Category Archives: Ephesians

Sin and Should

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Do Life!

Ephesians 2:3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

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These are my thoughts: 
God obviously has plans for our life and our future. I don’t think God organizes identity parades down the golden streets of heaven to show off his successes so that prompted these questions to think about.  When are “the coming ages?” Where are those “heavenly realms” and what was actually “prepared in advance for us to do?” 

Our very existence was “prepared in advance” that we could be “alive with Christ.” Maybe learning to do life honoring that truth is the sum of what God calls “good works” not just our little segments of activity.   The “coming ages” could be the years we’re given to practice life in Christ here on earth before God chooses to complete them and Heaven becomes our new reality.  “The heavenly realms” might be something as simple as earth being the practice ground where we begin to recognize there are intersections of daily life that lead us to His Kingdom.

Life is the palette God chose in advance to prepare us to be His handiwork.  He created life for us out of a nature that was deserving of wrath.  We’ve been saved through faith, raised up and seated in Christ Jesus in order that “HE might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”

Second Chance: Ephesians 2

√ Re·new·al: the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken

Ephesians 2:4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) 6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. 7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. [NLT]

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Ephesians 2 reminded me of The Four Spiritual Laws written by the founder of Campus Crusade, William [Bill] Bright.  They are God-inspired simple truths that mesh with Paul’s truth about how renewal begins.

§ Ephesians 2:4 “But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much…”

1. God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life (John 3:16; 10:10).

Renewal begins with realizing the laser focus of God’s love is…you!  That’s the basis of the plan He has for your life.  

§ Ephesians 2:5 …”that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)”

2. Man is sinful and separated from God. Therefore, he cannot know and experience God’s love and plan for his life (Rom. 3:23; 6:23).

Sin is like a dark tunnel but God’s grace opens our eyes to the light at the end of our separation from Him with the promise of new life and renewal.

§ Ephesians 2:6 “For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.”

3. Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for man’s sin. Through him you can know and experience God’s love and plan for your life (Rom. 5:8; 1 Cor. 15:3 – 6; John 14:6).

The reality of your renewal and honoring God is your relationship to Jesus…period!   New Life is your blessing but there’s an even greater purpose –

4. We must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know and experience God’s love and plan for our lives (John 1:12; 3:1 – 8; Eph. 2:8 – 9; Rev. 3:20). 

§ Ephesians 2:7 “So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.”

The Firsts: Ephesians 1 – Destiny

“Predestined” is an attention getting word. The dictionary definition of predestined is “an outcome or course of events determined in advance by divine will or fate.”  I’ve heard the “elevator” explanation of predestination: when you step into an elevator you trust it’s going to take you where you want to go.  The “airplane” explanation is similar; you get on the plane trusting the pilot will get you safely to the planned destination. Those explanations make some sense to me. They’re based on faith not fate. Nobody gets on an elevator or in a plane saying “whatever will be, will be.” 

What doesn’t make sense to me is that the God who sacrificed his own Son to remove sin’s power to destroy us would then turn around and pick and choose those who would be saved.  The phrase “turn around” became my catalyst to turn these eight verses around and read them in reverse changing only the punctuation at the end of verse 14 because that’s a question I could answer.

V14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory[?]
V13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 
V12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 
V11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 
V10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. 
V9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 
V8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding,  
V7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace,

I turned around those verses and as I read I found myself caring less about my understanding of how “predestined” relates to personal choice and more about the question I could answer.  “Who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory[?]  Predestination is still an elusive concept but I do know the answer to V14 is where destiny begins.  The big turn around ends at the right destination too; “in him [Jesus] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.  

Short and Sweet

MSG Ephesians 5:1-2 Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.

Jesus view on life: live discreetly, love loudly
The world’s view: live loudly, love discreetly

Juxtaposition is the placement of two or more things side by side, often in order to bring out their differences. Get it?

Fearless Inspiration

NRSV Ephesians 2:10 For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

• God has created you in the likeness of perfection to insure you will be of value and succeed.
• He’s trusted you with abilities and talents unique to you.
• Your whole way of life is the inspired field of operation God has prepared for your good works.

Do you believe that?

Maybe it’s just me but doesn’t it sometimes seem the entirety of life from birth to death is graded on some sort of curve that eats away at the joy of “doing” because of the aspiration to be of value and succeed?  There are certainly times when that aspiration has negatively dictated my choice of whether to proceed in what I was doing.  I’m still learning the reality of good works and doing everything “heartily as unto the Lord.”  Sometimes you succeed beyond your wildest dreams…and that’s a blessing.  But, sometimes you fail so “heartily” you’ll never be asked to do that again…and that’s a blessing too. 😍. 

Artist: Gail Stanghelle

I’ve owned this piece of art for many years now but I’m still touched by the words “Do not be afraid to use what talents you possess…” I move it time to time from one prominent spot to another so that my eyes are reminded not to miss it’s inspiration.  It’s good to aspire to be of value and succeed but that’s not a required part of “good works. ” Fearless inspiration  is.

This is the fearless inspiration that transforms our aspirations into good works: NLT 2:13 But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.

SO?

Ephesians 3:16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

God gave his riches for your power through his Spirit for your inner being SO…
that Christ may dwell in your heart through faith SO…
you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God and the love of Christ SO…
you may be rooted and established in His love that surpasses your knowledge  SO…
You may grab hold of how wide and long and high and deep that love is.  SO?