Tag Archives: spiritual strength

Spiritual strength! – Ephesians 3:14-21

Spiritual strength! – Ephesians 3:14-21
By Pastor Lee Hemen
February 12, 2017

The spiritual strength that God provides gives the believer the tenacity to stay the course. Wanting to mature in her spiritual life one woman started what she called a Thanks-Living jar. Each evening she wrote on a small slip of paper one thing she thanked God for and dropped it in the jar. Some days she had many praises; other days she struggled to find one. At the end of the year she emptied her jar and read the slips. She discovered how God had given her simple things like a sunset or an evening stroll; or how he had provided momentary grace to handle a difficult situation.

What is it that gives the believer the strength to go into hardships, frustrations, and at great personal sacrifice to foreign fields to share the good news? How can they spend years serving far away from their home country, neighborhoods, and families to serve the calling of Christ? How can the average believer stand fast in their faith where they work or within the hostile environment of family and friends? Here in Ephesians Paul gives us the answer: Spiritual strength.

READ: Ephesians 3:14-21
We can forget as believers that God provides for us in ways we often do not realize. Here Paul related that we do not have just one source of spiritual strength but rather…

I. We have several sources of spiritual strength! (Vv. 14-17a)

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.

1. It was for the mystery of the gospel message that Paul did what he did. His ministry to the gentiles compelled him to preach the good news. And so he writes the Ephesians that it is “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.” Paul’s kneeling in prayer is one of several postures for praying (standing, kneeling, and lying prostrate) found in the Bible. However, notice his first comment is directed toward God the Father the first personality of the Trinity. The connotation here is not that God is our Father as some cults view him but rather God is the creator of all things. The Hebrews understood this and often referred to God as their “Father” the beginning of everything! But then Paul continued with the second personage of the Trinity and related that he prayed “that out of (God’s) glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being”. Remember Paul had equated that this spiritual power was “like the working of his mighty strength” as when Jesus was resurrected and ascended! (Vv. 1:19-20) And all believers “were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance”! (Vv. 1:13-14) Finally Paul tells us why the Spirit does this by directing us to the third person of the Trinity, Jesus “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith”! He prays to the Father who is the Creator that he would strengthen with the Holy Spirit’s power in them so that they would have a stronger faith! Wow! Paul shares with his readers and us that we have three sources of spiritual strength!

EXAMPLE: It is aggravating to hear about athletes who think they are so awesome that they are all a team needs to win. They do not listen to their coaches or teammates and fail to understand that it takes a team to win a team sport. Each coach and player is part of the whole plan to win. In the spiritual realm we can never forget that we have several sources of spiritual strength!

I am not totally sold on 3D movies. I find that often when they make a movie 3D it is because it is a lousy movie otherwise. I do not always need a multidimensional experience, except where my faith is concerned. Paul teaches us that…

II. Our spiritual strength is truly multidimensional! (Vv. 17b-19)

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

1. Paul continued his thought by writing what some of his chief concerns for them as new believers was: “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love”. This is kind of a reference to the Psalmist who declared that the person whose delight is in the Lord “is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.” (Psalm 1:3 NIV) Or like the “wise man” Jesus referred to who “built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24, 25 NIV) The believer’s faith is to be established, firmly plant in the love of God as expressed in Jesus! We are to be rooted and to continually be planted in him! Why? Paul says that it is so we “may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ”! Someone once wrote that “The more a Christian knows about Christ, the more amazed he is at Christ’s love for him.” In our day far too many think that this is a feeling or an emotional response and they desperately try to gain access to it over and over like spiritual drug addicts by doing good deeds, spiritual hype, showmanship worship, or continual self-abasement. However Paul makes it plain that it is a relational thing that we are “to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that (we) may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Jesus taught that “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:23 NIV) Faith is more than an emotional experience; it is the deep rooted relationship one has as they walk with God in Jesus! It is wider, longer, higher and deeper than we can imagine and surpasses all the knowledge of the world! Our spiritual strength is truly multidimensional!

EXAMPLE: David McCasland writes about our spiritual strength by asking, “What are the five best toys of all time?” He continues by writing that “Jonathan H. Liu suggested the following: A stick, a box, string, a cardboard tube, and dirt” from a GeekDad column at wired.com. All are readily available, adaptable, and suitable for all ages. They are cheap and are powered by our imagination and no batteries are required. Imagination gives us the ability to use common things and make them something else. We are multidimensional in our play. After asking God to strengthen them with his power through the Spirit Paul prayed that they would be able to grasp and experience the full dimension of the love of Christ. Our spiritual strength is truly multidimensional!

Just when a person thinks they have God nailed or trapped in a box, they discover that he is far more than one could ever conceive. We can become so jaded in our walk with God that we fail to see it as it truly is and therefore fail to understand its potential in our lives. Paul reminds us that…

III. Our spiritual strength is inconceivable! (Vv. 20-21)

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.

1. Paul closes his personal prayer for the Ephesians with a final teaching concerning Jesus. He tells them that his desire is that God would “do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine”. Now we can imagine a lot of things but Paul is following up the idea that our relationship with Jesus is wider, longer, higher, and deeper than we can imagine! And so we can ask for more than we realize when we walk with him because we will understand more about our relationship with him! Notice Paul qualifies this prayer with the words “according to his power that is at work within us”! This mighty power is the same as that which resurrected Jesus! It is the same power that gives the believer eternal life! It is the same power that bought us back from the pit of eternal damnation! It is the power of God at work within us! So Paul expresses his praise by stating “to him (God) be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever!” Only God through Jesus could get all races, tribes, countries, and nationalities to work together in his body the church. Paul would also write the Roman church, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.” (Romans 11:36 NIV) The Apostle John would write that the saints in heaven would sing about Jesus, “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” How wonderful to know that our spiritual strength is inconceivable!

EXAMPLE: God is not commonplace. Far too many have relegated God into a position of being just like any other deity that mankind could dream up. Nothing could be further from the truth. God did not “evolve” from a plethora or pantheon of gods until mankind was far along enough in their mythos to finally make him into their image and monotheistic. Nor do we discover the same god in Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam and Christianity. While there can exist comparable concepts and even similar stories, it does not mean they all come from the same source. That would be like saying Mien Kampf and Tom Sawyer are from the same author since they both deal with personal struggle and racism! Paul relates that we should never forget that like God our spiritual strength is inconceivable!

Conclusion:

We have several sources of spiritual strength! Our spiritual strength is truly multidimensional! Our spiritual strength is inconceivable!
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This article is copyrighted © 2017 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Weak In Christ, But Not A Wimp! – Today’s Thoughts…

Weak In Christ, But Not A Wimp! – Today’s Thoughts…
By Pastor Lee Hemen
November 5, 2008

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Sadly, there are Christians who actually think that by their suffering, they are better Christians. Then, they quote these verses and add as an excuse: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) However, this is not only a perversion of the text, it is a misrepresentation of what Paul was writing about. The later verse, 1 Corinthians 10:13, deals with temptations and not suffering, and the verses, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, deals with Paul’s “weaknesses,” and not our convoluted empathy in thinking he is writing about what suffering we are going through at the moment.

So, what then is Paul actually speaking to us about in the above verses and what can we garner from them? Namely, the fact that God’s “grace is sufficient for you.” The trial or “suffering” you may be going through could be your personal thorn, but be careful in thinking so. (See yesterday’s thoughts on the subject.) The “way out” that most believers forget about in their “temptations” or trials is found in Jesus Christ, whose “grace is sufficient!” Therefore, stop right now in your self-pitying thought practice and despicable wallowing in your personal pain and trouble, thinking that God has given this “struggle” to you to, make you “stronger!” (Well, boohoo!) You cannot be made strong spiritually if you do not understand the spiritual truth found here. God’s strength, his grace, and his power is what is important here and not you. (The last time I looked, the Bible was about God working his grace in the world, and not about you!) God’s power can only rest on those who have come to the understanding that their life in the Lord is all there is, nothing else matters. Not their “suffering,” their “temptations,” or their trying to bear up under personal tragedy. Now, least you mistakenly think that I am saying that God does not care about us, you are wrong again! God after all did send his Son to die for us and to extend his grace to us. But get a clue here folks!

Paul was not some sadomasochist who delighted in God actually hurting him! And he never viewed God as a personal protagonist that just waited to smack him around to get his attention either. God was God and he is in control. He has provided Jesus as our means of grace. It is this grace that is sufficient for us in any circumstance we may face in this life. Sadly, I have encountered Christians who were actually happiest when they were in the midst of their personal misery, thinking they were being made stronger simply by wallowing in their own wretchedness! Hogwash! Jesus came to set the captives free from the slavery of sin, to bind up our wounds created from sin, and to give us a life more abundant in him, not to save us from the struggles of life! Paul wrote, “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Paul did not look for pain and suffering to make him stronger in God, instead he was well aware of how God was working in his life as he enjoyed God’s grace in Jesus. Paul needed to learn personal strength in the Lord. Therefore Paul was “delighted” in learning he was weak without Jesus. He could not have faced the insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties he did if he did not know that God’s grace was more than sufficient for him. Paul was not asking for a bigger beating from God, he was excited that he could face any circumstance, not in himself because he was weak, but in Jesus who made him strong in his grace! And dear child of the Lord, so can you!

Never delight in the false assumption that what you are going through is a “test” from God to see if you will respond by asking for more of the same. God does not want us to become spiritual self-flagellationists. He desires that we grow in his grace. God’s grace is sufficient for you every moment of every day no matter what your life may bring your way.
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This article is copyrighted © 2008 by Lee Hemen and if you reprint it, reproduce it, or want to use it in any way, you must do so in its entirety or get the written permission of its author.

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Today’s Thoughts, Psalm 28:7

by Pastor Lee Hemen
April 15, 2008

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. (Psalms 28:7)

I have begun a regiment of exercise and eating right in order to gain some strength and limberness back into my 55 year-old body. It is working, but I have to keep doing it every day. If I miss too many days in a row then I have to begin all over again in order to get back to what I had gained. In fact, it seems worse than before if I miss.

I have found this to be true as well with my daily time with the Lord. I gain spiritual strength when I exercise by reading His Word and through quiet prayer with Him. When I miss doing it on a regular basis, it is tough to get back to what I had gained in fellowship and intimacy with Him. And, often, it seems harder to get back to where I once was!

How wonderful to be reminded therefore that “The LORD is my strength.” And even more than that, He is also my “shield,” I can trust in Him, and when I do I am helped just as David sang. It is there I find divine comfort, spiritual power, and inner joy. Like David my heart wants to “give thanks to Him in song!”

In today’s world people put their trust in so many things that are such a waste of time. Money that is soon spent; skin deep beauty that grows old; and pursuits that waste our time, finances and effort. We forget that this world is not our home, but while we are here we are to be good stewards of what God has graciously given us. This not only includes our world, finances, families, and communities, but our relationship with Him. If we are called by Him we are part of His body in the world to do His will wherever He leads.

Today, never forget that the Lord is your strength and shield, you can trust in Him, and He will help to make your heart leap with so much joy that you will want to thank Him with the song of your life lived for Him!

NOTE: This article is copyrighted by Pastor Lee Hemen © 2008 and the property of Pastor Lee Hemen. You are welcome to copy it, email it, or use it but please if you copy it, email it, or use it you must do so in its entirety.

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