2549.) Ephesians 6:5-24

February 7, 2019
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 6:5-24   (NRSV)

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.

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).

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

Following Jesus draws us into a spiritual battle. But God has not left us defenseless against the devil’s wiles. He has provided spiritual armor that will equip us for spiritual battle.

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,

EQUIP ME, LORD — May Your truth rule in my heart and be in my mind and on my lips today. Let me remember that You, Jesus, are the way, the truth, and the life.

and put on the breastplate of righteousness.

EQUIP ME, LORD — Apart from You there is no righteousness, but through Jesus I have been “born again” and made righteous in Your sight. May I live as a righteous person so that others may see my good works and give glory to You.

15As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.

EQUIP ME, LORD — May I reflect the Gospel in my words and actions, that through me, with my every encounter, others may be drawn one step closer to You.

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.

EQUIP ME, LORD — May I take You at Your word concerning promises about the present and future—promises of everlasting love, abundant life, and so much more.

17Take the helmet of salvation,

EQUIP ME, LORD — Remind me that nothing can separate me from Your love and that I’ve  been saved by grace. In Your grace, help me to say “no” to all ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live a self-controlled, upright, and godly life. May every thought I have be taken captive to You and Your goodness.

and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

6. the-sword-of-the-spirit

EQUIP ME, LORD — May Your Holy Spirit reign in my life and bring to my mind just the right Bible verses to be in my heart and on my lips. May I be “filled with the Spirit” and ready with Scripture as You were, Jesus, when the devil tempted You.

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.

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 . . .”

HERE  is “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus.” This is such an encouraging, invigorating hymn!

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 who 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:
street in Ephesus.  https://dwellingintheword.wordpress.com/2010/08/18/120-ephesians-61-24/
Zechariah 4:6.   https://www.pinterest.com/pin/550213279445644588/
belt.   https://lucsnovelties.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/armour2.jpeg
breastplate.   https://lucsnovelties.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/caaog2breastplate1.jpg
gospel shoes.   https://lucsnovelties.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/gospelshoes1.png
shield.   https://lucsnovelties.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/51uolyon4cl-_sy300_.jpg
helmet.   https://lucsnovelties.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/helmetofsalvation.jpg
Sword of the Spirit, by Jeff Haynie.  https://www.imagekind.com/Sword-of-the-Spirit_art?IMID=7655ff7f-6a97-45a0-956e-b60108f4c338
Pray without ceasing.    http://www.fbcog.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Pray-without-ceasing-4×6-1024×683.png
Paul signature.  http://www.rowforhope.com/html/images/Paul%20-%20Signature.GIF
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2548.) Ephesians 5:21-6:4

February 6, 2019
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 5:21-6:4   (NRSV)

The Christian Household

I once heard a wonderful sermon on this portion of Scripture given by Andy Stanley. He said, and I paraphrase — Our mission as believers is to reflect the light of the Lord, to show Jesus Christ to the world by how we love God and other people. That means we are to be building Christ-centered relationships.

When Jesus came to earth he taught a new ethic that centered on LOVE. After he ascended into heaven, the apostles are looking at these new believers and new fellowship groups and considering — how do we apply Jesus’ teaching to family life? Before Christ the rule had been, generally, “might makes right.” But following Jesus would mean a new family and relational culture. People with power should use their power to help the powerless.

OK, Paul asks, what does look like in families? For wives, for husbands, for children, for fathers? So here in this section of Ephesians, Paul applies the idea of Christ centered relationships to every area of the family. And he begins with the over-arching principle: to submit willingly to one another, to put others first, as a way to honor Christ.

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

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.

Ephesians 5_22

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.

Did you ever hear the word “husband” explained? It means literally “the band of the house,” the support of it, the person who keeps it together, as a band keeps together a sheaf of corn. There are many married men who are not husbands, because they are not the band of the house. Truly, in many cases, the wife is the husband; far oftentimes it is she who, by her prudence, and thrift, and economy, keeps the house together. The married man who, by his dissolute habits, strips his house of all comfort, is not a husband; in a legal sense he is, but in no other; for he is not a house-band; instead of keeping things together, he scatters them among the pawnbrokers.

And now let us see whether the word “wife” has not a lesson too. It literally means a weaver. The wife is the person who weaves. Before our great cotton and cloth factories arose, one of the principal employments in every house was the fabrication of clothing: every family made its own. The wool was spun into thread by the girls, who were therefore called spinsters; the thread was woven into cloth by their mother, who accordingly was called the weaver, or the wife: and another remnant of this old truth we discover in the word “heirloom,” applied to any old piece of furniture which has come down to us from our ancestors, and which, though it may be a chair or bed, shows that a loom was once a most important article in every house.

–Anon.

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!

Children and Parents

1Children, 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.”

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

Ephesians6_4

Not an easy task!

It had been a big morning at church. It was a family dedication service, and the parents had dedicated their 4-year-old boy that day. As they pulled out of the church parking lot, they noticed their son was whimpering in the back seat. They asked him what was wrong. Through tears he said, “The preacher said he wanted us to be raised in a Christian home, but I want to stay with you guys!”

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “The Marriage Prayer,” sung by husband and wife John and Josee Waller.

_________________________

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:
Mary’s house.   https://dwellingintheword.wordpress.com/2010/08/17/119-ephesians-51-33/
The Greatest commandments.   https://gcaruso1.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/cd-design-wide.jpg
love husband tee shirt.  http://rlv.zcache.com/i_love_my_husband_ephesians_5_22_23_tshirt-p235202882531506599yaee_400.jpg
Husbands.   https://www.amazingfacts.org/news-and-features/scripture-pictures/scripture-pictures-by-verse/verse/e/29330/t/ephesians-5-25
“Heart Attack” acrylic by Jill Morton.   https://dwellingintheword.wordpress.com/2010/08/17/119-ephesians-51-33/
Fathers.  https://pendernews.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/ephesians6-4.jpeg

2547.) Ephesians 5:1-20

February 5, 2019

About Ephesus:  St. John Basilica. St. John is believed to have spent the last years of his life in Ephesus writing his version of the Gospel. Emperor Justinian (527-565 AD) believed that a tomb dating from the 300s was John’s, so he built a great church above it in the 500s. This citadel-like basilica once occupied the whole breadth of the hill it sits on and was ranked with the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople (now the Aya Sofya) as one of the Byzantine Empire’s largest churches. According to tradition, the grave of St. John is under the church.

Ephesians 5:1-20  (NRSV)

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.

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.”

Ephesians 5 14

_________________________

Music:

“Shine, Jesus, Shine”  — written in 1987 by Graham Kendrick, who says, “This song is a prayer for revival.”  HERE  it is sung by a massive congregation at an annual celebration of songs of praise, the “Big Sing” at Royal Albert Hall in London.

_________________________

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 (ESV)

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 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:
Basilica of St. John.   https://www.planetware.com/turkey/selcuk-tr-iz-epsk.htm
hearts.   http://www.doorposts.org/images/New%20Test/Eph%205.2.jpg
Psalm 119:130.   https://dailyverses.net/2015/4/10
Awake.   http://gracedoctrine.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Eph-5-vs-14.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

2546.) Ephesians 4

February 4, 2019

About Ephesus:  Though huge, with 25,000 seats, its ingenious engineering gives it excellent acoustics. It’s still used for performances and special events. This theater 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.

Paul spent three chapters spelling out in glorious detail all that God did for us, freely by His grace. Now he brings a call to live rightly, in response to all that God has done for us.

Psalm 119:2 (NLT)

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

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.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “The Church’s One Foundation” in a new, peaceful arrangement by Indelible Grace.

_________________________

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 fullness 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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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 (NIV)

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 (NIV)

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

Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)

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:

HERE  Cher sings “Love One Another.”  Let go of the past, let go of the fight; forgiving 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.   https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Great_Theatre_in_Ephesus,_Turkey.jpg
1 body, spirit . . .  photo by joshtinpowers on Flickr.   https://www.pinterest.com/pin/436919601321270386/
body of Christ.    https://castyournet.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/1-ephesians-4-body-of-christ.jpg
Coast Guard ship – nearly capsized by a large wave.   http://pikby.com/media/AUVPGwSk5ZcpgdrnMKoql9iMUkhcwHVAqiSNTheTKniCAcOAJ0m2j-w/
crocodile.    https://chute4thestars.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/croc.jpg
Be kind.  https://www.etsy.com/listing/502102381/in-a-world-where-you-can-be-anything-be?ref=shop_home_active_1&crt=1
grandfather holding baby girl.  http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3085/2864834772_b92f65bba8.jpg?v=0

2545.) Ephesians 3

February 1, 2019

About Ephesus:  The Ephesus Museum (Efes Müzesi) in the nearby town of Selçuk holds the best of the archaeological objects excavated at Ephesus, including this statue of the goddess from the Temple of Artemis,

Ephesians 3   (NRSV)

Paul’s Ministry to the Gentiles

This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—

During his Roman imprisonment Paul was under house arrest. In the day he was free to move around the house with the supervision of soldiers, but every night he was chained to a soldier to make sure he did not escape before his trial before Caesar. Yet he saw himself as the prisoner of Jesus Christ. He knew that Jesus was the Lord of his life, not the Roman government, so if he was a prisoner, he was Jesus’ prisoner.

–David Guzik

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 (NIV)

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.

“It is as if a great drama is being enacted. History is the theatre, the world is the stage, and the church members in every land are the actors. God himself has written the play, and he directs and produces it. Act by act, scene by scene, the story continues to unfold. But who are the audience? They are the cosmic intelligences, the principalities and powers in the heavenly places.”

–John Stott

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.

My sufferings for you:  Paul wrote the Letter to the Ephesians from prison, and it is useful to remember why Paul was in prison. He lived his whole life with the passion to bring salvation to his own people, the Jews (Romans 9:1-3). On a strategic visit to Jerusalem he had the opportunity to preach to a vast crowd on or near the temple mount (Acts 21:39-22:22), but the opportunity ended in disaster because the Jewish crowd could not stand the idea of the good news of the Messiah being extended to the Gentiles (Acts 22:21-22). The ensuing riot put Paul in a legal dilemma, from which he used his right as a Roman citizen and appealed to Caesar. Now Paul was imprisoned in Rome, waiting for his trial before Caesar – and there because he knew God wanted Gentiles to share in the good news of the Messiah, and he wasn’t afraid to preach that truth.

They are your glory:  Paul was being used, and probably in a greater way than he ever imagined. This Roman imprisonment produced the letters of Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, and Philemon. They all certainly have a place in God’s eternal plan.

In the same manner, each of us has a place in the service of God’s eternal plan. Knowing this and working towards it is a great guard against losing heart in the midst of tribulation.

–David Guzik

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,

Can we really comprehend the width and length and depth and height of God’s love? To come to any understanding of the dimensions of God’s love, we must come to the cross. The cross pointed in four ways, essentially in every direction, because…

· God’s love is wide enough to include every person.

· God’s love is long enough to last through all eternity.

· God’s love is deep enough to reach the worst sinner.

· God’s love is high enough to take us to heaven.

–David Guzik

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,

“Therefore he is able to do all things, and able to do superabundantly above the greatest abundance.”

–Adam Clarke

21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “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:
statue of Artemis.   https://turkeytravelplanner.com/go/Aegean/Ephesus/selcuk/see/EphesusMuseum.html
One in Messiah shield.   http://injesus.com/message-archives/healing/YeshuaBloodCovenant/we-are-undaunted
flowers.   http://k43.pbase.com/g2/58/694458/2/66111035.qBZKD5Ty.jpg
verse 20.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/3_20.jpg

2544.) Ephesians 2

January 31, 2019
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 (topped by a stork’s nest) 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

Paul ended the last chapter by considering that the ultimate example of God’s power was the resurrection of Jesus. Now Paul considers what the implications of Jesus’ resurrection power are for our life.

–David Guzik

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.

We err if we think that dead in trespasses and sins says everything about man’s lost condition. The Bible uses many different pictures to describe the state of the unsaved man, saying he is:

– Blind (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)      
– A slave to sin  (Romans 6:17)    
– A lover of darkness  (John 3:19-20)    
– Sick  (Mark 2:17) 
– Lost  (Luke 15) 
– An alien, a stranger, a foreigner  (Ephesians 2:12, 2:19) 
– A child of wrath  (Ephesians 2:3) 
– Under the power of darkness  (Colossians 1:13) 

–David Guzik

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.

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.

ephesians2_10

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.

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

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.

Gentiles and Jews are brought together into one body, the Church, where our unity in Jesus is far greater than our previous differences.  HERE  is a testimony of a former Jewish doctor who found this peace in Christ. (There is a whole collection of such testimonies, which are so enlightening and encouraging to hear! I recommend them!)

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.”

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.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is a tribute to the blood of Jesus. Thank you, Jesus.

_________________________

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://beauty4ashes04.blogspot.com/2013/05/a-loving-reminder-seated-in-heavenly.html
saved by grace through faith.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/1-ephesians-2-saved-by-grace.jpg
two hands.  http://oneyearbibleimages.com/ephesians2_10.jpg
O the blood of Jesus.   https://i.pinimg.com/originals/c4/13/cf/c413cf241be734edd22b8c4f0e22dbea.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

2543.) Ephesians 1:15-23

January 30, 2019

About Ephesus:   The library, ancient Ephesus. A technological wonder at the time, with double walls to keep out the damp and moderate the extremes of temperature, it is also perhaps the most beautiful building at Ephesus, finely restored.  It had a capacity of 12,000 scrolls.

Ephesians 1:15-23   (NRSV)

Paul’s Prayer

Paul not only gave thanks for God’s work among the Ephesians, he also prayed that it would continue with greater strength and understanding. What would it do to our understanding of our daily life if we were to read this and pray this every morning?

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.

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!

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.

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

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is a great Wesley hymn — “Rejoice, the Lord is King!”

_________________________

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://travel-junkies.com/2013/12/30/photo-of-the-week-library-of-celsus-at-ephesus/
I keep asking that . . .    https://newlifenarrabri.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/eph1-17.jpg
resurrection icon.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/resurrection_icon.jpg
Christ of St. John of the Cross, by Salvador Dali.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christ_of_Saint_John_of_the_Cross#/media/File:Christ_of_Saint_John_of_the_Cross.jpg