“Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him,
In life, and especially in our relationships, it’s important that we understand some fundamental principles; it’s important that we grasp some foundational truths that will help us know God. In fact, if these principles become a part of our everyday experience, then we could find ourselves developing the kind of relationships that would help us storm the gates of hell and establish God’s church in enemy territory.
That’s really why the book of Ephesians was written. God wants His church to “build itself up in love” (4:16), so it can “stand against the devil’s schemes” (6:11), as it fearlessly proclaims “the mystery of the gospel” (6:19).
But in order for that to happen, we must understand some foundational, spiritual realities. Here, the great Apostle Paul is praying for the church, asking God that we might “know” some things.
If we want to build strong relationships for a strong church with a strong ministry, then first of all, we must…
Not just know about God, but know God fully & personally. We must be intimately acquainted with him. Everything starts with a growing knowledge of God Himself.
Tim Keller talks about his brother-in-law who would never wear a seat belt in the car. Tim always scolded him for it, but one time, Tim’s brother-in-law came to pick him up at the airport, and he was all buckled up! Tim asked him, “What happened? What changed you?”
His brother-in-law said, “I went to visit a friend of mine in the hospital who was in a car accident and went through the windshield. He had two or three hundred stitches in his face. I said to myself, I better wear my seat belt.”
They talked about that a little bit, and Tim asked, “Did you NOT know that if you don't wear your seat belt you go through the windshield if you have an accident?”
His brother-in-law replied, “Of course I knew it. When I went to the hospital to see my friend, I got no new information, but the information I had became new. The information got real to my heart and finally sank down and affected the way I live.” (Tim Keller, “Unintentional Preaching Models,” Preaching to the Heart, CD 3; Ockenga Institute of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary)
That’s the kind of knowledge we need. We don’t need new information. Rather, we need information that becomes new. We need information that gets real to our hearts and affects the way we live. That’s how we need to know God. We don’t need more information about God. We just need for God Himself to get real to our hearts and affect the way we live.
Oh, that God would reveal Himself to us like that during our worship services. We don’t need more information about Him; we just need Him!
How is it going to happen? Simple. God will reveal Himself to us as we spend time with Him. We get to know God like we get to know any person. We get to know God by being together with Him over time. Spend TIME in the Word, listening to God. Then spend TIME in prayer, talking to God about the things He says to you in His Word.
Spending time with the Lord is important, because if we want to build strong relationships for a strong church with a strong ministry, then we must, 1st and foremost, get to know God better. It’s key. Without it, nothing else happens. We must know God. Then we can…
KNOW GOD’S HOPE.
We can experience the assurance of His calling. We can live in the confidence that comes when we know that God has personally invited us to be in close relationship with himself.
Paul says, “[I am praying] that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you.” (ESV)
God’s calling gives us great hope. It gives us great confidence. It gives us great assurance. Hope in the Bible is not an unsure, “hope so” kind of outlook. It’s a confident assurance in the future, because God’s promises never fail.
We believe in Jesus Christ. We have been called. We have a personal invitation from the Lord of the Universe Himself to come and go into his presence, and that gives us great confidence to go and do what others dare not even try. We can come boldly to the throne of grace in prayer. We can go boldly to a world in desperate need of a Savior. We can serve our Lord boldly wherever it is He calls us to serve.
My friends, if we want to build strong relationships for a strong church with a strong ministry, then 1st, we must know God. 2nd, we must know God’s hope – the assurance of His calling. And 3rd, we must…
KNOW GOD’S WEALTH.
We must understand how rich God really is.
The psalms say, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” Revelation says He has streets of gold in heaven. The song says, “He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, the wealth in every mine. He owns the rivers and the rocks and rills, the sun and stars that shine.”
God is very wealthy, but does His true wealth lie in these things? That’s not what God thinks. Look at verse 18 again. Paul is praying that you might not only know what is the hope to which he has called you, but also…
“what are the riches of HIS glorious inheritance in the saints.” (ESV)
Did you notice whose inheritance it is? It is HIS inheritance, not ours. And where is that inheritance found? It’s found in people, not in possessions. It is “in the saints.” It is in you and me who have trusted Christ as our Savior!
God considers Himself rich, not because He has a lot of stuff. He considers Himself rich, because He has us, which He calls “His saints!” Oh, that that would grip our hearts anew this morning. It would literally transform everything about us.
Many years ago (February 1988), Reader’s Digest carried a story I never forgot. It was about a man on an island in the Pacific who paid eight cows for his wife. He was called Johnny Lingo, and he was the strongest, richest, and brightest young man around. He was the sharpest trader there ever was. That’s why no one could figure it out when he paid so much for his wife.
According to island custom, two or three cows might buy a fair to middling wife, and four or five cows could fetch a highly satisfactory wife. But to pay eight cows for a wife, she would have to be Miss Universe herself!
Well, Johnny’s wife, Sarita, was anything but beautiful in the eyes of the islanders. Before she married Johnny, she was a scrawny, homely looking girl who walked with her shoulders hunched and her head ducked. She was afraid of her own shadow, and her father would have felt lucky to get even one cow for this girl. Even so, Johnny came to him one day and said, “Father of Sarita, I offer eight cows for your daughter.”
That was unbelievable, and that’s what the islanders told Patricia McGerr, the reporter who wrote the story. After hearing their comments, she had to find Johnny and his wife. And when she did, Patricia McGerr writes, “I found the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.”
She told Johnnie what the islanders had said about his wife and he just smiled. Then he told his side of the story. “Do you ever think,” he asked, “what it must mean to a woman to know that her husband has settled on the lowest price for which she can be bought? And then later, when the women talk, they boast of what their husbands paid for them. One says four cows, another maybe six. How does she feel, the woman who was sold for one or two! This could not happen to my Sarita.”
“Many things can change a woman,” he said. “Things happen inside, things happen outside. But the thing that matters most is what she thinks about herself. In Kinawata, Sarita believed she was worth nothing. Now, she knows she is worth more than any other woman in the islands.”
Johnny said, “I wanted to marry Sarita. I loved her and no other woman. But I wanted an eight-cow wife.” And that’s what he got, because he valued her so highly.
Do you know God values us even more! God paid more than 8 cows for us. God paid more than $8 billion dollars. says, “You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited by your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ…” (). God paid the highest price He could pay for you and me. He paid the price of His only Son’s shed blood on the cross.
In the world, we often believe we’re worth nothing. But now we know that we are worth more than anything else. Such knowledge is absolutely transforming! We don’t need to walk around with our shoulders hunched and our heads down. Instead, we can walk around with our heads held high; and we can become God’s beautiful people, knowing that He values us so highly.
If we want to build strong relationships for a strong church with a strong ministry, then 1st, we must know God; 2nd, we must know God’s hope; and 3rd, we must know God’s wealth – we are the ones He treasurers more than anything else. Then finally, if we want to build strong relationships, we must…)
KNOW GOD’S POWER.
We must grasp God’s awesome strength. We must experience in our own lives his incredible might. Paul prays that we might know…
…what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (ESV)
That’s awesome power, my friends. It’s the same power that raised Christ from the dead. And it’s the same power that made Him Lord over the entire universe!
But the most unbelievable thing is that power is “toward US who believe!” (vs.19 says). God’s awesome power is available to every believer. My friends, there is nothing that can stand in our way if we know how strong we really are in Christ.
Over ten years ago (2002), Walt Disney Pictures produced a movie based on the true story of Jimmy Morris, a high school teacher and baseball coach who became a major-league baseball pitcher. The movie was called The Rookie, and in it Jimmy Morris is encouraged to try out for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He is reluctant because of his age and past injuries, and besides he knows that major league scouts won’t even look at a prospect unless he can throw a ball more than 90 miles an hour.
Then, one day, he is driving his pickup truck down a deserted country highway. There, he spots a sign that displays the speed of oncoming traffic. Morris slows his truck and pulls to the side of the road. Looking to see if anyone is watching, Morris grabs a baseball, walks into the road, and tosses the ball past the sign. The number 46 quickly flashes on the sign. It works.
Morris smiles and walks swiftly back to the truck to grab an old baseball glove and another baseball. A car drives down the highway, and Morris quickly turns and leans nonchalantly against his truck. He walks back on to the road and takes one more look to see if any cars are coming. Then he winds up and throws the ball with everything he has. The sign stares blankly back at him for a moment, and then it flashes 76.
Discouragement falls all over Morris's face. He walks slowly past the sign to retrieve the baseballs, but what Morris doesn’t see is the sign blinking for a moment, and the 7 becoming a 9. Morris has actually thrown a fastball at 96 miles-per-hour! Yet he remains unaware of his own strength. (The Rookie, Walt Disney Pictures, 2002, directed by John Lee Hancock, written by Mike Rich; 34:52 to 37:47)
I think that’s like a lot of Christians. They remain unaware of their own strength. They don’t know how powerful God can be through them, so they don’t even try to get in the game, and they go through life disappointed and discouraged.
They say to themselves, “I could never do that. I could never go on that missions trip. I could never teach that Sunday School class. I could never pursue reconciliation with that person.” And they settle for a mediocre existence with a life that’s going nowhere.
Please, don’t let that be you. Don’t let that be me. God’s resurrection power is available to every believer. Let’s use it for His glory!
If we want to build strong relationships for a strong church with a strong ministry, then 1st, we must know God; 2nd, we must know God’s hope; 3rd, we must know God’s wealth; and 4th, we must know God’s power.
On a wintry day at twilight, a ragged man entered a little music shop on a side street in London. Under his arm was an old violin.
“I’m starving,” he said to Mr. Betts, the shop owner. “Do please buy this old violin so I can get something to eat.”
Mr. Betts offered him a guinea, worth about five dollars at the time. The man gratefully received his money and shuffled out into the cold night.
Later, when Mr. Betts drew a bow across the strings of that old violin, it produced a rich, mellow tone. He was astonished! He lit a candle and peered inside the instrument. There, he saw a name, Antonio Stradivari, and a date, 1704. The violin had been missing for a hundred years, with collectors diligently searching the attics of Europe all that time.
Later, the famous violin was sold for $100,000, and today those violins are priceless.