Ask God to Show You

May 12, 2024 | Jess Rainer

Passage: Ephesians 1:15-23

Opening Illustration: Most valuable item purchased at a yard sale. About a month ago, I clicked on a video about garage sales on YouTube. It was a video about someone who goes around and tries to find valuable items for cheap. And now, every time I go back to YouTube to listen to our Sunday worship, it tries hard to get me to click on more of those videos. So now that I’ve watched about 100 garage sales videos… (not really!) In my curiosity, I did some research and found the top 3 valuable items bought at a garage sale. When we hear about these stories, we can’t help but think how life changing it is for those people who find these items. They didn’t know it, but they became millionaires overnight. But I can’t help but see the other side of the story. There is a person who possessed something so valuable, yet didn’t know it. We see the tragedy of someone not knowing what they posses. And the tragedy exists with God’s children as well. One of the greatest tragedies of the Christian life is contentment with spiritual superficiality. We have been given so much by a God that is unfathomable. Yet, so often, we settle for so little. Today, that changes for all of us here. We are going to see we have a calling to understand what we spiritually possess. Ask God to show you what He’s given you. As you open your Bibles, turn to Ephesians 1, we started a new sermon series last week in the book of Ephesians: Masterpiece in Progress. This book of the Bible draws you deeper in the gospel, deeper into your identity in Christ, deeper into church family, and deeper into Christian living. Last week we saw the masterpiece that God has made that is you. Let’s see what God has to say today: Read Ephesians 1:15-23. Pray. 

We ended our time in God’s Word last week by asking the question, “Why did God choose us, create us, and bless us?” And if you remember, we answered that question by understanding the most loving thing God can do is to give Himself to us. And it is not until we praise and glorify Him do we experience His fullness. If God knows the best things in this life is Himself and He knows that we won’t experience the fullness of His joy until we praise Him, then the most loving thing God can do is to bring us to praise Him. Paul starts off his letter to the church at Ephesus with the call to praise. But now, starting verse 15, Paul shifts from praise to prayer. The first thing Paul prays is that God would reveal more of Himself to them. And that’s where we start this morning: Ask God to show Himself to you.  

1) Ask God to show Himself to you. (vs. 15-17) Paul had received a good update about the church in Ephesus. What had Paul heard? Look at verse 15 and 16: 15 Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere,16 I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, This church family was demonstrating both a strong faith in Jesus and a love for their church family. What a great thing to be known for! I pray the same for TCSH. The news warmed Paul’s heart. Paul had spent several years with these people. I’m sure the time period after he left was full of questions about how the church was doing. I enjoy going to the parent-teacher conferences at my child’s school. Since I’m not around my child at school, I’m eager to know from someone else their perception of my child. That’s the same feeling for Paul. He finds out they are doing well and he’s so thankful. But that’s not enough. Paul is not content, though, with their strong faith and their abundant love for each other. He wants more for them! Why? Paul wants this church family to know the full implications of all the blessings they have received – those spiritual blessings we saw last week in verses 1 – 14. The best way to know the implications of the blessings is to know the One who gave them. That’s what Paul is praying for. Look at verse 17: 17 asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.  

There are two Greek words for knowledge. The first, Oida, refers to knowing facts. I know there are 50 states in America. I know 100 pennies equal a dollar. I know the left lane is for faster traffic (I just wish more people knew that). I know dogs are infinitely better than cats. Those are all facts. The second Greek word, Ginosko, is knowledge gained through experience. That’s the Greek work Paul is using in this verse. I know my truck has brakes, but it wasn’t until I pressed on the pedal did I know the truck would actually stop. I knew I was going to be a dad one day, but it wasn’t until I held my firstborn that I knew I was a father. We must have factual knowledge of God and experiential knowledge of God. If we want to experience the fullness of our spiritual blessings and the fullness of God, then we have to seek more of God Himself. I like how John Stott put it: Quote: “Growth in knowledge is essential for growth in holiness. Indeed, knowledge and holiness are even more intimately linked than as means and end... There is no higher knowledge than the knowledge of God himself.” – John Stott. 

There is a spiritual equilibrium we must maintain. Each one of us has inclination to one of those Greek words. Some of us lean toward factual knowledge while other lean toward experiential knowledge. Some of you would love to sit in a 2 hour lecture series and some of you would love to sing in a 2 hour worship set. Both are good and both are needed. It’s why we have both praise and prayer at TCSH. It’s why we have both worship and word. But both of them should lead us to the place where we KNOW God. It’s breaks my heart to think that people have been around God for so long, yet never actually know Him. Do you want to know the solution to those seasons when you feel spiritually dry or spiritually bored? It’s verse 17. Ask God to show Himself to you. We’ve talked a lot in recent months about pursuing holiness and being in the presence of God. If you still feel like that is far off, then ask God to show Himself to you. You can’t be in His presence if you don’t know where He is! Transition: Paul started off his prayer for the Church at Ephesus with this understanding that we have to ask God to show us more of Himself. Now, as we start with verse 18, Paul prays for specific spiritual insights that He wanted the Ephesians to see. God wants us to see them as well. Here’s we what we see in verse 18: Trust God to guide you to where you need to be. 

2) Trust God to guide you to where you need to be. (vs. 18) Notice how Paul continues the same thought of the Holy Spirit’s ministry of illumination in this verse: 18I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. Some of your translations may read “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened” And no, we are not singing the song “Open the eyes of my heart, Lord…” Paul is emphasizing again that we have to see spiritually. What are we to see in this verse? Two things…

  1. The confident hope God has given you. 
    • Biblical hope is something that you are so sure will happen that it changes the entire outlook of your life
      • That’s what we saw last week
      • We saw what God changed in us that it changed how we looked outside of us
    • When God chose you as a son or daughter, God also gave you a hope in what’s to come
    • When we look backwards at what God has done for us, it gives us the confidence to look forward at what God will do for us
    • God will finish what He’s started.
      • The same God that called you from eternity past is the same God that will bring you into the promised eternity.
      • Which is why Paul calls us God’s rich and glorious inheritance at the end of the verse
      • That’s the second thing we need to see in this verse
  2. We are God’s rich and glorious inheritance
    • Think about this for a moment
      • You are God’s inheritance
      • God has promised Jesus an inheritance
      • We read about it last week.
      • When Jesus comes back, God’s two creations – the universe and God’s children – will all come under the authority of Jesus
      • You are God’s greatest treasure!
      • Let this reality set in: Jesus is elated that you are His inheritance
    • Illustration: What kind of gift do you get for the person that has everything?[1]
      • If you were tasked with the job to buy a gift for Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos, what would you get them?
      • What do you get the guy that can jump in his rocket to outer space?
        • “Here you go, Elon, enjoy your jelly of month club”
        • Even though it is the gift that keeps on giving the whole year, it would feel so insufficient!
      • Let’s elevate this even more: what would you get Jesus as a gift?
    • Do you see what God is giving Jesus as an inheritance?
      • You!
      • You are so precious, so loved, and so valuable that God would see you as the perfect inheritance for His Son
      • Some of you are working so hard to feel valued and loved by the world
        • I’ll tell you this: the world is a cruel mistress
        • You’ll never get what you are seeking
        • It’s time to find worth in Jesus
        • GOSPEL PRESENTATION

When you see the confident hope that is already given to you and the coming inheritance, then you can trust God. When you see how God sees you, it’s easy to start running with Him. Some of you need to sit in this truth this week. You struggle with your worth and value. And it’s hindering you from being the presence of God. Ask God to show you how much He loves you. You’ll find a Father with open arms ready to embrace you like no one can. And that Father who loves you also gives you the power you need. That’s next things our spiritual eyes need to see: Take hold of the spiritual power God gives to you. 

3) Take hold of the spiritual power God gives to you. (vs. 19-20) The city of Ephesus had a lot of spiritual darkness. The city had dark magic, focused on astrology, emperor worship, and cults based on Greek gods. Some of these Christians came from those practices. They knew the spiritual darkness around them. Paul wants them to know the spiritual power that was in them. Look at verses 19 and 20: 19 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Did you catch those verses? The same power that raised Christ from dead is the same power that is working in and through you! The same power that brought life out of death in Jesus is the same power that can heal your brokenness and hurt. The more I grow in my relationship with Jesus, the more I am amazed at this power. I’ve come to sad realization that I’ve spent so much of my relationship with Jesus without any awareness of this power. Illustration: Unclaimed Property in TN. You may not be aware of this, but the state of TN has a bank account with a lot of money that belongs to other people. It’s called “Unclaimed Property”. There are businesses that owe people money, but weren’t able to pay them directly. They give that money to the state of TN to hold onto. Do you know how much is in that bank account? Over $940 million! The state of TN has $940 million dollars that they want to give to people if those people would simply claim it. Some of you are itching right now to go see if you have money…If the possibility of getting $20 can motivate us to action, then how much more should we be motivated to seek out the spiritual power that is available to us.

Satan and his demons are real. There is a real spiritual battle that plays around us. There is battles that rages against your family, your spouse, your kids, your church, your work, and your ministry. We’ll go deeper in this later in Ephesians. Here’s what you need to know now: God will give you the spiritual power you need to accomplish He’s called you to do.

Power for what?

  • Power to overcome sin
  • Power to share the gospel
  • Power to overcome temptation
  • Power to serve
  • Power to be selfless
  • Power to be unifying
  • Power to be generous
  • Power to sacrifice
  • Power to tell the truth
  • Power to suffer well
  • Power to do God’s will
  • Power to make the right choice
  • Power to forgive
  • Power to understand
  • Power to stand against Satan
  • Power to be bold for Christ
  • Power to love others
  • Power to lead your family
  • Power to lead your children
  • Power to say no
  • Power to say yes
  • Power to let your ‘yes be yes’ and your ‘no be no’
  • Power to not be angry
  • Power to be humble
  • Power to endure
  • Power to control your tongue
  • Power to read your Bible
  • Power to pray
  • Power to not believe the lies Satan tells you
  • Power to know who you are in Christ

This is a power you can know and experience. Jesus is calling you to see it and take hold of it. There’s one more prayer that Paul prays that we’ll end with: Nothing is going to stop God. 

4) Nothing is going to stop God. (vs. 21-23)  You are going to see this theme throughout the book of Ephesians: God wins. Nothing stops God’s will. Nothing stops God’s purpose. Look at verses 21 through 23. We saw Paul write something similar the verses before these: 21 Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. 22 God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. 23 And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself. Not only will Jesus return and bring everything under His authority, but Jesus is in complete control now. What did verse 21 say? He’s above every ruler. He’s above every authority. He’s above every power. He’s above every leaders. And just in case you may through a question, “We’ll what about (fill in the blank)?” Paul says Jesus is above anything else you can think of! There is no president, no congressman, no boss, no dictator, no demon, no demonic ruler – there is nothing above Jesus. Even though Satan is still fighting, he’s been defeated because Jesus wins.

Do you know what God has given us to show us He can’t be stopped? The Church. Jesus said in Matthew 16, “Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.” No matter what direction our world goes, Jesus rules above it all and His Church will prevail. God’s plan is the Church. I want to end with a question for you: Do you see what’s been given to you? Do you see what you possess? Do you see the hope? Do you see your value and worth? Do you see the power? Do you see the security? What if all of us began to pray, “God, will you show me more of You?” “God, show me your hope, your power, your inheritance.” “God, I want to see your presence” “God, I want to experience the full implications of the spiritual blessings you have given me.” “God, I want you and more of you” What if you began to pray that prayer for your family? “God, show me more of you in my marriage.” “God, show me more of you in my parenting.” What if you began to pray that prayer for your work, your neighborhood, your church family? What do you think God would do? What if God began to open up the spiritual eyes of our hearts? That’s my prayer for each one of you. “God, open our eyes. Let us see you. And let it change us.” Let’s pray.

[1] Idea from https://summitchurch.com/GetFile.ashx?Guid=7647ed1f-11da-4a98-81be-8035d85c95ce

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Series Information

This sermon series walks through the book of Ephesians, emphasizing God’s action at work in our lives both to restore us to himself and to restore our relationships with each other.

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