May 18, 2020
Pastor John Hering
16 I never stop giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep praying that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, will give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in knowing Christ fully. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know the hope to which he has called you, just how rich his glorious inheritance among the saints is, 19 and just how surpassingly great his power is for us who believe. 20 It is as great as the working of his mighty strength, which God worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule, authority, power, and dominion, and above every name that is given, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 God also placed all things under his feet and made him head over everything for the church. 23 The church is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.Ephesians 1:16-23
There may be projects at your home that you would complete if you only had the time. Well, over the past two months you may have found yourself with some extra time at home to complete those projects. We had on at our house. It was time to upgrade the master bathroom. The walls needed painting, the faucets were dripping and the white baseboards had that gray look. When we were finished the room was different than it was before. Then family comes over and you want them to see the beautiful new bathroom! You take them upstairs to see it and—it is better than they expected. All they had to do was open their eyes to see it.
When someone tells you to, “Open your eyes,” they want to reveal something to you. They want to you to see, know and understand better what you didn’t know so well before. That’s is what the Apostle Paul wanted the Christians in Ephesus to experience. The church in Ephesus was very dear to Paul. He had spent three years in Ephesus on his 3rd missionary journey. We may not think three years is very long, but it was more time than he had spent in any other place. But now Paul could not see them because he was a prisoner in Rome. But when Paul receive news about them he was filled with joy to hear the good report: “ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 I never stop giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers” (15-16). They were flourishing in God’s Word. However Paul wanted them to see, know, understand and believe in the risen and ascended Lord Jesus even more. The same is true for us. So, Paul prayed, “17 I keep praying that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, will give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in knowing Christ fully.” How would the Ephesians, and how will we get to know him better? Paul tells us that
Jesus Opens Our Eyes To See!
In the past couple of weeks workers may have heard the following more often than normal: “I don’t know what to do! I think my life is ruined! My manager just told me that they are cutting back employees and I think I’m about to lose my job!” But you kindly responded, “Hey, everything is going to be OK. You have two degrees—one in business and one in communications—I’m sure you can get a job anywhere. Besides, I overheard the boss talking about promotions and your name actually came up. You’re going to be OK.” Those words opened your eyes to more information and calmed your heart.
We have all found ourselves in situations where we hope it doesn’t end up in trouble. Last week I received the notice from Discover that someone hacked our credit card and made unauthorized purchases. Your mind races—is this beginning of having our identity stolen? Or maybe it’s unplanned expenses (major car repair, AC needs replacing, medical bills or even the threat of being unemployed) that come knocking at your door and you lost hope. Or maybe your despair came from within. Maybe your disappointed at your lack of trust in God. Maybe it was a realization that God knows all about your filthy language among friends, the dirty thoughts inside your heart, your failure to manage your blessings from God according to his desire and holy will? Perhaps you know and understand God should punish you in hell for not meeting his holy demands.
Today St Paul tells us to open our eyes and see our Ascended Lord Jesus. Paul wants us to know him better, to know the hope that we have in life. Remember what Jesus told the disciples right before he left them and ascended into heaven? “I am with you always until the end of the age” (Matt 28:20). You know God’s promise, “I will never leave you, and I will never forsake you” (Heb 13:5). And that promise was given in the context of money and being content. No matter what the situation we may feel alone, helpless and hopeless, but we know and believe in Jesus who is with us, guiding our lives, protecting us, and making sure, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28).
Dear Friends, Christ Opens our Eyes to See Our Hope! Jesus came for you. He came to live for you, die for and pay the penalty of all your sins. Jesus rose from the dead to prove that he conquered death. Jesus ascended into heaven to give you hope that one day he will take you to be there in heaven with him. Our hope is not for something, but in someone! Paul said, “18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know the hope to which he has called you.” I’ll picture it for you. Are you standing at a train station hoping the train will arrive? Now, Jesus Opened Your Eyes to See Your Hope because you’re on the train on its way to heaven. That’s the message of the angels to the disciples at Jesus Ascension, “This same Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). With open eyes of faith we focus on the object of that faith that brings us hope. Then Jesus Opens Ours Eyes to See
I remember as a kid that I really wanted to have a German Shepherd. But, our family had allergies and there was no way I’d ever have a dog. Then came that Christmas when after tearing through all the presents my parents said, “Close your eyes, we have one more present for you.” They returned to the room and said the magical words, “Open your eyes!” There it was. My German Shepherd dog. It was a stuffed animal—but it was a great gift! I’d like to think I had earned that gift by my good behavior or outstanding achievements, but my parents will back me up on this, I wasn’t the best of little boys! I received that great gift only because of their great love for me. That’s the wonderful things about giving gifts…..they are just that—GIFTS! Given from hearts of love to those love.
St Paul wrote: “17 I keep praying that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, will give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in knowing Christ fully. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know the hope to which he has called you, just how rich his glorious inheritance among the saints is.” So, tell God what inheritance you deserve to receive from him. You really ought to think about this because some day Jesus is returning as the Judge of all people on Judgment Day. What will you offer as proof of your Christian life? Will you offer your faultless obedience to his Commandments? Will you tell him how you never missed an opportunity to witness to someone else about your faith in Jesus? Will you offer your perfect attendance to Worship and Bible study? We all know that won’t work. We can’t offer anything to God of any worth that ends up motivating God to grant us his “rich glorious inheritance.” Rather Paul prays that Jesus Open our Eyes To See Our Inheritance. Paul prays that we would receive the, “Spirit of wisdom and revelation in knowing Christ fully,” to clearly see our inheritance. His prayers have been answered! You have received the “Spirit of wisdom” at your baptism. Then God used his Holy Word—his “revelation”—so that your faith might be increased!
Let’s give it a try: T/F? You will not receive from God as your sins deserve, but you have received the full benefits of Jesus? True! T/F? When Jesus returns he will take you to live with him forever in heaven? True! T/F? Jesus has prepared heaven for you as your eternal inheritance? True! Yes, Paul’s prayers have been answered. Jesus Has Opened Your Eyes To See Your Inheritance! Let us praise and thank our God for the glorious day when we receive our inheritance from the Lord. But, until that day, Jesus also Opens Our Eyes To See
You see, the devil isn’t going to stop trying to cause us to reject Jesus with the Hope and Inheritance he brings to us. Just like Paul in prison or the Ephesians who were struggling in their Christian life, so we too have our days of struggle. Paul said, “19 and just how surpassingly great his power is for us who believe. 20 It is as great as the working of his mighty strength, which God worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places.” You have learned and know the great strength of God’s power. God’s power saw to it that nothing would block his plan of saving the World from the curse of sin through Jesus. God’s power saw to it that death would not hold Jesus in the grave. God’s power brought Jesus into heaven and today he continues to use that same power to rule all things on our behalf. Jesus has Opened Your Eyes to See God’s Power.
Jesus is that power who put his foot on the neck of Satan to hold him down. Paul said, “21 far above all rule, authority, power, and dominion, and above every name that is given, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 God also placed all things under his feet and made him head over everything for the church. 23 The church is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” Jesus holds his foot on Satan’s neck, having defeated him at the cross. Jesus holds all power over all things, having been seated at God’s right hand. Jesus graciously grants you his power in order to fight against the enemies of your faith. Jesus Opened Your Eyes To See Your Power!
Yes, there may need to be some remodeling done in our life. The drip of constant pet sins, the dirty thoughts, and faded hopes and dreams of this life. Jesus gave this power to the Church—to you—in order to fulfil God’s ultimate plan. He wants you to be with him in heaven. God gave us his Word to bring us to faith and guide our lives. He gave us Baptism in order to create faith. He gave us Holy Communion so we can be assured of his forgiveness and power for Christian living. Jesus Open Our Eyes To See Our Hope, Our Inheritance and Our Power. Amen!