Vacation – June 18

Text: Ephesians 3.14-21 (Read it here)20160618

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

(Ephesians 3.20-21, NIV)

Appealing to a Higher Power
Author: Matthew Killough

Who is the highest power you can appeal to? Who is the highest power you have ever appealed to? Growing up in Grants, NM boasting about a higher power was a common occurrence when I was a young child. This was largely due to the fact that Grants was full of extended families. Here is what I mean: a group of children would be playing in the neighborhood when one child would hurt another, sometimes by accident and sometimes on purpose. Then the threats would begin, “My brother is going to beat you up… he is on the high school football team!” The other would fire back, “My cousin can beat up your brother… he has a purple belt in karate!” Back and forth it would go until someone would claim their cousin was a Navy Seal or Chuck Norris!

In Ephesians 3:14 – 21, Paul appeals to the highest power in the universe: the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. However, Paul does not appeal to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine to have him inflict pain or suffering on us. On the contrary Paul’s appeal is to strengthen you with power through his Spirit because God’s has glorious riches. Also, this appeal is not just a simple trivia fact… no, no, no… it is so we may know how wide and long and high and how deep is the love of Christ. Indeed, this love is a love that surpasses knowledge. With this power at work in us God is glorified in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.

So if you are anxious today, appeal to a higher power: no, not your boss or your spouse or even your local government. Rather appeal to the father. Instead of being anxious, allow Christ to dwell in your hearts through faith. Focus on being rooted and established in love rather than being tossed back and forth by waves and blown here and there by every wind that comes along. This Paul’s hope for you, as well as all Christians who read his letter to the Ephesians.

Questions:

How often do you pray that others may be “strengthened with the power of God?” If you do not typically pray this, why do you think you do not? Why do we find it easier to pray for specific illnesses than it is to pray for God’s power to work in people? Think of someone for whom you can pray this prayer for and do it now.

Describe a time when you have felt completely filled with the power and fullness of God? What sort of things transpired to create that moment? How much of this relied on your own actions and how much on situations you found yourself in that you knew was God at work?

What is the most amazing, unbelievable, awesome thing you can think of? Have you ever seen this in real life? What is the most amazing thing you have seen in real life, with your own eyes? Now, what is your reaction to knowing that God is able to do even more than what you have seen or even more than you can imagine?

Vacation – June 8

Text: Ephesians 1.3-14 (Read it here.)20160608

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
(Ephesians 1.13-14, NIV)

Who Adopted Us
Author: Matthew Killough

Well, there they were: five rambunctious puppies jumping, biting and playing with one another in the floor.  My two boys could hardly contain themselves, “We get to pick one?  Are you for real Dad?”  Yes, I assured them I was for real and that day we would choose one of the little critters to become part of our family. I’m not certain how much it meant to the dog that we adopted him and took him with us that day, but it meant everything to the kids.  Of course the first lesson we learned was to not squeeze the puppy so hard that his eyes began to bulge!  I’ll be honest it was little embarrassing in the beginning.

Paul is almost embarrassing in the language he uses to describe God’s love for us that led to our adoption into HIS family.  Notice some of these: has blessed us in the heavenly realms (3), he chose us to be holy and blameless (4), in love he predestined us for adoption (5), he lavished the riches of his grace on us (7), in him we were chosen (11) and we were given a deposit to guarantee our inheritance (14). That is a lot of love!  That is love that is only given by the creator of the universe to his creation. It is no wonder that Paul ends this passage of encouragement by saying: “to the praise of his glory.”

As you read this passage take time to think about being chosen.  Take time to think about being adopted.  Take time to think about being loved by a God who loved you so much that he made plans to bless you by making you member of his family before the creation of the world. How does that make your soul feel?  Can you let your guard down now? Can your mind be at peace? God’s love transforms our lives by giving us the peace and security that he intended for us to have even before he created our world.  This is the God whom we serve, a God who loved us first with an embarrassing love.

Questions:

In the original Greek, today’s section is actually one sentence. As you read through this sentence, what sort of statements does Paul make about being included in Christ? What does it say about God that he “chose us,” “predestined us for adoption,” and “included [us] in Christ?”

Think about groups to whom you belong or have belonged, for instance a social club or civic club. What did (or do) you have to do to become a member of these organizations? How much of the emphasis on inclusion within the group is on the existing group versus how much is on you, the one coming into the group? How does God’s selection of you relate to the way you are called into groups?

Have you ever been excluded from the “cool kids,” or from some group that you longed to be a part of? How does this exclusion cause you to act differently than you would if you knew you were a part of that group? How does knowing God has chosen you cause you to be more at peace with your life and cause you to act more in confidence, versus wishing you were a part?