Ephesians 1: 1 – 14 (NLT)
“This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus.
I am writing to God’s holy people in Ephesus, who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus.
2 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. 4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. 6 So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. 7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. 8 He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.
9 God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ—which is to fulfill his own good plan. 10 And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. 11 Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, (or we have become God’s inheritance) for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.
12 God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God. 13 And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. 14 The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.”
Paul is writing Ephesians from where he is under house arrest in Rome. I’m not surprised that he starts off this book with praise to God. Once again, he wants to underline to that new church that God is supreme. The worship of Artemis and all the culture and wealth that brings to Ephesus has nothing on our God. They are not to feel like the underdogs. Just look at who they belong to.
Let’s look at what we can praise God for:
God loved us before He even made the world. This idea of God being omniscient is hard to wrap out finite minds around. Let’s look at the definition from dictionary.com:
“having complete or unlimited knowledge, awareness, or understanding; perceiving all things”
Before God created the world, He knew what was going to happen. His creation would reject Him, and would need to be redeemed. Yet He went ahead with the creation plan. God loves each one of us, and He always has.
God decided to adopt us into His own family. We belong to Him! This is what God wanted to do and it gave Him great pleasure (v. 5) Great pleasure! Isn’t that just amazing!
God’s love for us was so great, He was willing to “purchase our freedom with the blood of His Son” (v. 7) In fact, He chose us in Christ “to be holy and without fault in His eyes” (v. 4) This is something I find very hard to comprehend. If I had a child who decided to leave home and ignore me because he/she thought they were much smarter than me, that would create a huge rift. But then if that child actually did things to harm me? Would I be willing to sacrifice a huge part of myself – even my life – to get that child back on track? I suspect I would be very hurt by what had happened, but would also think that child needed to ask for forgiveness and make some amends before I would make any sacrifices on my part. I am soooo thankful God is not like me!
“He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding” (v. 8) Again we can be so thankful that God imparts His wisdom to us. Can you think of a time when you were unsure about what to do? You prayed and thought over principles given in the Bible as you tried to come to a decision. As you prayed and thought, a decision came to you that you felt was the right one – and in retrospect, you realize was the right decision. That is God showering you with his wisdom and understanding.
God has a plan for this universe. “He will bring everything together under the authority of Christ – everything in heaven and on earth” (v10) We are part of this plan. If you are anything like me, you have probably experienced times in your life when you wonder why. Why has something happened? Why do I feel like life is so much dull routine? Does God have something for me to do? Verses like this one help me realize that God does have a plan, and I am part of that plan. So when you experience that unrest, turn to God and ask for His leading on what He wants for you next.
Paul goes on to say that that the Jews and Gentiles both belong to God through Christ. The Jews can no longer claim special status.
Finally, we can praise God for giving us the Holy Spirit. “And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. 14 The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.” (v.13 – 14)
As you think back over these verses posted today, I want you to think about specific reasons you can praise God for. It may be just repeating some of the facts given in today’s verses. But also think of some special moments in your life where you know God stepped in and loved you. Then praise Him for that, and all the special moments that lie ahead for you.
Our song for today is Who You Are to Me by Chris Tomlin