Devotional # 95. 7/14/14. Ephesians 1:1-5.
News and Prayer Request. I am excited to say that I am going with a team to Hungary this Friday (7/18) to help Way of Hope (www.wayofhope.co.uk) with some English camps. We’ll be teaching Hungarian kids who to read and speak English but we get to give them Bible lessons and develop relationships with them. This is important to this study because this Devotional was started to minister to kids who have attended these English camps in the past. Needless to say, there will not be Devotionals for the next two weeks but I hope that some of the kids from these coming camps will be interested in receiving Jesus’ salvation. They might even want to start getting this Devotional. Please pray for these things in the coming weeks.
Ephesians Intro. Last week we finished the book of Galatians and now we start the book of Ephesians. As with Galatians, this book is named for the place that Paul’s letter was going. Ephesus was the second-largest city of Rome. It is present day Izmir, Turkey. This letter was written from prison in Rome around 60-62 AD (Source 1, p. 1801).
In February of this year our pastor Troy had us open our Bible to the book of Ephesians and put our finger anywhere. He told us wherever we put a finger, if it was in chapters 1-3 then we’d see doctrine of what God did for us. Chapters 1-3 show the things Christians have. If we put our finger somewhere in chapters 4-6 it would show us how to walk the Christian life, but we wouldn’t understand it until we get chapters 1-3. So keep that in mind (and I’m sure I’ll remind you!) as we move through the book that chapters 1-3 are “theological, emphasizing New Testament doctrine” and chapter 4-6 are “practical and focus on Christian behavior” (Source 1, p. 1801).
v. 1. Paul names himself as the author in the same format he did in Galatians (see Galatians 1:1-5, Devotional #87 for more). He states that his position and mission aren’t according to his will but according to the “will of God.” Who can argue with that?! He is writing not just “to the saints who are in Ephesus” but to the “faithful in Christ Jesus.” This is a double confirmation that this is meant for those who “God has set apart from sin to Himself” (Source 1, p. 1803). It is important that we keep this in mind as we continue with the chapter we’ll see the idea of “predestination” and that God knows exactly what is going to happen.
vv. 2-5. Notice how Paul starts speaking, this is how we should approach our fellow believers: with encouragement. “Grace to you and peace” but that doesn’t just come from Paul, it comes from “the Father” and “Jesus.” What an amazing thing to think that God wanted to greet and encourage the believers in a certain area – and beyond that that He would give Paul the authority to give that message…from prison no less! But after faithfully giving the message, Paul can’t help but give praise to God. This is how we should pray: recognizing that we’re speaking to the infinite Creator of the Universe. We don’t get to just start off with a “to-do” list of what we want God to take care of. No, in recognizing Who we approach it should humble us, it should move us to worship Him, since we wouldn’t be approaching Him with our requests if we didn’t think He was bigger than us and therefore actually able to answer our prayers in the first place! This should be our daily mindset: God has blessed us! I like that Paul doesn’t even mention the tangible blessings that God has given us on this earth. He names the “spiritual” blessings. First, there is our salvation (having “chose us” and “made us accepted”). Second, making us “holy” and able to stand in front of Him without being fully obliterated. Third, adopting us as ‘heirs” (remember Galatians 3:26-29, Devotional 90 when we talked about “heirs” and inheritance?). Fourth, what a blessing that God is good (Psalm 119:68) and that “His will” is good! Fifth, “the praise of the glory of His grace” is one that we might miss or skip. Many times people ask “why am I here?” or “what is the purpose of life?” The reason we were created was to glorify God! Of course our selfish, human mind tells us that doesn’t sound very fun. But when you do what God says and start to see the positive change in your life you realize that the more you allow God’s will over your own the better off you are. We glorify God (Ephesians 1:12-14, Philippians 2:13 and 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12) first and foremost. We see that the empty hole in our life can only be filled when we accept Jesus sacrificing Himself for our sins and then giving praise to God. If you haven’t done it then you can’t knock it!
Conclusion. Remember that I will not be able to send any Devotionals on July 21st & 28th but if you do miss the Devotionals, use it as a reminder. Be praying about the kids in camp and that they would put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ!
This week Ephesians chapter 1 showed us some very real applications to our lives and we only covered Paul’s opening greeting! Notice that the 5 items that are “spiritual” blessing are all because of Jesus (“in Christ”, “by Jesus Christ” and “accepted in the Beloved.”) God, having known us and known we would be His children before the world was even created (“before the foundation of the world”), loved us so much that He sent His Son to die for our sins (John 3:16). No wonder we get to spend eternity praising God for His love and grace!
Source 1: John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, 1997.