The reading for Friday, June 14, 2019 is Ephesians 3:20-21.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. NIV
So, what’s your day going to be like? The attitude by which we start our day will often determine its outcome. What do you hope will be the outcome of the day? Do you just look at your calendar and see the things you must get done and just grudgingly set your mind to doing them? Do you anticipate joy and encounters for you to discover God and opportunities to be a blessing and be blessed yourself? It may not have anything to do with the actual jobs you must do but the people you encounter as you do your work that will provide the greatest opportunity to create a good day for yourself and find Jesus near.
This pattern does not come naturally and to make it happen we must intentionally create the environment to foster this anticipation. For me it comes from scheduling a morning time of devotion and prayer with God. It involves looking ahead in my schedule to see what I have to accomplish but with each activity I interact with people. I can pray FOR each I know I will encounter, noting any struggles I might expect or any concerns I know they might be dealing with.
But before I pray for others and for my responses I look into God’s Word. God is the One I want with me and I know he shall if I make myself aware of his presence. Often we do not feel Christ and that is because we do not give him center stage in our attention. If I spend time with him I will become aware he is with me and expectant that he will guide me within all that I must do. Getting close with Christ is my first priority before engaging others and my necessary activity and just I must coordinate my day with my family I need to consider the times I can take that brief moment to spend with Christ – time to just breathe, evaluate and readjust.
In our reading the apostle was praying for the church at Ephesus. He was concerned for them as they were aware of his imprisonment. If you read the verses that come before the ones assigned for us today you will note how Paul is explaining to the Ephesians the reason behind his imprisonment. He says that it is due to the calling he has been given to proclaim the full inclusion of the Gentiles (non-Jews) in the relational covenant God has made with the Jews. He explains in verse 14 his concern that they might become discouraged by news of his imprisonment which he believes is positive.
Now this is the challenge we each face; it is one thing to thank God and anticipate the normal stuff of each day to face them intentionally but quite another to face adversity. It is most necessary to prepare our hearts and minds for the negative we shall encounter so we might keep our integrity and bring the most good out of the bad circumstance. This requires intentionality and should be reflected in our devotional life. Preparedness to be faithful is something each disciple needs to focus on daily.
Paul’s hope is that they would come to know the breadth of God’s love in every circumstance. Grace is something we typically talk about covering our mistakes and failures and not as the power to get us through difficult circumstances. Yet, the apostle relays confidence to his readers by assuring them that God can do more in and through us than we can possibly imagine. We might say to ourselves what we cannot handle and so set ourselves up for defeat, or with assurance of God’s aid we can prayerfully consider how we might respond and mysteriously discover God can pave the way that will result in blessing.
Paul knew that his stance for the inclusion of the gentiles was correct and he was willing to suffer for what was right. We who follow Christ should be just as prepared in lesser matters as the Apostle Paul in this great concern. You and I may end our day with a mix of good and some challenges that did not work out the way we would have hoped, yet if we can keep a good conscience, if we can respond well we will be able to rest trusting that God will deal with what we could not. We can release our concerns, confident that somehow mysteriously they will fit into God’s good plan. Now that makes a good ending to a day.