As I Begin My Day…

Philippians 2:1-11 (NIV):

1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Morning Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father,

As we begin this new day, we gather in your presence, seeking your guidance and strength. We thank you for the encouragement we receive from being united with Christ and the comfort we find in your boundless love. May your Holy Spirit dwell among us, filling our hearts with tenderness and compassion for one another.

Lord, we strive to make your joy complete by being like-minded, displaying the same love and unity of spirit. Help us to set aside selfish ambitions and vain conceit, replacing them with humility and a genuine concern for others. Teach us to value others above ourselves, looking not only to our own interests but also to the needs and desires of those around us.

In our relationships with one another, may we imitate the mindset of Christ Jesus. Though he was God in nature, he humbled himself and took on the form of a servant, entering into our humanity. He exemplified obedience, even to the point of death on the cross. We stand in awe of his selfless sacrifice, which opened the way for our salvation.

Lord, we recognize that you have exalted Jesus to the highest place, granting him a name above every name. We confess that every knee should bow and every tongue should acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Help us to honor and proclaim his name in all that we do.

As we step into this new day, grant us the strength and wisdom to live out the teachings of your Word. Guide our thoughts, words, and actions, that they may reflect your love and bring glory to your name. Equip us to be instruments of peace, grace, and mercy in a world that so desperately needs your touch.

We offer this prayer in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.


Christian Celebrity Culture Is Moving Us to a Post Christian Era

While a majority of Americans have a positive view of Jesus, most, including Christians, also have a negative opinion of celebrity Christian culture, celebrity pastors, Evangelicals, megachurches and famous worship bands, a new study from Barna Group shows.

And the situation is among a number of drivers inching the nation toward a post-Christian era.

The data for the study, conducted online from Dec. 13–22, 2022, via a consumer research panel, was based on a survey of 2,005 U.S. adults and teenagers called the Spiritually Open project. Gloo and He Gets Us partnered with Barna for the research.

“When we asked Americans whether they have a positive or negative opinion of Jesus, seven in 10 (71%) say they view him positively. Of all U.S. teens and adults, 63 percent say they have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today,” Barna researchers said. “This is actually most common among millennials, of whom 70 percent say their commitment to Jesus is still important to them.”

When asked if they have a “positive” opinion of certain aspects of Christian culture like megachurches, the study shows that just a minority of both Christians and non-Christians approve.

Overall, only 16% of U.S. teens and adults have a positive view of megachurches, and among Christians, it doesn’t get much better. Only 17% view them positively. For people of other faiths, 21% said they have a positive view of megachurches, while just 9% of people with no faith said the same.

For celebrity pastors, only 19% of Christians and people of other faiths had a positive view of those ministers, while just 17% of respondents overall said the same.

Famous people or celebrities who are Christian are also not seen positively. Only 26% of respondents overall in the survey and 30% of Christians approve.

Twenty-six percent of respondents in the study overall also had a positive view of famous or well-known worship bands. Among Christians, just 30% view these bands positively, along with 29% of people from other faiths and 12% of people who profess no faith at all.

Evangelicals are also not well-liked. Only 26% of respondents overall have a positive view of the group. Among Christians, that view increases to 31% but falls to 24% among people of other faiths.

While some 56% of Christians in the survey said they had a positive view of Christian pastors or priests, less than half (44%) of the respondents in the study overall reported the same. Only 47% of respondents overall had a positive view of churches in their community, while 58% of Christians did.

Majorities of overall respondents viewed Jesus Christ (71%), Christianity (57%), the Bible (63%) and spirituality (65%) favorably. Larger majorities of Christians also expressed positive views regarding Jesus Christ (84%), Christianity (74%), the Bible (78%) and spirituality (75%). On the other hand, Christianity is not viewed positively by people of other faiths, just 36% of whom have warm feelings toward the religion.

“Beyond Jesus, when it comes to views of other Christian groups or entities, positive opinions wane. People of no faith are neutral or leaning negative — and for celebrity, mega or famous representatives of the faith, opinions are decidedly negative,” researchers said.

The top reason given by people of no faith and other faiths for doubting Christianity is “the hypocrisy of religious people,” while among Christians it is “human suffering.”

“The work of Christians is to embody Jesus — full of truth and grace — and reflect his image in all they say and do,” Barna Group CEO David Kinnaman said in a statement. “The data shows they too often fall short.”

Leonardo Blair

Living with Confidence

Have you ever felt discouraged and weary, worn down by the constant news cycle and the seeming pointlessness of daily life? Me too. Humans since the garden have often lacked confidence when facing the future. Knowing this, the Lord provided his Old Testament saints with the Feast of Weeks (Lev. 23:15–22), an old covenant celebration designed to remind Israel of the sure and certain harvest their kind God prepared for them.

Even in 2023, amid the chaos of the late modern world, in spite of what the endless drip of news leads may tempt us to believe, God’s people still can live with confidence. Ancient Israel’s agricultural custom, with its description buried deep in Old Testament law, signals everything we need to know: A harvest will fill the barn. The feast announces this for our joy.

Features of the Feast

Chapter 23 is an essential section of Leviticus. It outlines “the appointed feasts” (v. 2). These festivals served as a framework for Israel’s life as God’s people. On a weekly and annual basis, Israel would move their minds, souls, and bodies to rhythms of God’s grace and provision. These rhythms would shape them, again and again, in the confidence that comes from knowing the Lord.

A harvest will fill the barn. The feast announces this for our joy.

The Feast of Weeks is one example, one rhythm that held out joy for God’s people. It has four important features.

1. Pilgrimage to Jerusalem

The Feast of Weeks required able-bodied Israelites to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to worship in the temple. Their offerings were to be hand-delivered (Deut. 16:10).

The worshiper would gather with others from places far and wide. Lest provincial concerns lead to distraction and discouragement, the Israelite would see and remember that God’s abundant provision knows no geographic bounds. The north and south, the east and west, small villages and larger towns are all locations of God’s faithful work for his people. As the Old Testament narrative marches on, we pick up hints that God’s promises would spill beyond Israel—the prophets foretold all nations would one day flow to the temple mount to join the party (Isa. 2:2).

2. Offerings

The Israelites were to bring grain and animals with wine as acts of worship. The varied offerings mixed themes of devotion, gratitude, forgiveness, and spiritual reconciliation (Lev. 23:16–20).

Worshipers would remember the Lord is the Giver; all we possess belongs to him and comes from him. He is the true sustainer of our lives. Our labors of tilling, planting, weeding, tending, and harvesting aren’t the real source of our blessing. God made this clear for the worshiper in rich and deep ways. God dealt with each person’s sin and shortcomings forthrightly, offering each person the forgiveness and freedom necessary to live in the light of joy instead of the darkness of guilt and shame.

3. Rest

The feast day was simultaneously a day to keep Sabbath (v. 21). Because the pilgrim dwelled in Jerusalem for the duration of the feast, there was no scramble back to the fields for personal self-making. Instead, the worshipers would trust that the Lord upholds the world even while they rested and worshiped.

The ancient Israelites may not have felt the intense pressure we do to check emails on our days off or to overload the weeks after vacation to catch up, but in their own ways, our forefathers in faith were tempted to trust in self-provision. It was unnecessary then and now. The Feast of Weeks reminded them the Lord reigns.

4. Generosity

As they loaded their carts for the journey, worshipers would be reminded the edges of their fields were for others (v. 22). God’s gracious gifts were to be shared with those whose circumstances were different. The biblical logic is that a generous God has a generous people.

The Feast of Weeks was about joyful confidence in God, a confidence that couldn’t be shaken or set aside by circumstances, by sin and shame, or by personal striving.

We have a greater reason to be confident.

How Jesus Fulfills the Feast

The Lord Jesus speaks of himself as a grain of wheat (John 12:24). He sends workers into his plentiful harvest. He makes atonement as a perfect offering for sin and shame. He gives peace with God, and he, in his very person, assures us our God will most certainly give us all things (Rom. 8:32). Our crucified, risen, ascended, and returning Lord Jesus is always working in the world by the power of his Spirit, gathering a harvest of worshipers from every tongue and tribe and nation.

The Feast of Weeks was about joyful confidence in God that couldn’t be shaken by circumstances, sin and shame, or personal striving.

The outpouring of the Spirit in Acts 2 on the Day of Pentecost—the celebration of the Feast of Weeks during the apostles’ time—sprouts up in the soil of the biblical narrative as a fulfillment of the prophets’ promise that all nations will come to Jerusalem. The Spirit fills the cup of Old Testament imagery to the brim as Isaiah’s dream is fulfilled. The Spirit preaches the gospel to worshipers from every corner of the Jewish diaspora, giving them the ability to hear and proclaim the good news to all people.

‘Harvest Will Fill the Barn’

“When we work well, a Sabbath mood / Rests on our day, and finds it good,” writes Wendell Berry. Here’s the full context:

Whatever is foreseen in joy
Must be lived out from day to day.
Vision held open in the dark
By our ten thousand days of work.
Harvest will fill the barn; for that
The hand must ache, the face must sweat.
And yet no leaf or grain is filled
By work of ours; the field is tilled
And left to grace. That we may reap,
Great work is done while we’re asleep.

When we work well, a Sabbath mood
Rests on our day, and finds it good.

Our labors to sow and plant, water and reap in the ordinary things of daily life are caught up in something bigger than the despair and violence we see on the news and in social media posts. Our Lord is always working. A great harvest is coming in. The barn will be filled full. Praise God! A Christian can live with confidence.

Joel Busby

Before I Sleep…

Take a moment to quiet your heart and mind, allowing the words of Ephesians 3:16-19 to sink in. Reflect on the profound truth that God desires to strengthen you with His power in your inner being. Visualize His glorious riches pouring into the depths of your soul, filling you with His Spirit.

Imagine Christ dwelling in your heart through faith, His presence permeating every aspect of your life. Contemplate what it means to be rooted and established in love, experiencing the vast dimensions of Christ’s love that surpass human understanding. Allow yourself to be overwhelmed by the depth, height, length, and width of His immeasurable love for you.

In this moment of quiet reflection, surrender yourself to God, inviting Him to strengthen you, fill you, and lead you into a deeper understanding of His love. Embrace the transformative work of the Holy Spirit within you, knowing that through His power, you can live a life that reflects the fullness of God.

Evening Prayer:

Heavenly Father,

As the day comes to a close, I come before You in prayer, grateful for the truths revealed in Ephesians 3:16-19. I ask that You accomplish in my life what Paul described, and I surrender myself to Your transformative work.

Lord, strengthen me with Your power in my inner being. Pour out Your glorious riches upon me, that I may be filled with the Holy Spirit. May Your presence dwell in my heart through faith, guiding my thoughts, words, and actions.

Root and establish me in Your love. Help me to comprehend the vast dimensions of Christ’s love, which surpass human knowledge. Enable me to experience the depth, height, length, and width of Your immeasurable love in a profound way.

Lord, I long to be filled with the fullness of God. Renew my mind, transform my heart, and mold me into the image of Christ. Grant me a deep understanding of Your will, that I may walk in alignment with Your purposes.

As I lay down my burdens and concerns before You, I trust in Your faithfulness and sovereignty. I surrender my plans and desires to Your perfect will. May Your love guide me, and may my life be a testimony of Your grace.

Thank You, loving Father, for the privilege of being strengthened by You, filled with Your love, and filled with the fullness of God. As I rest in Your presence, may You continue the work You have started in me.

In Jesus’ name, I pray.


Filled with the Fullness

As believers, we are strengthened in our inner being and filled with the fullness of God through the work of the Holy Spirit and our deepening relationship with God. The process involves surrendering to God, seeking His presence, and allowing His transformative power to work in us. Here are some scriptures that describe this process:

  1. Ephesians 3:16-17a: “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.”

This verse highlights that our inner strength comes from the power of the Holy Spirit. As we yield ourselves to God and invite His Spirit to work within us, we are empowered and strengthened. Through faith, Christ takes residence in our hearts, transforming us from within.

  1. 2 Corinthians 4:16: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”

This verse speaks to the ongoing process of inner renewal that takes place within believers. While our outward bodies may experience weaknesses and challenges, our inner being is renewed daily through our relationship with God. As we seek Him, spend time in His Word, and engage in prayer and fellowship, our inner being is continually refreshed and strengthened.

  1. Romans 12:2: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

This verse highlights the connection between the renewal of our minds and the transformative work of God within us. By allowing our minds to be renewed according to God’s truth and wisdom, we open ourselves to His transformative power. Our thoughts, attitudes, and perspectives align more closely with His will, leading to a deeper experience of His fullness.

  1. Colossians 3:10: “and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”

In this verse, we are encouraged to put on our new selves in Christ, which involves a continuous process of renewal. As we grow in knowledge and understanding of God, we are transformed into His image. The renewal process involves learning, growing, and maturing in our faith as we deepen our relationship with Him.

These scriptures collectively portray the process of inner strengthening and being filled with the fullness of God. It involves inviting the Holy Spirit to work within us, renewing our minds through the Word of God, surrendering to His transformative power, and growing in our knowledge and relationship with Him. Through these means, we experience His strength, presence, and fullness in our inner being.

Church Complexity

“Put every hook in the water you can, and you will catch more fish.”

That was the church growth advice I heard from a local pastor and tried to apply in my own church until I discovered every hook takes time, money, volunteers, and a lot of emotional energy. We had the hooks. We just didn’t have enough rods, reels, or anything else necessary to keep the hooks in the water.

The analogy breaks down, but it illustrates that without a clear focus on our gospel mission, churches move toward complexity. We add more and more programs hoping to reach more people. Sometimes it works. More often, it clutters our calendars and spreads our resources far too thin.

Before looking at solutions, let’s consider three common reasons churches drift toward complexity.

1. Comparison 

We see what other churches are doing, and we want to do that too. It’s often called FOMO—Fear of Missing Out.

We should learn from others. But rather than learning principles of healthy ministry, we often attempt to apply specific practices of another church. And many times, our churches are simply unprepared for that.

We also tend to compare our current season of ministry to a previous one or to the next one. What was effective in the past or what may be effective in the future is not necessarily best for this season.

2. Confusion

Pastors, like all leaders in this era, are bombarded with messages every day. Everything seems both important and urgent, and it all asks for our immediate and full-orbed response. What are you doing about this theological drift? What about this cultural challenge? What about that community event? And what about the next crisis in the congregation?

Capable leaders find themselves dizzied by the scope of expectations placed upon them. We want to shepherd the flock well. We want to be responsive to our congregation and relevant in our context, but often we’re just reacting to the last headline, email, or direct message.

3. Capacity

We have options. The invention of the automobile, for example, made it possible to travel farther and more frequently, so rather than walking to the market once a week, we can drive there multiple times each day. And we often do. Our capacity to travel with ease creates an expectation that we will.

But in the church, our capacity does not determine our calling. God does. Just because we can do something does not mean we should. When capacity directs our decisions, complexity soon drains our capacity.

Moving from complexity to kingdom impact

While complexity clogs up our disciple-making pathway, simplicity clears the path for kingdom impact.

I once heard Tim Elmore, founder of Growing Leaders, share the principle of the river and the flood. Both a river and a flood have water, but the river produces great benefits to everyone because of its focus. The flood, on the other hand, is all over the place and creates damage and frustration.

Unfortunately, many churches are more like a flood than a river. We have good news and good resources to make Jesus known, but we lack meaningful impact because we lack focus.

So, let’s look at three simple characteristics that narrow a church’s focus while expanding its impact.

1. Confidence

I’ve had the privilege of visiting several churches of various sizes and denominational backgrounds over the past two years. When I began these visits, churches were re-opening and finding their footing after the pandemic. Each church was filled with committed Christians led by capable pastors. But one consistent observation I left with each week was how hard the pastor was trying.

You could sense both fear and fatigue. The tone of voice. The cadence. The mannerisms. They all testified to maximum effort. It wasn’t despair, but it was an “I’ve got to make this work” kind of feeling.

We’ve all read reports of pastoral burnout. Like all reports, most data lags behind reality. If the latest survey says 1 in 5 pastors feel burnout, it’s probably more than that.

So, the first step to getting simpler and making a greater impact is for pastors to get healthier. Rather than leading from a posture of fear, we must renew our confidence that Jesus, not us, builds His church. Rather than grasping with exhausted hands for every new method that crosses our feed, healthy pastors abide in Jesus, trusting Him to produce lasting fruit.

2. Clarity

Find your “why?” Attempting to lead without clarity of vision, mission, and values leads to frustration. But clarity of purpose creates the freedom to focus on only essential priorities.

Every yes to one thing is a no to many others. But it’s also true that a no to many things is a yes to the one thing that matters most. When we know our purpose and what it takes to accomplish that purpose, we are able to say no to the nonessential things that crowd our calendars, budgets, and volunteer resources.

3. Compassion

Jesus came to earth to fulfill the will of the Father by offering Himself on the cross for our sins. Nothing distracted Him from proving His love for us. The apostle Paul told the Philippians he made every effort to lay hold of his calling (Philippians 3:12-14) so that the world would know Christ as he knew Christ.

In the same way, our focus is motivated by a love for the world. We do not do what we do to prove our worth or please our congregations. We do our one thing so that we may win the world to Christ. It’s sincere love that motivates our stubborn focus on the mission of God.

Last word

Our neighbors have many options for entertainment, education, dining, leisure, and even friendship. But they will only have the opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel when the church declutters its calendar and makes making disciples of Jesus the singular focus of ministry.

Daryl Crouch

Blurring One’s Gender

Perhaps more than ever before, people are asking the question “What does it mean to be a man (or to be a woman)?” While many in society are unwilling to give a straightforward answer, some of us within conservative Christian circles jump to oversimplified definitions. I’ve heard it a thousand times in a variety of versions: “I tell my kids that girls grow up to be moms and boys grow up to be dads.” While statements like that are correct in part, they’re incomplete—and even misleading.

Widely in Christian evangelical literature and teaching, we’ve defined gender (who men and women are) by focusing on biological sex (men and women’s physical differences) or gender roles (what men and women do functionally). In our desire to uphold the dignity and distinction of the genders, we’ve oversimplified our understanding. We’ve defined what it means to be a woman as merely being biologically female (physical) or being/having the potential to be a wife, mother, and follower of male leadership (roles/functions).

I fully recognize biological sex and gender aren’t synonymous. In today’s culture, the two terms refer to different concepts. Biological sex references the binary physical difference between males and females observed in our bodies and DNA. Gender is typically used to reference cultural expressions of masculinity and femininity or a perceived “gender identity” along a spectrum of expression.

But in God’s good design for humanity, there’s a deep interconnection between the physical (body) and nonphysical (soul) aspects of us as embodied people. Both our physical and nonphysical aspects are gendered together. This means our genders are neither skin deep nor relegated to our minds. We’re gendered people, all the way down.

Why can’t we define gender according to roles?

What it means to be men and women isn’t the same thing as the roles for men and women. The innate nature of men and women cannot be defined by functions. In fact, the roles defined in Scripture are descriptive, illustrative, limited, and temporary. Roles like prophet, priest, and king (in the Old Testament) and elder/pastor and husband (in the New Testament) serve as temporary pointers to Christ and will ultimately be fulfilled in him.

What is the gender question really asking?

More than asking for role distinctions between men and women, the gender question is fundamentally asking “What does it mean to be human as a man (or as a woman)?” We must answer the ontological question of our innate nature rather than our functions.

Which aspects are the same between men and women?

A survey of Scripture reveals many aspects of humankind’s innate nature, most of which are the same for men and women. I’d summarize these shared aspects as our purpose, mandate, and virtues.

The innate nature of men and women cannot be defined by functions.

At creation, God clearly designed humanity in his image and as male and female (Gen. 1:26–27). Both males and females share the purpose of glorifying God as his image-bearers. They were also given the same mandate to multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it (v. 28). This mandate was expanded, though not replaced, by Jesus’s command to go and make disciples of the nations (Matt. 28:18–20). Men and women clearly share the mandate to physically and spiritually multiply and fill the earth.

Additionally, all people share the same virtues, or qualities commanded by God and desirable for a fruitful life (e.g., fruit of the Spirit, spiritual giftings, the Beatitudes). Our shared virtues include any biblical characteristics that enhance or support the qualities of flourishing, such as wisdom (Prov. 1:1–7), courage (Josh. 1:9), and nurturing (Eph. 6:4). These virtues are faith-based and gender-indiscriminate; they’re demanded of and available to all believers.

Which aspects are distinct between men and women?

Yet God’s design for people does include some clear distinctions between genders. These differences can be summarized as type and expression. God created two types (male and female) of one kind (humanity). God’s intended distinction between the two types is evidenced by their distinct formations (Gen. 2:7, 21–22). Made in the same image, of the same kind, and of the same constitution, the man and the woman were formed separately. They’re not the same and aren’t interchangeable. Our biological differences signify—but don’t epitomize—this distinction of type because we’re more than our biology. Type includes both the physical and nonphysical aspects of who we are.

The distinction of expression signifies that the perspective and method of living out the shared properties (purpose, mandate, and virtues) are often different for men and women.

Historically, the various disciplines of science and philosophy have recognized men and women generally think and behave differently—though successfully naming the differences has been consistently impossible. Male and female expression cannot be defined universally. Rather, gender-typical expression falls on a context-defined spectrum. That means typical behavior for men and women varies across time and cultures.

While the spectrum of expression is broad, Scripture does provide clear guide rails. The scriptural limitations for the spectrum of gender expression seem to be the willful act to disregard one’s gender in an effort to be seen as, or identified with, the other gender type (Deut. 22:5). God’s apparent concern isn’t with defining female and male expression of the shared properties (purpose, mandate, and virtues). Rather, God’s concern seems to be with a woman intentionally behaving as a man (or with a man intentionally behaving as a woman) in order to be identified as a man (or as a woman).

The same principle would apply to those attempting to blur or hide the reality of their own gender (i.e., androgyny or gender fluidity). Whether or not her expression is typical for her context, a woman’s gendered expression must reflect her creation as the female type and her acceptance of being a woman (and vice versa for a man). It’s only within the context of expression that the discussion of roles and functions becomes relevant, as part of reflecting our gender includes accepting any gender-specific roles dictated in Scripture (whether in the home or in the church).

To summarize, gender refers to the two types of humankind—male and female—who share purpose, mandate, and virtues but who differ in their expression. In God’s design for humankind, the two types possess many uniformities and few distinctions and are complementary to each other.

Did you just use a spectrum to answer the gender question?

No. Let’s be clear: gender is binary. There are only two types of humans—male and female. But our expression of gender does fall on a spectrum. In every context, there are male-typical expressions of the shared properties. Every man in that context expresses his genderedness (maleness) along that spectrum of typical and nontypical behavior.

Let’s be clear: gender is binary. But our expression of gender does fall on a spectrum.

For example, as believers we’re all called to gentleness as a fruit of the Spirit at work in our lives. Male-typical expression of gentleness in my context is characterized by being kind-hearted, quiet-natured, and even accommodating. By contrast, a nontypical male expression of gentleness might be physical affection, tenderness, and high emotional intelligence.

Male-typical and female-typical expressions fall on two different spectrums. Therefore, there’d also be a separate spectrum for the female expression of the shared properties in every context. In both cases, the outer bounds of the spectrums are the willful intention of using nontypical expressions to be perceived as the opposite gender or to blur one’s gender.

Gracilynn Hanson

Looking Deeper…

The background for Ephesians 3:14-19 lies in the broader context of the letter written by the apostle Paul to the Ephesian believers. In this specific section, Paul offers a prayer for the spiritual growth and understanding of the Ephesian Christians.

The passage is part of a larger prayer that begins in verse 1 of Ephesians 3 and continues until verse 21. In the preceding verses (Ephesians 3:1-13), Paul discusses the mystery of Christ, which includes the revelation that Gentiles are now fellow heirs and partakers of the promise through faith in Christ. He speaks of his role as a steward of this mystery and the grace given to him to share this message with others.

In Ephesians 3:14-19, Paul transitions from explaining his ministry to expressing his heartfelt prayer for the Ephesian believers. It can be seen as a continuation and application of the preceding discussion. Paul emphasizes the spiritual strength, understanding, and experience of God’s love that he desires for the Ephesians.

The passage reflects Paul’s deep concern for the spiritual well-being of the Ephesian believers. He prays that they may be strengthened with power through the Holy Spirit in their inner being, so that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith. Paul wants them to be rooted and established in love, experiencing the width, length, height, and depth of the love of Christ, which surpasses human knowledge.

This prayer serves as a foundation for the subsequent paragraphs in Ephesians 3. In verses 20-21, Paul concludes his prayer with praise, expressing confidence in God’s ability to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that they could ask or think, according to His power at work within them. He concludes by giving glory to God, recognizing His sovereignty and the eternal purpose fulfilled in Christ Jesus.

The apostle Paul considered himself a steward of the mystery of Christ, entrusted with the task of proclaiming and explaining God’s plan of salvation to both Jews and Gentiles. He received a unique revelation from God regarding the inclusion of the Gentiles in God’s redemptive plan, and he saw it as his responsibility to make this mystery known to others.

  1. Ephesians 3:2-6: “Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”

In this passage from Ephesians, Paul explains that God entrusted him with the administration of His grace and revealed to him the mystery of Christ. He clarifies that this mystery was not known in previous generations but has now been revealed by the Spirit to the apostles and prophets. Paul’s role as a steward involved proclaiming the gospel and making known the inclusion of Gentiles as co-heirs and members of the same body in Christ.

  1. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20: “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”

In this passage, Paul emphasizes that God has reconciled us to Himself through Christ and has entrusted us with the ministry of reconciliation. As believers, we are given the responsibility to share the message of God’s reconciliation with the world. We are called to be Christ’s ambassadors, representing Him and making His appeal to others. Our role is to implore people to be reconciled to God through faith in Christ.

These scriptures highlight that just as Paul was entrusted with the stewardship of the mystery of Christ, we too have a role in sharing the gospel and making known the love and reconciliation found in Jesus. We are called to proclaim the good news, share the message of God’s grace, and serve as ambassadors of Christ in our interactions with others.

As I Begin My Day…

“14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 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, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:14-19, NIV)

Morning Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father,

As I begin this new day, I come before You humbly, acknowledging Your greatness and seeking Your presence in my life. I am grateful for the words of Ephesians 3:14-19, which remind me of Your infinite love and power. Today, I ask for Your help to live out this day in the spirit of this text.

Father, I pray that You strengthen me with Your power through Your Holy Spirit dwelling in my inner being. Fill me with Your presence, that I may be a vessel for Your love and grace to flow through. Help me to surrender my heart to You, allowing Christ to dwell in me through faith. Root and establish me in Your love, that I may be firmly grounded in Your truth.

Lord, grant me the power, alongside all Your holy people, to comprehend the vastness of Your love. Help me grasp the width, length, height, and depth of the love of Christ, which surpasses human understanding. May this understanding permeate my thoughts, words, and actions throughout this day.

Father, I long to know Your love in a way that fills me to the measure of all Your fullness. Overflow my heart with Your love, so that it overflows onto others. Grant me opportunities to extend Your love, kindness, and compassion to those I encounter. Help me to reflect Your character and bring glory to Your name.

In all that I do today, may Your love shine through me. Guide my steps, Lord, and direct my path according to Your will. Give me discernment and wisdom to make choices that align with Your purposes. May my life today be a living testimony of Your love and grace.

Thank You, Heavenly Father, for hearing my prayer. I surrender this day into Your hands and trust that You will be with me every step of the way. In the precious name of Jesus, I pray.


Your Source of Information

Where we go for information reveals whom we trust. Children turn to their parents instinctively. Researchers consult the most reputable journals. Scientists use the best instruments.

When Ahaziah was in trouble, his choice was to consult Baal. Why did the new king consider Baal to be the best source of information about his future?

Today’s passage spans the gap between 1 and 2 Kings with the story of Ahaziah, Ahab’s son. His introductory biography informs us that he was wicked in the ways of his father and mother, and he also behaved like Jeroboam, the king who built the golden calves at Bethel and Dan. First Kings ends there, but Ahaziah’s story does not. The division here is probably not original. It is quite possible that these two books would have been written on one scroll in ancient times.

So, if you keep reading into 2 Kings, you’ll see Ahaziah’s story continue. Here we discover that Ahaziah was seriously injured in a fall. His injury was significant enough that he feared for his life and sought divine counsel. Like so many before him, the king did not seek God, but instead the counsel of Baal!

Even after all that had happened to Ahab, his father, Ahaziah had not learned his lesson.

So God, in His mercy, took steps yet again, to show Israel the He is in control and worthy of their undivided worship. The angel of the Lord, spoke to Elijah and sent him to confront Ahaziah with an insightful question: “Is it because there is no God in Israel for you to consult that you have sent messengers to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron?” (2 Kings 1:3). The question is penetrating.

Ahab’s decision to consult Baal implied that he thought of God as unreliable, or even worse, not God at all! What do your choices say about your view of God? Do they reveal Him to be totally trustworthy? Or do they suggest that your trust lies elsewhere?

%d bloggers like this: