Summary: Seventh in a series from Ephesians. What God wants me to know affects how i live my life.
In 1989, Robert Fulghum wrote his best-selling book, All I Really need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. In that book, he made some astute observations about many of the timeless bits of knowledge we picked up in the early years of our lives. Among the things we learned:
• Share everything.
• Play fair.
• Don’t hit people.
• Put things back where you found them.
• Clean up your own mess.
• Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
• Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
• Wash your hands before you eat.
• Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
• Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
• Take a nap every afternoon.
• When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
• Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
• Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.
As we continue our basic training through the Book of Ephesians this morning, we come to what is, in a sense, our spiritual kindergarten. And Paul is going to share with us some of those basic truths that are timeless, principles that are quite simple and yet at the same time quite profound.
So far in our journey we’ve discovered that Paul, after a brief introduction, writes one long sentence to describe the spiritual blessings that we have in Jesus. Beginning in verse 3, he wrote about God the Father chose us before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless and to adopt us into His family. We also saw that it was the Father who lavished us with His grace. And then Paul goes on to describe how God the Son has redeemed us from a life of bondage and slavery to sin through His death on the cross and His resurrection. And finally, we read about how God the Holy Spirit comes into our lives at the very moment that we become Christians as a guarantee that we will receive everything that God has promised us.
And then last week, we began to look at Paul’s response to all these blessings, beginning in verse 15. Let’s go ahead and read that passage together again this morning.
Read Ephesians 1:15-23
Last week, we began to look at this second long sentence here in chapter 1. And you’ll remember that we found that Paul wrote about four ways that I need to respond to God in light of the spiritual blessings that He has given to me.
I need to persist in prayer. That’s what Paul is doing in these verses and we’re going to look at another portion of that prayer this morning.
I need to focus my faith on Jesus Christ alone
I need to lavish my love on other believers
I need to relish my relationship with God
That last point was the one we spent most of our time on last week, because that is really the heart of what Paul is praying here for his readers. He asks God to give them the spirit of wisdom and revelation so that they can have an intimate, personal knowledge of God – so that they can know Him better. In the next part of Paul’s prayer, the part that we’ll look at this morning, Paul is going to go into more detail on some specific things that we need to know.
So as, we’ve done every week, let’s see how we’re doing with our Scripture memory before Dave puts the passage up on the screen:
I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
Ephesians 1:18-19a (NIV)
The words “I pray also” are actually not in the original manuscripts. But as you’ll remember, verses 15-23 comprise one long sentence in the Greek. So the translators have broken that sentence down into several shorter sentences in English in order to make it easier for us to read and understand. And when they did that, they felt it was necessary to add in the phrase “I pray also” in order to make it clear that this is a continuation of Paul’s prayer that began all the way back in verse 15.
Although Paul prays many things for his readers, the primary theme of his prayer is certainly knowledge. You’ll remember that in verse 17 Paul prayed that God would give his readers the spirit of wisdom and revelation so that they could know Him better. When Paul wrote about knowing God in that prayer, he was referring to the kind of knowledge that comes from an intimate personal relationship. It is a process that is never-ending since there is always something new that we can learn about God.