Learning from Ephesians and the 23rd Psalm (Part Two)
"He makes me lie down in green pastures" (Psalm 23:2) / Ephesians 1:15-23
Green pastures: Green is the colour of growth. Let's think about spiritual growth.
The shepherd leads his sheep to green pastures. Paul, the pastor of God's people, leads the people of God to the "green pastures" which He has provided for their growth.
Paul thanks God for leading His people into "green pastures" of "faith in the Lord Jesus" and "love toward all the saints" (Ephesians 1:15).
After giving thanks to God, he prays that God will keep on leading His people to "green pastures" - more faith, more love.
Thanksgiving comes first. before we ask, we give thanks. In our asking, we must never forget thanksgiving.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God" (Philippians 4:6).
Paul prayed. Paul cared. He sought to lead his readers into "green pastures" because he cared about them. God cares.
Paul's prayer reaches over the miles and over the centuries. It is a prayer for God's people in every place and every time. God answers this prayer because He cares for His people.
Again and again, the Lord, our Shepherd, leads His people into "green pastures." He has provided for our spiritual growth. He leads us in the way that will produce spiritual growth. He gives us "a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him" (Ephesians 1:17). He "enlightens the eyes of our hearts" (Ephesians 1:18). He shows us "the hope to which He has called us." He shows us "the immeasurable greatness of His power in us who believe, according to the working of His great might" (Ephesians 1:19).
- How does He do all of this? How does He lead us to all of these "green pastures" of spiritual growth?
He leads us to our Lord Jesus Christ. God takes great delight in His Son. He loves to draw attention to Jesus. He loves to point to Jesus and say, "This is My Beloved Son with whom I am well pleased."
In Jesus, we see the glory of God. Jesus is not simply a historical character from the ancient past. He is the risen Lord - Jesus Christ, risen from the dead. Jesus is not simply a tragic figure who died a violent death. He is enthroned on high, seated at the Father's right hand in heavenly glory, "far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come" (Ephesians 1:21).
- Where do we find "green pastures"? - In Jesus Christ.
His Name is the Name which is above every name. His Name is the Name of our salvation. He is our Lord and Saviour.
As Lord, He is "Head over everything." "God has placed all things under His feet." He exercises His Lordship on behalf of us - "for the Church" (Ephesians 1:22).
Jesus Christ our Lord is pursuing His saving purpose, his plan of salvation. He is establishing His Church, calling us on to our glorious, heavenly and eternal destiny.
The Church is described in Ephesians 1:23, as "His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all." This is a tremendous statement. When we come, by the grace of God, to the "green pastures" of God's Word, we begin to think big thoughts about ourselves as well as big thoughts about God. We see ourselves in the light of God. Our whole life is seen in relation to God's great purpose for our lives.
- What does it mean to be the body of Christ?
A body without a head is a dead body. The church without Christ is no church at all. This is very challenging. To be led to "green pastures" is to be invited to feed on these "green pastures." God leads us to the "green pastures" of His Word with the oft-repeated invitation: You can come back here again and again and again ...
- Christ is our Head. This reminds us of the importance of understanding in the Christian life. Paul prays that we may receive from God "a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him" (Ephesians 1:17). If we are to feed upon God's "green pastures", we must seek understanding of God's Word.
- Christ is our Head. He is also our Heart. Understanding God's Word, appreciating the "green pastures" of God's Word, involves more than our minds. It also involves our hearts: "having the eyes of your hearts enlightened" (Ephesians 1:18).
- Christ is our Head. He is our Heart. He is also our Hope. The "green pastures" to which the Lord leads us are "green pastures" of hope. He wants us to understand, with our heads and our hearts, "the hope to which He has called" us. He wants us to appreciate our "glorious inheritance" (Ephesians 1:18).
- "Green pastures" - The grass keeps growing. We cut it week-by-week, and still there is more grass to grow up. We feed upon the "green pastures", and still there is more, much more, more than enough for each of us to feed upon. Satisfied, we hunger for more.