A few weeks ago, I simply read the book of Ephesians. This was common practice back when Jesus was on the earth. They would meet at the synagogue and read the Torah.
Of course, Jesus also taught in the synagogues. So it’s not like it has to be one or the other. But I am thankful the Holy Spirit is bringing back the simple reading of the Word of God.
Today, I am going to give you a mixture of the two. I will read you Ephesians chapter one and then highlight several gems within this one chapter.
We’ve been spending quite a bit of time in the book of Ephesians. The reason is, we are very similar to the Ephesians church. So we can glean a lot from this book.
Before I start, take a moment to imagine you are sitting in the Ephesians church. This letter just came from the Apostle Paul and will be read aloud to the congregation for the first time.
The first five verses are like a rich treasure trove. We tend to look over these introductory statements. But not today! Take a look at verse one:
Ephesians 1:1 NLT – This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. I am writing to God’s holy people in Ephesus, who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus.
First of all, you got to love Paul’s confidence. He knew exactly what God called him to do, and he didn’t hesitate to make sure you knew.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the statement, “If you have to tell people you’re an apostle, or pastor, or prophet, you probably aren’t one.”
Well, that sure sounds good. But, I’d like to see you tell that to Paul. I’m sure his response would be rather entertaining for the rest of us.
I can’t tell you how many statements like this we cling to because they sound so good, yet they are dead, religious statements that are contrary to the Bible. I recommend you go ahead and ditch this one.
Once you know what God has called you to do, proclaim it from the rooftops! Don’t be bashful about it. Sure, people will criticize you. But you might as well get used to it. Persecution is guaranteed.
Are there people who say they are but aren’t? Sure. But as long as the message of Christ is being preached, rejoice! You don’t have to worry about their motive. God will handle that.
Paul knew who he was, an apostle of Jesus Christ, and he proclaimed it from the rooftops. He also knew the true identity of the Ephesians church.
God’s Holy People
He called them God’s holy people! On top of that, he verified that they were faithful followers of Jesus Christ!
These days, people would accuse me of arrogance if I referred to my church as “God’s holy people.” Yet, that’s who you are. So, that’s how I am going to talk about you.
Right now, I am looking at a gathering of God’s holy people. You all are saints! You are faithful followers of Jesus Christ.
I know you ain’t perfect. Yet, you are completely holy because of what the blood of Christ has provided for you. You have been made completely righteous through the blood of Christ!
And now, that righteousness is working its way from your spirit to the outside. The Holy Spirit is taking you from glory to glory! These gatherings are helping you work out your own salvation.
We got all of that from verse one! That introductory verse that we’d normally just read over. Wow! The Word of God is rich and deep and alive. Don’t you love it?
Let’s go on to verse 2:
Grace and Peace
Ephesians 1:2 NLT – May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
God is so generous. He just can’t help Himself but give to His kids. He will give us everything we will receive. There’s only one condition to experience God’s generosity: receive.
There are so many good things God wants to give you. At the top of His list are grace and peace. These are two words we hear often, so we tend to brush over them. Let’s dig in.
- That which leads to joy, pleasure, and delight
- The merciful kindness of God
- God’s holy influence that turns us to Christ, and continues to strengthen and increase us in our Christian faith
- God’s favor
- Exemption from rage and havoc of war
- Peace between individuals
- Safety, fearing nothing
- The tranquil state of one assured of salvation in Christ
- Content in every moment
Now you can see that Paul was saying so much more than just “May God give you grace and peace.” Let me show you how we would need to say this today.
May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you great joy, pleasure, and delight. May His merciful kindness and holy influence continue to strengthen and increase your faith.
May God shower His favor on you! So much favor, you don’t know what to do with it. Beyond that, may He remove rage and havoc from your midst, leading you to peace with everyone.
May you become fully aware of God’s divine protection so that you fear nothing. May you be an open display of God’s abundance as you live in prosperity.
And most importantly, may you continue to enjoy complete inner peace as you rest in your salvation. May you live every day fully content, no matter what is going on around you.
Now you know what the Apostle Paul is prophesying over your life whenever he opens a letter with, “May God give you grace and peace.”
Every time you read those words, take the time to think about what it really means. And receive it!
Can you believe how much goodness we just pulled out of Paul’s introduction? Wow! This is why we need to take our time with the Word and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal its depth.
It continues in verse three:
God Wants to Bless Us
Ephesians 1:3 NLT – All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.
Did you catch what happens when you become united with Christ? God blesses you with every spiritual blessing.
Notice it was past tense, “God HAS blessed us.” We are not waiting on God to bless us! He just waiting for us to unite with Christ. Once we do, we are given EVERY spiritual blessing.
Can you wrap your head around that? Can you even comprehend what it means to have not just some but EVERY spiritual blessing from God?
Notice we are not talking about physical blessings but spiritual blessings. Grace and peace! Wisdom and understanding! Forgiveness and freedom!
And you know what? When you access these spiritual blessings, it causes physical blessings to show up. Yet, so many of us are looking for physical blessings.
Get your focus off the physical and focus on receiving God’s magnificent spiritual blessings! They are worth more than any amount of money!
I’d take peace over a million dollars any day. I’d take God’s grace over a mansion on the beach any day! But the reality is, you don’t have to choose.
It’s not that physical blessings are bad. They are just inferior to spiritual blessings. But when you begin to tap into the spiritual blessings that are already available to you, it won’t be long before you start seeing physical blessings chase you down.
You won’t even have to ask for them! And you will already be so content that when physical blessings show up, you’ll become overwhelmed with thankfulness to God.
“God, you want me to have this?! I am already so content! Your goodness is overwhelming.”
That was my exact conversation with God when the Holy Spirit led me to purchase a blue Jaguar convertible a few years ago. I wasn’t even looking for it. I didn’t even know I wanted it!
But I could sense my Father saying, “This is for you.” I was so uncomfortable when I first got it. I didn’t think I deserved it. I didn’t want people to think I was showing off.
I chose to receive an unexpected gift from the Lord. Turns out I really like it. God knows me better than I know myself.
But listen, if you are looking for money or possessions to bring joy and peace, you’ll drive yourself crazy just to find out all you get is a day of happiness at most.
But if you spend your life looking to access the endless spiritual blessings that God has already provided, you’ll be so content and blessed and peaceful and prosperous that you’ll drive people crazy.
People get so annoyed with my life. But here’s the truth. The physical blessings you see result from me living my life pursuing the spiritual blessings that God gave me in Christ.
You are not waiting for God to bless you! He already has. In Christ, you have already been given every spiritual blessing straight from heaven. Tap into it! Partake! Receive daily these precious gifts from heaven.
I really want to get to verse 5, so we better keep going.
God’s Love for You
Ephesians 1:4 NLT – Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.
Come on! This is incredible. God’s love for us precedes creation. Even before you were created, God loved you and chose you.
Let me put it another way. Even before you had a chance to do anything for God, God loved you and chose you. He loves you completely by choice. He decided in advance.
And here’s how God sees you: holy and without fault. Seriously, in Christ, when God looks at you, He doesn’t see even one of your faults. When God looks at you, He sees pure holiness.
Whoa. Somebody better say thank you, Jesus, for the blood applied. It washed me white. It obliterated every fault. God can’t even see my faults because the blood is so powerful.
In Christ, I am holy and without fault in God’s eyes. Say that with me, “In Christ, I am holy and without fault in God’s eyes.”
Wow. And it just keeps going. Take a look at verse 5:
You Are Adopted
Ephesians 1:5 NLT – God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.
Again, before you did anything good for God, He adopted you into His own family. You didn’t have to earn it first. You don’t have to have a certain lineage. God decided in advance to adopt you.
And get this: It is what God wanted to do, and it brings Him great pleasure that you are now part of the family!
Let me put it another way. Your simple existence in the body of Christ brings God great pleasure. Even before your salvation produces good works, God is greatly pleased to simply have you as part of His family.
For those of you who are already united with Christ, this is a great time to simply reflect on how God is pleased with you, not because of your good works, but because you decided to be a part of His family through Christ.
For those who are questioning whether you are united with Christ or not, we are going to get that settled right now.
Your salvation depends on 3 things.
First, you must admit that you are a sinner. You’ve already messed it up, and you need a straight-up miracle to get right with God.
Second, you must wholeheartedly believe that God sent His son Jesus to the earth to be sacrificed for your sins. He took the punishment of your sin by dying in your place.
But on the third day, He rose back to life. And He is still alive today, seated next to God the Father in heaven. His life is what gives you eternal life.
Third, you must confess Jesus as your Lord. This means that you put Him in the driver’s seat. This life is no longer about what you want to do; it’s all about Jesus.
If you are ready to make Jesus the Lord of your life, choose right now to make him Lord of your life.