Aug. 28 – (Eph. 1:1-14) Ephesians will be a global picture of what God had in mind as a spotless bride for His resurrected son.  As you read this book ask the Lord to continue to form you into that spotless bride!

                Paul’s great prayer at the opening of this letter is a celebration of the larger story within which every single Christian story- every story of individual conversion, faith, spiritual life, obedience and hope – is set.  Only by understanding and celebrating the larger story can we hope to understand everything that’s going on in our own smaller stories, and so observe God at work in and through our own lives.  Before Paul tells the story, however, he introduces himself.  Why does Paul start with his credentials (vv.1-2)?

                What has God done for us in and through Jesus the Messiah? 

                What does it mean to be chosen by grace (vv. 4-6)?  We aren’t chosen for our own sake, but for the sake of what God wants to accomplish through us.  In what ways, might God want to bless (or how is he already blessing) others through you or your Christian community?

Aug. 29 – (Eph. 1:15-23) “I can't stop thanking God for you! Every time I pray, I think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength!” (The Message – Eph. 1:17-19)

Aug. 30 – (Eph. 2: 1-10) Verse 10 is another favorite verse of mine. It gives purpose and destiny for why we are here now in time and place.  When I read this verse I always hear Ellen Queen’s voice speaking it.  Many years ago, Ellen was our terrific school administrator at Charisma Academy (our elementary school).  She led a series for our chapel based on this passage.  It was so impactful to me and the children that ever since, I can’t read this without hearing her repeating this verses over and over so that it would get down into our spirits.  Her goal was to encourage all of us (not just the students) to know God has put gifts in us for His glory.  We are to spend our lifetime “mining” those treasures and sharing them for others to see and receive all that God has put in them.  It was a life changing series!  Thank you, Ellen, for your insight, diligence, and wonderful way you made it simple enough to understand and complex enough to know it is an ongoing journey!

Have you ever tried to follow a Google map backwards?  If it says to go right, now you must go left…. always?  You think you are absolutely going in the right direction but you are absolutely going the opposite way you should and the farther you go, the more you are farther from your destination.  Left to ourselves and living in this world through our “Adamic” nature, we not only choose the wrong direction, but remain cheerfully confident that it is in fact the right one.  What forces lure or compel us to go in the wrong direction spiritually (vv.1-2)?

                What reasons have you heard people give for the direction they’re going in their life?

                According to Paul, what characterizes people who are going in the wrong direction (v.3)?

                What has God done for us that will get us on the right road (vv. 4-6)?

                God made us alive and raised us up in Christ (vv. 4-6).  What does verse 7 say God desires to accomplish by this?

                Lots of people who are heading in the wrong direction want to think of God as a bit stingy, or mean, or small-minded-just as people who are enjoying their drive don’t like it if someone tells them they’re going the wrong way, and that they’re about to pass the last chance to turn off and head back again.  But the crucial factor here, as always is Jesus himself.  Take away his resurrection, and for all anybody know the road to death is the only road there is.  Put it back in the picture, though and you realize two things.  First, there is another way.  Second, you are urgently summoned to turn around and follow it.

Aug. 31 – (Eph. 2:11-22) Have you ever tried to become a part of a new group? What made you comfortable?   What made you uncomfortable? Spiritually, we become part of a new group too.  How does Paul describe Gentiles before they became part of this new group?

                The word Paul uses in verse 12 to describe them as having no god is the word from which we get our word atheists.  This is ironic, because that’s what Gentiles used to call Jews, and then came to call Christians as well, since neither Jews nor Christians had statues of their gods.  Neither, so far as the Gentile eye could see, offered animal sacrifice, consulted oracles or did any of the other things that pagans associated with worship of their gods.  Paul, boldly standing on the same ground as Jewish writers of the same period, declares that the pagan gods are non-gods.  Those who think they worship them are worshiping something that doesn’t really exist.

                What did Jesus do specifically for Gentiles on the one hand (vv.12-14) and for Jewish people on the other (vv. 14-15)?  Consider how those receiving his letter from Paul might have reacted to these verses.  How easy or difficult do you think it was for them to live out the oneness they were called to as fellow believers in Christ?   We may no longer have to deal with the Jew/Gentile integration but what other lines are still divided? How does this challenge again our grasp of the meaning of Jesus’ death?

Sept. 1 – (Eph. 3:1-13) Have you ever had a big dream that you shared only the first part?  Later as the first part began to succeed, you revealed the full plan you had all along?  That’s kind of what Paul’s picture of God in this passage is like.  What was God’s secret plan (vv. 1-6)?  How did He reveal his plan (vv. 2-5)?

                What three great privileges did the Gentiles attain (together with the Jews) in this plan (v.6)?

                Think about hearing a family in your church just came into a large and wealthy inheritance – and then being told that you are to become full members of that family, with instant privileges identical to theirs!  That’s the situation that Christian Gentiles now find themselves in.  How did God accomplish this plan (v.7)?  What does this plan of God’s – the plan itself, the fact that God kept it hidden and then revealed it, the way he accomplished it – reveal the character of God? God had the perfect plan.  God has the perfect plan. God will always have the perfect plan!!! Praise His Name! 

Sept. 2 – (Eph. 3:14-21) Whenever someone tells you of something victorious in a Christian’s life, 3:20-21 can be the exclamation on the story!  All victorious living is to bring glory to God alone.  God has such a wonderful life planned for each of us.  Does it mean all sunshine and roses?  I’m going to say, “YES!”  But the “YES”, only happens when our minds are totally renewed to purely trust and obey in ALL circumstances. A bad situation by the world’s standards can be a place of absolute calm IF we purely know God absolutely loves us right now… wants only good for us right now…is absolutely in control of our life right now! Soooo in this lifetime on earth, it is a journey of renewing our mind to see things more and more like Him.  Many times, when I am in despair I ask God yet again to help me see things through His eyes of love.  Selah

Sept 3 – (Eph. 4:1-6) This chapter opens the second half of Paul’s letter. Paul takes his readers back to the fundamental instructions on living the Christian life.  He reminds them how they began and what it was all about.  The Christian life begins with a calling.  What elements comprise that calling to faith Paul has in mind here (vv.1-5)?

                How can we “bear with one another in love” (v. 2)?  Describe the unity that God has given us with other believers even when we have differences with them (vv. 3-6)?  What threatens unity in our Christian community?  How can we maintain and guard this unity we have with other believers?               What is the “single hope” that goes with our call (vv. 4-6)?