Summary: Three things we can be praying for one another. (#11 in the "Every Spiritual Blessing" series)
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.”
A very interesting thing happened to me early in this past week. In fact, it really began last Sunday afternoon, and I began working on this sermon early Tuesday morning.
What happened was that I began feeling that I was not giving you, as a congregation, the right thing. I began to entertain thoughts that this study in Ephesians was boring and that I aught to try to be just a little more entertaining; lighten up a bit; address topics that more lent themselves to giving you counsel for the hard days and encouragement for the uncertain future.
When I go to a sermon resource site on the internet, I see that to a large extent, the most recent sermons submitted there deal with what’s going on in the world at the moment. Right now everyone seems to be cranking out sermons centered on the first anniversary of the September 11 murders last year.
There are even ‘Labor Day’ sermons. I haven’t seen one yet, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see ‘Back to School’ sermons ~ and I can pretty much guarantee you that in about 4 more weeks as I check that website, I’ll begin seeing ‘Halloween’ sermons.
Now, I know there is a place for addressing these various things (except maybe, ‘back to school’), and to some degree it is important that preaching touch people where they are. Anyone preaching to a specific congregation of people over a long period of time should find opportunity to speak to the issues of life. Pain. Grief. Financial Stewardship. Family. Being a Christ-like example in the workplace.
But since you very wonderful people have chosen to make Cornerstone Christian Chapel your church home, and since you have given your monetary and spiritual and emotional support to this ministry, I want to share my heart with you this morning on what I see as my responsibility to you, so that you will know what to expect from me and understand my motivation in bringing God’s Word to you in the style that I do.
Our text today has provided the perfect opportunity to do that, and, in fact, the content of our text is the very thing that inspired me to share this information with you.
I just think it’s interesting that I began experiencing this angst, this uncertainty, shortly after preaching to you last Sunday, and then when I sat down two days later and began my study I found encouragement right there in the next verse, that I should keep my focus more on the Holy Spirit’s role in my preaching and in your lives. Let me go on to explain.
If you remember last week’s message, you will recall that Paul was praying for his readers that the Father of glory would give to them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.
The wisdom he was talking about referred to learning. Not the kind of wisdom we often mean these days when we’re talking about knowing how to best deal with a situation, or knowing when to keep our mouth shut and so on. But what we mean when someone is so saturated with knowledge on a given subject that he or she is just naturally the one you turn to when you want to know something about it.
Paul wants his readers to have this kind of wisdom in the Word of God. But more, and indispensably vital to the understanding of the Word, he wants his readers to have God’s revelation of Himself through that word...that knowledge, that wisdom.
You may remember that I encouraged you to pray that for each other, and asked that you pray that for me. And this brings us, not only to the text of our study today, but also to the reason I preach the way I do and place my focus where I do.
You see, Paul prays for the Ephesians, and therefore for all believers, and I pray for you, that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened to see and understand certain things.
Before we go on to look closely at what those things are that we are to see and understand, I don’t want it to escape your notice that the seeing and understanding of them is dependant on God’s enlightenment.
Christians, I am afraid that very much of the preaching in our pulpits today consists of counsel (some of it very worldly) and advice that anyone, churched or unchurched, may understand and glean some benefit from; but that is not necessarily grounded in the wisdom and revelation of God’s Word.