Spiritual Growth; February 29, 2020

Ephesians 1:16-17 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.

I’m actually moved by this and the verses following, but the English and the Japanese divide the Greek differently, making it hard to find a stopping place. Ephesians in general is such a flood of wonderful truth! The point here is that Paul was praying for these believers, not so that they would receive the “pearls of wisdom” that he would give them, but so that they would be able to hear from God directly. Particularly since Constantine established the State Church, the clergy vs. laity divide has been a horrible curse on the Body of Christ. Martin Luther and those of his era proclaimed the Priesthood of the Believer, but the devil did all he could to squash that in practical terms, and even today the concept is honored in words far more than in deeds. God does give authority, in families and in church families, but that is never a matter of value, but rather of function. Both in families and in churches there is structure, with the father as head of the family and the pastor as head of the church, but in both cases the true Head is Jesus Christ, and every member of the family, every member of the church, has equal access to Him. That’s what Paul is praying for here. People can teach us and give us insight, but we don’t have to go through anyone to get to God, nor does He have to go through anything to get to us. Certainly, some people are more experienced and have the spiritual maturity to hear God more readily, but if we depend on them to hear from God for us, we will never grow! Sadly, some pastors seem to revel in the “aura of holiness” that people project on them, and they don’t want people under them hearing from God directly. Such shepherds will have to answer to the Great Shepherd of the Sheep (Hebrews 13:20, 1 Peter 5:4) for that, and it won’t be pretty.

This of course applies to me, since I am a husband, father, and pastor. I am indeed head in the household, (Ephesians 5:23) but our children are long gone. I do pray for them, just as Paul prayed for the Ephesians, but I cannot dictate to them. I am thrilled when they hear and obey God, and that is my greatest desire for them. God talks to my wife as much as He does to me, but often with a slightly different emphasis, which is why we share our devotional notes with each other. In this church I am the pastor, and I am responsible to feed the sheep. However, I don’t generate the food myself, nor can I chew and digest it for them. My desire is that they receive the “meals” I prepare for them, but that they don’t limit their intake to Sundays! I want each one to discover the riches God has prepared for us in His Word and delight to take them in daily, growing to be the strong, obedient disciple that God desires, for His glory.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the Word You have given me to share in the service tomorrow, and for guiding me as I prepared the outline, just as I asked. I pray that the words You speak through me would indeed open the eyes of those who hear (verse 18) so that they may see You and the things of Your kingdom, and rejoice to be and do all that You desire of and for them, for their great blessing and 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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