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Shipwrecked Faith from a Shipwrecked Church
Prayer:  Ephesians 3:1-2 – Not Everything is for Everybody

Prayer: Ephesians 3:1-2 – Not Everything is for Everybody

Today, before we pray, we will look at some qualifiers in this passage and elsewhere in Scripture.  What do I mean by qualifies?  They are simply statements in the Word of God designed to let the reader know the promise is not meant for everyone.  It is a blanket divider that separates those who are predestined to hear and understand, and those who are not.  Let me show you how this plays out in Ephesians 3:1-2, which reads:

For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles— if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you – Ephesians 3:1-2.

Paul begins by describing himself as “the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles” and then goes on to divide the Gentiles into two camps (Eph. 3:1).  One, those who “have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you” (Eph. 3:2).  And two, those who have not heard.  Or, by implication, have not heard and believed.  So Paul is saying the “dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you” only means the Gentiles who have heard of this or have had their spirits quickened to the truth.  It is a truth proclaimed for everyone, but applied to only some.  Just like salvation and so many other aspects of the Christian faith.

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Prayer:  Ephesians 3:3-4 – The Mystery

Prayer: Ephesians 3:3-4 – The Mystery

Yesterday we were introduced to the Greek word “mystery” mustḗrion and how its use in the New Testament is different than what it means in contemporary English.  For us today, mystery means something not known or unknowable.  But in the Greek, where it is used in these passages, it means something that is known or knowable but not to everyone.  It is knowledge or truth that is known only to those who it was meant to be revealed.  Not to everyone, but to the elect.

But there is more we can learn about this mystery.

When Paul speaks of both Jews and Gentiles being created into one new people, the church, he is revealing something given to him “by revelation” (Eph. 3:3) that will allow us to understand his “knowledge in the mystery of Christ” (Eph. 3:4).  And this revealed knowledge has been, in other ages, hidden from “the sons of men” but is now “revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets” (Eph. 3:5) and, as such, it is now being communicated to us.

What is this incredible mystery?  You got it.  That “the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel” (Eph. 3:6).

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Prayer: Ephesians 3:2-13 – The Blessed Digression

Prayer: Ephesians 3:2-13 – The Blessed Digression

The verses we are looking at for the next couple of days are another one of Paul’s blessed digressions.  It is his style of writing, his way of making sure we understand the past, present, and future aspects of our relationship with Christ.  It is the Holy Spirit’s way of taking nothing for granted and making sure each of us is fully equipped with what we need to know about His church. Let me show you how this works.

Paul ends Ephesians 2 by describing who we are in Christ as fellow citizens, saints, and members of the household of God (Eph. 2:19).  He then goes on to say the church, now revealed to be made of both Jews and Gentiles, is like a temple of God built on the foundation of Christ and each of us, regardless of our backgrounds, are perfectly “fitted together” into a growing entity for a “dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Eph. 2:20-22).  This is an amazing revelation about His church.  And it seems natural, after making this proclamation, that Paul would continue in prayer as he does in Ephesians 3:14:

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (Eph. 3:14-19).

But he doesn’t.  He can’t.  Why?  Because there is still more to be said about this great “mystery” he only spoke about briefly in Ephesians 1:9-10.

Having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth— in Him (Eph. 1:9-10).

Paul knew, through the Holy Spirit, he needed to spend more time letting the church at Ephesus, and each of us today, know about this great “mystery” we call the church and God’s design behind its creation.  Hence, we have the wonderful and blessed digression of Paul in Ephesians 3:2-13.

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Prayer:  Ephesians 3:1 – The Smallest of Words

Prayer: Ephesians 3:1 – The Smallest of Words

Sometimes, in the smallest of words, the Lord can show a picture of His love in ways we may have overlooked or taken for granted in the past. I see one of these in the verse we are using to focus our prayers today. It is Ephesians 3:1 which reads:

For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles – Ephesians 3:1.

As we discovered yesterday, Paul considered himself a prisoner of the Lord and not of Rome or the Jews or even Caesar himself.  He was totally committed to his Lord and gladly accepted his imprisonment.  Why?  Because Paul’s God is absolutely supreme and sovereign.  Therefore, it follows that God could change Paul’s situation at any time, if He so desired.  But since He hasn’t, then this imprisonment must be His will for Paul at this point in his life.  And for us, who have the advantage of hindsight 20/20 wisdom, it was the perfect will of God to take Paul off the streets and put him in a cell where he could write many of his epistles for the glory of God.

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Current Events:  Deal with the Devil – Canada and Israel

Current Events: Deal with the Devil – Canada and Israel

The following is an article by Hal Lindsey.  It is just another sign that its time you became a Faith Prepper.  Why?  Because times for believers, especially in the United States, are going to get real bad, real fast.  It is time to take the words of Jesus seriously and prepare your faith to have it severely tested.  Soon.

So get prepared now!


 
Nikki Haley, former US Ambassador to the United Nations, recently characterized a Canadian vote at the UN as “a deal with the devil.”

That’s strong language coming from a well-regarded diplomat.  I assume she meant it figuratively.  But something literal is at work.  Canada’s recent about-face on Israel is a capitulation to the growing forces of darkness in our world.  In recent years, the nations of the UN have been making a lot of deals with the devil – the actual devil.

Haley was referring to a vote on an anti-Israel resolution sponsored by North Korea. That’s right, those paragons of respect for human rights – North Korea’s government leaders – sponsored a resolution condemning Israel for “occupying” East Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria.  The resolution also says that the wall Israel built “severely impedes the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.”

That wall was built to stop terrorist activity in Israel.  It has been highly effective.  It was necessary because Palestinian leadership continues to act as a major sponsor of terrorism.  Israel tries to make peace while Palestinian leaders encourage their constituents to randomly stab people and blow things up.  When Israel responds to these terrorist acts, the Palestinians decry Israel’s actions.  Israel continues to try to make peace.  But while they work for peace, they must keep their people secure.  Thus, the wall.

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Prayer: Ephesians 2:20 – Our Job and His Job

Prayer: Ephesians 2:20 – Our Job and His Job

Today we move on to a new section in Ephesians 2.  Here we find Paul giving us still another example of who we are in Christ.  We have learned we are “no longer strangers and foreigners” but are now “fellow citizens with the saints” and, if that wasn’t enough, we are also “members of the household of God” (Eph. 2:20).  Next, the Lord shows us we belong to a grand temple, a “holy temple in the Lord” (Eph. 2:21), which is the “dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Eph. 2:22).  This magnificent temple has its foundation built on the teaching and revelation of the apostles and prophets and the chief cornerstone is the Lord Himself (Eph. 2:20).  This is who we are in Christ.  Breathtaking, isn’t it?

As we pray today, let’s focus our prayers on the first phrase in Ephesians 2:20.  This verse speaks of the household of God being built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets yet it is in the past tense.  It says:

Having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone – Ephesians 2:20.

When we read this our attention naturally gravitates to the words “apostles and prophets” and to “Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone”.  But if we’re not careful, we’ll miss the beginning of this verse and all that simple beginning conveys.  There it says “having been built”. That’s past tense, something already done and established in the past.  And from these three words, we can get much encouragement today in our prayers.

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Prayer:  Ephesians 2:19 – Living in a Family

Prayer: Ephesians 2:19 – Living in a Family

There is one last point we need to discuss regarding being “members of the household of God” before we move on to Ephesians 1:20, and that is the unity and security that comes from being a member of a family.  Our verse for today reads as follows:

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God – Ephesians 2:19.

Yesterday we looked at how someone actually becomes a member of God’s household and focused our prayer time on Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus as found in John 3.  But today we want to examine the dynamics of being in a loving, functional family.  Not the type of dysfunctional, narcissistic, and often abusive families many of us came from.  But from the type of family God intended and designed.  The type of family we would expect with God as the Father.  Think about it.

Most families have members that don’t always agree or see things the same way.  In fact, sometimes members of a family may have political or social views that are in stark contrast to each other which makes mealtimes and holidays something of an adventure.  In addition, some families have siblings that often fight with each other, purposely irritate each other, and basically just get on each other’s nerves.  That’s the nature of the family.  Actually, it’s just human nature.  In a family, we might have teenagers who are fighting for independence, pre-teens who are either goofy or moody or just plain loud and annoying, toddlers who want nothing but undivided attention, and parents who are just tired and don’t seem to have the time for each other, let alone this growing gang of children.   In a functional family, often members are angry with each other and say things that are hurtful or cause pain.  It happens.

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Prayer:  Ephesians 2:19 – Household of God

Prayer: Ephesians 2:19 – Household of God

Today, as we begin to pray, we will look at one last blessing from Ephesians 2:19 that involves our inclusion in “the household of God.”  Our verse for today reads:

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God – Ephesians 2:19.

As always, before we can understand what the verse means, we have to understand exactly what the text is saying.  We do that by defining our key terms in order to see what the meaning of the word was when it was written, and not necessarily what it means today.  After all, language is constantly in a state of flux and changes with each generation.  For example, 50 years ago the word “mouse” meant only one thing to everyone, a furry rodent.  But today our primary thought when we hear that word is of a computer mouse.  You can see the importance of discovering the original meaning of the text and not making it say what we want it to say.  So let’s define our words.

The Greek word translated “household” is oikeíos and means “belonging or standing in relation to the household.”  Or, more literally, “belonging to a household.”  The blessing for each of us as revealed in this verse once again drives home the point we are now God’s family, His children, and as such, members of His household, the “household of God” (Eph. 2:19).  Which raises just a few questions and some encouraging answers.

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Prayer:  Ephesians 2:19 – Saints, Part 2

Prayer: Ephesians 2:19 – Saints, Part 2

Yesterday we looked at the word saints and how the Lord continually used it to describe each of us that have been redeemed by the blood of His Son.  As you will recall, the word translated saints (hágios) means “holy, with the idea of separation, consecration, sanctification, and devotion to God” and is the standard name in the New Testament God uses to describe believers.  The verse we are using to help focus our prayers is Ephesians 2:19 which reads:

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God – Ephesians 2:19.

But for many of us, the idea of being called a saint is unsettling and uncomfortable.  Why?  Because we view sainthood as perfection or something like a title given to someone far closer to the Lord than we are or who has done something for Him much greater than anything we have ever done.  And that is unfortunate.  Not that we haven’t accomplished what some heroes of the faith have accomplished.  What is unfortunate is our faulty view of how the Lord sees us in His Son.  For Him, we are saints, and that should settle the issue once and for all, no matter how uncomfortable we may feel.  But you and I both know that it doesn’t.

So maybe this will help.

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Prayer:  Ephesians 2:19 – Saints, Part 1

Prayer: Ephesians 2:19 – Saints, Part 1

As we get ready for another Sunday, let me encourage you to prepare your heart this morning to meet with the Lord. Remember, how you worship in church with others is just an extension of how you worship with Him alone.  So begin today with just the Lord and worship Him by prayer and adoration.   And then, come and worship with the rest of the “called-out” ones this morning.

To help focus your prayers we are looking at Ephesians 2:19 and especially this strange description the Holy Spirit calls each of us: saints.  Read it for yourself.

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God – Ephesians 2:19.

Note the transition from the many to the few.  We go from “citizens” to members of a “household.”  Note also the description of those who are also citizens with you, the “fellow” part of this verse.  They are called saints or, literally, “holy ones.”

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