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Posts Tagged ‘Ephesians 3:16-17’

P1040045Recently, after engaging some tree loppers to prune our large magnolia tree to allow more space for power lines, we decided to have another smaller tree cut down at the same time. The young, enthusiastic workmen arrived bright and early on the appointed day. Soon our magnolia tree had several fewer branches and our smaller tree was no longer. But then the pressure began to have more work done.

‘Madam, you should get this big tree cut down too. Look, it has some parasitic plant growing in it! It’ll cost you much less if we do it today. And I’ll get rid of that smaller one near it for just a hundred more dollars—it will all be done then.’

The young man was looking at me as if he was doing me a huge favour. Never mind the thousand or so more dollars it would cost me! To make it worse, my husband had just gone out—the final decision was up to me.

I wavered. It was a lot of money for us to spend.

‘Okay!’ I heard myself say in the end, feeling somewhat numb.

Before I could change my mind, it seemed, my young friend attacked that big tree. More crashing, grinding noises followed and more dragging of branches up our yard. Eventually, out came a rake and a blower to remove the remaining debris. Then all was quiet—and I was left to contemplate the result.

There was still some cleaning up to do and squashed plants to resurrect. But what a difference that tree lopping had made! Now there was ample room for those power lines. As well, our bedroom was much lighter and airier. With that large tree gone from our back yard, our kitchen was much brighter too. And where one of the smaller trees had been removed, now there was room for other nearby shrubs to grow properly.

All around us each day, there are spiritual lessons for us to learn. As I began to appreciate the tangible results of our tree trimming—more light in our home, greater safety with those power lines cleared, more room for growth—all this spoke to me on another level as well. I began to see the absolute necessity of pruning back those things in my life that had crowded out quality time with God in the past busy year and of making space for the light and love of the Lord to fill my heart. As I do this, I know I will find the security and guidance I need. And I will also have room within for God’s Spirit to enable me to grow and to bless others.

Do you need to make more room for God in your life? Do you need more of God’s love and light to flood in as you step into 2015? It may cost—just as our tree lopping cost us—but it is so necessary if we are to flourish as God intended. And that cost is nothing when compared with the peace and fulfilment only God can give.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ many dwell in your hearts through faith. Ephesians 3:16-17

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I hesitated for quite a while before writing the title of this blog. After all, I’m not in the business of shocking or offending anyone—and definitely not in the business of writing about Jesus in any dishonouring way. But I decided to take the risk in order to share something that may challenge but also encourage you as it did for me this past week.

A few evenings ago, I was privileged to speak to a group of women at a nearby church who braved some bleak, cold weather to be there. I had chosen to speak on a favourite part of Scripture—Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3 where he first of all prays the following for ‘the saints in Ephesus’:

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith (3:16-17).

Yet Jesus Christ was already present in the hearts of these believers. In the previous chapter, Paul reminds them how they have been made alive with Christ by grace (2:5) and how they are now ‘fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household’ (2:19). So what does he mean?

Apparently, the Greek word translated ‘dwell’ here can also mean ‘inhabit’, ‘live in’, ‘settle in’—even ‘settle down and feel at home’—which is why we find the following in the New Living Translation: ‘And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him.’ In other words, Paul is praying that these believers will be strengthened more and more in their faith in Jesus, coming closer and closer to him in the process.

As I explained this, I noticed one girl sitting with her feet resting on a nearby chair. She wasn’t being rude. In fact, she was right at the front, paying close attention to everything I said. In an instant, it occurred to me that this is exactly the way Jesus desires to be at home in our hearts—sitting back, feet up, knowing he is so welcome there, ready to listen and also so ready to share with me from his own heart. And that is what I told the women, as I pointed at the smiling girl, sitting back with her feet up and enjoying it all!

Sometimes I’m convinced Jesus turns the tables on me when I speak and has me say things intended first and foremost for me. Sometimes I picture him smiling wryly at me and saying in a gentle but firm voice, ‘Oh really, Jo? Make sure you put it into practice yourself!’ But this time, I think Jesus wanted to show me again how delighted he is to be at home in my heart and to put his feet up there. Because he loves me, he is prepared to wait there patiently in those times when I ignore him and want to run my own life. He doesn’t leave—because that’s his home. But he longs for me to notice he is there and to allow his presence to fill me to overflowing once again.

What a privilege we have to be able to open our hearts to Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and make him comfortable there!

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