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Wow, Paul's opening verse 1 in chapter 3 of Ephesians today reminded me that Paul literally wrote this letter to the church in Ephesus while he was in prison in Rome! "I, Paul, am a prisoner of Christ Jesus because of my preaching to you Gentiles." I think if we keep this fact in mind, Paul's words in this letter become all that more poignant and powerful. Could you ever imagine yourself being a prisoner of Jesus because of your preaching the Word to others? I think this is something we should really consider. Would you go to jail for Jesus? Why or why not? If you would go to jail for Jesus, then I challenge you to consider ways in your life that God may be asking to you indeed be like Paul "in chains for the Gospel" - even if you won't "literally" be going to jail any time soon. (I pray not!) Maybe those chains are that you don't spend as much time doing something that is counter-productive to the Gospel.
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in Ephesians titled "Paul's Imprisonment, his Prayers, and his Praise" is at this link. Below is a great image for Ephesians 3:18 from today's readings:
Great teachings from Paul today about unity in the body of Christ! Chapter 4 verses 4 through 6 are beautiful - "We are all one body, we have the same Spirit, and we have all been called to the same glorious future. There is only one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and there is only one God and Father, who is over us all and in us all and living through us all." Do you believe these words of Paul's? Do you believe that all of us in Christ are all one body? That we have the same Spirit? And that we have been called to the same glorious future? I like that last piece of verse 6 - God the Father is living through us all! Do you realize that God the Father, who is indeed over you, and is also literally living through you? This is powerful to consider...
Verses 14 and 15 I think are so important for each of us to meditate upon: "Then we will no longer be like children, forever changing our minds about what we believe because someone has told us something different or because someone has cleverly lied to us and made the lie sound like the truth. Instead, we will hold to the truth in love, becoming more and more in every way like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church." The thing that these verses remind me of is that indeed at some point we are all "children" in our faith. When we are new to Christianity we are certainly children who need others to lead us, disciple us, and help show us the way. And I guess as I think about this, we should always be like children before God - but I don't think we should always be children before humans. Because if we remain as children before humans, then we are at risk of "forever changing our minds about what we believe because someone has cleverly lied to us and make the lie sound like the truth." Has this ever happened to you? I know it has happened to me and it's scary to think about. I once heard a church pastor say that his most important job was to help his congregation become "self-feeders" when it comes to their faith. I thought this was fantastic and very wise! This pastor did not want his congregation to always rely on him and what he had to say on Sundays as their only source of spiritual food. This pastor wanted his congregation to be able to spiritually grow in other ways outside of Sunday services - through Bible study, small groups, and other spiritual disciplines. So, this may be a good time to ask - are you a "self-feeder" when it comes to your faith? Can you grow in your faith and find food for yourself spiritually outside of what you hear at church? If you're new to the faith, I wouldn't stress about this - but think about it. I do think each of us should aim to become "self-feeders." Why? Well, if we don't then we are so reliant on the words of other people that we could be misled down wrong paths. The one thing that I think really is critical for each of us in our journeys of becoming self-feeders is reading, studying, and really meditating upon Scripture. If we can become well grounded in Scripture then we can filter through the lens of the Bible what others are telling us. It is amazing how much "spiritual stuff" or rules or rituals that I hear is so "important to practice" from others that I don't see in the Bible! In fact, as I'm typing all of this, I will also say that I sincerely hope you don't take anything I say on this blog as Truth - it's a blog trying to draw out some practicalities and questions and reflections and commentary based on the Truth, the Bible - but what I write is not the Word. As Paul writes in verse 15 today, instead of remaining forever children in our faith before people, let us "hold to the truth in love, becoming more and more in every way like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church."
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in Ephesians titled "The Calling and the Conduct of the Christian" is at this link. Below is a great image from Ephesians 4:3 from today's readings -
Wow. It is rare that I will copy & paste 8 verses in a row here on this blog - because you can simply read the verses by clicking on the link above. However - I think these 8 verses of Paul's in Ephesians chapter 4 verses 17 through 24 bear repeating here and warrant our re-reading and really meditating on these verses. Please take a few minutes to really reflect and pray on these verses - "With the Lord's authority let me say this: Live no longer as the ungodly do, for they are hopelessly confused. Their closed minds are full of darkness; they are far away from the life of God because they have shut their minds and hardened their hearts against him. They don't care anymore about right and wrong, and they have given themselves over to immoral ways. Their lives are filled with all kinds of impurity and greed. But that isn't what you were taught when you learned about Christ. Since you have heard all about him and have learned the truth that is in Jesus, throw off your old evil nature and your former way of life, which is rotten through and through, full of lust and deception. Instead, there must be a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes. You must display a new nature because you are a new person, created in God's likeness--righteous, holy, and true."
Powerful verses above, eh? I love this teaching - there must be a spiritual renewal of our thoughts and attitudes! Has there been a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes? Is there currently a daily spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes? Or are you maybe on "cruise control" these days? A great teaching I heard once is that "you are either moving forward or you are sliding backwards. There is no stable middle ground." I believe this to be true in our spiritual life. We are either moving forward - continually renewing our thoughts and attitudes and displaying our new nature - or we are sliding backwards. Backsliding as some may say. I pray that each of us today will really take to heart these teachings of Paul's in Ephesians. Let us throw off our old evil nature and our former way of life, which is rotten through and through, full of lust and deception! Let us each and every day spiritually renew our thoughts and attitudes through Christ Jesus our Lord!
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in Ephesians titled "Leaving Our Old Ways Behind" is at this link. Below is a great image for Ephesians 4:25 from today's readings -
Ephesians chapter 5 is such an incredible chapter! I know I won't do it justice in this blog posting. There is so much I could dive into in nearly every verse. Actually, I will share this with you. I met with my Pastor a couple of days ago. And he shared with me that he is currently memorizing the entire book of Ephesians! I had shared with him that I'm just starting to memorize Scripture verses - and to invite you along with me on this journey at the bottom of each daily blog posting. Well, you know how Pastors are - they're always a step ahead! And my Pastor is memorizing the entire book of Ephesians... wow. He shared with me that as he's memorizing Ephesians he is amazed how some of the words and meanings of words of Scripture are coming alive to him in new ways! I believe it. I'm curious if anyone reading this today has ever memorized an entire book of the Bible? Or even a chapter? Please post up in the comments below if you have? I have actually downloaded 1 Corinthians 13 onto my Blackberry and I am hoping to memorize that chapter soon! Okay, back to Ephesians chapter 5. You know how I enjoy posting up YouTube videos these days, so I of course loved reading verses 19 & 20, which you'll see in this image below! :)
Ephesians 5:1-2 touches on a theme I've been thinking a lot about lately - living a life of love! - "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." (NIV) Have you ever meditated on what it means to live a life of love? I have occasionally. But I'm starting to camp out on this thought a lot more these days. I think it's in large part due to the impact 1 Corinthians 13 has had on me this past year. And it certainly fits in well with Jesus saying the 2 most important commandments are to love God and love people. But perhaps most significantly, I've been trying to live out this thought of "living a life of love" in real life a bit more these days. I definitely don't have it all figured out by a long shot! But I think living a life of love is something we should all seek. Not strive for. But seek. Or maybe "receive" is the better word. I think we can receive from Jesus the ability to live a life of love. I don't think we can get there on our own power. So, there's a lot more I could write about what I've been thinking about in regards to living a life of love. But let me at this point just encourage you to think about this concept. Living a life of love. Do you want to live a life of love? Think you can do this on your own? Or will you invite Jesus and the Holy Spirit into this process each and every day? How does 1 Corinthians 13 speak to you these days?
Worship God: Today's readings in Ephesians reminded me of Tenth Avenue North's song "Healing Begins:"
Has your soul been healed by God? Click here for Healing!
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on a verse of Scripture today: "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." Ephesians 4:2 NIV
Prayer Point: Pray that you are completely humble. Pray that you are patient. Pray that you bear with others in love.
Comments from You: What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!
p.s. Download our monthly Small Group study notes for our Chronological Bible readings at this link.