Friends! Welcome to the first week and link-up of the #heartofEphesians study! Oh, how I wish we were all sitting down to discuss these chapters together, maybe over a cup of coffee or some tea. How perfect would that be? I hope the Lord has blessed you this week with your studies--I know He has already opened my eyes to so much goodness that this book holds.
I know the Lord is going to bless our time together, whether it be 5 people or 500 people. I pray that you just open your heart and open your Bibles and start right where you are, in the middle of whatever is going on in your life, because the Lord has you here for a reason!
The first chapter of Ephesians is so encouraging to me. It spells out the promises God has for us as Christians:
1) We are chosen by the Father (v3-6)
2) We are redeemed by the Son (v7-12)
3) We are sealed by the Holy Spirit (v13-14)
That right there makes me want to say "amen!"
I caught myself getting more and more excited with these verses as I kept reading, almost like I was listening to a riveting sermon. Verse 4 struck me and changed my point of view-- "He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him." Does that stun you like it stuns me? The Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ chose me and knew my name before the foundation of the world was even laid. He then says, " In Him, we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Hims who works all things according to the counsel of His will" (verse 5.)
God made the decision about us long before we made any decision about Him. Jesus' redemption on the Cross paid my debt, and that decision was made before all of creation was even in existence. The redemption God intended for believers, He accomplished successfully at Calvary.
And the fact that He chose me--my salvation has no dependence on my works or my accomplishments. It's all dependent on Him. We aren't saved because we deserve to be saved; we are saved because God is gracious.
Jesus is Lord and God is in control--when life seems chaotic and as if nothing is going as planned, Ephesians holds the key to us resting in the fact that nothing can alter His plan for us--He works all things out for the good, for the praise of His glory.
Paul goes on to pray over this church, that they would know Christ and would know Him intimately, not just know about Him.
"I pray that the eyes of your heart be enlightened, that you may know the hope to which He has called you, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the incomparably great power toward us who believe." vs 18
Y'all, this same power that Paul is praying over this church, the power that He is writing to Ephesus about, is the same power that lives inside of you and me...it's the power of the Holy Spirit, and through God, we have complete assurance of victory. We have the access to this power and you know what's even more amazing? There is nothing too difficult for the Lord. No task too great, no prayer request too large, no mess too messy for Him. If we just call upon His name, it's right there.
Oh man, is that good stuff or what?
And chapter 2 only gets better. It's all about being made alive in Christ...the product of the redemption on the Cross.
Paul starts out by saying in verse 1, "you were dead in your trespasses and sin, walking in the ways of this world"...and it hits me, that's my past spelled out, right there in the Bible. Dead in my sinfulness and walking in the flesh, not in the Spirit. Paul writes about this to remind the church that we all are filled with a dirty, sinful nature and we all fall short of the glory of God, no matter how "good" we think we are.
...and then my favorite part of the chapter comes in verse 4.
"But God, being rich in mercy because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our sin, made us alive together with Christ, by grace you have been saved." verse 4
I love that "But God..." I picture it like the suspenseful part of a movie when someone is about to fall off a cliff or walk right into the bad guy's trap and someone comes in and saves the day...that's this. That's the Lord in the downward spiral of our sinfulness. We were about to die in our sinfulness, but God loved us enough to give us redemption. But God. He comes in and saved us. He didn't give us what we deserved, He covered us with mercy and forgave us. We weren't good enough, but God is.
And then we go back to the goodness of "by grace we are saved." There's that theme again, just like in chapter 1. It's not of our own works, it's by grace. It's by God. Paul reminds them over and over again that salvation is not through works, but through Christ Jesus, and Him only. And even to this day, we need to repeat that over and over, day in and day out. We don't have to strive to do good works or to win God's approval. That's not what He wants for us. He wants our hearts, humbled and surrendered before Him, realizing that we're a mess and we can't get it right on our own. That's when we need Him the most.
The last section of this reading has some of really, really good stuff: since we as believers are saved by faith in Jesus Christ, we need to show that same love and mercy to those around us and have a servant's heart. We're supposed show Jesus to them in our actions and further His kingdom, making His name known among the people. Telling of His goodness. Because that's what Paul writes about believers in Ephesians 2:10 "created in Christ to do good works." Good works=making Him famous among the people, making His church grow and making disciples out of others.
That's what it's all about, friends...making sure He's at the center of it all and making His name famous, not our own. It's not about us. It's about Him and His goodness and His mercy and love in our lives. It's about all the things He's done to turn our worlds upside down in the best way.
I'll be the first to say that I'm a big ole hot mess most of the time and don't have it anywhere near together, but it's by His grace that I'm saved, not by myself. Not of my own works, praise the Lord, literally, because I'd fail that test in a heartbeat. Isn't that a precious truth to rest in today? Rest in it, friends. Know that it's okay to not have it all figured out. Because the Lord does, and that's all that matters.
Which verses stood out to you? Is God revealing some truths in your life that you needed to hear today? What can we pray for in your life?
I so hope you're joining us on this study. Just get that Bible open and read and see what the Lord has to say to you today. I guarantee it'll be a blessing! xoxo