Scripture reading for August 25th: Ephesians 1
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:” (Ephesians 1:1)
Paul opened his letter to the Ephesian church by addressing them as ‘saints’, the ‘faithful in Christ Jesus.’ Paul always tried to help believers view themselves as Christ would–new creations made holy by the blood of their Savior! He emphasized their continued faithfulness to stay in Christ and proceeded to give them a beautiful description of their standing with Christ. They had been chosen by Him “before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight.” (vs 4) They had also been adopted as God’s sons through Christ. (vs 5) They also had been given a knowledge of the ‘mystery of His will.’ (vs 9) They were also ‘marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.’ (vs 13)
Paul then recorded a prayer to help us to pray for continued understanding. “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe.” (Ephesians 1:17-19a)
Believers have a second set of eyes given them–the ‘eyes of your heart.’ These eyes are opened through prayer and the infilling of the Holy Spirit. As God’s Word is allowed access, the Spirit brings light to our inner man and our faith expands to give purpose and meaning to each day. We can know Christ and His provision for us!
Scripture reading for September 22nd: Ephesians 1:1-23
Paul wrote a wonderful letter to the church at Ephesus that is a legacy to us today. Paul describes who we are in Christ and records some classic prayers that he as a pastor prayed for the church. This book has been an encouragement to Christians of every age and time and speaks to us today from the heart of God! It’s opening address, “To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus”, can be taken personally by those who belong to Christ! A saint is one set apart for God by faith in Jesus Christ.
“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. For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy ad blameless in His sight. In love, He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will–to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us in all wisdom and understanding.” (Ephesians 1:3-8)
As we read Paul’s opening call to these faithful saints to praise God, we are swept into consideration of what God, our Father, has done for us. The magnitude of our blessings–“every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms”–is more than we can comprehend! We note that God initiates everything that we receive. He chose us to be in Christ before the foundation of the world. (Romans 5:8) He provided His Son, Jesus Christ, for our redemption through the shedding of His blood that we might receive forgiveness of our sins and adoption as sons. God did it all with a lavish display of His love in Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection!
“And you were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.” (Ephesians 1:13) It is by faith, through believing in Christ, that we are included in the company of the saints. The Holy Spirit is a gift, marking us as His own! What a revelation of the love of God!