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?
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.
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?
Ephesians 5:3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. ” [followed by the rest of Paul’s long list].
Most of us know how to control our behavior so we “look” acceptable but we’ve all been tripped up by “stinkin’ thinkin’.” That’s the root of every thing on the list of things Paul says to avoid. That’s the darkness he’s talking about. Where in the world does that come from?
Good behavior can clean up the outside but it doesn’t wipe away the hidden and unbidden ideas that slip into our mind or show up in a dream. What if they are our personal moments of awakening when what is buried in our mind is revealed to us? “This is why it is said: Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
“…Ideas have consequences — consequences that bless or destroy. People’s behavior — good and bad — does not come out of nowhere. It comes from prevailing views of reality that take root in the mind and bring forth good or evil.” From John Piper in Solid Joys.
Don’t miss your opportunity to “wake up;” to pray and confess those hidden and unbidden thoughts so Christ can change and renew that which is beyond your control – the secret parts of your mind.
Ephesians 4:17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.
This chapter read like it was the “should and don’t” chapter. I completely agreed with the “should and don’t” lists. Of course I would; I’m still repenting of being a “should and don’t” person. After looking at the whole chapter for a few days I’ve come to believe my first assessment of the chapter was “futility” thinking. I mistakenly got so caught up in the “should and don’t” list I missed the real point.
“Should and don’t” are like the back-door delivery system for renewal and transformation. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I don’t believe God sends his servants to the back door.
This is the real point of the “should and don’t” list: to be captured by the Lord so our longing is more than to work the list. We long to let the Lord change our minds so we can be renewed and transformed right right out in plain sight.
“Every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” is our “one hope” to “live a life worthy of the calling” we “have received…until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
Insist on it!
Ephesians 2:3-5 NIV All of us also lived among them [our transgressions and sins] 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. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
I’m fascinated with the uniqueness of the Greek language to distinguish subtleties of words and meanings. In this scripture there is one word [hamartia] translated “sin” and another [paraptoma] the NIV translates as “transgressions.” What makes it interesting is not the way we might differentiate between those two words but how the Greeks did. These are my edited notes from William Barlclay’s study of Ephesians.
•Hamartia (Greek #266) is a shooting word that means to miss the target completely.
•Paraptoma (Greek #3900)…means taking the wrong road when we knew enough to take the right one.
Sin is a loaded word even for those of us who believe we are sinners saved by grace. The Greek definitions don’t impact the reality of the scripture but they do influence my courage to recognize and confess the truth of it.
What if I read this Scripture as:
I have also lived with missing the target completely and choosing the wrong road at one time, gratifying the cravings of flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like so many, I was by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for me, God, who is rich in mercy, made me alive with Christ when he saw the road I’d chosen was going nowhere—it is by grace I have been saved.
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. 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. 8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. NLT
Have you ever considered how important it is to God for you to live your life believing you’re his masterpiece? It’s true that makes us feel good. I think it’s also vital evidence of the grace we’ve been given: renewal through Christ and the desire to “do the good things he planned for us long ago.” God has made you his masterpiece that can attract others to come closer and see the reality of what he is able to create. “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.”
God’s plan is to reveal you as his masterpiece.