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What Paul Prayed: Plugged In

“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know . . . his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms. . . .” (Ephesians 1:18-20)

Powerless. We’ve all felt it, that sense that when we push on the gas pedal of our own lives, nothing happens. “I know the right thing to do; I just can’t do it.” “I’m not strong enough to forgive that person.” “I’m not smart enough, motivated enough, like Jesus enough to trade my desires for His.” We can convince ourselves that being serious about following Jesus is for people who are built for that kind of thing — people more naturally spiritual that we are.

Stupid, ugly lies. Paul asked God to correct his Ephesian friends’ vision in two areas — to be able to know the hope of heaven and to be able to know the enormous power available to them straight from God.

What an insult to God’s power when we refuse to believe He can make us able to do what He has asked us to do. His “mighty strength” made Jesus alive again! His power lifted Jesus off the earth and out of time and right back into His reserved seat in heaven. What is it that He can’t do through us?

Think: Can we really live in God’s power even when we feel powerless? Is it a choice we make or just something God does in us?

Pray: Ask God for the courage to believe that you really can do all things through His power.

Do: Pray today’s passage for the 6 people on your life. (See the “Do” section of Monday’s devo for details.)

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What Paul Prayed: Spiritual Laser Surgery

“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints. . . .” (Ephesians 1:18)

Sometimes Christians don’t see so good. Peter wrote that Christians who have stopped growing spiritually — growing in our ability to live like God is real and really loves us — those people are “nearsighted and blind.” They can’t seem to see past today. They make all their choices based on what they hope will happen now, this week, right away.

The next thing Paul prays for his Christian friends in Ephesians is for some spiritual vision correction, some laser surgery for the “eyes of your heart.” Why? Remember last week’s heaven devo’s? We all have trouble “seeing” that heaven is a real zip code and placing all of our hope in that life. We can only focus on today; we want this to be heaven. It never will be.

We need God’s help to know God’s hope for us — being home in heaven with Him and all the endless wealth of His kingdom. God doesn’t want His princes and princesses (us) to be satisfied with life in a backwoods village. Set your sight on the castle, and don’t settle for anything less.

Think: How’s your spiritual vision for the hope of heaven? Can you “see” it well enough to live for it every day?

Pray: Ask God to make your hungry for heaven. Yes, again.

Do: Pray Paul’s words from this verse for the six people on your list, mentioning each by name. (See Monday’s “Do” section for details.)

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What Paul Prayed: Know God Better

“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.” (Ephesians 1:17)

What’s the very first thing Paul reveals to his friends that he prays for them? What’s the first thing that comes to his mind to ask God to give them? His repeated prayer is that they will know God better.

We’ve already been told that these Christians have faith in Jesus. They have a reputation for loving “all the saints” (other Christians). Paul’s readers were living solid Christians lives at a time where that cost something. Obviously, they already know God.

Paul wants them to know Him better. His prayer is that they won’t get satisfied, that they won’t reach a plateau in their relationship with God where they think they know enough about their Creator and just coast through the rest of their days and into heaven. He wants God to take them — and us — to a deeper level of understanding Him.

Think: How much do you desire to know God better? How could you grow your appetite for knowledge of God?

Pray: Ask God to make you hungrier and hungrier for knowledge of Him. Thank Him for revealing Himself to you in the Bible and for giving you the opportunity to grow in wisdom about Him.

Do: Pray this verse for the 6 people on your list from yesterday. (Scroll down to the Monday devo if you missed it.)

What Paul Prayed: Thanks Again

“For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.” (Ephesians 1:15-16)

How should you pray for your friends, your parents, your siblings, anyone you really care about? This week, Paul will show us some essential things to pray for other Christians — and for ourselves — by telling us exactly what he prayed for his friends in a town called Ephesus.

Notice first that he is praying for believers — people who have trusted Jesus and who love other Christians. These prayers are not intended — and would not make sense, mostly — for unbelievers. For them, the most earnest prayer should always be that they would come into the family of God through faith in Jesus.

But the first thing Paul says to God about these brothers and sisters in Jesus is “thank you.” Then he says it again. Then he says it again. In fact, he says he never stops saying it. To give thanks for others, to remember them to God, is a way of admitting that when God created and saved them, He did a good thing. Their lives matter because they matter to Him. Also, of course, we thank God because they matter to us.

Think: How often do you thank God for the Christians in your life? Your parents? Your friends? Why don’t we think to do that more often?

Pray: Ask God to help you to be grateful for other believers and to express that thankfulness to Him.

Do: Make a list of five Christians in your life you can pray for this week using Paul’s words in Ephesians. Include at least one person you don’t always get along with. Add yourself to the list at #6. Start today by thanking God for everyone on the list.

Heaven Week: Golf or Bowling?

“Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:13)

If you ever played golf with me, you might think I was confused about the point of the game. “Does Chris think that the player with the most points wins? Because he sure doesn’t seem to be hitting towards the hole!” Turns out I’m just bad at golf, but many of us live as if we don’t understand the point of life.

We might say we believe we’ll spend forever in heaven as God’s child in perfect peace, contentment, and happiness. But then we live on earth as if we’re trying to build heaven here. We chase money, sex, sports, pleasure, music, relationships, power — even religion — with a desperation that suggests we think we might find the right scenario to make this life fully satisfying.

If heaven is real, that’s the wrong game. The angels must watch us and think, “Do they just not get it? Why do they keep running in the wrong direction?” In today’s verse, Peter explains how to live if heaven actually exists: Put all your hope in that life. Until then, accept that this life will always be difficult and chase God with everything you’ve got. It’s the only game plan that makes sense.

Think: Are you running from God in any area of your life in the hope that you’ll find heavenly happiness before you get there?

Pray: Ask God to help you put all of your hope on the forever grace that will come with seeing Jesus.

Do: Read 1 Peter 1:13-25.

Heaven Week: Unthirsty

“He said to me: ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.’ ” (Revelation 21:6-7)

God’s story is history. God’s story is the whole story, the story of everything. He is both the original “Once upon a time” and the final “The End.” There is no story, no history, no saga, no great adventure or devastating tragedy or thrilling success that happens outside of God’s story. We are the characters in a cast of billions and our lives flip by in a few pages in the epic of His eternal existence.

So who — how could anyone live “happily ever after” with Him? That’s what makes His story so mind altering.

In speaking of thirst here, God echoes the words of Jesus to the woman at the well in John 4: “. . . whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

And what is the reward to those who drink that water, who overcome by trusting the Author of it all through His Son Jesus? Walking into the timeless sunrise as God and child, inheriting everything we’ll ever need to be happy, content, joyful, and satisfied in His endless final chapter.

Think: What does it cost to drink from the spring of the water of life? (Read the verse again.) Why do think God mentions that we can’t pay our way into His family?

Pray: Thank God for including you in His story. Thank Him for being in control of how it will all wrap up.

Do: Read Romans 11:33-36 a few times out loud to yourself or a pet.

Heaven Week: Write This Down

“He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ ” (Revelation 21:5)

I love the Internet. I cannot imagine how we ever lived without it. At any moment, you can access any tidbit of knowledge from the known universe with just a few keywords and an enter button. Sites like Wikipedia spew out priceless knowledge on every subject anyone with a keyboard cares about.

Of course, with all the information available online, you’re always wondering, “Is this really true?” How do you know what is trustworthy and what isn’t? Wikipedia’s intel is provided by users — and they can say almost anything. Stephen Colbert made that point when he urged all his viewers to change specific Wikipedia entries to say things that were ridiculously untrue. Our information is only as reliable as where (or who) it comes from.

God wants us to believe what He has to say about our eternal home with Him in heaven forever. In the middle of declaring “everything new!” He stopped and reminded John to write the words down. They are trustworthy. God does not lie. Heaven is our home, no matter what Wikipedia says tomorrow. We can dare to believe it, because we can take Him at His Word.

Think: Do you ever question the reality of heaven and living with God in perfect peace forever? Why or why not?

Pray: Ask God to help you to trust His teaching about heaven absolutely.

Do: Notice today all the sources you get your information from. Do you trust them all to tell you truth? Why or why not?

Heaven Week: God With Us

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ ” (Revelation 21:3-4)

Here is the heart of heaven. Here is the end of the story. Here is the best and final moment in all of history. Here is what we are created for — and until this moment comes none of us will ever be fully complete, fully satisfied, fully who we were intended to be.

At the moment, the divider between God and humanity is finally and fully removed forever. To be with God is what every human heart longs for, and here it is. He will live with us. And not just as a warm feeling or a “sense of His presence.” He will live with us physically, in person, face to face.

To define it negatively, we can understand heaven by what there isn’t: tears, sadness, crying; pain, loss, mourning, funerals; promises that “someday everything will be okay.” This verse is our someday. And it’s an endless moment worth waiting a lifetime for.

Think: Do you ever sense in yourself a longing to be with God? If so — or not — why do you think that is?

Pray: Ask God to help you to be aware of your longing to be with Him in person forever.

Do: Make a quick list of ten things you’re looking forward to not having in heaven.

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