Helping you grow closer to God
Download the Chip Ingram App
Unstuck free mp3 download.
About this series
Overcoming the Pain of Your Past
Pain. It is part of the human experience, and one of the things that helps us grow to maturity. But for some of us the pain we have experienced feels crippling. Broken promises, dysfunctional families, damaged relationships and rejection keep us from experiencing the abundant life Jesus promised. Sometimes it's a challenge just to get through the day, let alone to extend love and strength to those around us. The Bible, however, offers great hope for pressing on. From the book of Ephesians, learn who you really are and why the pain of your past doesn't have to obscure God's plan for your future.More from this series
And so what I want to do is walk through Ephesians chapter 1 verses 15 to 23 and show you how the apostle Paul talks about how shattered dreams can actually lead to transformed lives. Where you can take the pain of our shattered dreams, and allow us to come and run to God, and begin to do things in us that we long to see happen but because we’re human, if we didn’t have shattered dreams, we wouldn’t go there.
God wants to fulfill your dream of being intimately known and loved. You have that need, I have that need, that’s a dream, that’s a good dream.
Now I’m going to be honest with you, I want Theresa to give that to me in someone I can see, and my expectations are very reasonable. I only want it about ninety-nine percent of the time.
When I place that demand on my wife, if you place that demand on your children, or on your friends, you’re just set up for failure.
What if the only person that could ever fulfill my deepest longing to be known and to be loved is Jesus?
So, listen to what the apostle Paul does. “For this reason,” he opens up, “for this reason.” Every time you get a, “For this reason,” you need to go back, he’s looking back. For what reason? Paul would say, “Remember that long sentence I wrote?” “Yeah.” “Since you have every spiritual blessing in Christ, for that reason, and since that reason means His Spirit has sealed and you, have an inheritance, and you’re secure, and you’re redeemed, and you’re adopted, and because all that’s true of Jesus, He’s bolted you with Him, for this reason,” now what he’s going to pray is that what you already possess in your relationship with Him, you could begin to experience.
And notice, the way he thinks, it gets from your head to your heart is, you know what Paul is doing right now? He’s praying. “For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking,” it’s a tense of the verb that means repetitive, “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you,” it says, “the spirit of wisdom and revelation.”
In your notes put an “a” and then make a small “s.” See, we already have the Holy Spirit. Translation here, he’s asking, “I want God to give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you may know Him better.”
The word “wisdom” here is discernment. “Revelation” is that God would open the truth. In other words, I’m praying that God would give you a spirit of wisdom and discernment about who you already are and a revelation, you know that “ah-ha” moment that, “Oh! I am adopted, I am redeemed, I am loved, I am free, I am secure.” And so that you may know Him better.
And you’ll notice that “you may know” is in bold. There are a couple different words in the Greek New Testament for “know.” One is a factual knowledge. In other words, two plus two is four, you need to know that fact.
Another is a different word and it’s a relational knowledge. It’s a knowing that comes by time and relationship, and that’s the word he uses here. He says, “I want you to, all those facts, all those truths, I want you to relationally feel at home, that Christ is in your heart. I want you to feel, and know, and experience better, that you’re valued, that you’re paid for, that you matter.”
And then the question is how? Ask the Father to reveal Himself to you. See, what’s really happening here is, the apostle Paul is saying we all have shattered dreams. The only one that will ever come through for you one hundred percent of the time is the Lord. So, the greatest thing you can ever do in dealing with all your shattered dreams, is to get to where you experience and know who He is, so that you’ll know that.
There are days where your kids won’t love you the way you wish. There are days your mate won’t love you the way you wish. But if you’re grounded and know He loves you, you’re sustained and the shattered dream doesn’t have to shatter in your life.
First and foremost, the apostle Paul says to this church, “Here’s what you need in this pagan world of Ephesus and the temple of Diana here, and prostitutes here, and worldliness here. Here’s what you need. Here’s who you really are. I’m asking God to give you a spirit of wisdom, and insight, and revelation about who you are in Christ that you would know Him better. Because He’s the only one that will love you consistently and never let you down.”
Is that awesome or what? So is that not different from, “You’re supposed to have a quiet time. You’re supposed to pray. If you’re really hot you should memorize some verses.”
You know the verses you ought to memorize? The ones that speak to the greatest need in your heart. The ones where you feel like, “Oh, I want to feel God more but I don’t… well, you know what? He’s near to the brokenhearted so I’m going to write that down, I’m just going to read it over. And I’m going to pray those verses back to God when I feel confused. I’m going to write in my journal how I feel, and I’m going to offer it up to God, and…”
“Lord, help me! I don’t know how to pray, I don’t know what to do with this kid, I don’t know what to do with this marriage, I don’t know. You know what? My lands, I was a financial planner, now my house is upside down. Help!”
God answers those prayers.
The second key is God wants to fulfill your dream of having a better tomorrow. God wants to give you a hope and a future, and He’ll never let you down.
Now, it won’t be in the way that you want, necessarily. It won’t be exactly what you want, and it won’t happen at the time that you want. Other than that it’ll be perfect.
But he says, notice he keeps praying. He says, “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened.” Well, there is a purpose. “In order that you may know.” Circle that, if you will, because that’s the other word.
In other words, you will know, by rock solid facts, what? The hope to which you’ve been called, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and then we’ll see in a minute, and His incomparably great power that is for us who believe.
Here’s what he says, he says, “I’m praying also that the eyes of your heart,” in other words, the part where you see by faith, and it says, “may be enlightened,” literally a very excellent translation is, “The eyes of your heart, having been enlightened.”
So, he’s certainly praying for what will happen in the future, but what he’s saying is, now that you’re in Christ, the eyes of your heart, your relationship with God, you see now in ways that you haven’t seen before and since He has done this, what I’m praying is that you’ll start to understand three things.
Three rock solid facts: The hope to which you’re called, the riches - notice it’s not now of your inheritance. Look at the text, what’s it say? - the riches, glorious inheritance, in the saints. It’s God’s inheritance. You’re His kid. When you came into the family, He’s excited about you. [Paul’s] praying that we would understand we’re valuable to God? Yeah! And the power that’s available.
And so those are rock solid facts. And he says, “The hope to which you are called.” Put a little box around the word “hope.” When we use the word “hope” in English we say things like, “I hope things go well, I hope it doesn’t rain, I hope the pizza comes on time.” Those are wishful thinking.
This word, the word “in hope” is like the anchor of your soul. We hope that Jesus will return. When the Bible uses the word “hope” it means absolute certainty. God said it, God promised it, it will happen.
And so what he’s saying is, “I want you to know, as a fact, as a bedrock that will never shake, I’m praying, since your eyes have been enlightened, that you would begin to understand the absolute hope that you have.”
You will have shattered dreams of different magnitude depending on your life, your journey, and where you’re placed for God’s purposes. But here’s the hope that won’t change: Jesus is real, heaven is real, He lives in you, you’re headed there, and He’ll be with you until you get there. That never changes.
Your kids may not turn out right, you may never get married, you may never have the financial success, you may never be on the island in your dreams with your loved one walking on the beach in your golden years. Da, da, da, da, da, da, da.
By the way, don’t get me wrong. Any of that stuff you get, God bless you. I mean I hope I get some of it too. It just can’t fill you up. It just can’t be what I’m thinking life is going to be all about.
He says, “I want you to know about the hope of your calling.” It’s the same word he used up in chapter 4 when it says, “You’ve been chosen, you’ve been called.” Same word.
He wants you to know that’s a certainty. Ask the Father to give you an eternal perspective. See, that is the antidote to shattered dreams.
The first antidote is be in relationship with God the Father, who loves you in a way that no matter what other people do… does it hurt? Of course, it hurts but it can’t destroy you.
And then you ask God, “Will You give me an eternal perspective? Would You help me to understand the hope that I have?” And then this is one of those verses and I look, “And would You help me to grasp the riches of Your glorious inheritance?”
Now, think about this, okay? This is one of those lofty theological things but would you just try and lean back?
There is an eternal being, outside of all time and eternity. He had no beginning; He has no end. He is simple. And by that, I mean He doesn’t have parts. He’s one essence: God in three personalities, the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.
And in the mind and the heart of God, before the foundations of the earth, He has a plan. And He decided out of all the galaxies we estimate now but it keeps growing and expanding that there are billions of galaxies. Two hundred billion or plus. There are over two hundred billion stars in our simple, one little galaxy, the Milky Way, just fairly small.
This One, who created all that, has decided, in one planet that is situated in such a way that it’s ideal for life, as we know it, that He would create you and me and mankind.
And He would watch us, in our violence and selfishness, kill one another and have wars and realize that in our rebellion that from the foundations of the earth, giving us freedom, that He would send His son to live an absolutely perfect life, born in a virgin, born of a virgin so He could be fully human and yet fully divine.
And after living this perfect life, He would die upon a cross to pay for your sin and my sin, and the sins of all people of all time. And then He would rise from the dead, not as some mystic religion somewhere, but in space-time history with over five hundred people who would be eyewitnesses, who would talk to Him over a forty-day period, and then visibly rise.
And then He says to you, His Church, “When you trust in that work and become a part of His family, He gets an inheritance.” Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross. You are precious, you are magnificent, you are a part, now, of His family. He sees you as an inheritance. Are you kidding me?
I mean, if a king or a queen, or some president, or, in our day, I think some owner of some football team, if they said, “I want you to come and be a guest in my suite and I have five mansions. I’ve got one, I just want you to live there. It’s on me. And, by the way, I’ve just written you into my will. I mean wouldn’t you go, “Are you kidding?” And the God of the universe says, “You are My inheritance.”
When you begin to think, with an eternal perspective, of who God is and what He’s done, do you start to see how that shrinks those shattered dreams? Do you see how they’re hurts, and I don’t mean to dismiss them, and I don’t mean you don’t face them, I don’t mean you don’t weep over them. But they don’t have the power to make you stuck the rest of your life. You’re a child of the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
Finally, he’s going to tell us that the third fact is to know the power that you possess currently. God wants to fulfill your dreams of leaving a legacy, to make a difference in the world. And you’re saying, “I got shattered dreams. I don’t have the power to do that.”
He goes, “And the incomparable greatness of His power for those who believe. The power,” that is the working of His mighty strength, “which He exerted in Christ.” And then He’s going to give three quick examples of His power.
Now, you’ll notice in your notes the word “power,” the word “working,” the word “might,” and the word “strength.” Circle all those words. The apostle Paul wants you to get how much power is available. And he took his Greek lexicon and he took four different words to say, “You know what? Here’s what I want you to know.”
The word “power,” the first one, we get our word for dynamite. It’s dynamic power, the energy that makes things happen. When he says here, “the working,” we get our word, it’s “energon.” We get our word “energy,” it makes things move. And the word “might” here, it has this idea of, that things that transpire and happen. And then finally “strength” is the ability to overcome obstacles.
And so he goes, “I want you to understand, I’m praying, that somehow from your head, to your heart, to your soul, that you would grasp not only this hope of your calling, that you are a part of God’s inheritance, but you have this incomparably great,” and I mean, it’s so great you can’t get your arms around it, “power,” and then he says, “which He exerted.” And he goes, “Let me just tell you the kind of power that lives inside of you.”
Illustration number one: When He raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms. That’s the kind of power that lives in you. Same power that raised Jesus from the dead.
Illustration number two: Far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the age to come. Here’s His power: he’s giving us, in the Hebrew mindset, all those levels of different angels, and authorities, and powers - Jesus is over all of them. That’s the kind of power that lives in you. Not that you have that role, but that same kind of power, that God had in giving Christ that reign.
And then notice, “And God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way.”
And he says: he’s praying - this is a great thing to pray for yourself, to pray for your mate, to pray for your friends, to pray for your roommate, to pray for your kids - “I’m praying that you might know, not experientially but as a fact, from your head to your heart, that you have a hope that no shattered dream can break because you have a hope in His calling.
That you have an inheritance. But bigger yet, you are a part of God’s inheritance. And that the same power that raised Him from the dead, and the same kind of power that made Him ruler over all these different levels of powers and angels and things we can’t see, and the same kind of power that places Him over everything forever in every way, are you ready for this? It dwells in you.
See the Christian life isn’t getting something new or something different. The Christian life is tapping into, by the power of the Holy Spirit, abiding in His Word in the community of God’s people, that which you already possess.
You’re in Christ. How? Ask the Father to help you comprehend the supernatural power available to you today.