Ephesians 3

Today’s reading is Ephesians 3.

This chapter begins strangely. Paul started one sentence, “For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles” in verse 1, then began a different thought in verse 2. The thought that Paul broke off in verse 1 is resumed in verse 14. You can see that in the similar language: “For this reason, I Paul...” (v. 1) and “For this reason I kneel before the Father....” (v. 14). In between these two verses Paul set forth his unique qualifications (v. 4: “my insight”) to describe God’s revealed plan in Christ. That plan is “that the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body...” (v. 6). God revealed this plan to Paul (vv. 2-6) and commissioned him particularly to announce and explain the aspect of this plan that involved us Gentiles (vv. 7-11).

Having laid all that ground work, Paul taught that our salvation by Christ allow us to “approach God with freedom and confidence.” After a brief word instructing the Ephesians not to worry about Paul’s imprisonment (v. 13), Paul described for the Ephesians how he prayed for them in verses 14-19. His prayer was that they would be strengthened spiritually by God’s power (v. 16). Specifically, he wanted them to know Christ by faith (v. 17) and go much deeper in love. Notice how love is mentioned in verse 17, verses 18, and verse 19. Christ’s love is what establishes us (v. 17b). Christ’s love for us is immense (“how wide and longs and high and deep”) so we need God’s help to grasp it. It is so great that it “surpasses knowledge” yet God wants us “to know this love” (v. 19a). The result of knowing and growing in Christ’s love is that we will “be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

  • If we know how much God loves us, we will believe that sin will damage us.
  • If we know how much God loves us, we will believe that obedience, not sin, will bring joy to our lives.
  • If we know how much God loves us, we will believe that he allows bad stuff into our lives for our good not to cause us pain.
  • If we know how much God loves us, we will not fear what people think of us.
  • If we know how much God loves us, we will want to share his love with other people, even those we think are unlovely.

I’m sure that list could go on and on. God wants you to be holy, he wants you to believe his word, he wants you to live a generous, giving life, he wants you to spread the gospel and live for eternity. But the key that unlocks all these (and other) great Christian truths is the knowledge that God loves you. So, ask him to teach you how much he loves you and pray for others that they might know and grow in the knowledge of Christ’s love for them.

Psalms 4-6

Today let’s read Psalms 4-6.

In Psalm 5, David cried out to the Lord for help and waited “expectantly” for the Lord to answer (vv. 1-3). His reason for expecting the Lord to answer his prayer was God’s righteousness (vv. 4-6). He is displeased with wickedness (v. 4a), does not welcome evil people (v. 4b), won’t let the arrogant stand (v. 5a), hates all who do wrong (v. 5b), destroys liars (v. 6a), and detests the bloodthirsty and deceitful (v. 6b). In just a few verses there David cast a very wide net, ruling out answers to prayer for all kinds of sinners.

Of course, David was a sinner himself. So how could he be so confident that God would answer his prayers while refusing everyone else? The answer is in verse 6: “But I, by your great love, can come into your house.” Very simply, God had graciously chosen him. Because God chose to love David, David could come before the Lord in prayer and in worship.

God’s electing love was not restricted to David. It is the sole reason you want to know God. As we prepare to gather for worship and the Lord’s supper this morning, remember this. It is not your perfect performance of righteousness that causes God to hear your prayers, welcome your worship, or receive you at his table. In reality, you and I are as guilty before the Lord as any of the sinners David mentioned in verses 4-6. But, because of God’s great love, we are forgiven in Christ, welcomed in Him, and loved. Let this grace of God encourage you and prepare you to worship as we gather this morning before the Lord.