A Crash Course in Knowing Christ (Ephesians 1:15-23)

Ephesians

This past weekend at Eastbrook Church, I continued our new series walking through the New Testament book of Ephesians, entitled “Ephesians: A Crash Course in Basic Christianity.” This weekend, I continued with the second half of chapter 1, which offers us a “Crash Course in Knowing Christ.” This is really a prayer of Paul that unfolds for us how prayer in gratitude, intercession, and worship helps us know Christ more fully in our lives.

You can watch my message from this past weekend and follow along with the message outline below. You can also engage with the entire series here or download the Eastbrook mobile app for even more opportunities for involvement.

Read More »

Re-speaking God’s Good Words

Gods-blessing.jpg

If blessing means “to speak good words over something or someone,” what a powerful message of blessing comes to us from Paul’s words in Ephesians 1:3-14. He tells us that God “has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (1:3). Every spiritual blessing. Just that one word sets the tone of this entire letter. God has not held anything back but pours out the full extent of all His blessings upon believers. So, God speaks good words to the full extent possible upon us. Paul enumerates those blessings one after another:

  • chosen before creation
  • predestined to adoption to sonship
  • redeemed through Christ’s blood
  • forgiveness of sins
  • lavished with God’s grace
  • knowledge of God’s will
  • sealed with the Holy Spirit

It seems not that Paul has run out of blessings to mention, but rather that he has run out of room in the sentence he is writing to contain any more blessings. God speaks all these good realities into us through Christ.

If God speaks so many good words – so many blessings – over our lives, why is it that we speak so many bad words over our lives and the lives of others? Why is it that we fill our moths, our ears, and our lives with all so many negative messages? Why do we erode the abundance of God’s blessings through the poisonous waters of human cursing and negativity?

If God speaks so many good words over our lives, what might it mean to know those good words and to echo them into our lives by recounting them and speaking them forth daily? The old hymns says, “Count your blessings, name them one by one.” Counting our blessings first of all means knowing those blessings, some of which Paul listed for us in Ephesians 1. We need to know the content and significance of the good words that God has spoken over our lives. Secondly, it means speaking those good words over our lives again and again. Maybe today we just pick up those words of blessing and say, “I have been lavished with God’s grace. I’ve been forgiven. I’ve been redeemed in Christ.” When we re-speak God’s good words over our lives it keeps us centered in what is true. Thirdly, counting our blessings means giving God praise with our mouths for the blessings He has given to us. God blesses us and we bless Him back. God speaks good words over us and we speak good words over Him in return.

When we not only hear the blessings of God but re-speak them over our lives, our outlook changes. We are not limited by our circumstances but are transformed through the truth of God’s blessings. Even if many things do not change, we know who we are and whose we are in God through Christ.

Praying with Paul: Ephesians 1 [30 Days of Prayer]

Summer of Prayer Ads_Banner“For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.” (Ephesians 1:15-16)

There are two exemplary prayers of Paul in the letter known as Ephesians. The first prayer arises in 1:15-23 and the second in 3:14-21. Today, we will explore the first of those prayers, so open your Bible and read Ephesians 1:15-23.

Although more brief here than in Colossians 1, notice that Paul once again begins his prayer with thanksgiving before turning to his requests. Gratitude is an important entry point for prayer. It shapes our thinking and praying with an attitude of plenty, as opposed to merely an attitude of need. “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever” (Psalm 136:1). There is always something to be thankful for in prayer.

As is often the case, there are many parallels between Colossians and Ephesians, and that is seen in Paul’s prayers within Colossians 1 and Ephesians 1. However, the prayer in Ephesians seems to go deeper in its request for understanding (Ephesians 1:17; cf. Colossians 1:9). This request expands with the penetrating prayer “that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened.” Paul wants the believers to have an inner revelation that comes into their hearts from God. That revelation consists of three things: 1) the hope of our calling, 2) the riches of our inheritance, and 3) the incomparable power of God at work within us.

One of our greatest, recurring problems in life is a lack of understanding. There are many times when we feel confused. Paul knows that it is not just the answer to general questions or getting some sense of direction that we most need. No, what we need even more is a deeper, “heart” awareness of all that God has made available to us through Christ. Paul’s prayer shoots like an arrow into the presence of God on the believers’ behalf toward the bullseye of divine revelation and knowledge.

Near the end of his prayer, Paul gets so carried away with the wonder of what God has given us in Christ, that his words cascade forth into a fountain of praise to God in Christ. It is no wonder that this happens to Paul. He lives in the reality which he is praying will come alive for others. Knowing the greatness of the hope, inheritance, and power of God available to the believer, and ministering out of that place, Paul finds himself regularly overcome by all of who God is and all that God has done.

May our prayers also launch with gratitude into the throne room of God. May we ask for what we most need, which is a divine unveiling of wisdom within our hearts that comes from God. And may we regularly be overcome by the goodness and greatness of God even as we approach him for what we need.

Take a moment here at the end of this devotional to personalize the prayer of Ephesians 1:15-23. Pray it back to God, inserting your own name, and then the name of your local church, into the prayer.

[This post is part of the “30 Days of Prayer” devotional. Read other posts here.]