Scripture: from verses 16 and 17
I pray that from the treasures of His glory He will empower you with inner strength by His Spirit, so that the Messiah may live in your hearts through your trusting.
Observation: So. The goal of this prayer is for the Messiah to live in our hearts. Two things are apparently required for that to happen: for us to trust, and for us to have inner strength. I’m not certain why we need inner strength in order for Messiah to live in us, but I guess it’s because Messiah changes us, and we need the strength to cooperate with those changes and not turn away. The Holy Spirit gives us the strength we need from the treasures of God’s glory. Possibly because God is strong, possibly because God made me and has the ability to upgrade me, and possibly because the reward of God’s glory helps us be strong. Though I’m disinclined to believe that last one, since it assumes we have the strength on our own, and we don’t.
Application: Trust in Him, since apparently there’s not much else we can do. Use the strength He gives us.
Prayer: Holy Spirit, please empower me so that Yeshua can live in my heart. Please give me the courage to belong to Him. Amen.
Scripture: from verse 14 and 15
I fall on my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth receives its character.
Observation: That word translated “character” is another tricky one. It’s derived from the Greek for “name.” At the time this was written, people believed that names had power. Your name was the sum of yourself – your thoughts, authority, personality, everything – and to know someone’s name gave you understanding of them and control over them. There are several times when demons, meeting Yeshua, screamed that they knew His name, probably in an attempt to assert power over Him. And this idea is still powerful today – it’s a common part of magic in fantasy, and even without a magical component we attach a great deal of meaning and and thought to our names.
And here we learn that every family in heaven and on earth receives their Name – their identity, their character, their role and authority – from God. From the context I’m sure that this was meant to be about Jews and Gentiles, but it’s also about my family, and my husband’s family, and the family that we’re building together. It’s about your family. It’s about the Jews and the Irish and the Chinese and the Arabs and the people across the street. All of them, individually granted a unique identity by God.
Application: To love my name. To love my family. To love my married name, which has always been a bit of a struggle for me. To know that God has a calling for all of us.
Prayer: Father, thank you for my name. Thank you for my family name, for your calling on us. Thank you that we are not all the same, that we are not like others and they are not like us. Help us to work together to glorify you. Amen.
Scripture: from verses 9 and 10
This plan, kept hidden for ages by God, the Creator of everything, is for the rulers and authorities in heaven to learn…how many-sided God’s wisdom is.
Observation: “This plan” is (still!) referring to the way Yeshua’s death brought the Gentiles into the kingdom of God, allowing anyone who wishes to do so to boldly approach the throne of grace. Apparently one of its purposes (there’s probably more than one) is to show the heavenly powers – the angels and demons – how rich and deep and varied God’s wisdom really is. I always said God was running a Xanatos Gambit, and now we know one of the reasons why.
The cool part here is the word translated “many-sided” – other translations use things like “rich variety” and “manifold.” The word in Greek is polypoikilos, and this is the only place it’s used in the Bible. The funny thing is, the second part, poikilos, already means “manifold” or “variegated” all on its own. The prefix poly- means “many.” So the word really means “many-many-sided” – it’s indicating that God’s wisdom is varied and rich and multifaceted beyond anything we can imagine, and certainly beyond what we usually mean when we say “many-sided.” It’s like Joseph’s amazing technicolored dreamcoat: “red and yellow and green and brown and scarlet and black and ochre and peach….”
Application: Don’t expect God’s plan to look like your plan. And don’t assume that what’s unexpected to you is unexpected to God. His wisdom is polypoikilos, far more complex than anything that would ever make sense to me. I can trust His plan, even if I can’t understand it.
Prayer: Father, I praise you for having wisdom and knowledge beyond mine. Certainly if I could understand you, we’d both be in trouble. Help me to trust that you know exactly what you are doing. Amen.
Scripture: verse 1
It is a consequence of this that I, Sha’ul, am a prisoner of the Messiah Yeshua on behalf of you Gentiles.
Observation: “This” refers to the second half of the previous chapter, about how Yeshua’s death makes the Gentiles welcome in the kingdom of God. God crowdsourced the kingdom of heaven, and He assigned Paul to help people get signed up.
The word that caught my attention is “prisoner.” Not worker, not employee, not even servant. Prisoner. One in chains.
The thing about being a prisoner is that there’s nothing else to do. Food and clothes are provided, your schedule is set for you, and there’s no point in worrying about impressing others because it’s not like you can date or be promoted anyway. (Well, that’s probably not as true today as it was then.) Paul set aside everything. He let God make all the decisions, and he rested in that.
Application: Not sure prison is for me, exactly 🙂 But it’s worth remembering that God is willing to handle all the hard stuff if I’m willing to obey Him.
Prayer: Father, thank you for being my warden, the one tasked with taking care of me. Help me to trust your judgement over my own. Help me to rest in the framework you’ve set up for me. Amen.