(click here for the video) The Apostle Paul includes a prayer over the church in Ephesus in one of his prison epistles. This prayer has shaped my life as a pastor for 30 years. It is one of Paul’s crowning jewels in prayer over a little church 2,000 years ago. It’s applicable today in so many ways. Paul prays with a confidence that comes from knowing we can enter into God’s throne room at any time and God will hear us. God’s desire is that we utilize the power of God in our daily circumstances so that we might grasp just how unfathomable are the riches of God for us. If we were to realize the full measure of grace God has granted to us in Christ Jesus, we could change the world. This is Paul’s prayer, that we could know the riches of God in Christ. My prayer for the church is that we might move past ourselves and begin to comprehend our location in the heavenly realms in Christ. Nothing can stop the one who believes in the full measure of God in us.
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Paul the Apostle is writing a letter to the churches near Collosae and wants them to know how much he is personally suffering for their sake. He has committed his life to serving them, no matter the cost, so that they might mature in their faith in Christ. What does mature faith in Christ look like to you? Does it mean that God answers your prayers? Does it mean that you receive healing when you’re sick? Does maturity even have anything to do with the blessings you receive, or does maturity mean we look to bring God’s blessing to others? God is always pouring out his blessings, but are we submissive enough to receive blessings in obedience to Jesus?
See, in our day, as in theirs, it is easy to learn about religion and play all the right games with church. This game is not what Paul had in mind. He was empowering his people to no longer live in the darkness of the world, rather to live in the light of God. Jesus has redeemed us to be light in this dark world, and it has nothing to do with us, it’s all Jesus. This portion of Paul’s letter makes a stand that he wants people to grow up in God, and be joyful in thanksgiving, so that we truly live into our real identity in Christ. Maybe these words are foreign to you, if you don’t understand where your identity lies. Maybe you need to realize that in Jesus, you are a new person; transformed for God’s good work in the world. This is what Paul is talking about.
Now the spirit of fear is real, but it’s false, in the sense that God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7 says that God did not give us that spirit of fear, or timidity. Young Timothy was pastor of a church and needed encouragement to be bold in his faith. Where do you need to be more bold in your faith in God, rather than being defeated by a spirit of fear? Is your mind captured by fear of something, someone, some loss, or rejection? God hasn’t given you that fear. You can overcome fear by naming it, acknowledge it, take away its power by claiming it for God, and then trust God for the results. You live in a world where fear runs rampant around you, but fear is a liar. You can claim your life for God and give your fear to Jesus.
Labels in our lives, have a way of keeping us down, or projecting us forward. We can either believe the bad labels and live down to them, or live up to new good labels. How is it working out in your life? Do the labels of your past haunt you and keep you stuck, or can you believe the good labels you’ve been given in Christ and move forward? God used a woman in the Bible named Rahab, to show us that your life can change.
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When we compare our lives to someone else, or compare our things to other things, or when we compare our skills to other people, we often come out on the short end of the deal, and feel awful. We might also compare to others, and come out ahead, which is pride. So, either way, we lose. God didn’t design comparison. It came from the devil’s mouth. He compared the first humans to God himself. “You can be like him”, he said. How has comparison slithered into your life, and how does it wreak havoc?
Luke 19 in the Gospels, is a description of how Jesus the Messiah walked from the Mount of Olives to the city of Jerusalem with people praising him as God. He rode on a donkey which had never been ridden on, and people worshiped Jesus as God. The religious leaders wanted Jesus to rebuke his followers for singing to him. He refused. Then Jesus told them they missed out on the work of God because they didn’t notice the time of God’s coming. Do you know what time it is? Have you recognized the timing of God, to send Jesus to earth as a ransom for your soul. God has made a way to know himself, through Jesus, His only Son. Don’t miss out on the timing of God in your life. Don’t let pride get in the way of you recognizing God’s salvation.