Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Who We Are in Christ & Some Things to Pray For: Ephesians 1

In my first week or so in the book of Ephesians, I've listened to the entire book at least half a dozen times (sometimes while doing things around the house and sometimes just sitting and listening). One of the reasons I do this is because, particularly with the letters, these would have been read out to the believers they were written to all at once. And I believe that hearing the whole thing will guard us against error-- we will be less likely to take one verse and twist it to mean something unintended if we have the full picture and context in which it was written.

So, now that I have more of the "big picture" of the book in my head, I'm beginning to read through each chapter more methodically and in a more deliberative way.

Chapter 1 is so rich and describes what we have and who we are in Christ. Beth Moore did an excellent job of examining this section of Ephesians in her study, "Believing God". As she points out, in verses 3-14, there are six things that are laid out as descriptions of Christians... that we are:

Blessed (vs. 3, 6),
Chosen (vs. 4),
Redeemed (vs. 7),
Forgiven (vs. 7),
Heirs of an inheritance (vs. 11),
Sealed by the Spirit (vs. 13).
I may have that last one wrong; I'm going off of my memory. Regardless, that portion of Scripture (Ephesians 1: 3-14) is very meaningful for any Christian who struggles with guilt/shame, worthlessness, or confusion about what we have been given in Christ.

It is the second half of the first chapter which struck me as particularly meaningful this morning as I read through it. Paul is praying for the believers in Ephesus, asking the Father to give them certain things:
  • a spirit of wisdom & revelation in the knowledge of God (vs. 17)
  • a heart that sees clearly (vs. 18)
  • an understanding of HOPE that God calls us to (vs. 18)
  • an awareness of the wealthy inheritance He has given us in the saints (vs. 18)
  • a wider view of the great power He wields towards us (vs. 19)
Many times, I have blazed through these things... but in light of verse 1, "To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus", what Paul is saying is that it is entirely possible for faithful Christians to miss out on these things.
  • It is possible for faithful Christians to lack a spirit of wisdom.
  • It is possible for faithful Christians to not possess knowledge of God.
  • It is possible for faithful Christians to have undiscerning, clouded, dimly-lit hearts that do not see things clearly.
  • It is possible for faithful Christians to not "get" that they are called to be people of hope.
  • It is possible for faithful Christians to completely overlook the gifts He has already given us.
  • It is possible for faithful Christians to not understand God's great power.

These are all things that I want... but do not always have. Particularly, I am not often a woman who walks in hope. I do underestimate God's power and forget to pray with that in mind-- not only in my requests-- but in the way that I address Him. I do forget the rich inheritance He has given to me.

Paul was wisely praying for these Ephesian believers... that they would get it, that they would mature, that they would SEE things as they really are, and that they would be discerning. Today, I am asking for these things for myself-- and for you:

Glorious Father, give us a spirit of wisdom and teach us to truly know You. Open our eyes and give us discernment, that we may see things clearly and as they really are. Teach us what it means to walk as people of hope. Give us a richer understanding of the inheritance and gifts You have given us. And show us more of (and give us eyes to see!) your great power through which you work out "all things" (Eph. 1:11) according to your will. In the name of Christ which is "above every name that is named, not only in this age, but in the age to come," Amen.

*** All pictures taken during our recent family trip to Ephesus, 12/27/08. ***
Click on photos to enlarge.


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