Ephesians 3:14-19 ESV
From the Jar
I’ve never thought of myself as being a strong person physically or emotionally. However, I do not consider myself to be weak. That’s because in Philippians 4:13 we are told, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.“
I do not need to be strong.
My God is strong and gives me strength.
Therefore, I can do all things God calls me to do.
When I started Seminary, I was told I needed to declare a major field of study. I looked at the list of possibilities and after considering the choices I decided to major in Leadership.
As is often the case, about three years into the program, I became very interested in another field of study. I became passionate about apologetics. Because an M.Div. requires 144 graduate level hours, adding more hours wasn’t prudent. So, I stayed the course. However, I have studied apologetics on my own after Seminary. Since I studied argumentation and debate as a communication major as an undergraduate, that gave me a good jumping off point. I find the study of arguing scripture and backing it up (justification) is fascinating.
When I asked God to teach me about the text, I had to learn a new way to study.
It wasn’t easy.
I had to learn how to ‘sit’ with the text and let the Spirit guide me.
I learned to let go of what I thought I knew.
I learned to listen.
Ephesians 3:14-19 tells us, “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.”
I am not strong.
I am not powerful.
I bow before God the Father and I seek His strength.
The Spirit IN me (in us) makes it possible for Christ to dwell with me. Likewise, because we are rooted and grounded in the love of Jesus we have strength.
When I am weak, God makes me strong.
With God’s strength we can begin to understand the love of Jesus and the fullness of God.
…back to the study of the text of scripture.
The most difficult part of sitting with God and the text is to let go of everything we’ve been told. Forget every sermon. Don’t think about what we have learned in Sunday School.
Let it all go.
I think of it this way…I know nothing.
Then…and only then can I let God teach me a new path toward His understanding. Once I admit my weakness and need, God can show me new ways to think.
The first time I studied the text this way, I experienced the strength of the Spirit. I knew Jesus came so I could have new doors opened in my mind. I started to understand how much God loves me/us.
I don’t have to be strong. It’s really only a pretense to think I am strong on my own. It’s ludicrous for me to think I am knowledgeable. (Honestly I gave up on that during College and Seminary because my professors were all incredibly unquestionably brilliant and way more educated and well-read than myself).
God doesn’t expect me to have answers.
God has the answers. When I sit with the text and God, the Spirit provides with breadth and length, height and depth what God sees that I could not comprehend without God’s help.
When I am weak, God gives strength.
God provides a way for me to see how to build an argument using the text.
After I learned to study this way, I started to see patterns and arguments written by the Apostle Paul. Paul spent his life studying the Hebrew text. His whole life. He studied under the best of the best, the Hebrew Master, Gamaliel. But after Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus, he too learned how to listen and learn how God sees the text.
Paul learned how to let go of everything he had learned so God could show him truth.
Paul learned how to be weak so God could be strong in him.
He learn he was not strong. Only God is strong.
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: God’s strength
Let yourself be weak and accept God’s strength. Let the Spirit of God teach you one new thing today.
In God, Deborah