Ooh, don’t you love to be the first to know something no one else seems to know or have any indication of knowing? Doesn’t it feel a bit powerful and exciting to know a secret that you know will surprise and benefit someone else? Remember being all giggly with those who also knew the secret? You share a bond with those “in the know” and it’s fun!
I remember a particular celebration that was hush hush until a few minutes before my grandmother arrived. When it was revealed that we were honoring her for turning 80 years old, the smile on her face was like none I had ever seen. She typically smiled a lot, but this was different. She was humbled that this party was for her alone. She kept saying over and over, “this is too much, I’m not that special”. But to us she was the most important person in the room that evening and we wanted to honor her for who she was. This is such a lovely memory for me. This memory of Grandma Kellerby touched my heart so deeply, I can even recall what she was wearing that day! I’m also recalling all the people in the room who made it all possible.
This event was special and touched my heart as deeply as you can imagine. But there is a greater secret that is ready to be known that is beyond our wildest imaginations. This secret is for EVERYONE! Paul, who in “in the know” is so excited to tell you about this mysterious secret that is not a mystery any longer with a humbled heart and powerful words. Surprise! Jesus is for everyone! The promises of God are realized!
“The mystery is that people who have never heard of God and those who have heard of him all their lives (what I’ve been calling outsiders and insiders) stand on the same ground before God. They get the same offer, same help, same promises in Christ Jesus. The Message is accessible and welcoming to everyone, across the board.”
From a jail cell, looking up at God and not his surroundings, Paul is proclaiming the secret out loud while someone furiously writes down the words. God is now for all! Jesus, His Son, made it possible! We can all stand on the promises of God of eternal life! The Secret is out!
Paul is just as humbled by the secret as my Grandma Kellerby was at her celebration! I love that the Secret drove him to his knees in praise and thanksgiving to God!
“My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth.”
PAUSE, REFLECT AND PRAY…
Does knowing the Secret, God is for everyone who believe in Jesus, His Son, drive us to our knees in grateful praise?
The Secret is out, ready to be told to everyone! Does knowing this secret drive us to our knees in humbled response, asking for God to equip us to show and tell His Story, in His Name, for His Glory?
Let’s read the rest the message and then answer these questions again…
EPHESIANS—RECONCILED TO BE
Ephesians 3, The Message
The Secret Plan of God
1-3 This is why I, Paul, am in jail for Christ, having taken up the cause of you outsiders, so-called. I take it that you’re familiar with the part I was given in God’s plan for including everybody. I got the inside story on this from God himself, as I just wrote you in brief.
4-6 As you read over what I have written to you, you’ll be able to see for yourselves into the mystery of Christ. None of our ancestors understood this. Only in our time has it been made clear by God’s Spirit through his holy apostles and prophets of this new order. The mystery is that people who have never heard of God and those who have heard of him all their lives (what I’ve been calling outsiders and insiders) stand on the same ground before God. They get the same offer, same help, same promises in Christ Jesus. The Message is accessible and welcoming to everyone, across the board.
7-8 This is my life work: helping people understand and respond to this Message. It came as a sheer gift to me, a real surprise, God handling all the details. When it came to presenting the Message to people who had no background in God’s way, I was the least qualified of any of the available Christians. God saw to it that I was equipped, but you can be sure that it had nothing to do with my natural abilities.
8-10 And so here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head, the inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ. My task is to bring out in the open and make plain what God, who created all this in the first place, has been doing in secret and behind the scenes all along. Through followers of Jesus like yourselves gathered in churches, this extraordinary plan of God is becoming known and talked about even among the angels!
11-13 All this is proceeding along lines planned all along by God and then executed in Christ Jesus. When we trust in him, we’re free to say whatever needs to be said, bold to go wherever we need to go. So don’t let my present trouble on your behalf get you down. Be proud!
* * *
14-19 My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
20-21 God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
Glory to God in the church!
Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!
Glory down all the generations!
Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!
DO WE PRAY LIKE PAUL?
Do we pray for others to know the love of Christ?
Do we pray for others to receive Jesus Christ, be firmly planted on His love?
Do we ask God to guide us in a life long pursuit of helping others know and follow Jesus?
Do we—” Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
“God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!”
“He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.”
I love Paul’s enthusiasm and passion for the lifelong work you gave to him. You changed his mind, redirected his heart and then equipped him for YOUR work of telling others you secret. We learn that you do this for all of us who believe. This secret that Jesus is IN us, YOU in ALL of us who believe, is out of the bag! May our lives reflect the depth of your love in us. May our lifelong work be to help others find and follow you. Yes, the secret is out. This was your plan from the beginning. Thank you, Lord!
In Jesus Name, For Your Glory, Amen. Yes!