Ephesians

Ephesians Chapter 6

Chapter 6 opens with the instruction for children to obey their parents; this is an awesome commandment because it comes with a promise attached.  For parents, it is clear when there is a violation of verse 1.  However, verse 4 is a direct instruction to parents, Fathers (and mothers),do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord, Ephesians 6:4. At times Parents are unaware when they violate the do not exasperate (to cause irritation or annoyance to, to excite the anger) your children instruction from the Lord.

While sitting with my teenaged daughter one evening, she shared with me stories her friends had about their parents.  These stories did not put their parenting in the best light.  Taking a deep breath, I asked the following question, "Do you ever talk about me?"  Her response, "Only when you deserve it." Ouch!  That was a harsh answer.  Putting my pride aside I asked for an example of a time I deserved it.  Unfortunately, it didn't take her long to come up with one.  She said, sometimes I come home in a bad mood, from traffic, work or something else.  I will act grumpy with her even though it has nothing to do with her.  She is right; my behavior is not fair to her.  I don't like it when another adult acts that way toward me, it is not ok for me to mistreat her.  As a mother, sometimes I miss parenting fail moments.  I'm thankful my daughter is at an age where she can articulate her feelings.  It saddens me to think of the moments my actions caused discouragement or anger when she was too young to verbalize it.

There are biblical examples of parents misbehaving in ways that lead to disastrous family dynamics, Rebekah and Isaac pitting their twin sons against each other or Jacob's favoritism of Joseph over all of his other children.  Yes, God did work all things together for His good.  These parenting examples are not ones we'd like to follow. 

 As modern-day well-meaning parents, we can provoke our children to anger and discouragement in ways that are not as obvious to us.  The following behavior can negatively affect our relationship with our children.  Having a double standard can be infuriating to children.  If a snack before dinner is not allowed for them, then it is not approved for us.  If we expect our kids to listen to what we say, we should hear them out, avoiding the temptation to interrupt.  When disciple is needed the consequence should be in proportion to the action.  For example, if a child doesn't make their bed one morning because they were playing a video game.  Restricting gameplay for a month is not proportional.  Comparison to others and constant criticism can make a child believe they are not good enough.  Finally, withholding loving actions when they misbehave, can send the message love is conditional. 

Being a parent is a blessing that comes with great responsibility. As seriously as we take the verse that commands children to obey parents, we should be careful not to anger our children.  If you find that you have blown it, ask your child for forgiveness.  Their relationship with us can help or hinder the relationship with their heavenly Father.  Parents, who they can see, demonstrating humility, unconditional love, consistency, mercy, and patience will help them enter a trusting relationship with a God they can not see.

Ephesians Chapter 5

Today's chapter can be summed up into 4 parts which we will dive into. Walk in love; Walk in light; Walk in wisdom and Marriage/Christ and the church.

Walk in love.

Imagine all the things in this world that would change if we simply walked in love? Go ahead and take a moment and reflect on this…

Famine would be erased because people would share their food and water. War would be a thing of history because love always puts the other first and keeps no records of wrongs. Homelessness would be eradicated, human trafficking erased and much of the suffering in this world would be alleviated. 

We are called by God to walk in this radical love, even when it's not reciprocated or when it's hard to give. Love should be the fruit of our existence.

Walk in light

Light is beautiful, light is truth, and the light will set us free. What areas of your life need the exposure of the light of Gods grace? 

At first, light in a dark room will be bright and can cause some pain, however, freedom is found in the light. 

We are called to be messengers of light, how might God use you to shine the light in some dark places?  Ponder this for a moment in light of love and Gods grace.

Walk in wisdom

We are warned in the scripture that the day in which we live gravitates towards evil. That human nature loves sin and brings with it much destruction and ultimately leads to death. 

Wisdom is the power from God to understand right and wrong and to follow truth. Wisdom comes from God, but we must choose it. It's a daily decision to trust God, to throw off foolish ways and to be filled with the Spirit. The promise is that walking in wisdom will bring great joy and happiness, and a heart that sings songs to the Lord. 

What decisions are you facing today that require Gods wisdom? 

Marriage/Christ and the church

In our individualistic culture, submission is often seen as a weakness. However, God paints a different picture and says that submission in love actually brings freedom. 

Submission to God acknowledges that He is all powerful, all knowing and in total control. It is the antidote to worry and fear.

Husbands and wives submitting and loving each other in this tandem waltz, brings a deeper love and a profound sense of security. It defuses the falsehood of individualism and when God is placed in the center of the relationship, the scripture says this cord of three strands, cannot be broken.

Christ demonstrated this on the cross when He laid down His life for His bride… the church. Because of this, we as believers now have eternal life, a relationship with God and the gift of the Holy Spirit who now resides in us. 

Wow! 

With joy today, submit to God the areas of your life that you’ve been holding onto. Take time to mend broken relationships and enjoy the freedom that comes from obedience.

Ephesians Chapter 4

Family can often times be messy.  Family can be such a blessing but it can also feel very painful.  I believe that this is because family members are often the people that we are closest with, so when a brother or sister says something hurtful it cuts deep.  On the other hand when family is done right, it is very rewarding.  It is funny. Some of my best and worst memories are with family. 

One of the things I love about Church of the Chimes is the value that we place on “Life Together”.  We find view church much like that of a family.  We value our time together. We strive to forgive, to be patient, and to love. We walk together in good times and in hard times.  I find great comfort in the fact that we as a community of believers are very intentional about doing things the right way.  Doing things the way we are told to do them in scripture. 

However, I am reminded in this chapter that we need to be intentional and careful to constantly put each other first.  The enemy is looking for any crack to divide.  The enemy will use anything he can to break apart this family. Let’s continue to be intentional so that we can lock arms and be a community of believers that follows and gives God glory as we do “Life Together”.  

Ephesians Chapter 3

“Just Keep Swimming”

Ephesians is one of my favorite books of the Bible.  It is a book of deep encouragement for the children of God – the heirs of “every spiritual blessing…”(1:3).  It’s pages remind us that we are both the recipients and the stewards of the inner power of the Holy Spirit, the indwelling of faith, and a love beyond comprehension that, through Jesus, we come to understand and wield (3:14-19).  

One of the most powerful encouragements of the book is Paul’s prayer for the saints at the end of Ephesians chapter three with this closing description of God:

20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever.

 It’s hard to remember sometimes that we have that kind of power, that kind of favor, and that kind of support on our side.  The struggles of this life puff themselves up like blowfish trying to look as big, spikey, and ominous as possible...and sometimes we buy into their dramatic performance.  But all around them and us is this vast, infinitely larger ocean of God’s grace, love, provision, and providence.  

You’ve probably heard the old Chinese proverb that says “If you want to know what water is, don’t ask a fish.”  Because a fish has never lived outside the ocean, it takes for granted its environment so much so that it likely could not articulate or even be aware of the immense resources and possibilities surrounding it. Perhaps we suffer from the same as we too are enveloped in the limitless power, love, and care of our benevolent Father and God – yet often oblivious to His presence and work.  So when these presumptuous blowfish cross our paths, the ocean floor feels colder, darker, and oppressive.  Like Dory in Finding Nemo, we find ourselves afraid, confused, and swimming in circles.  If you haven’t seen Pixar’s sequel, Finding Dory– I’d recommend it.  It’s there that her parents teach her early on, whenever she meets these difficult moments – “just keep swimming.”  

So, when you’re submerged in the depths of depression, fear, confusion, failure, or loss – remember God’s abundant power, and the limitless possibilities of His love working in you – beyond all that you could even ask or imagine -- and “just keep swimming.” In the endless ocean of His providence and grace, you’ll find your way home, just like Dory.

Ephesians Chapter 2

Ephesians 2 is packed with so much of what the Gospels are about. Paul reminds us in his letter to Ephesus, that we were once tainted with wickedness and sin. However, in doing this Paul also brings everyone on the same level. We have all fallen short and have all lived in the passions of our flesh. But then comes the bigger picture. God, because of his love and mercy, made us whole again. His grace has allowed us to share in his riches and be witness to his immeasurable love. Verses 8 and 9 are probably the most familiar part of this chapter. I mean I even remember memorizing in the car as a child… “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” This verse is often argued and disputed over the ideas of works and faith and how the two should be together. I think this takes away from the true meaning of these verses. The true meaning is that God, high and mighty God, loves us no matter what. This is amazing news. God, the creator of the universe, loves me and knows who I am! 

The second part of this chapter seems to be in the shadow of the first but there is significant truth to be found here as well. At the very end of the chapter Paul writes, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.” This points me to reflection of our church body. Jesus is the cornerstone. That is pretty clear. What may seem more vague is that we, the church, are all of the other stones making up the rest of the temple. Paul is an amazing writer. He graciously humbles everyone by saying we all struggle. No one is greater than another. Then he points us back to God’s love and mercy. And if we didn’t understand that he gives us an analogy of a temple with Jesus Christ as the cornerstone to our salvation…. Mind Blown! After all of that I think what we need to do is say thank you God and live out the gospel to those around us.

Ephesians Chapter 1

Finally! I finally get a chance to open us up in a new book!

In my short 15 years as a believer, I have fallen in love with commentaries. They help me when I need to dig deeper into The Word of God. One of my most favorites is by an old southern preacher named J. Vernon McGee, you may have heard of him before, though he passed away back in 1988, the legacy of his radio show Thru the Bible still lives on.

I chose a couple of excerpts from his introduction to Ephesians.

“Some have even suggested that Ephesians is so profound that none but the very elect (in other words chosen few) can understand it. I have always noticed that the folk who say this include themselves in that inner circle.”

“The Epistle to the Ephesians is very logical. Of the six chapters, the first three are about the heavenly calling of the church and are doctrinal. The last three are about the earthly conduct of the church, which is very practical.”

Verses 15-18 warm my heart the most. I think how awesome it would be if Paul wrote this letter specifically to the people of Church of the Chimes.

15Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, 16I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, 17asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. 18I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.

My advice friend is to enjoy the book of Ephesians!  Devour every verse and let it sink deep into your heart.

Be blessed!