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Opening Day

I don’t watch a lot of baseball anymore.  I used to watch as much as possible, which wasn’t much when we used to only have three TV stations to watch.  I would spend Saturday afternoons watching a little bit of the game of the week on NBC.  Fortunately, ABC also had Monday night baseball and those summer evenings were spend watching a little more baseball.

When my grandparents got cable I would often visit them and every evening that the Atlanta Braves were playing on you could find them watching no matter who was visiting them.  I spent as much time as possible there just so I could watch baseball.

Somewhere along the way I have found that I can’t watch a lot of baseball.  However, there is something that I always pay attention to.

Opening day.

There is still something magical about it.  It is like the unofficial kick-off of Spring for me.  Everything is new and fresh.  And there it is, the boys of summer playing in all sorts of weather as their season starts.

That’s how I feel about today as well.  It’s opening day for a ministry I’ve been part of now for fourteen years.  I spend each Sunday morning for about twenty-six weeks going to a campground and sharing God’s word.

Last night I passed out fliers and ran into some folks who come to our service when they are there camping.  I was able to renew that relationship and will be able to build on it for a few weeks this year.

There will be other people who I will be introduced to, who have never come to the service before.  I will make new relationships.  Some will come back again and again.  Others I may never see again.  It is truly an exciting time.

This Spring and Summer I will share from a book of the Bible that I have never done  so before.  I will be preaching from Ephesians throughout the year.

Paul kicks off this little treasure by introducing himself.  They know him, of course.  He established the church a few years prior to writing this, but it has grown and there are people who only know him by reputation.

He declares that he is an apostle of Christ Jesus, one sent from God.  The context of how he uses the word is one who actually witnessed the living Christ.  Yes, Christ died before Paul began his ministry, but He appeared to and spoke to Paul on the Damascus Road.  It was one of the most dramatic life changing events in history.  Paul made a 180 degree change in the direction of his life.

He adds then that his apostleship is by the will of God.  Paul knows who set him on the path of life he is on.  He did not choose the life he leads.  The Lord did.  In fact, if left up to himself, he would not have chosen his life.  Life would have been easier if had stayed on the path he was on before meeting Christ.  He would have had money and power.  Yet, he does not regret it one bit.

He writes to the saints of Ephesus, the set apart ones of Ephesus.  He is writing to the local church of this city.  He is writing to those who have come to know Christ, both while he ministered there and after he left.  Paul loves the Church, the entire body of Christ and he loves the local outposts spread throughout the world.

Paul describes them as faithful in Christ Jesus.  This is better than how they are described a few years later in Revelation, when Jesus says that they have lost their first love.  That is a sharp contrast if we think of the relationship between Christ and the church as a marriage, as Paul will describe it later in Ephesians.  Now they are faithful and later, in Revelation, Jesus will say they have lost their first love, as though they are no longer faithful.  For now they are, however, and Ephesians has few serious problems for Paul to address.

Paul finishes up his introduction as he does in almost every letter he writes: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Though the work of Christ on the cross, God extends grace to us.  What is wonderful is that this grace is not a one time thing.  It isn’t even a daily thing.  It is a minute by minute, hour by hour thing.

Paul also wishes for the peace of God to the Ephesians (and us).  Once we were God’s enemies.  We were slaves to sin, seeking anything and everything but God in our lives.  Now, through Christ, we are no longer enemies.  We have been adopted, as Paul later says in this letter, we are part of the family of God.

Openings days and beginnings are exciting.  They are filled with hope and anticipation for what may be.  I’m looking forward to spending these next few weeks exploring God’s word in Ephesians.

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