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The missing puzzle piece. . .

You've been there--the end is in sight: you place one piece and then another and suddenly, it hits you--you are missing the last piece of the puzzle. All of the time you have spent...seriously?! Just so, I have known people for years who seem to have it altogether, at least from the outside. But there is something that is missing...something that robs of contentment, something that creates a quiet angst--its the missing puzzle piece. That piece was what Paul possessed when, no matter his circumstances, he was at peace with himself. Several of his instructive letters he wrote from prison, including this one we have been considering, Ephesians. How could he be squared away enough to not let his circumstances define him? How was he able to focus to write the powerful letters that speak to us today? He had that puzzle piece. He would later write to the church at Philippi: I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.1 What was Paul's secret? The strength of the Lord. What is your missing puzzle piece? Intimacy with Jesus which gives us both the knowledge of and the actual strength of God in our lives. Paul knew who he was because he knew whose he was. How did he 'learn' the secret of contentment as he referenced in the above verses? He prayed. We know that because a number of his prayers are written down for us. As a parent, we are oft powerless to step in and change what are grown children are thinking or doing. You've heard it, I've heard it - perhaps you've even said it, "All I can do is pray." We say it like it is a last resort because that is how we treat it. But prayer is more than a last resort, more than just asking for God to come and move or do this or that, prayer is developing a relationship with the God who is above any and every circumstance. STOP! [Some of you are reading this right now (and I thank you for reading, but...), and will finish with a sense of 'that was nice' but then take to action, make no change...please, consider seriously what I am saying right up in here]. Or perhaps some of you have been praying about a son-in-law who is far from God, a husband who has walked away and you are sick and tired of praying the same ol' prayer. Come on now! Prayer is so vital. -->The missing puzzle piece in your life just might be intimacy with God. Segue... Several weeks ago, I was at a women's event where I knew no one and frankly stuck out like a sore thumb. I thought it was just a gathering time of encouragement with other Christian women, which I am craving like my morning coffee. Somehow I missed the memo that it was a prayer walk and exercise refresher. I walked in wearing a white sundress with a pink lace top over it...everyone else wore workout clothes...ugh. Plus, I had a boot on my foot from surgery and could neither walk nor exercise. What in the world was I doing there? Yes, I rather wished the floor would open up and swallow me. But, at the end of the night, someone asked the woman next to me to pray over the leader---I will never forget when she prayed. She prayed as though she really knew the person she was talking to--she prayed with confidence, authority, passion and fervor, and I wanted to ask her to pray for me next! Why was her prayer so compelling? It was clear she knew the One to whom she was praying well and trusted him. Yes, she had intimacy with Jesus. The way to intimacy with Jesus, to gaining the knowledge, faith and strength she had is learned, just as Paul indicated about contentment. It is learned by intentionally setting a little time apart to pray. Oh sure, I pray on the run and while I'm cooking, driving, etc. as I think of first this person and then another. But first, I pray in the morning, in the quiet, just God and me. As I close today, I pray for you what Paul prayed: read slowly.... I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.2 Closing in praise and recognition of the Greatest One: Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory... forever and ever. Amen.3 Purpose to find your missing puzzle piece - a close relationship with Jesus. Start by talking to him each morning--just you and him, in the quiet. None but Jesus: song/video - I am praying that you will encounter God personally, daily! Christine 1 - Philippians 4.11-13 2 - Ephesians 3.14-19 3 - Ephesians 3.20-21

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