As we wind down the first chapter of Ephesians, we see how Paul prays for the believers of Ephesus.
First, Paul had heard, while in prison, of their faith in Christ and love the saints, prayed for them. He did not cease giving thanks for them while making mention of them in his prayers. He did not just give thanks for them, though. Paul prayed for specific things.
The second component of his prayer for the Ephesians was that the eyes of their heart would be enlightened. What Paul is getting at is that he desires for their minds to grow in the knowledge of Christ.
Next, he prayed that they would have the hope of His calling. Paul wants them to have the assurance that comes from the hope of this calling.
Paul also wants them to know the riches of the glory of His inheritance among the saints. Each believer is an heir of the kingdom. Knowing this changes one’s outlook on life.
Finally, Paul prays that they will know the surpassing greatness of His power toward those who believe. God has given His power to those of us who believe. This power is demonstrated through the working of the strength of His might. This same power is what raised Christ from the dead.
Not only was Christ raised from the dead, but He was seated at God’s right hand, above all other rule, authority, power, dominion or name that is named. He named Him head of the church, which is Christ’s body, which is the fullness of Christ.
What does this mean for us?
We have been prayed for before. Yes Paul prayed for the Ephesians, but to think that he did not pray this for all believers to come would be to not know Paul.
We can know Christ, not just wish to know.
We have an assured hope of His calling. We don’t have to just wish to know it.
We have an inheritance. We are heirs of Christ.
We have God’s power. We don’t have to ask Him for it. He has already given it to us.
i was lucky when I asked Jan to marry me.
I was poor and couldn’t afford an engagement ring. Jan didn’t really mind and married me anyway, with no pledge toward our engagement.
That isn’t standard operating procedure.
Almost every girl now receives a ring before getting married.
The ring is a pledge. It is a down payment on the coming marriage. It is earnest money, telling her that the guy is serious about marrying her.
God does the same thing for us.
Once we are saved, we become the Bride of Christ. One day He will come back to get us and finalize the marriage.
He gives us a pledge toward the marriage. He puts a down payment on it. He gives us some earnest money.
He gives us the Holy Spirit.
You can read about that in Ephesians 1.
The Holy Spirit is a pledge toward our inheritance, which is our eternal life with Christ.
The Holy Spirit is our engagement ring. He is another example of God’s grace in our lives.
Approximately four years ago I started this blog. It’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride.
It started out as a way for me to express myself, to take these crazy ideas, these little inspirations, and throw them out there in the world.
Unfortunately, I didn’t stop there.
I decided to grind my ax. I wrote about some things that I shouldn’t, some events in my life, some people. It caused a lot of hurt in my life and my family’s life.
It would stand to reason that I would have some regrets. Yet, for the most part, I don’t.
I wouldn’t be where I am without those ill-fated posts. I wouldn’t have learned anything that I learned in 2011. I wouldn’t know what I know now.
I have been reading in Ephesians lately. A lot lately. Ephesians 1:12 says that we have “been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.”
I’m not saying that everything I’ve done is good. I’m just saying that He works it out according to His will.
So, do I have regrets?
I regret the hurt I caused, but I don’t regret where I am now. God used it to make me who I am now.
So, no ultimate regrets here.
So far in chapter one of Ephesians, Paul has discussed the past and the present.
He wrote how in the past, God chose us before the foundation of the world. Then, he discusses how now, in the present, we have redemption through Christ’s blood.
Now, Paul moves into the future.
In verse 11, Paul begins discussing our inheritance. “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance”. We might think that what God has done in the past and what we currently have in Him is enough. That would be because we don’t think like God. He has more in store for us and chooses to let us in on it. What benefit does that have for us? As we move closer to that inheritance, the anticipation grows.
When did we obtain this inheritance? Paul can’t stray far from his original choice of words. Previously he had said that we were “predestined to adoption as sons.” Now we “having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.” We who are in Christ have been predestined according to His purpose. All things that come into our life are worked out according to His will .
What is the goal of being predestined according to His purpose? First of all, it is our salvation. “To the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.” Salvation is the goal of God’s predestination of us to adoption and His purpose. But there is a goal even greater than that. Ultimately, it is to the praise of His glory. What we have to change our mindset to is that everything is about God’s glory.
What is wonderful is that God locks us into this inheritance. “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.” After hearing the gospel, putting our faith in it and believing, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that He would send another Helper to us, and he does that, locking us into the gift of salvation given to us.
But wait, there’s more.
The Holy Spirit does more than just seal our salvation. “Who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.” He is also a down payment on our of our inheritance. You might even call him and engagement ring for the Bride of Christ. He is a promise to what life with Christ will be live. He is a view to the redemption of God’s own possession. What is our response to this?
Praise and the glory of God.
God gives us an inheritance and then does much more. He seals this inheritance by giving us an irrevocable pledge in the Holy Spirit. He does this for His own sake, to the praise of His glory. What a God we have.
At work recently we have been focusing on world class customer service. We have been defining certain aspects of what world class customer service means and how we will live that out in our work.
One of our challenges was to take one of those aspects and make it personal, a goal for us to focus on.
Mine was anticipate.
What that means is that I want to anticipate what is coming and think outside the box instead of letting things ride just like they have always been.
That’s tough for me. It’s so easy to just let things be the way they’ve always been. It’s comfortable. It feels good. When I let that happen, I can just go on auto-pilot and cruise through work.
That’s not a good thing at work. That’s not a good thing in life.
I realize that I haven’t anticipated enough in more than just work. It has bled over into the other parts of my life. It has bled over into this blog.
I became so comfortable writing and posting five times per week, I was afraid to change. I was afraid to vary from what I expected from myself and what I thought everyone expected from me.
I didn’t anticipate that as life changes, I must change my blogging habits. I must shed old habits and create new disciplines.
I didn’t anticipate that I might need to change and vary my approach to writing as I grow and mature.
I didn’t anticipate the small changes that I needed to make in my life to make me better and grow.
So, I’m going to try to stretch, grow and mold myself into something, someone better. I hope this blog follows suit.
Do you find it difficult to anticipate needed changes in your life?
Not too long ago someone told me I was ambitious. This was not meant as a compliment. Why? Because this person told me I should read the book Rescuing Ambition. It seems that my ambition may have been misplaced.
Rescuing Ambition was written by Dave Harvey in 2010. He was a pastor in Sovereign Grace Ministries.
Harvey traces ambition back to the beginning. We were wired for ambition in the beginning. Unfortunately, then, our ambition was corrupted.
When we come to know Christ, our ambition is converted. From there, our ambition will have an agenda and we need to understand what it is. Our ambition then has a confidence in who we have faith in.
Our ambition then follows a path which seems to be a paradox to the path the world would follow. Ambition then leads to a contentment, but one that cannot truly fulfill us.
Unfortunately, our ambition will sometimes lead to failure. We have to trust God even when it seems He is not there when we feel defeated.
Godly ambition leads us to a surprising place to see our ambition fulfilled. It is the church, of all places.
Ambition also requires risk to find the reward our ambition seeks.
Finally, Godly ambition seeks to pay it forward by looking ahead and seeking the best for those around us.
I found this book very thought provoking. It helped me look at my ambition and seek it in the proper places and ways. I will refer back to it again as I continue to seek to grow in Christ.
When thinking of Ephesians many probably think of grace. One of the letters most famous verses is about grace when Paul writes “For by grace you have been saved.”
However, Paul doesn’t wait until that deep in his epistle to discuss grace. He talks about it early in this writing.
In verse 6 of chapter 1, Paul says about grace, “Which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” The Father freely extends grace to us. This reminds us of Romans 3:23 where Paul says that “the gift of God is eternal life.” Grace and eternal life have locked arms and are given freely to us. No expectation of anything in return. In fact, we cannot give back to God as He has given to us.
How is this grace given to us? God has given it to us “in the Beloved.” Who is your beloved? Your spouse? Your children? For the Father it is His Son. He bestows His grace on us through His Son, through the work He did on the cross.
Now look at what else we get in the bargain. Not only do we have grace, but “In Him we have redemption through His blood.” We often forget that we were slaves to sin before coming to Christ. How did we get out of this slavery? Christ purchased our freedom in Him with His blood. His death brought us out of a hopeless slavery. Now we have redemption and grace.
What else is connected to this redemption? “The forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which he lavished on us.” Not only has God bestowed grace and redeemed us, but He has forgiven our sins. We are covered by that blood that He redeemed us with. God scans us for our sins and instead sees Christ’s blood. This is done according to the riches of His grace. His grace is piled up in an infinite bank that never runs out. When He bestows that grace on it, He lavishes it on us.
Isn’t that cool? He lavishes grace upon us when He bestows it on us. He forgives our sins when He redeems us through His Son. Paul isn’t finished, though. “In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him.”
God makes known a mystery to us. Who doesn’t like a good mystery? Things that were hidden to Israel before us, are made known to us. What is it? It is Christ. God has given us wisdom and insight that was not previously known in Christ before He came.
What exactly does that mystery in Christ look like? “With a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on earth.” All things are summed up in Christ. What is the answer to the questions we have? Christ.
God bestows His grace upon us. He forgives us through our redemption in Christ. He makes known the mystery of His will to us, which is all things summing up in Christ. It is truly amazing what our God does for us.