Good morning and welcome to Wednesday’s podcast. It is five weeks until Christmas and I for one need to get on with some shopping! As we head into the Advent season why not take up the challenge to listen to the podcasts every day up until Christmas?
Today we continue our journey through the book of Ephesians. On Monday and Tuesday Paul has been laying down some foundational teaching. Today in chapter 1:15-23, we get a glimpse into Paul’s prayer life: his prayer for the Ephesians. Lets listen in… v17-19
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 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.
What is Paul’s great prayer for the Ephesians, what is his great longing for them? That people in the community will know Jesus better, that they will know hope and know his power. No-one hopes for what they already have… so, what does it mean to know these things?
Knowledge in the Bible is so much more than a conceptual understanding, so much more than a thought in our heads that we believe to be true. Knowledge in the Bible is so much deeper and richer than that. It is knowledge that comes through lived experience. I know it because I have been there, done it and bought the T-shirt!
In Genesis, the first book of the Bible, in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve are warned that they should never eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They do, and they don’t get a download of rules…do this, don’t do that… instead they experience right and wrong, good and evil first hand. The word used for ‘know’ in the story of Adam and Eve… is the same word used a little later at the beginning of chapter 4 which say Adam ‘knew’ Eve and she conceived and gave birth to Cain…
This knowledge is intimate knowledge!
So in Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians he isn’t praying that they would have a great in depth Bible study but rather that they would experience intimately the hope and power of God in their lives, that their intimacy with Jesus would deepen. That they would know his love, his passion, his protection and provision, not because they had read it in one of Paul’s letters or from reading the scriptures… but they would know because they had experienced it for themselves.
I grew up in a good family, I did well at school, I was sporty, I had friends. But I know looking back that I had deep questions about who I was, if I was ok, if I was acceptable, lovable; there was an ache to belong, to be loved. I carried an insecurity and a fear that I wasn’t good enough and as a result I was on my own.
I have been married now for 21 years and I still remember my wedding day. The day I stood before my family and friends and promised to love and cherish the girl alongside me for the rest of our lives. I remember Helen making her promises to do the same. It was a huge moment for me. Here was another human being who thought I was worth taking a punt on and was willing to declare to everyone who was listening that she chose me. An experience I will never forget. I knew… I knew in that moment that I was loved by another human being.
I remember 8 years later, a mix up in timings when we moved house. We were due to move house at the beginning of December so I had booked to have knee surgery 2 weeks later. The plan was that we would move and I would have surgery, that would give me Christmas to begin my recovery and hopefully be back ready for work early in the New Year. Unfortunately there was a delay to our house move and rather than moving before I had surgery, we moved 10 days after. And what’s more, there was a problem on moving day. The guy we were buying from decided to move himself and so when we turned up with all our belongings in the back of a lorry, the house was still full of his stuff. All our belongings we unloaded and packed very tightly into our new cellar.
It was a couple of days before Christmas. I couldn’t even walk without crutches, the kids were small and Helen, as capable as she is, would never be able to move furniture all on her own.
The day after our disastrous moving in day, an army of young adults from the church turned up and proceeded to empty the cellar of our belongings and fill our house. I felt pretty helpless, but I also felt incredibly blessed. I knew, I really knew, a depth of friendship and community that I had never experienced before.
Paul’s fervent prayer was that the Ephesians would know Jesus better. It is a deep experience of his love, his grace that changes our hearts and minds. Jesus said that those that have been forgiven much, love much. Those whose experience of his forgiveness, his love, his grace and mercy have their hearts transformed…
God loves you. I pray that you would really know that today, that you would experience it first hand in such a way that your heart is transformed. I pray that you would experience the love and friendship of those around you today in a way that touches and transforms your heart. And I pray that we would demonstrate our love for those around us today, that we would go beyond words and do something that will touch the hearts of those we love, that we would go the extra mile and bring a smile to the faces of those we love.
BIBLE READING: Ephesians 1:15-23
For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 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 and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.