Encouraging one another.


28th May 2017 Ephesians 1.15-23.

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This past week, and this month, has been a pitted with terrible and frightening events. Humanity has displayed both despicable and commendable behaviour, not just by the average Joe on the street but also by leaders of the world. 

These are what Paul, in Ephesian chap 6, refers to as the ‘principalities and powers’, for our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. The church of Ephesus had to contend with various levels of rulers and authorities from local magistrates up to internationally recognized gods and goddesses, and all stages in between. Their power dominated every facet of the Ephesians lives. Much like our lives are dominated by our leaders either for good or for ill, and, sadly, those who would cause violence and harm. In this midst of oppression, Paul writes a letter to the Ephesian’s of encouragement despite him languishing in prison. Despite his suffering, Paul takes time to think of others, of how he can encourage them and know God even more profoundly and realise the greatness of Gods power. For Paul, the greatest display of power the world had ever seen took place when God raised Jesus from the dead.

This church that Paul started on one of his previous missions, still needed reminding of how God works in the world. What Paul writes is still helpful for us today as we are reminded that there is a difference between knowing about and knowing God intimately. We can know about God through studying the Bible and reading devotional material. This is time wonderfully spent discovering what Jesus was like while he was here on earth. However, this is no substitute for knowing God personally. For that, we need to make time to spend time in prayer to get to know Jesus personally. Through prayer, Paul longs for the church to realize that this same power of God, the power seen at Easter and now vested in Jesus, is available to them for their daily use. He prays that that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened. Only through the work of the Holy Spirit can we know God and see the world the way He does. Sadly, many people who say they follow Jesus, are quite unaware that the power of God not only exists but is available to them, to each of us. Their lives are lived unchanged, and constantly buffeted by the ‘principalities and powers’ of this world. God does not seem to at work and they feel defeated. However, when the power of God is not recognized, the Holy Spirit is there waiting to be called upon. With prayer, the Holy Spirit can bring a fresh outpouring of the gift of wisdom, of knowing Jesus. Then, as Paul calls it, the eyes of your inmost self’ will be opened to God’s light and truth.

This truth is that Jesus is the head of the church and has ultimate authority over the world. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, God has won the final victory. We can rest assured that God is in control of everything. We need not fear any violence, economic collapse, nation or even death or satan himself. The contract has been signed and sealed; we are waiting just a short while for delivery. As Paul says in Romans 8:37-39, that nothing can separate us from God and his love.

We constantly need reminding that God is already at work in the world and in us. We are King Jesus’ agents within our communities as his hands, feet and voice. The deeper we know God, the more we realize that God’s power is our power. Our power to change us, transform us and the world around us. As Paul encouraged the Ephesians, God encourages us with this truth, and we in turn, go out inspiring others to follow Jesus.

So, I wonder, how often do we think of encouraging other people or do we spout words of despair and demise? Does the idea even cross our minds to take time to make a phone call or write a thank you card? Perhaps, more of our time needs to be in prayer. Spending time with Jesus, getting to know him, asking for the gift of wisdom to see things people don’t normally see. To see the world as God sees it. To see with eyes of love and compassion.

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