September 20, 2015

Ephesians 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

This introduces one of Paul’s famous tumultuously long, packed, and thoroughly Greek sentences. It’s broken up when translated into other languages, but it’s anyone’s call as to exactly how to break it up, so sentence/verse divisions are all over the place. What follows this verse is actually one of the most glorious statements of what God has done for us in Christ in the whole Bible. The biggest reason it isn’t as famous as John 3:16 is that it’s so long! It is mind-boggling to think about the magnificence of God’s grace toward us. Gratitude should govern every moment of our lives, but unfortunately we tend simply to forget it. “Every spiritual blessing in heaven” is a literally infinite category, so we tend not to think about it, to our great loss. It is so much more pleasant to obey God out of gratitude and love than out of obligation and fear!

As a pastor I need not only to focus on gratitude in my own life but lead others to do the same. I have a limitless list of things to be thankful for myself, but I need to help others realize that their own list isn’t much shorter, even if it might be different in particulars. There are some pretty miserable people in our church, and they made themselves that way by refusing to lift their eyes off of themselves and their circumstances and lift them to Christ. I think perhaps Cathy’s and my current situation, where we continue to rejoice in God even while facing circumstances that make our friends anxious for us, may wake a few of those people up. I certainly hope so! I must not be boastful about it all, but Jesus said we are to let our lights shine, so I’m not to be shy about it either. God is worth bragging on, even though I’m not!

Father, thank You for getting us safely through the long trip here, and for the reception that awaited us. Thank You that it included dinner! Thank You especially for the opportunity to talk with the two ladies about faith, even though it was at a time when we’re usually in bed! I pray that You would give several more such opportunities over these two days, and that as I prayed yesterday, we would see fruit of salvation. The one lady last night is an inactive Catholic, and I think You gave her a lot to think about through me. May it result in a vital, personal, relationship with You, not just for her salvation but for the salvation of many more through her, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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