Destined for Greatness

Destined for Greatness

How to Receive the Blessings of the Father’s love

When Rob was told by his company that he had to take a business trip abroad, he decided to take his teenaged son, Jack, along with him. Since Rob traveled a lot for his company, he thought it would give them a perfect opportunity to do something exciting together. But things didn’t turn out as planned. In the morning on the third day of their trip, Rob and his son were kidnapped and held hostage for several days.

At the height of their ordeal, one of the kidnappers put a gun to Jack’s head and threatened to pull the trigger. “Do whatever you want to me,” Rob begged, “but please don’t kill my son!” Just then, the police broke through the door and rescued both Rob and Jack.

As heroic as Rob’s words were, we all sense that any father in a similar situation would say the same thing. After all, who but the coldest of fathers wouldn’t sacrifice himself for his child? But there is one instance in which a father did not save his son-and has forever been admired for it. None other, than God himself allowed his own Son to be put to death for our sake. What’s more, he didn’t just let his Son die; he gave him up for us. While it may sound reckless at first, this one act of love has proved to be the most selfless act in the history of creation.

Imagine how painful it must have been for the Father to watch as his only Son was abandoned by his friends, scourged and beaten by his enemies, then put to death in the most torturous way imaginable. When all is said and done, we can come to only one logical conclusion: God our Father loves us with boundless love. His love has no limits-even to the sacrifice of his only Son, Jesus.

Chosen and Destined. For centuries, theologians have puzzled and debated the topic of predestination. How do you combine the belief that God is in control of this world with our understanding of human free will? This is a question we may never be able to answer-at least, not until Jesus comes back! Yet in his Letter to the Ephesians, Paul tells us that long before we were even created, God “destined” us to become his adopted sons and daughters (Ephesians 1:5).

Paul wasn’t trying to solve the question of predestination here. Rather, he was expressing the incredible truth that God created us to love him. He was showing that God is not stingy with his love and blessings. In fact, the opposite is closer to the truth: All we have to do is turn to God in love, and we will experience him lavishing his blessings upon us.

Paul also writes how before the creation of the world God wanted each of us to become like Jesus. Imagine: God went far beyond giving us spiritual blessings. He wants nothing less than to make us all members of one large family who would enjoy his love, have love for one another, and live in unity with him everyday.

“May You Know. . .” AS Paul described this grand intention of God, he wanted to make it clear that each of us is God’s great treasure. We are all the objects of his love. Paul also wants to show that we don’t have to wait until Jesus comes again to see God’s intention fulfilled in our lives. We can receive his love today and live each day in the dignity, freedom, and security of beloved children of God.

According to St. Paul, all these blessings have the power to make us holy and blameless-even though we are weak (Ephesians 1:4). They have given us the right to be God’s own adopted sons and daughters-even though we sometimes act like children of the flesh (1:5). They have marked us with the seal of the Holy Spirit and with the promise of eternal life-even though we are sinners who sometimes feel very much bound to the sin in this world (1:13-14).

Paul deeply wanted the Ephesians-and all of us-to know these blessings that God has poured out. And that’s why he asked God to give us a “spirit of wisdom and revelation.” It’s why he prayed that our spiritual eyes might be enlightened so that we might know “the hope” to which he has called us, “the riches of his glorious inheritance,” and “the immeasurable greatness of his power” at work in us (Ephesians 1:17-19).

Praying to Your Father. So how can we pray to the Father in a way that will bring us closer to his love? One very good approach is to take on the disposition of a child. Children tend to accept everything that their parents offer them. They’re very good at being generous receivers. So be open and expectant, just like a little child.

Practically, this means letting your mind dwell on your Father’s boundless love and on everything he wants to give to you. In prayer, take one or more of the blessings that Paul describes in the first chapter of Ephesians and imagine them being fulfilled in your life. Experiment with this a bit and see what God does in your heart as you dwell on them.

One image you might ponder is to see yourself standing before God your Father. Like all fathers, he loves you and sees all the good in you. Try to see yourself, through Jesus, as perfectly holy and completely blameless. Imagine what it’s like to know that your every sin has been wiped away and your heart has been made clean. Picture the dignity, self-worth, and freedom you can have as the truth of your redemption penetrates your heart. Think, too, about the love, compassion, and peace that can mark all your friendships because your conscience has been relieved of so much of its burden and because of your closeness to God. Try to sense God’s presence in you as you dwell on these thoughts. What is your Father saying to you? How is he looking upon you right now?

A second image has to do with Paul’s statement that God has destined us to receive a great inheritance (Ephesians 1:11). Imagine yourself as the son or daughter of a very wealthy man. As his heir, you are promised to receive a vast inheritance. And even now, as a young child living in your father’s house, you are enjoying all the benefits of his love and provision-but you know that this is but a small taste of all that is awaiting you. As you dwell on this image in prayer, think about the real inheritance God has promised you. Think about all the blessings listed in Ephesians and know that they are yours. Imagine how much your Father must love you: so much that he would gladly lavish so much treasure upon you!

Finally, a third image for prayer could be the gift of the Holy Spirit, whom Paul calls the “pledge of our inheritance” (Ephesians 1:14). As a pledge, the Spirit is a kind of down payment that God uses to seal our inheritance. He represents God’s promise-his guarantee-to give us our complete inheritance at the appropriate time. He is a foretaste or sampling of what life will be like in the presence of our heavenly Father. That means that the Spirit’s work in sanctifying us on earth is a taste of the perfect holiness that will be ours in heaven. It means that his power to enlighten our hearts and minds here is just a touch of the full light we will see in heaven. It means that his comforts in this life are but a hint of the complete and uninterrupted joy we will know when we finally see Jesus face-to-face.

As you begin experimenting in this kind of prayer, don’t be discouraged if you feel that nothing is happening. Give it time, and God will answer you. Remember, he won’t give you a snake if you ask for a fish (Luke 11:11). Just persist in telling him that you want to receive everything that he has for you. Remember, also, that while you do have to do some work to pray in this way, it’s equally important-if not more important-to let God do his part. Try to be as thirsty as a sponge and soak up everything that he wants to give you.

“My Beloved Child.” Praying to the Father this way can fill you with a sense of peace and security. You may find comfort as God shows you that he cares for you and knows your concerns and sufferings. Your heart will soften, and you will find yourself wanting an even closer relationship with him. Even better, you won’t mind putting in the time to get to know him more!

Brothers and sisters, our Father really does love us. He wants to give good things to us and to our families. He promises that if we dwell on his blessings and his love, a transformation will occur right before our eyes. Not only will we know intellectually that our Father loves us; we will know it in our heart. We will experience a personal connection with him that fills us with a sense of his love. Our hearts will be soothed, and we will know his comfort and peace. We may even hear him tell you the same thing he told Jesus, “This is my beloved child, in whom I am well pleased!”

Copyright Word Among Us Jul 2004

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