ROOTED AND GROUNDED IN LOVE

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 3:14-21

“That you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17b-19)

We can never grasp the full extent of the Lord’s love for us. Paul says it “surpasses knowledge.” Yet he prays that we would know something of God’s love — its breadth and length and height and depth. Paul wants us to reflect upon God’s love, to look at it from many angles, though we will never be able to fully comprehend it.

“See what kind of love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God, and so we are” (I John 3:1). What kind of love does the Father have for us? First, it is an unconditional love. He loves us no matter what. His love is not conditioned upon us. It is a gift that He has lavished upon us.

Second, God’s love is a sacrificial love. “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (I John 4:10). He loved us and gave His Son for us. There is no greater love than this.

Third, God’s love is an eternal love. “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued My faithfulness to you” (Jeremiah 31:31). His love for us is unending. Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:35). Because He loves us He will always be faithful to us.

We are to be rooted and grounded in God’s love. This means we are to be settled in His love. When we are, we are able to love others with it. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God” (I John 4:7). Because God loves us, we are called to love one another. “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (I John 4:11).

While we may not be able to fully comprehend the extent of God’s love, we can be rooted and grounded in it because God poured out His love on us. Our response should be one of love — love for our God and love for our neighbors.

Loving God, thank You for loving me. I know how unworthy I am of receiving Your love. Yet You have loved me unconditionally, sacrificially and eternally. Enable me to gain some degree of understanding of Your love. Grant me grace to love others with the love with which You have loved me.

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THE INDWELLING CHRIST

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 3:14-21

“So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” (Ephesians 3:17a)

I often forget that Christ is dwelling in my heart. It is amazing to think that Jesus actually lives in us. A verse that is very dear to me is Galatians 2:20 — “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

Reflect upon this verse. Take it to heart. Christ lives in me. He not only dwells in me, He lives in me. This means that I can live my life by His life. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me. I can love others with His love. I can face the most troubling times by His strength. I am never alone. He is always there, for He dwells in my heart through faith.

When we believe that Christ dwells in our hearts, we can have peace and joy, because He is the source of these things. He alone can bring true peace and joy to us. And Christ in me is my hope of glory — “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). When we realize that Christ dwells in us, we can be certain that we are destined for glory. We will be glorified with Him one day.

The key to having a peaceful and joyful life is to learn how to practice Christ’s presence in our hearts. We have to acknowledge it when we first wake up. We must stop and remember that He is dwelling within us throughout the day. When we go to bed at night, we must rest in the fact that Jesus Christ dwells in our hearts through faith.

We have nothing to fear. Christ is with us, dwelling in our hearts through faith. He will never leave nor forsake us. We are never alone. Jesus Christ is living in us.

Lord Jesus, as I begin the day, I acknowledge that You are living in me. You are dwelling in my heart through faith. Throughout the day, enable me to practice Your presence in my life. I know that I am never alone. I have nothing to fear. You will strengthen me to face whatever comes my way this day.

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STRENGTHENED BY GOD’S SPIRIT

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 3:14-20

“That according to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being.” (Ephesians 3:16)

We are looking at Paul’s prayer for the readers of his epistle. The first request Paul makes is for God to strengthen us with power through His Spirit. In order to understand the significance of this prayer, we must first recognize our spiritual weakness. We saw this in Chapter 2 in which we are told that we were dead in our trespasses and sins (2:1). We were incapable of understanding the things of the Spirit (I Corinthians 2:14). We were under the influence of the world and the devil (2:2). We were subject to the desires of the flesh (2:3). Even though we have been made alive by God (2:4), we still face these three great enemies — the world, the flesh and the devil. Because of this we think we are self-sufficient. We are selfish and self-centered. We are weak people. Human weakness is a result of the effects of sin upon our lives.

Because we are weak, it is necessary for God to intervene into our lives. Thus Paul prays — “that according to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being.” The inner being is the heart. Paul’s prayer is for God to work in our hearts, to strengthen our inner being.

Through God’s Spirit, He strengthens us. We cannot become Christians unless the Spirit of God works in our hearts. We cannot grow as Christians unless God’s Spirit gives us the power to do so. We will never get to glory unless God’s Spirit provides the way.

We can do nothing to please God unless God’s Spirit strengthens us to do so. We are totally dependent upon the work of the Spirit in our inner beings. Without Him we can do nothing, but in Him we can do all things — “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

Spirit of the living God, strengthen me in my inner-being. I know that I am weak. I cannot resist temptation without You. I cannot live my life for the glory of God without You. I desperately need to be strengthened by your power every minute of every day. Enable me to appropriate Your presence and power in my life.

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ON BENDED KNEE

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 3: 14-20

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.” (Ephesians 3:14)

Our passage today is actually a prayer that Paul prayed for the readers of his epistle. Studying this prayer will help us grow in our prayer lives. Paul was a man of prayer. He recognized the great power that comes from power. Prayer is a way for us to commune with God. It brings us into a greater awareness of His presence. God delights in our prayers. He wants us to cast all our cares upon Him because He cares for us (I Peter 5:7). We must also remember that prayer is a way that we can express our praise and thanksgiving to God. It allows us to be honest with God as we confess our sins and weaknesses.

Paul had just mentioned that we who are in Christ have bold and confident access to God — “This was according to the eternal purpose that He has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in Him” (vs. 11,12). We have access to the Father through faith in Jesus Christ. This is why we end most of our prayers in the name of Jesus. It is a way to express our understanding that Christ makes access to the Father possible.

Prayer is essential for spiritual development. It is one of the primary means of growth, along with Bible reading and meditation. If you look at the great moments of spiritual renewal throughout history, you will find that all of them were centered in prayer. And if you look at some of the giants of the faith, you will notice that they were men and women of prayer.

Let me leave you with two quotes about prayer:

“Prayer is the most important work in the kingdom of God. It is our Lord’s will that we should enter into this work as soon as we have been won for God.” (O. Hallesby)

“Prayer is climbing up into the heart of God.” (Martin Luther)

Heavenly Father, thank You for the great privilege of prayer. Thank You that I have bold and confident access to You through faith in my Savior Jesus Christ. Thank You for allowing me to cast all my cares upon You. I know that You care for me. Today I come climbing up into Your heart. Hear my prayers, Lord. In the name of Jesus, I pray.

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GOD’S ETERNAL PURPOSE

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 3:11-13

“This was according to the eternal purpose that He has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in Him.” (Ephesians 3:11,12)

It is so comforting to know that we have a sovereign God who has an eternal purpose. Earlier in this epistle, Paul wrote these words — “In Him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11). God works out everything according to His eternal purpose.

God’s eternal purpose involves His choosing a people to be His own — “Even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless. In love He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will” (Ephesians 1:4,5). God chose us in eternity past and He predestined us to be His adopted sons and daughters. This was in accordance to His eternal purpose.

The sovereign Lord works ALL THINGS according to the counsel of His will, which is another way to describe His eternal purpose. Whatever comes our way is part of God’s grand purpose. This eternal purpose of God is realized in Jesus Christ. In other words, Jesus Christ is at the center of God’s eternal purpose.

Part of God’s eternal purpose is to have a people who bear witness to the manifold wisdom of God — “so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God may now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (v. 10). It was God’s plan for the unsearchable riches of Christ to be proclaimed to the Gentiles (v. 8).

We can rejoice and be thankful that we are included in the eternal purpose of God. All of history is moving toward the consummation of all things when Jesus Christ returns and ushers in the new heavens and new earth. According to God’s eternal purpose, we are destined to spend eternity in the new heavens and new earth. We will be glorified with Christ and enjoy eternal fellowship with Him and with one another.

Sovereign Lord, how comforting it is to know that You have an eternal purpose and that You are working all things according to that purpose. Thank You that I am part of Your eternal purpose. Before the foundation of the world, You chose me to be Your adopted son. According to Your eternal purpose, I am destined for glory. I rest in Your sovereignty and know that You work all things according to Your eternal purpose in Christ.

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THE CHURCH’S WITNESS

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 3:7-13

“So that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 3:10)

This is an amazing statement. Its meaning is easily missed. We know that Christ has called us to be His witnesses, His ambassadors. Most often we think of our calling to be witnesses to be about bearing witness to other human beings. We are responsible to take the message of the gospel to all peoples on earth. But in our passage today, we see that our witness goes beyond human beings. It actually involves bearing witness to angelic beings — “the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.”

God’s great plan for the church is that His people live according to God’s way so that angels will be able to see God’s wisdom. There is a cosmic significance to what we do as members of the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are to make manifest in our lives and characters the excellencies of our Maker-Redeemer, so that angels may see His great wisdom.

The goal is for angels to see “the manifold wisdom of God.” Literally it means the “multi-colored” wisdom of God, the infinite diversity of God’s wisdom. You see it in creation. Look around and observe how incredibly diverse creation is. Look at the landscape — mountains, plains, seashore. Look at the vegetation — trees, plants, flowers. Look up into the heavens and see the constellations. God created all these things out of His manifold wisdom.

You see God’s manifold wisdom when you observe human beings. We are all different. We have different personalities, traits, features, gifts, abilities, and looks. Each of us was formed by God in our mother’s wombs. We are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Specifically, Paul is referring to the manifold wisdom of God that is seen in redemption and reconciliation. God chose to redeem us by the blood of His Son. Jesus makes reconciliation possible — reconciliation with God and reconciliation with other human beings. In Paul’s day, the reconciliation to which he was referring was between Jews and Gentiles. God made these two groups, who had been separated for years, into one in His Church. Christ broke down the walls of hostility that separated them. Angels who observed this gracious act of God saw the manifold wisdom of God at work.

The way we live is always a witness. It can be good or bad. God has called us to live in such a way that human beings and angels may see in us the manifold wisdom of our God. How we live our lives is of the utmost importance.

Lord Jesus, I want to be a faithful witness of Your manifold wisdom. Give me the strength to live my life in a way that brings glory to You. Enable me to remember that my life is bearing witness to other human beings and to angels. Let them see in me Your manifold wisdom and grace.

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THE VERY LEAST OF ALL THE SAINTS

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 3:7-13

“To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” (Ephesians 3:8)

I am amazed at the humility of the Apostle Paul. He said that he was “the least of all the saints.” This was no false humility, nor was it hyperbole. Paul really believed that about himself. In I Corinthians 15:9,10a, he wrote of himself — “For I am the least of the apostles and do not deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am.” Perhaps this is the reason Paul felt this way about himself. He actually persecuted God’s people for a season. But God made him “a minister according to the gift of God’s grace” (v. 7).

We see the gospel worked out in Paul’s life. The gospel says that we are a whole lot worse than we think we are, but are loved and accepted by Jesus Christ more than we could every dream or hope. Paul said, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners — of whom I am the worst” (I Timothy 1:15). Paul knew how undeserving he was — worst of all sinners, least of the apostles, the very least of all the saints.

But Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners like Paul and you and me! We must not think too highly of ourselves. We must be aware of the great danger of self-righteousness. We should be willing to join Paul in stating our unworthiness. It is then that we can appreciate the gift of God’s grace — His forgiveness, His steadfast love, He unconditional acceptance. We must join Paul in saying — “But by the grace of God I am what I am.”

God took a broken sinner like Paul and give him the privilege of being a minister of God’s grace to the Gentiles. When we humble ourselves before our God and accept His gracious gift of salvation, God will use us, as undeserving as we are!

Lord Jesus, I confess along with Paul that I am an unworthy sinner. I do not deserve anything from You. Yet You have poured out your love and grace on me. You died for me and gave me the gift of eternal life. All I can say is what Paul said — “But by the grace of God I am what I am.”

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THE MYSTERY OF CHRIST

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 3:1-6

“This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, are partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” (Ephesians 3:6)

Paul earlier addressed the subject of the mystery of Christ in the first chapter of this epistle — “Making known to us the mystery of His will, according to His purpose which He set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:9,10).

Paul calls this a mystery because the truth of it was previously hidden or only vaguely known. But now the mystery has been revealed in Christ. In the broad sense, the mystery is that God will bring all things in heaven and on earth together under on head, Jesus Christ. All of history is moving to a consummation when all things will be restored and made perfect under Christ.

In our passage today, we see that part of this mystery is the inclusion of the Gentiles into the family of God. Jews and Gentiles will be brought together under Jesus. Christ dwells through His Spirit in the hearts and lives of both believing Jews and believing Gentiles. The former generations had not understood this; but now God had chosen Paul to preach this message — “the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”

God called Paul to be the missionary to the Gentiles. As you read through the book of Acts, you will see how Paul fulfilled this calling. He made three missionary journeys through which many Gentiles came to faith in Jesus Christ. Many churches were planted in Gentile cities and a major gospel movement took place.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the same thing happened today? I long to see a powerful gospel movement take place within our country and around the world. We do see a major expansion of God’s kingdom in certain parts of the world today — Latin America, Africa, and China. Millions are coming to faith in Christ. Let’s pray for a gospel movement to take place in our own country as well.

O Holy Spirit, I pray for a true revival to take place in my country. I pray for a gospel movement that will draw many into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. I confess that I get discouraged when I see how far our country has turned away from You. But I know that You have the power to bring sweeping change as You move in the hearts of people. I also pray that many gospel movements would take place in other places around the world. Thank You that we Gentiles can now be a part of Your family.

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STEWARDS OF GOD’S GRACE

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 3:1-6

“For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus in behalf of your Gentiles — assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation.” (Ephesians 3:1-3)

We have seen how amazing God’s grace is. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Paul had been given a special calling by God. He was to take the message of God’s grace in Jesus Christ to the Gentiles. The gospel had been assigned to Paul in sacred trust. God revealed the gospel to him. The gospel is not a man-made religion; it is a revelation from God. Thus, Paul wrote about “the stewardship of God’s grace.”

All believers have been given this stewardship of God’s grace — “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation” (I Corinthians 5:18,19).

God has entrusted to us the ministry of reconciliation, that is the gospel of God’s grace in Jesus Christ. “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (II Corinthians 5:20). God has entrusted the gospel to us. We are stewards of God’s grace and, therefore, we are responsible to share it with others. Think of it! God uses us in the process of building His Church. He makes His appeal THROUGH US to other people!

Jesus tells us that we are to be light in a world that is filled with darkness (Matthew 5:14-16). He says no one would take a lamp and hide it under a bed. Instead he would put it on a lamp stand to give light to the whole room — “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

We are stewards of God’s grace. We have been entrusted with the gospel and we are responsible to God how we handle the message of grace. He calls us to be faithful stewards of His grace on behalf of those who do not have it. We are His ambassadors here on earth and God makes His appeal to those who do not have the gospel through us.

Lord Jesus, thank You for bringing the gospel of grace to bear upon my life. Now that I am a recipient of that grace, I have a responsibility to share it with others. You have called me to be a steward of Your grace. I pray that you give me an opportunity today to be an ambassador for You.

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THE LORD’S HOLY TEMPLE

“Built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together into a holy temple in the Lord. In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:20-22)

Paul is describing the church, the people of God, as a holy temple. The foundation of this temple is made of “the apostles and prophets,” meaning the teachings of the apostles and the prophets (the Old and New Testaments). The core of their teaching is the gospel. The gospel teaches that human beings are sinners by nature. They are spiritually dead in their trespasses and sins (vs. 1-3). The gospel tells us that God, being rich in mercy and love, is a God of grace. He sent His Son to redeem His people from their sins by His death and resurrection. Jesus became their substitute who bore the punishment for their sins. Three days after His death, He was raised from the dead and is seated at the right hand of God the Father. This is the foundation — the only foundation. Nothing can be added to it.

Jesus Christ is the cornerstone. A cornerstone is a primary foundation stone at the angle of a structure by which the architect fixes a standard for the bearings of the walls and cross walls throughout the building. The cornerstone not only holds together all these structural foundation stones, it also binds them together and hold all the walls together. It is at the corner, and everything is supported by it and everything is held together by it. Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone of the Church.

Notice that this temple is growing — “In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (v. 22). This temple is in the process of being built. God is building His Church. This is a process that is going on right now. Every day God is adding new people to His Church. The emphasis is on the work of God. God is the one who builds His temple.

The Church is a dwelling place for God. God lives in His Church, in the lives of His people. God actually lives in us — “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (I Corinthians 3:18).

The temple (God’s people) will be completed one day. Everyone chosen by God for this building will be there. When it is finished, the consummation of this present age will come. God’s people will be glorified with Christ and we will spend eternity in the new heavens and new earth.

We must remember that we are a part of the greater work of God. We, together with all believers, are vital members of the Church of our Lord Jesus. We are individuals who belong together with other believers to be the dwelling place of God.

Lord Jesus, thank You for making me a part of Your Church. Don’t let me take the nature of Your Church for granted. It is holy and blessed because You dwell within Your people. Grant me grace to be a vital and growing member of the work You are doing in building Your Church.

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