Posts tagged with: Ephesians

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God Can Do More Than You Imagine! (Part 2)

Over the past couple of years, I’ve heard from many of you about the things God has been doing in your lives. You’ve testified to the reality of God’s indwelling power. I wish we could somehow gather all Life for Leaders readers together so we could share all that God has done. But it would be hard to sit down with 7,500 people at a time. And listening to everyone share would take a long time. So we don’t get to hear how God has been at work in each other’s lives. We have to take it on faith.

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Grace and Love that Never Go Away

This letter began with God choosing us before the foundation of the world (1:4). It ends with the hope of an endless, undying, incorruptible future, one that is indeed filled with God’s grace for us and our love for Christ.

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Grace to You!

Grace, as you may recall, is God’s unmerited kindness. It is undeserved favor. We don’t earn God’s grace by anything we do, say, or feel. What we do in this life in service to God and others is a response to grace, not the cause of grace. We who have been saved by God’s grace in Christ live each day by grace as we do the good works God has planned for us (2:10).

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Peace and Love

The words “peace” and “love” are so overused that it would be easy to miss the significance of Paul’s concluding prayer in Ephesians. But if we remember what we have read earlier, we recognize that peace and love are absolutely central to God’s character and work. Moreover, we understand that genuine peace and genuine love are essential to our character and work.

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postal letters

Ministry and Relationship: The Example of Paul

Paul’s letters reveal the personal nature of his relationships with his churches. He often describes his work and freely recounts his challenges and troubles (see, for example, 2 Corinthians 1:3-11 and 10:1-12:21). He talks about how much he misses the people in his churches when he is not with them (1 Thessalonians 3:1-13). Moreover, he expects that they will miss him and be eager to receive news of his life and ministry. Thus, Paul sends Tychicus, not only to deliver the mail, but also to share news of how Paul is doing. Tychicus will, in fact, tell them “everything” (Ephesians 6:21).

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How to Pray in the Trenches: Pray for What You Really Need

Paul’s example encourages us to pray for what we really need, even if it’s something we’ve received many times before.

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How to Pray in the Trenches: Pray for All the Lord’s People

The exhortation to pray for “all of the saints” should help us to look beyond our own inner circle, to pay attention to brothers and sisters who need God’s help, whether they’re in other churches in our city, or whether they live on the other side of the globe.

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How to Pray in the Trenches: Be Alert

Ephesians 6:18 urges us to remain watchful or alert when we pray. Yes, we do need to be physically awake to do this. But, more importantly, we need to pay attention. We need to be aware of what in our lives needs prayer. We must remember those for whom we have promised to pray. And, crucially, we must also attend to the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. God will guide us as we pray but we must remain alert—ready to hear and respond as he speaks.

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How to Pray in the Trenches: Pray with All Perseverance

Remember that Ephesians 6:18 is not written to you as an isolated believer. Yes, it speaks to you personally. But it also speaks to you as a member of Christ’s body. Praying with perseverance comes as we pray together. It’s no accident that, in Acts 1:14, the disciples persevered in prayer because they “all joined together.” Their togetherness empowered their perseverance.

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How to Pray in the Trenches: Pray on All Occasions

This does not require us to pray in a way that is disruptive or disrespectful. A public school teacher, for example, could certainly pray silently in a classroom setting where vocal prayer would be inappropriate. Similarly, a CEO leading a stockholder meeting might pray quietly during a particularly challenging time without making a public display of it. Prayer is two-way communication with God. It’s not putting on a show.

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How to Pray in the Trenches: Pray in the Spirit

Ephesians 6 teaches us how to pray “in the trenches”—that is, in the battles we face each day as we seek to serve the Lord in a world that is hostile to his kingdom. Our “trenches” are the places where we struggle, where we need God’s power. These “trenches” include our workplaces, neighborhoods, cities, churches, and families.

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How to Pray in the Trenches: Introduction

I realize it may feel strange to think of prayer as a way of fighting. Prayer can seem pretty restrained, whereas fighting is vigorously active. Prayer is calming; fighting is upsetting. Yet, the more we come to understand what prayer really is, the more we’ll grasp its power to defeat our truest enemies as we share in God’s victory through Jesus Christ.

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Now That You’ve Got on God’s Armor, How Do You Fight?

A more literal translation would be, “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit . . . praying in the Spirit at all times.” The Greek participle meaning “praying” is dependent grammatically on the imperative “take.” In other words, once you’ve put on the armor of God, here’s what you do: Pray! You pray often. You pray in all sorts of ways. That’s how you fight the battle when wearing God’s armor.

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Putting on God’s Armor Together

But there is another way to think about wearing God’s armor—one that may not be as intuitive for people like me, a product of Western culture and its pervasive individualism. This passage also speaks to the actions of a church, a community of believers in Jesus. As we consider the implications of Ephesians 6:14-17, we ought also to ask: Is my church putting on the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, and the shows of the gospel of peace? Are we together taking up the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit?

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Making a Searching and Fearless Spiritual Inventory

My point is that the description of the armor of God can give us an inspired framework with which to examine our spiritual lives in a way that would be quite revealing. On the one hand, it could show us where God has been at work in us—where his grace has been transformative. On the other hand, it could also show us where we need to grow.

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