide by breadth of people who have been touched by the love of God. People from every continent of the earth, and language and tribe, from every ethnicity, political persuasion, world view and sex call Jesus Lord. They have experienced the love of God. They’ve seen how far he will go to redeem us: from the heights of glory to the depths of the grave. They have experienced the deep touch of his love in their hearts.

All this is a matter of faith. Holding to the love of God requires faith, for it is not always evident. There are times when God seems far away. There are moments we may doubt and wonder about God’s goodness, or his willingness to be involved in our lives. Faith hangs sometimes by a thread on the love and promises of God. But faith’s strength is in its object.

Isaiah says, a bruised reed he will not break. A smoldering wick he will not quench. There is great comfort in God’s love in this case. For God honors even the weakest faith. That’s because he loves us. Deeply. With great breadth, and far-reaching width. We see this in Jesus’ suffering and death in our place, and his resurrection from the grave. Then he has sent his Holy Spirit to reach into my heart and brought me into the fellowship of his love. This I believe.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. – Ephesians 3:14-21

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“New” Bridge over the Mississippi River | Cape Girardeau, MO | May 2013

I grew up in a town next to the Mississippi River. It is long, and wide. Deep enough for large barges to traverse (but not as deep as the The Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench located in the Pacific Ocean). It is long: the fourth longest river in the world. The widest part of the Mississippi can be found at Lake Winnibigoshish near Bena, MN, where it is wider than 11 miles.

Paul speaks here of the breadth, length, height, and depth of God’s love. Think of it this way:

God’s love is broad. You can see how wide a river is by noticing how much it covers over. God’s river of love is so wide that it covers over my sin, and it covers over every circumstance of my life, so that all things work together for good. When I doubt His forgiveness or His providence, I am narrowing the mighty river of God’s love. His love is as wide as the world: For God so loved the world (John 3:16). [Enduring Word Commentary, as also below]

When considering the length of God’s love, ask yourself, “When did the love of God start towards me? How long will it continue?” These truths measure the length of God’s love. Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). [Enduring Word Commentary]

Philippians 2:7-8 tell us how deep the love of Jesus goes: but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. You can’t go lower than the death of the cross, and that is how deep the love of Jesus is for us. [Enduring Word Commentary]

To see the height of God’s love, ask yourself, “How high does it lift me?” It lifts me to heavenly places where I am seated with Christ. He has raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:6). [Enduring Word Commentary]

In summary God’s love is…

  • Wide enough to embrace every sinner. Jesus died for the sins of the world.
  • Long enough to span eternity: from everlasting to everlasting is God’s love.
  • Deep enough to reach into the heart of the most wayward sinner.
  • High enough to lift me to the eternal joy of the life of the world to come.

We comprehend this only by faith. That we will consider tomorrow.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. – Ephesians 3:14-21

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Dogwood Canyon Nature Park Overlook | October 2019

Have you ever prayed a big prayer? It’s easy and good to pray little prayers. Come, Lord Jesus. Be our guest. Let these gifts to us be blessed. Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray Thee, Lord, my soul to keep. Glad and well may I awake. This I ask for Jesus’ sake. 

There are also those more meaty prayers we pray. Our Father who art in heaven. Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation. But deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen. 

And we lift up sometimes, more urgent prayers. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. 

This prayer is a big prayer. Paul is asking for God to grant us strength and power by the presence of Spirit in our inner being. He is praying that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith. He is asking that we be rooted and grounded in love, and have strength to comprehend the breadth and length and height and depth of his love in Christ. He’s asking that for all the saints. He’s asking that we know unknowable the love of Christ. He’s praying that we be filled with all the fullness of God.

This is a big prayer. It deserves praying as often as we repeat the Lord’s Prayer. Let’s pray big prayers today!

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. – Ephesians 3:14-21

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Dogwood Canyon Nature Park | October 2019

She looked young and beautiful in the white wedding gown that her mother had made. She was on her father’s arm. When I looked down the church aisle I nearly forgot how much my feet hurt in my rental tuxedo shoes. As she was walking in, her hands and arms began to shake. She was to be my wife – shaking hands and all. She told me later that she wanted to tell the people she was really OK. But I don’t think anyone really noticed.

She had noticed some weeks earlier this passage in Ephesians. And it was her idea to include it as a prayer in our wedding. This was a beautiful way to end our wedding. I am thankful that she had found it. Whenever I see the passage, I think of Diane and thank God for her, and for moving our hearts together…some 44 years ago.

Consider the thoughts here: God gives names to all the families of the earth. He determines who we are. Sometimes this is lost on us. Sometimes we believe we have more power and are more autonomous than we actually are. None of us chose the time or place we were born. We did not choose our parents. In fact, our parents did not choose us – unless we were adopted.

But God has chosen us to be his children. We are the family of God through faith in Jesus Christ. We are brothers and sisters in Christ. If we are part of God’s family we ought also be careful to protect the family name. Making a good impression, and seeking to honor the family name is a must.

To that end we pray for God’s strength be given us in our inner being. Our character is formed by the Holy Spirit’s presence in our hearts. God’s strength is grounded in and expressed in his love for us.

That we would know this! This is Paul’s prayer. This is God’s desire. This is a wedding prayer that will be fully realized in the Great Wedding Feast to come at the end of all time.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. – Ephesians 3:14-21

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Waterfall IV | Dogwood Canyon Nature Park | October 2019

Think about this prayer today. Watch for more tomorrow. May God’s love be ever more evident, powerfully present and delightfully surprising in times of joy or difficulty, or the everyday ebb and flow of life.

Psalm 10:16-18

The Lord is king forever and ever;

the nations perish from his land.

O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted;

you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear

to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,

so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.

Psalm 40:4-5

Blessed is the man who makes

the Lord his trust,

who does not turn to the proud,

to those who go astray after a lie!

You have multiplied, O Lord my God,

your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;

none can compare with you!

I will proclaim and tell of them,

yet they are more than can be told.

Psalm 70:1

Make haste, O God, to deliver me!
O Lord, make haste to help me!

Psalm 100

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!

Serve the Lord with gladness!

Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the Lord, he is God!

It is he who made us, and we are his;

we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,

and his courts with praise!

Give thanks to him; bless his name!

For the Lord is good;

his steadfast love endures forever,

and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 130

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!

O Lord, hear my voice!

Let your ears be attentive

to the voice of my pleas for mercy!

If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,

O Lord, who could stand?

But with you there is forgiveness,

that you may be feared.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,

and in his word I hope;

my soul waits for the Lord

more than watchmen for the morning,

more than watchmen for the morning.

O Israel, hope in the Lord!

For with the Lord there is steadfast love,

and with him is plentiful redemption.

And he will redeem Israel

from all his iniquities.