Explore the Bible
Ephesians 1:2-14 (HCSB)
Ephesians 1:3-14 is one continuous sentence of 202 words in the Greek text. Biblical scholars agree that this text is the most cumbersome sentence in the Greek language. The Apostle Paul offered phrase after phrase of God-centered praise. The reason for Paul’s rejoicing and praise is that God has saved us and has “blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens” (Eph. 1:3).
Imagine the cartoon that describes a gathering of a very rich deceased man’s greedy family who are waiting for the attorney to read the will. While family members are on the edge of their seats, the attorney begins to read the will, “I, John Doe, being of sound mind and body, spent it all!” Jesus didn’t spend it all; He paid it all! Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection made possible our salvation. Warren Wiersbe said, “When you were born again into God’s family, you were born rich.”
Paul said Christ has “blessed us with every spiritual blessing” (Eph. 1:3). The word “bless” is the Greek word eulogeo, which literally means “to speak well of.” It signifies “to praise, to celebrate, to bless, and to rejoice.” We can rejoice and praise God because “in Christ” we are spiritually rich. We have every spiritual enrichment needed for the spiritual life.
Writing from prison, Paul explained that our spiritual blessings come from three sources. God the Father chose to save us even “before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4). Christ, by His grace, forgave us, redeemed us, and made us His inheritance (Eph. 1:7-11). Our salvation in Christ is “sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. He is the down payment of our inheritance” (Eph. 1:13-14).
The purpose of giving us all these spiritual blessings is “to the praise of His glory” (Eph. 1:14). We should join Paul in this God-centered praise. We should give God praise for all that He has done for us, all that He is doing for us, and all that He will do for us.
Bible Studies for Life
A centered life
Matthew 6:25-34 (HCSB)
Psychologists tell us that most people worry from time to time. Most will realize it was ineffective and learn from it. Sadly, there are those who are chronic worriers. Chronic worrying is about the need to worry. It is a common characteristic of almost all anxiety disorders. It is the cardinal diagnostic feature of Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
Three times in this text Jesus said, “Don’t worry” (Matt. 6:25, 31, 34). Worry results when we focus too much on self. A centered life is a life that is focused on Jesus Christ as Lord. When you have Jesus, you have everything you need. The statement, “This is why I tell you,” (Matt. 6:25) connects this passage with Matthew 6:19-24, which is focused on unreserved devotion to God. Unreserved devotion to God requires us to trust God for every provision. When we do, there is no reason for anxiety or worrying.
Jesus confronted our worries about food. We need to take a lesson from the birds. “They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns” (Matt. 6:26). God takes care of them. Jesus said we are more valuable than the birds (Matt. 6:26). Jesus also confronted our worries about clothes. The wildflowers grow and adorn the fields (Matt. 6:28). Jesus said Solomon in all his splendor was not adorned like one of these (Matt. 6:29). Jesus told us that God will do much more for us (Matt. 6:30).
We all have needs, but worrying about them will not do any good (Matt. 6:27). God knows what you need (Matt. 6:32). Jesus calls us to seek His kingdom and His righteousness and then everything else will fall into place (Matt. 6:33).
Many people worry about things that might happen tomorrow. Jesus said, “Don’t worry about tomorrow … Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt. 6:34). We really only have today. God will provide for whatever the future brings. “His mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness!” (Lam. 3:22-23).
When our life is centered on Christ, we need not worry about food, clothes and the future.
Explore the Bible
Ephesians 1:15-23 (HCSB)
I learned about the relationship of cause and effect in elementary school. Our teacher used an egg to demonstrate Sir Isaac Newton’s theory of gravity. She held it up and released it. The mess on the floor revealed the cause. The reality of cause and effect can easily be seen in the Christian life. It was Paul’s desire and passion to help believers understand the effect their salvation had in their daily lives.
Paul received a report about the Ephesians’ faith and love (Eph. 1:15). He didn’t just evangelize them and forget them; he remembered them. It moved him to thanksgiving and prayer.
He constantly gave thanks in prayer for the work of God’s grace in their lives (Eph. 1:16). Paul specifically prayed that that God “would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him” (Eph. 1:17). He wanted them to know God more. The spirit of wisdom and revelation is a reference to the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13-14). Revelation refers to the knowledge, and wisdom refers to the ability to use that knowledge to influence and affect the course of one’s life.
Paul also prayed that the “the eyes of your heart may be enlightened” (Eph. 1:18). He wanted the Holy Spirit to enlighten them to “the hope of His calling” (Eph. 1:18). This speaks to their conversion experience in the past that has a present and future impact. He wanted them to be enlightened to the “riches of His inheritance” (Eph. 1:18). This speaks to the rich spiritual blessings we have as heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17). Paul also wanted them to be enlightened to “the immeasurable greatness of His power” (Eph. 1:19). This was the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, seated Him at the right hand of God with all authority on earth and in heaven, and appointed Him as the head of the Church (Eph. 1:20-23).
Paul remembered those he evangelized in Ephesus, and he was moved to pray for them. We should follow his example.
Bible Studies for Life
A daily pursuit
Philippians 4:4-9 (HCSB)
The theme of Philippians is joy. The word “rejoice” is found nine times; the word “joy,” four times, and the expression “rejoice with,” two times. Although Paul was writing from prison, he was filled with joy, and he wanted the Philippians to be filled with joy. Christians should be known as joyful people. The one thing that can rob us of our joy is worry. We can’t do what Bobby McFerrin suggests in his tune “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” Worry is not something we just turn off. Paul’s instruction was, “Don’t worry. Pray.”
I have wrestled through seasons of doubt, dryness, despair and discouragement. My joy was gone because I had drifted away from my time alone with God. Our joy comes from the Lord. If we don’t spend time with Him, our joy is replaced with anxiety. Paul said, “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil. 4:4). Our joy and rejoicing emerge from our relationship with the Lord. The key is prayer.
Paul used three different words for prayer. The word “prayer” was the general word for making requests of God, but it also has a worship element. It carries the idea of adoration, devotion and worship. We often forget that our time alone with God is a worship experience. The second word is “petition,” and it means to voice our need or problem. The last word is “thanksgiving,” which means to voice our gratitude and appreciation to God. The result of this praying is that God will give us a peace that “surpasses every thought” and will abide with us (Phil. 4:7, 9). This peace will guard our hearts and minds (Phil. 4:7). Like that guard that was chained to Paul, peace stands guard over our hearts and minds, guarding us from wrong feelings and wrong thinking.
Spending time alone with God will help us to dwell on whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, things of moral excellence, and things worthy of praise (Phil. 4:8).
Deepen your relationship with God by spending time with Him every day. It will bring joy to your life.