Some exciting changes are happening in the weekly Ebenezer article! Beginning this week the majority of the article will be part of our Adult Christian Education program. The article will, therefore, be interactive, with questions and readings for you. It will also appear on here on my blog and on Ebenezer’s Facebook page, so you can tell your friends and family about it! You can post questions and/or comments here, and, even if you are not on Facebook, you can still view the articles there; you just will not be able to post without signing in. Each week, you can interact with the lesson as above or by sending me questions and/or comments via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org), posting them on Ebenezer Presbyterian’s Facebook page (just search for Ebenezer Presbyterian Church, Greenfield MO and click on the Facebook link)Of course, mail is acceptable, as well!
Starting Sunday, September 18, our Christian education hour will resume at 9:30 a.m. with a full-family emphasis. The lesson posted in the Vedette and on Facebook will provide discussion for the adults present, and there will be lessons and activities for the kids, as well! If you have been wanting to visit us, but wanted something more for your kids, now is the time to come. We’ll be
waiting for you!
For this quarter we will be studying from the letter to the Ephesians. Let’s get started!
Read: Ephesians 1:1-14 (read it here at BibleGateway–http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians+1:1-14)
You have all probably enjoyed the old hymn Count Your Blessings at least once in your life. And to start this week, I’d like to ask you to take a few minutes to count your blessings. That’s right, take out a pen and paper and just make a list of the top blessings in your life. What are the things that you attribute as blessings from God? Just take a minute. I’ll wait!
No doubt your list looks a lot like mine: family, home, children, maybe Jesus and salvation, church, friends, and on, listing things that are truly blessings to our lives. Most likely, none of us has
listed anything negative on that list. For example, did anyone list an accident, or an illness? Did you list some trauma that occurred in your life or something that made you stop and think and reevaluate what you have going on? In the first part of our study today, Paul talks about Spiritual blessings from God, “who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”
When we consider spiritual blessings, we are at first tempted to think of “spiritual” things, like prayer, worship, meditation, the Word of God, etc. While these are all spiritual blessings, this line of thinking unnecessarily divides who we are into distinct pieces, the physical versus the spiritual, and separates the concept of blessings into those that feed our earthly selves and those that minister to our spirits. Paul, however, in this passage makes no such division. Who we are, how we live, and whom we worship are all a part of the people God has called us to be.
V.4 : For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves (Jesus).
This verse says that God chose us before we were even born, before the world was created. Many times we worry about whether someone will accept us or like us, whether we have the right clothes, the right look, etc. But God chose us before any of that even existed.
Question: What does it mean to you to be “chosen”?
Question: How does it make you feel to know that no matter how you look, what you have, or where you come from, you were still chosen by God?
V. 7: In him (Christ) we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins . . . with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.
So, in God’s ultimate vision and wisdom Jesus was sent to earth, and by His sacrifice, we receive these blessings from God’s hand. It doesn’t stop there, however. Look at verses 11-12. In him we were also chosen having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.
Paul ties here together all the things in our lives that happen, the “spiritual” blessings and the physical turmoil, the good and the bad, the welcome and the unwelcome. As Paul states in Romans 8:28: We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.
If God has called us to be adopted as children without respect to our station in life, background, looks financial status, etc., and He has (see v. 13), then we have this promise that everything in our
lives—whether seemingly good or bad—is a blessing, as it works God’s purposes in our lives, even when we do not understand what God might be thinking!
Having just commemorated the ten-year anniversary of the attacks on 9-11, I tried to think about how such an event could be considered a blessing. With so much suffering and loss, how could we look to it as a blessing to our country or to the individuals affected. But as I heard many of the survivors and family members speak, I realized that many of them had done just that. They had taken the tragedy and used it to find new and deeper meaning in their lives. They had mourned their lost loved ones, their jobs, and even their lifestyles, but then moved forward to find a new purpose, for some a purpose that had not existed before the event.
You have been chosen to be a part of God’s family. It doesn’t happen just because God said so, however. Adoption occurs when you turn to Christ and accept the payment He made on your behalf though his own sacrifice on the Cross. Then you will share in the redemption by his blood. Once you are in the family, know this: God is working in your life to make you, as Paul states, to the praise of his glory. And, being that good Parent He is, God will use all means of blessings to bring you to maturity in that relationship.
Take some time to slowly read Ephesians 1:1-14 again, stopping to contemplate Paul’s words.
Look again at your “blessings” list. Having read this lesson, what other blessings might you add to the list, perhaps some seemingly negative things that have happened in your life? Draw a line down the center of your paper and to the right of each of the blessings on your list, take a few minutes to record how that “blessing” has changed you for the better, how God has used it to make your life give glory to God.
See you Sunday! Bring your notes with you! Don’t forget, if you cannot attend Ebenezer but still want to be in the discussion, call, text, e-mail, write, or Facebook your comments and questions. I’ll be waiting to hear from you.
Mary Kay Glunt, Pastor
Ebenezer Presbyterian Church
For more study, check out TextWeek’s list of resources for this passage: http://www.textweek.com/pauline/eph1a.htm