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Day Ten: God Made His Grace Abound Towards Us!

Day Ten: God Made His Grace Abound Towards Us!

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His Grace is More Than Amazing

Which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence.
Ephesians 1:8

The Bible is filled with countless passages that reveal the depth of God’s love and grace toward us who believe and are His children.  You can look at Ephesians 2:4-5 – “for by grace you have been saved,” or 2 Corinthians 12:9 – “My grace is sufficient for you,” for just a few.  However, one verse that stands out as particularly powerful and insightful is Ephesians 1:8, which speaks about the riches of God’s grace, “which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence.”  Did you catch the three key phrases about His grace: “abound toward us,” “in all wisdom,” and (implied) “in all prudence.”  So, let’s see what these words mean and how we can apply them to our lives to grow our faith.


Understanding the Context

To fully grasp the significance of this verse, it’s essential to understand its context.  The apostle Paul wrote the Book of Ephesians while he was imprisoned in Rome, yet his letter is filled with joy, gratitude, and a deep sense of God’s love in spite of what Paul was personally experiencing at that time.  It appears Paul was seeing beyond his bonds to what he had already received in Christ when He penned this letter.

In the first few verses of chapter one, Paul reminds the Ephesian believers of the incredible blessings they have already received through Christ, namely, being chosen and predestined to adoption as Sons (1:5) and being given “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (1:3).  But He’s not done yet.  Then, God makes us (His action) “accepted” or “highly favored” in His Son, whom He calls “the Beloved” (1:6).  And finally, we have received redemption and the forgiveness of our sins all based on the riches of His grace which He lavished on us (1:7).  That’s a pretty powerful beginning, don’t you think?

But it gets even better.


The Meaning of God’s Abounding Grace

The word “abound” in Ephesians 1:8, is a translation of the Greek word perisseúō which means “to exceed a fixed number or measure, to overflow, or to be abundantly furnished or have more than enough.”  In other words, God’s grace isn’t just sufficient for our needs; it’s overflowing and abundant and more than we could ever ask, want, or imagine.  It’s complete in itself.  His grace is not a trickle of kindness or divine favor miserly doled out like copper coins from Ebenezer Scrooge, but a never-ending flood of goodness we could never earn or deserve.  Experiencing His grace is like trying to drink from a fire hose— it’s too much to take in and way too much to understand.

And this passage reveals exactly what God has done for us.  In fact, He made it happen.  Read it for yourself:

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made (His action) to abound (to overflow, to be more than enough) toward us (you) in all (pás) wisdom and prudence – Ephesians 1:7-8.

And this is where it gets exciting.  You see, understanding this truth brings great comfort because it means no matter how much we’ve messed up or fallen short (which for most of us is probably plenty), God’s grace is more than enough to cover our sins and failures.  In fact, He is in the business of forgiving and forgetting and helping us start over (Isa. 43:25).  We don’t have to live in fear of not measuring up or being good enough to meet some impossible standard— because God’s love for us is based on His grace, and not our performance.  And I am so glad for that.  Aren’t you?


Wisdom and Prudence: Gifts from God

But God’s grace doesn’t just provide forgiveness and love; it also comes with the dual blessings of wisdom and prudence (a word that we don’t use much today).  The Greek word for wisdom in this verse is sophía, which refers to the “knowledge or skill of how to regulate one’s relationship with God.”  It’s not just intellectual knowledge or something we learn in a classroom or online, but a deep understanding of who God is and what He desires for our lives.

Prudence, on the other hand, comes from the word phrónēsis, which means “practical wisdom or good sense.”  It speaks of the ability to take the wisdom we’ve received from God and apply it to our everyday lives.  When we have prudence, we make decisions based on what is right and proper rather than what is easy or popular.  Think of it this way: sophía is the what in our relationship with God and prudence (phrónēsis) is the how— or how to apply the what to our lives.  I know, “clear as mud,” right?

Together, wisdom and prudence equip us to navigate life’s challenges in a way that honors God and brings Him glory.  They also help us avoid the inevitable pitfalls and traps that so often cause us to stumble and fall flat on our faces spiritually, instead of living in a way that reflects the character of Christ and reveals His grace to others.  And it all comes in one package— God’s grace, which He makes to abound in us with the twin blessings of His wisdom and prudence thrown in for good measure.  Not too shabby.


Living in the Light of God’s Grace

Ultimately, when we choose to live in the light of God’s grace, it changes everything about our lives.  It gives us a new perspective on who we are and what we were created for.  It fills us with hope and purpose, even in the darkest of times.  And we no longer have to strive for perfection to somehow earn God’s love or live in constant fear of failure.  Instead, we can rest in knowing we are fully loved and accepted by God, no matter what— come what may.

This realization frees us to extend that same grace and love to others, even when they don’t deserve it (and we don’t feel like being graceful).  We can forgive those who have hurt us, show kindness to those who are unkind, and love those who are difficult to love because we ourselves have been shown incredible kindness and love by God— even when we didn’t deserve it.  God, after all, gave us His grace as an unearned and undeserved gift.

When we embrace the power of God’s grace and allow Him to transform our lives through it, we find the courage to step out in faith and live the life God has called us to live.  We no longer have to be held back by our fears, doubts, or insecurities, because we know God’s love for us is unshakable and His grace is sufficient for every need.


So Let’s Pray

As you pray, use Ephesians 1:8 as a powerful reminder of the incredible grace God has lavished upon you through Christ.  This grace transforms you from the inside out, giving you the wisdom, prudence, and love you need to keep your head up and a smile on your face no matter what life throws at you today.

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, discouraged, or unsure of the future (which most are today), cling to the truth of God’s abounding grace freely given to you.  Let it fill you with hope, peace, and purpose, and always trust that He who began a “good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6).  And may you be equipped and empowered to extend that same grace and love to all those you encounter along the way.

And we will talk more later.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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Day Eight:  The Joy of Being Chosen and Adopted

Day Eight: The Joy of Being Chosen and Adopted

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The Blessing of Every Spiritual Blessing

Having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself,
according to the good pleasure of His will.
Ephesians 1:5

As we have been praying through the book of Ephesians, we’ve previously focused on Ephesians 1:3, which talks about God, “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, having blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.”  It’s important to note that “blessed us” is in the past tense, meaning we have already received these things.  And what have we received?  Read it carefully… “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.”  And the word “every” means just that— every, as in each, all, the entire, in totality and without exception. In other words, there are no spiritual blessings we haven’t already received.  None.  And that, in itself, is quite a blessing, don’t you think?

It’s also true we don’t always experience all those blessings today, usually because of our lack of faith or disobedience.  But the reality is those blessings are available to us, right now, for the asking.  This begs the question: What exactly are those spiritual blessings?  As we continue reading in Ephesians, we find some of those blessings laid out for us one after another and, quite honestly, they’re spectacular.  There’s really no other word for it.  So, let’s look at the first one.


We are Chosen Before the Foundation of the World

Ephesians 1:4 says, “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.”  The first blessing we received was that God chose us in Christ before we had time to do anything good or bad or before He discovered anything in us worth choosing, which is more than amazing.  It means (and you can look at Romans 9 to learn more about this) that because of His will, His volition, and what He decided to do, He chose us— who were so undeserving of His love, grace, and mercy— to be just like His Son.  Therefore, we are “holy and without blame before Him in love.”  Holy and blameless… sounds like Jesus, doesn’t it?

Another incredible aspect of this, which we’ve talked about before, is the fact Jude 1:24 says that not only did He choose us to be holy and blameless before Him, but He will also make sure we make it to the finish line in one piece— still holy and “conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29).  It says, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.”  This is one of our spiritual blessings in Him, which should give us great confidence and bolster our faith, especially as we see the growing clouds of persecution and deception right over the horizon.


Predestined for Adoption as Sons

But it gets even better.  Ephesians 1:5, the verse we’ll be praying through today, says, “He predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.”  Think that through.  The term predestined means God predetermined our outcome beforehand and has already decided how this is going to play out.  It says God predestined us, despite our sin, pride, apathy, and failures, or as it says in Romans 5:8, “while we were still sinners”— to be “adopted as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself.”

I love the word “adoption.”  It’s not a Jewish concept but a Roman legal procedure where a person was received into a new family and given all the rights and privileges of the other natural-born children.  Think about that.  Adoption is where someone with no ties or history to a particular family is granted full access to that family as a member, as a child, and equal to the other children in every way.  The Scriptures state God decided to bring us, who were not part of His family (who were actually enemies of His by sin – Rom. 5:10) into His family, not as servants, slaves, second-class citizens, or as independent contractors who have to prove their worth, but as sons.  And if you want to take it one step further, you’ll find in Romans 8 that we’re not only sons of God but also heirs, and the Scripture then dares to say we are “joint heirs” with Jesus Christ Himself (Rom. 8:17).  I know, it’s so amazing, it’s hard to believe.  So read it for yourself.

Today, if you’re looking for something to thank Him for, you can begin with the fact you’re a son of God because of His predetermined choice of you before the foundation of the world to make you just like His Son— “holy and without blame before Him.”  Then, if that wasn’t enough, He chose to bring you into a relationship with Christ unto Himself.  You are not simply granted access into His Kingdom, like a citizen.  But you are invited to dine at His table as His son.  Let the reality of that sink in for a moment.  It should take your breath away.


According to the Good Pleasure of His Will

“But why?” you may ask.  “Why would God do something like that for us?”  Or, make it personal… “for me?”  It’s really simple.  Pride tells us maybe it’s because we’re smarter than others, or perhaps we somehow deserved it because we cuss less than our friends or only watch PG-13 movies… or whatever.  But nothing could be further from the truth.  The Scriptures declare He did it because of His good pleasure.  Specifically, “according to the good pleasure of His will” (Eph. 1:5, 9).

Let me give you a common understanding of what that phrase would sound like if it were written today.  We would say it like this: “having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself… because He wanted to.”  That’s it.  No other reason needs to be given.  He did it because He felt like it, because He chose to.  It was something He wanted to do, and it made Him happy.  It was “according to the good pleasure of His will”… and nothing more.


Surrender and Give Thanks

So, as you pray today, think about what Christ has done for you.  Think about how blessed you are to be a son of God, adopted into His family for no other reason than it brought Him pleasure to do so (Eph.1:5).  I mean, He chose you and me and somehow, in ways we may never understand, it put a smile on His face.  And I’m sure glad it did.  So open up your heart to Him, surrender to Him, and give Him all that you are, because He is so worthy.  As Romans 12:1 states, it is our “reasonable service” or expected response to what He has already done for us.

Remember, you are loved, cherished, and chosen by the Creator of the universe to be like His Son and to have direct access to the Father… His Father and your Father (Heb. 4:6).  After all, you are family.  You are a son of God, predestined for adoption, and “blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:3).  That’s past tense.  You have these blessings now.  Let this truth fill your heart with exceeding joy, unspeakable peace, and profound gratitude as you go about your day, knowing you are a part of God’s family, not because of anything you have done, but because of His great love for you (Eph. 2:4-5).


Time to Pray

And face it, nothing this world has to offer sounds better than what you already have.  It’s just stuff, worthless trinkets and toys— and you are a son of the King.  So begin your prayer time with Him by surrendering your life to the One who called You His own and adopted you into His family.

And we’ll talk more later.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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Day Seven:  The Incredible Blessing of Being Chosen

Day Seven: The Incredible Blessing of Being Chosen

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God’s Choice vs Our Choice

Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world,
that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,
Ephesians 1:4

We have looked at the blessings the Lord has given His children in Christ, even to the point of the promise of “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3), which are now ours because of Him.  And one of the greatest blessings is being chosen by God to be adopted as His son.  Nothing can compete with this.  Nothing.

Just think, when we were not looking for God or even had Him on our mind, He chose to bring us into His family as His child for no other reason than “the good pleasure of His will” or simply “because He wanted to” (Eph. 1:5,9).  And if God wants to do something, who is going to tell Him, no?  Not me.

So, in Ephesians 1:3, we are introduced to the wonder that we have, past tense, already been blessed with “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.”  And every means just that, every— or all, each, the entire, in totality, and without exception.  In other words, there are no blessings that you have not already been blessed with.  You have them all, every one of them, and on steroids.  But that doesn’t mean you are currently experiencing those blessings.  That is another subject altogether, and we’ll dig into that when we talk about the life of sanctification at a later time.  So hang on.


The Sum of Our Blessings

Let’s look at just a few of the blessings the Lord reveals to us in the first few verses of this chapter.

•   Election:  Where God chose us before the foundation of the world to become just like Him, holy and without blame in love (1:4).
•   Predestination:  God pre-determined that we would become His son through adoption by Jesus Christ to Himself.  And He did this, not because we were worthy or somehow merited sonship.  No, He chose us to become part of His family because He wanted to, and for no other reason (1:5).
•   Acceptance:  God, for some reason I’ll never understand, chose to accept us into fellowship with Himself regardless of our past or how bleak our present may seem.  And He did this because of His Son (1:6).
•   Redemption:  God chose to pay the price for our freedom from the consequences of our sins by the sacrifice of His only Son.  He redeemed us and forgave all our sins— past, present, and future, because of the riches of His grace (1:7).
•   Mystery:  And if that wasn’t enough, He has made known to us the mystery of His will because, again, He wanted to and it brought Him pleasure (1:9).

This we could call, “Our Blessings, Part One.”  But it gets even better.


The Sum of Our Blessings… Uh, and Even More

The book of Ephesians tells us even more about how blessed we are in Him.  For example, the sphere of our spiritual blessings is in the heavenlies (our translators added the word places in 1:3).  This is where God dwells and where we will spend eternity.  So our blessings are not temporal or have an expiration date, like everything else in this life.  No, they exist, like God, forever.

We are given a glimpse into Christ’s present enthronement, which is also in the heavenly places, seated at the right hand of the Father (1:20).  And we are then told, since we are “in Christ,” that our present enthronement is also with Him in the heavenly places (2:6).  And it is in the heavenly places (or heavenlies) that the angels witness God’s wisdom on display in His church as a rebuke to them (3:10).  And finally, the battleground of our present conflict with the forces of evil spirits are also found in the heavenly places (6:12), where God is seated with His Son and we with Him.  Can you think of a safer or more secure place to be?  It gives you another sense of what Jesus meant when He said,

“And I (Jesus) give them (His sheep, you and me) eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand” – John 10:28-29.

And how is all this possible?  Keep reading.

“I and My Father are one” – John 10:30.

Case closed.  Mic drop.  It doesn’t get any better than that.


“I’ll Take Him”

And it all begins with His choice of us to call unto Himself.  Amazing.  Even as the shy, fat kid with thick glasses, God wanted us on His team.  Therefore, He chose us and called us by name before we even knew who God was.  This is what it means to be chosen by Him.

The fact that God has chosen us for salvation is a staggering thought and should elicit praise from those He chose for all eternity.  And maybe it will once we fully understand what it means.  The Scriptures say that before we were even born, before we had done anything good or bad, when God had no reason to choose or not choose us, He had already set His love upon us and predetermined to save us and make us like His Son (see Romans 9).  And this choice was not based on our merit or worthiness, but solely on His grace and loving-kindness toward us (if it seems I am belaboring this point, well, I am.  All of life changes when you fully grasp what you have been given in Christ).  As Ephesians 2:8-9 reminds us, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is (note) the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

But God’s choice goes beyond just salvation; He has also chosen us to have a personal relationship with Him.  Through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, we have been reconciled to God and adopted as His children (Eph. 1:5).  That means we are no longer strangers or enemies, but beloved sons and daughters who can approach God with confidence and call Him “Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:15).  In fact, we are also deemed heirs and joint-heirs with His Son.  Read it for yourself in Romans 8:14-17.  This intimate relationship is the foundation for all other blessings we receive in Christ.  It is the foundation from which all our blessings flow.


Chosen to Be Holy and Blameless

God also reveals in Ephesians 1:4, the purpose for which God has chosen us: to be “holy and without blame before Him.”  This means that our salvation is not just about escaping hell or enjoying eternal life or having our “Best Life Now”— as some believe.  No, it’s about being transformed into the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29) and living a life that is pleasing to Him.  As 1 Peter 1:15-16 exhorts us, “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all (pas) your conduct, (why) because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.'”

Being chosen to be holy and blameless is both a privilege and a responsibility.  It means that we are set apart for God’s purposes and called to reflect His character in all that we do.  It involves putting off the old self with its sinful desires and putting on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:22-24).  This is not something we can accomplish in our own strength, but only through the power of the Holy Spirit working in us to renew our minds to be more like Christ (Rom. 12:1-2).

And in Jude 1:24, God is praised for being able to “keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.”  So God not only makes us holy and blameless but will make sure we remain that way because it brings Him exceeding joy (and it will bring us joy as well).  This is all part of the blessings we have in Him.


The Antidote for Pride

One last thing before we pray: Do you realize that God chooses almost everything regarding our salvation and how He wants to be worshiped?  Research it yourself.  He chose His disciples, not the other way around (John 15:16).  He chose the people of Israel to be His special people (Deut. 7:6).  He chose Moses to lead His people out of Egypt (Moses certainly didn’t volunteer for the job).  He chose the tribe of Levi to serve as priests unto Himself (Num. 3:12).  He chose the exact blueprint for the Tabernacle and the Temple and how it was to be built.  God chose specifically how He wanted to be worshiped in Leviticus.  He didn’t leave that up to the passing whims of His people.  And He even chose that the names of the twelve tribes of Israel were to be engraved on two onyx stones and placed on the shoulders of the ephod (Ex.28:5-10).  Let’s face it, God chose almost everything and did not leave any of this up to you or me.

Except one thing.

After salvation, after we are changed by regeneration and the Holy Spirit lives within us (Eph. 1:13-14), God allows us to choose (and expects us to choose correctly) how we will worship and serve and obey Him with the lives He has redeemed and given back to us (John 14:15).  Again, this is called sanctification, and we will spend quite a bit of time unpacking what that means at a later date.

So, once you understand God’s sovereign choice in just about everything, where is the place for our pride?  Exactly, there is none.  Think about that before you pray.


So Let’s Pray

As we pray today, being guided by His choice of us in Him before the world was created, be filled with gratitude and a deep desire to serve and honor Him with the life He has blessed and given back to you.  Nothing, I believe, would please Him more.

Dear Father,
I come before You with a heart overflowing with gratitude for the incredible blessing of being chosen by You.  It amazes me that even before the foundation of the world, You set Your love upon me and predestined me to be holy and blameless in Your sight (Eph. 1:4).  I still don’t understand why, but I can never thank You enough.

I recognize that this choice was not based on any merit or worthiness of my own, but solely on Your grace and loving-kindness toward me (Eph. 2:8-9).  I am humbled by the realization that You wanted me to be part of Your family, not because of anything I have done, but simply because it was Your good pleasure (Eph. 1:5).  And again, I don’t understand why, but thank You so much for this blessing.

Thank You for adopting me as Your child through Jesus Christ, according to the kind intention of Your will.  I am overwhelmed by the privilege of being able to call You “Abba, Father” and to have a personal, intimate relationship with You (Rom. 8:15).

I understand that being chosen by You comes with the responsibility to live a life that is pleasing to You, reflecting Your holiness in all my conduct (1 Pet. 1:15-16).  And I know I haven’t always been at the top of my game in that regard.  Forgive me and help me, by the power of Your Holy Spirit, to put off my old self with its sinful desires and to put on the new self, created to be like You in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:22-24).

I praise You for Your ability to keep me from stumbling and to present me faultless before Your glorious presence with great joy (Jude 1:24).  And I trust in Your faithfulness to complete the good work You have begun in me (Phil. 1:6).

May my life be a testament to the riches of Your grace and the depth of Your love (Eph. 1:7).  Use me as an instrument of Your will, and may I always find my greatest joy in serving, honoring, and obeying You (John 14:15).

In the precious name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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Day Six:  Being Thrilled With What You Already Have

Day Six: Being Thrilled With What You Already Have

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Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
Ephesians 1:3


The Cup is Always Full

Let’s face it, we live in troubling times.  Almost everywhere we look, there is division, chaos, fear, uncertainty, and corruption that erodes our confidence in our so-called “sacred institutions” and can be so depressing they often keep us from wanting to get out of bed in the morning.  The future, for many, looks bleak.  And the present doesn’t look so hot either.  But that should never be said of a believer— especially after praying through this one verse, which is part of a long, single sentence in the letter to the church at Ephesus.  No, this truth should give us hope and encouragement as we see life, not from the physical, horizontal perspective, but from God’s perspective.  After all, His way is always better.  And our problems always look smaller, almost insignificant, when viewed from heaven (Isa. 55:8-9).

Remember, we don’t have to choose to look at the glass as either half full or half empty.  It is always full, totally, right to the brim.  But it’s not necessarily full of the same thing or with what we can readily see.  Half may be water and the rest air.  But it is still full, nevertheless.  And so it is with God.  Some things we can see and some things we can’t.  But He is still present, filling everything to the brim, even if our eyes are not open to Him moving.  Then, we rely on faith in His promises and rest in the goodness of our God (Rom. 8:28).  What an incredible place to live.

For this is where we experience the peace that passes all understanding (Phil. 4:6-7).

But don’t take my word for it; experience His peace yourself.  Ask Him to put you in a place where you have nowhere to look but up, and see what this will do for your faith.  Still not sure, then check out Hebrews 11 for some examples.


“Blessed,” “Every,” and “Heavenly Places”

When you pray through Ephesians 1:3 today, focus especially on three key phrases: “has blessed us,” “every spiritual blessing,” and my favorite, “in the heavenly places.”

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ – Ephesians 1:3.

In our last time together, we spoke about the past-tense nature of our blessings, meaning they have already been given to us, and we possess them now (even if it doesn’t feel like it so much).  This is not some minor grammatical detail, but a liberating spiritual truth once you wrap your mind around it.  Basically, all God has in store for His children is available to us today, right now, in our present situation.  The phrase, “has blessed us” means we don’t have to wait until He returns to earth to set up His kingdom, or we die and go to live with Him in heaven, or the trump of God sounds and the rapture takes place before we come into possession of “every” or “all” (pas) of our spiritual blessings.  Nor do we have to earn them by living flawless lives or working ourselves ragged to gain His favor.  No, we have them with us already, always— just like the Holy Spirit, who continually dwells in us.

Next, we are drawn to the words “every” (pas) and the phrase “spiritual blessing.”  For me, I am reminded He has held nothing back from me, and I am now completely “blessed” with “every” or “all” spiritual blessings.  Our Lord, our Father, has already bestowed on us things we cannot understand— truly amazing things, unheard of things.  Try this one on for size:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man (what) the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” – 1 Corinthians 2:9 (quoting Isaiah 64:4).

And these things are described as being “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20).  Ah, takes your breath away, doesn’t it?

Plus, the “spiritual blessings” we possess are just that: spiritual.  They are blessings that pertain to our spiritual life, our relationship with God, and our eternal destiny— you know, the things that last, unlike cars or money or houses or fame.  And they are blessings that involve the work of the Holy Spirit.  In fact, the word translated “spiritual” (pneumatikós) always pertains to the work of the Holy Spirit.  Always.  You might want to look into that amazing truth yourself.

And finally, these blessings are not limited to our time here on earth, but are reserved for us “in the heavenly places” where God dwells.  Where time is abolished.  Where we will spend eternity with Him.  Where our true reality resides, and not just this shadow of things to come.  And where it really matters.


Some Blessings That Matter Most

As a quick reminder, look at some of our “spiritual” blessings revealed in just the first fourteen verses in this chapter (we will look at each of these in the days to come):

1. Election – Ephesians 1:4
2. Adoption – Ephesians 1:5
3. Acceptance – Ephesians 1:6
4. Redemption – Ephesians 1:7
5. Forgiveness of Sins – Ephesians 1:7
6. The Revelation of God’s Purpose in History – Ephesians 1:10
7. Our Inheritance – Ephesians 1:11
8. Sealing by the Holy Spirit – Ephesians 1:13

Tell me, what more could we need, or want, than what we already have?


“Complete in Him”…er, Lacking Nothing

One final thought before we pray.

While looking at this passage, I was also drawn to Colossians 2:9-10, where the Lord tells us we are “complete in Him” and, by definition, lack nothing.  It means, there is nothing to add to make us more than we are.  There is nothing we need to make us whole or more loved by the Father.  In Him, and only “in Him,” we are right now, at this present moment, and just like we are: complete.  And the word translated “complete” is pleróō which means to “make full, supply abundantly, or impart richly.”  This is who we are in Him and the spiritual blessing we already possess.

And if that wasn’t enough, in Psalm 23:1, our Shepherd, the Lord Himself, promised us, “I shall not want.”  Do you know why?  Because we are already, past tense, “blessed” with “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.”  What is there to want if we already possess all there is to have in Him?  Makes you think, doesn’t it?


So Let’s Pray

I hope you experience a bit of awe when you pray this verse today.  And I hope these truths will give you pause to reflect on how much the Father truly loves you, no matter what you have done, no matter your past— and no matter how messed up your present may seem.

Now, armed with this, go to Him in prayer, use these marvelous truths to allow His Word to guide your prayers, and see how our Lord desires to reveal Himself to you.

Dear Father,
Once again, I come before You with a heart full of gratitude and praise for Your choice of me “before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4).  And I thank You that in Christ, You have blessed me with “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:3).  What an incredible truth this is!  To know that the moment I placed my faith in You, You chose to lavish upon me the full riches of Your grace and blessing (Eph. 1:8) for no other reason than the “good pleasure of Your will” (Eph. 1:5).  Thank You so much for giving me what I don’t deserve, nor ever will.

And thank You that these blessings are not something I have to earn or strive for, but are already mine in Christ.  Thank You for the forgiveness of sins, for my adoption into Your family (Eph. 1:7), and for the indwelling presence of Your Holy Spirit (Eph.1:13-14).  Thank You for the wisdom, the hope, the peace, and the joy that are my inheritance in Christ.

Father, I pray these truths will not just be intellectual knowledge for me, but become living realities in my life.  Help me grasp the incredible scope and magnitude of the spiritual blessings I possess in Christ.  Open the eyes of my heart to see myself as You see me— seated with Christ in the heavenly places, blessed with every spiritual blessing (Eph. 2:4-7).

I pray the truths of these blessings will transform the way I live each day.  Help me to draw upon the spiritual riches that are mine in Christ, to walk in step with Your Spirit, and to live out the fullness of life that is mine in Your Son.  When challenges and trials come, remind me that my life is anchored in the unshakable realities of Your eternal kingdom.

Above all, may the truth of these blessings lead me to a life of continual praise and thankfulness to You.  Keep me from ever taking Your grace for granted or living as a spiritual pauper when in reality, I am a spiritual millionaire (or billionaire)!  Fill my heart with wonder and awe at the glorious inheritance I have in Christ.

Finally, Lord use me to be a conduit of Your blessings to others.  Let me not hoard the spiritual riches You have given me, but freely share them with those around me.  Make me an instrument of Your grace, Your love, and Your truth in this world.

Thank You, Father, for the unsearchable riches of Christ that are mine in Him (Eph. 3:8).  I pray I will spend the rest of my days exploring the depths of these blessings and living in light of the glorious truth of who I am and what I have in You.

In Jesus’ precious name, I pray.  Amen.

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Day Five:  Overlooking and Neglecting Our Blessings

Day Five: Overlooking and Neglecting Our Blessings

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Our Blessings in Christ

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Ephesians 1:3a

The phrase “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” appears three times in the New Testament, and in each instance, it highlights some often-neglected spiritual blessings that believers have in Christ (Eph. 1:3; 2 Cor. 1:3; 1 Pet. 1:3).  And once we learn to embrace these blessings and not let them slip out of the spotlight because of our trials, temptations, or just the chaotic stuff of life, then we can remember how truly blessed we are, regardless of how we feel or what others might say.  Long two sentences, I know.  But let’s look at some of the incredible things God has already given us by virtue of our redemption provided by the sacrifice of His only Son (John 3:16).


The Letter to Ephesus

In Ephesians 1:3, Paul proclaims, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, (why) who has blessed us with (what) every spiritual blessing (where) in the heavenly places in (how) Christ.”  He then lists some of these blessings that are easily ignored.  For example (and we’ll only look at the ones found in this one, long sentence):

   We Have Been Given Every Spiritual Blessing: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed (past tense, action already accomplished) us with every (pas) spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ ” (Eph. 1:3).  This overarching truth sets the foundation for all the blessings that follow.  In Christ, we have been granted access to every (pas) spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms— which means there are no existing blessings we do not have access to.  Everything, all of them that ever existed, are available to us as His children.  This is the meaning of the adjective “every” (pas) in the Greek.  It doesn’t say we have been blessed with “some” of the blessings or “most” of them are available to us.  No, it says “every” or “all” (pas).  Think about that for a moment.  Do you understand what that means?

   We Have Been Chosen for Holiness (to be just like Him): “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (Eph. 1:4).  Before the creation of the world, before time began, God chose us in Christ to be holy and blameless in His sight.  And our holiness is not based on our own efforts, which are usually littered with failure, but on His sovereign choice and the work of Christ in our lives, where He imputed His righteousness to us (2 Cor. 5:21).  God chose us to be like Him, holy, faultless, and without blame, simply because He loves us and wants us to be with Him (Jude 1:24).

   God Determined to Adopt Us to Himself: “Having predestined (to predetermine the outcome beforehand) us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, (why) according to the good pleasure of His will” (Eph. 1:5).  God not only purposed to adopt us as His children, but has also elevated our status as children to heirs, and even joint-heirs with Christ Himself (Rom. 8:16-17).  Can you imagine what that means (we will unpack this truth at a later time)?  God determined, long before we proved ourselves worthy or not, to bring us into His family as His children for no other reason than “the good pleasure of His will.”  Or, as we would say, “Simply because He wanted to.”  It was His choice to choose you as His adopted child, and this unspeakable blessing should make everything else in life pale by comparison.

   God Has Chosen to Accept Us to Himself: “To the praise of the glory of (what) His grace, by which He made (His action and not based on our merit or work) us accepted (charitóō – to be highly honored or greatly favored) in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:6).  The world may reject you, as they did Jesus, but the Father never will.  By grace, God has determined to accept us unto Himself, even covered with the scars of our sins and past failures, because of His great love for His children, including you and me.  And again, what problems in life could we possibly have that compare to this blessing?  I can’t think of any.  Can you?

And all this is only from Ephesians 1:3-6, which is just the second sentence in this letter.  Can you imagine the multitude of blessings we can find elsewhere in Ephesians?  I, personally, have found over sixty— and the number keeps growing daily.


How Should We Respond?

In light of these truths, what should we do?  How should the blessings of God change our view of life, church, worship, and how we approach Him and others?

First, with gratitude and praise.  When we reflect on what we already possess in Him, our hearts should overflow with praise and thanksgiving to God for His grace in Christ, freely given— no, lavished, on us (Eph. 1:8).  We did nothing to earn or deserve these blessings because they flow from God’s love and mercy alone.  So, as we meditate on these spiritual riches, let us remember the words of David: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits” (Psalm 103:2).

Next, we should be encouraged and strengthened in the face of trials.  When we encounter hardships that just come with life, we remember that our identity, security, purpose, worth, future, and hope are always anchored in Christ, and not in our circumstances.  Pain and suffering are for only a moment, but eternity lasts forever.  And we have a compassionate Father who is ‘the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort” (2 Cor. 1:3), who will one day wipe away every tear from our eyes (Rev. 21:4).  From His perspective, our sufferings and trials are nothing more than “light afflictions, which is but for a moment” (2 Cor. 4:17), and are “working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”

Finally, these blessings should inspire us to live holy and godly lives.  Truth is, we were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before Him (Eph. 1:4).  That seems to be one reason He created us in the first place.  Therefore, our lives should be marked by growing conformity to Christ’s image (Rom. 8:29, which is called sanctification), by our daily choosing to put off the old self and put on the new (Eph. 4:22-24).  And as we abide in Christ and walk in the Spirit, we will bear His fruit that gives glory to our Lord and points others to Him (Gal. 5:22-25)


Let’s Put it All Together

There is so much more to this life with Christ than we have been taught or experienced in the church in the West.  And I’m not sure why that is.  But, our blessings in Him are inexhaustible and already ours in Christ.  They are not some future promise for those who meet some predetermined condition, nor something we receive only when we die and go to heaven.  They are ours now, as stated in the past tense.  We have been “blessed” (past tense) with “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (where God lives) in Christ” (Eph. 1:3).

Tell me, what does this world offer that you don’t already have in Him?  That’s right, nuthin’.


So Let’s Pray

As you pray, remember to never cease to thank and praise God for the unsearchable riches of Christ (Eph. 3:8), that are yours, right now.  And ask Him to give you a life overflowing with gratitude as we share with others the wonders we have found in Christ (1 Pet. 2:9).

Dear Father,
I can’t thank You enough for all the blessings that are mine because of Your choice in me before the foundation of the world.  It literally takes my breath away.  And just think, You chose me for no other reason than the fact You wanted to.  Lord, I am overcome with humbleness, knowing that I’m Your son, adopted into Your family because of Your love, mercy, and grace.  And that this is something You actually wanted to do.  You forgave all my sins.  You redeemed me and made me an heir, a joint heir with Your Son.  How is this possible?  And why did You choose me?

Lord Jesus, I don’t know the answers or what You had in mind, but thank You for making all of this possible.

Would You teach me to show the same grace and gratitude towards others that You have shown me?  And never let me get so burdened with the trials and temptations of today that I forget who I am in You, and once again view myself for who I once was.  That person is dead, buried with Christ.  I know I am no longer that person, but I am now someone new, created in Your image.  Lord, help me live like that today, just for You.

And let me remember today, and commit to memory, Galatians 2:20:

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Father, bring this verse to my memory several times today and let me contemplate how truly blessed I am.  Thank You for all You’ve done for me.  And allow me to live a life worthy of Your grace and sacrifice.

In the name of Your Son Jesus, I pray.  Amen.

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Day Four:  Two Powerful Words – Grace and Peace

Day Four: Two Powerful Words – Grace and Peace

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Just Scratching the Surface: Grace and Peace

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 1:2

There is so much here in these fourteen words of verse two that it is hard to know where to begin.  Paul, as was his custom, often presents these two fundamental truths of the Christian faith, “grace and peace,” at the end of his greeting to those recipients of his letters (Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:3; 2 Cor. 1:2; Gal. 1:3; Phil. 1:2; 2 Thes. 1:2, Phlm. 1:3).  It is almost like he wants to remind them of the gift of salvation and eternal life they have received by faith, based on God’s grace towards them, which brings a peace the world cannot understand nor experience (Phil. 4:7).

And sometimes Paul would add “mercy” to “grace and peace,” creating a holy trinity of blessings we have received from Christ (1 Tim. 1:2; 2 Tim. 1:2, Titus 1:4), yet he seems to reserve “mercy” for his letters to individuals rather than churches.  We’ll dig into the reasons for that at a later date.


What is Grace?

Grace is a word that Paul uses to both begin (1:2) and end the book of Ephesians (6:24), and it occurs another ten times within these six chapters.  Ephesians speaks of the grace of God’s unmerited favor in providing salvation through the sacrifice of His Son (1:7; 2:8) and His power granted to each of us to lead a life of sanctification, a holy life (4:7, 29).  It also speaks of the fact that by grace, and grace alone, we are saved (2:5, 8) and that it is a gift of God to be shared with others (3:7).

But what exactly does the word mean?  And how are we to understand this blessing of grace given to us by the mercy of God.  Grace (cháris) means to “rejoice, and is God’s great kindness freely given towards those who are undeserving of His favor.”  But more specifically:

This word may, at times, indicate kindness, as a quality or attribute of God or of the Lord Jesus Christ.  It may also describe the state of salvation, and thirdly, the believer’s gratitude for the salvation received or for any gift of God.  But in the present instance it refers undoubtedly to God’s spontaneous, unmerited favor in action, His freely bestowed lovingkindness in operation, bestowing salvation upon guilt-laden sinners.  Grace is the fountain from which everything in Christ flows.¹

Just think, God the Father is called the “God of all grace” (1 Pet. 5:10), and Jesus is the Author, Giver, and Dispenser of grace (Acts 15:11; 2 Cor. 8:9; Rom. 16:20; 1 Thes. 5:28).  Not to be left out, the Holy Spirit is called the “Spirit of grace” (Heb. 10:29), and the very throne of God is referred to as His “throne of grace” (Heb. 4:16).  As you can see, grace seems to permeate everything in the realm of God— and rightly so.


But What About Peace?

The peace this passage talks about is not just the absence of conflict, like peace between two warring factions, but it is a peace that is the result of God granting us His grace.  When we speak of “grace and peace,” we are looking at two bookends of the entire Christian experience.  What begins with God’s grace freely bestowed upon us undeservingly, ends with our peace— peace with God (Eph. 2:14, 17), peace with others (2:15; 4:3), and peace with ourselves.  It really doesn’t get much better than that.

And this peace knows no bounds.  We cannot imagine what it is like until we experience it ourselves because it is unlike any peace the world can offer (Phil. 4:7). Jesus said so Himself:

“Peace I leave with you, (described as) My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” – John 14:27.

“Grace and peace” are pivotal, key terms in Ephesians that are not simply chosen randomly.  For example, in Ephesians 6:15, the good news is called “the gospel of peace,” and in 2:14, it states that Jesus Christ, “He, Himself is our peace.”  So if we want a concise summary of the good news that the letter to the church of Ephesus proclaims, we could not find a better one than these three small words, “peace through grace.”


It Gets Even Better

Finally, this verse reveals the source of our grace and the peace that follows.  And it comes from none other than “God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”  These two, mentioned in this fashion back-to-back, once again remind us that Jesus is God, co-equal with the Father, and has granted you and me direct, unhindered access to God Himself.  The veil of separation has been torn, top to bottom, by the sacrifice of Jesus, who provided for us the forgiveness of sins and His imputed righteousness, thus allowing us access to the Holy of Holies where God dwells (Heb. 4:14-16).  This is what it means to experience grace.  And this is what it means to have peace.

Paul used these twin terms in his greetings to the churches to show them their blessed position in Christ and to reinforce to them that only through God’s grace and His ensuing peace can we live the sanctified, holy, God-pleasing, abundant life Jesus promised (John 10:10)—the Higher Christian Life we so desire.  And if God has provided us with His peace through His undeserved grace, then why should we ever worry about anything?


So Let’s Pray

Before you pray, consider deeply the meaning of these two words and the great blessings you have received from Him through them.  You have been given grace, even though you don’t deserve it and never will.  And you can experience peace, even though you were once an enemy of God (Rom. 5:10), of yourself, and others.  Both of these, grace and peace, are gifts freely given by the One who will allow nothing to come between you and His love (Rom. 8:38-39).  And I mean nothing.

So when you pray, be sure to thank Him for what you have and not moan over what you think you lack.  This is also how faith grows.

Dear Father,
I come before You with a heart filled with gratitude for the gifts of grace and peace that You have so freely bestowed upon me.  Your Word reveals the depths of these blessings— that grace is Your unmerited favor and kindness towards me, a sinner undeserving of Your love.  Yet in Your infinite mercy, You sent Your Son, Jesus Christ, to be the author and giver of grace, purchasing my salvation through His sacrifice on the cross.  And I know that it is by grace alone, through faith, that I am saved.

Thank You that Your grace not only redeems me, but empowers me to live a life pleasing to You.  By Your Spirit of grace dwelling within me, I can walk in holiness and offer words of grace to build others up.  Lord, help me to do that daily.  And I can’t thank You enough that Your throne of grace is always open to me, inviting me to boldly approach You to receive mercy and find grace in my time of need.

Father, I also praise You for the perfect peace You give to those who trust in You.  This peace surpasses all understanding— it calms my troubled heart and drives out fear, for You Yourself are my peace.  Through Christ, I now have peace with You, peace with others, and peace within myself.  No matter what storms rage around me, I can rest secure in Your unfailing love and unshakable peace.

I pray that I would never take these precious gifts for granted or fail to extend grace and peace to others.  May I be quick to forgive as I have been forgiven, to love as I am loved by You, and to share the good news of grace with all who cross my path.  Let my life overflow with thanksgiving for all You have done and reflect the glorious realities of who I am in Christ.

Thank You that nothing can ever separate me from Your love and the blessings of grace and peace that are mine in Jesus.

It is in His mighty name I pray, Amen.


Notes

1. Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of Ephesians (Vol. 7, p. 71). Baker Book House.

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