Walking Through Ephesians

Walking Through Ephesians

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Walking Through Ephesians - Day 3

Wednesday, February 07, 2024


Think for a moment about your prayers this past week. What did you pray for? What in your prayers occupied the most time and focus? I don’t know about you, but the things that often occupy my prayers seem different from Paul’s. Many times the prayers we offer, collectively and individually, while focusing on good things, often miss the greater spiritual things.

 Did you notice how Paul ended the first chapter? Paul shares his prayer for the saints at Ephesus. Here’s what we find:

§  Thankfulness to God for the faith of the Ephesians and their love for each other (v. 15-16)

§  Requesting God to give the brethren the Spirit of wisdom and revelation (v. 17)

§  Through this wisdom, to know the hope of His calling, and riches of His inheritance (v. 18)

§  Through this wisdom to know the immeasurable greatness of His power (v. 19-20)

§  To know that this power raised Jesus from the dead and placed Him high above all else (v. 20-21)

§  To know that all things are placed under Jesus feet – that He is the head of His church (v. 22)

 Paul’s list places the emphasis, both in prayer and request, on spiritual things. It’s not to say that Paul never prayed about physical things (like the thorn in the flesh – 2 COR 12). It’s just a vivid reminder that there are good things to pray for, and there are greater things to pray for. The Apostle opens our eyes in this section of how to pray better prayers, focusing it’s attention on better things. Think for a moment about what difference Paul’s focus would make in our minds today? Here’s what came to my mind:

§  It reshapes our priority list – what if we let Paul’s list be our highest priority of the day? What if our main concern today was our faith in Christ? What if on the top of our focus this day was keeping our minds focused on the blessings that belong to those who are in Christ? What if first thing on our to-do list was seeking the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to provide the fuel for spiritual thinking? What if, as a church, we start every meeting acknowledging Christ Jesus as our true Head?

§  It reshapes our measurables of success – this is certainly true as a church. Often we measure success by things never mentioned in Scripture – how large is the congregation? How nice is the building? How many Bible classes do they have? How many gospel meetings do you have? It can be easy to measure the success of a church over those kind of tangible standards, but Paul’s prayer helps us to seek the greater measurables – the Spiritual. What if we sought for and praised the same things Paul did, with each other? What if we focused and spoke more about the faith we see demonstrated in each other? What if we praised the love that is poured forth in kind service to one another? What if we came together often, seeking the wisdom that comes from the Holy Spirit, and in our times together discussed the greater spiritual truths, building confidence and comfort from the Lord in what He has done and promised will do?

 It's good and Biblical to pray for physical things like our daily bread, or for the health of those who are sick. But Paul reminds us to not let that be the only, nor most important emphasis in our prayers to God. As John wrote, “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers. (3 JOHN 2). May your physical health reflect your spiritual health. May we as the Lord’s church continue to place our emphasis on the greater, spiritual things.

  “Holy and righteous Father I thank You for Your abundant blessings in Christ. The love You have poured on us, the salvation You have so richly planned and offered to us, the blessing of wisdom provided through Your revealed words, the gift of Your church, the glorious hope of what is to come – I stand in awe of how thoughtful You are to someone so undeserving. I give You thanks for the incredible faith demonstrated in Your saints, so many of which have helped strengthen, instruct and encourage me. I give You thanks for the love of Your people who seek to help and serve in countless ways. I pray You open my eyes to see, and in recognizing to place the greater weight of my importance and priority on the things You praise, As Christ is the head over all, help me to place Him over all things in my life, the true King of glory.”  

Walking Through Ephesians - Day 2

Monday, February 05, 2024

Ephesians 1:1-14

I was never a big “gamer” growing up. Of the games I did play, my favorites were those that let me explore a vast landscape. Think less old school Mario where you move from left to right and more new school Mario where you can run around a 3-D world as you wish. In my opinion, the best part of the game was “unlocking everything. You could go anywhere you wanted, and you had all the perks of the game at your disposal. Everything was yours.

Making everything yours was quite the task though. It took hours and hours to beat a game and unlock everything. You had to unlock certain parts of the game before ever even getting a shot at unlocking other parts. You didn’t get everything at once.

When we jump into Ephesians 1, Paul is letting us know the blessings that come through Christ are nothing like those video games I used to play. They’re way better. In verse three, Paul tells us those in Christ have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. That’s the highest level! Did you think you had to level up your character to the max before getting all that stuff? Not according to Paul. He tells us that if we are a Christian, regardless of age, regardless of how long you’ve been saved, regardless of your past, if you are in Christ, you have unlocked every “perk” there is to enjoy.

It gets even better though. Not only do we have every spiritual blessing through Christ, we have those blessings because it was God’s will to give them to us. The Almighty God of the universe is a God that wants to bless you! How did He choose to do it? Through faith in His son. What way did He chose to bless you? By giving you the best and giving it all.

But wait, there’s more! One of the blessings Paul lists in verse seven is forgiveness. God didn’t desire to bless us with the best He has because we are so great. He did it despite the fact we aren’t so great. He blesses us by forgiving us. We didn’t unlock all the perks by being the best player. We simply come to God in faith and because of His amazing love for us, He chooses to forgive us and bless us in Christ. We have a word for this: grace. Paul says in verse eight that God lavished it upon us. I wouldn’t argue with that.
In the first half of this letter Paul wants to overwhelm you with God’s grace. This is the good news and it’s really good. However, because we are underserving of all of this and didn’t earn it ourselves, that points us in a direction. Praising God. It’s all to His glory. God is the hero.

On Monday morning at the office or late at night taking care of kids you might feel that your reality is more like old school Mario. Endlessly running and just hoping the next thing to pop into the screen is the finish line and not a man-eating plant. Paul wants you to broaden your horizon. See past the next thing coming at you and realize you are already blessed in the greatest way. We aren’t always given every physical blessing, but we are given every spiritual blessing.

If it sounds like Ephesians 1 is all rainbows and sunshine, that’s because it is. Enjoy it. Paul wants you to. Praise God, everything is yours.

Walking Through Ephesians

Thursday, February 01, 2024

In our B.L.A.S.T. weekend, Jarrett Ferguson shared some conclusions from research done on Generation Z, also known as the “Open Generation.” What this research found was that this young generation has expressed a rising interest in God and spirituality, but a declining interest and devotion to His church. That mindset isn’t unique to the youth of our generation. There seems to be a general wrestling and questioning over the relevance of Christ’s church. Not but a decade ago it was popularly stated as, “I love Jesus, I hate religion.” 

 Found right in the heart of our New Testaments is a letter that provides the clarity for these confusing thoughts. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians contains some of the most beautiful language regarding our salvation in Christ, some of the most practical instructions regarding our daily devotion as disciples to the Lord, and some of the most powerful and purposeful words about Christ’s church. 

 The letter of Ephesians leaves the reader all the more impressed with the Lord’s creation of His church. Here’s just a taste of what we see about Christ and His church through Ephesians: 

  • Jesus died for His Church (EPH 1:5-6)
  • Jesus is the head of His Church (EPH 1:22-23) 
  • Jesus united Jew and Gentile, all the world in His church (EPH 2:15-18)
  • Jesus laid the foundation for His Church (EPH 2:20)
  • Jesus provided the Gospel through which resulted in His church (EPH 3:3-10)
  • Jesus is glorified through His church (EPH 3:21)
  • Jesus equipped His church for unity, work, and growth (EPH 4:11-15)
  • Jesus pointed to marriage as an illustration of His relationship with His church (EPH 5:22-33)
  • Jesus armored His church to face spiritual battles (EPH 6:10-17)

 One phrase found 7 times in this small letter is, “walk.” And that’s what we’re inviting each of you to do. Join us for a walk through this incredible letter and come away with a renewed love and devotion for the Lord and His Church. 


Friday, February 24, 2023

We’ve reached the end of our February special. A month in Nehemiah. A month with one of the greatest leaders who’s walked this earth. What makes leaders like Nehemiah great is that they follow the wisdom and guidance of God. They are molded by compassion, touched by the needs and cares of people. They are driven by conviction, protectors of integrity, and most importantly they are people of faith. 

The reason the leadership of Nehemiah is so impressive is because he points us to the greatest leader there is – to Jesus. It was Jesus who saw people as sheep without a shepherd. It was Jesus who predicated and punctuated each day in prayer. It was Jesus who provided the perfect example to follow – who lived in self-control. It was Jesus who invested His life in His Creation – in people. 

Leadership is about people – and God is about people. He cares for people. Jesus came for people. His teaching was to instruct people. His miracles were to bless people, pointing people to the evidence of who He was. The cross was for the sins of people. The empty tomb provides living hope for people. “The word became flesh and dwelt among us…” (John 1:14) – among who? Among people. 

Leadership is about people. All around us are people God has placed in our lives – our mates, our children, our brethren, our neighbors, our extend families, our coworkers. I may never hold a formal office or role, or be recognized in public ways, but my life and example will influence another. Where is my life leading others who see and hear me each day? What influence am I bringing into their life? Within each person is the potential for change, for maturing and for growth. Within each person is the potential to become more and more like Jesus. Though there are times and situations that require intentional planning and direction, much of our influence flows from the daily devotion to Christ, and commitment to walking the way that’s right. 

May God bless the influence of our lives to point all who see it closer and closer to Jesus. 

“Our Faithful Leader, You are our greatest influence. Your word guides our feet. Your Son is our pattern and example. Your praise and glory is our aim. Your home is our reward. Lead us onward Father. And bless the influence of our lives to impact another for You.” 


Thursday, February 23, 2023

Time has passed by the final chapter in this book. Nehemiah had returned to Babylon and “some time later” he returned to Jerusalem. Not only did time change, but the people had changed as well. And not for the better – 

  • Eliashib the Priest allowed an enemy to dwell in the Temple courts (v. 6-9)
  • The Levites were not given their support and stopped their work (v. 10-14)
  • The people were working on the Sabbath day, not respecting God’s law (v. 15-22)
  • The people had married women of other nations, resulting in ungodly influences among the people (v. 23-27)

To each of these issues Nehemiah provided the proper response. He gave direction and guidance. He offered rebuke. He stayed and helped them fix what had changed in the time he had been gone. 

There’s a lesson here. To quote Winston Churchill – “Never give up. Never, never, never give up.” The success of today doesn’t guarantee the success of tomorrow. The victories of the past doesn’t mean there won’t be failures in the future. If leadership is about people, people have good days and bad days. People succeed and people fail. People learn but then people forget. People grow, but people also shrink. 

It can be that as one generation learns and grows and overcomes weaknesses and problems, there will arise a new generation to face those same challenges and problems. We might think, as leaders, “Didn’t we beat this? Didn’t we overcome this? Shouldn’t’ they know more by now?” I wonder how often God could think those thoughts about me? 

Success as a leader is not determined by one moment, one issue, one challenge – but a lifetime. Yes, we live one day at a time. And yes, we face one issue at a time (brick by brick). But the measure of a leader is seen in the life they live – the influence of one’s life. It is the consistent, day by day living, the example set over years and years, the intentional relationships we form and teachings we provide spanning over years. 

The final chapter in Nehemiah reminds us that not every follower will follow their leader. Despite how excellent a leader may be, and how pure their example, and how strong their voice, leadership is about people, and people choose who they will follow. I’m sure it could be easy, in Nehemiah’s shoes, to be discouraged finding the people he had worked so hard on, to be so far from where he left them. Parents of prodigals, mates of the spiritually uninterested, shepherds of the straying sheep, can all share those feelings. But notice the last words, “Remember me, O my God, for good.” It’s as if Nehemiah is saying: I did my best. I tried my hardest. I know I wasn’t perfect, but I gave all I had for these people, for their good, and for Your good. Remember the good I sought to do, O Lord. Isn’t that all we can do – we do our best, we try to provide a godly influence and direction over the people entrusted to us – whether or not they choose to follow. 

Just do your best. Do all you can do. Never, ever give up. And when it’s all said and done, we hand our work and our efforts over to the Lord, departing this life with the same prayer on our lips, “Lord, in all we have done, we ask You remember us, the ways we tried our best, and You remember us for good.” 

“Righteous God, You who are holy and good, we humbly ask You strengthen our hearts to never give up on the people You have placed in our lives. Help us day by day to do our best, knowing that’s all we can do. Bless our efforts. And when our work is completed, remember us for good.” 

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