Series: Paul’s Letters
Ephesians 1:3-14 ESV
Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV
Ephesians 3:1-6 ES
Ephesians 3:14-21 ESV
Fifty years ago I started on an unrevealed journey to memorize as much scripture as possible. Many of the verses I memorized when I was twenty something still reverberate in my brain today. While I continued through the years to memorize scripture, most of the verses I remember were learned during my younger years. Today’s scripture was one of the sections I memorized.
Ephesians 1:3-14 tells us,“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”
Through the years I’ve discovered the words I memorized have been a huge blessing to me! I initially had the idea of memorizing scripture because of author Corrie Ten Boom.
The books, The Hiding Place and Tramp for the Lord written by Corrie Ten Boom was first published the year I graduated from high school. Her words and her story had a huge impact on my life and work. I would still recommend it to anyone today who is struggling with persecution. At the time my definition of persecution was relegated to severe conditions but today I know persecution wears many different hats.
While Ephesians 1:3-14 doesn’t speak of persecution, it comforts us because we know that God chose us, God predestined us, God redeemed us, God gave (and gives) us an inheritance, and God sealed us with the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Oh my, how that changed me…
I am a crazy writer artist type and I tend to go “at” life with gusto. When I was young I didn’t often think of consequences. When I saw something pretty or colorful I ran toward it.
Without God and the guidance of the Spirit I could have been a very different sort of person today.
As it turned out I think my da knew that and he taught me the Way of God.
In Ephesians 2:8-10, Paul eloquently but clearly told the members of the church in Ephesus,
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
In the third chapter of Ephesians Paul speaks of the mystery of Christ.
It is indeed a mystery.
Many years ago, prior to my seminary days someone told me about a book they thought I should read. They knew I have had dreams and visions since I was a young teenager. They knew God speaks to me in various ways and my gifts were not accepted in all circles. That was troubling for me. The person I spoke with suggested I should read Mysticism by Evelyn Underhill. It was written before World War I and at first it was difficult for me to read because her style was unique. However once I was acclimated to it, I realized how very much I needed to read it! I had always felt like I was an odd duck because of my gifts.
For the first time, someone other than my dad understood how God speaks to me.
In Ephesians 3:1-6, Paul wrote, “For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles—assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”
I came to realize that Paul understood the mystery of Christ.
Evelyn Underhill wrote in her work, “The spiritual life is not a special career, involving abstraction from the world of things. It is a part of every man’s life; and until he has realised it he is not a complete human being, has not entered into possession of all his powers.”
Evelyn Underhill understood. When I read her work, I felt normal. Someone other than my dad understood that my gifts were not weird or esoteric. My gifts were simply a gift. They were from God. They are okay.
In Ephesians 3:14-21 Paul wrote words that were are are sweet to my ears.
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
Paul understood the fullness of God through the power of the Spirit.
During the Charismatic movement in the latter part of the 20th Century, a group of people understood, but I wasn’t raised in those circles. I came to realize that identifiers are only markers and they do not fully encompass who we are in Christ. I was grateful that God sent specific people to me to help me understand and utilize my gifts as God would have me use them.
With their help, I came to accept the mystery of Christ in me. I came to cherish Paul’s words in Ephesians as he wrote about the mystery of Christ.
Paul’s words help me to feel like I’m at home safe in God’s arms.
Spiritual Practice: At Home
What scripture(s) make you feel at home?
In God, Deborah