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Archive for the tag “Ephesians”

For This Reason

And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way; bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. Colossians 1:10-12

As noted in my last blog posting, we are reading through Paul’s letters to the Churches. These letters were said to have been written while Paul was in prison. To set up the context of these letters, the study book we use gave us the background in the Book of Acts. We find a turning point in Paul’s ministry in Acts 20:22-24: “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”

Paul said goodbye to his people; first in Ephesus then others along the way until he reached Jerusalem. He was arrested soon after arriving in Jerusalem and taken before officials. Every time he was given the opportunity, Paul told his testimony about how Jesus changed his life and how Jesus is the Messiah -foretold by the Prophets of Old -the One who was to come to bring salvation and redeem and restore the world to God. He never changed his message, just the way he presented it to his audience.

So then we come to the letters he wrote from his prison cell or in house arrest. His time was not wasted. He was on mission and never let an opportunity go by. Some of the letters were to believers in the Lord Jesus Christ whom he never met. He wrote to them to encourage their faith and give them examples to live by. He encouraged them to live differently than the world. It was the difference that would draw others to Jesus.

In Colossians 1:4, Paul wrote he had heard of the faith and love found in the believers in Colossi. For this reason, he prayed for them the prayer I listed above. It’s a powerful prayer; praying for knowledge and wisdom so that they could live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way. Prayer is essential to living a life worthy of the calling. We also need to be watchful and thankful as we pray. Watchful so that we see God’s answer and give Him the glory. Thankful because we know what we ask for will be done, if we ask in His will – it’s just a matter of time – God’s time. I am reminded to thank Him before I see the answer.

In Ephesians, Paul wrote to the believers in Ephesus he never stopped giving thanks for them and remembering them in his prayers (1:15). Paul prayed that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.Paul prayed for those who were to hear his letters would know Jesus better, to know the hope to which Jesus called each of the believers; to know the power that raised Jesus from the dead – power that lives in each believer by the Spirit of God who dwells in believers. Paul asked all this for all believers – not just to the ones who initially read or heard his letter, but to all those who read it today.

Think about the power of prayer – there is no end date. Paul has given us words to pray for one another, but also knowing God still honors Paul’s prayers 2000 years later. I asked the Lord: please answer this prayer in this present age so that we would know, by the Spirit, wisdom and revelation for God’s glory to be evident in all believers to draw others to Himself.

Wouldn’t it be a better world if the Church would have the power, which is available to us, used for God’s glory to be revealed? To know the power – to give us strength, to know the depth of His love, to know the work He is doing in us and through us? If we were all mature believers, unified in one body, wouldn’t that be a wonderful picture? It calls for a different approach than what the world puts forth. It calls us to live a life set apart and different – it calls for humility, gentleness, bearing with one another in love and living with one focus. It means being something we’re currently not.

For this reason, we start with Paul’s prayers for believers to encourage one another. Paul was warned repeatedly about the suffering he would experience as his end drew near. I think the Church as well has been warned repeatedly. It’s time we heed the warning and stay focused on the main thing. From Ephesians 4:4-6: There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope when you were called -one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Let God’s glory be evident in each of us to draw more to the love of Jesus. It’s our only hope in times of trouble. It’s the only way to change the world we live in today. God help us!

Identity

I had a phone call from a collection agency – again. No, I don’t have any debt that needs to be collected. But it gets my heart to thumping nevertheless. A few years ago, someone had stolen my identity. This person used my medical insurance number to obtain medical services. It snowballed from there. It took a few months to get it all squared away once I learned of the theft. But I still have to resolve issues every now and then. This call reminded me I needed to check my credit report just to make sure nothing else was going on. It was all good – whew. Every call I receive of this nature reminds me how much I have to be thankful for. God has blessed me even though I deserve none of it. These calls also remind me of where my true identity lies.

Christ gave me a new identity on the day I received the gift of salvation. It was a long time ago. I didn’t deserve it, but He invited me to join Him on mission. Well, that’s not what I thought when I went up front in my home church on that day. But the Holy Spirit told me to go so I did. A few years after that, God called me to sanctification – big word. I didn’t know what that meant either at the time. God was calling me to be set apart for His purpose. There was a lot that needed to be cleaned up. He set about cleaning up my mind and my heart. One step at a time, slowly my mindset began to change and my heart began to line up with His. It’s an ongoing process of transformation, and I have yet to arrive at the destination. God is more concerned with my progress than my destination though. The destination is already set upon the Rock. The journey there is the challenging part.

My spiritual identity can never be stolen like my identity on this earth. What I have physically can be stolen, but that is not where my treasure lies. These things are nothing compared to what I will have in the future. God has blessed me abundantly – more than I could ever ask for. A few years ago I went to Australia, and I thought that was the best trip ever. But what I am realizing now, the best is yet to come. Yes, I will go on mission with Him. Jesus is my friend, and I want to go with Him on the biggest adventure I will ever have! Praise God for making all things new!

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10

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