Bible Study January 17
Conference Number: (563) 999-2090 Access Code: 793633
Wednesday January 17, 2018
Lesson Series on Ephesians
Scripture: Ephesians 1:1-14
Paul opens his letter with a glorious anthem of praise for all the blessings we have “in Christ.” One blessing is that we belong to God’s family – a community of faith. Think of a time when you felt a true sense of belonging to a community or group of people. Consider the atmosphere, circumstances, and purposes of the group. What did it feel like to belong?
The apostle Paul had much invested in the church n Ephesus. For three years Paul lived and worked there, providing a strong foundation for the church. In all likelihood, this letter was intended for a region made up of several churches. Paul sent the manuscript with Tychicus ona mission to encourage those churches. The contents of the letter don’t confront any crisis. Paul used this occasion to provide Christians with a basic overview of the Christian life.
Read Ephesians 1:1-14 NCV (New Century Version)
The Unity of the Body
4 I am in prison because I belong to the Lord. Therefore I urge you who have been chosen by God to live up to the life to which God called you. 2 Always be humble, gentle, and patient, accepting each other in love. 3 You are joined together with peace through the Spirit, so make every effort to continue together in this way. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, and God called you to have one hope. 5 There is one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. 6 There is one God and Father of everything. He rules everything and is everywhere and is in everything.
7 Christ gave each one of us the special gift of grace, showing how generous he is. 8 That is why it says in the Scriptures,
“When he went up to the heights,
he led a parade of captives,
and he gave gifts to people.” Psalm 68:18
9 When it says, “He went up,” what does it mean? It means that he first came down to the earth. 10 So Jesus came down, and he is the same One who went up above all the heaven. Christ did that to fill everything with his presence. 11 And Christ gave gifts to people—he made some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to go and tell the Good News, and some to have the work of caring for and teaching God’s people. 12 Christ gave those gifts to prepare God’s holy people for the work of serving, to make the body of Christ stronger. 13 This work must continue until we are all joined together in the same faith and in the same knowledge of the Son of God. We must become like a mature person, growing until we become like Christ and have his perfection.
14 Then we will no longer be babies. We will not be tossed about like a ship that the waves carry one way and then another. We will not be influenced by every new teaching we hear from people who are trying to fool us. They make plans and try any kind of trick to fool people into following the wrong path.
- What are some spiritual blessings that we have through Christ?
- God forgives our sins through the blood of Christ. What difference does that make in our daily lives?
- What is special about the fact that God deliberately chooses us as his people?
- How does God choose his people? Do your best to anchor your answer to God’s Word?
- 5In what ways is the Holy Spirit God’s mark of ownership on us?
And you thought God adopted you because you were good looking. You thought he needed your money or your wisdom. Sorry. God adopted you simply because he wanted to. You were in his good will and pleasure. Knowing full well trouble you would be and the price he would pay, he signed his name to yours and changed your name and took you home. Your Abba adopted you and became your Father.
May I pause here for just a minute? Most of you are with me…but a couple of you are shaking your heads. I see those squinty eyes. You don’t believe me, do you? You’re waiting for the fine print. There’s got to be a gimmick. You know life has no free lunch, so you’re waiting for the check.
Your discomfort is obvious. Even here in God’s living room, you never unwind. Others put on slippers, you put on a front. Other relax, you stiffen. Always on your best behavior, ever anxious that you’ll slip up and God will notice and out you’ll go.
I understand your anxiety. Our experience with people has taught us that what is promised and what is presented aren’t always the same. And for some, the thought of trusting a heavenly Father is doubly difficult because your earthly father disappointed or mistreated you.
If such is the case, I urge you: Don’t confuse your heavenly Father with the fathers you have seen on earth. Your Father in heaven isn’t prone to headaches and temper tantrums. He doesn’t hold you one day and hit you the next. The man who fathered you may play such games, but the God who loves you never will. (From The Great House of God by Max Lucado).
- Describe being unwanted. In what situations in life have you vividly felt that you didn’t belong?
- Describe being valued. How did you discover that you were highly regarded by someone? What did that feel lik, and what ways did it affect your actions?
- Why does God value us? (Note Max’s insight on this in the reading.)
- What conclusions can you draw from the statement that God chose us from the foundation of the world?
- In what ways do we bring praise to God’s glory?
- Described someone who has exemplified God’s grace to you?
We experience “belonging” in many temporary, shallow ways in modern life: playing on a sports team, a corporate community at work, joining exercise clubs, country clubs, book clubs, and service clubs. The attraction of these connections illustrates how badly we long to belong. What these earth – based groups offer in part, God our Father offers in whole. We long to belong because we were designed to belong. Until we know to whom we belong, life will always lack a sense of ultimate purpose and direction. In Christ we can experience true belonging. Acknowledging that God has chosen us and “owns” us brings a great adventure of freedom and service for Christ.
For more Bible passages on being Go’s child, see John 1:11-13; Romans 8:15-17; Galatians 3:26-4:7; Hebrews 12:8-11.
DEVOTION (CLOSING PRAYER)
Thank you, God, for choosing us. May we be spurred on by your love to do great works, yet never substitute those works for your great grace. May we always hear your voice. Keep us amazed and mesmerized by what you have done for us. In Jesus name. Amen.