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!
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!
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.
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!
Vs. 8, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.” A timely reminder in dark times. We look to the one example that was perfect in the life of Jesus (vs. 2). Our bodies and lives are temple of God and we should keep it clean and holy (vs. 1-7)…whenever I have guests over, it’s only natural to want to clean my house and make it look nice. But, we have Jesus over everyday in our lives, so we should ensure we are clean for our most honored guest! Paul also uses the beauty of marriage as a wonderful example of the relationship the church has with Jesus (vs. 21-33).
Regarding application…Wise Opportunities. Vs. 15-16, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” There are always going to be opportunities in your life to make wise choices. You are challenged daily to be careful in not making foolish decisions. We just finished the wisdom literature from Proverbs & Ecclesiastes concerning being wise. Paul is not talking about career opportunities, but church and Godly living opportunities. Cherish the gift of the church and your current church you attend. Find ways to be plugged in and participate in what God is doing in His local church. Be wise about being loyal and giving your best to build His church where He has you.
Vs. 1, “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” It’s about reaching our potential. So often, I think we fall short in our lives and as a church because we don’t reach high enough. The standard we see here is impossible…without the Lord! When we live a life that mirrors the world, we will have all the struggles that Paul is exhorting us not to have. Notice the emphasis on body and how each of us are needed to help grow the church.
Regarding application…Devil’s Foothold. Vs. 27, “and do not give the devil a foothold.” In our ministry down here in So. Cal, we are going to our bi-annual retreat up the mountain. It is these times that we must be very prayerful and mindful of not allowing the devil to get a foothold in our lives. Satan is waiting to for the opportune time to get his foot in the door of our lives. In the summer, when I open the door to the house…I always try to make sure I close it quickly. If not, then flies can come in. Likewise, we must be careful to close the door on evil! Don’t open your hearts and lives to things that can stumble you. It’s times like these when we have to be on alert!
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.”Question: What is this mystery? We have learned that the church is the body and temple…now we learn that the church is a mystery? Now, understand that the mystery Paul was talking about was not the same as what we think a mystery is. The mystery is this: that Christ is risen and is the Head of a new body made up of Jews and Gentiles and of all tribes and peoples of the earth. That is big because some used to think it was an exclusive thing. Remember that the audience of Ephesus was a mixed group of ethnic diversity. Jesus would say he would build His church (Matt. 16:18)…and He uses us to help build that church! Consider everytime we go to church that you are a construction worker building the spiritual church…so many times we go to church to receive, but the more we understand church, giving is even more important!
Regarding application…Immeasurably More. Vs. 20, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” When I think of this verse, I can’t help but think of the innocence and imagination of a child. So many things can amaze & amuse a child beyond their imagination and to see that purity & excitement is a lesson in life. I think it is safe to say we underestimate the power of God. While many amazing miracles were done throughout the Bible, realize that none of those miracles ever saved a man from eternal death. The most amazing miracle that is immeasurable for people is the love that Christ gave to us. Even when we were sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). And the spiritual blessings and joys He gives to us both in this life and one day in eternal life will continue to surprise us beyond belief. May we open the eyes of our hearts to see that which is not tangible and have the faith to see His power at work within us.
Vs. 6, “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” The first chapter in Ephesians talked about the possessions (blessings) we have in Christ, and now chapter two talks about the position we have in Christ! Sometimes we think if we had the position of power, we could do great things (President, Manager, Leader, etc.)…however, we do have an incredible position. Though we may not have power physcially in this world (Remember, Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter)…we have power in the spiritual realm! Our previous position was dead to sin…and now we are made alive in Christ (Vs. 5). We see Paul’s passion in reminding the Gentiles & Jews and all of us that it is not our heritage that makes the person, it is who we are in Christ and Christ alone!
Regarding application…Breaking Dividing Walls. Vs. 14, “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility…” When Jesus died on the cross…the veil was torn in two…the dividing walls fell down so that we are all equal in the sight of God. Historically…In the Jewish temple…there was a wall that separated the “Court of the Gentiles” from the rest of the structure and on this wall was a sign giving warning that any Gentile who passed beyond it would be killed. Jesus broke down that wall! He broke down the physical & spiritual walls! Now the question is: What walls do we need to break down? What walls do you need to break down? These could be walls of hostility and hurt with parents, these could be walls of division in our churches, these could be walls of hurt with friends, etc. Let’s continue to break the the facade’s (the masks that we put up to protect ourselves)…It’s okay to show our weaknesses and struggles. That’s why we have each other to support (i.e. SAG groups).
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!