Since this is my first post, welcome! Some friends and I recently started a life group together, and I wanted some place to write down my thoughts about what I was learning throughout our study. I figured a blog would be better than a journal, because I pray that God would guide my thoughts and words to bless someone else. Instead of posting the entire passage I will post different verses, but I encourage you to read it in its entirety. So, lets dive right in.
Ephesians was written by the Apostle Paul to a church in Ephesus. Before you read Ephesians, I encourage you to read Acts 19, because this sets up the back story. Ephesus is home to one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the Temple of Artemis. Silversmiths in that area were angry with how the people were listening to Paul, because like anyone today, you would be mad if someone was threatening how you made a living. It goes on to talk about how Paul handle the situation.
The very first verse is something that sticks out to me it says,
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus.“
I have one thought provoking question for you. Why did he identify himself like that? I started to think back to when I was applying for internships during my senior year of college. I started each cover letter with “hello, my name is Kristen Kramer, and I am a senior Child and Family Development student at Georgia Southern University.” Based on that statement my identity was a college student. Is this how I wanted to be seen? Well at the time, yes, because I wanted to graduate. It also made me think about how others view me, am I living a life where people see Christ in me, or is my identity in something else? This one verse led to the title of my blog, Finding my Identity in Christ.
In our life group we read and discuss the bible, as well as, watch videos on RightNow media. J.D. Greear is a pastor out of North Carolina, and he recently did a series on Ephesians. He provided insight to what we were reading that we might have missed while reading it on our own, and his teaching style made me think of our own pastor at Lifespring. Before we had this life group, our pastor, Dorsia, would meet with us weekly and we would study through the book of John. Like J.D., Dorsia would point out things that I might have skipped out on in the past, but after our church-wide 30-for 30 challenge, I was able to retrain how I study the Bible. This challenge drastically impacted my Personal Time with God (PTWG). Now back to what you’re here for,
“4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—”
In ver. 3-14, Paul talks about the many blessings that come from the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.As I mentioned earlier, please read the entire chapter of Ephesians 1! However, out of ver. 3-14, those two are something to think about! J.D. Greear related how God chose us to how contestants get picked on The Voice. If you have never seen the show, it is a singing competition were judges hit buttons to turn their chair around if they want someone on their team. However, the verse is saying, if we compare it to the show, that God turned his chair around and picked us before he even heard our voice. J.D says, “He knew your name and loved you before you were ever born, and there has never been a time where God did not know you and cherish you.” I hope this resonates with you, because no matter what you have done in the past, God loves you. He knew one day that you might turn away from Him, but now is the time to come running back into His arms. I could go on-and-on with examples, but the bottom line is He knew you before you knew you!
This next passage was Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians, and my prayer for my friends and family.
15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church,23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
In this prayer, Paul prayed for them to have spiritual sight. “He wanted what they knew in their heads to come alive in their hearts.” It is one thing to read about the Gospel and understand it, but your life will truly change when you start to feel it. We are His inheritance. Before reading this, I only thought about everything that we receive as believers. After reading this, I can sense his love for us, because we are his prize at the end of everything. All God wants is us. The last few verses are a reminder that at the end of the day, we know that the battle has already been won and that he is sitting on the throne.
For those of you who made it to the end, thank you for taking the time to read this, and I pray you got something out of it. I look forward to my PTWG everyday, and my weekly meetings with my life group. I encourage you to try our 30-for-30 challgenge or join a life group at your local church! If you’re in Statesboro, come join us at Lifespring!