"His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God shouldbe made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory." NIV
There is so much packed into these three short verses. First of all, Paul is saying that through the church, this united body of Jews and Gentiles, God's plan is revealed to the spiritual forces that have been at work against Him. In other words, the enemy can now see that God intends for His church to embody His power and serve His purpose in the world. Wow. That is an overwhelming thought. God is now exposing his battle plan not only to His troops, but also to the opposing forces -- and we are it. We are the hope through the power of Jesus Christ. We are the avenue through which God's power defeats the enemy. Our work, as a unified church, serving Him to reach a lost world, is not a physical battle, but one against the spiritual forces at work against God and His purpose. As E.V. Hill once preached, "There ain't no plan B; you is it." (paraphrased) The responsibility is huge, but read on. We're connected to the power....
And because we are united together as one body with Jesus Christ as our head, we can now come before the Almighty knowing we are free from the bondage of death and serving Him to accomplish His purposes against the enemy. That is amazing! That's why Paul can say, it doesn't matter what they do to my body here in this prison. Don't feel bad for me. I am part of a higher purpose. And if it is to suffer along with my Christ, that is what I will do.
It's His power, not ours. It's His purpose, not mine. I'm made for something much greater than the daily battles of life that the enemy would want me to think is the important stuff. I am part of an army and the war ain't over yet. No one is going to catch me going AWOL. I'm a lifer. Lord, give me eyes to see Your plan each and every day. Remove from my eyes the smoke screen that the enemy tries to distract me with. Let me see Your purposes in each place You send me, each person I meet. I want to be alert to what You would have me to do today for Your glory and honor.
- Read back through Ephesians 1:1-3:13. In these first three chapters, write a summary of what Paul is trying to convey to the church at Ephesus. How does his message to them affect our lives today?
- What smoke screen has the enemy been putting in front of your eyes to keep you from focusing on God's purposes? (i.e. job, family, power, money, health issues, religion, philosophies, anger, bitterness)
- Ask the Father to give you spiritual eyes to see past this present darkness and its distractions and into His plans. He may or may not show us everything to come in our lives. Most of the time, He just asks us to walk completely by faith. Even if we can't see His complete purpose, we can know His love that will never leave us, and His Spirit will guide us each step of the way. Like Paul, may we count the sufferings of this world as nothing compared to the hope and future we have in Christ Jesus.
- Recommit yourself to His plans and His purposes to reach a lost and dying world however He chooses to use you to do that.