What is the basis of Christian hope? First of all, it’s the very character of God, revealed to us in manifold ways, most of all in Jesus Christ. Thus, in Ephesians 1, Paul prays that we might know God better so that we might know hope better. In particular, the more we grasp the wonder of God’s calling, the more we realize all that his calling entails, the more we will be people of confident hope.
When we consider God’s calling, we respond with hope. Notice that our hope is not something we conjure up in ourselves through positive thinking or by trying to have a good attitude. Rather, it is our response to knowing God. It is our response to all that God has given to us and will give to us in Christ. Therefore, in this passage, Paul does not exhort us to be hopeful. Rather, he prays that God will enable us to know the hope that is already ours in Christ.
Since I’ve started thinking of Easter as a season and not just a day, one benefit has been the chance to reflect more deeply on the meaning of Christ’s resurrection… there is so much more to consider, so much more to reflect upon, so much more to learn, so much more about which to wonder, so much more to celebrate. The season of Easter urges us to engage with the “so much more.”
So far in this week’s Life for Leaders devotions we have been focusing on how we can know God better, taking our lead from Ephesians 1:17. Today, I want to consider the question: Do you know God personally?… Knowing someone implies something more personal. It suggests a two-way relationship. It involves knowing things about someone, but goes much deeper than just gathering information.
If we read this [Ephesians] simply as God’s Word to us individually, we would fail to reflect upon the communal dimensions of Paul’s prayer. He is asking God to give the Spirit of wisdom and revelation not to separate individuals but to individuals joined together in community. Therefore, in our quest to know God better, let’s remember that we are not alone. We should not think of ourselves in this way.
The simple good news of Ephesians 1:17 is that God, through the Spirit, will help us know him better. God does this because he seeks relationship with us (see also Ephesians 1:5 and John 4:24). God wants you to know him better! Thus, we are encouraged to pray as Paul prayed, both for ourselves and for others. May the Lord give us the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that we may know him better.
The whole Scripture bears witness to the fact that knowing God is not something you can do on your own. Rather, it depends on God. You can know God truly only if God chooses to make himself known to you. The good news of the Bible is that God has already revealed himself in profound ways: in creation, in history, in his people, in Scripture, and most of all in Jesus Christ. Moreover, God has given us his Spirit and placed us in the community of his people so that we might know God deeply, accurately, and intimately.
Why is thanksgiving such an essential element in prayers of asking? Of course, it’s always appropriate to thank God for his many gifts. But the act of giving thanks not only acknowledges God, but also increases our faith. When we remember all that God has done for us… then we are inspired to pray more boldly. We have faith to ask God for more of his favor because we remember how generous he has been in the past with his favor.
How often do you hear “Thank you” from your colleagues at work? From your boss? From your subordinates? How often do you say “Thank you” to your colleagues?… Paul’s example in Ephesians 1:15-16 can inspire us to share our gratitude for others with them. In this passage, the Apostle Paul tells the recipients of his letter that he thanks God for them. He doesn’t just thank God. He shares his gratitude with those for whom he is thankful.
In Ephesians 1:15-16, Paul tells the recipients of the letter that he gives thanks for them, in part because of their “love for all of God’s people.” (The original language reads literally, “love for all of the saints.”) You might be tempted to read this phrase quickly and move on. But if you stop for a moment and think about it, you might wonder about loving all of God’s people. All? Really?