Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Ephesians Part 2 Chapter 1 – I Got A Great Deal

Ephesians Chapter 1:

(1) From Paul, chosen by God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus.
To God's people who live in Ephesus and are faithful followers of Christ Jesus. (2) I pray that God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ will be kind to you and will bless you with peace!

Note in this passage Paul is writing to people he knows are faithful followers of Christ. He has gone out of his way to get to know something about the people he is writing to.

Another interesting note is that Paul calls Jesus Lord. Remember, Lord is not a name, it is a title. Lord, coming from the Greek word Kurios means, master, owner, a worthy prince or person in charge. It was a title used for Jesus Christ, Paul as a Roman knew very well the implications of calling Jesus Lord.

How do we know if someone is a faithful follower of Christ?
How do know if we are a faithful follower of Christ?
What does it mean to be blessed with peace?
How do we see Christ?
Is He our Ruler? Prince? Is He in charge of everything that goes on in our lives?

Christ Brings Spiritual Blessings
(3) Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ for the spiritual blessings that Christ has brought us from heaven! (4) Before the world was created, God had Christ choose us to live with him and to be his holy and innocent and loving people. (5) God was kind and decided that Christ would choose us to be God's own adopted children. (6) God was very kind to us because of the Son he dearly loves, and so we should praise God. (7-8) Christ sacrificed his life's blood to set us free, which means that our sins are now forgiven. Christ did this because God was so kind to us. God has great wisdom and understanding, (9) and by what Christ has done, God has shown us his own mysterious ways. (10) Then when the time is right, God will do all that he has planned, and Christ will bring together everything in heaven and on earth.
(11) God always does what he plans, and that's why he appointed Christ to choose us. (12) He did this so that we Jews would bring honor to him and be the first ones to have hope because of him. (13) Christ also brought you the truth, which is the good news about how you can be saved. You put your faith in Christ and were given the promised Holy Spirit to show that you belong to God. (14) The Spirit also makes us sure that we will be given what God has stored up for his people. Then we will be set free, and God will be honored and praised.

There are many islands in the ocean, specifically the Pacific Ocean where we only see the tips that come out of the water. In many of those mountains, much like icebergs, we only see the tip. Truth is, for some of these mountains, if we saw the entire mountain from its base, to the tip, above the water, we would see a mountain as large or as tall as Mt. Everest.

Our salvation, our experience and walk with God is much like the tips of these mountains. Since the beginning of time, God had a plan. A plan that had each of us in mind. That is an unfathomable concept, that God, would love each of us enough to have had plans for us since the beginning of time. Yet, this is the case, God has had a plan for us since before we were born. Now I believe we have a choice as to follow that plan or not, but it doesn't change the fact that God has a plan for each of us.

Many may try to ponder on the concept of this thought, I would discourage it, I don’t think any of us with our limited ability can begin to understand the magnitude of God’s love for us, just accept that it exists.

In this process God has a detailed plan. We can see from these verses that God exists, as does His son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. We see clear and distinct responsibilities of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. They are clearly three different entities, yet, with the same purpose while working together in different ways. The plan is detailed and it is complete. The plans purpose is to provide the best for us, the things that will make us complete in every way.

I must admit, I don’t want this to be discussions about God making everything happen. I will also admit I am a free-will person, in other words, God gave each of us a free-choice and a free-ill to do what we want. That said, I can’t deny that God’s hand is involved in our lives.

What does it mean when it says that God adopted us to be His Children?
What were the specific roles of God, Jesus, and The Holy Spirit?
Did we chose God, or did He choose us? What does this mean?
What did God promise us to show us that we are saved and belong to Him?
What does that gift that God has given us, do for us?

Paul's Prayer
(15) I have heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God's people. (16) So I never stop being grateful for you, as I mention you in my prayers. (17) I ask the glorious Father and God of our Lord Jesus Christ to give you his Spirit. The Spirit will make you wise and let you understand what it means to know God. (18) My prayer is that light will flood your hearts and that you will understand the hope that was given to you when God chose you. Then you will discover the glorious blessings that will be yours together with all of God's people.
(19) I want you to know about the great and mighty power that God has for us followers. It is the same wonderful power he used (20) when he raised Christ from death and let him sit at his right side in heaven. (21) There Christ rules over all forces, authorities, powers, and rulers. He rules over all beings in this world and will rule in the future world as well. (22) God has put all things under the power of Christ, and for the good of the church he has made him the head of everything. (23) The church is Christ's body and is filled with Christ who completely fills everything.

There is an interesting concept here, Paul is talking to God. He is what many call praying, some maybe meditating, no matter what term you want to put on it, we see Paul speaking to God.

Paul isn’t just praying about people he knows nothing about, he has gone out of his way to find out something about them. He cares for them, they are more than just names on a message board, or faces he has come across at a shopping center, they are real people with real needs. In that regard we can all learn lessons about prayer. When praying for someone, do more than just saying words, make the effort to become involved in lives. It is difficult in today’s world; we have to make an effort to get to know people via the internet, message boards, chat rooms and every other media that is popularized with the World Wide Web. Also realize that while we should recognize the importance of face to face associations, we can’t ignore the reality of how relationships are built in todays world. When asking for prayer, or praying for someone else, make the effort to do the research, know something about the person you are asking to pray for you, and in return know something about the person you are praying for. That is part of what prayer is, sharing in each others lives and taking those concerns before the creator of the universe.

Also notice that Paul isn’t afraid to call on God to work, nor for Christ or the Holy Spirit to do their part, he mentions them all. I like this, it reminds me of King David in the Old Testament holding God to His Word. I know that God will do it, but it shows a faith in God that I believe He appreciates. It also helps show a open and honest relationship with God that He wants from each of us.

I think we often have trouble with the concept of an open and honest relationship, that don’t change the fact though that this is what we are to strive for, openness and honesty, not just with each other but with God. True this concept is difficult with each other, I know it is difficult between us and God, but that don't change the fact that this type of relationship is something we should try to have. Also notice here that Paul isn’t even through his letter and he is already praying.

How important was prayer to Paul?
How important is prayer in our lives?
What is prayer?
How do we talk to God?
What are ways we can make sure we know the people we are praying for?

Closing comments:

Remember the first posting on this topic. We are looking at Ephesians to see how this church became the incredible, dynamic church it did. Also remember that each of us are a part of The Church, whether through your local congregation, or through a ministry like The Virtual Pew, we are the Church. The Church is not a building, the church is a people. That said, there are specific ministries that specific churches carry out. The Virtual Pew is a ministry that seeks to reach out to The Lost, The Last, and The Least. We also seek to reach out to those that for whatever reason haven’t fit into the local church. Our hope and prayer is that for those who can, get them plugged in in some way with local believers, face to face, hand in hand. For those that can’t, then we work together to be the church that Christ wants.

Christ loves the Church so much He calls it His bride. He has a purpose bigger and with more potential than any of us can imagine. How will we be a part of that?

Several things from Ephesians 1.

God has a plan. Where are we in the process of that plan and how do we fit in?
Paul cared about the people he was reaching out to. They had a positive reputation for the things they had done. What type of reputation do we have? Do we care about each other and those that God is sending our direction?

Paul spent time in prayer, early on he spent time in prayer. Do we take seriously the prayer board we have at The Virtual Pew? Do we really take the time to pray for each other like we should? Are we praying for a name, or are we praying for a person? Do we let people know about us so our prayers can be effective, and do we really pray effective prayers for those we know?

Next week, we will take a look at Ephesians Chapter 2. That passage follows:

From Death to Life
(1) In the past you were dead because you sinned and fought against God. (2) You followed the ways of this world and obeyed the devil. He rules the world, and his spirit has power over everyone who doesn't obey God. (3) Once we were also ruled by the selfish desires of our bodies and minds. We had made God angry, and we were going to be punished like everyone else.

(4-5)But God was merciful! We were dead because of our sins, but God loved us so much that he made us alive with Christ, and God's wonderful kindness is what saves you. (6) God raised us from death to life with Christ Jesus, and he has given us a place beside Christ in heaven. (7) God did this so that in the future world he could show how truly good and kind he is to us because of what Christ Jesus has done. (8) You were saved by faith in God, who treats us much better than we deserve. This is God's gift to you, and not anything you have done on your own. (9) It isn't something you have earned, so there is nothing you can brag about. (10) God planned for us to do good things and to live as he has always wanted us to live. That's why he sent Christ to make us what we are.

United by Christ

(11) Don't forget that you are Gentiles. In fact, you used to be called "uncircumcised" by those who take pride in being circumcised. (12) At that time you did not know about Christ. You were foreigners to the people of Israel, and you had no part in the promises that God had made to them. You were living in this world without hope and without God, (13) and you were far from God. But Christ offered his life's blood as a sacrifice and brought you near God.

(14) Christ has made peace between Jews and Gentiles, and he has united us by breaking down the wall of hatred that separated us. Christ gave his own body (15) to destroy the Law of Moses with all its rules and commands. He even brought Jews and Gentiles together as though we were only one person, when he united us in peace. (16) On the cross Christ did away with our hatred for each other. He also made peace between us and God by uniting Jews and Gentiles in one body. (17) Christ came and preached peace to you Gentiles, who were far from God, and peace to us Jews, who were near God. (18) And because of Christ, all of us can come to the Father by the same Spirit. (19) You Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens with everyone else who belongs to the family of God. (20)You are like a building with the apostles and prophets as the foundation and with Christ as the most important stone. (21) Christ is the one who holds the building together and makes it grow into a holy temple for the Lord. (22) And you are part of that building Christ has built as a place for God's own Spirit to live.

Oh Yea, here is that contact information again.

The Virtual Pew
P.O. Box 17731
Wichita, KS 67217

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To become a part of The Virtual Pew, visit, http://www.thevirtualpew.com/ To learn more about me visit http://www.furches.org/ I am also active on MySpace at: http://www.myspace.com/mikefurches I have another blog at http://blog.myspace.com/mikefurches To visit the Hollywood Jesus group at MySpace with membership by numerous Hollywood Jesus reviewers visit: http://groups.myspace.com/hollywoodjesus For a more in depth weekly study and conversation you an visit: http://virtualpewsermon.blogspot.com/ where you can access deeper teaching and ultimately videos for viewing and teaching. You can contact me via email at mike@furches.org or mike@thevirtualpew.com For those interested in knowing more about my own story, contact me for a free e-copy of my book The Keystone Kid in pre-edit form.

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