Summary: Learn to increase the worth of your relationship with God
I received an email this week asking the question, "What’s the difference between people who pray in church and those who pray in casinos?"
The answer, "The ones in the casinos are serious."
There may be more truth to that email than we want to believe. The prayer to increase one’s wealth is possibly the second most common prayer people pray, while the prayer for health may be the most common.
This morning, we will look at a prayer that the Apostle Paul prayed for the Christians in Ephesus. Paul prays not for the increase of their financial assets, but their spiritual assets. By spiritual assets, I mean the worth of their relationship with God.
If your relationship with God has not made much of a difference in your life, you probably are not aware of your spiritual assets. And you need to take inventory of your spiritual assets again.
You thought by praying a prayer of trust in Jesus, your life would know joy, peace, forgiveness and confidence, but instead, you continue to be bitter, frustrated, guilty and insecure. You wonder if other Christians have lied to you.
You don’t read the Bible much. Instead you read the self-help psychology books. You don’t pray much anymore. Your attitude is, "If it’s going to be, it’s up to me."
You do the best you can to behave like a Christian. You come to church. You use religious language. You help out when asked. You care for others who are in need. But you don’t put a great deal of value on your relationship with God.
Warren Wiersbe tells about the time the late William Randolph Hearst sent out his agent to secure particular art pieces. After months of searching, the agent reported that he had finally found the treasures. They were in Mr. Heart’s warehouse. Hearst had been searching frantically for art pieces he already owned.
Paul’s encouragement to us this morning is not that we look elsewhere or that we try harder. Most of us have looked elsewhere before we decided on God. And we’ve already tried hard since coming to God, and we’re just tired. Paul’s encouragement to us is that we take a spiritual inventory, and that we ask God to show us what we already have from Him.
We continue this morning in our study of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Some of you might recall this letter was written the same time as the letters to Philemon, Philippians and Colossians. Most of you would never guess that the Apostle Paul wrote or dictated these letters from a prison cell. Paul was not imprisoned for a civil or criminal violation but for his expression of faith in Jesus Christ.
Our text for this morning is Ephesians 1:15-23.
I had a meeting with a pastor friend sometime ago. His church gave him a cell phone and a Palm Pilot, but he only used one function from each. When he needed to make a call, he would turn on his Palm Pilot, look up the number and punch it into the cell phone.
He didn’t program the phone with numbers, and he only used the Palm Pilot as an electronic address book. With his Palm Pilot, he could have gotten online, written and sent emails, downloaded electronic books and programs, and set appointments five years into the future.
The people who gave the pastor the cell phone and the Palm pilot are probably glad he’s using both. But they probably wish he would know more about the worth and abilities of these gifts.
In a similar way, Paul is thankful that the Christians in Ephesus had faith in Jesus Christ and love for all the saints. The word, "saint," simply means those who belong to Jesus Christ. But Paul wanted them to know more about the worth of their relationship with God. They had the basics, but they didn’t explore the full worth of their relationship with God.
In Paul’s prayer, we discover four areas about which Christians need to know more in order to increase their spiritual assets, or the worth of their relationship with God. Let’s look at each of them.
First, knowing God better increases the worth of our relationship with God. Verse 17
Paul is praying that we would know God better, not just know more about God. One can know about God through reading and through reasoning. But only the Spirit of God can help a person know God relationally.
1 Corinthians 2:13-14 tells us, "This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned."