[Bible, Ministry & More] Shari Edwards: People of Confident Hope

Shari has been active in Women’s Ministry leadership for over 20 years and is a LifeWay Women Trainer. She currently serves as Co-Coordinator for the Arkansas Baptist State Convention Inspire Women’s Conference, and in the ABSC Women’s Ministry Leader Network. She holds a BA in Journalism and Public Relations and currently serves as Adjunct Instructor of Ministry to Women at Ouachita Baptist University Pruet School of Christian Studies. Shari is a wife of 32 years to her college sweetheart, mother of 3 sons and a beautiful daughter-in-law. She is also “Sibby” to 2 precious young granddaughters. She resides in North Little Rock, Arkansas and has been an active member of Park Hill Baptist for 26 years. Shari loves to encourage women in their everyday and leadership lives and can be found at genesisgirlsministry.com, on Instagram @sharibeth88, and on Facebook.

A little over a year ago, I was in a discussion with a small group of college girls as we studied a passage in Ephesians 1. At that point in time, it was a truly insightful conversation about the notion of our calling in Christ as believers and the confident hope with which we then should live. 

Fast forward to the fall of 2020 and this passage takes on a completely new application. Isn’t that the beauty of the living and active Word of God? I chose to revisit this passage in light of the events of this unprecedented year – not so much to seek consolation or comfort but to remind us of our hope and calling and the spiritual attributes to which we as believers are upwardly called.

Paul wrote to the believers in the church at Ephesus while he was imprisoned in Rome. When we consider his perspective in penning these words, it gives us a model for where our attention and focus should be directed in times of uncertainty and challenge. For whom and for what are we praying? 

Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called–his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.” 

Eph. 1:15-18 NLT

I’ve heard scholars who teach New Testament theology describe this passage as if Paul could not heap on enough descriptive words to explain the measure of what he desired for these new believers in Ephesus! As we read Paul’s words to encourage his friends, he asks that God would give wisdom and revelation, and he continues in verse 18: “I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light.” WHY? “SO THAT you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called.” 

Let that sink in – God has called each of us and has given us confident hope in that calling. Do we live as people who have confident hope? Or do we keep defaulting to anxiety and fear? The Merriam Webster dictionary defines ‘confident’ as “full of conviction” and ‘hope’ as “to desire with expectation of obtainment or fulfillment.” God gives us HIS confident hope – it’s not anything we can summon up in our own strength. 

In his commentary on this passage in Ephesians, Matthew Henry says this: “There is a hope in this calling; for those who deal with God deal upon trust … We ought to labour after, and pray earnestly for, a clearer insight into, and a fuller acquaintance with, the great objects of a Christian’s hopes.” 

As Christians today, how can we look at what Paul prayed for the church at Ephesus, and pray with the same conviction and expectancy for ourselves and those with whom we serve in the church today? We can pray for:

Wisdom

Revelation

Knowledge of God

Enlightened Hearts

Confident Hope in our Callings

As we consider how to apply these verses to our lives, we remember:

  • We must grasp that God is our Creator and He has our best interests at heart.  He desires that we seek Him and know Him fully.
  • As believers in all walks of life, we can have confidence that God has called us and He will equip us. Paul relayed to the church at Ephesus earlier in the chapter that they already had access to all they needed to live out God’s calling – even in the worldly environment that surrounded them. That same hope, confidence, wisdom, power, and strength Paul describes is abundantly available to us today!
  • It’s absolutely vital that we remember to PRAY continually for wisdom and revelation and then seek it out. Find friends that challenge us spiritually. Ask each other what God is teaching us and how we can pray for one another. Read God’s Word and think about it. Ask for His wisdom.

Finally, look for the ways God will answer this prayer in our lives. He is faithful to provide and to answer when our hearts are aligned with His. Imagine how the world would see the church if we lived with this courage and conviction. May we be people whose hearts are flooded with His light, and who walk in His confident hope!

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