Ephesians 4:3 says, Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. Peace is important - it's mentioned 249 times in the NIV Bible. Satan loves destroying peace in families, friendships, relationships, churches, communities, and countries. Because the church is made up of broken humans, division creeps in. Things like the type of worship music, the format of the youth group, arguments over doctrine, jealousy, anger, and hurt all cause division. The Apostle Paul urges us to bind ourselves together with peace. How do we do that?
Ephesians 4:1-2 says, I beg you to live the way God’s people should live, because he chose you to be his. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient and accept each other with love. The way we live should reflect the fact that your are one of God's people. It should affect every aspect of our lives - what we think, what we say, what we do, what we listen to, what we watch, etc.
Verse two tells us four ways to do this:
In Ephesians 3:20 Paul says, God is able to do much more than we ask or think through His power working in us. We often underestimate what we can do based on our self limiting beliefs. But, God lives in us and works through us by his Holy Spirit. With him we can do so much more than we can imagine. All of the great men and women of the Bible were just ordinary people like you and me, but God worked through them. He can work through you too.
Here are some more Bible verses about God working through people.
God did extraordinary miracles through Paul. Acts 19:11
For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Philippians 2:13
I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. John 14:12
You move towards what you're looking at. Have you ever tried to walk forwards while you're looking backwards? You go all wonky because you end up walking towards what you're facing. What a you facing (metaphorically)? Are you looking back to your past? Are you looking to the side to the world? Are you looking down at your phone? Or are you looking up, to God?
Here's what the Bible says about looking to Jesus:
Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.
Where are you looking?
In Ephesians 3:18-19 Paul says, And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
He is praying that the church will know the unknowable love of God. This is the work of the Holy Spirit because we can't wrap our human brains around it. Sometimes we think that God loves people based on how 'good' they are. The truth is that God loves everyone, regardless of their gender, sexual identity, nationality, religion, or 'goodness.' He loves those in the churches, just like he loves those in the jails. Just because he loves us all, doesn't mean he loves all that we do.
When we understand the love of God, we experience fulness of life. That sounds pretty good to me, what what does it mean? I think it means that God's love shines a whole new light on our anxiety, our fears, our sin, our troubles, our purpose, our hope, on everything. It's like turning on the light in a dark room, everything becomes clearer. The bad stuff doesn't go away, we just see it in a new way.
Take a moment to reflect on God's love.
In Ephesians 3:18 Paul prays, I pray that you and all God’s holy people will have the power to understand the greatness of Christ’s love—how wide, how long, how high, and how deep that love is. It's impossible to wrap our human brains around the superhuman love of God. 1 John 4:8-10 says, But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
Jesus Christ is the Son of God, so it figures that he is love too. He loved us so much that he died on a cross for us. He did that, not because we deserved eternal life with him, but so that we could deserve eternal life with him. That's epic.
In Ephesians 3:17 Paul says, I pray that your love will have deep roots. I pray that it will have a strong foundation. Deep roots and firm foundations provide stability in the storms of life. Does your love have deep roots? How do you think and act when life is hard? When people are rude or unkind? God's perfect love helps us to endure hardship; to be kind, even when others aren't; to have hope; and to have joy. It affects everything you think, do and say.
I love Paul's prayers for the early church. In Ephesians 3:16 he says, I pray that he will use his glorious riches to make you strong. May his Holy Spirit give you his power deep down inside you. He was praying that they would have strength to continue in their faith in the face of great persecution; that they wouldn't be discouraged because he was currently in prison for his faith.
I think this prayer is relevant today too. We don't face imprisonment for our faith where I live, but you definitely face criticism, judgement, and persecution for following Jesus. My prayer for you is that the Holy Spirit would give you power to follow Jesus, even when you face persecution; that you would have strength to love others, even your enemies; that you would have strength to have faith in God when things are hard, that you would have strength to do the good things that God has planned for you; and that you would have strength to tell others the Good News about Jesus.
Ephesians 3:12 says, Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence. The Greek word for boldness in the original text means freedom of speech. Paul is saying that we can come to God in prayer, regardless of our ethnicity, our deeds, our gender, our 'worthiness' (or lack of it), because Jesus has made a way for us to approach God through his death and resurrection. It's like God was on one side of a chasm and we were on the other, with no way across. But Jesus bridges the gap. How awesome is it that we can approach God, the creator of the universe, boldly and confidently!
NOTE: The image below is a great way to explain to people what God has done for you.
Short and sweet inspirations for Christian teen girls.