Ephesians 3 – The Power (part 3)

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Click here to read – The Power (part 2)

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. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, 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.’ (Ephesians 3:16-19)

I really like Paul’s prayer in chapter 3 of Ephesians, in it you see Paul’s desire for the church to be filled with the same power that his ministry has been full of.  Paul’s ministry was so powerful because through prayer he experiences the deep love of Christ.

Prayer brings together love and power: the relation of love that grows up between God and the person who prays, and the flowing of power from God too and especially through that person. (Wright)

Through prayer, we too can experience the deep deep love of God and have the power, that is the Holy Spirit, flow through our ministry as we build the kingdom of God in our communities.

‘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, for ever and ever! Amen.(Ephesians 3:20-21)

click here to read – The Power (part 3)

John 10 – The Good Shepherd

 

Good_shepherd
Fourth-century depiction at the Museum of the Baths of Diocletian, Rome

 

‘I am the good shepherd, I know my sheep and my sheep know me’ (v11)

Here Jesus is drawing on an image of God from the Old Testament, from an Old Testament Book called Ezekiel.  Ezekiel was a prophet in Israel about 600 years before the time of Jesus.

It says in Ezekiel:

For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them.  As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. …  I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy.I will shepherd the flock with justice.  (Ezekiel 34:11-12, 16)

Jesus is identifying Himself as the Good Shepherd building on this Ezekiel passage about God as the shepherd.  Jesus is the fulfilment of this Ezekiel passage, in Jesus’ ministry we see him healing the sick and acting justly.  But Jesus goes further than the Ezekiel passage by saying that the good Shepherd will lay down His life for His sheep.

Jesus tells us a hired hand is not willing to do that, faced with danger a hired shepherd will save themselves if a wolf attacks the sheep.  Jesus laid down His life for the sheep because He is the Good Shepherd because He loves us.

It’s not what you know it’s who you know.  And we know the Good Shepherd Jesus Christ.  Who loves us so much that He was willing to lay down His life for us.  So what can we do? Well in this chapter Jesus also talks about the sheep hearing His voice.  

his sheep follow him because they know his voice. (v4)

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. (v16)

Our job then is to get better at hearing the voice of Jesus.  Hearing what Jesus is saying to us in our lives. Relationships work best when you work on them.  Keep listening out for the voice of Jesus in the Bible, through prayer, in church and with friends.  

Psalm 1 – We are formed by what we love

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The Psalm begins promising happiness to the person devoted to God.  The characteristics of such a person are described negatively as the avoidance of bad companions.  We see the psalmist outline the progressive levels of collusion with the wicked. The first and least offensive is walking or to follow the advice of the wicked, then standing or taking the path that sinners tread, which means conforming to their example.  the most corrosive evil would be to sit in the scoffers assembly and participate in their mockery. The wicked scoff at the trust of the good person, who is constantly, joyfully occupied with the study and observance of God’s word. We are called to delight in the word of God and meditate on it.  

 

An individual is formed by what they love.  What delights us invades us, it becomes part of us.  The psalmist describes a person who continually (day and night) relishes the word of God, feeds on and is nourished by it.  

 

This person is compared to a tree planted beside running streams.  the imagery is of both the inward and outward. The good person is inwardly devoted to the word of God, deeply rooted in the spiritual and ethical soil that is the word of God.  Outwardly such a person is fruit-bearing like a tree.

 

Psalm 1 is not a prayer in a usual sense, the psalmist neither praises nor complains to God nor laments or rejoices in his or her situation,  the major theme is the adhesion to God’s Word in a person’s life and its importance for the attainment of happiness. This psalm is about the personal commitment to a course traced by God’s word, to live a life according to God’s will.  For a life lived in the fellowship of God and in humble obedience to him is the real way of life.