November 7, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (Ephesians 1)

Submitted by Tony C. from Gracepoint San Diego Church

Ephesians 1:18-19

  • What three things did Apostle Paul pray that the Ephesians would know?

Paul prayed that the Ephesians would know the hope to which God has called them, the riches of the inheritance that the saints have, and the great power that God gives to those who believe in Him.

  • Pay attention to the lavish and elevated words Apostle Paul uses to describe these things. Do I share his excitement?

I do share in the excitement of pursuing after these things that Apostle Paul prayed that the Ephesians would know, but I do have to admit that there are times when my worries about my future along with the envies and insecurities that I have whenever I compare my life with others my age cause me to lose sight of Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians. During these times, when my thoughts are consumed by worldly matters, my excitement and zeal to serve God because of the hope, inheritance, and power that I have through Him diminishes, and it is not until I am reminded again of how immature and fickle I am as a follower of Christ that I tell myself to snap out of it. So I see in me this back and forth struggle to be excited but also losing excitement when I am choked by my greed and worries in life.

  • What would change in my life if I really came to know “the hope to which he has called [me], …the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and …the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe”?

If I really came to know all of this, I would not hope in other things to gain assurance, security, and comfort in life. There are several things that I often think of finding hope in outside of what God has already laid out for me. When I was in college, it was about finding that perfect major and internship to prepare myself after college. As I am 30 now, it’s about hoping to have a stable and respectable career, and an ideal marriage and family life. I can so easily fall into the deception that these things will surely bring security and comfort into my life; and therefore, I need to invest more time, resources, and energy into these areas.

If I really came to know the hope to which God has called me to, the hope of heaven would be the most comforting thing ever, because I will be reassured that even though Christian life will entail struggles and hardships, there is something beautiful that I can look forward to and say that my past difficulties and hardships are nothing compared to what I will receive. I will be excited over the fact that I will no longer have to deal with my sins and weaknesses because all of these things will be gone when I am in heaven.

If I really came to know of the glorious inheritance that Paul says the saints have and will receive, I would invest more of my time, resources, and energy in building up the potency of my spiritual life and be content with the gift of forgiveness and salvation that I have through Christ rather than my chasing after worldly ambitions and daydreaming about an ideal picture of life that the media always portrays. I would cherish more of my time in reading God’s word and prayer rather than at times being focused on thinking about what I need to do to become someone who is more accomplished in life.

If I really came to know of the power that God gives to those who believe in Him, I would not seek power through worldly accomplishments in life such as a raise in salary or a higher status in my job so that I can feel like I have more control in life. Instead, I would find that true power comes from the gospel because the gospel is the only thing that is able to bring salvation and sanctification in people’s lives, and this would be far more worthwhile to invest my everything into.

Ephesians 1:22-23

“The church is filled with (and by) Christ. As his body, it manifests him to the world, but it can do so only as he fills it with himself (Col 3:19) and with all the grace-gifts he bestows (Eph 4:7, 11; cf. 1 Cor 12:1-11).”[Frank E. Gaebelein, Gen. Ed. Expositor’s Bible Commentary CD (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992) notes on Ephesians 1.]

  • As God has “put all things under [Jesus’] feet”, do I give Jesus the authority to be “head over all things” in my life?

As God has put all things under Jesus’ feet, I still notice things that I have not consistently given Jesus to be head over in my life. My dreams, thoughts, and decisions are still at times dictated by my ambition to stand out among others, my worries about how I will fare in a tough economy, rather than being dictated by my desire and zeal to serve God because he is the Lord over every area of my life.

  • Reflect on the high calling of the church according to this passage. How does this challenge my life personally as a member of God’s church?

As a member of God’s church, I need remind myself that it is only through submitting myself to have Christ be head over all things in my life that I am able to be an instrument that God can use to bring love, salvation, and hope to others. As I look at people who are older than me at our church, there are many of them that have shared about their worries and insecurities in life that they have had during their years of service at our church. It was through their steadfast struggle to make Christ the head over all things in their lives that others were able to know the gospel, experience love at our church, and commit to making Christ the Lord of their lives as well. I am in a privileged position where I can be a part of this link, and that is why I continue to commit to struggling and dying to myself so that I can aim to daily make Christ the head over all things in my life.

Submitted by Kevin L. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Ephesians 1:18-19

  • What three things did Apostle Paul pray that the Ephesians would know?

–  what is the hope to which God has called them

– what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints

– what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe

  • Pay attention to the lavish and elevated words Apostle Paul uses to describe these things.  Do I share his excitement?

Apostle Paul used such lavish and elevated words: glory, Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, enlightened, hope, riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, immeasurable greatness of his power, etc. This past Friday, as I gave a message on Faith, Hope, and Love, I did share in the excitement of being able to use and understand these lofty words as a Christian. Only as a Christian am I able to see the importance of these words and understand the deep meaning of these words, only in the context of a loving God. However, on a day to day basis, I don’t necessarily share in this excitement but I get easily bogged down by the mundane things of life, the daily tasks I need to do, the errands I need to make, the logistics I need to take care of. I easily focus on the immediate and pressing things, such as job search or taking care of baby. I easily rely on my senses and what I can see, and my mood is dependent on how things are going for me. I can easily lose sight of this amazing call that God has given, the amazing life that God wants me to live, and the hope that He has in store for me.

  • What would change in my life if I really came to know “the hope to which he has called [me], …the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and …the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe”?

My life would change a lot if I really came to know the hope to which he has called me, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and the immeasurable greatness of his power towards us who believe. I would not be so inwardly focused, focused on my little problems, focused on my daily agenda. I wouldn’t be bothered by little frustrations in life or some little inconveniences. I wouldn’t get caught up over some petty issue with my wife or with people around me. I wouldn’t harbor complaints or bitterness towards someone or some situation when things don’t go my way. Instead, I would be able to zoom out and see the bigger picture. I would be able to see things from God’s perspective and have a long-term perspective on things and be heaven-bound. I would be so much more joyful and my emotions would not be so dependent on circumstances.

  • As God has “put all things under [Jesus’] feet”, do I give Jesus the authority to be “head over all things” in my life?

I need to give Jesus the authority to be head over all things in my life. I need to let Him rule over my time, my thoughts, my energy. I still hold on to my time for myself, thinking about how I should use my time for myself. My thoughts are still so often spent on myself and how I can give into my comforts. Giving Christ the authority, I would spend much more time in God’s word and in prayer and really rely on God to answer my prayers, rather than trying to do things on my own or rely on my competence. In my relationship with my wife, family, people around me, I would learn to be more humble and be more other-centered and Christ-like. I would put on characteristics of Christ, such as love, joy, patience, humility in my day to day life and seek to glorify Him, rather than try to please my own self or boost my ego.

  • Reflect on the high calling of the church according to this passage.  How does this challenge my life personally as a member of God’s church?

The church is called to be the Body of Christ, and as the commentary mentions, “it is intimately bound to Christ that it is his body and participates in his life and reign.” I am called to be His representative here on earth such that when people see me, they should see Christ Jesus. That means my actions, my thoughts, my word, my conduct should bear the marks of Christ. I am called to be God’s hand and feet on this earth, to reach out to love people, show God’s love to them. How I spend my time, energy, resources, efforts should reflect the Head, who is Christ. I am to be filled with Christ. That means before I go out to campus to do ministry, before I go out to do my day to day thing, I am supposed to be connected with Christ, so that Christ’s love and thoughts can fill me. I should know Christ’s grace for me, and I should be filled with joy and gratitude for what Christ has done me. That should be the motivation and drive for my life.

Personal Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You for giving me such a high calling and mission, and giving me the hope, glory and power in Christ. Help me to surrender my life, time, energy, resources and allow Christ to be Lord over my life. I pray that my focus each day may be to glorify You and to please You. Thank You for allowing me to be part of Your church, even though I’m so unworthy. Help me to really plant myself in this church and strengthen this Body. Help me to bear Your image in my day to day life. Help me to be more humble in my relationships with my spouse, family, leaders, friends. Help me to spur and encourage others and together we can become more like You and share Your love to those around us.

Submitted by Joanna K. from Gracepoint San Diego Church

Ephesians 1:18-19

•       What three things did Apostle Paul pray that the Ephesians would know?

The three things Apostle Paul prayed that the Ephesians would know are 1) the hope to which God called you, 2) the riches of God’s glorious inheritance in the saints, and 3) the immeasurable greatness of God’s power toward us who believe as revealed in Jesus’ death and resurrection.

•       Pay attention to the lavish and elevated words Apostle Paul uses to describe these things.  Do I share his excitement?

As Apostle Paul is trying to describe these things it seems as if he is reaching for the loftiest words in the human language and even then he can’t fully describe the greatness of what God has given us. Apostle Paul has been so taken by the work of God through Christ that he excitedly wants to convey it to the Galatians so that they can know what he knows and share with him the amazement he has in the Gospel. I picture him saying these words wide-eyed and full of wonder because he understands more fully the implications of Christ’s work on the cross and the cosmic nature of it.

Sadly, I do not share in Apostle Paul’s excitement nearly enough. With the exception of some of my highest and loftiest moments mostly at retreats, hearing a lot of testimonies like during a baptism, or ironically during low times when I get exposed of my sin, I do not share with Apostle Paul the level of excitement and amazement over the gospel.  We have the same Gospel, and yet his experience of it is so much more intense and deep.  I think some of the reason for these differences is that he has a much deeper experience of struggle over his own sin as he so painfully and clearly describes in Romans 7 and also the level in which he struggles over other people’s sins.  He really knows how impossible it is to earn righteousness on his own and he understands the depths of his own sinfulness and the hopelessness of man such that the Gospel hits him afresh each time and it blows him away.  During retreat times, for example, is when I take that extra time to reflect on my own sinfulness and take stock of my life, which is why the Gospel hits me afresh and I can point to that as a high point.  This is hopeful because it means I don’t just have to wait for retreats and times away to experience the Gospel and appreciate it.  Over the years as I learn to strip away more layers of my mask and to face my sin instead of denying it, my devotion times have become pockets where I hear God’s word, get convicted of my sin and my hopelessness, run to the cross, and experience the joy of my salvation all over again.  This, however, takes hard work and I need to keep at it and persevere to stay honest before God in order for me to experience the Gospel in deeper ways.

•       What would change in my life if I really came to know “the hope to which he has called [me], …the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and …the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe”?

I think if I really came to know “the hope to which he has called me…the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and…the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe” I would be a lot less anxious about life.  These verses tell me that I am the richest most secure person on this earth and that really I have nothing to worry about and I lack nothing.  I have the hope of heaven, which means my eternity is secure.  No matter what happens in this life whether it is health problems, financial problems, relational hurts, difficulties or challenges I have the hope that at the end of my life I will one day be with God for an eternity and all that’s wrong will be made right. Not only do I have the hope of the future and the promise of a glorious inheritance, but I have the promise of God’s immeasurable greatness of his power in this life.  God is with me and he will give me enough strength to live faithfully on this side of heaven.  So even through the difficulties and pains of life, I am not alone.  God is my heavenly father and he is the most powerful being.  He has provided me Christ’s blood that I can go to whenever I sin, he has given me the Holy Spirit to help mold and guide me, and when I feel depleted because of life or because of ministry he has the power to give me the strength needed to keep going and persevere.

As I list out the implications of these verses, I see that really I have everything that I need. So if I really internalized these verses, I would not complain about my life and about different things that I lack.  I would never say, “I can’t do this” when a new challenge comes up that I think that I can’t handle because God is infinite in power and he has what I lack.  If I had the eternal perspective in mind, I would not fall into the temptation of giving into comfort and trying to avoid pain in life because heaven will more than compensate whatever pains I experience in this life.  I would be free to love others and I would abandon that thinking that I need to reserve some energy for myself and my family.

I still have a long way to go in terms of internalizing these verses and then translating that to appropriate action in my life.  However, the level in which I do understand these verses now and how it’s changed my life was unthinkable to me as a new Christian.  I would never have thought that my life would be structured in the way is it where I can serve the church and others at this level or be ok that I am not working and that my husband is working part-time for his job and part-time for church with two kids and still be happy, or have people know my sins and my lameness and not be crippled with insecurity.  I got to this point by taking little steps of trust where even though I was scared to obey God, I just did it based on what I knew to be true and I discovered that I didn’t die and that things were ok.  If I do that more and more my confidence in God’s word will only increase and become stronger, so that’s something I can look forward to.

•       As God has “put all things under [Jesus’] feet”, do I give Jesus the authority to be “head over all things” in my life?

I think that I have given Jesus the authority to be “head over all things” in my life, but it’s only the extent to which I know myself. When I first became Christian I thought I gave God full lordship over my life, until I found all these different pockets of my life un-yielded to God like the area of my career or my time.  So even though I’ve surrendered my life to Jesus’ authority, I need to do it again and again as things come up and my life situation changes. Right now as a mother of two the area that I need to keep struggling to submit to Jesus’ authority is my family and my desire to protect them in the way I think is best.  I thought because I went through struggles with my first child that it would be easier with my second, but I was being very unrealistic about my own sinfulness and the pull that family can have on my heart.  I feel like having the second child has exposed my irrational fears and my desires for comfort even more than the first.  So when these sins get exposed it shows me that I still have to struggle and give Jesus the authority of this aspect of my life again and again.  Since God has put all things under Jesus’ feet, he has legitimate authority over my life.  He knows how to live life, not me.  Whenever I take control over my life and whenever I take control over my kids in the way I think is best I end up ruining them.  Like I saw in my past struggles, I can see that I am a horrible master of my own life and that I need  Jesus to take control!

•       Reflect on the high calling of the church according to this passage. How does this challenge my life personally as a member of God’s church?

This passage says that the church is the manifestation of Christ’s body on earth, and the church should reflect the “fullness of him who fills all in all.”  This challenges my life personally as a member of God’s church because I need to work together with the other members of the church so that we can reflect the fullness of Jesus.  This is such a tall order especially as I know I am so sinful, broken, and flawed and I know that other people are the same.  So it seems like an impossibility for sinners like us to reflect Christ, the perfect, sinless Savior!  I am so thankful that I get to teach SK1 this quarter as we just covered the answer to this seeming impossibility.  It’s when Christians within the church relate authentically to each other and help each other actually make Christ the authority in our lives. This means allowing others to show me the ways in which I am not in line with God’s words so that I can repent and change.  It means being honest about my sins, and turning to others for help.  It also means bumping up against other Christians and being humbled about what gets revealed about me.  It means loving others concretely.  As Christians authentically relate to each other by loving, forgiving, and shaping each other, we eventually do reflect Christ as we relate to each other even though we are individually broken.

PERSONAL PRAYER

Dear Lord, thank you so much for all the amazing promises that you give me in the Gospel that I’ve only begin to appreciate and understand.  Help me internalize these truths of “the hope to which he has called me, …the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and …the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe.” Help me to be able to relate to Apostle Paul’s excitement over the Gospel through being humble and being convicted of my own sinfulness and the sins of others so that the Gospel truths can be amazing and life-giving to me.  Thank you also for the provision of your church and the high calling you’ve given me along with my fellow brothers and sisters to reflect who you are.  With the help of the church, I commit to making you the head over all things in my life as you reveal new areas like the area of my family.  You are the one who knows how life ought to be lived, not me. Help me submit myself to you!

Submitted by Joyce L. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Ephesians 1:18-19

  • What three things did Apostle Paul pray that the Ephesians would know?

Apostle Paul prayed that the Ephesians would know the following three things: (1) what is the hope to which he has called you, (2) what the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints are, and (3) what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe.

  • What would change in my life if I really came to know “the hope to which he has called [me], …the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and …the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe”?

The hope to which he has called me – If I really came to know this hope, my life would change drastically. I would not be bogged down by my own sins or the sins of others, or my own struggles. I wouldn’t be focused on the here and now, the present reality, the different burdens weighing me down. It’s an amazing hope – hope that says death is not the end, death doesn’t have the final word, and Jesus ultimately overcame all my sins – past, present and future. There’s hope, in heaven, in eternity, in forever. And I would share this hope with others. I would not fall into despair or self-pity or get lost in discouragement or sense of failure. I wouldn’t get bogged down by the disappointing things I see not just in myself but also in the world.

If I really came to know the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe – to know that nothing can even compare, that we cannot even measure how great God’s power actually is, I wouldn’t be caught in insecurities or a sense of lack. I would be able to be bolder and take more risks for the gospel. I can go out, to a church plant, on missions. I can have uncomfortable conversations with people who may even be hostile and defend the gospel. I wouldn’t be stuck in my fears but have the ability to act against them.

And if I really came to know just how glorious the riches of his inheritance is, I wouldn’t have to grasp. I wouldn’t think that the things of this world can satisfy or make me happy in any way. I would be secure, my eternity is set. I could be more free with my time, my money, my energy and give all of myself and not hold back. Ultimately, I would also be at a lot more rest. With full confidence and trust in Him, in His ability to work, in his promise, that I’m going to share in his glorious inheritance – what is glorious? Something so great. Something so awesome. And having his power, I can continue to go out and share this amazing hope.

  • As God has “put all things under [Jesus’] feet”, do I give Jesus the authority to be “head over all things” in my life?

Though I have declared that Jesus is Lord over my life, I am still learning to put all things under Jesus’ feet and give Jesus that ultimate authority to be “head over all things” in my life. Not that I would outright rebel against God, but it manifests itself in having doubts rather than living that kind of fully surrendered life. There are still parts of me that want things my way.  There is still so much pride within, and at the root of it all, it’s thinking that I know what’s best for my life. It’s that constant battle to close the gap between my confession that Jesus is Lord and how I actually live.  – Jesus is Lord of my life, not just in this one area, but in all areas.

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