Ephesians 1:18b-23

Sunday Morning Bible Study

January 29, 2006


Sometimes it’s hard to know just how to pray.

Like the 4-year-old boy who was asked to return thanks before Thanksgiving dinner. The family members bowed their heads in expectation. He began his prayer, thanking God for all his friends, naming them one by one. Then he thanked God for Mommy, Daddy, brother, sister, Grandma, Grandpa, and all his aunts and uncles. Then he began to thank God for the food. He gave thanks for the turkey, the dressing, the fruit salad, the cranberry sauce, the pies, the cakes, even the Cool Whip. Then he paused, and everyone waited—and waited. After a long silence, the young fellow looked up at his mother and asked, “If I thank God for the broccoli, won’t he know that I’m lying?”

Or like the gal who invited friends over for dinner.  At the table, she turned to her six-year-old daughter and said, “Would you like to say the blessing?” I wouldn’t know what to say,” she replied. “Just say what you hear Mommy say,” the mother said. The daughter bowed her head and said: “Dear Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?”

Last week we began to look at Paul’s prayer for the church at Ephesus.

Paul began with giving thanks for the Ephesians, then asked God to give them wisdom and revelation as they grew in their relationship with God, and prayed that they would grow in understanding …

:18 that you may know what is the hope of His calling,

hopeelpis – expectation of good

calling – The word “calling” can carry two different ideas:

The calling to salvation

The calling for our daily living

It’s your situation in life. It’s the plans that God has for you.

God wants you to know about the hope that is attached to His calling for you.

:18 what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,

God has great glorious riches. And these riches are being passed on as an inheritance. The location of God’s wealth is in the saints.

:19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power

Paul uses a lot of words for “power” here:

powerdunamis – strength, power, ability

workingenergeia – (“energy”) working, efficiency; power in exercise, operative power; in the NT used only of superhuman power.

mightykratos – force, strength; power, might

powerischus – ability, force, strength, might

:20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,

This same power that raised Jesus from the dead is the power that is available to us who believe.

:21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.

principality, power, might, dominion – these are all names or titles of ranks of angelic beings. Jesus is far above all the angels.

(Heb 1:4 NKJV) having become so much better than the angels…

and every name:

F.B. Meyer wrote, ‘Let any name be uttered, whatever it is, Christ is above it; it is more exalted than that which the name uttered affirms’

(Phil 2:9 NKJV) Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,

:22 And He put all things under His feet,

(Mat 28:18 NKJV) … "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

:22 and gave Him to be head over all things to the church,

Notice the words in italics, things added by the translators to help, but maybe here they don’t help so much.

A better way to translate it could be, “and gave Him (who is over all) to the church. Jesus is a gift from God to the church. Jesus is head over all.

church – not this particular building, not this particular group of people that meet on Sundays. The word “church” is talking about all of those people around the world that believe and follow Jesus.

:23 which is His body,

The church is known as the “Body of Christ”. He is not only head over all, but He is the head of the church as well.

:23 the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

God “fills all in all”. And we, as the body of Christ, are the “fullness” of Him.

Jesus said,

(John 14:9 NKJV) … "Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, 'Show us the Father'?

And we are the body of Christ. People should get a good glimpse of what God is like by looking at the church.

The prayer

Let’s go back and look at the three things Paul prayed for the Ephesians.


The hope of the calling

Sometimes life just sucks.
A person lying in a hospital bed who wonders if he’s going to get any better.
A person at work where the pressure is always on and nothing is ever good.
Being in a difficult marriage and you wonder if he/she will ever change.
The scariness of the world around us and being afraid of terrorism, war, or the economy.
We all need hope. And God wants you to have hope.

Norwegian wharf rats

I remember hearing about tests done with laboratory wharf rats. These are the rats that live under the piers along the waterfront. One group of rats was placed in a large container of water, in the dark, with no place to stand on, they had to keep swimming to stay alive. They all drowned within fifteen minutes. The second group was placed in a similar container, yet every ten minutes the lab technician would open the container, take the rats out, stroke them a few seconds, and put them back in the water. They didn’t have time to rest, all they received was a little encouragement. All they received was a little hope. These rats went on swimming for over 12 hours (or something like that...).

Hope is one of the most important ingredients in life for a human being. We have the hope of our calling.
There is hope for the call on our lives

(Jer 29:11 NASB) 'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.

There are times in life when it just doesn’t make sense.  We go through difficult times and begin to wonder if it’s all worth it.  I imagine that the widows of the five missionaries who were murdered in Ecuador back in 1956 wondered if it had all been worth it.  Yet the deaths of those missionaries would reverberate through the jungle and God would end up taking the tragedy and using it to bring an entire tribe to Jesus.  And then there’s the lives of countless others who have been touched with the work that God has done through tragedy.

Your life has a purpose.  God wants to use your life for good things.  Hopeful things.

There is hope in our call to salvation - heaven

(Rev 21:1-4 NKJV) Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. {2} Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. {3} And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. {4} "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."

Heaven may seem far off for some of you, but it’s really quite close. Heaven is real. And for those of us who have made the decision to follow Jesus, we are really, really going there.  Probably the time I’m reminded most of this is when I’m at a funeral.  Knowing the truth about heaven ought to give us hope. Even if everything in this life doesn’t turn out the way we want it to, we still win in the end. We still go to heaven.

(2 Cor 4:16-18 NKJV) Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. {17} For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, {18} while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

May you know the hope of your calling.



I mentioned this story back in November, but I think it’s worth repeating:
William Randolph Hearst, the late newspaper publisher, invested a fortune collecting art treasures from around the world. One day Mr. Hearst found a description of some valuable items that he felt he must own, so he sent his agent abroad to find them. After months of searching, the agent reported that he had finally found the treasures. They were in Mr. Hearst’s warehouse. Hearst had been searching frantically for treasures he already owned! Had he read the catalog of his treasures, he would have saved himself a great deal of money and trouble. [1]
One night a man was out walking in the desert when a voice said to him, “Pick up some pebbles and put them in your pocket, and tomorrow you will be both sorry and glad.”
The man obeyed. He stooped down and picked up a handful of pebbles and put them in his pocket. The next morning he reached into his pocket and found diamonds and rubies and emeralds. And he was both glad and sorry. Glad that he had taken some—sorry that he hadn’t taken more.
Sometimes I wonder if I really understand just where my treasures are.  Jesus said,
(Mat 13:45-46 NKJV) "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, {46} "who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
A pearl begins as a piece of sand or something that causes irritation inside the shell of the oyster. The oyster responds to the irritant by coating the piece of sand with a solution that hardens and becomes very valuable.
I believe that in this parable, we are the pearl, and Jesus is the merchant. We may start out as an irritant to others around us, but Jesus sees what He wants us to be and He works to turn our ugly irritation into a pearl.
And He loved this pearl so much that He gave up everything for it. He sold all He had to purchase us.
Think of what Jesus sold to purchase us.

(2 Cor 8:9 NKJV) For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.

Setting a value
One way of valuing an object is to find out the worth of its natural elements.

If you removed all the water from a man, separated all the chemical elements, and sold each element, you might get a couple of bucks.

Another way of valuing an object is to find out what price would be paid for it.

In the housing market, it’s not just what the house is made of that counts, but where it’s located. You could spend 75 thousand dollars on materials to build a house in Alaska, and it would be worth 75 thousand dollars. But if you moved that house to Fullerton, it might be worth 600 thousand dollars.

How much was paid for you? Did Jesus pay what your chemical elements were worth?

Jesus paid everything He had. And He had a lot.  He gave up the treasures of the universe to pay for you.

Here’s the deal – not only are YOU worth a lot because of the price that Jesus paid for you, but so are the other people around you.
(1 Pet 3:7 NKJV) Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.

The word “honor” means to assign a high value to a person. Husbands are to give a high value to their wives.

What kind of value do you place on the people around you?
Best Umbrella
One day while walking with some children and palace attendants, Queen Mary was caught in a sudden thunderstorm. The queen quickly took shelter on the porch of a home. To avoid attracting a crowd, she disguised her appearance by putting on a hat that partly covered her face and a plain coat she borrowed from one of her attendants. The queen then knocked at the door and asked to borrow an umbrella. “I’ll send it back tomorrow,” she told the unfriendly woman who answered the door. Despite the assurances about returning her umbrella, the woman did not want to lend her best umbrella. So she retrieved an old umbrella stored in the attic. One rib was broken, and there were several holes in it. With a haughty attitude and scornful words, she handed it to the unrecognized monarch. The next day the woman had another visitor—a man with gold braid on his uniform and an envelope in his hand. “The queen sent me with this letter,” he said, “and also asked me to thank you personally for the loan of your umbrella.” The woman was stunned, and then brokenhearted. She burst into tears. “This is just horrible—I missed an opportunity to give my queen my very best!” she sobbed. “And my attitude was shameful,” she added.
Do you realize that the people around you are considered “royalty” by God? How do you treat them?
May you realize where the treasure is. God’s treasure is in the saints. God’s treasure is in you.


His power

A large, two-engined train was making its way across America. While crossing the Western mountains, one of the engines broke down. “No problem, we can make it to Denver and get a replacement engine there,” the engineer thought, and carried on at half power. Farther on down the line (if you didn’t guess by now), the other engine broke down, and the train came to a standstill in the middle of nowhere. The engineer needed to inform the passengers about why the train had stopped, and always trying to look on the bright side of things, made the following announcement: “Ladies and Gentlemen, I have some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that both engines have failed, and we will be stuck here for some time until the additional engines arrive. The good news is that you didn’t take this trip in a plane!”
I’m not sure if I’m always aware of just how powerless I really am.  I’m really more like the guy trying to pull a huge train up the Colorado mountains, pulling it behind one of those old fashioned push-pull carts.  And I wonder why I don’t really get very far in life.
The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to us who believe.
(Rom 8:11 NKJV) But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
I believe this power that Paul is talking about is the power of the Holy Spirit that God desires for all believers to experience. In fact, the word Paul used for “power” in Eph. 1:19 is the same word that Jesus used in Acts when He said,
(Acts 1:8 NKJV) "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
Do you need a new locomotive to pull the train?
(John 7:37-39 NKJV) On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. {38} "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." {39} But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
Who needs this power?

Those who are thirsty.  Those who are needy.

How do we get this power?

We come to Jesus and receive it.

We must believe.

This power is for those who will believe.

[1]Wiersbe, W. W. The Bible Exposition Commentary. Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1996, c1989. Eph 1:17.