far above all rule and authority and power and dominion

“…that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” Ephesians 1:20-23 (ESV)

There’s no doubt about it. Jesus Christ is the King of kings. He is the Lord of lords (1 Timothy 6:15).

There is nothing that isn’t under His rule. Zip. Nothing. Nada!

And that includes us.

Yet we humans have a natural tendency to shun authority. Wanting to do our own thing. Clinging desperately to control of our own lives at all costs.

It’s ironic really. Because letting Jesus be ruler is very liberating (Matthew 11:29-30).

Kim+

prayer : that I would not try to wrestle control of my life away from God all the time

action : examine those areas of my life that I try to control

the immeasurable greatness of His power

“…and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might” Ephesians 1:19 (ESV)

Power. So often it’s associated with human misuse that it’s become a dirty word.

Yet the sinfulness of mankind shouldn’t lead us to think that God is a selfish tyrant. A despotic ruler. An egotistical megalomaniac.

Because unlike these examples, God uses His power for our good.

His “great might” means He can create the universe yet it also gives Him power over death.

Ironically Jesus, the Son of God, chose to humble Himself, making Himself nothing (Philippians 2:1ff).

He who is God became Man.

And a servant at that. Quite the antithesis of typical human leadership.

Yet following His death and resurrection He was raised up and is now seated at God’s right hand (Romans 8:34).

Kim+

prayer : thankful that God uses His power wisely, for the good of believers

action : exercise “servant” leadership

the riches of His glorious inheritance

“…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,” Ephesians 1:18 (ESV)

What is it we’re inheriting?

What are these riches?

Life. Eternal life!

An eternal relationship with our Father in heaven.

And a glorious relationship at that.

Shared with our brothers and sisters in Christ. The “saints” Paul so often refers to in his letters (Romans 1:7).

It’s this promise, this “hope”, we can look forward to.

Yet it’s also a reality now (John 17:3).

Kim+

prayer : thank you for adopting me as your child (Galatians 4:7)

action : that I would live like these riches are here and now, not just in the future

the hope to which He has called you

“…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,” Ephesians 1:18 (ESV)

To be so “enlightened” such that we know the hope spoken of is incredibly liberating.

A hope that relies not on our own futile attempts to manipulate and coerce our fate.

But rather, rests solely on the providence of a benevolent God.

And as if there was any doubt as to God’s love for His creation, this is the same sovereign creator who is so eager to see us saved that He sacrificed His one and only son (1 Corinthians 5:7) for us.

That we might be heirs of His eternal kingdom (Ephesians 3:6).

Kim+

prayer : thank God for the hope of eternal life

action : live each day by faith in the knowledge and comfort of God’s promises

a spirit of wisdom

“…that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,” Ephesians 1:17 (ESV)

The discernment that comes from wisdom is such a wonderfully generous gift. A gift from God the Father.

It’s often assumed that wisdom comes with age. And I suppose there is no one or nothing older than God.

Yet whilst experience can contribute to wise decision making it’s neither exclusive to nor prevalent amongst us “oldies”.

And here, in this passage, it comes hand-in-hand with “knowledge”. A “knowledge of Him”.

Though not just a “knowledge” of facts that’s cold and impersonal. Rather, an intimate “knowledge” that is more about God’s character: who He is together with what He is.

In much the same way we may have an especially close relationship with a friend, a family member, or even a spouse.

And where do these gifts come from?

The “revelation” is clearly outlined in the Bible. A God of love, compassion, grace, and mercy.

And it’s the Holy Spirit who guides our understanding.

Kim+

prayer : that God would grant me the gift of spiritual wisdom and “knowledge”

action : read the Bible regularly, ideally daily

I do not cease to give thanks for you

“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,” Ephesians 1:15-16 (ESV)

In his prayers for the various churches Paul often writes about how he is thankful for them based upon their behaviour.

In this instance it is their “faith” and their “love”. Not unlike yesterday’s letter to the Thessalonians.

Given the recurring theme in his epistles it is clearly very, very important.

Paul’s single-minded focus serves as a terrific model for our own prayers.

The book “A Call to Spiritual Reformation” by Don Carson does exactly this. Emphasising the benefit of using Pauline prayers as a template for our own prayer-life.

Building up a repertoire of prayers that are clearly Biblical and God-centred.

Some modification to the prayers will, of course, be necessary. Personalising them to our own circumstances and those of the church we attend and the 21st-Century world we live in.

Yet the trials we face and the struggles we may have to endure are not dissimilar to those of the church in the first century.

Kim+

prayer : that I would be consistently praying for my fellow believers

action : model my prayers on those of Paul

How Christ Enables the Church to Upbuild Itself in Love

Eph 4:4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it says,

“When he ascended on high
he led a host of captives,
and he gave gifts to men.”

9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in *deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Ephesians 4:4-16 (ESV)

Through the reading of scripture over the past week or two I have learned that God uses all His people to build up His church.

And this has become even clearer by listening to John Piper in his sermon, “How Christ Enables the Church to Upbuild Itself in Love“.

The main point I take away from this particular talk is the importance of small groups. Groups of believers meeting regularly to talk; to listen; to read God’s word; to pray for one another.

Essentially, they perform the invaluable function of support and encouragement to one another. And thereby enable the growth the church as their faith is strengthened.

These groups are meant to complement regular weekly meetings such as Sunday worship services. But they’re not supposed to replace them.

Ideally, we should attend both. And in so doing, find opportunities to love each other in practical ways.

Kim+

prayer : that small groups in our church would be a great source of learning and encouragement

action : attend a small group regularly – every week where possible