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Darlene

Ephesians 3:14-16

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Yanno, today when I was driving home from taking the girls to school, I was lost deep in thought, as usual...

 

The sense of being in a 'foreign land' really struck me hard and I've been pondering that all morning.

 

As I drove past homes from the poorer section of this road and saw the smoke billowing out of their chimneys, the thought of the warmth and comfort they were receiving inside, came to mind.

 

I am not from these parts, I've never lived in them before, nor have I even had any family or friends that have. For some reason that I don't fully understand yet (and don't necessarily need to), this is where God has lead me. It's wierd because I identify with some aspects of these people, and yet, at the same time feel alien around here and so very different. But there is a 'secret' here that He wants me to learn that I could never learn anywhere else. I feel driven these days to seek that out and discover the depth that He's birthing in my life.

 

This road that I live on, from one end to the other represents diametrically opposed living conditions, by society's standards. On one end of this road are the very poor native mountain people, who only in the last few years, got plumbing in their homes. It wasn't too long ago, that they had huge barrels secured up in the trees with hoses underneath to get water. They never knew they were poor until the world told them so

 

At the opposite end of this road are very wealthy people, with picture perfect houses, pastures and land. They have had the means with which to set up this picturesque poitrait that creates a desire to achieve much of the same.

 

In the middle of this road, ironically is me. I didn't even 'see' this, until I started to write this all out, because it was laying on my heart this morning.

 

I am drawn to the right, where these mountain folk live. I want to sit at their feet and ask a ton of questions and learn...I just have this sense that they have a key that I've never held, and that key opens up more than I can imagine.

 

I'm drawn to the left where the wealthy people live. I recognize, comprehend and understand the work that they do.

 

So, I sit here in the middle, looking right to left and ask Him who He created me to be.

 

Father,

 

I know this time that I spend reading and studying Your Word (as I say this over and over again), has a much bigger picture than what I can comprehend today. May Your hand of protection, illumination, comprehension, be over it all, and may they be Your words, and not mine.

 

 

14. For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

 

Calvin writes, "For this cause. His prayers for them are mentioned, not only to testify his regard for them, but likewise to excite them to pray in the same manner; for the seed of the word is scattered in vain, unless the Lord render it fruitful by his blessing. Let pastors learn from Paul’s example, not only to admonish and exhort their people, but to entreat the Lord to bless their labors, that they may not be unfruitful. Nothing will be gained by their industry and toil, — all their study and application will be to no purpose, except so far as the Lord bestows his blessing. This ought not to be regarded by them as an encouragement to sloth. It is their duty, on the contrary, to labor earnestly in sowing and watering, provided they, at the same time, ask and expect the increase from the Lord.

 

We are thus enabled to refute the slanders of the Pelagians and Papists, who argue, that, if the grace of the Holy Spirit performs the whole work of enlightening our minds, and forming our hearts to obedience, all instruction will be superfluous. The only effect of the enlightening and renewing influences of the Holy Spirit is, to give to instruction its proper weight and efficacy, that we may not be blind to the light of heaven, or deaf to the strains of truth. While the Lord alone acts upon us, he acts by his own instruments. It is therefore the duty of pastors diligently to teach, — of the people, earnestly to receive instruction, — and of both, not to weary themselves in unprofitable exertions, but to look up for Divine aid.

 

I bow my knees. The bodily attitude is here put for the religious exercise itself. Not that prayer, in all cases, requires the bending of the knees, but because this expression of reverence is commonly employed, especially where it is not an incidental petition, but a continued prayer."

 

Yessssssssssssssssssssssss...this is something that has been laying on my heart so heavily for a while when he says, "for the seed of the word is scattered in vain, unless the Lord render it fruitful by his blessing"...

 

This Ephesians study is GOD'S work, not mine. This study is holy ground to me and while on one hand it can make me feel a little nervous because I am so unqualified to do something like this, on the other hand it makes perfect sense because only the Living God would use someone like me to accomplish His will and purpose. His Word IS alive, I feel it and sense it every time I sit to do one of these studies. I believe that that is one of the reasons that the enemy has been fighting me with being consistant with this.

 

As far as the bending of the knees, that is something that has become very important to me...

 

In prayer over the last few years I have been amazed as I've geuinely desired to bow before Him...in my heart of hearts, I've desired to serve Him, I've been willing to call Him Lord and Master and an abundance of things like that. I've told Him how it blows my mind that I would ever want to bow and serve anyone because that just goes so against my nature and style, but with HIM, I yearn to do those things...

 

There have been times, when the morning of my knee surgeries (there have been many knee surgeries), I have got on my knees and have said to Him, "It will be a while before I'm physically able to do this again, and it is such an important thing to me to be able to bend before You, and I'm going to miss being able to do this, so I wanted to do this one last time..."

 

These days, because of the major surgeries I had on both knees last year, I'm still not able to get down on my knees and it kinda hurts my heart a little bit because I long to be able to do that again. There have been a couple of times that I've someone awkwardly been able to accomplish my knee bowing on my bed lol because the bed is so much softer than the floor lol...

 

The point is, my heart wants and needs to do this, and it just is one of those little things that holds great meaning to me.

 

Clarke writes, "For this cause I bow my knees] That you may not faint, but persevere, I frequently pray to God, who is our God and the Father of our Lord Jesus. Some very ancient and excellent MSS. and versions omit the words tou kuriou hmwn ihsou cristou, of our Lord Jesus Christ. And in them the passage reads: I bow my knees unto the Father. The apostle prays to God the Father, that they may not faint; and he bows his knees in this praying. What can any man think of himself, who, in his addresses to God, can either sit on his seat or stand in the presence of the Maker and Judge of all men? Would they sit while addressing any person of ordinary respectability? If they did so they would be reckoned very rude indeed.

 

Would they sit in the presence of the king of their own land? They would not be permitted so to do. Is God then to be treated with less respect than a fellow mortal? Paul kneeled in praying, Acts xx. 36; xxi. 5. Stephen kneeled when he was stoned, Acts vii. 60. And Peter kneeled when he raised Tabitha, Acts ix. 40.

 

Many parts of this prayer bear a strict resemblance to that offered up by Solomon, 2 Chron. vi. 1, &c., when dedicating the temple: He kneeled down upon his knees before all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands towards heaven; 2 Chron. vi. 13. The apostle was now dedicating the Christian Church, that then was and that ever should be, to God; and praying for those blessings which should ever rest on and distinguish it; and he kneels down after the example of Solomon, and invokes him to whom the first temple was dedicated, and who had made it a type of the Gospel Church."

 

What a beautiful image of Solomon kneeling, with his hands spread forth towards heaven...

 

Henry comments, "We now come to the second part of this chapter, which contains Paul's devout and affectionate prayer to God for his beloved Ephesians.—For this cause. This may be referred either to the immediately foregoing verse, That you faint not, &c., or, rather, the apostle is here resuming what he began at the first verse, from which he digressed in those which are interposed. Observe,

 

I. To whom he prays—to God, as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of which see ch. i. 3.

 

II. His outward posture in prayer, which was humble and reverent: I bow my knees. Note, When we draw nigh to God, we should reverence him in our hearts, and express our reverence in the most suitable and becoming behaviour and gesture."

 

15. Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,

 

Calvin states, "Of whom the whole family. The relative, ἐξ οὗ, of whom, may apply equally to the Father and to the Son. Erasmus restricts it entirely to the Father. I do not approve of this; for readers ought to have been allowed a liberty of choice; nay, the other interpretation appears to be far more probable. The apostle alludes to that relationship which the Jews had with each other, through their father Abraham, to whom they trace their lineage. He proposes, on the contrary, to remove the distinction between Jews and Gentiles; and tells them, not only that all men have been brought into one family and one race through Christ, but that they are enabled to claim kindred even with angels.

 

To apply it to God the Father would not be equally defensible, being liable to this obvious exception, that God formerly passed by the Gentiles, and adopted the Jews as his peculiar people. But when we apply it to Christ, the whole of Paul’s statement agrees with the facts; for all come and blend together, as one family, and, related to one God the Father, are mutually brethren. Let us therefore understand that, through the mediation of Christ, a relationship has been constituted between Jews and Gentiles, because, by reconciling us to the Father, he has made us all one. Jews have no longer any reason to boast that they are the posterity of Abraham, or that they belong to this or that tribe, — to despise others as profane, and claim the exclusive honor of being a holy people. There is but one relationship which ought to be reckoned, both in heaven and on earth, both among angels and among men — a union to the body of Christ. Out of him all will be found scattered. He alone is the bond by which we are united."

 

Clarke writes, "Of whom the whole family] Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ on earth, the spirits of just men made perfect in a separate state, and all the holy angels in heaven, make but one family, of which God is the Father and Head. St. Paul does not say, of whom the families, as if each order formed a distinct household; but he says family, because they are all one, and of one. And all this family is named - derives its origin and being, from God, as children derive their name from him who is the father of the family: holy persons in heaven and earth derive their being and their holiness from God, and therefore his name is called upon them. Christ gives the name of Christians to all the real members of his Church upon earth; and to all the spirits of just men (saved since his advent, and through his blood) in heaven. They are all the sons and daughters of God Almighty."

 

One people, who are saved through one Son, who in turn leads us into the prescence of the One True Father.

 

Henry comments, "Here, having mentioned Christ, he cannot pass without an honourable encomium of his love, v. 15. The universal church has a dependence upon the Lord Jesus Christ: Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named. The Jews were wont to boast of Abraham as their father, but now Jews and Gentiles are both denominated from Christ (so some); while others understand it of the saints in heaven, who wear the crown of glory, and of saints on earth who are going on in the work of grace here. Both the one and the other make but one family, one household; and from him they are named Christians, as they really are such, acknowledging their dependence upon, and their relation to, Christ."

 

16. That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;

 

Calvin writes, "That he would give to you. Paul wishes that the Ephesians should be strengthened; and yet he had already bestowed on their piety no mean commendation. But believers have never advanced so far as not to need farther growth. The highest perfection of the godly in this life is an earnest desire to make progress. This strengthening, he tells us, is the work of the Spirit; so that it does not proceed from man’s own ability. The increase, as well as the commencement, of everything good in us, comes from the Holy Spirit. That it is the gift of Divine grace, is evident from the expression used, that he would give to you This the Papists utterly deny. They maintain that the second grace is bestowed upon us, according as we have individually deserved it, by making a proper use of the first grace. But let us unite with Paul in acknowledging that it is the “gift” of the grace of God, not only that we have begun to run well, but that we advance; not only that we have been born again, but that we grow from day to day.

 

According to the riches of his glory. These words are intended to express still more strongly the doctrine of Divine grace. They may be explained in two ways: either, according to his glorious riches, making the genitive, agreeably to the Hebrew idiom, supply the place of an adjective, — or, according to his rich and abundant glory. The word glory will thus be put for mercy, in accordance with an expression which he had formerly used, “to the praise of the glory of his grace.” (Ephesians 1:6) I prefer the latter view.

 

In the inner man. By the inner man, Paul means the soul, and whatever relates to the spiritual life of the soul; as the outward man denotes the body, with everything that belongs to it, — health, honors, riches, vigor, beauty, and everything of that nature. “Though our outward man perish, yet our inward man is renewed day by day;” that is, if in worldly matters we decay, our spiritual life becomes more and more vigorous. (2 Corinthians 4:16) The prayer of Paul, that the saints may be strengthened, does not mean that they may be eminent and flourishing in the world, but that, with respect to the kingdom of God, their minds may be made strong by Divine power."

 

I really liked this statement, "acknowledging that it is the “gift” of the grace of God, not only that we have begun to run well, but that we advance; not only that we have been born again, but that we grow from day to day."...

 

It isn't enough to just run or be born again, in fact (to me at least), it feels meaningless to think of 'running but getting no where', or 'to be born again with no purpose'...it really is an act of His grace and tender love that He, and He alone, through His Spirit, advances us, and grows us.

 

Clarke comments, "That he would grant you] This prayer of the apostle is one of the most grand and sublime in the whole oracles of God. The riches of the grace of the Gospel, and the extent to which the soul of man may be saved here below, are most emphatically pointed out here. Every word seems to have come immediately from heaven; labouring to convey ideas of infinite importance to mankind. No paraphrase can do it justice, and few commentators seem to have entered into its spirit; perhaps deterred by its unparalleled sublimity. I shall only attempt a few observations upon the terms, to show their force and meaning; and leave all the rest to that Spirit by which these most important words were dictated. In the mean time referring the reader to the discourse lately published on this prayer of the apostle, entitled, The Family of God and its Privileges.

 

That he would grant you - You can expect nothing from him but as a free gift through Christ Jesus; let this be a ruling sentiment of your hearts when you pray to God.

 

According to the riches of his glory] According to the measure of his own eternal fullness; God's infinite mercy and goodness being the measure according to which we are to be saved. In giving alms it is a maxim that every one should act according to his ability. It would be a disgrace to a king or a noble-man to give no more than a tradesman or a peasant. God acts up to the dignity of his infinite perfections; he gives according to the riches of his glory.

 

To be strengthened with might] Ye have many enemies, cunning and strong; many trials, too great for your natural strength; many temptations, which no human power is able successfully to resist; many duties to perform, which cannot be accomplished by the strength of man; therefore you need Divine strength; ye must have might; and ye must be strengthened every where, and every way fortified by that might; mightily and most effectually strengthened.

 

By his Spirit] By the sovereign energy of the Holy Ghost. This fountain of spiritual energy can alone supply the spiritual strength which is necessary for this spiritual work and conflict.

 

In the inner man] In the soul. Every man is a compound being; he has a body and a soul. The outward man is that alone which is seen and considered by men; the inward man is that which stands particularly in reference to God and eternity. The outward man is strengthened by earthly food, &c.; the inward man, by spiritual and heavenly influences.

 

Knowledge, love, peace, and holiness, are the food of the inward man; or rather Jesus Christ, that bread of life which came down from heaven: he that eateth this bread shall live and be strengthened by it. The soul must be as truly fed and nourished by Divine food as the body by natural food."

 

I have many times starved myself spiritually to the point where I really was almost spiritually dead. I know I've certainly been in a spirtual coma, unresponsive.

 

And I know that I know that I know, that anymore these days, I cannot live, I cannot breathe, I cannot go one step farther without Him, His Word, and whatever else He deems to put in my life. My heart will not beat, my lungs will not breathe spiritually, without Him. That unconscious act of trying to stop my spiritual heart and lungs has now been transformed into my consciousness. I am conscious so much more now, how vital and critical He is every day of my life. This is so hard to explain and to put into words, but what I'm trying to say is something along those lines...

 

Henry writes, "What the apostle asks of God for these his friends—spiritual blessings, which are the best blessings, and the most earnestly to be sought and prayed for by every one of us, both for ourselves and for our friends. 1. Spiritual strength for the work and duty to which they were called, and in which they were employed: That he would grant you, according to the riches of his grace, to be strengthened, &c. The inner man is the heart or soul. To be strengthened with might is to be mightily strengthened, much more than they were at present; to be endued with a high degree of grace, and spiritual abilities for discharging duty, resisting temptations, enduring persecutions, &c. And the apostle prays that this may be according to the riches of his glory, or according to his glorious riches—answerable to that great abundance of grace, mercy, and power, which resides in God, and is his glory: and this by his Spirit, who is the immediate worker of grace in the souls of God's people. Observe from these things, That strength from the Spirit of God in the inner man is the best and most desirable strength, strength in the soul, the strength of faith and other graces, strength to serve God and to do our duty, and to persevere in our Christian course with vigour and with cheerfulness."

 

Father God,

 

That flow of words that was pouring out as I began this study has now become a little quiet...it's as if I have nothing more to say at the moment, which is fine.

 

There have been some powerful things I have read and learned into today's study, and I just ask from the bottom of my heart Lord, that You would etch these truths into my heart and mind, that You would cause them to be fertile, cause them to grow, cause them to overtake all the other things there that are not from You...

 

I love You...

 

In Jesus Name,

 

 

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I thank you for continuing with this study. I completely agree that our response to His grace is 'for a purpose'. At least part of that 'purpose' is being part of His family and knowing that it's complete. It's His grace and favor to pour out in the 'riches of His glory' that strengthens us. What a great mystery He is revealing that was 'hidden in God' that His manifold revealed Wisdom is displaying. And we get to be part of it. Hallelujah.

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OK...just catching up here.. Got behind in reading these past couple days.

 

Darlene: " I've told Him how it blows my mind that I would ever want to bow and serve anyone because that just goes so against my nature and style, but with HIM, I yearn to do those things..."

 

I can relate to that. I spent a lot of years after leaving my childhood home, feeling what I thot was freedom...to do what *I* chose.... Only discovering in recent years how safe (tho not always easy) it feels not to rely on your own wisdom to be making your choices. To give that choice to ANOTHER who is worthy of it. No other human is worthy of giving my choice to them, certainly.

 

And as to the actual physical kneeling before Him...it's an anachromym (am I using the right term? 'outdated' 'impossibly at odds' ) in this culture. Clarke--"Would they sit while addressing any person of ordinary respectability? If they did so they would be reckoned very rude indeed. Would they sit in the presence of the king of their own land? They would not be permitted so to do. Is God then to be treated with less respect than a fellow mortal? ..." Americans have leveled the playing field among persons. We are all 'created equal' and tho we show a bit of respect here and there to persons deserving it [don't get me started on the adoration shown to persons NOT deserving it], we have turned our backs on kings and bowing down ....and in the process, we have let go of a lot of basic respect for ANYone. I definitely found it hard to think that bending the knee...EVEN to the God Almighty....would be significant. Of COURSE we can pray while dangling from our toes if we wish. We can be *mentally* kneeling in proper reverence even then and HE will always hear us. But to finally come thru our cultural barricade (& likely pride) and experience it bodily...that difference in me, the petitioner when I deliberately choose to set myself under His reign and authority literally... I'm a very kinesthetic person so THAT was significant to me. Not that I can stay bodily in any position long ...due to my physical limits too.

 

LOL Darlene, I had a thot of you faithfully doing your knee exercises and rehab with the sole motivation of being able to once again bend them literally before Him. I hope they get better! (( ))

 

--------------

 

Calvin "if in worldly matters we decay, our spiritual life becomes more and more vigorous." Eeehh.... although I have given Him permission to press this forward in my life, I think that I am presently fighting it. It becomes so painful that I am squirming. "vs 16...according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man" Oh yeah, gotta KNOW that this process is to a good end and, after all, I invited Him to work this.... *sigh* My 'inner' is hurting and my 'outter' is very tired right now.

 

----Clarke "To be strengthened with might] Ye have many enemies, cunning and strong; many trials, too great for your natural strength; many temptations, which no human power is able successfully to resist; many duties to perform, which cannot be accomplished by the strength of man; therefore you need Divine strength; ye must have might; and ye must be strengthened every where, and every way fortified by that might; mightily and most effectually strengthened.

 

By his Spirit] By the sovereign energy of the Holy Ghost. This fountain of spiritual energy can alone supply the spiritual strength which is necessary for this spiritual work and conflict."

 

 

Henry "...and to persevere in our Christian course with vigour and with cheerfulness." >/blush.gif" alt="blush" title="blush" height="15" width="15" />

 

 

Thanks, Darlene....for bringing Mr Calvin, Mr Clarke, & Mr Henry and most notably God's messenger Paul here. I needed this. A bit of manna to go on. It's not a crisis of belief. It's a Fatigue in the Middle of the Lessons of Life.

 

 

MtRider

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