Walking through Ephesians, part 2

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe according to the working of his great might…” ~Eph 1:16-19

So Paul has rejoiced over the blessings in Jesus Christ and then begins to pray for the Ephesian church. The prayer is that the eyes of your heart are enlightened – my heart can deceive, it can be led astray. My affections source in my heart. G. Archer calls it the “desire producer that makes us tick.” Scripture is clear that my heart can deceive, it can grow hardened, it can be proud. But I am commanded to love the Lord with all of my heart, to be consumed with Him, to obey and serve whole heartedly.

I need constant recalibration, a re-setting of my heart on the truths of what has been given to me with salvation so that I don’t shift to a works mentality (Galatians speaks to this) or to a worldly  (as seen in Colossians) thinking and then forget. We were just at the beach, and I was reminded of the pull and shifting of the unseen currents. We all know how to mark our position in the water by constantly looking back to shore where our chairs or towels are. We do this because we know that little by little, moment by moment, the currents in the ocean are pushing us in a direction that will shift us away. I can distinctly remember times when I have looked back to shore only to realize that I am far away from where I began.

The same is true spiritually – if I’m not looking at the truth of God’s Word and making adjustments to keep in line with His truth, I will drift.

So I listen and allow the Spirit to preach the Gospel to me: I have a hope I have been called to – an eternity that will not change, an eternity in the presence of God. I have wonderful riches as His child – my position has changed from that of a lost in sin law follower who will fail to his perfected new creation living in grace. And I have his great power that defeated sin and death is at work in me, changing me, making me more like Him.

The Holy Spirit is at work in me, revealing His wisdom, His truth as He grows me in knowing Him. We were sealed with the Holy Spirit – Paul has just told us that blessing and now he lists out 3 areas or truths that we know in ever increasing measure as the Spirit leads us and we surrender to His teaching: the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and the immeasurable greatness of his power. To know these 3 sets everything else in place regardless of what the day brings.

Hope: we all desire to know what will come – peace is sought after (often frantically) whether we are wanting to know tomorrow or forever – the human mind longs for peace in its future. Our redemption is the only hope that doesn’t disappoint.

Riches: we long for comfort made possible by riches; we will seek money to give us present comfort, hoping it will numb our need for peace as well; no matter what we say about money- if everything were stripped, we would panic. For our heart’s natural affections are for present day comfort, but His riches are far greater. Riches of the Gospel, wisdom and knowledge of God, understanding of His grace, the riches of His love which secures.

Power: we all desire to be safe, protected, assured of victory. Jesus was victorious at the cross. All eternity is assured, my position is secure – I am safe from sin and death. But I am also a recipient of that power here as I struggle in this daily walk with Him. He is the one working in me, changing me, His power in me. Paul wants us to see how great this power is – the same power that raised Christ from the dead and glorifies him forever – that power has and will continue to fill me with the fullness of Him. He fills all my empty places, all the areas I cannot “do” He will complete, all the places my faith stumbles, He perseveres, all the moments I fear, He is my strength.

So many times in the day my mind wants to run down the lanes of fear and doubt, wondering what my future holds – How did the day get so off track? why do I respond the way I do? what will this child do in life, especially with me as his mother messing him up? am I helping this one enough? can I do everything I’ve put on my plate? do I take stuff off? How do I ensure _____? all the what ifs? And before I know it, I am down the current of worry, doubt or fear, swept up in my wonderings. My affections, my desires shift to tangible outcomes today that I think may be achievable through performance.

All the while I float away from my anchor of truth – that all I need is wrapped up in the Person of Jesus Christ and that all hope, power, and riches are mine, fully supplied. But in your grace, Holy Spirit shift my eyes back to You and move me back in line with your sustaining truths that don’t depend on me.

 

 

walking through Ephesians part 1

Blessed by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places…~Ephesians 1:3

So I’ve been studying Ephesians again this month. It’s one of my favorite books, and it is often where I will go when I’m not sure what to read. So I thought I would walk through the book within this blog, not as some definitive study on all that is in Ephesians, but simply some of the verses and passages that pop out and teach me this month. Just as if we were sitting at the coffee shop going through it together and we would reflect on the truths as they apply in our lives as believers. It seems like this is going to be a several part blog posting that I’ll just send out for a few days, so it’s a little bit different from what I’ve written before but it’s where God has me today.

Ephesians chapter 1 is such an amazing, wordy, mildly confusing because it’s one long sentence listing of all the blessings that come with salvation. I cannot tell you how many times I have broken down the first 14 verses just to see them laid out, pulled out of all the clauses and phrases. I encourage you to grab a piece of paper and begin to just write one blessing on each line. It’s so important to understand what salvation really is – what are the blessings given to us when we are saved, redeemed and how the Gospel changes the filter through which we see our world.

You see I can see the world through the lens of performance and perfectionism, through the lens of self gratification, or through the lens of practicality or realism. Or I can wear the most accurate glasses – the glasses of faith. If you read through Paul’s writings, there are SO many times where he basically says “I write this that you may know” This concept of knowing, not in your head so you can give a great rote answer, but truly knowing deep in the core of who you are that you are a changed, changing redeemed child of God, deeply loved, filled with His Spirit and moving in and through your world from that vantage point — that is knowing.

So what do we know? In Eph 1: 1-14 we are chosen in Him, holy and blameless, adopted as sons. We are given his glorious grace, redemption through his blood, forgiveness of trespass, lavished with grace, making His will for salvation and unity known to us. We have obtained an inheritance and been sealed with the Holy Spirit.

And please note all the “according to” statements – none of them say according to how you receive it or how you respond or how you answer. None of the blessings are dependent on anything I do, they are all dependent on His will, His grace, and His purpose!

So I encourage you to sit and dwell with the truth of what He has done for you, according to His will replete with His grace for His purpose and His glory. You need to know.

 

 

 

Amen

“For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” ~2 Corinthians 1:20-22

Yesterday was hard. There is no way around that fact – it was a grind. I found myself battling the desire inside me to retreat, withdraw, decide I didn’t care about some issue/fight/attitude simply because I was weary of all the conversations with all the people. I found my patience decreasing as I moved from interaction to interaction, as I carried just a little of my emotion from one child’s discipline into the next. So every little sin I have been called to face becomes a place where I too must battle the flesh that rises up within me.

Do you ever consider what you are doing? I mean the experience of looking in on yourself and wonder, “how in the world did I get here?” What road did I mistakenly get off on that has placed me here in the midst of all this junk, with me being the chief proponent of the junk? Have you ever just been so tired of slogging through tantrums, rivalry, disobedience, lying, selfishness and begin to wonder whether this is worth anything? does it really make a difference? Does the distant heart of a pre-teenager or the rebellious teen make you feel discouraged like it does me at times? Does anyone else hide in their closet and pretend like they cannot hear their name being called? no? just me?

I confess I do.

Many of my friends look in on me and admire or praise me. They can’t imagine parenting so many, so they assume this fantasy that I have it all wrapped up. I don’t.

But I know the One who does. And I have to keep coming back to that fact. Sometimes multiple times in the same hour, I have to preach the Gospel to myself, reminding myself that He has completed all I need. He is sovereign over all I experience. He is engaged with every interaction. It is vital that I apply the Gospel to the working out of my faith in my interactions with my kids. Because that is what mothering is – it is the working out of my faith today.

So I need to remember my position first. God has established me in Christ, anointed me and put his seal upon me and given me His Spirit as a guarantee. My establishment is apart from my actions, “by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is a gift of God, not a result of works so that no one may boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9)

So as a mom I am established, rooted and firmly adhered to the love of Jesus Christ. This steadfast love that He has offered me compels me in the interactions with my children, both to love them that way and to instruct them in how to love with His unending love. And I have been given His Spirit as a guarantee. A down payment of all the power, wisdom, counsel, and relationship fully offered and alive in me. He is my guarantee that all the promises of God are true. 1 Peter 1:3-4 declares that His power has given me all I need for life and godliness, and He has given me his precious and great promises so that through all his promises I am a partaker in the divine nature. I am invited and welcomed to participate in His way of parenting my children, having been given all I need to be a godly parent through His Spirit within me.

So I stand (in the closet) and take a moment to speak the Truth to myself. The God of this universe deeply loves me and my child. He is far more invested in my child than I can ever claim to be, and in this moment He wants to display His great promises of steadfast love, mercy, forgiveness, presence, guidance, protection through me. I have been anointed by God to be the conduit in this moment, to display Him. Sometimes that looks like firm truth with discipline, sometimes that looks like redirection to the Word, sometimes it’s a quiet hug and tender kiss. Our children need a constant reminder of who they are and Who they need.

My response to my children in these moments is really a response to Him. You see my Amen response comes from a place of faith, certain of all Christ has done in me and will do through me because He has established me. And my response is for His glory.