Paul began this front part of his letter with a praise poem, and he closed the section with praise as well. Why did he do this? To focus all of his attention, and that of the Ephesians’ and us, on the Almighty God who loves us. This gives us a model for the beginning and ending of each of our days.
Read Ephesians 3:20-21 in The Message. If possible, read it aloud.
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! Ephesians 3:20-21, MSG
Signs of the Times
- Read the second sentence in verse 20 one more time. “He does not push us around…” Remember the large number of slaves in Paul’s audience. Paul told them all about God’s gifts for them, but they got to decide for themselves whether or not they wanted to join the family. These were people who didn’t get to decide things for themselves.
- Jewish prayers often ended with praise, and frequently included “forever and ever.” (See Psalm 106:48.) Those who prayed or heard prayers often repeated these phrases together.
Read through these verses again, this time in the New Living Translation.
20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21, NLT
When we praise God, our focus is on Him and who He is. So, let’s chart what we learn here about God.
Before you read today’s text again, I invite you to watch a 6-minute video about praise. The Bible Project’s video on Psalm 148 is all about praise, and it reflects the first part of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. This video will explain what praise is all about, and I pray that it will also help you join into the praise of Ephesians 3:20-21, as it did for me.
If circumstance allow, read out loud as you go through these verses for the third time. Pause after every phrase to listen for God’s voice. How does God respond to your praise? It may not be words, but a picture, a color, a sound, or a feeling. One thing you know for sure: God always hears you, and He always responds.
20 Never doubt God’s mighty power to work in you and accomplish all this. He will achieve infinitely more than your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream, and exceed your wildest imagination![a] He will outdo them all, for his miraculous power constantly energizes you. 21 Now we offer up to God all the glorious praise that rises from every church in every generation through Jesus Christ—and all that will yet be manifest through time and eternity. Amen! Ephesians 3:20-21, TPT
As you read this through for the third time, what lifted for you? What do you hear from God today?
- Write it out in words. Taking the information in and repeating it in your own words will help you digest and remember what God is speaking to you today.
- Draw a picture to show God’s message to you in these verses.
This is not an exercise in fine art, but a doodle that will help you cement God’s words into your head. Sharing it with another and telling your “why” for the design is another helpful memory tool.
- Do both words and doodles. Don’t make this a hard task. It could be one word that stood out or a full sentence or two. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling. And stick figures are fine. If you’d rather include a picture you found or copied, use that. Make sure you could explain why you chose this picture for these verses.
As always, I am encouraged by your comments and doodles. Feel free to share them with me at KSEvenhouseWWV@gmail.com or in the comment section below.