Category Archives: Ephesians

Open the eyes of my heart

Ephesians 1: 18-19a

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.  NIV

This letter from Paul to the church at Ephesus is filled with such encouragement!

I love to read it in The Message, where verses 15-19 say, “That’s why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus, and your outpouring of love to all the Christians, I couldn’t stop thanking God for you — every time I prayed, I’d think of you and give thanks.  But I do more than thank.  I ask — ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory — to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for Christians, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him — endless energy, boundless strength.” MSG

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord.  Help me to know the hope to which you have called me.  Flood me with your incomparably great power.  Help me to be intelligent and discerning.  Keep me focused on exactly what it is you are calling me to do.

That’s my prayer today.

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Filed under Ephesians, Hope, New Testament

Don’t try to micro-manage God

Ephesians 3:22-23

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!  Amen.  NIV

At first glance, this might not seem like a reminder not to worry … but it is.

Christ is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.

All we ask …

Often, my prayers are machine-gun like … “God, I need this, and this, and this, and this; and so-and-so needs this, that and the other thing; and this is coming; and you know all of this, and I’m so stressed about it; and take this stress; and thank you.”

Over the last several days, I’ve been convicted that I ask a lot, but that I don’t listen or wait for an answer.  I tend to throw all of my worries over my head to God, and then rush off, fearing that if I stay, gravity will take over, and they will all come to rest right back on my head.

But, God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask.

Do we try to micro manage God?  I think the answer is, “yes.”  We want an outcome, a specific outcome, at this time and in this place and in this way.  We know that we don’t control the future, we acknowledge things to come as being under His control, but, don’t we try to gain a little of that control for ourselves by requesting the outcomes that will meet our needs?

Guilty.

But, God is able to do immeasurably more than all we  ask … and, here’s the kicker … or imagine!

God’s plan is so much bigger, His power so much greater, that my feeble mind can’t even imagine it!

I’ve been thinking about this a lot  lately.

The image I have is of three concentric circles.  I’m in the middle one.  If I look only to myself, to my own skills and abilities, there are things that I know that I can accomplish.  I know that either because I’ve done them before, or because accomplishing even a new thing would require the knowledge, skills and abilities that I have been proven to possess.  Staying in my own circle, there are several things that I can accomplish.  None of them require faith.

In the next circle are my family and friends.  Many things that I cannot accomplish on my own can be easily managed if I will enlist the help of a friend.  For instance, I can’t do math in my head, but, I have a childhood friend who excels at this.  She recently sat in on a discussion I was leading.  I knew that if anything mathematical arose in that discussion, while I would be caught flat footed, I could quickly look to her and she would have already calculated the answer.  She does this automatically.  It is one of the skills and abilities that God chose to give her, but not me.  That confidence of knowing that I wouldn’t have to struggle with math in my head or to look stupid did not require faith, it required only the presence of my friend.

The third circle is amorphous.  And, while the first two exist in two dimensions in my head, like hula hoops on the ground, the third is spherical, it exists in three dimensions, and I’m completely uncertain of its size or potential.

That sphere is what God can accomplish, if I and my friends and family are willing to step outside our own little circles and allow Him to work through us.

That sphere is limitless … it is of a size “immeasurable more than I can ask or imagine.”  To access it, to live in it, requires faith, not worry or doubt.  Living in that sphere requires faith that God can and will deliver in ways that will bring glory only to Him.  To experience that, I must cease my rapid-fire asking.  I must wait upon the Lord.  I must be still and await His instructions.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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Filed under Ephesians, Faith, New Testament, Trust, Worry

Ephesians 6:13-17

Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the  breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. NIV

I’ve been studying the parables in Matthew.  One of my favorites, is the parable of the sower.  You may recall that the seed falls in four places — on the path, which is too hard for it to take root;  in shallow ground, where it sprouts quickly, but then dies out because of an undeveloped root system; in a place where thorns grow up and choke it out; and then finally on fertile ground where it takes root and multiplies.

The seed, of course, is the Word of God, and the various kinds of ground are the kinds of people who receive the Word.  Some are hard hearted and refuse to listen.  Some get enthusiastic early on, but, their faith fails to take root.  The third group, I think, are where Satan spends the majority of his time.  If he can use things to bind up believers, to make them ineffective, the word will fail to multiply.  And there will be fewer believers in that fourth group, which is out there making a difference.

One of the tools that Satan uses so effectively, in my opinion, is worry.  If I am bound up in worrying about things over which I have no control and that I cannot change, I am not up and out in the world making a difference for God.

I want to be Jesus’s hands and feet here on earth.  I am so thankful that God has provided these instructions and tools to use to overcome the thorns so that I can be fruitful.

I must protect myself from worry.  And I will do that by putting on the whole armor of God.

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Filed under Ephesians, New Testament, Peace, Worry