Thursday, July 4, 2013

July 4 - Ephesians 1

Today's reading in our daily plan is Ephesians 1. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • Ephesians is another of Paul’s letters and is addressed to a church in the city of Ephesus located on the West coast of modern Turkey. Paul is writing from house arrest in Rome, where he was in prison for telling people about Jesus.
  • Paul shares some of the spiritual blessings that God has given to us though Jesus: adoption into God family, God‘s gracious involvement in our lives, forgiveness of our sins, knowledge of God’s plan and His Holy Spirit inside us.
  • Paul uses the words chosen and predestined to describe those who follow Jesus. These words immediately invoke philosophical conundrums. There is some debate about what these words mean. Some assume they mean that God chooses some for salvation and gives them no choice but to choose Him. But there are many verses that emphasize the free will we have to choose God or not to choose Him. So perhaps the people God chooses are the people who choose Him. God knows in advance who will choose Him and who will not (even if it is their own free will choice) so His choosing us "before the creation of the world" doesn't necessarily negate our free will. And "predestined" doesn't necessarily negate our free will either. To be "predestined" means that there is a destination set in advance. So the idea can simply be that God set the destination in advance of "adopting" those who choose Him.
  • Paul prays for his letter’s recipients that the would know God better and be enlightened to see the hope, promises, and power they have in Jesus.
  • Paul finished this chapter by writing about Jesus. He says that Jesus was raised from the dead, is in heaven, is above all power and authority, and is head over everything for the Church which is his body.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • Verse 12 says that our purpose in life is that we "might be for the praise of His glory." The reason for our lives is to bring glory to God. We are not the stars of our stories, God is. Our role is to point to Him. When we make our lives about glorifying God, our lives become much bigger.
  • Paul's prayer should probably help us to see what we should focus on in our own lives, and what we should pray for others: knowing God better and understanding the hope, promises, and power we have in Jesus.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Is your life truly about you, or God? Where is your focus? Who are you hoping to make look good, and make happy? What if you made God the star of your story? What would that look like? How would you do it? How might it improve your life?
  • How often do you pray for other people? (Friends, family, the people in your micro group.) If you do pray for them, what do you pray for? Why don't you start to use Paul's prayer as an example in praying for the people you care about?