Summary: Fourth week of this series. God offers a personal relationship that leads to a powerful life for His glory.
Intro: Andy Stanley tells the story of when he was 13 and learning the meaning of the phrase, "Actions speak louder than words." His dad was the Associate Pastor of First Baptist in Atlanta when the senior pastor was asked to resign. Charles Stanley was asked to preach on Sundays until a suitable replacement could be found. As he preached, the pews began to fill, young couples started to return, the youth ministry started to grow and volunteerism grew to an all-time high. There was a new excitement in the church.
Yet some of the longtime members of the church resented Charles Stanley’s growing influence and popularity. It didn’t help that there was a grass-roots movement started to elect him as pastor. The old guard thought he was too young, too evangelistic and too spiritual emphasizing a personal relationship with Jesus.
The powerbrokers started to politic to have Charles Stanley removed. People started to take sides. Two weeks before the vote to hire or fire Charles Stanley, Deacon Myers walked up to the pulpit as the Wednesday night service began. He started to talk about the growing controversy and as he did, horror upon horror, he used the word damn. Charles Stanley calmly walked to the pulpit and said, "Now you need to watch your language." With clinched fists the man responded, "You need to watch yourself or you might get punched."
Charles Stanley didn’t back down or step away, and then all of a sudden Deacon Myers reared back and punched Charles Stanley. He didn't retaliate. It was his dad’s response to all this that marked Andy for life. He stepped right back up and stood by Deacon Myers. Andy Stanley said, In that moment I wanted to be that kind of man... From that moment on, it didn't matter what anybody said. Because actions speak louder than words." That event revealed his dad’s character. "When we open the pages of Scripture, we discover that character is defined by the very nature of Jesus Christ--a stumbling block for some but a rock solid foundation for others. Character is the will to do what is right, as defined by God, regardless of personal cost."
Paul is saying something similar. He says, this is why I don’t stop thanking God and asking Him to give you greater spiritual perception. We learned through the last few weeks that everything God desires is bound up in Jesus. We were chosen in Christ. If we understand we will be overwhelmed and be grateful and praise God. If we apply Christ as the principle of our life we will be transformed. We also learned the church was designed to be God centered. He designed us for His purpose not our pleasure. God blessed us so that we can speak well of Him and worship Him. God redeemed us. The devil says guilty and tries to defeat us with a lie of guilt. Jesus said not guilty and wants us to walk in freedom and fellowship with Him.
God wants us to know Him personally. God wants us to live powerfully. Paul prays for the Ephesians and us. We all need to grow spiritually so that we can live powerfully for Jesus. There was evidence of salvation in their lives. Faith in Jesus Christ that resulted in sacrificial love for all the saints.
I. Paul prayed for growth in our personal relationship with Jesus (1:17)
He prayed that the Holy Spirit would work in the lives of the Ephesians and lead them to know God in a fuller and deeper way. This is the most important prayer we could ever pray for ourselves or other Christians. Paul is praying for the Ephesians to have a deeper more intimate relationship with Jesus.
Paul is praying that we will experience the reality of Jesus in our daily lives. Paul wants us to have a life changing encounter with Jesus. He wants us to understand the amazing adventure we were invited to.
How do we know the Holy Spirit is performing this ministry in our lives?
A) We will be concerned about the reputation of Jesus (1 Corinthians 10:31)
B) We will be captivated with the presence of Jesus (Philippians 3:10)
Paul’s goal was knowing Christ. The Holy Spirit makes it possible for us to know Jesus as a person and creates a consuming hunger for Jesus.
Experiencing Jesus personally will change our thinking. We will no longer say is it okay to smoke, cheat on my taxes, lie, and gossip, and be bitter, angry, and jealous. We will instead ask does this represent Jesus. The reason some of us still struggle with stinking thinking is a lack of daily experience with Jesus through prayer and meditation on God’s word. As we submit more of our heart, our will, intellect, emotions and desires the Spirits control we experience God.