Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Scripture of the Week: Ephesians 1:19-20 (Expanded)

Although I'm not big on New Year's resolutions, I do believe in setting goals, especially concrete, measurable goals. One of my goals with regards to spiritual growth in 2005 is to memorize one verse or passage a week. I wrote down a passage on an index card and put it inside one of those el cheapo acrylic picture frames that you can get from Walmart for a buck or two, and have the frame sitting on my dresser where I can read it several times a day.

This week's passage is from Ephesians 1:19-20: "I pray that you will begin to understand the incredible greatness of his power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God's right hand in the heavenly realms." (NLT)

Power brings about transformation; it causes people and things to act differently than they would naturally. A hurricane tears rooftops and shingles from houses because of powerful winds. A weighlifter can benchpress more than their own body weight because of their brute physical power. People bow and scrape before leaders with authoritative power.

I've never really doubted God's power, and I'm not so sure that the Ephesians doubted God's power. I watch a thunderstorm or the crashing waves of the ocean or a tree bent and broken by strong winds, and I know that God's power is impressive.

What I have doubted from time to time, though, is God's desire to use His power on my behalf. Maybe the Ephesians did, too. Maybe that's why Paul prayed that they would recognize that the same power that raised Christ from the dead--the same power that caused earthquakes and the dead to emerge from their graves, the same power that split the temple veil to split in two and that rolled the stone away from Jesus' tomb--that is the same power that God is using in our lives.

God is using that power to transform us. Have you ever tried to transform yourself? It's possible to bring about a physical transformation on your own, at least to some degree--new clothes, exercising more, eating less, etc. But have you ever tried to make yourself more patient? Or more wise? Or more caring? It can't be done on our own. That is why God placed this power in us by placing the Holy Spirit in us.

In II Corinthians, Paul speaks of this transformation: “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (II Cor. 3:18, NIV)

Again in chapter 4, Paul reminds us that the power comes from God; it is not something we can produce ourselves: “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (II Cor. 4:6-7, NIV)

The more that I recognize the Spirit's work in transforming my life, the less I doubt God's willingness to act on my behalf. God's power is not something that He gives and takes away; it resides within us. I know that I am far from grasping the full extent of that power.Considering that many of us grew up in churches where the Holy Spirit was mentioned more as a Bible "character" than as an active resident of our lives today, I think that's why we struggle to accept and take hold of that power. But I am becoming more aware, especially the more that I study and as I'm around others who have a better handle on what God's power and Spirit truly mean for my life.

As I memorize these verses this week, I'm also praying that Paul's prayer for the Ephesians will be my prayer as well: that I'll have a full understanding of God's power in my life. That is my prayer for you as well.


SkipD said...

Excellent post! I'm one of those who grew up with the "Bible Character" view of the Holy Spirit... how sad! Like you, I struggle with tapping into the power that I already have! I think sometimes we grieve God when we constantly ask Him for things that, though the Spirit, we already have full access to. I admire your goal for the new year. The generation before us was really big on memorizing scripture, but somehow our generation ran away from it. Glad to hear your taking steps to correct that... keep it up! Blessings! sd

Rhonda said...

I thought about the testimonies we heard the other night when I read this...

I thought of the woman who lost her husband of 60+ years and she wanted to die with him. She didn't think she could live without him. She was broken. She fell on her face in prayer. She has read the Bible through several times and couldn't live with Him...and will never have to! God is her rock for eternity!

I think of the woman who was imprisoned because of her drug and alcohol habit. She was told she would be in prision for life. "For some reason" she was released and went to live in a half way house and was told she would be on parole for life. She met a lady who ministered to her. "For some reason" she was taken off of parole and now lives in her own house. Before she moved in to her house, her house was furnished with everything that she needed! She is clean and sober. She met Jesus and turned her live over to God. She is now praying that her son will meet Jesus and has faith that he will be baptized one day. And her fiance was baptized this past Sunday!! There are at least two lives touched by God's transforming power...a third is on the way...and who knows how many countless others will be changed because of their story.

Those are just a couple of stories. There are so many other stories that testify to God's desire to use His power on our behalf. None of these testimonies or any of the other millions of testimonies out there would exist if it wasn't for God's transforming power at work in people's lives! It is a blessing to see His power at work in the lives of others and it is also a reminder that His power is at work in our lives as well! His work will continue...

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

Thank you for sharing this! I needed it!