Manna for Today

 

Paul’s Final Greetings (Eph. 6:21-24)

Tychicus, the dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you everything, so that you also may know how I am and what I am doing. 22 I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage you

23 Peace to the brothers and sisters, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.

Learn it:

            In the final verses, Paul wants to take care of some personal business.  Tychicus, who probably carried the letter from Rome to Ephesus, was sent to give a full report of what is going on in Paul’s life.  The purpose of this is to encourage them.  Then in verse 23 he hits on three Christian virtues that they should be displayed in their lives:  peace, love, and faith.  During this time where Jews and Gentiles becoming one in Christ, they need to have peace with one another.  The way they do that is through love that can only come from Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.  That is what they must be focusing on. 

Then he ends the letter just like he began it (1:2) by referring to God’s grace.  He wants them to receive God’s grace that comes from someone who loves Jesus Christ with an “undying love”.  In another translation, it reads as “love incorruptible.”  The love we have for Jesus Christ should be pure and with the right motives.  Just as Christ has loved us we should return the same type of love to him. 

Live it:

            Though the letter of Ephesians we have covered a lot of ground.  The gospel as radically changed our lives by moving us from darkness to light.  We are no longer living in darkness but living in the light.  The death and resurrection of Christ has united all believers into one body!  We shouldn’t let ethnicity or cultural divisions keep us from loving one another.  Then we learned how we should live out our faith in everyday life.  Encouraging one another and loving each other well. 

 

            In his final greeting, Paul is trying to summarize things again.  Calling them to peace, love, and faith.  These are the three things that will allow us to be united with Christ and then live it out.  If your faith is strong in Christ, it will allow you to love other people well and by loving people we can live in peace.  For us to live in community we all need to have a deep, intimate relationship with God.  How well do you know Christ?


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Pray for One Another (Eph. 6:18-20)

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.  19 Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.  (Eph. 6:18-20)

Learn it:

            Paul ends this section about the armor of God with the most important one, prayer.  We need to pray “in the Spirit” at every moment we can.  What it means to pray “in the Spirit” is that we are asking God to align our desires with the Spirit, and by the Spirit’s power.  We are completely focused on God and the Holy Spirit wanting to be aligned with them.  We need to have relationships with other believers so we can be praying for them.

            After this brief message on prayer, he then goes on to ask for people to pray for him.  We see that even the apostle Paul needs prayer!  He shows humility by telling the Ephesians to pray that he needs boldness to preach the gospel.  He wants to be able to communicate it clearly and fearlessly.  Apparently, he knows that in his own life he may back away from preaching the gospel.  He wants people lifting him up so that he takes advantage of every situation God gives him.  What a display of leadership from Paul. 

Live it:

            Paul is telling us that prayer is important in a Christians life and then he makes it even more direct by telling his readers how they can be praying for him.  He wants them to be putting this into practice as soon as they can.  We also need to be praying as much as we can.  We need the Holy Spirit to guide our prayers and we need to be praying for the people that are in our lives.  It does not matter if a person is going through hard times or good times we should be lifting them up to God. 
            We also need to show humility in our lives by telling people how they can be praying for us.  We can always use the kind of prayer that Paul asked for, to be able to share the gospel fearlessly.  Who can’t use help like that?  When the body of Christ trusts one another and shares what is going on in their lives it makes the church strong.  It is a powerful thing when we lean on one another.  Who are people in your life that you can share your prayer requests with?  Pray that the Holy Spirit would give you the boldness to share if it is something you are not comfortable sharing. 


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Armor of God (Eph. 6:13-17)

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  (Eph. 6:13-17)

Learn it:

            We are now getting into a well-known passage describing the armor of God.  Again, Paul is telling his readers that there is an impending day coming when evil is going to come against you.  We have to stand ready to attack and spur off Satan’s movements.  Paul buts a strong emphasis on us being able to “stand firm” in this passage.  In verses 14-17 he goes through and describes the main things a Roman soldier wears and how it corresponds with a Christian.  Everyone at this time would know what a soldier looks like and would be able to visualize this very easily. 

            The first two pieces of a soldier’s uniform would be their belt and breastplate.  For the Christian, they represent truth and righteousness.  These two things can mean two different things.  Truth could mean God’s revealed truth that the Christian believers, and it can mean the Christian’s own truthfulness.  This would be the lifestyle a Christian should be living.  If a Christian is living a life built on the truth of God and living a life of integrity they will be able to stand strong against Satan.  The breastplate of righteousness can be understood in the same way.  We are covered with Christ’s righteousness and we must make sure we are pursing our own personal righteousness. 

            He then goes on to describe their sandals and how they are the gospel of peace.  That is what allows us to have a good grip on the ground we are standing.  Next, we have our shield of faith.  The Romans shield had leather on it, so it was able to withstand flaming arrows that would strike it.  The same when Satan sends temptation our way, our faith can extinguish them.  The next piece is the helmet of salvation which implies there is a mental choice we must make when we come to faith.  The last piece is the sword of Spirit.  He is our greatest offensive weapon and we will talk more about hits on Friday.

Live it:

            There are a lot of tools that a follower of Christ has that helps them stand strong against the enemy and live a life of unity within the church.  How familiar are you with all these things?  We need to be seeking out to understand God’s truth and letting it transform our lives.  Through the death of Christ, he has given us his righteousness, so that we can stand perfect before God.  Even though that is our spiritual identity our physical life should reflect that as well.  We should be walking in a way where the peace of God is always felt in our life.  Is your faith strong enough to withstand attacks from the devil?  Are you quick to respond with the power of the Holy Spirit and go after evil?  God has blessed us with many things and we need to be familiar with these resources we have. 


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What battle are you fighting? (Eph. 6:10-12)

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Learn it:

            We are getting to the end of Ephesians and Paul is shifting gears to close it out.  Throughout the main section of the letter, he had been focused on unity in Christ and how we are all of one body.  Then he wrote about how we should live together in that unity and what submission looks like in the household of believers.  All these things are working together to make the church strong and vibrant.  He is coming back to a point that he made back at 1:19, where he prayed that they would know of the great power that is in Christ.  He wants to end his letter reminding them to be strong in the Lord!  To fight against the schemes of the devil, which is him wanting to divide the church, among other things he his trying to do.  This “standing” that Paul is talking about is not some passive thing that we are waiting and bracing for.  It is a call to action.  To go out and fight the devil. 

            He then goes on to describe where this battle is being fought.  It is being fought in the spiritual realm.  Yes, we experience some of the physical temptations, but the main fight is spiritual.  He then lists some characteristics of our opponents.  They are powerful, they have some authority, they have great influence in the world, and the agenda is evil.  They are fighting against us and want to stop us from doing the will of God.    

Live it:

            Paul is setting up an epic picture here of what we, as Christians, are fighting against.  There is a powerful evil out there that is causing havoc in the world.  It may seem that they are powerful, but we have something greater on our side!  One thing that I think we need to remember that often distracts us is that what Paul says in verse 12.  He says that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood.”  We often get caught up in culture wars in our media and politics by posting things on Facebook.  We think that is where our primary battlefield is.  That is a secondary battle where I believe the devil can distract believers from where we need to be. 

Our primary work should be done in prayer and lift one another up.  We need to be living out Ephesians 4 and 5, striving towards unity, loving one another, and thanking God.  Those are going to have a bigger impact for the kingdom of God.  What battle are you fighting?  Are you fighting against the flesh and blood?  Or are you in the real fight in the spiritual realm? 


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Pastor’s Corner