Here we are once again in January! Today, I’m snuggled up in flannel and wool, sipping cup after cup of hot tea (Earl Grey Supreme, my personal favorite). Be it a gray day with temperatures dropping hourly, I’m cozy inside, at rest, and with time to ponder Ephesians and my Savior.
My faithful companion snoozes on his little rug beside my desk. Sometimes his steps are not as quick as they once were. Sometimes his hearing and eye sight isn’t as sharp as it once was (unless a “cookie” treat slides across the floor). Still, he always loves his walks, and after this morning ‘s adventure, he is glad to be inside again, too. His gentle breathing reveals a heart at rest.
Is your heart at rest, too, beloved one?
Clouds gather, dissolve, only to gather and dissolve again. Days come and go. Years, too. But God is.
But God IS.
Always with us.
Always full of mercy.
Whatever comes to us this year, may we remember that God gave tangible reality to His faithfulness, mercy, love, and power. He sent Christ. He raised Him to new life. He seated Him beside Him in heaven. He sent the Holy Spirit. He did that for you and for me–for us.
That is the critical piece, the cornerstone of our foundation as “fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” (Ephesians 2:19, 20)
And the purpose of all that? Was God simply being nice? It’s a little more than that:
That we grow into “a holy temple for the Lord,” “a dwelling place for God.” (Ephesians 2:21-22)
And how do we do that?
Well, here’s the interesting part–WE don’t. Our growth is determined and due to the Spirit’s work in us–our sanctification by the Holy Spirit: that gradual growing into the likeness and character of Christ.
I can read all the most challenging and wonderfully insightful theology books out there. I can amass all kinds of interesting Biblical facts, but if I have not laid my self-sufficient “Can Do” ego down and humbled myself to the work and power of the Holy Spirit, I will not have gained a thing. If I have not asked the Spirit to reveal my Savior and myself in the texts I read, if I have not opened my heart to His working, I come away hard and prideful and unchanged and all my effort is meaningless.
That is because all MY effort IS meaningless.
It is ALL God granting and being glorified.
It is ALL Christ loving and justifying.
It is ALL the Spirit strengthening and sanctifying.
I now echo for each of you Paul’s prayer for those early Christians in Ephesus. From chapter 3,
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith–that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
So let our hearts be at rest.