November 13, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (Ephesians 3)

Submitted by Nancy C. of Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Ephesians 3:1-3

  • In what ways can I become more faithful as a “prisoner for Christ Jesus” and a better steward of God’s grace? 

Apostle Paul was imprisoned because of his zealous preaching of the gospel to “the ends of the earth.” He had received this wondrous grace of salvation from God, and his life revolved around bringing this same good news of God’s grace to as many people as possible, and cultivating this grace to fullness in their lives.

There are many ways that I am so alive to my own plans and selfish priorities, and live with just my benefit in mind. I can become more faithful as a prisoner for Christ Jesus by limiting myself for the sake of the gospel–limiting my physical and mental comfort so that I can deepen in my personal devotion to God through reflection and prayer, pushing myself past my comfortable, slow pace so that I can help others more, thinking more about what the younger sisters in my life are doing and going through than about what’s on my schedule, dying to my pride and preferences at work so that I can be a steward of God’s grace to my coworkers, and caring more about what they are going through than about just getting my job done.

Ephesians 3:7-9

  • Apostle Paul considers himself as “the very least of all the saints.”  How do I view myself, and how does that affect my attitude toward my calling as a minister of the gospel? 

Apostle Paul considered himself the least because of what he was and had done before he became Christian–persecuting the church violently, having blood on his hands. He was therefore so humble and zealous and single-minded in being a minister of the gospel, knowing that it was such a precious gift.  I shudder as I think about what kind of life I lived before Christ.  I was heartless and selfish. I didn’t care about anyone at all, not even my family and “friends.” I didn’t want to spend my time and energy and money on anyone or anything but myself; I thought it a waste if I wasn’t getting ahead for myself.  I didn’t know what loyalty was. I was so proud and hypocritical, criticizing my roommates about petty things like how they spoke to me, while not even knowing what it meant to actually love someone and being blind to how I did the same things that I had criticized others about. When I hear stories of unbelievably selfish or clueless people, I think to myself of how I’ve been either guilty of the same thing or am so capable of doing the same thing. Even though God has been opening my eyes through the years and changing my heart, the extent of my pride and selfishness that I still struggle with horrifies me frequently, which keeps me continually convinced that I am the least of all the saints. ?How this affects me is that I feel undeserving to be a minister of the gospel. I consider myself lucky to be a part of this church and to be involved in any kind of ministry. It makes me glad to do any work because I feel like I don’t deserve any better.  I’m thankful that I can take part in anything, to be simply hands and feet to carry God’s love to people, even if they are toddlers in Joycorner ministry who can’t understand the gospel yet.  I am thankful I can relieve the parents of these toddlers so that they can be available to minister the gospel to other people. When I talk with younger sisters who are struggling to let go of their lives or who are discouraged over their sins, I feel like I’m in this blessed position to tell them about God’s incredible mercy and how he can certainly forgive and redeem them and show them a whole new life, if he did so for someone like me.

Ephesians 3:10-13           

  • What is God’s intent for the church, and how am I contributing toward that end? 

God’s intent for the church is to make known his manifold wisdom to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. “God doesn’t use angels to reveal his wisdom to the saints, but he does use the saints to reveal his wisdom to the angelic beings” (David Guzik). This signifies that there is something unique about the church in God’s plan; it has the singular purpose of showing God’s unfathomable wisdom in bringing those who were hitherto strangers and aliens into fellowship with God and one another, uniting Jew and Gentile in one body. This means that the church is central in God’s history and plan, and we can’t experience or communicate the essence of God’s plan by ourselves, our own individual Christian lives. ?I am contributing toward God’s intent for the church by being committed to my local church:  committing to deepening in my relationships with my sisters, not doing things on my own for the most part but with others, letting my schedule be determined largely by what we’re trying to accomplish in this body of Christ (getting grounded in God’s Word through daily devotion times and accountability, praying together, planning activities to raise the children in our church, etc.), and letting my mind and heart be filled with the concerns of what is happening in our midst.

  • How does Apostle Paul’s understanding of his identity, the gospel, and the church affect his response to sufferings? 

Apostle Paul sees the gospel as this marvelous mystery that had been hidden for ages but now revealed to him. He understands that he is a minister of this precious gospel, made possible only because of God’s grace, and that through his preaching the gospel, the church can grow and be strengthened and fulfill the awesome purpose God has for it. Therefore, he sees his sufferings that came from preaching the gospel as part of God’s eternal plan. He is not merely reconciled to his sufferings, or trying to be joyful in the midst of it, but completely at peace and confident, knowing that his sufferings for the gospel are not in vain.


Submitted by Alison N. of Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Ephesians 3:1-3

  • In what ways can I become more faithful as a “prisoner for Christ Jesus” and a better steward of God’s grace? 

Paul voluntarily became a prisoner for Christ Jesus and sought to steward well God’s grace.  He lived this out as he poured out his life in ministering to others. A prisoner does not have rights and most people would not want to be called by the title of a prisoner, but here Apostle Paul voluntarily chooses to call himself a prisoner. He is laying aside his agenda and his will so that he is not defined by his circumstances, but by being Christ’s prisoner.  Apostle Paul also saw his role as one to minister to others through being one who extended and gave grace to others just as he has received from God.

I can become more faithful as a “prisoner for Christ Jesus” by laying aside my agenda and my schedule for the purpose and needs of others around me.  I can remember this is my central identity more than the circumstances that I am in.  Especially at the end of a workday when I am at times feeling tired but needing to take care of other responsibilities, I am reminded that this is my central identity and that I have meaningful work to love others.  Being reminded of this helps me to reclaim my identity.  I also see the way in which I can be a better steward of God’s grace in extending mercy, as I can easily be frustrated or impatient when I focus on my own expectations of people or circumstances.  In all of this I realize that this is a perspective shift from myself to God. I can grow in being faithful to the needs of others by offering grace with patience, especially as I remember all that I have received from God.

Ephesians 3:7-9

  • Apostle Paul considers himself as “the very least of all the saints.”  How do I view myself, and how does that affect my attitude toward my calling as a minister of the gospel? 

Before becoming a Christian, though I knew I had faults, I still had a lot of pride and viewed myself pretty highly.  I was judgmental and overly focused on petty comparisons. However, when I made the decision to follow Christ and I confessed that ultimately I was a sinner through and through, I recognized that it was such a privilege and blessing to be considered a daughter in Christ and to be loved in the church just because of my identity as a forgiven sinner.  Apostle Paul never lost sight of who he was and his sinful nature.  The older I get and the more I see my sinful heart, I see how much I need God’s grace.  Just being able to share stories of how I’ve experienced grace through God’s people and seeing the sinful patterns and struggles that I find myself in, I often see how truly the gospel is my greatest need. This reminds me and solidifies my identity as a minister.  It gives me renewed confidence that this is what I want to spend my life, time and energy with.

Ephesians 3:10-13

  • What is God’s intent for the church, and how am I contributing toward that end? 

God’s intent for the church was that all people would know of His plan of salvation.  This plan is revealed and is the foundation that connects all people in the church.  The role of the church is to spread to everyone this precious news, God’s gift of salvation.

As the commentary states, “If the church is central to God’s purpose as seen in both history and the gospel, it must surely also be central to our lives.  ….  If instead (like Paul) we keep before us the vision of God’s new society as his family, his dwelling place and his instrument in the world, then we shall constantly be seeking to make our church’s worship more authentic, its fellowship more caring and its outreach more compassionate.” [John R. W. Stott, God’s New Society: The Message of Ephesians, The Bible Speaks Today (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1979) 129-130.]

I am able to be a part of this through being part of Joyland ministry where we are teaching children about Jesus and his love for them.  I am able to participate in this sharing of the gospel, and I am thankful to being a part of God’s intention to reach others through me.  I am contributing to building up the church as I strive to live out what I say.

  • How does Apostle Paul’s understanding of his identity, the gospel, and the church affect his response to sufferings? 

Apostle Paul’s understanding of his identity (as a prisoner of Christ Jesus and steward of the grace he has received), of the gospel (the most precious and important news one could share), and the church (to spread and share with others this news) affected his response to suffering in that he endured as he was not surprised by them and did not fight against them but just expected that this was the reality of a life committed to God.

Submitted by Peter K. of Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Ephesians 3:1-3

  • In what ways can I become more faithful as a “prisoner for Christ Jesus” and a better steward of God’s grace? 

When I think Apostle Paul’s devotion to Christ, I get so inspired and challenged.  He became a prisoner for Christ because he was zealous and passionate about carrying the Gospel and sharing it with those who are lost.  He was faithful to witness the truth regardless of opposition, persecution, hardship, and difficulties.  As I think about him, one of ways that I can become more faithful is to be a witness of the Gospel regardless of my situation.   God has shown me many opportunities to share the Gospel with my coworkers.  Some of them came out to some outreach events and got to meet our church members.  However, when I get busier and stressed out with my work, I don’t have heart and room to think about them and find ways to share the Gospel with them.  I can continue to engage in conversations with them by having lunch together and express my concerns and care for them.  However, I have not been faithful to share the Gospel with them because I have been gotten really busy with my work.  When I think about Apostle Paul, he never stopped sharing and teaching.  Though he must have been really busy and tired as a tent maker, he was diligent and cared for people in all the churches that he planted.   I should be more faithful by making time to bond with coworkers so that I can share the Gospel with them.

Another small way that I can be more faithful is to invite people to my house for meals. Sometimes I feel tired, and I don’t want to go through the logistics of planning a dinner, going shopping, cooking and cleaning.  It is time consuming and it involves work. In order to host people for dinner, I have to go to work early and leave early so that I can come to cook.  There is a desire to be comfortable and relaxed instead of going through the work of inviting people.  When I think about this mentality, it is out of selfishness instead of loving people.  Love takes time and labor, but my sinful desire wants to avoid them for my physical comfort.  But I do know how people warm up and bond through a home-cooked dinner.   I should invite people more faithfully and regularly to my house so that in this small way I can deny myself and become a person of serving and loving others.

  • Apostle Paul considers himself as “the very least of all the saints.”  How do I view myself, and how does that affect my attitude toward my calling as a minister of the gospel?

When I was young, I was very concerned about my competence and people’s recognition of me.  I wanted to be considered highly and significantly by others.  Over the years God has humbled me.  I have realized what a sinful and broken person I am as well as how incompetent and insecure I am!  I mess up and fail many times in following God’s call and His commands but God still forgives me when I repent, and He accepts me as I am.  Amazingly God has always given me a chance to serve and lead people in different ministries.  When I think about God’s love for a sinner like me, I give praise and thanks to Him.  These days I feel truly privileged and honored to serve in Joyland, our children’s ministry, which God has entrusted me with.  When I think about myself as a Joyland teacher and as a spiritual leader for the brothers in my life group, I am the least qualified person.  I am a FOB with a heavy accent, not very competent and not very eloquent.  Most of all I am a sinner before God.  However, God continues to love me and trust me.  He has entrusted me with brothers whom I co-labor in Joyland as well as fifth grade boys whom I take care.  I am so thankful for God’s entrustment to my life despite my sinfulness.   Indeed I am the least of all brothers and sisters in our church, but I feel very privileged to serve in our church.

Ephesians 3:10-13  

10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. 13 So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.

  • What is God’s intent for the church, and how am I contributing toward that end? 

God’s intent for the church is that “the manifold wisdom of God might be made known.” Apostle Paul explains the mission of the church, which is to spread and share the wisdom of God to people in this world.  He revealed his salvation plan fully through Jesus Christ and wants to use the church to deliver this Good News to people.  As an ambassador of Christ, I have responsibility to carry this commission to the world.  I am so thankful that I get to serve as a 5th grade Joyland teacher.  In my small group, there were about ten students from Alameda and from inner city Oakland.  In the past two years, four of the boys received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.  My co-teachers in Joyland and I have been praying for the four boys who surrendered to Christ to build basic Christian foundation and to get to know God as they grow.  We also continue to teach and pray for the rest of them to accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.   As I think about our church, I am thankful that we, as a body of Christ, work hard to bring God’s word to children. We also started IMPACT ministry to reach out to children in inner city Oakland.  All these efforts helped our students to understand and receive God’s Word.

  • How does Apostle Paul’s understanding of his identity, the gospel, and the church affect his response to sufferings? 

Apostle Paul referred himself as a prisoner for Christ, which shows that his imprisonment and sufferings are for Christ.  He was appointed as a minister of the Gospel.  He understood deeply God’s salvation plan through Jesus Christ.  He emphasized the important mission of the church to spread the gospel.  Out of his conviction and deep understanding of the gospel, He is able to see suffering as glory and privilege as he challenged Ephesians to not lose heart over his imprisonment.  Apostle Paul’s clear and deep understanding about his identity made him see his suffering in a completely different perspective which allowed him to accept his suffering as a glorious thing.

Personal Prayer

Father God, thank you so much for teaching me about how I can become more faithful.  I repent that I have not given much effort to bond and share the gospel with my coworkers with the excuse of being busy at work.  I also have not been faithfully inviting people for meals because I give in to what my body desires.  I pray that I can become like Apostle Paul, a prisoner for Christ.  No matter what circumstances I am in I want to be a faithful witness of the gospel.   Also, I am thankful that You humbled me over the years and helped me to have a sense of privilege to serve in Joyland. I pray that I would develop a deeper sense of identity as a minister and deeper understanding of the gospel.

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