November 5, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (Ephesians 1)

Submitted by Sarah K. from Gracepoint San Diego Church

Ephesians 1:3-10

  • We have been blessed “in Christ with every spiritual blessing.”  What are these blessings as described in this passage?  Reflect on the content and tone of this passage, and personally give thanks to God for the blessings listed.

The blessings we’ve received in Christ according to this passage are being chosen in him before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him, being predestined for adoption as sons through Jesus, redemption through his blood, forgiveness of our trespasses, riches of his grace lavished on us, making known to us the mystery of his will in all wisdom and insight, receiving of an inheritance, and being the praise of his glory.

The tone of this passage is extravagant, lavish, and it spans all of history from before the beginning of time to the fullness of time.  It is so much grander and bigger than my small life, or even the life of a group or people.  God’s perspective and frame of reference is so huge.  He is able to see the place of each person in the framework of all of history, and the amazing thing is that given this, He gives us such specific promises.  Indeed, He has the authority and knowledge to bless us with every spiritual blessing because He knows what blessing we truly need; He’s not just thinking about how to get me through my day-to-day problems, or how to make my life easier or smoother, but His view is toward the spiritual blessing that will allow me to take my place within His eternal perspective and to make me eternally secure.  In these blessings, He does not hold back.

Thank You God for the vision that I would be holy and blameless before You.  As You are holy, righteous, without any blemish, the only way I could have hope to stand in your presence or eternally relate with You is to be holy and blameless.  But that is such an impossible hope for me; since childhood I already was filled with regret and shame over myself and my sin.  Yet You did not let go of that vision and provided the way for me to have the hope of blamelessness, for all of my ugliness, sin and shame to be cleansed and made new.  Thank You for the redemption through Your blood, that I could hope in the forgiveness of my sin.  Thank You for the riches of Your grace that you continually lavish on me.  From the first day I asked for Your forgiveness, after making such a mess of my life, throughout these 20 years until now, Your grace has never run dry.  Everything in this life has proven to be of short supply, every other area where I tried to find hope or fulfillment has run out.  But each time I sin, whenever my stubborn pride or self-will rears its ugly head, whenever I see my selfishness again through the way I treat my husband, my peers, my co-laborers, when I am lazy and refuse to exert myself for the sake of others, when I hurt, offend and alienate people around me, when the demonstration of my sin seems endless, there has never been a time when the grace lavished upon me has diminished.  Not even a little bit.  Thank You for Your lavish grace demonstrated through the cross, standing firm through history, through every season of my life, by which I can know that indeed You can make me holy and blameless in Your sight.

Thank You for the permanent place I have, adopted as Your daughter.  Let this truth sink in deeply, and cease the strivings and insecurities that come with the lie that I am still an orphan that needs to find a place somewhere.

Thank You for making known the mystery of your will set forth in Christ.  I no longer need to wander, trying to “find myself” or figure out the purpose of my life.  You have made these things plain.  I was made to be part of Your family, Your kingdom, adopted, an heir, and united with Yourself.  The mystery of Your will is that You somehow want to have an eternal relationship with someone like me.  This is so counter to this world’s notion that our purpose is to accomplish.  Your purpose is relational, and in that I can find my security and rest, and I am so thankful that somehow You revealed that purpose to me.

  • What is the significance of Apostle Paul using words like “chose,” “predestined,” “purpose,” and “plan for the fullness of time,” in describing the entire plan of salvation?

These words shows God’s intention for people, God’s intention for us.  God’s salvation plan wasn’t something that was an afterthought, but carefully planned and thought through from beginning to end.  We can have confidence in God’s intent for us to be saved, and our legitimacy as adopted sons and daughters, created to be united with Him.

  • What is the ultimate goal of salvation according to v. 10?

To unite all things in Christ.

  • Reflect on the supremacy of Christ in all things.  To what extent have I brought every area of my life “unite[d] … in him”?

Christ being supreme in all things means that He has the authority and knowledge about the way things ought to be in every area of life.  To the extent that I bring every area to be united with Christ, under His supremacy, will I be able to function as I was created to function, but when I resist this, that area is bound to be dysfunctional.  There are areas of my life where I have made Christ supreme, and I’ve experienced this to be true.  With the way that I order my time and schedule, I have tried to make Christ and ministering to others the first priority, and that has turned my chaotic and directionless life into one with purpose and direction, and has changed me from a person who could barely get up before noon into someone with much more structure and ability to deny my body.  However there are still many areas where I need to be united with Christ, especially in the area of emotional involvement and willingness to fully engage.  I have been unwilling to fully unite with Christ in this area, not giving over pockets of my emotions and holding back in my level of engagement because I would rather remain in my own comfort.  As a result, I have a small capacity and the effect on people around me, especially those closest to me, is that I am not available for them, I have a diminished ability to empathize with others and I get easily overwhelmed, irritated and short tempered.  This has shown me that indeed when Christ desires for me to be united with Him, it is so that my heart and life can expand, not that I would be diminished, so that I should not resist this in areas that I want to cling onto, but do the work of giving supremacy in every area to Christ.  As Christ has done his part in uniting himself with me through the cross and not holding back any part of himself, the only right response is for me to do my part as well.

Submitted by Tom K. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Ephesians 1:3-10

  • We have been blessed “in Christ with every spiritual blessing.”  What are these blessings as described in this passage?  Reflect on the content and tone of this passage, and personally give thanks to God for the blessings listed.

In Christ I have been blessed with every spiritual blessing. In this text Paul describes being chosen, holy and blameless, adopted, redemption, forgiveness, wisdom and insight, and being united in him. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4 that Satan has blinded the mind of unbelievers so they can’t see the gospel. When I think back, I remember a total lack of interest in church and when I did go, it didn’t mean anything to me and would often bore me. I don’t know how to explain what happened, but one day it seemed like things just made sense and the God I didn’t care about and wanted nothing to do with suddenly seemed great in my eyes and I wanted to know more. It was like God turned on the lights and I was finally able to see and understand what it was all about. The mystery of God suddenly was no longer a mystery as I was given wisdom and insight to understand. However, the story doesn’t end there. As I grew spiritually hungry, I grew convicted of my sin and experienced forgiveness and redemption as I was saved in college. Even now it continues as I grow in holiness and experience adoption with God as my father. It’s the basic gospel message of what God does in the life of the Christian and yet, it’s the very personal story of my life as it unfolds.

Paul uses words like love, riches, and lavished to describe what God did. It’s not stingy and selective like God only has so many blessings to give out and carefully chooses who gets them. No, God is a generous God who freely gives much more than we deserve. Paul’s tone is wonder and amazement at how generous and lavish God gives to us. As its thanksgiving season, I’ve been reflecting at how much God has blessed me this past year. Once again, I’m just amazed that somehow I’m a Christian and that I get to be used by God. Every year we meet students who come with a story, similar to mine, and I get to witness their lives change as they take hold of the same blessings I have. It’s really an amazing thing to see how generous God is and how God continues to pour out these blessings in the lives of the students we’re ministering to.

  • What is the significance of Apostle Paul using words like “chose,” “predestined,” “purpose,” and “plan for the fullness of time,” in describing the entire plan of salvation?

God had this all planned out from the beginning, before the foundation of the world. It’s not an afterthought and God is making it up as it goes. No, God is in control and has the solution to our greatest need. Paul says in love we were predestined for adoption. The riches of His grace were lavished on us according to His plan and purpose. It was carefully thought out and his plan was executed with love. Before any of us were born, God set in motion His salvation plan. The omnipotent God who sits outside of time knows our needs is able to plan ahead for our need for salvation. It gives me such a sense of peace knowing that God knew the predicament we would be in and from the beginning has the plan and solution to my greatest problem. There really is nothing I need to worry about because I know God’s purpose and plans are in motion and that there is nothing that will stop God. It’s all taken care of… I’m adopted, redeemed, and forgiven as God restores all things in Christ.

  • What is the ultimate goal of salvation according to v. 10?

The ultimate goal of salvation is to unite us to God. It’s about restoring things to the way they should be. When I look around, it’s not hard to believe that this world isn’t the way it should be. Not only are we united back to God, but all things are united to one another in him. There will be peace and no more enmity, hostility, or strife. I think about the type of community we try to create as a church and how that’s a foretaste of what’s to come. What if we had the fullness of this community as it is meant to be? What if I had this kind of relationship with everyone I interacted with from work, the store, and everywhere else in life? God wants everyone to be saved and united back to Him so this could be a reality.  What an awesome picture that would be!

Personal Prayer

Lord, thank you for the rich spiritual blessings I have in Christ. I know You started this plan from the beginning, before I could do anything useful, You already planned out salvation so we can return to You. It’s really true that I have been richly blessed. I think of the spiritual blessings I received in the gospel.  I know where my life should have gone, and yet somehow I understood the mysteries of the gospel and received forgiveness and adoption. I’m no longer condemned with guilt and distant from you, but have been forgiven and reconciled. I know Your plans are continuing to unfold as you unite all things in Christ and I get to be a part of that plan. I eagerly await the fulfillment of this.

Submitted by Steve P.  from Gracepoint San Diego Church

Ephesians 1:3-10

  • We have been blessed “in Christ with every spiritual blessing.”  What are these blessings as described in this passage?  Reflect on the content and tone of this passage, and personally give thanks to God for the blessings listed.

We have been blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing. Apostle Paul describes how God chose us before the foundation of the world, that he adopted us as sons through Jesus Christ, he redeemed us through his blood and forgave us our trespasses, and he made known to us the mystery of his will.

What Apostle Paul makes clear and emphasizes throughout these verses is that it is God who is acting. It was God who chose and predestined, who forgave according to the riches of his grace, who lavished, and who made known according to his purpose. It was up to him and it was according to his will that he saved me; I had no input. And all of these blessings are through him: we are adopted through Jesus Christ, we are blessed in the Beloved, we are redeemed through his blood, and we know his will as it was set forth in Christ. Our salvation and redemption is entirely through Jesus Christ and the blood he shed on the cross. There was nothing I could contribute. There is no “through man’s obedience” or “through man’s effort.” Rather it is completely God-initiated, God-driven, and completed by God alone.

And so likewise, my assurance of these blessings is not through anything I can do but it is in God. This is something I constantly need to return to. It is all too natural for me to approach my spiritual disciplines of DT and prayer with a checklist mentality. I think that I have to do so many DTs or “ministry events” in order to have good standing with God–I think that somehow the more I do the more he’ll be pleased with me. Ultimately I’m turning him into some kind of task master or drill sergeant who’s only concerned about my production and net output but cares nothing for our relationship. When I sin, rather than quickly returning to God in repentance, in my pride I think I need to fix myself or somehow do something to make up for the sin before I can come before God. It is my pride that makes me think I have something to contribute or offer up to God. But this could not be farther from the truth. Our assurance of salvation isn’t in ourselves or our ability to keep from sinning–it is in God.  My salvation was completely initiated and completed through Christ. Again, this was done while I was still a sinner. My salvation isn’t dependent on anything I can prove. But the picture these verses paint is a God who so much desired a relationship that he predestined me for adoption as his son even before I knew him. The blessings and promises in these verses tells me that my redemption is through his blood, not mine, and my forgiveness is according to the riches of his grace which he has lavished upon us.

Father, I thank you and praise you for the lavishness of your grace and love. It was truly only out of your divine mercy and grace that you chose to save me. There was nothing I could do or give. It didn’t have to be the case that you would shower me with so much undeserved love. It pleased you to not only save me but to adopt me as a son through Jesus Christ. You willingly sent your own son to the cross that through his blood, I, your rebellious creation, might be redeemed and forgiven. You didn’t just pardon me, but you gave me a new life. You lavished me with the riches of your grace. And you didn’t stop there, but you also made known to me your will and given me hope for a future where all things will be united in you. This news never gets old or loses its wonder. I don’t know why you chose me to be the recipient of such grace and rich blessings, but I pray that all the praise will be to your glorious grace with which you have blessed me. May you receive all the glory.

  • What is the significance of Apostle Paul using words like “chose,” “predestined,” “purpose,” and “plan for the fullness of time,” in describing the entire plan of salvation?

It’s significant that Apostle Paul uses words such as ‘chose’ and ‘predestined’ in describing my salvation. Even while I was still a sinner and in complete rebellion against God, he chose me for adoption and for redemption. Anytime I’m tempted to question God’s heart or intentions towards me, I can return to this truth. I never have to question whether I sinned too much that God won’t accept me, or whether God will ever get too fed up from having to forgive me when I keep committing the same sins. I’m naturally very cynical, and so I project myself onto God but praise God that he isn’t like me. God already predestined me for adoption through Jesus Christ, and if he did that while I was in open rebellion, then how much more will he accept me now that I have accepted and received his grace through Jesus Christ? There is still a place for repentance, but I can approach and return to him with confidence; surely there is no sin that can separate me from God’s grace.

Finally, it’s significant that he describes the entire plan of salvation with “as a plan for the fullness of time.” This gives a sense that our salvation is not fully complete. We have been adopted, redeemed, and forgiven, but this is not the end of the story. God has also made known to us the mystery of his will as a plan for the fullness of time to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. There is a future component to the plan of salvation as well. We aren’t merely saved while we live on earth, but one day we can be assured that we will be united in God. This gives us hope for the future. As we go through Christian life, there will be difficulties and struggles as we struggle with our own sins, character flaws, and immaturities, as well as the hardships and suffering of ministry and trying to love other sinners. There are also joys as we grow and are able to experience God’s provision and faithfulness, but we also have this hope that we can look forward to, this assurance of heaven. Sometimes people can look at Christian life and think that it’s too hard or difficult. And while Christian life is difficult, part of the reason we are able to persevere is because we have this hope.

Submitted by Jennifer K. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Ephesians 1:3-10

  • We have been blessed “in Christ with every spiritual blessing.”  What are these blessings as described in this passage?  Reflect on the content and tone of this passage, and personally give thanks to God for the blessings listed.

The blessings described in this passage are:

–          God chose us to be holy and blameless
–          God adopted us as sons and daughters through Jesus Christ
–          God redeemed us through his blood
–          God forgave us of our trespasses
–          God lavished the riches of his grace upon us
–          God made known to us the mystery of his will which he set forth in Christ—the plan to unite all things in him
–          We’ve obtained an inheritance
–          God gave us the word of truth, the gospel of our salvation
–          We were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit

The blessings we’ve received are that even though we are sinners and were far from God, He chose to bring us back to Himself through Jesus, forgive our sins, show us grace, adopt us as his children, give us an inheritance which includes making us holy and blameless so that we can be “to the praise of his glory,” and ultimately to guarantee our salvation.  The content and tone of this passage is full of exultation and praise to God.  It’s a tone of, “Wow, what we have through the gospel is amazing!”  Instead of being rejected and forgotten, God chose us even before the creation of the world.  Instead of leaving us alone, he adopts us as his own children.  Instead of condemning us, he forgives us of our sins, and not only forgives us, but lavishes his grace on us.

  • What is the significance of Apostle Paul using words like “chose,” “predestined,” “purpose,” and “plan for the fullness of time,” in describing the entire plan of salvation?

These words like “chose” and “predestined” show that the entire plan of salvation was not an afterthought or a last-minute rescue plan.  It was God’s plan to save people from even before he created the world.  The fact that God made this plan in advance shows His love for us.  He knew we would fall and so he already made a plan for our salvation.  It shows that God’s wisdom is far greater than ours.  He has the big picture of time and eternity.  He is not limited in scope of knowledge like we are.

  • What is the ultimate goal of salvation according to v. 10?

The ultimate goal of salvation is “to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”  That was God’s original intent in creation.  Since He’s the Creator, it’s only right and fitting for all things to be united in Him.  But when we sinned we became separated from God and the entire world became fallen.  So God’s goal in salvation is to bring all of us back to Himself.

  • Reflect on the supremacy of Christ in all things.  To what extent have I brought every area of my life “unite[d] … in him”?

Everything God has done to save us is done through Christ and in Christ.  Every spiritual blessing comes to us through Christ.  I’m forgiven, redeemed, and adopted through Christ.  If this is the spiritual reality, that Christ has supremacy in all things, and God’s plan for salvation is carried out in Christ and through Christ, in order to bring all things under Christ and in unity in Him, then that includes my life.  My life should be brought into unity in Christ.

I’ve been saved through Christ and spiritually I’m now united with Christ because of the gospel.  God’s goal for my salvation is to bring every area of my life into unity with Him.  To a large extent I still have not brought every area of my life to be “united in him.”  In my daily life I have a sense of separateness regarding my agenda and time, doing things I want to get done, and feeling that God doesn’t care about those things so I have to find my own time to do it.  Sometimes I feel that when I’m expected to give and sacrifice some time and energy to serve God, that God is taking from me, when in reality He’s giving me the chance to share in His work.  The most significant area of my life that I haven’t brought to be “united in him” is the way I relate with people.  Through Christ, I do have a greater sense of camaraderie and fellowship in the gospel, greater level of trust and openness because of our shared conviction that we’re all sinners and saved through Christ.  But I sometimes view people as separate, even though the reality in Christ is that they are my brothers and sisters.  In Christ I should love my sisters as myself.  I should have greater unity with my sisters, thinking about their needs as my own, but instead I often consider my own needs as the most important.  For me to bring the area of relationships to be “united in Him” would mean that I change my view of my relationships in light of the gospel, that though we were once far away, now in Christ we are adopted as children into the same family.  These relationships will last for eternity in heaven.  So it makes sense to commit myself fully to the people in my life and take ownership over my sisters in Christ.

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Response