Who We Are in Christ & Some Things to Pray For: Ephesians 1

In my first week or so in the book of Ephesians, I've listened to the entire book at least half a dozen times (sometimes while doing things around the house and sometimes just sitting and listening). One of the reasons I do this is because, particularly with the letters, these would have been read out to the believers they were written to all at once. And I believe that hearing the whole thing will guard us against error-- we will be less likely to take one verse and twist it to mean something unintended if we have the full picture and context in which it was written.

So, now that I have more of the "big picture" of the book in my head, I'm beginning to read through each chapter more methodically and in a more deliberative way.

Chapter 1 is so rich and describes what we have and who we are in Christ. Beth Moore did an excellent job of examining this section of Ephesians in her study, "Believing God". As she points out, in verses 3-14, there are six things that are laid out as descriptions of Christians... that we are:
Blessed (vs. 3, 6),
Chosen (vs. 4),
Redeemed (vs. 7),
Forgiven (vs. 7),
Heirs of an inheritance (vs. 11),
Sealed by the Spirit (vs. 13).
I may have that last one wrong; I'm going off of my memory. Regardless, that portion of Scripture (Ephesians 1: 3-14) is very meaningful for any Christian who struggles with guilt/shame, worthlessness, or confusion about what we have been given in Christ.

It is the second half of the first chapter which struck me as particularly meaningful this morning as I read through it. Paul is praying for the believers in Ephesus, asking the Father to give them certain things:
  • a spirit of wisdom & revelation in the knowledge of God (vs. 17)
  • a heart that sees clearly (vs. 18)
  • an understanding of HOPE that God calls us to (vs. 18)
  • an awareness of the wealthy inheritance He has given us in the saints (vs. 18)
  • a wider view of the great power He wields towards us (vs. 19)
Many times, I have blazed through these things... but in light of verse 1, "To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus", what Paul is saying is that it is entirely possible for faithful Christians to miss out on these things.
  • It is possible for faithful Christians to lack a spirit of wisdom.
  • It is possible for faithful Christians to not possess knowledge of God.
  • It is possible for faithful Christians to have undiscerning, clouded, dimly-lit hearts that do not see things clearly.
  • It is possible for faithful Christians to not "get" that they are called to be people of hope.
  • It is possible for faithful Christians to completely overlook the gifts He has already given us.
  • It is possible for faithful Christians to not understand God's great power.

These are all things that I want... but do not always have. Particularly, I am not often a woman who walks in hope. I do underestimate God's power and forget to pray with that in mind-- not only in my requests-- but in the way that I address Him. I do forget the rich inheritance He has given to me.

Paul was wisely praying for these Ephesian believers... that they would get it, that they would mature, that they would SEE things as they really are, and that they would be discerning. Today, I am asking for these things for myself-- and for you:

Glorious Father, give us a spirit of wisdom and teach us to truly know You. Open our eyes and give us discernment, that we may see things clearly and as they really are. Teach us what it means to walk as people of hope. Give us a richer understanding of the inheritance and gifts You have given us. And show us more of (and give us eyes to see!) your great power through which you work out "all things" (Eph. 1:11) according to your will. In the name of Christ which is "above every name that is named, not only in this age, but in the age to come," Amen.

*** All pictures taken during our recent family trip to Ephesus, 12/27/08. ***
Click on photos to enlarge.


Mrs Flam said...

Thank you for sharing , it can be so hard to see god with unclouded eye's sometimes.

Blessed With 4 said...

This is great! Thank you for posting this. I am going to reread this.
Blessings, BJ

OurCrazyFarm said...

Thanks again for the encouragement to us other mom's in blog world. You humble me with your desire for the word. It makes me long for more of it in my life. Thanks for sharing what God is revealing in your life! Terri

Tiffanie said...

Thank you for sharing what the Lord is teaching you through His Word....and for praying for us :)

Polly said...

Great post!

And I had to comment on the last one, though I cannot find it on your site (it showed up on my bloglines but I don't see it on the blog) re: parenting--I *totally* agree. I've never before heard that from Christian parents, so it's new to me. I actually laughed as soon as I read it--like "what??!" But I don't know of any toddler who is mature enough to read the Bible and put wisdom to work! We help them gain that maturity and wisdom--*then* pray that one day they will willingly implement it.

On the front end, it takes work, work, and more work. I'm so pleased w/ how things are going w/ our 18 month old, but I know it's just through discipling, consistency (big time), training, loving, modeling, and judicious use of the word "no." So worth it!

Rachel said...

Hey Jess,

I have followed your blog for about a year now, and remember reading somewhere that you are a fan of Francine Rivers. I am reviewing Christian fiction on my blog, and just read a shattering novel (in the vein of Francine Rivers and Harper Lee) by author Mary DeMuth (Daisy Chain). Check it out (the review is on my blog). I've never read a superior Christian fiction writer. I think you'll love it.

Melinda said...

Thank you for all the insight in this post. YOu've inspired me to go back and study this more!

Anonymous said...

This was a very nice post! Just what I needed to hear. . . .Your pictures are such a cool addition!

Anonymous said...

Ephesians chapter 1 has always been a challenge for me to fully understand. Thanks you for the explanation of this chapter. I am going to read it tonight with a new set of eyes (smiles).

Also, you are correct about as Christians, we can sometimes miss what God has called us to do as well as the blessings He is willing to bestow upon us if only we would trust and have faith in His word. This is difficult for me too, because like you, I sometimes lack the fact that God has the power to do awesome things.

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

I loved Beth Moore's "Believing God" Bible study. Thank you for reminding me of it, since it has been several years since doing it. Ephesians is one of my favorite books in the Bible.

Lana said...

This is all too great!

Anonymous said...

That was excellent, Jess. Good reminders that we don't automatically "get it" as we follow Christ.
Tara (momlakes)

Allison said...

Thank you for sharing that. I have never really looked at Ephesians this way in that Paul was praying for this particular church to have something that they did not yet have and reminding them of who they were in Christ. Wow! I definitely want those things for myself and my family, as well as other people around me. Thank you again.