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.

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Praying with Paul: Ephesians 3 [30 Days of Prayer]

Summer of Prayer Ads_Banner“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.” (Ephesians 3:20)

Have you ever been so overwhelmed by a sunset that you felt you had to tell someone? Have you ever been so excited that you simply were bursting to shout about it? That is a little bit what the Apostle Paul is like in the second great prayer of Ephesians found in chapter 3, verses 14-21. He has just written about the wonders of God’s grace in the Gospel of Jesus Christ (2:1-10), specifically the inclusion of Gentiles with the Jews (2:11-22), and his sacrificial ministry in that regard (3:1-13).

In light of all those wonderful things, Paul bursts forth in prayer. His prayer encompasses a threefold movement:

  1. prayer for strengthening of the inner being as Christ’s dwelling place;
  2. prayer for grasping the ultimately unknowable love of God; and
  3. lifting up praise to our glorious God.

Paul wants the believers to not only know God but to be completely indwelt by God in Christ. He wants them not only to have knowledge of the steadfast love of the Lord, but to be overcome by the limitless love of God lavished upon them. He wants them not only to ask God for certain things but to be completely overwhelmed by the glory of God that is accessible to them because of Jesus Christ.

The beauty of this prayer’s poetic language and expansive scope is astounding. More than dividing it up for study it is necessary that we take the words of this prayer upon our own lips and into our own hearts in personal prayer to God.

Stop for a some time to pray the words of Paul back to God one section at a time. Ask Him to strengthen you as His holy dwelling place. Ask Him to stretch your knowledge of His ultimately infinite love.  Praise Him for His surpassing power and greatness. Maybe you want to write your prayer down in some form, like in a journal. Maybe you want to pray through these verses aloud with someone else. Whatever you do, let us learn to pray from Paul through actively entering into this prayer ourselves.

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

Praying to the Powerful God [30 Days of Prayer]

Summer of Prayer Ads_Banner“Power belongs to God.” (Psalm 62:11)

Psalm 62 begins with some of the most memorable lines in the psalms:

For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken. (Psalm 62:1-2)

The psalmist’s words express a deep dependence upon God. Many of us resonate with this dependence in our lives because, as we so often experience, there is no other person or thing that compares with God. There are many sources of strength in our lives, whether good friends, family or our own God-given capacities as people. However, each of us experience seasons when other people and our own resources run dry like a creek bed at the height of the summer’s heat.

God’s presence and power is not like that. We can wait upon God because He provides an unshakable refuge and salvation. He is not a peddler of petty charms, but the God who has created all the world by His mighty power and sustains it daily with His strength. When we pray, we are approaching the powerful God. Too many times, our prayer life aims at meager goals because we lose sight of God’s awesome power. The testimony of the psalmist is a reminder that, at the end of it all, God’s power is present in our world and lives: “Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God” (Psalm 62:11).

Creator God, who spoke all creation
  into being by Your might word,
I approach You with awe and wonder,
  both at who You are
  and what You can do.
Raise my eyes to the heights of Your power
  and enlarge my prayers with greater faith.
I seek You and the greater things
that come only from You,
not for my own glory and praise
  but for the greater glory and praise
  of Your Name.

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

Saturday Prayer 36

But You, Sovereign Lord, help me for Your Name’s sake;
out of the goodness of Your love, deliver me.
For I am poor and need, and my heart is wounded within me. – Psalm 109:21-22

Let anyone who is thirsty come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them. – John 7:37-38

Father, my heart is humbled before You and Your mighty power.

When the sun shines with warmth and brilliance, You have given it the power and fury to carry light and heat to the earth. When the storm-clouds roll over the horizon and drop fierce rain and winds over our streets and houses, You have invigorated the atmosphere and created the processes by which it develops strength.

All power and wonder derives from You.

Lord, would You show Your power in my life in ever greater degrees. When there is so much to carry, please help me. Please give grace. Please strengthen me to serve You fully and faithfully, for I am poor and needy.

[This is part of a series of prayer posts in 2012 that began here.]

What Most Clearly Reveals the Power of God?

I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God. (Romans 1:16)

When we consider the power of God, we may think of a variety of things.

We may think of the ferocious winds during this past week that tangled trees in utility wires, peeled weak walls off buildings and fueled white caps on Lake Michigan.

We may think of the majestic Rocky mountains with their craggy grandeur thrust up in the middle of our nation.

We may think of our sun, shining down upon us day after day from a distance of roughly 93 million miles, creating adequate warmth for us here on earth even though it rages at 9,941 degrees Fahrenheit. [1]

We may think of God’s power when we consider that our solar system represents one of at least 200 billion stars in the Milky Way Galaxy, which is merely one of roughly 80 billion galaxies that we know of in the observable universe. [2]

The magnitude and creativity of God’s power is immense and difficult to comprehend. But when Paul talks about God’s power, he says that the Gospel is the power of God.

So, the question I am left to consider is how does the Gospel reveal the power of God?

We read earlier in Romans 1 that it is the Gospel of “God’s Son” (1:9), that is, “Jesus Christ our Lord” (1:4). In 1 Corinthians, Paul says that the Gospel seems like foolishness but to us being saved it is actually the power of God (1 Cor 1:8). He goes on to say:

21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God. (1 Cor 1:21-24)

You see, for all the wonders of God’s immense power and creativity that we see in the natural world, the greatest display of His power, the greatest unveiling of His creative wonders is found in Jesus Christ. Paul writes about God’s power being revealed in Jesus:

6Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God
something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,

This is how we most clearly see the power of God in the world: the good news of a crucified Savior. The Gospel is the power of God.


[1] NASA web-site, “Sun Fact Sheet,” http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/factsheet/sunfact.html ; accessed: 10/29/10.

[2] Wikipedia, “Milky Way,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milky_Way; accessed: 10/29/10.