Manna for Today

 

United in Christ (Eph. 2:11-22)

Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.  (Eph. 2:11-22)

Learn it:

      After Paul talks about how the gospel changes a person’s life and identity, he then goes on in this passage to show how it can unite different people groups.  When this letter was written Jews and Gentiles were sworn enemies.  Jews, according to the Mosaic Law, were not allowed to eat with Gentiles or even enter their homes.  Jews though of themselves as more superior to all other nations.  When the church began, this tension made it hard for it to stand strong united.  Jewish Christians thought Gentile Christians should follow the Law, become circumcised and eat only clean foods.  Gentile Christians didn’t want to do any of those things, and the Apostle Paul was preaching that they didn’t have to become Jewish in order to follow Christ. 

      This unity that Paul was proclaiming was shocking.  Gentiles are being fully welcomed into the body of Christ.  Gentiles were not becoming Jews and Jews were not becoming Gentiles.  They both were becoming a brand-new creation.  The death of Christ destroyed the animosity between them so that they can become one in Christ.  Gentiles now have an identity in Christ as his chosen people.  This amazing thing has happened bringing all of creation together. 

Live it:       

          Christ has united all things in him.  Any tensions that exist between people groups have been removed by the blood of Christ.  This is not an easy thing to put into practice in our culture or local church.  It demands that we set aside our preferences and comfort for the gospel to be displayed.  We all have people in our lives that we struggle to love and be hospitable to.  It could be a family member, co-worker, or it could be people we hear about in the news.  We need to view people in two ways.  If they are believers, they are our brother and sister in Christ, so we should love them and encourage them in their faith.  If they are not believers, then they are lost sheep in desperate need of Christ, so we should love them and share the gospel with them.  Either way, we should be loving all people are uniting all people together in the family of God. 

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The Good News (Eph. 2:1-10)

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  (Eph. 2:1-10)

Learn it:

            On Monday we read Paul’s thanksgiving and prayer for the Ephesians.  After he wrote that, it led him into this beautiful passage depicting what happens when a person comes to faith.  In verses 1-3 he is describing a person’s life before they surrender their life to Christ.  That person is “disobedient”, following their own “sinful nature, and they are “objects of wrath”.  Our eternal outlook was not hopeful.  In verse four you have a great word, “but”.  We find hope and that our condition is not permanent.  We read of God’s great love for us and how he gives us spiritual life.  By God’s grace he saved us through our faith.  It is not through anything that we have done that could give us eternal life.  It is 100% a GIFT from God.  Totally undeserved.

            One big theme you will see through out this letter is the importance of us finding our identity in Christ.  In verse 10 you see Paul saying that “we are God’s workmanship” and we are “created in Christ Jesus”.  We see that we belong to Christ and we are his.  We must find our identities in him and not anything else in this world.  Everything else will fail and let us down, but if we focus on Christ he will get us through anything.

Live it:

               There are two things I want you to focus on today.  First, we must remember our past and the radical life change that happened when we became a follower of Christ.  We cannot forget the amazing gift God gave us that we do not deserve.  Then secondly, because we have received this great gift, God created us to do good works, which would lead us to share the news of this gift to other people.  There are other people that desperately need this message of God’s great mercy and love.  Who in your life needs to hear the gospel?  Pray for them right now.  Then pray that God would give you the opportunity and boldness to share it with them this week. 

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Paul’s Prayer for the Ephesians (Eph. 1:15-23)

For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.  (Eph. 1:15-23)

Learn it:

            After Paul finishes his extended praise to God he gets to his thanksgiving and prayer to the Ephesians.  We read about how Paul has heard of the faithfulness of the local church their and how loving their community is.  He is so thankful for their attitudes and prays about them often.  He then tells them how he is praying for them.  He prays that they continue to find their identity in Christ and that they continue to know Christ better and better, every day.  He wants them to fully understand what it means to be a child of God.  We have access to a great inheritance and we have access to his mighty power.  It is incredible what the Holy Spirit gives us.  He then ends the section by focusing on the authority Christ has over the earth and heavens.  There is none greater or mightier than his.  He is in control of everything and the Church is his body where his fullness dwells.  What an awesome gift God has given the Church through Jesus Christ. 

Live it:

            I pray this same prayer for you and me today.  I pray that we continue to give us wisdom and revelation to know Jesus Christ better than we currently do.  We should never get complacent in our relationship with Jesus Christ.  We must keep seeking a deeper, more intimate relationship with him.  He is seated at the right of God the Father in heaven and he is guiding everything in the cosmos.  Not one thing happens without Jesus Christ playing a role in it.  It’s hard to fathom but through the power of the Holy Spirit we can gain more and more understanding.  Spend time today praying and building a deeper relationship with Jesus.  Pray that he opens your eyes to the gospel that you may be amazed at what Chris has done for you.  The hope we have in Christ is unbelievable.  Our jaws should drop every morning when we realize our sins have been forgiven and we have been promised eternal life with the creator of the universe. 


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God has a Plan (Eph. 1:11-14)

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, 12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.  (Eph. 1:11-14)

Learn it:

            This passage is a continuation of what we looked at on Wednesday.  We see that God has had a plan since the beginning of time to unite all of creation in him.  They Jews may have been the first to hope in Christ because they were waiting for a messiah to come and rescue them.  But when Christ came he included the Gentiles as well.  The gospel of Christ includes everyone who believes in him.  When they put their faith in Christ they are sealed with the Holy Spirit.  This Holy Spirit not only dwells within us but it is a down payment of what is to come.  When we come to faith in Christ our soul is guaranteed to be with Christ forever and our physical bodies are still growing old.  When Christ returns our physical bodies will be restored to perfection and the Holy Spirit is a reminder that God will make good on his promise.  This leads us to praise God! 

Live it:

            Since the beginning of time God had a plan to include all people in his saving grace.  While his plan started with the nation of Israel it did not end there.  When he sent his Son to die on the cross, he died for the sins of the world.  His salvation is available to all who call on his name.  When the confess Christ as Lord he sends his Spirit to dwell in them as a deposit of what is to come.  They are now marked as a child of God.  If you believe in Christ, then you are marked with the Holy Spirit as a child of God.  You have been adopted into his family.  You have a heavenly inheritance waiting for you.  Are you aware of the Holy Spirits influence in your life?  Praise God today for his Spirit dwelling with in you.  Praise him that he is going to restore not only your soul but your physical body someday.    

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Pastor’s Corner