12 February 2004

"That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man"-Ephesians 3:16

Our message comes to you today from the floor of a Roman prison where we find the apostle on bended knees praying for the Ephesian Church. Though he was in prison, he was not an idle Christian. His pen and his prayers were active, focused upon God and His people. As we read this prayer it seems almost convoluted. Paul is the one in prison, yet, we find him praying that the Ephesians would be strengthened. We might write our church and say, "Please pray for me in this dirty, grungy old prison. It is cold, damp, the food is terrible and I don't know if I can make it another day. Please pray that I will have strength to survive." On the contrary, Paul is more worried for those on the outside involved with the world, than himself, who is with Christ on the inside. This is the key: whether on the outside or the inside, to be with Christ. Surely this has always been the posture of true Christians: convoluted. They are turned inside out for the cause of Christ and their fellow Christians. Though in prisons, they are not asking, they are giving!

The apostle's prayer is fraught with wisdom. He knew what his people needed. They needed <i>strength</i>. Though there are days that we feel we could conquer the Philistines single handedly and we wish we had been there when Goliath defied the armies of the living God, there are days in which we wonder if we know any thing at all. Our sworn enemy has his discouragements and temptations to trip us up and render us ineffective in the army of our Lord. Though David brought the giant down with one smooth stone as a young boy, he had his days in which we find him pleading: "Have mercy upon me, O Lord; for I am weak: O Lord, heal me; for my bones are vexed."(Psalm 6:3).

When we ponder the apostle's words, we realize that there is not a single part of us that does not need to be strengthened. Our <i>minds</i> need to be strengthened to hear, comprehend and dwell upon spiritual things. Our <i>hearts</i> need to be strengthened to love the things we should love and hate the things we should hate. Our <i>wills</i> need to be strengthened to go forward with the things that Christ has placed upon our hearts to do. Our <i>love</i> needs to be strengthened for Christ, to suffer for Him and His cause, to love our brethren and the truth. Our <i>faith </i>needs to be strengthened to overcome the fiery darts of Satan. Our <i>feet </i>need to be strengthened to walk in the paths of righteousness. Our <i>eyes</i> need to be strengthened to look upon the things we should be looking at and turn away from unrighteousness. Our <i>smelling</i> needs to be strengthened that we might smell the sweetsmelling sacrifice of our Lord for our sins. Our <i>hearing</i> needs to be strengthened that we would suffer the word of exhortation. Our feeble <i>hands</i> need to be strengthened to labor in His kingdom.

Christian, what strength do you need today? Our brethren need the same. Let us pray for one another and for our churches that every person would be strengthened by God's miraculous might. Lord, hear our prayer!