Ephesians

wherever two or more are gathered…


i continually wonder about the presence of God. He promises to never leave or forsake us, yet sometimes it seems like He is distant. i know the clichés like “if God seems far away, it’s you who has moved, not Him.” ugh, i hate clichés.

i realize that sin sometimes is a barrier for us. nothing is a barrier for Him. I can see how we put on our fig leaf and try to hide. i just wish sometimes i would hear Him say “where are you?” maybe i’m not listening. maybe life is too loud and it drowns out His voice. maybe the shame is so heavy that it dampens the calling. whatever it is, to be honest, sometimes i feel alone.

but my feelings will betray me. if i do the things i feel like doing, then i am not living in His will, i am dwelling in mine. i’ve found that my will, even with temporary moments of pleasure, does not bring long term peace or satisfaction.

i was reading this morning and came across a prayer. i love Paul’s prayers for the people in the new testament churches. this one was for the church at Ephesus.

Father, out of Your honorable and glorious riches, strengthen your people. Fill their souls with the power of Your Spirit so that through faith the Liberating King will reside in their hearts. My love be the rich soil where their lives take root. May it be the bedrock where their lives are founded so that together with all of Your people they will have the power to understand that the love of the Liberator is infinitely long, wide, high, and deep, surpassing everything anyone previously experienced. God, may Your fullness flood through their entire beings. Now to the God who can do so many awe-inspiring things, immeasurable things, things greater than we ever could ask or imagine through the power at work in us, to Him be all glory in the church and in Jesus, the Liberating King, from this generation to the next, forever and ever. Amen.  Ephesians 3:16-21 The Voice

he addresses the very thing i’m feeling, so i suppose the Ephesians struggled with the presence of Christ too. he talks about it taking root so that they and we would know that Christ’s love surpasses anything that we can understand. so maybe instead of seeking the presence which is already there, i should ask for the fullness. i should seek to be filled. i should request the power to understand.

also this prayer does not say i pray that this individual will see these things. it says they. we were not meant to grow outside of community. maybe sometimes the reason we don’t feel the presence of God is because even when we are around people, we isolate ourselves. He wants us to practice His presence in the midst of others. He wants us to see His power in the lives of others. we grow as a body. He promises to be wherever we gather.

do you struggle with believing that God can do those awe-inspiring, immeasurable things? well, then let’s get together and be for each other as He is for us. let us dream big and see what He can do. are you ready?

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i’ve been studying Ephesians this month…


 i’m in Chapter 5 and i read this today.

So imitate God.

and in the simplicity of that i spent about 5 minutes thinking.  what exactly does it mean to imitate?

so i looked up the definition.

im·i·tate

–verb (used with object), -tat·ed, -tat·ing.

1.
to follow or endeavor to follow as a model or example: to imitate an author’s style; to imitate an older brother.
2.
to mimic; impersonate: The students imitated the teacher behind her back.
3.
to make a copy of; reproduce closely.
4.
to have or assume the appearance of; simulate; resemble.
 
so which is it that we do?  i believe we should completely follow Jesus as our model, our example. 
i don’t believe mimic is a good definition.  and impersonate is even worse.  we do that on our own.  we impersonate God when we impose our own will. 
make a copy?  it could work, we are created in His image, but i also believe He has created us special. more of a reflection, not a copy.
i think i like definition 4, to assume the appearance of.  to resemble.  in other words we should look like Him. 
 
i guess the best metaphor for me, would be describing a father and son. 
when a son looks like his father or shows his tendencies,  people will say, he’s a chip off the old block, or like father like son.  my sons (both adopted) want to be so much like me, they both do the things i do.  they both like to act like they play the guitar and they love to sing.  they even adopt my bad habits much to my dismay.  they have become imitators of their dad.  they are not me, but they resemble me.  the beauty of resembling God is that He has no faults so when we endeavor to be like Him, we will be transformed into something  good and new.  we will never be Him, but we can have His fullness in us when we have faith that He can complete the work.  and what is that work? that we would be conformed into the image of His son.

a thought for the day…


from Ephesians 4:1-3

…I urge you: Walk as Jesus walked.  Live a life worthy of the calling He has graciously extended to you.  Be humble.  Be gentle. Be patient.  Tolerate one another in an atmosphere thick with love.  Make every effort to preserve the unity the Spirit has already created, with peace binding you together.

i think if we followed that urging, we would probably live that life that is worthy, as it is, we are proud, angry, impatient and intolerant with people that don’t see things exactly the way we see them. this verse reminded me how quickly i fly off the handle at those who don’t “get it”.  when we operate outside of that atmosphere of love, and cease to make the effort to preserve that which the Spirit has created, all we have is chaos.  how about some peace?

so as i continued my reading today…


i ran across this prayer in Ephesians chapter 3 and thought i would share it.

Father, out of Your honorable and glorious riches, strengthen Your people.  Fill their souls with the power of Your Spirit so that through faith the Liberating King will reside in their hearts.  May love be the rich soil where their lives take root. May it be the bedrock where their lives are founded so that together with all of Your people they will have the power to understand that the love of the Liberator is infinitely long, wide, high, and deep, surpassing everything anyone previously experienced.  God, may Your fullness flood through their entire beings

Paul prays this prayer on behalf of the church, and then ends this chapter with a benediction.  the book still has 3 more chapters, but this is a brilliant doxology he adds here at the end of this prayer.  it has a promiselike amen to it.

Now, to the God who can do so many awe-inspiring things, immeasurable things, things greater than we ever could ask or imagine through the power at work in us, to Him be all glory in the church and in Jesus, the Liberating King, from this generation to the next, forever and ever. Amen.

that just gave me chills as i read it and felt the power of Paul’s prayer and benediction over Christ’s church.  same power today as it had back then.

i love the voice…


it’s the translation of the Bible that Chris Seay from Ecclesia Houston has been spearheading the past few years.  i just really like the language they’ve chosen and it is a scholarly translation, not a paraphrase.

so i was reading Ephesians and loved the way it expressed this passage from Chapter 2 starting in verse 8 and continuing through 10.

“For it’s by God’s grace that you have been saved.  You receive it through faith.  It was not our plan or our effort.  It is God’s gift, pure and simple. You didn’t earn it, not one of us did, do don’t go around bragging that you must have done something amazing.  For we are the product of His hand, heaven’s poetry etched on lives, created in Jesus, the Liberator, to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago.”

i just really love the language of that passage, that heaven’s poetry is etched on our lives.  that we’ve done nothing good or amazing to earn the grace of God.  it’s a gift.

just a quick thought today…


When your memories exceed your dreams…the end is near!  Michael Hammer

how many organizations have i been a part of where all we remember is “the good old days” or where people have said things like “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.  i’ve always been under the auspice of break it and try to fix it.  move forward towards change at all cost.  shouldn’t we as believers continually be moving towards something bigger than ourselves instead of creating “safe havens”?

if we have any doubt that we should be organically moving forward, we only need to look at Ephesians 2:10 which says…

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

so we ask God to give us the dreams He has already prepared for us.  we don’t dwell on the past and a the victories of yester year, but we are in perpetual, continual forward movement.  that is why we were created.