Photo credit goes to either Erin Gum or Christian Scrofani.
“…and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His great might…” Ephesians 1:19
So I’m still here in Ephesians. And now Paul is commending the believers in Ephesus because word of their faith in action and word of their love in action to each each other has reached him. And now he shares how he has been praying for them. Now, just maybe, it would be beneficial to get into Paul’s prayer to be able to understand the magnitude of the verse above. So, Lord, let’s think about Paul’s words and what he’s telling about You.
Paul’s prayer begins like this, “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him…” I suppose, of number one importance, is knowing the One we pray to. Paul is telling me and all who read or listen to this prayer that it’s not enough to trust in God without realizing that we must trust in Jesus Christ as Lord. It is only through Jesus Christ that I have access to God, the Father of glory. Now if Paul can ask God to grant believers the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, then that means that I, as a believer, who has placed my trust in Christ and who am under Your lordship, have the priviledge to ask the same for myself. But what is the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of You?
Well, let’s start with the spirit of wisdom. Actually, I think it ought to be the Spirit of wisdom, because that’s Who teaches me of God. It’s not something I can learn on my own or without His power. But what is this wisdom? I’m going to hop to James momentarily because I think he can help me understand. James 1:5 shares, “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” What is this wisdom that comes from God and that God wants to give me generously?
James, as well, as Paul, use the Greek word “sophia” for wisdom. But I can’t help remember that these men were Jewish “thinkers” at heart, and though the words are Greek for sharing with the masses, what if their hearts were trying to relate Jewish ideas to a different culture the best way they could. See, the idea for wisdom in the Greek mindset is all about accumulating intellectual knowledge. But the Hebrew idea, expressed by the word “hokmah” is so different from that. Wisdom does not come from man’s searching. First and foremost, it is a gift from God. I can’t find it on my own and it isn’t dependent upon my intellectual, educational, or mental status. My mind can’t attain it on it’s own and my will isn’t strong enough to attain it either.
That’s not all the Hebrew idea entails about wisdom. Where Greek wisdom is theoretical, the Hebrew idea of wisdom is practical. So how would I display my wisdom? In correct actions. I act as God would act. I know what to do so I do it. “To not to,” as Mater would say, would make me a sinner.
Greek wisdom sees the world through man’s perspective. But the Hebrew idea of wisdom is “to see the world from God’s perspective and to act accordingly in practical, everyday matters. The wise person lives a life based in fear and respect for a holy God. Conduct is determined not by my reason but by God’s revelation…God gives instruction in righteousness. God tells you how to live, how to think, how to act, and how to love your neighbor. If you don’t know what God would have you do in any particular situation, ask Him! He will tell you what the proper action is that will delight Him and keep the covenant.” (Skip Moen)
But it’s not just the Spirit of wisdom. It’s also the Spirit of revelation in the knowledge of Him. This is sooooo exciting! The word that Paul uses is “apokalupsis.” The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon defines this word as “laying bear, making naked; a disclosure of truth, instruction concerning things before unknown, used of events by which things or states or persons hitherto withdrawn from view are made visible to all; manifestation, appearance.” Paul is praying that things of You, Lord, and of Your ways, and of Your delights, and of Your heart, that were once kept secret from me, can now be made known to me! What was once veiled is being unveiled. What I couldn’t see and know about You is now being made clear to me. And, I can come to You and ask You to show me more about Yourself as I faithfully act upon what You show me.
Because You share Yourself in this way with me, the eyes of my understanding can be enlightened. I can see and understand and get what You want and who You are! Just like Paul, You can take the scales off of my eyes and I can learn to obey You and follow Your ways and love You more than anything. I can know the great extent of the hope of Your calling. Listen to what Oswald Chambers shared about our calling, ““God did not direct His call to Isaiah— Isaiah overheard God saying, “. . . who will go for Us?” The call of God is not just for a select few but for everyone. Whether I hear God’s call or not depends on the condition of my ears, and exactly what I hear depends upon my spiritual attitude.” You don’t have to slap my on the ground as I walk to Emaus. If my heart is adequately prepared and I am listening, I can hear You as You speak to Paul, or make announcements before the angels, or as I read Your Word, or listen to another believer. Your Spirit of wisdom and revelation, makes it jump out to me when You want me to hear it. And as I listen and act upon what You share of You, I experience the riches of the glory of Your inheritance together with all my brothers and sisters in You.
And as I listen and act upon what You reveal, I experience the exceeding greatness of Your power toward us, toward me, toward those who are Yours and who are living as Yours in You. But I also see those who could be receiving a deeper wisdom and revelation in You, but aren’t because though they hear, they act as though it’s not for them. Or though they hear, they don’t obey, they don’t change their life to walk in what You say. It’s the same for me if I don’t act upon what You reveal to me. I miss out on the power of what You would do through that obedience. I miss out on drawing closer to You in that area of my life. Well, maybe I can get by without the power. But I don’t want to miss out on any part of drawing closer to You.
It’s Your power in the first place that drew me to You. And it’s Your mighty power that keeps me in You. But I have a responsibility to stay in You, and that’s where my obedience, my acting in faith upon what You share comes in. As I persevere in You, You keep me. You work Your mighty power in me and through me. Somehow, You bring me to glorify You, which is a miracle in itself. That is something I could never do on my own. My greatest works would all look like selfishness outside of You
But You, You have wrought all this wonderful miracle working power in Christ. You raised Him from the dead and set Him over everything, absolutely everything. Everything is under His authority. Everything is under His control. Everything. And He is head over the ones who have been called out of the world, call them the church if you will. Which means that You are head over me.
But there is something otherworldly about this called out body of believers. If you are one of them, you and I are otherworldly. We are the body of Christ in this world. We are His fullness, the fullness of the One who fills everything. Now how close do I actually come to that mark in my life right now? Do I feel like the fullness of Him that fills all?
That idea of filling is from the Greek word “pleroo”. But what if I go back to the “Hebrew verb ‘male’, a word that means ‘to be completely satisfied, filled to the brim'”? Here’s that idea in Isaiah 6:1, “…I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple.” And in Jeremiah 23:24, You, Lord, say, “Do I not fill heaven and earth?” Am I really that full of You, Lord? Because that is what Paul is praying for and what I can pray for.
The truth is that Jesus is filling me, but I’m not full yet. His goal is to completely fill me in His proper timing. My goal ought to be to walk in His ways so that He can fill me. Oswald Chambers shares this insight, “The golden rule for understanding spiritually is not intellect, but obedience. If a man wants scientific knowledge, intellectual curiosity is his guide; but if he wants insight into what Jesus Christ teaches, he can only get it by obedience.” Listening and obeying is the means to my filling.
According to Paul, my hope is that I can be “completely satisfied to overflowing with the knowledge of God’s will.” When I ask, “God, what is Your will for me?”, Paul is telling me I can know the answer and that I can know the answer to overflowing satisfaction. So why am I crying out so much to know Your will, Lord, in so many different situations?
I suppose it’s because You use something in our lives known as the “normal Christian life.” I learn as a I walk it out. Your filling is a continual process based on my response to You, day by day, moment by moment. The Father revealed His will to You because You were constantly about His will, constantly hearing and doing it. Well, how about me? Am I being obedient to the knowledge, wisdom, that You are giving me moment by moment? Or do I treat it as though it is for the other guy and not me? If I thought of all Your principles and truths as being extensions of what is at the center of Your heart, and my goal is to be like You, then how can I ignore any principles You reveal to me? What You tell me of Yourself, I must respond to. How can I expect to move on if I have not responded to what I already know? Have I responded rightly to the knowledge that You have already revealed to me? Am I acting on the truth I know? How can I expect more when I can’t handle what I already know?
Lord, You don’t stick fine wine in wineskins that aren’t going to hold it. You know what to put in and when. You reveal Your perfect will to us as we are able to respond to it. You are precise in Your moments of revelation. Am I as precise in my obedience at each moment? Your perfect and good will is for me to obey as You reveal. And You continually reveal Your good and perfect will, piece by piece, moment by moment, more and more, as I obey and respond in appropriate action. It’s the normal Christian life. But, it’s a powerful life, lived in moment by moment contentment in obedience to Your revealed will.
Lord, it is beyond measure and beyond human imagination, the patience and love that You bestow on me, on each of us. Every day, You are faithfully revealing more of Yourself, more of Your will, to me and in me. And some days I respond rightly and some days I don’t. And some days there are so many things going on that sometimes I am not listening well. And some days I’m just really focussed on You. But You are always faithful and patient. I think the appropriate word is longsuffering. And I don’t deserve Your faithfulness and patience to me, but You lavish me with it. Why? Because I’ve become Your workmanship. I’m Your masterpiece and You are about doing Your work in me, bringing me into Your glory, so that I will bring glory to You. You don’t take Your work in me lightly. And You always finish the work You started. So I’m a done deal, in the right time, Your time. One day, I’ll shine, full of the glory of Jesus, of You God, and all Your glory and Your power to do the impossible will shine in me. May I respond obediently to You step by step, day by day. Thank You, for the exceeding greatness of Your power to me. I love every step, even the hard ones. And I can’t believe that I’m a recipient of this great gift. It’s better than My Fair Lady. You love, You gave Your life for me, and You impart Yourself in me. There is no greater love than this! You are making me Your beloved child!