Opening the Eyes of Our Hearts
[Ephesians chapter 1, verses 15-23]
Today we will finish up the first chapter in the book of Ephesians. Last week we learned that all true Christians whose belief in Jesus Christ is absolute and irrevocable – provided we make a genuine effort to avoid sinning, as well as remaining uncompromised by our environment, our surroundings, or the friends we keep – will be saved from eternal destruction and unending punishment. Not even our families are exempt from these Christian values as Jesus once said, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple. Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14, verses 26-27, NIV). For many people, this is an understandably hard teaching to wrap our brains around. Under no circumstances does this mean we should disown our parents or our children or walk out on our spouses, but our service to Christ does takes top priority over everything else, beginning with ourselves. Only those who practice these things will be marked with the seal of the Holy Spirit which guarantees our eternal inheritance with Christ. The apostle Paul continues this topic in his letter to the church at Ephesus as he reassures them that they all have this Spiritual seal, as do we, beginning in verse 15.
“For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 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 even better.” (Ephesians 1, verses 15-17, NIV)
We can be sure that this sacrifice of praise continues until the day of His return by today’s true and authentic Church. If any one of us becomes unsure of their salvation in Christ, or if anyone finds themselves questioning their belief due to feelings of guilt or remorse because of their past, or because of financial devastation, or a family break-up, rest assured that there are Christians everywhere making constant intercessory prayers for all who believe, and that includes you. Whether you perceive it or not, you are being prayed for, so take heart in that. Better still, begin praying for others and not just people you know. When we see someone suffering from mental illness or someone in a wheelchair, when we see or hear an ambulance or a fire truck go by with sirens blaring, when you encounter a homeless person (especially a veteran), children from single-parent homes, orphans, widows and the poor, pray for them first before praying for yourself so that everyone’s needs can be met with the eternal grace and peace of Christ Jesus. Find out what you can do to help them and then do so. Emulate the example of the apostle Paul in this regard when he wrote, “… I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers…”. We should by all possible means be doing the same thing! So if any of us has a need, pray for the needs of others first as Paul did (and as I try to do as well), so that your own needs can similarly be met. To borrow a cliche, ‘what goes around comes around’, and prayer (as well as the way we treat others) does exactly that. This is one of the few man-made truisms that applies to the church and the secular world at the same time. Bearing that in mind, let’s continue and finish chapter one.
“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, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ when He raised him from the dead and seated him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way.” (Ephesians 1, verses 18-23, NIV)
Open the eyes of our hearts and enlighten us, dear Lord Jesus! I wrote briefly about intercessory prayer above, and here is a very good example put forth by Paul the apostle. We are all called to, “the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe”. You can now see that in the kingdom of God, which will be headed on Earth by Jesus himself upon his impending return, is the inheritance of everyone who believes and who worships Jesus as the Son of God in Spirit and in truth. Incomparable glory and power will be ours as well, not in our current lives and not in these bodies, but in the eternal life that is to come for all those who genuinely believe. If God can “work his mighty strength” by raising Jesus from the dead into eternal life, He can and will most definitely do the same for ourselves. This is exactly why eternal life will be the reward for those who live Godly lives and who put their faith in Jesus above all else. The supreme sacrifice made by Jesus when He was crucified and died, and then raised from the dead and saved from hell by God the Father, and has risen to eternal life sitting at the right hand of God, He alone shall rule the universe without end – not just the earth but everything that surrounds it! Jesus is therefore “the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way.” So, don’t we all want to live lives that are dedicated to our service to Christ first and second to each other? Most definitely, and with ourselves being last so that our prayers may retain the proper perspective and be in proper order. So long as we all make sure that we put Jesus first above all else, we are well on our way to the eternal fullness and Spiritual wealth that is only found in Christ Jesus. Let’s all keep this in mind as we go through our daily lives, because that’s how we will know for sure that we are on the right track.