Today’s bible study is Ephesians 3-5:14: When I think of all this, I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus for the benefit of you Gentiles. . . assuming, by the way, that you know God gave me the special responsibility of extending his grace to you Gentiles. As I briefly wrote earlier, God himself revealed his mysterious plan to me. As you read what I have written, you will understand my insight into this plan regarding Christ.
This letter of the apostle Paul was written at a time when he was imprisoned. Paul did not have an easy life, yet he wrote more letters in the bible than any other single person. And, in each of his letters, he maintains his faith and trust in God and in the coming of the Christ.
In order to better understand and appreciate this passage, it is helpful to read the first half f the 3rd chapter of Ephesians. Paul, in spite of his circumstances, humbly recognizes the grace of God that had been given to him and tried his best to explain it to everyone who will listen. Paul feels that it is his privilege to serve God, rather than his duty or responsibility. And, in spite of the trials that Paul suffered while imprisoned, he never lost sight of God’s glory and God’s presence.
It must have been difficult write that he felt ‘honored’ to be suffering for God. Yet, with the grace and humility that sp personified Paul and his unquestioning belief in God, he wrote this.
Most of us have never been imprisoned, yet we too often form our own prisons and shut ourselves off from other people and from God. We isolate ourselves, feel lonely and anxious. We lament our families, friends, neighborhoods and, sometimes, our very existence. In doing so, we are imprisoning ourselves in such a way that nothing spiritually positive can happen. We have built walls that are high and strong, and will allow no penetration. In an effort to build out fortress of protection, we have isolated our hearts, not only from the love of family, but also the love of Jesus. These self-constructed prisons are very real and very hurtful. Let us tear down the barriers and break down the walls hat confine our spirits and be open to the loving kindness and forgiving compassion of our father in heaven.
Paul concludes this chapter with his own prayer for spiritual growth. May we read it, ponder upon it, rejoice in it, and make it our own praye4r as well: When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
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