Series: Grounded in Love
Message: Our Church
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Mark Witas
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Jenniffer Ogden
Live Beyond: Andrew Jones
Live Purpose: Emily Ellis
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Ephesians 3:1-21 in the New Testament for Everyone (NTE). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: Ephesians 3:16–17 says, “I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love.”
It may sound weird, but I like seeing the inside of people. I even like seeing the inside of me. Once, when I was at a Thanksgiving dinner at my uncle and aunt’s place, my uncle, a doctor, asked me about the lumps in my arms. (I have lumps. A lot of lumps. In my arms, on my chest, probably other places too.) I told him I had no idea why I was so lumpy. He suggested that after dinner we run down to his office and he remove several of them and see if they were dangerous or not. I thought that would be a great way to end Thanksgiving dinner. Eat pumpkin pie, then have a multiple lumpectomy.
So we did. After dinner, my uncle and I went to his office (along with my 16-year-old cousin), and and I watched as he numbed my arm, sliced open several spots and cut the lumps out. I was fascinated to see my insides. As it turns out, there’s a lot of red stuff in there. I was so fascinated by what came out of me that I put all six lumps in a jar and kept them on a shelf in my office. I wanted others to see what was inside of me too.
I’ve been on mission trips where I got to assist in surgeries. I love watching surgeries on YouTube. The more detailed the better. I love seeing what’s inside of people.
Paul says that his prayer is that his church has its “inner being” strengthened by the Holy Spirit. The Greek here is eso anthropon—inner man. What does the inner man look like? According to Jesus, you can know the inner man by observing the outer man. If the outer man is producing good fruits, that’s what’s inside the inner man. If the outer man is producing greed, jealousy, selfishness, pride, and arrogance, that’s what’s in the inner man. What’s in the heart is what shows up in our actions.
When I was a principal, if a kid was consistently doing rotten things, their parents would eventually show up in my office for a talk. Often these parents would say, “Jonny has a good heart.”
With a smile on my face, I’d respond, “Actually, I don’t think that’s true. Jonny is mean to other kids and is a bully because he’s got a bad/sad/broken heart that needs to be fixed.” I’d tell them that the only way to fix Jonny’s behavior was to fix Jonny’s heart. Sometimes this wasn’t a popular thing to say, but it was true.
Paul’s desire for the people of the church is that they be strengthened in their inner self/man/person/being. Why? According to the next verse, he wants this so the people of the church can have Christ dwell deeply in their hearts, so they can grasp the vastness of the grace of the Father.
Recalibrate: What’s more important, a clean outer life or a clean inner life? How can one directly affect the other?
Respond: Ask God for pure motives and a pure heart as you go about your life today.
Research: Read Psalm 51.
Remember: “The heavenly world will know God’s wisdom” (Ephesians 3:10, ICB).
Mark Witas is the lead pastor for the Sunnyside Seventh-day Adventist Church in Portland, Oregon. He is a regular contributor to the Daily Walk.
Try filling containers along with your little one. Place an empty egg carton or some plastic container on the ground and give them sand or macaroni or pom poms. Talk about what you are putting in each container and then ask your child if they want to empty the containers and fill them up again. You can do this in the bathtub with water and plastic cups. Talk about pouring in and pouring out. Pour into your day by seeing and being thankful for all the good things. Pour out by being thankful.
Keep working on memorizing The Words to Remember for the week. (“The heavenly world will know God’s wisdom,” Ephesians 3:1.) Plan a discovery adventure for your family or some friends today! Take a group of people on an adventure to find a place where you can all play a game together—maybe basketball or Monopoly or even Would You Rather? Enjoy some time laughing and sharing time and being with one another. God made this planet that we all live on and we have the chance to invite others to enjoy it with us.
It’s easy to show appreciation to our friends. We can give them high fives, make up handshakes, or write them a note saying how cool they are. It feels good when others do this for us. Why don’t we show appreciation to our parents more often? Today, try to do something extra nice for your parents. Write them a note saying ”I love you.” You could try to do all your chores without being asked or even help make dinner. Even though it’s not Mother’s or Father’s Day, you can still tell your parents you love them!
We all have bad days. Life gets the best of us and we end up with a bad day. I had one of those days a few weeks ago. I failed a Greek midterm at 8:00 a.m., fell on some stairs coming out of the library, got pulled over while driving (thank goodness it was a warning), and then my backpack got stuck on a door handle as I was trying to exit a building. However, I was determined to look on the positive side and find the beauty in this day. It was fall in Walla Walla (#fallawalla) and so I decided to walk through a field of bright colored leaves and enjoy the splendor of it all. I then reached down to pick up a glowing yellow leaf to press in my Bible. But, to my dismay, there was a piece of poop sticking through the leaf! Yep. That just about summed up my day. However, even though it was a bad day, I was still able to find beauty in it. I had a meaningful conversation with a friend over coffee, ate a delicious piece of chocolate cake, and got spiritually filled at a life group at a church downtown. Throughout the day, God gives us “unlimited resources” and opportunities to connect with Him, our source of strength. If we rely on our circumstances for strength, we will be disappointed every time. What are some ways you can connect with God throughout the day and renew your strength in Him?
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development groups. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Jenniffer Ogden serves as the children and family pastor at the Walla Walla University Church in College Place, Washington.
Andrew Jones teaches grades seven and eight at Vista Ridge Academy in Erie, Colorado. He is originally from Oregon and attends Boulder Church.
Emily Ellis is a junior studying theology at Walla Walla University and interning at the Eastgate Seventh-day Adventist Church.