Summary: Sixth in a series from Ephesians. We respond to God’s blessings by getting to knw Him better.
I¡¦m sure that many of you this week followed the bizarre story of NASA astronaut Lisa Nowak. Nowak, a 43 year old married mother of 3, apparently had a romantic interest in a fellow astronaut with whom she had trained together. Jealous of another woman who she believed also had a romantic interest in the other astronaut, Nowak, wearing diapers so she wouldn¡¦t have to stop, drove 900 miles from Houston to Orlando so that she could be there in time to intercept the other woman when she got off her plane flight. Then Nowak, wearing a disguise, followed the other woman and confronted her in her car and sprayed her with pepper spray. When captured, Nowak had a BB gun and police later found pepper spray, an BB gun cartridge, a knife, copies of emails between the male astronaut and the other woman, maps and directions to the other woman’s house and latex gloves.
Obviously this is not normal behavior. Something must have snapped in Nowak. But you’ve got to admit one thing - this woman was passionate about her love for this fellow astronaut. We can see that same kind of passion, obviously directed in a much healthier manner, in Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus.
For the past month now, we’ve focused our attention on the longest sentence in the New Testament. In verses 3-14, Paul has written about our spiritual blessings in Christ. It’s almost like Paul was so excited and so passionate about all these blessings that he took one big breath and just started writing, and he kept on writing. He wrote about how God the Father chose us before the creation of the world and how he predestined us to be adopted as His children because it gives pleasure to Him to bless us in that way. He wrote about how God the Son redeemed us from a life of bondage to sin and freed us to live an abundant life. He wrote about how God the Holy Spirit comes into the life of every believer as a seal and as a down payment to guarantee all these spiritual blessings and insure our future inheritance.
And then it seems Paul paused for a moment to catch his breath and then he began writing again. And his passion spills out into another long sentence, one that is not quite as long as his previous one, but long nonetheless. Although we’re only going to focus on the first few verses of that sentence this morning, let’s read the whole sentence so that we can look at those verses in context.
Read Ephesians 1:15-23
This morning, we’re just going to focus on verses 15-17, which also happen to be your memory verses for this week. So before Dave puts those verses up on the screen, let’s see how well we remember them.
For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
Ephesians 1:15-17 (NIV)
For 12 verses Paul has been describing all these spiritual blessings that we have in Christ. And now Paul is going to respond to those blessings. What he writes in this next section is connected to the previous section by these three words; "For this reason". In other words, Paul says that the motivation for what he is about to write next is the spiritual blessings that he has just described for us in the previous sentence.
To me, the verses we’re looking at this morning, and especially verse 17, represent the very heart of the message that Paul is communicating to his readers in his letter. So, if you’re struggling with memorizing Scripture, let me suggest that if you can only memorize a few verses, these would be the ones to focus on. Because in these verses, Paul gives us some great insight in how we ought to respond to all these blessings that God has poured into our lives. I’ve already touched on a few of these as we’ve looked at the previous section of Paul’s letter, but this morning I think Paul will help us to bring into even sharper focus how we ought to respond to the fact of these spiritual blessings. There seem to be four main things that we need to do in response to what God has done for us.
HOW TO RESPOND TO GOD’S SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS:
Persist in prayer
I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking...
Paul’s first reaction to the spiritual blessings of God is to go to God in prayer. And it is not just some quick little prayer, either. In just these few words, we sense Paul’s persistence in prayer. First, he writes that he has "not stopped" praying and giving thanks to God for pouring out His blessings into the loves of these believers. If that’s all we had, we would certainly get the picture that Paul was persistent in his prayers. But he doesn’t stop there.