Tuesday, July 4, 2017

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 letter from Paul 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 is in prison for telling people about Jesus.
  • Paul's letter summarizes some of the spiritual blessings that God has given to us though Jesus: adoption into God's family, God‘s grace in our lives, forgiveness of sin, knowledge of God’s plan, and His Holy Spirit living within us.
  • Paul uses the words "chosen" and "predestined" to describe those who follow Jesus. There is some debate about what exactly these words mean. 
    • Some think these words imply that God decides who will be saved and who will not, giving us no choice in the matter.
    • However, this is not consistent with the many scripture verses that emphasize our free will to choose or not choose God. Remember, when reading the Bible, we must look at it in it's entirety, not just one isolated verse at a time. So perhaps the people God chooses are the people he knew would choose Him. God is all-knowing, which means he knows in advance who will choose Him and who will not.  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" simply means that there is a destination set in advance. So the idea could simply be that God set the destination in advance of "adopting" those who chose Him.
  • Paul prays that letter’s recipients 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 focus about you or God? Who is the star of your story?  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 verve 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?