Ephesians 6

Vs. 7, “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people.” In our previous chapter, Paul had brought up the importance of submission and now continues that thought (vs. 1-9). Question: Why? Remember one of the major themes in his letter to the Ephesians is unity. By submitting to each other in Christ, this will help bring unity in the body. After husbands and wives, Paul addresses the bond between parents and children (vs. 1-4). Children were to obey parents, even when those parents might not be believers. Paul is drawing from the Old Testament commandment to honor parents (Exodus 20:12). I appreciate Paul’s reminder to the father’s to not be too harsh on their children (vs. 4). Paul ends the submission exhortation with slaves and masters (vs. 5-9). It’s hard for our culture to grasp this idea of slavery, especially in light of the negative connotation. Slavery in Paul’s time was quite common and part of life. While we don’t have this in our culture today, we do have employer/employee relationships that we can apply these truths to. The latter half of our chapter (vs. 10-24) is a beloved one as we are reminded of the full armor of God. A couple of years ago, I preached a sermon series on this passage called Armor Up; it is in the audio sermon section. It is a poignant reminder that we must be ready to battle against an enemy that is often unseen.

Regarding application…The Enabler. Vs. 18, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” Question: When should we pray? On all occasions! It is prayer that enables the believer to prevail in the spiritual battle. I’ve never been in a battle before, but I have played paintball! The Apostle Paul was right when he exhorts us to be alert. When you are in the heat of a paintball battle, all your senses are working in overdrive. If you want to win, you have to be super alert to all the situational circumstances around you. You have shout out to your teammates where the enemy is. You have encourage each other. You have to provide cover fire for them to advance. You have to defend each other. It is prayer that keeps us alert and primed for battle. Let us not neglect prayer as we realize we can’t do this on our own.

Ephesians 5

Vs. 1, “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children.” We often hear, “imitation is the biggest form of flattery.” Paul is reminding us that following the Lord’s example is of the utmost importance. If we follow the Lord, we must love others (vs. 1-2). But we can’t just claim the Beatles lyrics, “All you need is love.” There must be a response to the love by not living like the world (vs. 3-4). We should be careful with who we align ourselves to (vs. 5-14). We must be careful to exercise wisdom in every opportunity (vs. 15-18). When we are filled with the Holy Spirit (rather than filled with alcohol) we will be influenced in godly ways (vs. 19-20). The latter half of our chapter (vs. 21-33) involve Paul teaching us to submit; he uses marriage as an illustration. A quick cursory read may get some people jumping to conclusions. Paul is not saying women are to be slaves to their husbands, rather both submit to the Lord. Being a leader and example in the church doesn’t make us more powerful. We are all under the submission to the Lord, it’s just that each of us have a role to play. If husbands love their wives as the Christ loved the church, than very few issues would arise.

Regarding application…Living in Light. Vs. 8, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.” Light and darkness are easy metaphors for us to understand. As simple as it is, there is profound truth to this. Darkness describes the type of life we once lived. Notice the past tense in that previous sentence. Many Christians today feel like it’s not truly possible to live in the light. We misunderstand our true identity as new creations (II Corinthians 5:17). We may have a old muscle twitch from our sinful nature, but that doesn’t mean that we cannot live in the light when we sin. Jesus delivered us from the darkness to be in the light. May we live in the light and feel the warmth of God’s love. Last week was a difficult week for me, but I’m looking forward to the light of hope as the new week begins!

Ephesians 4

Vs. 1, “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” Paul now transitions the rest of his letter to teaching the Ephesian believers to their duty and responsibility in the Lord. Because faith needs to have a response, one of the overarching themes Paul now shares is this idea of walking as evidence of our practice. Question: How do we begin to do this? Be humble, gentle, patient in love (vs. 1-3). To the world system this looks like weakness, but for who are being saved it is the secrets to unity in the church! That unity comes with a strong foundation in our doctrine and belief (vs. 4-6). Just in case we thought that unity is being the same, Paul outlines that there is diversity in unity (vs. 7-11). Each of us have been called to use our gifts within the body of Christ (vs. 12-16). The latter half of our chapter (vs. 17-32) Paul exhorts the believers to not live the old way of the corrupted sinful nature.

Regarding application…Godly Kindness. Vs. 32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Question: You know what? Being kind is not easy! When you think about it, being kind requires hard work and sacrifice. I believe the real test of kindness is showing it to two groups of people: your family and complete strangers. I’ve found my general inclination is to take for granted my family when it comes to showing kindness. It’s something that God is continuing to convict me of in my heart. People who just pass by us everyday without a single thought is another challenge we face. I’m an introverted person, so I tend to just go about my day not wanting to be noticed when I go out. However, smiling and greeting people is something that I see is really a kind act to do. Question: Do you face any challenges in showing kindness? Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to guide and challenge us to show Godly kindness.

Ephesians 3

Vs. 6, “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.”  You may recall that Paul was in chains in Rome while writing this letter to the Ephesians.  Paul believed so much in this mystery of God’s revealed plan that he would be willing to be in prison and even die (vs. 1-13).  It was his hope and prayer that both Jew and Gentile would join together as one.  Jesus’ sacrifice would bridge the great gap between the two and finally bring reconciliation.  In the latter half of our chapter (vs. 14-21), Paul kneels before the Lord and is compelled to pray.  His intercessory prayer is that the Ephesian church would be empowered to fully grasp and be enabled to live for the Lord.  It’s quite a big prayer, but we have a bigger God!

Regarding application…Rooted in Christ.  Vs. 17, “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love.”  The ministry I serve in is called Roots.  Their former name was Dunamis which is the Greek word for power and this is also in our chapter today (vs. 10, 16).  God has given us the Dunamis to be Rooted in His one and only Son.  Question: How deep is your roots?  The more we know about the Lord, the more our roots will go down deep.  This week has been challenging for me in many ways.  Yet, I have found great encouragement from the scriptures as I consider Paul’s predicament.  He would not allow outward circumstances (prison, division in Epehsus) to keep the right Godly perspective.  Question: How was he able to do this?  He was rooted in Christ!

Ephesians 2

Vs. 4-5, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” Paul eloquently contrasts the vast difference between our former way of life and the new life we have in Christ (vs. 1-10). It is important for all believers to have such a perspective to appreciate what Christ has done for us. Though we were sinners, it is the work on the cross that enables us to be able to do good works. The latter section of our chapter (vs. 11-22) involves Paul striving to keep the unity in the church at Ephesus. Because a good majority of believers were Gentiles, Paul appeals to them. The sign of circumcision was never given to the Jews for pride, but to be a blessing to the Gentiles. Circumcision did not save them, for God looks at the circumcision of our hearts. Now that Jesus has finished the work on the cross, we can now bridge both Jews and Gentiles together.

Regarding application…Break Dividing Walls. Vs. 14, “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.” This wall that Paul speaks of was the wall of the Law (vs. 14) that separated the two. Question: Are their walls up in our cultures, our church, our family, our personal lives? Remember, that the church in Ephesus needed to remember the unity they had together. Many of us have heard, “Don’t be a part of the problem, but be a part of the solution.” I suppose there will always be a reason to put up dividing walls in our lives. Culture has always been a delicate issue in the church. The world’s population is exploding and this is causing cultures to mix together now more than ever. Let’s not allow our differences to outweigh the biggest common denominator that we have in Christ.

Ephesians 1

Vs. 1, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To God’s holy people in Ephesus, d the faithful in Christ Jesus.” Indeed, Paul was writing this letter to those who believed and were set apart for the Lord. Paul follows up his greeting (vs. 1-2) with a wonderful blessing (vs. 3-14) and prayer for the church (vs. 15-23). In the blessings section (vs. 3-14) we are reminded of the multiple rich blessings we have in Christ; being chosen predestined, elected, adopted, redeemed, forgiveness of sins, grace, marked with a seal, and the Holy Spirit! The latter half of our chapter (vs. 15-23) consists of one of the most beautiful prayers of Paul. All of Paul’s letters (except for Galatians) include an opening prayer. He hoped and prayed that the believers in Ephesus would desire and know more about the Lord (vs. 15-18). And ultimately, Paul prayed that they would know the supremacy of Christ (vs. 19-23).

Regarding application…Guaranteed! Vs. 13, “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.” Question: How do we know if something will be binding? How do we know if something will last? We seal it with a guarantee! When I worked at the bank, we had a “signature guarantee” stamp that only officers of the bank could use. The stamp’s purpose was to seal (guarantee) a document was signed by the authentic person selling said investments.   The Holy Spirit is our guarantee that the investment that Jesus made for us is real! Unlike product fresh guarantees don’t last forever, our guarantee is for eternity! Brothers and sisters let this reminder be a confident boost for you as you go about this week.

Ephesians 6

Vs. 11, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”  I love this picture of being a solider for the Lord!  But, we first open up our chapter with Paul continuing the instructions of how to live in our relationships with family and those whom we work for (vs. 1-9).  Certainly, Paul is not advocating slavery in the sense that we may be thinking.  In fact, Paul exhorts masters to treat slaves with respect, fear, and sincerity of heart (vs. 9).  Paul then transits and reminds the Ephesians about who are real enemy is (vs. 10-20).  For if we live in such a way that glorifies God, then will certainly be opposition.

Regarding application…Prayer Warrior.  Vs. 18, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”  Question: When should we pray?  When we eat?  When we wake?  When we sleep?  When we are at church?  Paul exhorts us to pray on all occasions!  As a warrior, that person must be strong and work out physically.  As a Christian warrior, our workout regime is in the word and prayer!  Prayer is how we stay strong!  Part of our problem is that we live life so busy, we forget to pray.  Prayers of joy, prayers of sorrow, prayers of supplication…and I love how we are to pray for each other!

Ephesians 5

Vs. 1, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children.”  By the Holy Spirit, Paul has just outlined how we should live out our lives in the end of the previous chapter.  We should conduct ourselves in ways that bring glory to God.  Question: Why?  Because of the love of Christ (vs. 2).   There are many worldly temptations that can come our way (vs. 3-6), but we are not to partner up with such people and actions (vs. 7).  Paul continues with this very important reminder: We are children of light (vs. 8-10).  What does light do to darkness?  It exposes it (vs. 11-14).  We were once sinners condemned to darkness, but not anymore.  Just like in Philippians, Paul exhorts the Christians in Ephesus to be very mindful and careful of how they live (vs. 15-21).  Because the family is so important to the Lord, Paul gives some practical advice to the married families (vs. 22-33).  How husbands and wives in the church treated each other was very important as a testimony of the Lord.  It’s important to understand the church was very radical when it came to the role of women.  Many are quick to jump to conclusion that Paul is being chauvinistic.   The most important thing is that both husband and wife were accommodating each other and Paul uses Christ and the church as the example.

Regarding application…Living in the Light.  Vs. 8, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.”  Many of us know the comfort that light brings to our lives.  The last few days have been quite busy with moving into a new residence.  I was putting together some electronic devices and was doing it with little light.  I was being lazy and was trying to do plug in everything without seeing completely.  Finally, I realized that I didn’t know which slot to put something in and knew that my flashlight was upstairs.  Eventually, I resigned myself to going to get it.  After finding my light source, it was so much easier locating where all the devices were to be plugged in.  Light helps us find things.  Finding things from the light pleases God (vs. 10).  Let this little light of ours shine in all that we do!

Ephesians 1

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.”  What a glorious opening of prayer (doxology) that Paul opens the letter with (vs. 3-14).  Paul was trying to elaborate on the reality of the wonders of the salvation that has been granted to us!  Throughout the section, we see an emphasis of being “in Christ” &“in him”.  To this day, we share that emphasis as many of us end our own prayers “in Jesus’ name, Amen”.  Here we are presented with the concept that God has chosen us (vs. 4-5, 11).  To put in layman’s term and in my humble understanding, I think there is combination of God choosing us and us choosing God.  I know there is much debate regarding Election (predestination) vs. Free will, but I will leave that for the experts.  But, another wonderful reminder is that we are forgiven through the blood of Christ (vs. 7).  It’s so evident that love that Paul has for the Ephesians and his prayer of the eyes of their open being opened to the Lord (vs. 18).  We keep our eyes fixed on Jesus who is the head of the church (vs. 22).

Regarding application…Guaranteed!  Vs. 13, “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.”  Question: How do we know if something will be binding?  How do we know if something will last?  We seal it with a guarantee!  When I worked at the bank we had a “signature guarantee” stamp that only officers of the bank could use to seal (guarantee) a document was signed by the authentic person selling said investments.   The Holy Spirit is our guarantee that the investment that Jesus made for us is real!  Unlike product fresh guarantee’s don’t last forever, our guarantee is for eternity!  Brothers and sisters, let this reminder be a confident boost for you as the weekend unfolds.

QT – Ephesians 6

Vs. 10, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.”  Victory or defeat?  Notice the only way we are strong…is in His mighty power.  Because the enemy has been defeated~~~! There are times we may feel like we are losing the war and battles within…with our lives and our relationship with our families (vs. 1-4).  But, God has the prescription for victory when we put the full armor of God (vs. 10-20).

Regarding application…Pray Always.  Vs. 18, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”  With the CTC Youth retreat, I’m especially reminded of how important prayer is going to be.  Brothers & Sisters…we are told to be alert and pray for each other.  Let’s start gearing up for what God is going to do!  Those of you who are part of the ministry at CTC…pray!  Those of you who are not, I ask that you pray for us!  We pray in faith and believe in faith that God is going to do an amazing work once again.  Pray!