QT – Ephesians 1

Introduction to Ephesians:

The letters to the Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians and the letter to Philemon are often called the Prison Epistles, because they were all written in Paul first imprisonment in Rome.  Ephesians is written to one of the most prominent churches founded about 60 A.D.  This church was of course located in the city of Ephesus…it is on the coast of present day Turkey.  It’s archeological ruins are some of the most spectacular in the world….it was the most important city of western Asia Minor at the time.  Major trade routes intersected there to make it a commerical, political and religous center.  And Paul made the crossroads of Ephesus the center of his evanglisem for about 3 years.  Later the Apostle John would live there too.  Although written from jail, this letter is Paul’s arguably the most encouraging and optomistic letter of Paul’s.  Paul desribes the advantages that a believer has whose faith is in Jesus.  Paul wrote to help his readers better understand God’s etenral purpose and appreciate the high goals God has for His church.  The church described by Paul is not a building, but it is made up of those who believe in Jesus as one body.  While this letter was written to the Ephesus church, it is widely believed it was circulated all around the provinces.  Ephesians lays the foundation for the church today!  The letter begins from eternity past and brings us to eternity future.  It is directed to the church and we are the church.  So when you think of Ephesians think church.  Ephesians = Church, Church = Ephesians…for biblical understanding =)

Vs. 3, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”  Blessings…Blessings….& more Blessings!  Spiritual Blessings that are ours because of Jesus!  God has blessed us and the result is…we are accepted, chosen & adopted (vs. 5)!  We then read how Jesus has blessed us by redeeming us, forgiving us and giving us an  inheritance far beyond our imagnination!  And we also read of the blessings from the Holy Spirit that has sealed us (meaning nothing can seperate it)!  Paul’s prayer is that we would know of these rich blessings & pour out our thanksgivings because of it.  Question: How are you responding to God’s blessings? 
 
Regarding application…Being Adopted.  Vs. 5, “…he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.”  While I know the word “predestination” takes a much more prominent role in this verse…the fact that we are “adopted” holds a pretty special place in my heart.  In some ways…adoption connotates a negative aspect, as if you are a second-class son or daughter.  Brothers & sisters in Christ, we are ALL adopted children of the Lord Most High!  What we must remember, our true Parent is not our earthly parents, but it is our Father in Heaven!  It is He who we aspire to please!  

QT – Ecclesiastes 11 & 12

Ecclesiastes 11:
Vs. 1, “Ship your grain across the sea; after many days you may receive a return.”  Solomon owned a sheep of fleets and understood the value of investing wisely and keeping all your options.  In our lives, we are to work hard and do best we can (vs. 6-8).  When you think about it…each and everyday is a gift from God (vs. 8)…let’s do our best to thank God.  And the verse that talks about following the ways of the heart (vs. 9), is talking about not following your heart, rather the heart of God and savoring the joys that God gives in your youth!


Ecclesiastes 12:
Vs. 13, “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.”  Before you know it, we will be old and declining in our youth (vs. 1-8)…take advantage of the time God has given you in the present. It’s never too late to start no matter what age you are.  And in the end, after all is said and done…we faithfully fear the Lord and follow him!

QT – Ecclesiastes 10

Vs. 2, “The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left.”  I guess that settles it….right-handed people are wise and all of those lefties are fools :)  Actually, in biblical times…it was considered the right hand was the honorable side.  You’re my right hand man for the job!  Solomon was reminding us that often the world honors the fools rather than the wise (vs. 6).  We are reminded to make sure we don’t live a life without wisdom and focus (vs. 8-9).  


Regarding application…Aroma of Wisdom. Vs. 1, “As dead flies give perfume a bad smell, so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.”  We did a bible study awhile back on being the aroma of Christ.  This verse reminds us again that if we let even one bad fly into our perfume of life, it can corrupt our lives.  “Little fly…I shall Crush You!”  We must be mindful of watching the steps of our lives.  Small mistakes can ruin our testimony if we are not wise.  

QT – Ecclesiastes 9

Vs. 2, “All share a common destiny—the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad, the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices and tose who do not.  As it is with the good, so with the sinful; as it is with those who take oaths, so with those who are afraid to take them.”  The one fact of life: death will come to us all.  But this fact of life should not create in us a worry/anxiety…rather a peaceful calm.  Every town or city I’ve lived has graveyard…they are a constant reminder that we are a finite being.  While we share a common destiny with all of creation both good and bad…our destiny lies in eternity with the Lord.  We are encouraged from Solomon to enjoy this thing called life (vs. 7-9). 
Regarding application…Value of Wisdom.  Vs. 17, “The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools.”  Solomon goes on to give us an example of wisdom in the telling of a small parable/story.  A poor wise man would save this city from an evil invading king.  Notice how this poor man probably was not a super strong man who helped defend against the evil king’s army.  He must have been very wise in order to save his town.  When I think of life, we often try to overcome through mighty feats of power and display…but just a little wisdom can go far.  Instead of coming with a mighty sword to overcome evil…Jesus would use wisdom to overcome evil by humility and sacrifice.  That’s wisdom!  Question: What things in your life can you overcome with wisdom instead of might?

QT – Ecclesiastes 8

Vs 2, “Obey the king’s command, I say, because you took an oath before God.”  During Solomon’s time, there were many bad kings and he himself was not perfect.  But he reminds the people of the importance of obedience.  And as we remember the King of Kings in Jesus, we would do well to do the same!  There are going to be times we don’t agree with things we are asked to do, but even then we must obey (vs. 8).  Sometimes we look and the the wicked get all the breaks while the humble in spirit seem to lose (vs. 14).  Yet Solomon reminds us there are still things in this life worth enjoying.  There are just some things we don’t always have to understand, that’s why “faith” comes into our lives as such an important factor.


Regarding application…Beautiful Face.  Vs. 1, “Who is like the wise? Who knows the explanation of things?  A person’s wisdom brightens their face and changes its hard appearance.”  You’ve all seen them right?  Faces that are hardened over the years of disappointment and struggle.  People walk around with sadness, misery, anger, bitterness, etc.  But the face of wisdom and joy in the Lord can literally take a hardened face and brighten it!  Just as Moses’ face shined the glory of God, we too must have faces that shine God’s love.  Question: When people look at you, is your face bright?  Keep your head up so people will see and be encouraged by your beautiful faces made in the image of God!  He loves you so very much!

QT – Ecclesiastes 7

Vs. 2, “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart.”  I reminded the Youth Group this past Sunday that death is the one certainty in this life.  It is not wise to be ignorant…not is ignorance bliss (it’s just foolish).  When we think about life in general, we would rather celebrate a happy occasion than go to a funeral (vs. 2).  Both have their purposes and ultimately, death is not the end.  I like how Solomon reminds us wisdom is better than money because it lasts the test of time (vs. 12).  We are exhorted to take the time to consider all the knowledge we hear (vs. 21) and not think too highly of ourselves (vs. 16).  Even among the highly educated people of this world, there are very few who are wise (vs. 27-29).  So, just because they have a fancy title after their name doesn’t hold much stock in the spiritual world. 


Regarding application…Living Life.  Vs. 14, “When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future.”  What this verse is reminding me is that we should not be so quick to overreact when things are both good and bad.  When good times come…don’t be naive that bad times won’t come.  And when bad times come…be hopeful because good times will come.  No fortune cookie or astrology sayings can predict our future, nor can any of us.  Only God knows our future for He is the one who has created this world.  Just do your best to live this life.  If we do, we will appreciate and savor those precious moments more.  And, we will also be able to endure the storms when them come.  Either way, we live this life to PTL (Praise The Lord)!

QT – Ecclesiastes 6

Vs. 1, “I have seen another evil under the sun, and it weighs heavily on mankind.”  Solomon now refers to a person who seemingly has all that He desires, yet his life is full of emptiness.  We are given an example of a person with everything, but no matter how long they live…without God in the equation it amounts to nothing.  Just like in the book of James in the New Testament, we are told to remember that life is but a shadow…here today and gone tomorrow.


Regarding application…Appreciate The Present.  Vs. 12, “For who knows what is good for a person in life, during the few and meaningless days they pass through like a shadow? Who can tell them what will happen under the sun after they are gone.”  I think it goes back to just being content with the small things in life.  These days, with working now in Irvine and commuting a total of 3 hours a day on top of working 8 hours…and then when you had ministry and Hyojin’s own tutoring…She and I barely have time to see each other.  But the time we do see each other we cherish very much!  While I would love the quantity time with the quality time…I am thankful for the couple of hours at most we have together each day.  Take time to appreciate those who are with you in the present.  Because they are presents given to you by God :)

QT – Ecclesiastes 5

Vs. 1, “Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.”  When we go to church, we must be very mindful not only our behavior…but of the promises we give to the church.  There are many who go to church and offer to do things for the wrong reason (vs. 4).  There are many who go to church who are not sincere.  Guard your steps.  Solomon goes on to explain to us that money and love for it is meaningless.  His exhortation should be taken seriously because he was rich and found it didn’t satisfy.  Money is provided by God…but we always have the danger of making Money our God instead.  John Wesley, the founder of Methodist church once said, “Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can.”  Toward the latter part of this chapter we are told to enjoy the small things that are provided to us.  Enjoy the wonderful taste of food or the restful times God gives us.


Regarding application…Proper Perspective.  Vs. 15, “Everyone comes naked from their mother’s womb, and as everyone comes, so they depart. They take nothing from their toil that they can carry in their hands.”  While we need shelter, clothes and food…we don’t really need that much more.  The other things are nice, but in the end we don’t take them with us.  Most of us who are reading this are very blessed.  Take the time to appreciate and thank the Lord for having what we have.  I’m learning in my older years not to be so quick to want all the newer nicer things.  I’ve got a old T.V…I’ve got old cars…but that’s okay for me.  Granted, I do like my tech toys…but am trying to have a proper perspective on always wanting the big expensive items. 

QT – Ecclesiastes 4

Vs. 1, “Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun: I saw the tears of the oppressed—and they have no comforter; power was on the side of their oppressors—and they have no comforter.”  As Solomon took the time to observe the regular lives of God’s people, he realized the inequality that was going on.  Perhaps he went into the courtrooms of the times and saw the tears of those who were being taken advantage of by the oppressors.  Sometimes, we get so busy with our own lives…we forget how tough the lives of others are.  While we aspire to achieve many things in this life…Solomon reminds us that we need to have some perspective.  Life is meaningless if we try to live this life on our own.


Regarding application…Companionship.  Vs. 9, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor.”  We live in the land of the Free.  We are encouraged to be strong & independent!  It’s all about what you can do on your own and not being a weak individual who relies on others.  The world values individual achievements…you don’t take your SAT tests with your best friend and then both of you get accepted to UCLA.  However, what accolades and goals we achieve on our own is nothing compared to teaming up with others.  Solomon realized this and we too must value the blessings of others in our lives.  T.E.A.M. – Together Everyone Achieves More (my bank likes to use this to motivate).  God has created us not to be individual beings.  While some of us may have a more shy/introverted disposition…we were all created to have companionship.  Value it and show your appreciation today for those whom God has blessed you with. 

QT – Ecclesiastes 3

Vs. 1, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”  What a timeless passage that endures throughout the years.  We are so aptly reminded that there is a time and place for everything.  God continues to remind us through His creation and His timing that He providentially in control of our lives.  I think we too often try to create that “time” according to how we want it done, but in many ways we are just riding the wave that God has given to us.  It’s all about having the right perspective for we are very inconsequential when you think about it (vs. 18-21).  Especially, when we think we are the ones who control our own destiny.


Regarding application…Eternity in our Hearts.  Vs. 11, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”  This is one of my most favorite passages in the the Bible.  Deep inside each of our hearts, God has planted the knowledge of Him.  We are without excuse.  Why do you think all of us start seeking out truth?  We all do, the only problem is…we people find it out, they don’t like what they see.  So they turn their hardened hearts away from God to find a truth that makes them feel better.  No one wants to be reminded they are imperfect and need to be dependent again.   Find solace in that everyone has been given the same “eternity” knowledge in their heart.  Do your best to share His love…you can lead a camel to the water but cannot force it to drink.  Let’s be a voice of reason and heart in the short time that God has given to us.