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Small Beginnings Lead to Great Endings

As we pray through the marvelous book of Ephesians, I want to give us an overview of some truths in this first chapter that will literally change your life.  The book of Ephesians is something you could spend your entire life studying, and still not discover all God has hidden in its pages.  It is magnificent, speaking to the very core of our being as believers in Christ, and it has an inexhaustible supply of spiritual truths and revelations that are so needed today.

As an overview, early in chapter one, we encounter a grand display of God’s sovereignty revealed by His choosing us, in Him, before the foundation of the world.  We see this in verses 3 through 6, where it says:

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, 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, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved – Ephesians 1:3-6.

Next, this amazing chapter ends with the proclamation of the power and might of our wonderful Lord where the Holy Spirit proclaims that God placed Jesus “far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come” (Eph. 1:21).  And as you will see later in this study, “principality and power and might and dominion” not only refers to earthly kings and kingdoms, but more specifically, demonic kingdoms (Eph. 3:10; Col. 2:10).  But we will unpack these amazing truths later.

And finally, the chapter is stuffed full of graduate-level discussions of the church, the body of Christ, and the power that rests with the church because of Christ.  In today’s turbulent times, I can’t think of anything more important than for the church to understand the power we have because of our risen Savior and Lord (Eph. 1:22-23; Matt. 16:18-19).  This is a topic we will spend some time trying to fully understand in order to be the salt and light we are commanded and empowered to be (Matt. 5:13-16).  But once again, we’ll have to wait a bit before we feast on this life-changing truth.

As you can see, there is so much for us to discover as we strive to grow into the likeness of Christ (Eph. 4:22-24).  And this is only the beginning.


Asking Important Questions

One skill I hope each of us will gain during our study is the ability to ask simple questions of the text and feel comfortable doing so.  These questions do not lead to doubt, but they allow us to dig a little deeper into what the text says and means, rather than settle for just scratching the surface.

You may recognize many of these questions from high school English, if you were paying attention, which I wasn’t (which means I had to learn this later in life, which is always harder.  Ahem).  They are what we call the who, what, when, where, why, how, and my favorite, to what extent types of questions. What we find when we ask questions of the text is that the macro (large, expansive) view becomes the micro (small, detailed, specific) view, and we are better able to grasp, understand, and internalize more of what the word of God is saying.  And we can do all of this without additional study and resources by just asking a few questions.

Let me give you an example of Ephesians 1:3-6, which are the verses we looked at earlier.  But now, let’s look at them and ask a few clarifying questions.

Blessed be (who) the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has (what) blessed (who) us with (what) every spiritual blessing (where) in the heavenly places (how) in Christ, just as (who) He (what) chose (who) us (how) in Him (when) before the foundation of the world, (why) that we should be (what) holy and without blame before (who) Him (how) in love, having (what) predestined (who) us to (what) adoption as sons (how) by Jesus Christ to (who) Himself, (why) according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He (what) made us accepted (by whom) in the Beloved – Ephesians 1:3-6.

Now read these few verses again, slowly, intentionally emphasizing the questions and the answers that naturally follow the questions.  Can you feel the impact of this passage more than you did when you simply read it to yourself?  Do you see how the Lord provides for us, in the text, the answers to the questions we ask?  And can you experience the conversation, your questions and His answers, by just reading His Word with new eyes?  I sure can.  And I hope you will learn to do so as well.


What it Says, What it Means

One final thought before we pray and close out this first day.  It is one thing to casually read a portion of the Scriptures, focusing on what you understand and skipping words or themes you are unfamiliar with.  But it is quite another thing to take your time and truly meditate on what the Lord is trying to say to each of us in His Word.  This process takes time, and obviously some work.  But the benefits are so incredible they make the added effort well worth the time.  (Note: take a moment and see what the Lord says about meditating on His Word versus simply reading it.  For once you do, you’ll never be satisfied with just reading it again.  But this is something you need to discover for yourself.  Don’t take my word for it).

For example, in the passage cited above, there are a few words and concepts that need better understanding before we can comprehend and fully appreciate what the Lord is saying to us as we pray through His Word.

Let me list just a few.

•   What are the blessings God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ have blessed us with?
•   What does the phrase, “every spiritual blessing” actually mean?
•   And where are the “heavenly places” where we receive these blessings?
•   What does the phrase “in Christ” mean?  We see it many times in the New Testament, but is there a deeper meaning to this phrase than we may know?
•   How did God choose us “in Him” before the “foundation of the world”?  What did He choose us for?  And on what basis did He choose us?
•   And it appears the phrase, “according to the good pleasure of His will” means “because He wanted to” or “because He felt like it.”  Is that true?  Or is there something I’m missing?

I hope you are as excited about this adventure through Ephesians as I am.  Together, we will mine the deep truths of this letter and turn it back to the Lord in prayer.  And who knows what God plans to do with each of us during this process?


So Let’s Pray

As we go to the Lord in prayer, we’re going to make each prayer personal, in first person.  That way, we can’t hide behind the “we ask You to forgive us of our sins” type of prayer.  But, “I ask You to forgive me of my sins.”  I hope you see the difference.

So make this prayer your own and pray from your heart.

Dear Lord,
Thank You so much for the freedom I have to read Your Word and talk with You in prayer.  And Lord, as I embark on this journey in prayer through Your book of Ephesians, will You help me grow closer to You and understand the amazing truths You are going to reveal to me in this study?  I literally can’t wait.

Please help me stay committed to this time with You and not let anything, especially the enemy and my flesh, keep me from this appointed time of prayer and study.  I humbly ask for Your guidance and wisdom in everything.

Would You open my heart and mind to receive the deep truths and revelations hidden within these pages?  And help me approach Your Word with a spirit of curiosity, freely asking questions and seeking to understand the full meaning of each verse.  And then, once You have revealed Your truth to me, please change me into the image of Your Son as I embrace the truth of Your Word.

I pray that as I meditate on Your Word (and Lord, please teach me how to do that), You will reveal to me the incredible blessings You have given me in Christ.  Help me comprehend the significance of being chosen by You before the foundation of the world and the power and authority that is available to me as a member of Christ’s body, the church.

Lord, You know my heart.  And You know my desire to grow into the likeness of Christ.  As I study this letter, please transform me from the inside out, renewing my mind and enabling me to walk in the fullness of my identity in Him.  Give me the strength to lay aside my old self and put on the new self, created to be like You in true righteousness and holiness.

Thank You for the opportunity to dive deep into Your Word and to commune with You through prayer.  I trust that as I faithfully seek You, You will guide me, teach me, and empower me to live a life worthy of the calling I have received.

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

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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