This time last week I had just gotten out of spending five days in the hospital. While I was there Nancy and I both experienced your love for us, and are continuing to experience it. However, I did not need to get to the hospital to know your love for us. We have been greatly blessed to be a part of the community known as New Hope. While in the hospital, and spending time with doctors and nurses, I have been saying how wonderful it is to be a part of our church. Someone asked me several years ago an evaluation question about a ministry: "Is it a place you would feel good inviting others to?" I overwhelming want to invite people to come to New Hope! It is not because we are perfect, but it is because I believe we are a church that tries to live out its vision of "pursuing relationships that change the world." We want to be a place where people can come as they are, but hopefully through getting involved they don't stay the same because they have encountered the life giving grace of God.
As you know we have been studying the letter to the Ephesians. I spoke to you about how it was a letter from Paul to a church (and most likely surrounding churches) of people he cared about deeply. It was not a book written to just to give pertinent facts on correct doctrine and helpful tidbits on marriage. No, it was a God-inspired letter written by Paul that starts out with life changing truths about what the Father thinks about His children. We are adopted, redeemed and therefore… it should make a difference in our lives. The wisdom of God is evident here: we do what we do because we think like we think. That is why the first three chapters are about our identity in Christ and not about working hard to get our act together. After placing our faith in the gift of Christ’s sacrifice, being the treasured sons and cherished daughters of our heavenly Father, these is the basics of our faith. Or we can allow the world to define us by our appearance, our talents, our success, or our intellect. Have we developed a strategy to make these things work or are we in pursuit of the relationship with the Father that does satisfy?
As I was studying the prayer in Ephesians 1:15-23,
For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
I noticed that Paul did not pray for change in people’s circumstances (health, finances, level of persecution), but he prayed that,"having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints." He knew that we must have our grasp of what the riches of His glorious inheritance is. If we do not, we will most likely be grasping after those things that will leave us empty.
For me the key to understanding this is that it doesn’t say, 'the riches of your glorious inheritance.' It says the riches of His glorious inheritance. God’s glorious inheritance?
What could God consider His glorious inheritance? What would He consider to be that valuable? What is it that is this amazing? IT’S US!!! To grasp the power of this is a gift of God and it is the prayer of Paul for the saints. It is what I pray for us, that we would grasp more and more the significance of this for our lives. It is the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. Oh may this flood our souls and give us hope to face each day with joy. That it would be the strength that gives us courage and love to those He has put in our lives.
Nancy and I truly love being here and the journey He has for us in Manhattan. Thanks for being family to us so soon. We look forward to what things He will do that are exceedingly and abundantly beyond all that we can ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.