Weekly devotions from Ephesians
The PATH. March 30-April 5, 2020
Theme: This week we continue studying the book of Ephesians. Someone once said that the question when we approach Ephesians is not so much what we will do with this book, but the question is what will this book do with us. It is a powerful testimony of the grace and power of God. The book has a two fold focus, and it is Jesus and the church. Paul wants us to see how the grace of God changes and empowers the church to be the light of the world in the midst of a crushing darkness.
Monday – Ephesians 3:1
Paul calls himself a prisoner of Christ Jesus here. He is writing these words from prison and yet Paul knows that he is not a prisoner of man. He knows that it is God’s will for him to be in prison. God has allowed it to happen so that Paul would proclaim the truth of the Gospel as he writes his letters. Paul’s circumstances were extremely negative but God was working in them. We would do well to remember that. God has a purpose for what we are going through. Believe it or not God is working through even something like Covid19 and He will make good come out of it. So give thanks even in hard circumstances that you are because God is working in those circumstances and God is with you in them as well.
Tuesday – Ephesians 3:1
In ancient times Kings would take prisoners after the battle was over. Paul here refers to himself as a “prisoner of Jesus Christ.” At one time he was God’s enemy. He was living for himself and for his flesh. He was persecuting the church of Jesus Christ, He was God’s enemy. But now Jesus has won the battle (on the cross and through the empty tomb), He is risen King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is triumphant and on the Damascus Road He took Paul prisoner. Paul now recognizes that as part of his identity. He is a willing prisoner. He is thankful that he is now a prisoner of Jesus, before he knows that he was a prisoner of sin and of his own flesh, but now he knows that that is changed. He has been set free by Jesus from his sins and his flesh and now He is grateful to be a prisoner of Jesus. It is his identity and it has changed his life. How do you define yourself? If we know Jesus, we are children of the Father, we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and we too are prisoners of Christ Jesus.
Wednesday – Ephesians 3:1-7
Did you ever have a secret? Most of the time when we are told a secret what do we want to do with it? We want to tell everybody. When we were younger there was a song that we would sing, “secret, secret, I’ve got a secret.” Paul has been given a secret, he calls it a mystery, and he is definitely not going to keep it to himself. He is going to share it with the world. What is the secret? It is awesome news for us. The Gentiles are given the revelation of the gospel. That is good news for us because we are gentiles. This mystery changes everything. We can now know God. We can now have our sins forgiven. We can now have the promise of the Kingdom of God to look forward to. Don’t keep this secret to yourself, share it with the world. After all, the world needs hope.
Thursday – Ephesians 3:8-13
Have you ever looked at a prism that had light shining on it? Colors explode everywhere and it is beautiful. In Ephesians 3:10, Paul says that God’s multifaceted wisdom may be known through the church. The picture that he is painting is that the church is a prism that displays the rich colors of God’s wisdom. We are to show God’s wisdom in the midst of the world that we live in, we are to show God’s grace in the middle of Covid19 or whatever else is going on. We are to bring the grace of God and the love of God to every tribe, tongue, and nation. That starts with shining God’s light into our community. During these difficult days, the need for the church to be the church is greater than it has ever been. People are looking for hope. People are asking why? People are looking for wisdom. We as the church have all of that. We have hope, we have the wisdom of God, we have His power. We may not know the answer to the question of why, but we do have the assurance that God is working in the midst of it and that He is going to make good come out of it. We also know that He is with us as it rages. Because of this we cannot be silent, we must let God’s light shine on us so that His wisdom, His grace, and His majesty can be reflected out into the world.
Friday – Ephesians 3:14-21
Most of us would say we agree that prayer is powerful. Most of us would say that we know that we are supposed to pray, but if we are honest most of us don’t pray the way that we should. The last few days may have changed that however. Someone said years ago that when we pray our greatest need is not for the subject of the prayer to be answered but instead our greatest need is for us to be in the presence of the Father.
That doesn’t mean that we don’t need but it does mean that as large as the need is, it is not as significant as our need to be in the presence of the Father. In reality the greatest need that we have in any season of life is the presence of Almighty God.
Paul knows that and that is why he prays what he prays here. Before he begins to pray however he says, “for this reason I kneel before the Father.” In other words this is the reason that I pray. What is the reason? Well you have to go back to the verse before and in that verse he is talking about the church at Ephesus being discouraged and he is talking about the afflictions that he goes through. He is saying I’m going to God in prayer, because you are discouraged and I’m going to God in prayer because I am suffering through all sorts of afflictions. This is a prayer born out of discouragement and a prayer born out of affliction.
What does Paul pray? That we would be strengthened with God’s power in our inner being. What is the remedy for discouragement? Paul would say it is the strength of God. He also prays that Christ would dwell in their hearts through faith. Again what is the remedy for discouragement and affliction? It is the presence of Christ. Our greatest need in any season is the presence of God. Paul prays that we would be aware of that presence here. Not only that he prays that we would be rooted and established in love. That we would be growing in Christ and unshakeable because of His love. When discouragement reigns, God gives us the ability to be established and unshakeable. When afflictions come, His love helps us grow through those times.
Then he prays that we would know the length and the width and the height and the depth of the love of God. He prays that we would know that which is unknowable. So what is Paul saying? He is praying that we would have an awareness of the love of God, and that we would daily be learning about how much He loves us. That love overcomes the pain of affliction and the heartache of discouragement. That love changes everything. And it is that love that we need on a daily, moment by moment basis. Whether we are in the season of Covid19 or the season of peace and solidarity, our greatest need is for the love of God.
So during these days of social distancing (I prefer the term physical distancing) let’s draw near to God with the promise that He will draw near to us, and let us pray this prayer for ourselves, for our families and for the church. Let us pray this prayer for those that are lost, and then let’s be amazed at what our God can do!