Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Ephesians 1

Ephesians 1:1-14 – God’s Plan for Believers

Do you ever have pity parties?  Life is hard.  Like this week we saw all the destruction from the storms and tornados.  The study of Ephesians 1 shows the love of God through Christ Jesus and that should cancel out all your pity parties.  All the blessings mentioned in Ephesians bring hope to unity of the world. 

What kind of impact is the church making to the world today?  What have we substituted tolerance for the truth?  When the Bible is applied, it changes the world.

Paul had God’s authority to write this letter to the Ephesians (Eph. 1:1).  He wrote it when he was chained to a Roman guard and he writes the things that were on his mind.  He refers to the saints.  Saints are believers.  Paul wanted them to have grace and peace from God and the Lord Jesus (Eph. 1:2). 

Paul experience God’s grace and peace many times throughout his life.  Especially on the road to Damascus when he was confronted by Jesus.  Even though he persecuted Christians for a living, he was forgiven and was allowed to preach the gospel.  What an amazing example of grace!  Two other examples are:  God raised him after he was stoned in Acts 14:20.  He freed him when he was in prison in Acts 16:25.

God planned salvation (Eph. 1:3-4).  The phrase “in Christ” is referred to 27 times in the book of Ephesians showing our position as believers.

God blesses his people with “every spiritual blessing” in Christ from the “heavenly realms”.  This means we have all of God’s blessings through Jesus and it all came down from God in Heaven.  No spiritual blessing is withheld from believers.  The blessings He mentions here are:  He chose us before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight, in love He predestined us to be adopted sons through Jesus, He freely gave us grace, we have redemption through Jesus’ blood, He forgave us our sins, and He gave us wisdom and understanding. (Eph. 1:4-8)  To the believer He has made know to us the mystery of His will through Jesus.

The word chosen and predestined stirs us up and so does election vs. freewill.  Our understanding is limited this side of heaven.  He doesn’t elect anyone to go the “hell”.  When someone says, “I want to believe and trust in Jesus”, God doesn’t say, ”No”.  It’s our choice to believe or not.  We are predestined, but God doesn’t remove man from the responsibility to choose.  Why did He choose us?  He chose us for His pleasure and His will (Eph. 1:5).

God chose and called us for the purpose of adopting us as His sons and to be like Jesus, holy and blameless.  If you don’t go to church, some of these words are scary and foreign to you.  Hang in there.  God will enlighten you the more you study His word.

Redemption means rescue, deliverance, pay-off, the act of delivery from sin or saving from evil.  He paid the price to free us from our sins and delivered us to God.
Sealed means to fasten or close securely.  The Holy Spirit works on us then, when we believe He moves in and seals us and NEVER leaves us.
Forgiveness means to carry away our sins because of His grace.
Wisdom and understanding is to have insight of the mystery of God (our salvation).

Sins are tearing the world apart, but through God’s plan one day He bring all things in heaven and on earth together under 1 head, Jesus. (Eph. 1:10)  This has only been partly accomplished today.  There are many people in the world who do not believe and are still under the rule of Satan.  God is still waiting  and giving these people time to repent, because He loves us so much.

The phrase “to the praise of His glory” (Eph. 1:6, 12, 14) means – glory is to give honor and praise.  Our lives should be a reflection of Him.  We are to be a worthy example so other will see His glory in us.

Do you set a good example for others?
Would Jesus be please with your actions?

You could always improve your example of how to be “to the praise of His glory” in your home, school, business or church.  You could give Him more honor, more praises, more thanks.  You could not argue so much, not be so self-centered.  You could be kinder, exercise more patience, be more forgiving, be more loving and more compassionate toward others.  We need to be Jesus to others.  Give Jesus the credit in front of others.

There are 3 stages involved in a person being included in Christ.  “…when you heard the words of truth, the gospel of your salvation.  Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of His glory.” (Eph. 1:13-14).  When you are sealed, He sets His seal of ownership on you.  He’s in your heart and you are guaranteed what is to come which is your inheritance.  This should give you comfort just knowing that nothing can be done to take you away from God.  You are His FOREVER!

Believers are rich in Christ’s spiritual resources.

What has occurred in your life that impacts you? 
Have you been mistreated and wanted to know why did God not stop it? 
Do you think you are not good enough? 
How will you respond when your feelings conflict with His Word?
Are you living as a rich woman or man?

Nothing separates us from God’s love.  We are set apart.  We are loved unconditionally as a child of the King.  You have all the riches you need.  How will you allow these riches to influence your hope or persecution you are facing today? 

Ephesians 1:15-23 – God’s Purpose for Believers

Live like you are rich with confidence.  Paul knows the best is yet to come.  What kind of rich person are you?  Are you generous, kind, patience or rude, judgmental, and whinny?  Our faith impacts others.  God gives us wisdom and revelation.  Do you only know Him as Savior or more as Lord and teacher?

Revelation is the unveiling of God – to know Him better.  The heart is the inner man, the thinking process, our understanding, our minds – not our emotions.  When you put feelings in front of God’s truth, it short circuits God.  Truth should come before emotions.  Hope is assurance of the believer.  We have living hope to face anything.  Does the way you live display your hope?

We inherit all His blessings.  He inherits us.  We are His love gift to Jesus.  We have His power.  We have the power to endure suffering.  We are surrounded by His power and have the same power He has.  2 Cor. 4:8-9 –We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed, perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; stuck down, but not destroyed.”

Paul gives us an example of specific items to pray for yourself and for others:  to give us the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so we will know Him better, that our eyes and hearts will be enlightened so we will know the hope which He has called us and the riches of our inheritance and His great power for us who believe. (Eph. 1:17-19).  We receive these things through Jesus. 

Why pray?  Praying makes a difference in our lives.  When we pray, we get to know Him better, we trust Him more, we understand His sovereignty, we love others more by understanding His love.  It also encourages us, strengthens us and gives us confidence in Him and in our salvation.
It makes us trust Him more.  It draws us closer to Him in every way.

Where is Jesus today?  He’s been raised to life and is sitting on the right hand of God in heaven and is above all rule and authority, power and dominion.   All things are under His feet (Eph. 1:20-22). 

This should be a great comfort in your life.  He’s in control and you don’t have to worry about doing or fixing anything.  You mean everything to Christ.  You know you are very important to Him; after all He did die for you.

Hearts prayerfully open to truth become lives that glorify God.

How often does glorifying God come to your mind?
What do you pray for often?
How often do you ask Him to teach you?
Not totally convinced?  You can trust God.

He is at work for you to know Him.  It’s up to you to live out these blessings in Christ.  Will you surrender to God’s spirit?

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