Summary: Do we truly understand what God has given to us, Paul prays we will.
A crowded United flight was canceled. A single agent was rebooking a long line of inconvenienced travelers.
Suddenly an angry passenger pushed his way to the desk. He slapped his ticket down on the counter and said, "I HAVE to be on this flight and it has to be FIRST CLASS."
The agent replied, "I’m sorry sir. I’ll be happy to try to help you, but I’ve got to help these folks first, and I’m sure we’ll be able to work something out."
The passenger was unimpressed. He asked loudly, so that the passengers behind him could hear, "Do you have any idea who I am?"
Without hesitating, the gate agent smiled and grabbed her public address microphone. "May I have your attention please?" she began, her voice bellowing throughout the terminal. "We have a passenger here at the gate WHO DOES NOT KNOW WHO HE IS. If anyone can help him find his identity, please come to the gate."
It is important to know who we are. When we do, we will know what we are entitled. As believers in Jesus Christ there is a vast expanse of entitlements which are not available to those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus.
The Apostle Paul knew who the believers were in Ephesus. That knowledge produced prayers for their well being and their future which could only be granted to those who believed. He said in Ephesians 1:15, 16 15For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.
It has been four years since Paul was physically in their midst. Now he writes from a prison cell commending them on their faith in Jesus Christ. What is this faith which Paul has heard rested upon them?
Martin Luther said “faith is God’s work in us, that changes us and gives
new birth from God. (John 1:13). It kills the Old Adam and makes us
completely different people. It changes our hearts, our spirits,
our thoughts and all our powers. It brings the Holy Spirit with
it. Yes, it is a living, creative, active and powerful thing, this
Even away in prison, the faith of the believers in Ephesus is so noteworthy Paul receives messages from others concerning how well they are holding up. He sends them word concerning his knowledge then launches into a prayer for their behalf, a prayer which I pray for you also and in that prayer there is four things Paul prays believers will understand.
Paul prays believers will
1. Understand God. Verse 17, 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.
Em Griffin in the Mind Changers told how a kindergarten teacher asked the class to draw something that was important to them. In the back of the room Johnny began to labor over his drawing. Everybody else finished and handed in their picture but he didn’t. He was still drawing. The teacher graciously walked back and put her arm around Johnny’s shoulders and said, “Johnny, what are you drawing?” He didn’t look up; he just kept on working feverishly at his picture. He said, “God.” “But Johnny,” she said gently, “no one know what God looks like.” He answered, “They will when I’m through.”
I wonder, how many Johnny’s do we have today, who can say when people look at the portrait of my life they will see God in me because I understand who God is.
Paul prayed they would have wisdom and understanding to know God. Charles Swindoll said “Wisdom is the ability to see with discernment, to view life as God perceives it. Understanding is the skill to respond with insight. Knowledge is the rare trait of learning with perception—discovering and growing.”
Paul not only wants us to understand God, secondly he wants us to…
2. Understand God’s Promise
He wrote in verse 18 in the New Living Translation, I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the wonderful future he has promised to those he called. I want you to realize what a rich and glorious inheritance he has given to his people. We touched on the inheritance last week, I like the words rich and glorious. In Paul’s culture, the heart was considered to be the center of knowledge, understanding, thinking and wisdom. Our culture views the heart as the place of emotions and feelings. In the days, the intestines or bowels were considered the emotional, feeling place.
There is nothing wrong with emotions, God gave them to us but understand but to have a reliance on our feelings over wisdom and the knowledge of God’s plan will cause us to distort or miss what God is seeking to accomplish. That is why I am a believer in gaining knowledge, in participating in community groups where you go deeper in the word. Anyone ever been betrayed by their emotions? Emotions change, the truth never changes and Jesus Christ is the truth. So Paul prays we as believers will be enlightened, our hearts will provide us with knowledge, understanding and wisdom so we will know the hope of our calling, the riches of God’s glory which is our inheritance.