338.) Ephesians 6

August 18, 2010
One of the main colonnaded streets in Ephesus, looking down to the library.  Excavations were started here over a hundred years ago, and are still ongoing.

About Ephesus:  One of the main colonnaded streets in Ephesus, looking down to the library. Excavations were started here over a hundred years ago, and are still ongoing.  If you ever have the chance to go to Ephesus, don’t miss it!

Ephesians 6   (NRSV)

Children and Parents

6)   Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2“Honor your father and mother” —this is the first commandment with a promise: 3“so that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”

Ephesians6_4

4And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Slaves and Masters

5Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as you obey Christ; 6not only while being watched, and in order to please them, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. 7Render service with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not to men and women, 8knowing that whatever good we do, we will receive the same again from the Lord, whether we are slaves or free.

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Reflections:

Many of us have at least one “master,” one authority over us, to whom we report regarding our earthly responsibilities.  That person may be a supervisor at work, or a teacher at school, or a parent at home.  In verse 7, what the NRSV renders as “Render service with enthusiasm,” other translations put as “serve wholeheartedly,” and “gladly serve your masters.”

Think of one thing you can do — differently from, better than — what you are doing now, to fulfill this instruction.  Can you put it into effect within the next few days?  Remember, you are doing it not for that person in authority, but “as to the Lord” (verse 7).

God bless you  “as you obey Christ” (verse 5).

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9And, masters, do the same to them. Stop threatening them, for you know that both of you have the same Master in heaven, and with him there is no partiality.

The Whole Armor of God

6. WholeArmor

10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

13Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. 15As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. 16With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

6. the-sword-of-the-spirit17Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.

Ephesians 6 Pray without ceasing

from Daily Readings from Luther’s Writings, edited by Barbara Owen:

You have needs enough:  You are lacking in faith, in love, in patience, in gentleness, in chastity; my wife, my children are sick.  Then pray undauntedly and with sure confidence, because God has commanded you to pray.  He did not command it in order to deceive you and make a fool of you.  He wants you to pray and to be confident that you will be heard; he wants you to open your bosom that he may give to you.  But you must present your need to God, in order that you may learn to know yourself, where you are lacking, and to receive more and more the longer you hold open your sack.

Therefore, children right from the cradle on should begin to pray for the princes, for their brethren and companions.  For here you hear the command and the promise:  “Ask, and it will be given you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).  You have been commanded to pray and promised that what you pray for will be given, as in Psalm 50:15, “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me”; and Psalm 91:15, “When he calls to me, I will answer him.”  So, go on that and say:  Now I know that my prayer is not to be despised; for if I despise it, I despise the command and the promise of God.  But God does not despise prayer, but rather has commanded it and promised that he will hear it.

_________________________

19Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.

_________________________

Music:

verse 13 — “and having done everything, to stand . . .”

“Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus.”

Stand up! Stand up for Jesus!
Ye soldiers of the Cross;
Lift high his royal banner,
It must not suffer loss.
From victory unto victory
His army he shall lead,
Till every foe is vanquished
And Christ is Lord indeed.

Stand up! Stand up for Jesus!
The trumpet call obey,
Forth to the mighty conflict
In this his glorious day.
Ye that are men now serve him
Against unnumbered foes:
Let courage rise with danger,
And strength to strength oppose.

Stand up! Stand up for Jesus!
Stand in his strength alone;
The arm of flesh will fail you
Ye dare not trust your own.
Put on the Gospel armor,
Each piece put on with prayer;
Where duty calls or danger
Be never wanting there!

Stand up! Stand up for Jesus!
The strife will not be long;
This day the noise of battle,
The next the victor’s song.
To him who overcometh
A crown of life shall be;
He with the King of Glory
Shall reign eternally.

_________________________

Personal Matters and Benediction

21So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus will tell you everything. He is a dear brother and a faithful minister in the Lord. 22I am sending him to you for this very purpose, to let you know how we are, and to encourage your hearts.

23Peace be to the whole community, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24Grace be with all who have an undying love for our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 6 Paul - Signature

_________________________

Isn’t this a wonderful letter to you

— in your very circumstances now?  Haven’t you been reminded of the greatness of God and his everlasting love to you?  Hasn’t your heart been awakened to seek to be more and more the valiant follower he calls you to be?  I truly believe that if we were to read the book of Ephesians every month, our hearts, our homes, our churches, our communities, our world — would be far different, far better places, because of the Holy Spirit of the resurrected Jesus working God’s purposes though us!

Your thoughts?  I would love to hear them!

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Father.  http://media.photobucket.com/image/Ephesians%206/thegreatawakening/Web%20Components/ephesians6_4.jpg
street in Ephesus.  http://www.petersommer.com/galleryimages/carian/Ephesus-Turkey-Ancient-Stre.jpg
armor of God.  http://www.truthseek.net/files/WholeArmor.jpg
sword.  http://www.markscollection.com/images/christian/the-sword-of-the-spirit.jpg
Pray without ceasing.   http://www.gospelgifs.com/clips/clips2/images/pwc002.gif
Paul signature.  http://www.rowforhope.com/html/images/Paul%20-%20Signature.GIF
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337.) Ephesians 5

August 17, 2010
House of the Virgin Mary at Ephesus.

About Ephesus:   House of the Virgin Mary at Ephesus.  Hanging on the cross, Jesus asked John to take care of his mother, and many believe that John brought her here.  Her house now serves as a chapel. (Years ago when I lived in Izmir, Turkey, I served as the organist for the US military Catholic church, and we celebrated Easter sunrise masses here at Mary’s house.)

Ephesians 5   (NRSV)

5)   Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, 2and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Eph 5.2

Renounce Pagan Ways

3But fornication and impurity of any kind, or greed, must not even be mentioned among you, as is proper among saints. 4Entirely out of place is obscene, silly, and vulgar talk; but instead, let there be thanksgiving. 5Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure person, or one who is greedy (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes on those who are disobedient. 7Therefore do not be associated with them.

Ephesians 5 14

8For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light— 9for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. 10Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. 11Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly; 13but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

“Sleeper, awake!
Rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

_________________________

Music:

“Shine, Jesus, Shine”  — written in 1987 by Graham Kendrick, who says, “This song is a prayer for revival.”

_________________________

15Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, 16making the most of the time, because the days are evil.

Ephesians 5. clock

from Experiencing God Day-By-Day,
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby

The days in which you live are evil.  But often it is not evil pursuits that rob your time.  Rather, the temptation is to sacrifice what is best for what is good.  The enemy knows that blatantly tempting you with evil will be obvious, so he will lure you with distractions, leaving you no time to carry out God’s will.  He will tempt you to so fill your schedule with good things that you have no time for God’s best.  You may inadvertently substitute religious activity for God’s will, pursuing your own goals for God’s kingdom instead of waiting for His assignment.  Time is a precious commodity.  Be sure to invest it wisely.

__________

“Redeeming the time” (Ephesians 5:16).

When you read the word “time” in the gospels, please know that two different words are most often used in the Greek language of the New Testament: the words chronos and kairos. The word chronos simply speaks of time in its chronological sequence: seconds, minutes, hours that become days, weeks, months and years. Time flies fast, time goes by. The word kairos is different. It is often translated with expressions such as “When the times were fulfilled; in the fullness of time; when the time had come for such and such to happen.”

I suggest that the spiritual application is vital. What I want you to see is that in every day, in each moment, resides the opportunity to make a decision (a resolution) to transform the time that is just “passing by” and wasted, into a divine moment in which “by faith with the resolution” we release something supernatural and redemptive that can revolutionize our lives.

Please pay close attention to this important key. One of the Greek words from which we draw the word “moment” is the word atomos. You can easily note that the words “atom” and “atomic” find their root in atomos. It is the perfect picture of what is hidden in the moment. The image of the atom reminds us how we can so easily miss a moment and underestimate its potential and possibilities. The atom is considered to be the symbol of perfect unity, the smallest particle of an element, most commonly called an irreducible unit. The idea is that it is impossible to find anything smaller. This is why we can so easily miss our moment. Like atoms, these moments with God come and go and are available to us in infinite numbers which can appear insignificant in stature or importance because they are so minute.

Moments are easy to miss or to ignore. At the same time, we find a picture of the atom in the moment. In this nucleus, so incredibly small, is also found nuclear capacity and the release of nuclear fusion in all its magnitude.

I would say it this way, “When you seize the moment with God through prayer and by faith with a resolution, you can release a supernatural reaction of atomic spiritual proportions!”

–Claude Houde

_________________________

17So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, 19as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, 20giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 5. Singing

from Edges of His Ways, by Amy Carmichael:

The reason why singing is such a splendid shield against the fiery darts of the devil is that it greatly helps us to forget him, and he cannot endure being forgotten.  He likes us to be occupied with him, with what he is doing (our temptations), with his victories (our falls), with anything but our glorious Lord.  So sing.  Never be afraid of singing too much.  We are much more likely to sing too little.

There are times, however, when we cannot sing aloud.  This verse covers that inward singing that so often lifts the heart Heavenward.  God make us a singing company.

_________________________

Psalm 34:1-3 (English Standard Version)

I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the LORD;
let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the LORD with me,
and let us exalt his name together!

_________________________

The Christian Household

21Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Ephesians 5_22

22Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Savior. 24Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands.

Ephesians5_25

25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, 27so as to present the church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind—yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish. 28In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, 30because we are members of his body. 31“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church. 33Each of you, however, should love his wife as himself, and a wife should respect her husband.

It probably is not your wedding anniversary today.  Or your wife’s/husband’s birthday.  Or Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.  But today IS a good day to love your wife/husband/parent/child/friend with much happiness and tenderness.  What can you do today to surprise her?  What can you do to give him an unexpected treat?  Ah, this is a great (and joyful) mystery!

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
House of the Virgin Mary at Ephesus.  http://cache.virtualtourist.com/2084205-Virgin_Mary_House-Ephesus.jpg
hearts.   http://www.doorposts.org/images/New%20Test/Eph%205.2.jpg
Awake.   http://www.explosivegraffix.com/Graphics%20and%20Designs%20Gallery/Ephesians%205%2014.png
clock.  http://www.fileguru.com/images/b/round_clock_2005_business_reminders-1406.gif
singing.  http://creativityinhealthcare.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/singing.jpg
Praise the Lord.     https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/praise2520the2520lord.jpg
love husband tee shirt.  http://rlv.zcache.com/i_love_my_husband_ephesians_5_22_23_tshirt-p235202882531506599yaee_400.jpg
Husbands.    http://rblog.thebowmans.us/Images/Scriptures/Ephesians/Ephesians5_25.jpg
“Heart Attack” acrylic by Jill Morton.    http://www.colormatters.com/art/images/heart_attack_824.jpg

336.) Ephesians 4

August 16, 2010
This theater in Ephesus, which seats 25,000 people, was the location of a riotous protest against Paul's teaching.

About Ephesus:  This theater in Ephesus, which seats 25,000 people, was the location of a riotous protest against Paul’s teaching.

Ephesians 4   (NRSV)

Unity in the Body of Christ

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

_________________________

Psalm 119:2 (New Living Translation)

Joyful are those who obey his laws
and search for him with all their hearts.

_________________________

4. daisies

4There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

7But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8Therefore it is said,

“When he ascended on high
he made captivity itself a captive;
he gave gifts to his people.”

9(When it says, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.) 11The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.

_________________________

from My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers:

“Till we all come . . . unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.”  — Ephesians 4:13

Rehabilitation means the putting back of the whole human race into the relationship God designed it to be in, and this is what Jesus Christ did in Redemption.  The Church ceases to be a spiritual society when it is on the look-out for the development of its own organization.  The rehabilitation of the human race of Jesus Christ’s plan means the realization of Jesus Christ in corporate life as well as in individual life.  Jesus Christ sent apostles and teachers for this purpose–that the corporate Personality might be realized.  We are not here to develop a spiritual life of our own, or to enjoy spiritual retirement; we are here so to realize Jesus Christ that the Body of Christ may be built up.

_________________________

 

A rogue wave, tossing to and fro, capsized this Coast Guard ship during training in California.

14We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. 15But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.

The Old Life and the New

17Now this I affirm and insist on in the Lord: you must no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their minds. 18They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance and hardness of heart. 19They have lost all sensitivity and have abandoned themselves to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.

“Ignorance and her squalid brood.  A universal dearth of intellect.  And need I stop to remind you of the host of loathsome reptiles such a stagnant pool is fitted to breed!  Croaking jealousy;  bloated bigotry;  carping suspicion;  wormish blindness;  crocodile malice.”

–from “In the Heart of the Heart of the Country,”
a short story/essay by William Gass

_________________________

20That is not the way you learned Christ! 21For surely you have heard about him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus. 22You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, 23and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Rules for the New Life

25So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. 26Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27and do not make room for the devil. 28Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy.

29Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.

Psalm 111:1 (English Standard Version)

Praise the LORD!
I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in the congregation.

_________________________

30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. 31Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, 32and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.

_________________________

Reflection:

When I was a child and had a fight with one of my siblings, my mother would stand us facing each other to apologize.  Then we would say Ephesians 4:32, King James version, in unison — “Be ye kind, one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ’s sake, hath forgiven you.” I had many opportunities to repeat that verse!  What it meant to me then was what I HAD to do, like it or not.

Now I treasure the thought that God has forgiven me, and that by forgiving others, I get the joy of reflecting God’s kindness on to them.  Scripture reminds us over and over to be kind:

2 Peter 1:5-8 (New International Version)

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Colossians 3:12 (New International Version)

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Galatians 5:22-23 (New International Version)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

_________________________

Ephesians 4 Grandpa holding baby

from George Washington Carver:

“How far you go in life depends on you being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong.  Because someday in life you will have been all of these.”

_________________________

Music:

Cher sings “Love One Another.”  Let go of the past, let go of the fight; forgiveness fills the world with light.

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
theater in Ephesus.   http://www.istanbuldailycitytours.com/webimage/tours/ephesus3.jpg
daisies.   http://sonsets.net/images/Ephesians%204_4-6.jpg
body of Christ.    http://www.kristosmedia.org/admin/Uploads/media/28/Body%20of%20Christ.jpg
Coast Guard ship – nearly capsized by a large wave.    http://www.deathwaves.com/images/waves.39.jpg
crocodile.    http://www.african-safari-journals.com/images/crocodile%20pics.jpg
kid praising God.   http://www.tfadc.org/files/kid_praise_god.jpg
grandfather holding baby girl.  http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3085/2864834772_b92f65bba8.jpg?v=0

335.) Ephesians 3

August 13, 2010
The library, ancient Ephesus.

About Ephesus:   The library, ancient Ephesus.  It had a capacity of 12,000 scrolls.

Ephesians 3   (NRSV)

Paul’s Ministry to the Gentiles

3) This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— 2for surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given me for you, 3and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words, 4a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ. 5In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: 6that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

_________________________

Ephesians 3 1 in messiah shield

Isaiah 49:6 (New International Version)

And now the LORD says—
“I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,
that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”

_________________________

7Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given me by the working of his power. 8Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, 9and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; 10so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him. 13I pray therefore that you may not lose heart over my sufferings for you; they are your glory.

Prayer for the Readers

14For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,

Ephesians 3 kneeling man

from Let’s Get Moving by D. Stuart Briscoe:

“I bow my knees unto the Father” may appear to be a singularly unimportant expression to us, particularly if we habitually kneel to pray by our beds or in specially padded pews in church.  But Jewish men usually didn’t kneel to pray.  They stood up!  Anyone who has been to Jerusalem will have been strangely moved by the crowds of men standing at the Wall swaying and rocking on the balls of their feet, all the time reading their prayers.  That was how Paul would traditionally pray, but for some reason he had changed his posture.

On the relatively few occasions that Scripture records people kneeling to pray, it is noticeable that deep emotion of an extraordinary nature was related to the incident.  For instance when Solomon’s Temple was dedicated the king knelt (see 2 Chronicles 6:13); when the Lord was in the Garden of Gethsemane he “kneeled down and prayed” (Luke 22:41); and when Paul said his farewells to the Ephesian elders on the seashore he “kneeled down, and prayed with them all” (Acts 20:36).  So we are probably right in assuming that Paul was deeply moved at this point of his dictation and slipped to his knees to respond to the things he had been sharing.

This I find to be very challenging.  How rare it is for people to be driven to their knees by nothing other than a consideration of what God has said!

_________________________

15from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name.     16I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit,

Ephesians 3:17-18 (New Living Translation)  "Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is."

 “Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.”    –Ephesians 3:17-18 (New Living Translation)

17and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. 18I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

3_20

20Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

_________________________

Music:

“The Love of God”  sung by Mercy Me.  Frederich M. Lehman wrote the words in 1917 in Pasadena, California.

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.

Could we with ink the oceans fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the oceans dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure–
The saints’ and angels’ song.

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
library at Ephesus.  http://www.kegcomputers.com/Turkey-Greec%20Fall%2006/Turkey/Largest%20library%20in%20world%20in%20AD%202,%20Ephesus.JPG
One in Messiah shield.   http://thevintagedirectory.com/1inmessiahshield.jpg
man kneeling.  http://www.newlife-cog.org/kneel.gif
flowers.   http://k43.pbase.com/g2/58/694458/2/66111035.qBZKD5Ty.jpg
verse 20.   http://image46.webshots.com/47/3/7/54/2461307540010749856TgCiqN_ph.jpg

334.) Ephesians 2

August 12, 2010
This column is all that remains of the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus.  But at one time its beauty and grandeur were such that it was called one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.  Read about Paul's adventures concerning the Temple in Acts 19:23-41.

About Ephesus:  This column is all that remains of the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus. But at one time the beauty and grandeur of the temple were such that it was called one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Read about Paul’s adventures concerning the temple in Acts 19:23-41.

Ephesians 2   (NRSV)

From Death to Life

2)   You were dead through the trespasses and sins 2in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. 3All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else.

Ephesians2_6

4But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us 5even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— 9not the result of works, so that no one may boast.

from Praying in the Wesleyan Spirit, by Paul Chilcote:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith.”
–Ephesians 2:8

Gracious God,
All the blessings I have experienced in my life
are gifts from you.
I know I have done nothing to receive them.
And the greatest blessing of all, salvation, I receive from you
as a gift by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
Help me to move beyond simply knowing about you
into a vital relationship with you based on trust,
into a life rooted in Jesus Christ
that brings peace and power,
as I rely on his death and resurrection in my daily living.

You offer me a present salvation,
a liberation from the guilt and fear and power of sin.
Birth within me a burning desire
to flee from all habitual and wilful sins.
Cleanse my heart and make me clean.

When I am tempted to think that faith is all I need,
remind me that the purpose of faith
is the restoration of true holiness in my heart and life.
Faith is always a means to love’s end.
May I never rest in my faith as if it were an end in itself;
rather help me to rely on your love as I seek to live faithfully.
May all the good that I am able
to accomplish in your strength
lead me away from pride or boasting
and always point to you as the source of all that is good.

I know that I am safe and held in your arms
whenever I put my entire trust in you.
Give me courage to proclaim this wonderful news
to all those around me who long to find their way home,
and when I proclaim faith in Christ, and others turn away,
may I ever rest in the victory of your love.  Amen.

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ephesians2_10

10For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

One in Christ

11So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called “the uncircumcision” by those who are called “the circumcision” —a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands— 12remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

14For he is our peace;

Psalm 147:14 (King James Version)

He maketh peace in thy borders.

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in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.

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Reflection:

We as human beings are so good at building dividing walls!  We build physical walls — I think of the Berlin Wall and the Wall of Separation in Palestine, for example.  But many other walls are invisible.  Differences in age, sex, race, education, color, political leaning, religious beliefs, economic status, musical preference, the beverage one drinks with dinner, the vehicle one drives — all are used as reasons to separate “us” from “them.”

But Paul says that Christ has broken down all those less-than-eternal walls and barriers, to bring us together in loving, grace-full unity.

What walls are around you that Christ is calling you to tear down, in the name of the One who is himself Love and Peace?

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15He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, 16and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.

17So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; 18for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father.

19So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, 20built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.

Isaiah 28:16 (Contemporary English Version)

And so the LORD says,

“I’m laying a firm foundation

for the city of Zion.

It’s a valuable cornerstone

proven to be trustworthy;

no one who trusts it

will ever be disappointed.”

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21In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.

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Music:

“In Christ Alone” — written by Joanne Hogg and performed by Adrienne Liesching and Geoff Moore.

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The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Temple of Artemis in Ephesus. http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/13/127013-004-50CA99F6.jpg
butterfly and cross.  http://rblog.thebowmans.us/Images/Scriptures/Ephesians/Ephesians2_6.jpg
saved by grace through faith.    http://sendbibleverses.com/images/sbv/Ephesians_2_8_10_Saved_Grace_Faith.jpg
two hands.  http://oneyearbibleimages.com/ephesians2_10.jpg
peaceful scene in Kelso, Scotland.    http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/44923000/jpg/_44923961_church.jpg
cornerstone.     http://www.bbc.co.uk/northernireland/yourplaceandmine/images/co-down/benedictines/cornerstone.jpg

333.) Ephesians 1

August 11, 2010
Ephesus (located on the west coast of present-day Turkey) was second only to Rome in size and importance in the first century.  It is one of the seven churches in Asia cited in the Book of Revelation.

About Ephesus:   Ephesus (located on the west coast of present-day Turkey) was second only to Rome in size and importance in the first century–a commercial, political, and religious center.  It is one of the seven churches in Asia cited in the Book of Revelation.  Paul spent time in Ephesus during his third missionary journey (Acts 19:1-20:1).

Ephesians 1   (NRSV)

Salutation

1)   Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus:

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

Spiritual Blessings in Christ

1. flower

3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.

from Tozer on the Holy Spirit, ed. by Marilynne E. Foster:

Genuine holiness can be put into the place of testing without fear.  Whenever there is a breakdown of holiness, that is proof there was never any real degree of holiness in the first place.

Personally, I truly have been affected in my heart by reading the testimonies and commentaries of humble people of God whom I consider to be among the great souls of Christian Church history.

I have learned from them that the word and idea of holiness as originally used in the Hebrew did not have first of all the moral connotation.  It did not mean that God first of all was pure, for that was taken for granted!

The original root of the word holy was of something beyond, something strange and mysterious and awe-inspiring.  When we consider the holiness of God we talk about something heavenly, full of awe, mysterious, and fear-inspiring.  Now, this is supreme when it relates to God, but it is also marked in men and women of God and deepens as we become more like God.

Holiness is not a condition wrought in us.  It is simply the Holy One in us ruling, filling.

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5He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

1. fjord

7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8that he lavished on us.

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Psalm 130:3 (New Living Translation)

Lord, if you kept a record of our sins,
who, O Lord, could ever survive?

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With all wisdom and insight 9he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

11In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory.

red seal jpg

13In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.

Paul’s Prayer

15I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason 16I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. 17I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, 18so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, 19and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. 20God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come.

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from Morning and Evening, by Charles Spurgeon:

In the resurrection of Christ, as in our salvation, there was put forth nothing short of a divine power.

What shall we say of those who think that conversion is wrought by the free will of man, and is due to his own betterness of disposition?

When we shall see the dead rise from the grave by their own power, then may we expect to see ungodly sinners of their own free will turning to Christ.

It is not the word preached, nor the word read in itself; all quickening power proceeds from the Holy Ghost.

This power was irresistible. All the soldiers and the high priests could not keep the body of Christ in the tomb; Death himself could not hold Jesus in his bonds: even thus irresistible is the power put forth in the believer when he is raised to newness of life.

No sin, no corruption, no devils in hell nor sinners upon earth, can stay the hand of God’s grace when it intends to convert a man.

If God omnipotently says, “Thou shalt,” man shall not say, “I will not.” Observe that the power which raised Christ from the dead was glorious. It reflected honour upon God and wrought dismay in the hosts of evil. So there is great glory to God in the conversion of every sinner.

It was everlasting power. “Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over Him.” So we, being raised from the dead, go not back to our dead works nor to our old corruptions, but we live unto God. “Because He lives we live also.” “For we are dead, and our life is hid with Christ in God.”

“Like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

Lastly, in the text mark the union of the new life to Jesus. The same power which raised the Head works life in the members. What a blessing to be quickened together with Christ!

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"And God placed all things under his feet . . ."

“And God placed all things under his feet . . .”

22And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, 23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

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Music:

Andre Crouch’s classic “To God Be the Glory,” sung by the Oslo Gospel Choir.

How can I say thanks
For all the things you have done for me
Things so undeserved
Yet You gave to prove your love for me
And the voices of a million angels
Could not express my gratitude
All that I am and ever hope to be
I owe it all to Thee

To God be the glory, to God be the glory
To God be the glory,
For the things He has done
With His blood He has saved me
And with His power He has raised me
To God be the glory,
For the things He has done

Just let me live my life
And let it be pleasing Lord to Thee
And should I gain any praise
Let it go to Calvary

With His blood He has saved me
With His power He has raised me
To God be the glory
For the things He has done

To God be the glory, to God be the glory
To God be the glory,
For the things He has done
With His blood He has saved me
And with His power He has raised me
To God be the glory,
For the things He has done.

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
map.  http://www.jesuswalk.com/ephesians/images/ephesus_map.gif
flower.  http://inlinethumb19.webshots.com/30610/1339880815010749856S500x500Q85.jpg
fjord.  http://soamazinglyblessed.com/Ephesians1_7.jpg
seal.  http://www.hillcrestcofc.com/images/ephesians1_14.gif
resurrection icon.    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_l9xozOCin1E/SB9Y4pP6RxI/AAAAAAAAABA/vz0nvQOxiuo/S660/resurrection_icon.jpg
cross.  http://www.hillcrestcofc.com/images/ephesians1_14.gif