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Ephesians 1:15-23
Series:  A Letter of Grace and Life - Part Two

Pastor Stephen Muncherian
February 23, 2020

We are continuing in our study of Paul’s letter to the church of Ephesus.  The big picture of Ephesians comes in two parts:  grace and life.  So - big picture:  Ephesians is... “a letter of grace and life.”


Grace - which we need more of today in the places where we do life. 


And life where we’re not just managing and hanging on by our finger nails.  But fullness of life with meaning and purpose and dignity and value.


Ephesians is a letter of grace and life.


The first three chapters focus on what God - by His grace - what God has done for us - you and I and all of us individually and collectively as the church - through the undeserved work of Jesus Christ on the cross.


As we’re going through these first three chapters we’re soaking in and pressing into what God has done for us.  Which is astounding. 


Then - when we get to the second half of Paul’s letter we’re going to focus on what that means - life.  How we live out what God by His grace has done for us - how we live that out in the day to day of our lives. 


So this morning we going on with our unpacking of Ephesians.  If you are able, I invite you to stand with me as we come together before God and His word - standing to respect and honor God - and would join with me as we read together beginning at Ephesians 1 - starting at verse 15:


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, 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, 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, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of His great might 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.


Paul opens up this next section of his letter by telling the Ephesians that he’s giving thanks for them.  That he’s remembering them in his prayers.


Paul begins - verse 15:  “For this reason…”  His reason for praying for them is because Paul has heard of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and their love toward all the saints.


Before we come to what exactly Paul is praying - what we’ll come to in verse 17 - first we need to be together on Paul’s Reason For Praying. 


A couple weeks ago the 49ers lost the Superbowl to some team from a fly over state.  Not that I’m bitter about that.  But, it is time to move on to baseball. 


So, this is…?  Albert Pujols.  Plays for the Angels.


Albert Pujols… who just celebrated his 40th birthday last month.


In 2001 Pujols was the rookie of the year.  In 19 seasons since then he’s played for Saint Louis and LA.  He has 656 Home Runs - currently #6 on the all time list.  He’s tied at 4th on the all time RBI list.  He’s a two-time Golden Glove Award winner.  Three times he’s been the National League MVP.  10 times he’s made the all-star team.  He has two World Series championship rings.


Ultimately he will be in the Hall of Fame.  No questions.


On November 13, 1998 Albert made what he calls “The best decision of my life.”  He gave his heart to Jesus Christ and asked Him to become the Lord of his life.


Albert says, “Jesus Christ is my strength.  God has blessed me and I will continue to do my best for Him.  That is more important than anything I could ever do in baseball.”  (1)


Albert and his wife run the Pujols’ Family Foundation who’s purpose is “To live and share our commitment to faith, family and others.”


The foundation pays for annual mission trips to his native Dominican Republic - where Albert grew up in poverty.  Their foundation pays for mission trips for dentists, pediatricians, optometrists - mission trips that Albert and his family take part in.  They’re there on the mission field.  The list of what they’re involved with in the name of Jesus goes on and on.


Pujols says, “I don’t do this because I want to hear, ‘There goes a good guy.’  I want to help people.  I want to set an example, be obedient to God.”  (2) 


Paul writes - the reason I’m continually giving thanks for you - the reason I’m continually praying for you - the reason is because I’ve heard of your faith and the way you’re loving the saints. 


What do you call a fly with no wings?  A walk.


Faith without works is…  dead.  James 2:17.

We can say all we want about our faith - even delude ourselves about the great depths of our relationship with God - pride ourselves on our intellectual understanding of Christian theology and doctrine.


But when our faith hits the asphalt of life - opportunities to genuinely demonstrate God’s love to our siblings in Christ and the world around us - what comes out in our actions demonstrates what’s really going on in our hearts. 


We will always live out what we actually believe at the heart level.


What we looked at last Sunday in Paul’s introduction to grace.  Paul putting out how - because of God’s grace - each of us is blessed by God with every - not some or a lot - but every spiritual blessing.  Everything we need to do life as God blesses us to do life.


God has chosen us to be His.  He has predestined us to be His children.  And He has redeemed us from the bondage and condemnation of our sin.  The sovereign God has made Himself known to us removing any basis for fear.


He gives to us life with Him now and certain hope of an unimaginable forever future with Him.  And God - by the work of the Holy Spirit - puts His mark of ownership on us that guarantees our future with Him forever.


The believers in Ephesus - their response to how they’d been graciously  blessed by God - their response to God and His gift of salvation - was to believe.  To live by faith in Jesus and to stay faithfully obedient to Him.


Regardless of their circumstances this church was - from the heart level - on fire for God.  What was in their hearts was coming out - demonstrated in the way the loved all the saints.


Which Paul had heard about and so Paul was giving thanks and Paul was praying. 


Moving to verse 17 - Paul’s opens up about what he’s specifically praying for. 


The big picture being: Paul is praying that these graciously blessed believers would keep going - deeper - farther - knowing more and more of the gracious blessings of God in the day to day living out of their faith.


In the time we have this morning we’re going to break down Paul’s prayer into three specifics that are helpful for us as we’re desiring to go farther with God in His grace in the day to day of our lives.


First:  God’s Presence.


That in whatever is going on in our lives - the good or not so good - we would be increasingly aware of God being with us as we go through all that.


Paul prays - verse 17:  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,


The source of the wisdom Paul prays for is the God of our Lord Jesus Christ.  God’s wisdom - spiritual wisdom - comes from God. 


“Wisdom” is “sophia.”  Which is more than just knowing stuff.


As people get older they know more stuff.  But that doesn’t make them wiser.  True?


Wisdom is how what we know gets applied to how we live life.  Spiritual wisdom is how what God knows gets applied to how we live life.


God showing us how to do life with God.  Who is with us as we move through life by faith following God. 


Revelation is the Greek word “apokalupsis” - which is where we get the English word… “apocalypse” - The Apocalypse of John also known as... The Revelation of John. 


In the Bible - revelation - is God opening up about where He’s been in history and where He is going in future history and how He’s been going there.  His plans and purposes and how He’s proceeding.  God’s perspective of history.


In Greek, there are two words for knowledge.  One has to do with what we learn by studying - Google or Wikipedia knowledge.


The word here - “epiginosko” has to do with what we learn by experience.


We are dependent on tech to connect.  We get stressed out if we text someone and they don’t respond immediately.


But virtual connections are not the same as face to face.  Right?


Physically being with someone can fill in a whole lot of blanks in what we know about someone. 


Scripture records God’s presence with His people.  What those experiences with God were like.  And God - instead of just texting us about Himself - God comes.  Jesus in the flesh and blood of our humanity.   The disciples’ experiences with Jesus - our own experiences with God - all that opens up to us real time experiential knowledge of God.


Pulling all that together: 


What Paul is praying for - as we move forward living out our faith - is that the Ephesians - and us - that we’ll move beyond knowing what God is up to and why and having great Bible knowledge and theology and doctrine and things we know about God - but that we will know God.  Personally.  Deeply.  Deeper. 


The spirit of wisdom comes as we’re led by the Holy Spirit through the circumstances of our lives knowing and experiencing the presence of God as He reveals Himself to us and teaches us what it means to walk with Him step by step through those circumstances of our lives.


Which is about presence.  God - by His grace - being with us step by step as we journey through life.

So, if we’re praying what Paul prayed for others or praying for ourselves we might be praying: 
“God, thank you for helping me to understand more about what you’re doing and Who you are and that I’m not alone in life.  And as I move forward by faith following you, draw me deeper in my relationship with You.  Help me to know more of Your presence with me.”


Going on to verse 18 - Paul’s second specific - another “P” - Purpose.  That in the day to day of living for God the Ephesians would understand more of God’s purposes for their lives. 


Verse 18:  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,


Two men were walking on the road leading to Emmaus.  As they walked they were talking about what had taken place in Jerusalem - Jesus’ arrest - His trial - His crucifixion.  As they’re discussing all this a third man came up and began walking along with them and joined in the conversation.  Remember this?


The third man - the one who’d joined them - began explaining - beginning back with Moses and then through prophets - He began explaining to these first two men - how all of what God had been doing through history related to Jesus.  How even the events of Jesus’ death were part of God’s great purposes.


When the two men reached their destination they invited the third man to join them for dinner.  Which He did.  When Jesus broke the bread at the meal they finally recognized Him.  “It’s Jesus.”  Then Jesus vanished.

They said to each other,
“Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us on the road, while He opened to us the Scriptures?”  (Luke 24:13-35) 


That “burning of the heart” is not heart burn from dinner.  It’s God enlightening the heart - the heart burning with truth - God’s word penetrating to the core of who we are - bringing us knowledge of what God is doing. 


“I pray that the eyes of your hearts may be enlightened” - that at the core of who you are you’ll understand God’s purposes.


Enlightened so that “you may know what is the hope to which He has called you…”


God - by His grace - God has called us - chosen us - to be recipients of His blessings - to save us - to forgive us - to walk with us through life - never leaving us or abandoning us.


To give to us “the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints” - life forever with Him - all of heaven and all of what God chooses - by His undeserved - unearned - grace - to give to us and that we hope for with certainty because it is God Who chooses to graciously give to us all of that.


And that God, by His grace, makes us to be useful to Himself.  God using even us in His great purpose of buying back mankind from our sin.  His restoration of mankind and creation.  God’s purpose accomplished in Jesus Christ - even through His suffering and death - and resurrection.

Let’s break that down.


Anyone know who this?  [aside from Keith] 


This is Horatio Spafford.


Back at the end of the 19th century Horatio Spafford was very financially successful.  Not just well off.  But very… well off.


He’d invested heavily in real estate on the shore of Lake Michigan - owning a large  section of downtown Chicago.  Prime real estate.


In 1871 Horatio Spafford lost his four year only son to scarlet fever.  Shortly afterwards - also in 1871 - the Chicago Fire wiped out his holdings.


Desiring to get away and rest and regroup - in 1873 - Horatio planned a trip to Europe for his wife and four daughters.  At the last minute due to some unexpected business developments - Horatio sent his wife and daughters on ahead as scheduled on the SS. Ville du Havre.  Expecting to join them in a few weeks.


On November 22nd the ship was struck by an English vessel and sank in twelve minutes.  Several days later the survivors landed at Cardiff, Wales and Mrs. Spafford cabled her husband, “Saved alone.”


Spafford sailed to Europe to join his wife.  It’s probably about the same spot on the Atlantic where his four daughters drowned that Horatio Spafford wrote the words, “When peace like a river attendeth my way.  When sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, it is well, it is well with my soul.”




Verse 2 speaks about the worst of what life throws at us - “Tho Satan should buffet - tho trials should come - Let this blest assurance control - that Christ hath regarded my helpless estate, and hath shed His own blood for my soul.”


Verse 3 - focuses on our sin - all of it being,  “nailed to the cross and I bear it no more.  Praise the Lord O my soul!”


Verse 4 - “and Lord haste the day when my faith shall be sight, the clouds be rolled back as a scroll - the trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend - even so it is well with my soul.” (3)


Those words were set to music by Philip Bliss and used at the great crusades of Dwight L. Moody - words that have blessed generations - touched many of us because we can relate - in part - to what Spafford was going through.


Whatever the immediate thing we’re facing - the circumstances - the struggles - the whatever - God’s calling - His inheritance - all that is still there.  God’s great purpose.  How He chooses to use us.  His sovereign working of history hasn’t changed. 

Sometimes it’s hard to see the forest because of the… trees.


We need to hang on to the forest.  The big picture of God at work.  We need to hang on to the creator of the forest.  God Himself.


So, if we we’re praying what Paul prayed for others or praying for ourselves we might be praying:  “God, thank you for saving me.  Thank you for choosing to use me.  Please keep me focused and doing what you choose to do in me and through me.  May your will and purposes for my life be accomplished.”


Going on to verse 19 - Paul’s third specific - another “P” - Power.  That in the day to day of living for God the Ephesians would realize more of God’s power at work in their lives. 


Verse 19:  and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His great might


Unpacking verse 19:


“immeasurable” is the Greek word we get “hyperbole” from.  Exaggerated beyond reason.  Beyond measure.


The biggest fish ever caught is the one that got away.  “It was bigger than a cruise ship.  You should’ve seen it.” 


“power” translates the Greek word we get “dynamite” from.  Grab the imagery of having all that power potential unleashed - what the effect of that is like.

Paul adds “greatness” which is the Greek word “megas” - meaning… greatness.


God’s power is mega power - immeasurably surpassing any other power - great - unimaginable potential power unleashed in the lives of those of us who believe - who are in Christ.


“working” is what that power does.  “working” translates the Greek word we get “energy” from.  What happens when the switch is thrown and all that potential power is channeled into a light bulb or a microwave.


“great might” translates two Greek words - that put together as Paul is using them - they have the idea of power under control - controlled by God - for God’s purposes.


Pulling all that together - verse 20:  that He - God - worked in Christ


God’s power is way beyond our ability to understand.  Nothing and no one can keep God from doing what God purposes to do.  All that potential power gets released - according to God’s will - His purposes - connects up - the result of which we see in Jesus Christ.


Specifically - going in verse 20 - God’s power released in Jesus Christ -  when He - God - raised Him - Jesus - from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places - the position of power and authority in creation and beyond - far above - no thing - no one even comes close - 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. 

That’s everything and everyone - now and forever.


Let’s explore that.


Paul wrote the Philippians:  Because of Jesus’ birth - life - death - resurrection - Therefore God has highly exalted Him - Jesus - and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  (Philippians 2:9-11)


One day - every rational being will physically bow - every tongue will audibly confess - with one voice - in agreement - openly - in acknowledgement - no one is greater than Jesus. 


No one deserves greater respect - honor - worship.  He has first place in everything.  The dominion of Jesus is greater.  He is Lord over all of creation.  Jesus is the Savior.  Jesus is the Christ.  Jesus is the Sovereign Lord God - Adonai Himself.


God’s immeasurable power - connecting in Christ.  Why?

“To the Glory of God the Father.”


What began in a stable in Bethlehem ends with Jesus exalted.  When creation recognizes Jesus Christ’s Lordship - the great purpose of the Father in sending the Son is realized and God is glorified.


It all happens according to what God has purposed.  God wills it.  His immeasurable - incomparable - mega power accomplishes it.

Back to Ephesians.  Look at how Paul applies God’s power to us - verse 22: 
And He - God - put all things under His feet and gave Him [Jesus] as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.


Who’s our head?  Jesus.  Head of the church.  Us. 


Who gets filled?  Us.  You and me.  The body of Christ.  The church.


All this power of God gets released according to God’s purposes - which - to God’s glory - resurrects and exalts Jesus - so that He is the Head of the church - our Head - from whom we are filled. 


What happens with our Head fills the Body with life and direction and meaning and purpose.


Do we see where Paul is going with this?


All of that power of God is graciously applied to our lives - to give us life - real life - to sustain that life today and forever.  To God alone be the glory.


It doesn’t matter what the circumstances and the struggles - whatever the crud of this world that we’re wading through - or whatever you and I have wandered in here burdened down and broken with - all that immeasurable power of God that raised Jesus from the dead is already there working in us and through us the moment we come to trust Jesus with our lives.


Astounding.  Yes?

Exploring that one step further.


The prophet Zechariah wrote during a time when God’s people were returning from exile in Babylon - to a land that had been decimated.  They were surrounded by their enemies.  They had the daunting task of rebuilding their lives - rebuilding Jerusalem - and especially rebuilding God’s temple.


A seemingly impossible task with everything stacked against them.


God speaks through Zechariah - to the leaders of His people - God speaks to His people:  Here’s how it gets done:  “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.”  (Zechariah 4:6)


Going through life we need to hang on to that promise.  When we’re facing a week with no clue how anything in front of us is going to happen.  When we got stuff going on at home and we know we’re inadequate to deal with any of it.


Or we can look at our lives and see what we’re struggling with.  Our own personal weaknesses and hang ups and addictions and failures.  And we see ourselves moving sideways through all of that… maybe sideways… on a good day.


Or we’re looking at ministry here at Creekside and wondering how any of what see needing to happen will happen.  Great opportunity.  But we just don’t got what it takes.


When we start feeling overwhelmed by all that because it is… overwhelming.  Especially if we see all that as depending on us.


Or just maybe things are going so well that we’re tempted to think that it’s our own power and ability that’s making all that happen.


We need to keep coming back to trusting God with any and all of that.   


Because it’s not our power and might that gives to us new resurrected life in Christ.  Not our power and might that’s brought any of us here this morning.  Not our power and might that’s made any of this happen.


It’s God - by the working of the Spirit - that connects His power with our lives - filling us and using us - individually and together as Creekside - making happen what He wills to happen - for His glory alone - not ours.


So, if we we’re praying what Paul prayed for others or praying for ourselves we might be praying:  “God, keep me from thinking that moving forward through what’s in front of me depends on me.  God help me to realize your power in my life and let you work in me and through me for your glory.”


Briefly pulling all that together.


As believers in Jesus we know that we are incredibly blessed by God Who is so outrageously gracious to us.  And we desire is to serve Him - to live for Him - that God would be glorified in us and through us.


And along the way there are circumstances that we can pray specifically for - for healing - for restoration - for renewal - for comfort and so on. 


But deeper are these three requests that Paul shares that he’s praying for the Ephesian Christians.


That thinking about them - they really go to the basics of what’s behind the other things we pray for each other.  They cut to the bottom line needs that we have in each circumstance of our lives.  Good or not so good.


While you’re praying this week - think about our praying for each other - that we would know God’s presence - His purpose - His power in our lives.  What God so graciously gives to us and desires to bless us with for His glory.





1. http://www.pujolsfamilyfoundation.org/faith.htm

2. USA Today 03.31.09, C

3. Kenneth W. Osbeck, 101 Hymn Stories, Kregal Publications


Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®  (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.