“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.”
Ephesians 3:14-19 NLT
Sometimes when I don’t know what to pray I rely on the prayers of Scripture. These are timeless prayers; solid enough to survive the passage of thousands of years. And so today as I read Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian body of believers, I realize I too want the fulfillment of these words in the lives of those I dearly love.
This Christmas season of LOVE.
We all want this Christmas season to be marked by love, saturated in love, smothered in love and remembered for the ages as the time we enjoyed so much love.
We want our families to be defined by love. We hope gifts will be exchanged in love and that words will be spoken in love. We desire for our grandchildren to know that they are dearly loved and so we long to lavish them with all the time, words and things of which we would like to do over with our own children.
In short, we crave a fairy tale version of love which contains nothing of quarreling or strife or difficulty or challenges or repentance or for goodness sake – reconciliation. With this anticipatory set up for Christmas, it’s no wonder so many of us (at least in the USA) are sorely disappointed with the holidays year after year.
Because… in a fallen and broken world, love contains all of those ingredients. Love includes the ability to experience heartache, and offer forgiveness. Love means disagreeing and apologizing for pain inflicted. We’re broken and we need to love and be loved.
Have you ever considered the idea that the only people who have the power to grieve you most are the very ones you love the most?
And that draws us back full circle to God, our Father and Creator. Who, I ask you, could love us more? Who, in all of creation, could want better for His kids? We are His creation! And what else of His creation has more power to grieve Him than the ones He loves the most?
That’s us. And so even while we were grieving His heart by doubting His goodness and rejecting His love and disobeying His authority as God and Creator, He made the greatest sacrifice. God made Himself like us with flesh and blood. He gave Himself over as a tiny infant to be cared for by a human man and woman of His own creation. And they named Him Jesus, as the angel Gabriel had instructed.
He gave Himself. He offered love to everyone whether they received it or not. He lived love in front of every person He encountered. Jesus spoke love whether softly or in a stronger, commanding tone. His love produced followers and dissenters, praises and curses and His love led to His eventual death on a cross. His willing sacrifice was His love mission to defeat the curse we brought upon ourselves.
Jesus knew His mission as He stayed close in prayer to His Heavenly Father. He trusted His Father’s sovereignty and obeyed completely in love toward all of creation. He gave His life as a sacrifice for us. He conquered death by His resurrection and then as Jesus ascended back to His rightful place upon His Throne as God, He gave us yet another love gift. He gave us His Holy Spirit.
“Because of Christ and our faith in Him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence. So please don’t lose heart because of my trials here. I am suffering for you, so you should feel honored.”
Ephesians 3:12-13 NLT
And so we come back to The Love of This Season. With the words of Paul, and not Hollywood or social media, we gain a more realistic picture of love at Christmas.
First, love means our sacrifice for others. Paul was living his life, in the example of Jesus, in the loving hope that others would receive faith in God through the shed blood and resurrection of Christ. Paul set the example for us. We should serve others with sacrificial love this Christmas in the hope that they will receive faith in Jesus and be able to “…come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.” (Ephesians 3:12-13)
Second, love means we will fall to our knees and pray for everyone we love in the example of Paul as recorded in Ephesians 3:14-19. Whether we think they know or don’t know. Whether we think they’re deserving or not. Whether we’re at the height of closeness or couldn’t be more divided. These desires of Paul should be our own desires in prayer to our Father on surrendered knee.
I pray Father that You will empower these whom I love with inner strength through Your Spirit. I trust that then Christ will make His home in my loved ones’ hearts as they each trust in You. May their roots grow down into God’s love and keep each one strong. And may they each have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep is the love of God. May my loves experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. I trust that then each one I hold in my heart will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”
Father, this is my love request at Christmas. Jesus, thank You for Your love gift of sacrifice for all of the people in all of creation. Please keep teaching me about Your love and keep filling me with the fullness of Your Spirit so I may live love as You did. It is again in the words of Paul I give You honor and gratitude.
“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. Glory to Him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.”
Ephesians 3:20-21 NLT
Merry Christmas and eyes on Jesus …