THERE IS ONE QUALITY many people lack that keeps them from living life to the fullest: trust. We have lost trust in each other. Politicians are caught in lies. Athletes are cheating. Churches are full of hypocrites. Friends betray us. Parents disappoint us. Whom can you trust anymore?
Most of us will give the church answer: “You can always trust God!” But do you? When your life is crashing down around you, do you trust God?
Read Ephesians 1:15-19 and think hard about verse 17.
What did Paul say he was praying for in the Ephesians’ lives?
What does it mean to have a spirit of wisdom?
What does it mean to grow in knowledge of God?
Would you describe yourself as having a spirit of wisdom or growing in knowledge of God? Why or why not?
How easy is it to trust God when everything is going well?
How easy is it to trust God when everything is falling apart?
Why can you trust God even when you don’t understand what is happening?
Trust in God comes from having a relationship with Him. That was what Paul said he was praying for in today’s Scripture passage. He wanted the Ephesians to grow in their knowledge of and relationship with God. He wanted them to know the overwhelming power and wisdom that only God can give.
The more you know God and His character, the more you can trust Him. If you know God is good, then you can trust that He is going to do what is good for you. If you know God is sovereign, then you can trust that He is in complete control. Theologian Charles Spurgeon once said, “When you cannot trace God’s hand, trust His heart.”
Whom are you trusting today?
For a friend of mine it was boots. We were on a mission trip in a foreign country. Our team had taken extra boots and clothing to give away while we were there. My friend wasn’t planning on giving away his brand new boots, but on our last day in the village, he felt compelled to give them away.
Read Ephesians 5:1-5. Concentrate on verse 2.
What did Paul tell the Ephesians to do?
What does it mean to be an imitator of God?
How can we be a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God?
Verse 2 points out that Jesus is our example. How should this affect our daily lives?
Why should we keep sexual immorality out of our lives?
Why are the things listed in verses 4 and 5 bad?
What does this passage have to do with pursuing a life that reflects well on Christ?
Giving something up is never easy, yet in these verses, we’re called to give ourselves up as offerings to God. Paul wanted believers to understand what it really meant to follow Christ as their example, laying down every moment of their lives in obedience to the Father. To do that, some things simply cannot be a part of our lives. People can’t see God in our lives when our lives are filled with junk. When we live to please God, our lives will be more joyful because we won’t be bogged down by all the weight of sin.
Walk This Way
Read This Passage: Ephesians 4:1-6
I, therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received.
ON VALENTINE’S DAY, 1973, 20 prisoners of war came home from Vietnam. The first to touch American soil was Jeremiah A. Denton Jr., a naval captain who had been shot down and captured in 1965. Denton spent more than seven years in captivity, including four in solitary confinement. He gained the world’s notice not long after he was imprisoned when, during a televised interview arranged by his captors, he blinked his eyes in Morse Code. Though hard to believe, he succeeded in repeatedly spelling out “T-O-R-T-U-R-E.”
You might think that suffering years of mistreatment, neglect, and torture would cause Denton’s -allegiance to his country to wane. But it did not. As the spokesman for the other arriving POWs, Denton turned to the microphones and said, “We are honored to have had the opportunity to serve our country under difficult circumstances. We are profoundly grateful to our commander in chief and to our nation for this day. God bless America.”1
In the fourth chapter of Ephesians, Paul wrote about another type of captive, one he called a “prisoner in the Lord.” He exhorted those of us who claim that title to live like it. We, much like Jeremiah Denton, have an opportunity to serve God under difficult circumstances—ones that require all the humility, gentleness, patience, and love we can muster. God’s standard of success doesn’t look like the world’s. Sometimes we’re called to walk through pain and sacrifice.
Does living this way seem like only a duty or obligation to you? Or are you honored to be a “prisoner in the Lord”? Are you willing to live for Christ outside of camp, in the “real world”?
Are you facing difficult circumstances in your life? Remind yourself daily that you have a unique opportunity to serve God even during this situation. Demonstrate through your actions (and reactions) that you are a “prisoner in the Lord” today.
Paul was a prisoner in more ways than one. Research the Book of Acts to learn about some of his experiences in chains. Discover how he viewed his difficulties in Philippians 1:12-14.
Pray for your enemies. Ask God to help you show love to those who are causing problems in your life.
Read This Passage: Ephesians 6:10-17
This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. —Ephesians 6:13
I’ve gone to London a few times. Every time I go, I visit the Tower of London. It’s a fascinating place full of history and stories. It houses the crown -jewels and is known for the “beefeaters” who guard it every day of the year.
The Tower also houses an incredible armor display that dates back over a thousand years. The museum is full of armor for horses and warriors. I am always fascinated that those warriors (and horses!) were even able to walk around wearing that much armor, much less fight on the battlefield.
Wearing that armor must have been constraining, but those warriors knew the armor was designed to protect them from their enemies. Failure to wear every piece could leave them vulnerable to attack. The armor gave the warrior confidence to stand strong against his enemy.
All this armor talk has a purpose; today’s key verse commands believers to put on the full armor of God. Paul wasn’t talking about the kind of armor that’s on display at the Tower of London. He was talking about spiritual armor, designed specifically for us to wear every day as we walk into the battles life throws at us. It is an armor that God Himself designed so that we could stand strong against the Devil.
The point is God has given us the tools to deal with the persecution and hard times that come our way. But like those warriors of old, we have to choose to put on each piece. Take a stand for Christ today, but dress yourself with the armor He’s already supplied. Don’t go it alone!
How is fighting the battle going for you? God has given you resources to face persecution and rough times. Are you choosing to use those resources? Why or why not?
Look in a concordance for the word armor and battle. Read through Scripture to see just how important the armor is and what battles people faced. How did their armor protect them each time? How could God’s armor protect you in similar situations?
Ask God to give you the ability to wear His armor every day and to be able to stand strong against the attacks of the Devil.