God said to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, possessions or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you.
2 Chronicles 1:11-12
The pursuit of wisdom is one that God is pleased to reward. If you go check out the story, God offers to grant Solomon whatever he wishes. When Solomon asks for wisdom rather than riches or power, God is pleased. Why?
Well, God tells us it’s because Solomon’s desire was for wisdom so that he could govern God’s people wisely. It was a desire for wisdom for the sake of others. Do you desire more wisdom? Why? My fear is that I want more wisdom for the sake of my ego and praise. But God’s concern is for His people and for His praise. He wants to give us wisdom, but only if we use it wisely.
- Do you desire more wisdom? Why?
- Do you pray that God would help you desire the good of Him & His people?
Pray: ask God to help you (and others) desire wisdom for the sake of others and for the sake of His praise.
The Depths of Grace
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. Ephesians 2:1-3
To know the vast dimensions of the grace of God. We must know the depths of our own sin. Jesus said the same. Our debt was more than we could ever repay. For some we find this obvious. We remember how lives outside of Christ and Paul’s description fits perfectly. That’s me. I lived for my own desires and passions. Maybe you have grown up knowing Jesus. Praise God for that. But you can imagine what life would have been like if you weren’t born into a Christian family.
But we also need to remember this is currently true of everyone outside of Christ. If they aren’t following Christ, they are following the prince of the power of the air. They are children of wrath because of their rebellion. How desperately they need the grace of God.
- Do you see who you were or would be outside of God’s grace?
- How should this bring us to thanksgiving?
- Who is someone that you could pray for today because they need to receive God’s grace?
Pray: praise God for His grace toward you and ask forgiveness again for your sins. Ask also for God to show grace to someone else.
I pray 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 his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. Ephesians 1:18-19.
Across human history men and women have searched for enlightenment. A deeper, higher understanding of the physical and spiritual. Today, many search even for a glimmer of truth. Paul says you have that. And that what you need isn’t more truth but more ‘enlightenment’ or ‘knowing’ of the truth you already believe.
This is why we memorise, so that we may see better (that’s what enlightened means) the truth that we already believe. That as we dwell on our passages, meditate on them and consider them, the light will increase and we will be enlightened.
- What’s working for you in memorisation or not working? If there is a blockage, is it motivation or practical?
- Do you reflect on passages you have memorised?
Pray: praise God for His grace to us in enlightening us with the truth of Himself and the gospel. Ask that He would help you see this truth better.
- Today's handout - Ephesians Talk 7
- Ephesians 1:15-23 - Praying According to His PurposePaul shows us what prayers is, why we pray and how to pray. Prayer is the privilege of access to God given to us through and in Christ. We pray because we delight in God's purposes and we pray, giving thanks and asking shaped by His purposes.sermons.faithlife.com
S.O.S. - The Return
“This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: “‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem, and may their God be with them. And in any locality where survivors may now be living, the people are to provide them with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.’ Ezra 1:2-4
Israel hadn’t gathered in the temple for 70 years. Now they can return. Can you imagine hearing this news? It isn’t exactly the same as what we have experienced (there are some critical differences). But there are similarities. A time separated from each other. From the activities that God created us for. A period of waiting. A sense of loss.
But now it has been decreed… we can return. We can meet again. The gathering of God’s people, in God’s name and for His praise is where heaven meets earth. It’s both the greatest help for God’s people and the greatest privilege. Let’s rejoice and look forward to gathering as God’s Church.
- Have you missed gathering physically?
- What do you most look forward to when we can meet?
Pray: praise God for His faithfulness, that we can gather together and no longer be separated. Give thanks for His Church and ask that we wouldn’t treat the physical gathering lightly.
That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ 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 name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also 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 1:19-23
Being a Christian has always been hard. Two thousand years ago it was hard. Twenty years ago it was hard. But twenty years ago, generally speaking, people were on our side even if they were unwilling to go to our lengths. We were radically moral in a way they felt was unnecessary but appreciated. Now, we are seen as immoral. We are harmful instead of helpful. We aren’t on the same side any longer. We are the opposition. And it looks set to get harder before it gets easier.
The tide is strong and it’s currents are deep. But we know something/someone far stronger - who is willing and able to rescue us. Paul wanted Christians to know that no matter how loud or powerful the opposition seems. We know a power that can raise the dead. Therefore we need not fear.
- Are you feeling the weight of opposition?
- Do you see the power of God in Jesus’ resurrection?
- Do you believe that God will rescue you from this world?
Pray: praise God for His power and for His promise to raise you from the dead, ask that He would help you endure the opposition of this world.
When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the Lord above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, “He is good; his love endures forever.”
2 Chronicles 7:3
In the Old Covenant, every now and then God did something to remind His people of His faithfulness and His power. A moment that reveals His glory to His people. In the New Covenant, it’s one great moment. Or perhaps a 33 year long moment. God is revealed in the person of Jesus Christ, from His birth to His person and ultimately to His death on the cross and the great power of His resurrection. It is the glory of the Lord that built a new spiritual temple.
And it should be our source of wonder that causes worship in the form of thanksgiving. That God, in His grace, would reveal Himself in such glory to unworthy people. We are the most privileged because we have seen the true glory of the world. Give thanks today that you can know and see His glory.
- Do you give thanks regularly for knowing God’s glory?
- Pray that God would reveal His glory in Jesus Christ to someone else.
Pray: give thanks to God for His grace in opening your eyes and ask that He would show His glory to many others.
Words That Warm
For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. Ephesians 1:15-16
What warms your heart? Encourages you? What news causes you to look up and whisper a thanks to God? For Paul, it was hearing reports about the Ephesians. That they had remained steadfast and firm. For their love towards all God’s people showing that the inclusive love of Christ has been at work in their hearts to receive those who would normally be excluded (Jew/Gentile perhaps).
What have you heard lately that has encouraged you? Reflect on what God has been doing amongst us at Village Church and beyond. Be encouraged and give thanks to God who has been at work in His people.
- What news does warm your heart?
- Do you give thanks for God’s work in His people?
Pray: give thanks to God for the faith of others and for the times when God’s people have shown the love of God.