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All About That Grace

"18 Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints. 19 Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel. 20 For this I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I might be bold enough in Him to speak as I should.

21 Tychicus, our dearly loved brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you all the news about me so that you may be informed. 22 I am sending him to you for this very reason, to let you know how we are and to encourage your hearts.

23 Peace to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace be with all who have undying love for our Lord Jesus Christ." 
Good Morning Beloved,
Welcome to worship this Lord's Day!
We're so glad you're here with us today.
It's hard to believe that we have come to the end of our study of the book of Ephesians. While I'm aware, many of you may have a slightly different view, with many of you asking if we’re ever going to finish this series on Ephesians.
That said, however, I feel as though I often do when we come to the close of a particular study, that although God has richly blessed us, He has accomplished tremendous things, through enriching our lives, confronting us, causing us to view our lives in a new way, that we haven't even begun to scratch the surface of the treasures of wisdom found here.
Though our study of this marvelous epistle is coming to an end, the wisdom and knowledge we have learned need not to end. So, in essence we're not leaving the book of Ephesians, we're taking with us the treasure trove of wisdom and knowledge of what we've learned, continuing to make the necessary applications to our lives from here on out, living it out daily, all for God's glory! 

Let us bow our heads.

Heavenly Father,

Father, we humbly thank You for the incredible truths, the instruction and knowledge we have learned so far in our study of this portion of Your Word. We confess that some of what we have been confronted with along the way, causing us to take a hard look at our lives, has been at times, hard to take. In Your Word, You have made us aware of our strengths, our short comings, and how little we actually understand. 

Father, we look forward to what You have set aside for us today. As You reveal even more through Your Word to us, embed it deep within our hearts, help us to be transformed, to become even more like Christ. May having this wisdom and knowledge, bring us to the fullness of joy and blessing, that we've been promised, that we might rejoice even more.

Lord, help us to be people of prayer, not only for ourselves and our families, but for Your church, and Your people. But let us not stop there, help us to pray, for the lost and unregenerate of this fallen world, that they too, might be saved. We pray all of this for Your glory!
In Jesus' name

Today's Message: All About That Grace

As we come to the closing verses of the sixth chapter of Ephesians, we find that prayer becomes the theme. It is, for good reason, not mentioned as a part of the Christian’s armor because it is much more than that. Understand that in addition to these things, add prayer, but rather, woven into these things which I have revealed to you, through the Holy Spirit, is prayer.
Open with me your Bibles, to the sixth chapter of Ephesians, as we conclude our study of the marvelous epistle, so rich, full of instruction to guide us in our Christian walk. I would like to encourage you to follow along with me as I read this to you, to get it set in our minds. Ephesians 6:18-24.

"With every prayer and request, pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be alert with all perseverance and every request for all the saints, and pray in my behalf, that speech may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Now, so that you also may know about my circumstances as to what I am doing, Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will make everything known to you. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, so that you may know about us, and that he may comfort your hearts.

Peace be to the brothers and sisters, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love."

As we always do, we'll begin by putting this passage in its proper context. In verses 10-17, Paul exhorts his readers to stand firm against the evil one and then he has described the six pieces of the armor of God that every believer has been given by God in order to be able to effectively do so. And we have looked at each of those pieces of the armor individually, in some detail, in order to better understand how we are to use them against the schemes of the enemy, who is none other than Satan himself.

I'd like to point out, that while in many of your Bibles, verse 18 is separated from the previous section by starting a new paragraph, there is no doubt that this verse is connected with the section on the armor of God. That is very clear in the Greek grammar, but there is another connection that is obvious even in our English translations. In verse 17, Paul ends his description of the armor with the "sword of the Spirit" and then here in verse 18, he instructs his readers to "pray in the Spirit."
As a Christian, we must in essence, ascend to the throne of God, in prayer, for it is the very air that we breathe. 
As I stated previously, Paul is not in any way indicating here that in addition to all the six pieces of armor we are to add prayer, as if it were the seventh piece of armor. He is rather making the point that it is that prayer is woven all throughout the pieces of armor. When we arm ourselves with the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness and sandal our feet with the gospel of peace, when we take up the shield of faith and the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, we must at the same time also engage in prayer, if we are going to be successful in battle. Prayer is the key to our success.

It is quite instructive that as Paul comes to the end of his letter, his final thoughts deal with prayer. If you or I were to write a letter to someone else in order to try to convince them to take some action, we would make sure that our most significant arguments were at the end of that letter, because that would be what would be most likely to remain in the reader’s mind. And I believe, that is exactly what the apostle Paul is doing here.

Paul has described for us our exalted position in Jesus and the tremendous resources that we have in order to live our lives in accordance with who we are in Jesus. He has provided us with everything we need to be an effective follower of Jesus. In fact, I’m convinced that if somehow we lost all the rest of the Bible and all we had was the book of Ephesians, we would have sufficient instruction to live the kind of life that God wants us to live. I believe that the book of Ephesians, is an essential part of our walk with Christ.

Paul closes his letter with this emphasis on prayer. I believe, it is because there is an imminent danger that we as Christians need to be aware of. Christians, those who have a knowledge of sound doctrine and at least some success with putting into practice the spiritual principles from God’s Word, can easily come to the point where they think they can live their lives in their own power and they lose their dependency on God.

I believe that is exactly what Paul had in mind when he wrote to the Corinthian church in I Corinthians 10:12. "Therefore let the one who thinks he stands watch out that he does not fall."

Paul therefore ends his letter by calling his readers to prayer, because prayer is the antidote to the danger of depending on ourselves, rather than dependency on God. In one verse, in just 24 words in the Greek, Paul provides us with one of the most comprehensive teachings on prayer that we can find in the Scriptures. And as we look at verse 18, the thing that immediately stands out is how this verse is centered on the word "all." It is the all-encompassing element of our lives. That’s why I say it is the air we breathe. There is at no time in our lives when we should not be in prayer. Prayer pervades all that we are and that we do.

So we’re going to focus for a moment, on those "all’s" as we take a deeper look at this passage. Some translations have four "all's", while others have three.

The first "all," we come to is "Pray at all times in the Spirit" In the Greek, "en panti kairō." Pray at all times. I believe this is straightforward and clear. How often are we to pray? "At all times." That is the frequency in which we are to pray, always, at all times. 

I know for some of you, this is in contrast to what you have grown up with being taught to pray at certain times. Probably one of the best known examples of that is Daniel praying three times a day. And since the early church consisted primarily of Jewish believers, we find that practice carrying through to that time. In fact, in the book of Acts, we find that the early church met "for the prayers," set times for prayer, was a holdover from their Judaism. However, in the New Testament, with the new covenant, with the birth of the new church, we are to be praying at all, in every season, about everything. There aren't set prayer times any longer.

In fact, I believe that Jesus Himself, was indicating this was coming in Luke 18:1, "Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not become discouraged."

And in Luke 21:36, He says "But stay alert at all times, praying that you will have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man."

And that concept of praying always is picked up by the apostle Paul, which we see not only in his letter to the Ephesians, but the Romans, Colossians and Thessalonians as well.

I have had a number of people through the years, ask "How am I supposed to be praying always? I have to work, take care of my family." This doesn't mean we walk around with our heads bowed and our eyes close in prayer at all times. It simply means living your life in the consciousness of God. So that your whole life rises before God in communion and communication.  In other words, everything I say and do, everything I experience in my life, simply becomes a prayer. 

Paul writes that we are to pray with all kinds of prayers and requests. The Greek word "proseuchēs," translated "prayers," is the general word for prayer. It conveys the sense of being in the presence of God and therefore includes the idea of adoration, devotion and worship and not just making requests of God.

That means when I am faced with temptation, I immediately come to God in prayer, "God, You know what I'm going through, help me in this!" And likewise, there is cause for prayer in something good that has occurred, "God, I know that every good and perfect gift comes from You, thank You Father!" 

If I encounter someone who is without Christ, "Father, draw them to Yourself, that they might come to know Christ and receive the precious gift of salvation." If I see someone in some sort of trouble, like a medical condition, for example, "God You are the Great Physician, Healer, guide the hearts, minds and hands of those administering their care, that Your glory would be revealed."

Romans 12:1 says to us "Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship."

The Greek word "deēseōs," translated "requests" or "petitions," is translated supplication in many of our English translations. It comes from the root word, "déomai," meaning to want or to beg. It refers to making known specific needs and even conveys a sense of urgency. 

Paul precedes these with the word "all," Paul is making the point that we are to pray with prayer upon prayer. Prayer is so essential that we need to employ every kind of prayer imaginable – group prayer, individual prayer, silent prayer, shouting prayer, walking prayer, kneeling prayer, prostrate prayer, angry prayer, thankful prayer, confessing prayer, exalting prayer, rehearsed prayer, spontaneous prayer, groaning prayer. In other words, there is an appropriate kind of prayer for whatever you are facing in life. So there is absolutely no excuse for us not to pray.

"and stay alert in this with all perseverance." I believe that this is one of those verses where in our English translations, we have a hard time capturing the intensity of Paul’s instruction. Allow me to put it another way, "Watch and pray with perseverance."

In Mark chapter 14, Jesus had previously connected the need to be watchful with prayer as He spoke to His disciples, in verse 38: "Keep watching and praying, so that you will not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."

Jesus was encouraging His disciples to be on guard for those things that might tempt them to sin so that they could pray about them. Beloved, we would certainly be wise to do the same. 

I believe as we come to the last "all" in this verse, "and intercession for all the saints," this is clearly interceding for others in prayer. There are varying opinions on the meaning of this verse, however, I believe, that Paul is exhorting us to be watchful of what is going on with the people around us. Typically, when we share prayer needs within the body, physical, emotional and financial seem to dominate our individual prayers, as well as corporate prayers. However, I believe, there is a much greater exhortation here, praying for the spiritual needs of others.

Do you really know the needs of the people around you? And I'm not speaking of the ones who have requested prayer for specific concerns. What about those who have not expressed their prayer needs? This is why I believe that Paul is calling us to be "alert," to be "watchful," in praying for others needs.  

Verse 19, "Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel." 

I believe that we should be praying that same prayer for anyone who teaches the Word of God. I hope that you are praying that for me, "that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel." 

I must confess to all of you, that God has really convicted me recently about the need to have much more depth in my own prayer life, especially as I pray for others. And in order for me to learn how to do that better, the best place to start is by praying in a way that is consistent with the prayers that we find in Scripture. 

God has placed every one of His children into a body of local believers for the purpose of encouraging and being encouraged as we each struggle to live a life that is pleasing to God. And I believe if you’re truly committed to becoming a fully-devoted follower of Jesus Christ, you will take advantage of every opportunity that you have to get into His Word and then to put what you learn into practice. God didn’t create any of us to do that on our own. God desires that we all share our journey of faith with our brothers and sisters in Christ every chance we get.

In Verse 20, "For this I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I might be bold enough in Him to speak as I should."

As we examine Paul's request for prayer, there is much we can learn here.. we can perhaps learn as much by what Paul does not ask his readers to pray for as by what he does ask them to pray for.

First, even though Paul is in prison and he separated from the Ephesians physically, Paul is giving his readers the chance to partner with him in his ministry as they pray for him. Let's look at the circumstances surrounding Paul for a moment. In chapter 3, Paul described himself as a prisoner of Christ Jesus and here in verse 20, he writes that he is "in chains." In the Book of Acts, we know that Paul, after appealing to Caesar, had been delivered to the captain of the Praetorian Guard in Rome, to await trial before the Emperor. He had been allowed to arrange a private lodging for himself; but night and day in that private lodging there was a soldier to guard him.

Now, having knowledge of Paul's circumstances, what would we imagine Paul's prayers to be? Given the types of prayer requests I frequently receive from believers, one would expect Paul to ask us to pray for his release from prison. Or that we would pray for his comfort, or maybe to heal the sores on his wrists from the shackles. And there certainly would not have been anything inherently wrong had Paul asked for those kinds of prayers, just as there is nothing wrong with us asking for people to pray for our physical needs. After all, there are examples in Scripture of prayers for physical needs and even instructions to pray for those who are sick.

However, I am struck by the fact, that Paul doesn't focus on his circumstances or physical needs. I believe that the apostle Paul realizes there is a far greater need involved. Paul seems to see his needs from God’s perspective. In Paul's day, an ambassador would wear chains or a gold adornment, in order to show the power and riches of the government he represented. So for Paul, his chains represented the power and riches of the one for whom he was an ambassador, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul’s prayers are deeply rooted in his understanding of how his life fits into God’s overall plan of taking the gospel, the good news, to the world around him, that was of greater concern that his personal needs.

Allow me to ask my earlier question regarding prayer a bit more specifically. Do you know the spiritual needs of your spouse, of your children, of your family, of your friends, of your neighbors, of the people in your local body? Do you persevere in prayer for them as they fight the battle?

Every follower of Jesus is actually an ambassador of Jesus. Paul makes that quite clear in II Corinthians 5:20, "Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God."

So when you pray for the saints, meaning for others, you pray "God, glorify yourself by putting your power on display, your grace on display, your mercy on display, your wisdom on display, your truth on display, by answering this prayer concerning these saints."

And when we're praying for ourselves, instead of praying for God to deliver us from our circumstances, we must learn to consider how God is using our circumstances for His purposes and plans to further the gospel. Then we need to pray that we would have God’s perspective regarding the circumstances of our lives.

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of Him. That's the key to answered prayers.

In verse 21, Paul writes about someone who was one of those behind the scenes people, someone who most of us have probably never heard of before. And yet, Tychicus played a crucial role in the spread of the gospel and the tremendous growth of the early church.

"Tychicus, our dearly loved brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you all the news about me so that you may be informed." 

We don’t know a whole lot about Tychicus, we only find his name mentioned five different times in the New Testament. First in Acts chapter 20, Tychicus’ willingness to travel with Paul to Jerusalem. This wasn't an easy journey and it would take him away from his family and his church, that says much about his heart.

Next is in Ephesians, which we've already read and then in Colossians. So let's look quickly at Colossians 4:7-9.

"As to all my affairs, Tychicus, our beloved brother and faithful servant and fellow bond-servant in the Lord, will bring you information. For I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts; and with him is Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of your own. They will inform you about the whole situation here."

Paul wanted them to pray for a spiritual battle to be won, that he wouldn't lose his courage and boldness. In essence, he was saying, I don't expect you to pray for me with having any information. That is why he added "Tychicus, our beloved brother and faithful servant and fellow bond-servant in the Lord, will bring you information."

They were worried about Paul, they were concerned, so in verse 22 Paul writes "I am sending him to you for this very reason, to let you know how we are and to encourage your hearts." And he’ll tell you where the battle lies, so that you can pray.

We can learn a very powerful lesson from this. If we're going to pray, let's pray about spiritual things. And let's open up the communication, sharing in each other's needs, sharing in both the struggle and the victories. Giving us something to pray about.  

Paul wraps up his letter to the Ephesians with verses 23 and 24, "Peace to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who have undying love for our Lord Jesus Christ."

Paul prays that they might experience God’s love. But you’ll notice that there is a qualifier here. He desires that they have love "with faith." There is a sense in which God loves every man. However, the only ones who can experience that love in its fullness are those who have the faith to trust Jesus as the Lord and Savior of their lives. Paul prays that they might experience God’s grace. 

The Book of Ephesians is certainly all about that grace. Without it, none of us could experience a relationship with God and none of us could even begin to live a life that would please Him. We must also keep that grace of God in mind as we relate to others in the body. We need to treat others with the same kind of grace that God has bestowed on us.

In Closing...

Paul’s instruction throughout the book of Ephesians, and in that last part of his letter has been very comprehensive. Our beloved apostle has provided us with valuable principles about how we are to treat and deal with each other within the body of Christ, the church. He’s given us crucial guidelines about how to live together as husband, wives, parents and children. He’s addressed how to treat each other in the workplace. And he’s described how to put on the full armor of God in order to stand firm against the attacks of the devil. He’s even dealt with how we can pray for one another more effectively.

As for me personally, this journey has been life-changing. God has given me a new sense of urgency about the life's work He has called me to do. And He has renewed my passion and desire to know Him even more deeply, in new and exciting ways.

It is my hearts prayer, that God has done something similar in your lives, that He has done a mighty work in each of your lives. That you have grown to new spiritual depths, have come
to know God much more intimately and to serve Him with even more devotion.

That you have matured as believers in your own individual lives. And that this is only the catalyst, for what God has in store for your lives, that He will use you in mighty ways.

May it be so..

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name

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The Brian Monzon Ministries



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