“I pray 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 his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead…“ ~Ephesians 1:18-20“
I read these versus this morning and was taken back by how amazing our life is in Christ. There is nothing we face that God can not or has not overcome. Adversity brings with it hurt, pain, depression, lonesomeness, fear, but our God is an awesome God, and His presence affords us the opportunity to rise above any and all circumstances, and to claim victory. Victory not in our own ability, or even in the anticipation of peace, but in His power and Love for us in any and all circumstances.
Today we will discover what Paul wanted the Ephesians to “know” and what in turn we need to know, specifically:
* the hope of our calling * the riches of our inheritance * the greatness of his power
I have a confession to make—Most of my life I was a silent Christian. As a younger Christian, I thought it was okay to be silent until I had more training on how to articulate and defend Christianity. After completing some seminary, I thought it was okay to be silent because I was only 24 and considered myself young and unqualified to speak about Christ to my elders. Now, at 38, I am running out of excuses.
Occasionally, over the years, I have tried to understand why I was so silent. I think partly it was fear—fear of embarrassment, fear of losing friendships, fear of failure, fear of misusing scripture. But I think it was also partly out of a lack of love and compassion. Oh, my heart is pulled to help relieve the suffering of people, but I care far more about relieving the temporal suffering of people than I do about relieving their eternal suffering in hell.
I have walked with God for much of my life. And after someone like me gets comfortable in that walk, I start taking over again. It happens quite subtly, actually. Little by little, over tyme, so gradually sometymes that I barely even notice that it’s happening. I don’t know about you, but I’m a man who likes to be in control. Give me enough tyme, and I can almost talk myself into thinking that self-reliance is a good thing. Surely God desires for me to put those critical thinking skills to good use, right? Or to rely on past experience, or even my education. Or to work really hard at being a hard-working and responsible individual. While all of these things can be qualities used for good, God never intended for me to take the lead without Him. If you’re anything like me, you know that can be a pretty frustrating and futile way to live. Still, often tymes before I know it, I’ve taken back the reigns on my life that were never meant to be mine in the first place.
And God got me on the very first verse of Ephesians.
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God…“
God has a great plan for your life. For mine. But like Paul, we have to know who we are in Christ before the rest of the story makes sense.
Think about it, really. If Paul was going to spend tyme in prison and still fully submit to and accept God’s will for his life, his identity had to be secure. Really secure. So before Paul gives a bunch of disciplines to strive towards in order to grow in Christ-like maturity, he begins Ephesians by simply telling us who we are. He sets us up for spiritual success. And the reminder that I need in my life over and over again? Real success in the end doesn’t depend on me. Now there’s a load off.
My identity apart from Christ is lacking and without hope. My identity with Christ is everything! Oh, to read Ephesians 1 and to refresh in my heart and mind that I am a child of the Most High God, who:
… has blessed me with every spiritual blessing.
… chose me before the creation of the world.
… adopted me as His child.
… gives me His grace freely.
… offers me redemption and forgiveness.
Why in the world do I fall back into the pattern of doing things on my own strength when the very same power that raised Christ from the dead is accessible to me as His child? It’s incomparably great power for us who believe! Once I let this truth sink in, I can “walk the aisle” in obedience, ready to fully surrender, once again, to whatever His will is for my life. Mountains and valleys will come, and I can follow His lead, confident of whom I am in Christ.
If we say we have faith, then we have to roll with the crashing waves and just focus on not falling off the boat. Jesus slept during the storm while his disciples freaked out watching the waves crash into their boat. Jesus knew that God would always see them through; that God could calm the waves and make things right, and has empowered all of us through love, hope, and faith to see past the storm and see it as fear and what it is… nothingness. So to prove this fact, Jesus stood and silenced the fearful men by commanding the storm to stop the madness and be still. God has equipped us with the power to stop our own madness that bubbles up within. God has equipped us with the power to overcome fear by putting our trust in Him.
Today makes the second day I have had only four hours of sleep because I was overwhelmed with things that were going on in my life and blindsiding me; but unlike yesterday, today I woke up with a sense of peace; and even now after receiving sound counsel these past two days from a wise person I have resolved to the understanding that we can’t say we have faith and are faithful but then want to pick and choose when our faith is tested- there is no convenient tyme to walk into a storm. We must be mentally and emotionally prepared at all tymes like disciplined soldiers to face the test whenever it comes and for as long as it lasts, no matter how intense and no matter how tired we get- we must keep marching on.
And He will be enough.
Take the reigns, Father. They’re rightfully Yours. Give me the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that I may know You better (Eph. 1:17), and lead me all the way.