Every morning is different from the last in small ways mostly, but still different. Yes, we have an idea of how the day will unfold; that is our nature to have a plan for the day, but you never really are certain how it is going to go. It is always a bit of a mystery.
This morning was no different for me. I got up and staggered down the stairs. There is the hook of an old Beatles song that is running through my head in those first few minutes. “Woke up, got outta bed, drag a comb across my head. Make the trip down stairs and have a cup….” etc. etc. Then I end up at my desk praying.
This morning as I spent my alone time with God and prayed my prayers the book of Ephesians kept running through my head. When I finished my prayers, I began reading Ephesians 1 – 3 as Paul revealed the mystery of the Gospel.
Ephesians 1:3-10 Spiritual Blessings in Christ
As I read Paul’s blessing in verses three through ten, my heart leaps with every word of the text. He first praises God and then reminds us of our blessings and gifts.
Ephesians 1:3-10 (ESV)
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.
He “blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places… that we should be holy and blameless before him.” As I consider this gift how can I squander it with selfish desires? I am reminded of Matthew 13 and the parables Jesus taught:
- Matthew 13:44 (ESV) The Parable of the Hidden Treasure
- Matthew 13:45-46 (ESV) The Parable of the Pearl of Great Value
- Matthew 13:47-52 (ESV) The Parable of the Net
What a treasure our God has given us. How awesome is He and wonderful is His grace and mercy, and Paul goes on to fill my cup in verses 15-21 as he prays for the church at Ephesus.
Ephesians 1:15-21 Thanksgiving and Prayer
He does not pray for the Ephesians because they are ill or weak or struggling in this prayer, although some may be in peril. The reason for this pray was their strong faith in the Lord Jesus and their love toward all the saints.
Ephesians 1:15-21 (ESV)
15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
I read and reread this passage and even as I added it to this blog I had to stop and pray this prayer for all believers. What a powerful prayer Paul prayed, not only for the Ephesians but for all who believe. What an important thing I must include in my prayer time. The thing is, I know this prayer, but I had not read Ephesians in a while, and I had let this slip from my memory. I am humbled again by God’s Word and the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
I took a minute or two to reflect on this first part of the letter that Paul wrote to the Ephesians. The introduction is so powerful that I believe as the letter was read to the Ephesians there was at least some, if not all the Ephesians, that heard that prayer and realized a significant deficiency in their prayer life as I did.
Now for a long time, I have felt a need to pray for the body of believers. But I had forgotten the specifics that Paul revealed in this passage. I prayed for their protection, but I fell short of asking for all the things that Paul asked in verses 17-21. That gave me a repentant heart, thankful for God’s grace. It also took me to his next passage that defined grace through faith.
Ephesians 2:1-10 By Grace Through Faith
I think chapter 2 in Ephesians is in my top 100 chapters in the bible if I were to rank them. I just love reading it. The mystery revealed in this chapter just blows my mind. Ephesians 2:1-10 just warm me in peace and comfort. I do not know if that makes sense, but having been a heathen, I am filled with thanksgiving as I read this passage and reflect on the gift.
Ephesians 2:1-10 (ESV) By Grace Through Faith
1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
I read this passage and I know I was dead in my sins. I was on the wrong road, but God in His infinite mercy called me away from that path and showed me a love that I could not have imagined. A love that was a gift that I could not earn by any means. “For by grace (I) have been saved through faith. And this is not (my) own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that (I) may boast.” I am left breathless when I think of this gift. A gift that is so amazing that I must tell people about it.
You know there is so much to this letter I could keep on going, but I think it is best to stop here today. As I reflect on the opening passages of this letter to the Ephesians I about want to burst. Jesus revealed so many mysteries to Paul, and the Holy Spirit lead him to share them with each church or recipient at just the right time. The Holy Spirit does the same for us if we will listen and obey.
This wonderful Gospel has been given to us to share. The Holy Spirit guides us through it and reveals each piece as we are ready for it, but not for us to hide in our hearts but to share. I close with this passage in Luke.
Luke 11:33-36 (ESV) The Light in You
33 “No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. 34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. 35 Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. 36 If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.”
Father, help me to be bold in my prayers. Let me not forget the believers when I pray and pray for them as Paul did. Lord, I also ask to take that strength you give us to step out and share your Gospel with the world around us planting seeds of hope, and all this I pray in Jesus name, Amen.