Here is yesterday's sermon. You can listen here.
Paul’s Prayer for the Ephesians
When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. –Ephesians 3:14-20 (New Living Translation)
Paul’s Writing on Knowing About God versus Knowing God
You know my pedigree: a legitimate birth, circumcised on the eighth day; an Israelite from the elite tribe of Benjamin; a strict and devout adherent to God's law; a fiery defender of the purity of my religion, even to the point of persecuting the church; a meticulous observer of everything set down in God's law Book. The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I'm tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I've dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn't want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God's righteousness. I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power. Philippians 3:5-10 (The Message)
John Wesley’s Salvation Experience
On May 24, 1738, he had an experience that changed everything. He described the event in his journal:
In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.
I began to pray with all my might for those who had in a more especial manner despitefully used me and persecuted me. I then testified openly to all there what I now first felt in my heart. But it was not long before the enemy suggested, “This cannot be faith; for where is thy joy?” Then was I taught that peace and victory over sin are essential to faith in the Captain of our salvation; but that, as to the transports of joy that usually attend the beginning of it, especially in those who have mourned deeply, God sometimes giveth, sometimes withholdeth, them according to the counsels of His own will.
After my return home, I was much buffeted with temptations, but I cried out, and they fled away. They returned again and again. I as often lifted up my eyes, and He “sent me help from his holy place.” And herein I found the difference between this and my former state chiefly consisted. I was striving, yea, fighting with all my might under the law, as well as under grace. But then I was sometimes, if not often, conquered; now, I was always conqueror.
Jesus as the Vine
I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you're joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can't produce a thing. –John 15:5 (The Message)
Two Paths of Knowledge
There is a difference between Greek and Hebrew concepts of knowledge. Greeks felt no obligation to or for what they knew; Hebrews did. To know for a Hebrew meant responsibility. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge—and much of the basis of our current thinking in science and technology—is Greek. With statements like, “Let it take its own course” or “It is not my concern, I am merely an observer,” the Greek view avoids responsibility. The epitome of this paradigm is the news / journalistic cameraman or photographer who just records the horror in front of him without doing anything about it. For a Hebrew, to know something meant they had the moral and ethical demand to act on that knowledge. This is the basic premise underlying God's revelation of Himself in scripture and how we must use that revelation (what responsibilities that knowledge imparts to us) as we study to show ourselves approved.
You must know your starting point to be able to chart your course. To come to a usable knowledge of God and what He demands from our life, we first have to come to terms with whether we know Him at all and if we do, how well do we know him? In addition, we must accept responsibility for what knowledge we have and what knowledge we acquire.
Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. –Revelation 3:20