The Eyes of our Heart set the Direction of our Lives

Ephesians 1:18-20,

 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, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.

Just as we have physical eyes to see what’s going on in the physical world, we have spiritual eyes to see what’s happening in the spiritual world. The eyes of our heart set the direction of our lives.

1. See the hope of His calling:

If we look at the world we’ll end up in denial or despair. But our identity is lived out in the calling of God. How does God help us see hope in everyday life? Through problems! (Romans 5:3-4).

How do problems produce hope? With problems we’re forced to rely on God or despair through self-hope. Problems help us loosen our grip on the things of this world and put our hope in God. Problems become hope when they cause us to look to the only One who can give true hope.

2. See the riches of God’s inheritance in the saints.

This is not talking about inheritance as in heaven, which is common New Testament talk. In this case Paul is talking about US as GOD’S inheritance! We (and all the saints in Christ) are the greatest treasures in heaven!

Most of us don’t see ourselves that way and don’t see ourselves for all that God has made us to be: rich and glorious.

An “I’m useless” attitude can be cured when you realize you were created to bring glory to God. It doesn’t matter what other people (or even you) think of you. It matters what God thinks of you! And we are His inheritance!

3. See the power available to you as God’s child (Ephesians 1:19-23).

God is willing to give us power and mighty strength. How do we see it? In the resurrection of Christ, in the rules of Christ, and in the church of Christ.

Resurrection power is experienced through a dual focus on heaven and on earth. On heaven, where Jesus is seated in power, knowing that He will provide the strength you need to do His will. On earth, where Jesus is the head of the church, knowing that this strength will be expressed through the Body of Christ for the world in need. It takes both an upward focus on the throne of God and an outward focus through the Body of Christ to see God’s power expressed through your life.

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Servant Lessons

#1: God is WILLING (He loves me!) and ABLE (powerful enough!) to meet all my needs.

#2: Outer victories mean nothing if I do not win the inner battle.  How?

-through proper rest

-through worship.

-through accountability to someone.

-through on-going fresh encounters with God.

What Characterizes Being Filled With the Spirit?

Ephesians 5:18b says that we need to be filled with the Spirit.  How do we know if we are?

1-2. Speaking and Singing (Ephesians 5:19) within the context of worship.  But Paul isn’t just talking about vertical “God praise.”  It should be to one another.  There is a horizontal dimension to worship.  In praising God we consciously should be directing our worship so it edifies others.  Of course our hearts should be directed to the Lord (5:19b) and not in any attitude of “performance.”

3. Giving thanks (5:20).  Thanksgiving is a natural outflow of the Spirit-filled life.

4. Submitting (5:21). Despite the “break” in most translations, grammatically this fits with the previous section.  In submitting ourselves for the good of others, our crucified and risen Savior shines powerfully through us and we are filled with His Spirit.

Christian, You are the Richest Person in the World

Who is the richest person in the world? Ephesians 1:3 says that each Christian is blessed in the heavenly realms with EVERY SPIRITUAL BLESSING IN CHRIST!

God’s riches come based on our faith in Him. The moment we put our trust in Him, the riches are poured out on our lives.

“Every” means “every,” not some.

“In the heavenly realms” refers to the part of reality that God sees, and we don’t. Things that may look unsettled to us on earth are already settled in heaven. God already looks at us as holy. God’s inheritance is already ours. It may not feel that way but it is that way, based on the power of God’s person and promise.

There are Seven specific blessings:

  1. God chose me to be holy and blameless (Ephesians 1:4). God sees me in light of where I am today. The Christian life is not about trying to become something you are not; it is living up to what God has made you to be.
  2. God adopted you into His family (Ephesians 1:5-6). God doesn’t force anyone into His family. Even though we are a part of God’s creation and because of that treat everyone with love and dignity, you have to accept His choice of you to be adopted into His family (Romans 8:15). “God’s will” means He wants to do it. “God’s pleasure” means it makes Him happy to do it. For God, it’s not just the right thing to do, it makes Him joyful. He wants you in His family.
  3. We are redeemed and forgiven (Ephesians 1:7-8). Redeemed: ransomed to deliver those incapable of freeing themselves. Forgiveness: our sins were atoned for by the blood of Jesus. Forgiveness comes from the blood payment. This comes from grace lavished on us.
  4. God has shown us the mystery of His will (Ephesians 1:9-10). The mystery Paul is talking about here is the culminating, unifying, and sanctifying event in all of history. It is the bringing together of all things in heaven and earth under one head, Jesus Christ. The mystery revealed is Jesus! When life gets confusing, that’s the answer to the mystery of life.
  5. We have been chosen to bring praise to God (Ephesians 1:11-12). Our choice and God’s choice are both involved in these verses. We choose to look to Christ for hope than other enticing things. We choose to believe. God chooses us. He sent Jesus Christ into the world to choose us. He sent His Spirit into the world to let us know we are chosen. We wouldn’t have a choice without God’s choice. Predestination versus free will is a straw man argument. They are two sides of the same coin. If you lean too far into predestination, it leads to fatalism and robotics. If you lean to far into human choice it leads to humanism. In these verses, the ultimate fulfillment in life is to bring praise to your Creator. We give Him our choice to love Him. That brings Him praise because it all started with God choosing to love us.
  6. We are blessed with a guarantee of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). We have been marked in Him with a seal. Like an envelope, God’s Spirit sealed us until we reach heaven. Sealing implies two things: ownership and protection. The seal of His Spirit proclaims that I’m not mine anymore. I’ve been bought with a price. The seal also protected the document from being opened or tampered with. God has put a spiritual protection over us.
  7. God’s guarantee of our inheritance (Ephesians 1:14). So not only is the Holy Spirit a seal but is the deposit that guarantees our inheritance. The Holy Spirit is God’s down payment in our lives. He gives us Himself as a guarantee of our future. It’s earnest money guaranteeing that He’ll keep His promise. If the promise isn’t kept, the earnest money is lost. God is guaranteeing our eternal salvation with no less than His own Spirit, His very Self. That is how deeply He assures us that He intends for us to be with Him for eternity.

Character is…

Character is the sum total of our:

  • self-discipline (the ability to do what’s right even if you don’t feel like it).
  • core values (principles you live by that empower you to make a moral stand).
  • sense of identity (a realistic self-image based on your gifts and personality and most importantly for Christians, who you are in Christ).
  • emotional security (the capacity to be emotionally stable and consistent).

Your skill may get you to the top, but it’s your character that will keep you there.

While leadership skills are good to have, it does no good to develop your skills at the expense of your character and integrity.

So lead yourself well before you try leading others.

Strong character will hold you up strong and long enough to use your skills.

2 Ways People Seek Happiness and Fulfillment

According to Tim Keller, there are 2 basic ways people try to find happiness and fulfillment:

  1. Moral conformity: Living “RIGHT”
  2. Self-Discovery: Living “FREE”

Everyone chooses one of these two ways and everyone thinks those in the other group are the problem in the world.

Those people are “immoral.”  NO!  Those people are “bigoted.”

Some go back and forth or hide behind one even though they are part of the other. And BOTH of these approaches are WRONG!

Actually the 2 ways are more similar than they appear. Moral conformists have the sin of pride as a barrier. It’s how they CONTROL life. If I am “good,” then I will be blessed.

But it doesn’t work that way.

This means you can rebel against God by breaking the rules OR by keeping all of them diligently.

You can avoid Jesus as Savior by keeping all the moral laws. Then God OWES you answered prayer and a good life. Religious people try to get leverage over God, to control Him.

They obey to get things. They don’t obey God to GET GOD HIMSELF. Sin is not just breaking the rules. It is putting yourself in the place of God as Lord.

So both ways are wrong and lead to Hell.

Right Belief is Important; Right Action is Essential

Matthew 25:37-40 (from the Message),

“Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’”

Now this is practical Christianity! yet how little most churches are doing this and simply sending money to others to do it.

Make certain that no one is without the basic means for survival: food, water, clothing. This is Kingdom work for an actual experience of the Kingdom.

And that work is caring for the very person of Jesus! Failing to do those things does violence to Jesus Himself!

Right belief is important. Right action is essential. Belief is not irrelevant. But what matters is whether or not that belief leads to making the world a better place for someone else.

How can you (and I) help one person today with something they need to live?