First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Sunday, January 31, 2021)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
“Four Prayer Requests!” #3
Jeremiah 3:1-3; Ephesians 3:14-21
One day the famous British preacher Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892) was walking through the English countryside with a friend. As they strolled along, the evangelist noticed a barn with a weathervane on its roof. At the top of the vane were these words: GOD IS LOVE. Spurgeon remarked to his friend that he thought this was a rather inappropriate place for such a message. “Weathervanes are changeable,” he said, “but God’s love is constant.” “I don’t agree with you about those words, Charles,” replied his friend. “I think you misunderstood the meaning. That sign is indicating a truth: Regardless of which way the wind blows, God is love.”
“Regardless of which way the wind blows, God is love.” This is today’s message in a nutshell. As you know, we have been looking at the prayer of Paul for his fellow Christians in the city of Ephesus. As I have already pointed out, in the midst of deep theological discussions, Paul paused a couple times to lift his friends in prayer. In doing so, Paul wanted to remind us that we should find time to pray and to commune with our Heavenly Father in the busyness of life.
Paul’s prayer consists of four requests. First: he prayed for inner strength to believers through God’s Spirit. Second: he prayed so that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith. Third: he prayed that we would be rooted and grounded in love. Fourth: he prayed for the believers’ hearts to grasp the greatness of Christ’s love. The last couple Sundays we had the chance to look at the first two requests of Paul’s prayer and today we will be looking at the third request. Today Paul prays for the believers in Ephesus to be “rooted and established in love” Ephesians 3:17. The New Living Translation puts today’s prayer request this way: “I pray that your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.”
Two things can be highlighted in Paul’s prayer request today. Remember, he prayed for the believers in Ephesus to be rooted and established in love. So, first, we will look at the perfect soil we, as believers, should plant ourselves in. Second, we will look at the importance of making good roots.
First: The Perfect Soil
Soil is important. Different plants need different types of soil. A sed won’t reach its potential unless it’s planted in the right soil. It is interesting to note that in Ephesians 3:17, Paul says that the soil we are to be planted in is God’s love. Paul uses the Greek word “Agape ἀγάπῃ” – this God’s unconditional love. I think it’s revolutionary to come to believe that “Regardless of which way the wind blows, God is love.” Everything begins with God’s love. It’s transforming to know that whether I am healthy or sick, have much or have little, our sailing is smooth or rough, God is love. It is refreshing to know that whether you’re a saint or a sinner, you can plant yourself in God’s love. God loves us unconditionally. There is affirmation in love. There is joy in love. There is peace in love. There is no fear in love.
Paul would say to the believers in Ephesus and to us, never forget that God loves you unconditionally. Soak yourself in this truth. Meditate on it. Fill your and mind with it. Immerse yourself in it. It’s extremely important to plant yourself in the soil of God’s love. “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you,” said the Prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 31:3. Because of God’s everlasting and agape love, we can hold onto His faithfulness.
Second: The Importance of Making Deep Roots
Roots are important. The life or death of any plant or tree depends on the health of their root system. If you have a strong and healthy root system, you will have a good plant. And the opposite is also true. No wonder that Paul prayed for Christ’s followers to be rooted and grounded in God’s love.
Two major functions of any root system: stability and nourishment. As a tree or plant grows, it sends out roots that will both anchor it to the ground, and provide water and nourishment for the rest of the plant. Being rooted and established is necessary for long term health.
Like plants, Christians need stability to withstand the winds and the storms (trials) of life. We must all be established in the soil of God’s agape. This will enable us to stand upright. Roots do a lot more than give the plant stability. They bring food and water to the plant. Like plants, Christians need spiritual nourishment. We get this from God’s love and from Christ living in us. Roots also store water and nutrients for times of need. When droughts come, plants have a certain amount of a reserve of water and nutrients that are stored in the roots. This sustains the plant for a while. Same thing, when spiritual droughts come, our roots in Christ sustain us for some time.
Friends, the question we need to wrestle with today is an important one. Am I rooted and grounded in the love God? When we plant ourselves in the soil of God’s love, we stay anchored in the soil of truth, refusing the lies of the enemy and the compromise of our culture. When we plant ourselves in the soil of God’s love, we remain firmly stable, well-fed and filled with a reserve of spiritual strength for times of stress and storms. May it be so, my friends. Amen.
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