At the beginning of last year, you probably heard a sermon series that punned on 2020. There were titles such as “20/20 Vision,” or “God’s Vision for 2020,” “2020: Clear Vision for your Life,” or “Give us 20/20 in 2020.” And whatever vision or plan was presented in that sermon series was probably completely wrong!
At this point, I think we are skeptical of plans, so here’s a prayer for the new year instead. It is Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians:
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power (Eph 1:18-19 NASB95).
Let’s break that down.
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know…
We all need to keep on renewing our minds and to keep on growing in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, so that we can enjoy Him more and what it means to be a child of God. Tony Evans compares it to being platinum with an airline. If you do not know what the privileges are, you may not enjoy them. Similarly, “A lack of awareness about what’s available to those in the family of God similarly causes people to miss out, so Paul wants the Ephesians to be aware of their family privileges” (The Tony Evans Bible Commentary, p. 1220).
So that you will know what is the hope of His calling…
I need hope. So do you. The last year has been challenging and disorienting for all of us, so we need a different focus than the ever–changing situation around us. But what? Paul points to “the hope to which he has called you.”
What kind of hope is that? Is it hope in the popular sense of something being uncertain, or something that contains an element of doubt?
No, says Michael Eaton: “It means expectation, anticipation, looking forward to something we know will come.” And what do we know will come? “Every Christian needs to be gripped with the conviction that God is putting everything under the headship of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that we ourselves have a share in this plan of God” (Eaton, The Branch Exposition of the Bible, p. 709). Do you know that while your plans might have fallen apart, God’s plans have not? And you have a share in those plans!
So that you will know…what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints…
The last year has been financially devastating for billions of people. Governments around the world shut down their economies, resulting in millions of lost jobs and thousands of closed businesses, not to mention lost savings and investments. Masses of people have lost their earthly inheritances, and in America, where our sense of self-worth is often tied to our net-worth, you may not feel like you’re worth very much. That’s why you need to know that you are worth a great deal to Jesus because you are His inheritance. Beal and Radmacher explain, “Paul’s concern is not with what we shall inherit in heaven but with the fact that we ourselves are God’s inheritance” (Beal & Radmacher, Ephesians, p. 56). J. B. Bond explains further that believers are those “whom the Lord Jesus inherits with the right to rule over them forever” (Bond, “Ephesians,” p. 424). Do you know how much you are worth to Jesus?
So that you will know…what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power…
When so many Christian eyes are distracted by earthly powers (e.g., the results of the elections), the eyes of your heart need to be opened to know God’s incomparably great power. What power is that? Paul discusses it in the rest of Ephesians 1. It is the power that raised Jesus from the dead (v 20a), that made Him supreme over heavenly powers (vv 20b-21), that gave Him dominion in this age and the next (v 22), and that made Him the head of the church (vv 22b-23). Do you know the power that Jesus has, especially to you who believe?
In 2021, I pray that my eyes and your eyes will be opened even more to the incomparable greatness of Jesus.