Song of Solomon 1–8ESV
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Online WorshipNovember 29, 2020 - 10:00 AM - 10:00 AMIf you are unable to join us in person, then watch us on our Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/Parkland-First-Baptist-Church-113576415341539
- Praying To The FatherWe’re in week 3 of our series looking at God’s grace in the church from the book of Ephesians.Last week in verses 3-14, Paul spent 14 verses blessing the Lord for the fact that we, as believers, receive every spiritual blessing…in Christ.”The blessings include being chosen, sanctified, adopted, redeemed, forgiven, being a part of God’s plan, and having an inheritance.Those blessing were described in one long sentence of Paul praising God.Those 12 verses are a hard act to follow, but that doesn’t seem to phase Paul at all.In verse 14, he begins another long sentence.This time it is a magnificent prayer.The first section of the chapter is all about praise for the blessings.The second section is all about prayer.In this prayer we’ll see three sections.Thanksgiving in verses 15-16Intercession in verses 17-19Praise in verses 20-23
This is why, since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 I never stop giving thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. 17 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, would give you the Spirit, of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you may know what is the hope of his calling, what is the wealth of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the mighty working of his strength.
GOD’S POWER IN CHRIST
20 He exercised this power in Christ by raising him from the dead and seating him at his right hand in the heavens—21 far above every ruler and authority, power and dominion, and every title given,, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he subjected everything under his feet, and appointed him as head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way.Thanksgiving for God’s Blessings Verses 15-16In light of the previous section, Paul expresses his gratitude to God for them.Paul gives them an encouraging word since he had heard about their faith.By the time he wrote this letter, he has been away for quite a while.But he is praying for them.He is thankful for two characteristics of God’s people.Faith and LovePaul often mentions these two together.These are essential qualities of a Christian.What is a Christian? A Christian has faith in the Lord Jesus and love toward the saints.These two graces combined with hope make up a triad of blessings in these verses.Paul is constantly praying with thanksgiving for them.He refers to his “prayers”, this could be a pattern he used like 3 times a day.Or whenever he prays.We can learn a good principle of prayer: a good prayer life is both ongoing and planned.The ongoing prayer is the “pray without ceasing.”We can pray anywhere anytime.We also need to plan prayer times.Jesus did this by getting up early to pray or going off by himself to pray regularly.We too need times like this.Go some place and take your time to spend unhurried and unhindered moments of prayer.Mountains, fishing, park, or spend a day Saint Martin’s Abbey and join in their prayer times.Paul is a thankful and praying apostle.You may ask how can I pray for someone I don’t really like?Paul looked for traces of grace and found reasons for gratitude.Let me remind you of the need to recognize grace in others.It is easy to be critical of others.It takes a mature believer to recognize grace in others.Do you wear the glasses of grace or the glasses of self-righteousness or self-centeredness?Let us thank God in our prayers for evidences of grace in God’s people—namely, faith and love—and let us also encourage the saints when we see traces of grace in their lives.Intercession For Illumination Verses 17-20In these verses, we get into Paul’s intercessions or petitions.Paul uses three phrases that get at the idea of illumination: “spirit of wisdom” and of “revelation” (v. 17), and “having the eyes of your heart enlightened” (v. 18).He says that your heart has eyes!Paul is asking God to give them spiritual eyes to see who God is and what God has done for them.Illumination is the simple idea that God opens our eyes to know Him and His truth.It is important for us to seek help as we understand the Scripture.God’s mind is revealed in Scripture.We need the Holy Spirit’s glasses to understand it accurately and deeply.Jesus opened the eyes of the men on the road to Emmaus after His resurrection so they could understand the word.Too often we fail to ask for the Spirit’s help because we have an inflated view of ourselves.We think we know more than we really do.We are self-sufficient and don’t need help.But we must have a heart of humility that says, “Help me understand.”To Know God BetterThe first reason Paul gives for our needing God to open the eyes of our heart is to know Him better.D. A. Carson says, “What is the greatest need in the church today?… The one thing we need in Western Christendom is a deeper knowledge of God. We need to know God better.”Tony Merida says, “The beginning, middle, and end of the Christian life is about knowing God.”Beginning: Jesus says, “This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and the One You have sent—Jesus Christ” (John 17:3).Jesus told some who were doing ministry in His name, “I never knew you! Depart from Me” (Matt 7:22–23).Middle: Paul writes, “My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection” (Phil 3:10).End: John writes, “We know that when He appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2).The Christian’s life is moving toward the visio dei, when we will see Christ. The Christian life is about knowing God and making Him known to others.To Know the Blessings of the Gospel BetterPaul wants us to grasp certain truths about salvation.Paul wants the Ephesians, and us, to know God better.The God that saved us and given us every spiritual blessing in Christ.Three particular blessings.HopePaul asks God to open their eyes to know the hope to which He called them.In eternity past He called us.Then we believed in the present.And our hope also has a future dimension.We look forward to God summing up all things in Christ.Our salvation is marked by massive hope.God has called us to a distinct way of life with a glorious future hope.When we hold out the gospel to people, we are essentially holding out hope to people.There is much suffering in this life; there are many dangers, toils, and snares, but glory is coming.Inheritance (1:18b).This the inheritance that we receive.Since the text speaks of “God’s inheritance,” it seems best to go with the former.Paul wants us to appreciate the value that God places on us who are in Christ.F.F. Bruce says, “That God should set such a high value on the community of sinners rescued from perdition and still bearing too many traces of their former state, might well seem incredible were it not made clear that he sees them in Christ, as from the beginning, he chose them in Christ” (Ephesians, 270).In light of this, we should live for God’s praise, and we should declare God’s praise to the nations.Power (1:19-20a)The third request is the climactic request in the prayer.This is made evident by the way Paul expands on power in the following verses (vv. 20–23) and by the incredible labels Paul applies to God’s power: “immeasurable greatness,” “power” (dynamis), “working” (energeia), and “vast strength.”Paul says God’s almighty power is available to His saints!Only by God’s power will we be able to engage in the spiritual battle described in Ephesians 6.Only by God’s power will we arrive safely into His heavenly kingdom, and His power is given to “us who believe” (v. 19).Think about where some of these Ephesians were coming from.Some were formerly caught up in magic, the Artemis cult, astrology, and emperor worship.Their lives were dark and perverted (Eph 4:17–19) until Christ saved them.The people of this culture lived in fear of hostile spiritual forces.Paul is assuring them that God’s power is supreme over all their enemies!To illustrate God’s mighty power, Paul goes to the resurrection.In the Old Testament they measured power by creation (Isa 40) or by the exodus, but now there is another greater picture of power, the resurrection of Jesus Christ! Now, Christian, this power is ours.Paul says, “The Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you” (Rom 8:11).This power is ours to witness, to overcome sin, to pursue holiness, to fight against the schemes of the Devil, and to have great faith for mission.Praise God for His Exaltation of Christ Verses 20-23Continuing from verse 19, Paul speaks of God’s great work of exalting Jesus above all.Christ’s ResurrectionKeying of verse 19, God did what no man could ever do and that was Raise Jesus from the dead.Death is a bitter enemy we will all face, but we do not have to fear it.The resurrection of Jesus Christ gives life meaning.There is a future for us.The resurrection gives believers enormous hope and sufficient power for living a life of service to God.Christ’s EnthronementJesus is not only alive for ever, He is also reigning for ever.This a fulfillment of Psalm 110:1, “This is the declaration of the LORD to my Lord: “Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies Your footstool.”What does that mean for us?Everything is under the reign of the seated King!It means we we can trust Him with our problems—both great and small.Our hope is not in a political election but in the seated King.Christ’s Supremacy (1:21–22a)Christ, as the risen, seated King, is now superior to every competitor.His throne is above the principalities and powers.He is above creation.He is above Satan and his system.He is above everyone and every ruler.Paul mentions His supremacy over all earthly powers.He mentions Christ’s supremacy over every title or name (cf. Phil 2:6–11).And then he mentions Christ’s supremacy over all His enemies with the phrase “under His feet.”Paul is saying here that not only is every power inferior to Christ, they are also subject to Him (O’Brien, Ephesians, 145).Christ’s Headship (1:22b–23)Lastly, Paul mentions Christ’s headship over the church.We see the amazing connection between Christ and His church.Only the church, not all creation, is said to be His body.Consequently, the church should be important to us!Jesus identifies Himself with it!He is head over it.Later in Ephesians Paul will expound on this relationship.Paul is also saying that Jesus, as Head over the church, is “filling [the church] in a special way with his Spirit, grace, and gifts: it is his fullness”.This means is that we as a church are entirely dependent on Christ.Think About It!As Paul closes this chapter, his is saying that we as Christians are so blessed and receive so much good from God’s hand.The reason we have those blessings is that we are “In Christ”His kindness and power is our spiritual blessings because we are in Him.So, praise and pray thanksgiving this week to God for the blessings you haveAnd for each other in encouragement.Prayer
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