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Crucified Before the Foundation of the World

"Crucified before the foundation of the world." What does that mean? How could that even happen? Historians and archaeologists ta...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Paul"s Prayer for the Ephesians

Do you pray for people, situations, and conditions?  We are commanded to pray about those events and problems that most of us just worry about.  Praying about those things relieves us of all that worry and mental anguish.  When we release the matter to God, we can be assured that he will take care of it.  That is easy to say, but sometimes it's hard to do.

In Ephesians chapter 1, Paul gives us insight into prayer as he prays for those he is writing to.  Prayer does not require that we agonize and cry and plead with God.  Paul prayed by first giving thanks for the salvation of the Ephesians and remembering them.  As he prayed he called on God and proclaimed him as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and the source of the Spirit of wisdom and revelation.  

The object of Paul's entreaty was not physical comfort or blessing, but that they may know God and the Lord Jesus Christ better.  He continued to pray that their eyes may be opened to see the hope to which he has called you and to be able to see and claim the inheritance which is yours.  

We are recipients of the power of God working in us and the mighty strength which he exerted in Christ to raise him from the clutches of death and seated him at his right hand on a throne of grace.  

I am guilty of praying for mundane and trivial matters.  Money, health, comfort, and jealousy shrivel in comparison to the might and power, glory and grace, dominion and revelation he calls us to view.  Paul wants us to see that our inheritance and possession is far above and beyond what we see.  With wonders at our fingertips  we focus on the trash and the trivial.  

These minor matters are swallowed up in God's view.  Of course they are a bother, but we must not let them distract us from God's intention and God's plan.  Submit them to him and let it go.  We don't have to hold on to the temporal and physical elements, but we must always renew our commitment to see God's vision and see ourselves in it.   

Ephesians 1:15-23  15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 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. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.(NIV)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Isaiah Had a Lot to Say

I  finished the Bible Study Fellowship Study of Isaiah last year. I found it facinating. Isaiah is  the most quoted of the Old Testament prophets. Jesus, Paul, and other writers refer to him many times. His prophesies foretell the birth, life and death of Jesus as well as the end times and the coming of the Kingdom.
The prophets, and Isaiah is no exception, focus heavily on judgment, sin, and retribution. In our society, much like the society of the people Isaiah preached to, we resist that negative stuff and avoid the whole idea of the consequences of sin. It doesn't make Isaiah very popular in pulpits around town, but it will get back to his message eventually.
I see the people in the news--Lindsay Lohan, Charlie Sheen, Tiger Woods--whose behavior has been objectionable getting praises and press notices without any evidence of shame. They are applauded and immulated rather than chastised, and their publicity gurus are thrilled that they get noticed. No matter that their behavior is shortening their lives, that their sins are a burden they cannot carry, and their lives are a hollow reflection of real purpose. In the last chapter of Isaiah he calls for all of us to come with a humble and contrite spirit in repentance as we hear the word of God.
It will benefit our nation to read Isaiah with deliberate attention and understand its words. It is truly amazing to me that people do not see the damage their sins produce in their bodies and in their lives. God will bring judgment, but the natural course of sin will bring it, too, and with any kind of common sense we should be able to predict that without Isaiah.