“I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man.” (Eph 3:14-16)
Paul especially prayed for the members of the church at Ephesus, knowing that maintaining a transformed life is not sustained by willpower alone. The “spiritual highs” attained in a cultivation event are bound to fade over time, but the inner self must continue to thrive. How?
Thus says the LORD:
‘Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength,
whose heart turns away from the LORD.
He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come.
He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.
Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is in the LORD.
He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
(Jer 17:5-8, ESV)
God gives us a choice. The result of trusting God versus relying on anything else is as stark a contrast as between the tree planted by the water and the shrub in the desert. God gives us the blessing to choose to plant ourselves by His river of life, which will sustain us through the heatwaves and the years of drought. Choosing to trust in the LORD requires constant communion with God through daily cultivation, as well as an unfaltering determination to deal with situations His way. Though trying at first, the promised outcome is deeper roots, flourishing leaves, and abundant spiritual life.
“because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” (Heb 12:6 NIV)
Each Christian is enlisted in God’s training program. God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in His holiness. Out of His love, God chastens us as parents discipline children for their own good. God has His purpose in chastising us. Therefore, we ought to endure hardship and suffering as discipline.
“I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:9)
In the book of John, Jesus claims to be the door of the sheep (10:7) and later on, the good shepherd (10:11). Jesus uses the metaphor of the door of the sheepfold to convey that He is the only door by which we may enter into God’s sanctuary and be saved. Once we believe in Jesus Christ, we enter the door of salvation and embark on a journey of faith. For the rest of our lives, we live with the hope that when we come to the end, we shall enter heaven to be with God forever. Jesus is the one and only door. The “only” door means we can receive eternal life through Jesus Christ and Him alone.
We all want to find someone who truly understands us. We put our burdens and worries before God in prayer, asking Lord Jesus to understand us and to be our spiritual friend. Indeed, God is more than willing to listen to all of these things and to abide with us. However, Paul reminds us that if we only pray to be understood by Him, we would be missing something even greater, which is knowing God Himself.