Ephesians 2:4. “But God, Who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, ”
I love it when a passage that depicts us in our miserable, sinful condition is followed by those two words, But God!
He is the answer to our sin problem, because in His great mercy, in which He is so rich, He loved us beyond measure and without restraint. He loved us lavishly, richly, outrageously. H allowed His beloved only Son to pay the penalty for our sin.
These verses, 2:4-7, and wonderful. We need to ponder on them, meditate, be thankful, be amazed at God’s amazing grace.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day here in America. Of course, visions of pilgrims in tall black hats, their wives in mob caps, Indians sharing their knowledge and their food, that first feast that went on for several days, crowd into my mind. History revisionists keep trying to alter how events happened, but we still have the original diaries and letters of people who were there to keep us straight.
We know that hundreds fled Europe in order to be free to practice their faith; we also know that it was a long struggle in the New World before it became universally safe to practice one’s own faith without fear of legal reprisal. Not everyone who fled religious persecution in Europe was a Puritan. There was, for instance, the Catholic colony (Maryland) and the Quaker colony (Pennsylvania). Later Rhode Island became known as “the little Baptist state.”
I just deleted a couple of long paragraphs. I don’t want to focus on the negative this morning. Instead, I want to be thankful that today I will spend a lot of time in the kitchen, prepping for tomorrow’s meal. That my kitchen is new, beautiful, and very nearly finished. That we have more than enough food. That we are healthy and still able to host the meal here. That I still have one daughter and her family who live nearby, and will grace our table tomorrow. That it will be a relaxed, calm day. We will enjoy the food. The men will probably work on a couple of projects together. We’ll play games, and the kids are all old enough to enjoy doing so. We have no avid football fans in the mix, so the TV won’t be on. I’m thankful for that.
You won’t see me until next Monday. The kids traditionally stay overnight with us on Thanksgiving night, and I’ll be busy with that. On Monday, we’ll resume our study in Ephesians, Chapter 2 and verse 4. I’m thankful for that little gem of a letter, and I hope it is blessing you as well.
So I’m wishing you all a warm and wonderful Thanksgiving Day. I pray that you will indeed find many things for which to be thankful. If you are traveling, that you will be safe. If you are staying home, that you will enjoy a day with friends and/or family.
May the God of all comfort give you peace and hope today, tomorrow, and every day.
Ephesians 2:3. “Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh, and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.”
The Bible cuts us no slack just because we are believers. The truth is, all believers were, before coming to Christ, the “children of wrath.” We had our conversation (living out our lives, our behavior, companions, and words) among the children of wrath. Just like them, we coddled the lusts of our flesh and our minds. We partook of that which pleased our appetites, no matter how perverse and foolish those things may seem to us once we have become children of God. Our minds were full of self and sin.
We still are subject to the appetites and lusts of the flesh. That is why, later in this letter, Paul warns us to put on the whole armor of God. It is why I Peter 5:8 reminds us to be constantly on guard against Satan, who is like a roaring lion, looking for prey to devour.
The thing that keeps us from reverting back to our old behaviors ought to be a recognition that the blood of Jesus Christ was shed in great agony and love to redeem us from our old nature. The sacrifice He made on the cross was no small thing. If we focus on that, on Calvary and the empty tomb, it should bring us back from living according to the lusts of the flesh and of the mind.
If it doesn’t, if we are not moved by the recognition of what Jesus did, then perhaps it is time to re-examine the truth of our salvation. I am not one to constantly beat the drum of “Are you SURE you are saved?” However, if our lives and behaviors look a lot more like the children of wrath than they do the children of God, then a serious look at our true relationship with Him is in order.
Ephesians 2:2. “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, thespirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:”
Verse one told us that Christ has made us alive, although we were dead in our sin. Verse two tells us that before we came to Christ, we walked “according to the course of this world.”That is, we walked in the flesh and not in the Spirit.
When I was growing up, there were certain behaviors that were considered “worldly,” and we were not to indulge in those behaviors. I’m not going to list them here. That’s not my point. The point then, and it should be now, is that Christians were to be different. Because we were indwelt with the Holy Spirit of God, sanctified (set apart for a purpose) and made new, we were to walk (live out our lives) in a way that set us apart from unbelievers.
Why is that so important? Read the rest of the verse. It is because Satan, the Prince of the Power of the Air, rules the “children of disobedience,” those who have not received salvation by grace through faith and are still walking in the flesh, ruled by fleshly desires and subject to the one who rules through a spirit of rebellion and disobedience. Believers are to be different, ruled by the Holy Spirit of God.
So what does it mean, that title given to Satan?
First, he is a prince in the sense that he does have great power (I John 5:19). He is not a king, because there is only One Who is King of Kings (I Tim. 6:15). This power has been given him by God (Luke 4:6). Satan has power over some illnesses (Luke 16:13; see also 2 Cor. 12:7—it’s unknown if Paul’s “thorn” was an illness or something else). In some sense, Satan has power over death (Hebrew 2:14).
Satan also has power over some people. The “sons of disobedience” as I’ve already noted,are those who have not trusted Christ as Lord and Savior. The demons are also under the rule of Satan (Matt. 12:24), and one of his titles is “prince of demons” (Matt. 9:34). Satan has a kingdom (Matt. 12:26) and a throne (Rev. 2:13). Satan is called a prince because he is a ruler and possesses power to manifest evil in the world through influencing people and commanding demons.
“The air” may refer to the invisible realm above the earth where Satan and his demons move and exist. This space, of course, is the location of the earth’s atmosphere or “air.” In Eph. 6:12, Paul writes, “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” This evil realm called the “air” could be an actual locality, but it could also be synonymous with the “world” of John 12:31. This whole world is Satan’s domain (Matt. 4:8-9).
My greatest comfort, in view of all the power Satan commands, is in I John 4:4. “Greater is He that is in you, than he which is in the world.” Satan wins battles now and then, but the war isn’t over yet. He is doomed, and I want to be there to see him cast into the Lake of Fire for all the trouble and heartache he has created in his benighted effort to defeat God.
So. I’m home alone this morning, because of a nasty little infection. It’s already responding well to the medication, but I’m just not feeling quite the thing.
And I’m trying to be positive about this, so here are some of the things for which I’m thankful:
A doctor who knows me well enough to listen to my symptoms and be willing to prescribe over the phone
A pharmacy that filled the script quickly.
Insurance that pays for most of the meds
My comfortable bed
General good health, so my body is responding well to the meds
Being alone in my house. It’s unusual since Terry retired.
Being able to read my Bible without interruption
Being able to go back to bed when/if I feel like it
Getting this taken care of before I have to start prepping for Thanksgiving
Knowing that God made me; that He knows what’s wrong, and that there is a way to fix it.
A husband who is frustrated that he can’t really do a thing to help. Not thankful he’s frustrated, but that he wishes there was something he could do. Terry’s a fixer. Bugs him to death when he can’t fix something 🙂
I got all my groceries yesterday, so tomorrow I think I’ll feel good enough to start on some things ahead of time.
I’m an independent contractor, so I can take off whenever I choose to do so. I always take off on Thanksgiving week. Very nice.
I love Thanksgiving. I think it’s a shame that so many stores are planning to be open all day, taking people away from family and friends on this very special holiday. I will not be doing any shopping on Thursday. Nor Friday. Black Friday and the Black Plague are about the same in my opinion. Most of my gifts are already purchased, and the online sales carry Black Friday prices for two or three weeks prior to and following Thanksgiving.
I’m thankful to be able to look forward to a calm, restful day. No one who will be here is an avid football fan, so that won’t be a focus. We’ll probably play some games, maybe do some Christmas decorating, enjoy the food, and think about why we have this holiday.
Sometimes I think we’re all hard of hearing. Either that, or we’re all just so wrapped up in our own ideas, wants, and opinions that we just don’t care to hear what anyone else has to say.
We are a nation of interrupters. We can’t let anyone else finish a sentence, yet we become mightily offended if someone else interrupts us. Don’t believe me? Watch The View for ten minutes. It will drive you crazy. Better yet, watch a political debate. Best of all, try listening to your spouse without butting in. Even if you are SURE you know what he’s going to say, let him say it. Give him the courtesy of letting him finish his thought.
In conversation, some people are slow cookers and some are microwaves. The slowcookers may not immediately jump in with exactly the right words to say, and then the microwave takes off like a rocket, assuming that the slowcooker didn’t understand, or doesn’t care, or maybe is just stupid.
I do a lot of couples’ counseling. It’s hard. Inevitably, they will each have a different communication style which the other has never bothered to appreciate. Mrs. Microwave is enraged by Mr. Slowcooker’s ponderous thinking processes. Mr. Slowcooker feels cut off at the knees when she unleashes a flood of words, and it slows him down even more. As time goes on, she become more angry and verbose; he becomes more angry and silent.
Sometimes it’s the other way around, and the wife feels beaten down and defeated by her husband’s ability to wind her up with his words. Listening to him talk is like taking a drink out of a fire hydrant.
(You won’t want to listen to this whole thing. It’s unendurable. But it illustrates my point)
Add to that difficult situation the probability that one or the other of the people in this relationship always, always has to win. It’s a one-up, one-down situation in which the Loser feels more and more unloved, misunderstood, and unappreciated. The Winner feels justified in his attitude, becoming incredibly impatient with his spouse. He will accuse her of lying, of not listening to him. If the wife is the Winner, she will destroy her husband with her disprespect and constant criticism.
Years ago I had a couple in which the wife was the verbal microwave, and the Winner. It made no difference what the husband said or how he tried to appease her, he could never change the dynamic. He was becoming silent, withdrawn, and uninvolved. She was more furious with him with every day that passed, verbally browbeating him into a corner he couldn’t escape. During one of our last sessions, I finally asked the wife, “Does your husband EVER get to be right?”
She was shocked, for once, and had nothing to say for enough seconds for him to say to me, “Thank you!” Then she unleashed all over me and him, and I didn’t see her again. He came back a time or two. I don’t expect their marriage survived.
Another couple was struggling to reconcile after the husband’s affair. The wife, as is very common, insisted on details. She wanted to know why the OW (other woman) was more appealing to him than she was. The OW wasn’t nearly as pretty, didn’t have much personality, and her figure had gone south with gravity. The wife was dying inside, wanting to understand why he had betrayed her.
The husband was truly broken and repentant, yet he seemed unable to answer her questions to her satisfaction. What he told me in a private session was that the OW made him feel respected. He was afraid to tell his wife that, fearing that she would be inflamed by the criticism and actually leave him. These two people needed to learn how to talk with each other without measuring every word in an effort to avoid offending each other. The wife was more open, but she was also not willing to tolerate his efforts to be tactful.
There are tools I offer people to help them learn to talk together. Active Listening is one of those tools. Another is learning to listen without interrupting; to give the other person time to gather her thoughts without becoming impatient. Sometimes, when I’m listening to a client, there will be periods of silence while I just wait for whatever else the person may have to say. Always, every single time, the person will start talking again.
This is hard for me. I’m an interrupter, a microwave. I always have something to say. But the slowcookers in my life are helping me learn to pay better attention, to listen to hear, and not to debate.
That’s what we all need to do: Listen to hear and understand, not just to debate to win. Usually, we lose when we win.
Ephesians 2:1. “And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins:”
Because Jesus gained the victory over sin and death, He can offer us that same victory. Remember that Paul is writing to believers in Ephesus, not to the unsaved.
In the beginning of this rich passage on sin and salvation, Paul tells us that Jesus has quickened them. That is, He has made them alive, given them new life, because before accepting Him as Savior, they were dead in their sinful behaviors.
So it is for all believers everywhere across the centuries who have come to Him in faith, believing. We are given life instead of death, because Jesus Christ has paid the penalty for our sin and won the eternal victory over death.
Ephesians 1:22-23. “And hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all.”
To be under someone’s feet was to be subject to that person’s authority. God has put all things under Jesus’ feet! I find great comfort in that truth. We are living in dangerous times, times when evil seems to be winning the victory over godliness. We live in a time when children are taught the five pillars of Islam in government schools, but they dare not mention the name of Jesus. Christianity and Christians are being blamed for all that is wrong and evil, while the “religion of peace” boldly goes about its business of slaughtering whoever they deem worthy of death.
It’s all under Jesus’ feet. The battles are raging and many are being lost, but don’t despair. The war isn’t over, and Jesus will prevail. We have no right, here in America, to expect that God will bless us. We have forsaken Him in so many ways that our “right” to sing God Bless America no longer exists. But He isn’t done yet.
You and I and other believers all around the world are His body. We are the Church. Jesus has authority over all things pertaining to the Church, and He fills us completley. He is fulfilled by the Church, and we are fulfilled in Him.
Ephesians 1:21. “Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:”
Seated at God’s right hand, Jesus is set far above all other rule and authority; His Name is exalted far above that of any power on earth or in heaven.
Man makes himself great. He sets himself up as a god here on earth, and he creates gods that he claims have given him supreme authority over everyone and everything. He is fooling himself. He is only a man, after all. He may command military power for a time, he may sit in the palaces of government and, with the stroke of a pen, sign into law things that are godless.
In the end, he is only dust. In the end, he will bow the knee to Jesus Christ and receive the just recompense for his deeds.
Ephesians 1:19-20.”And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe, according to the working of His might power, Which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places,”
A continuation of the previous verses. Paul tended to write in very long sentences 🙂
The exceeding greatness of His power: God’s power was never more apparent than during the crucifixion and resurrection of His Son. During the crucifixion, there were three hours of unnatural darkness. There was earthquake, there were resurrections of people long dead. The Temple veil was split in two from top to bottom, indicating the end of the Law and the beginning of the Age of Grace. At the resurrection, which no human eye beheld, the stone was rolled away from the opening of the tomb by unseen hands. The guards were stricken to the ground, senseless, by unseen hands. And most amazing of all, Jesus Christ rose triumpant over sin and death, finishing the work at Calvary and guaranteeing us eternity in heaven with Him when we believe that He is indeed God’s only begotten Son, Who gave Himself for us. Christianity is the only religion that offers a risen Savior!
To usward who believe: God’s might power is extended to all who believe and accept Him as Savior. I watched a video this morning of an old man preaching God’s Word to a crowd of mocking, jeering Muslims. He never faltered as one man in particular got right up in his face, yelling in his ear. I was amazed that they didn’t attack him physically. God’s power of protection? Maybe. But those men heard the gospel!
Which He wrought in Christ: Jesus Christ was the object and the receiver of God’s mighty power. He was resurrected after three days in the tomb, and God has placed Him at His own right hand.
Jesus, Savior, risen Lord, Son of God. Hallelujah! I do not serve a God Who demands that I kill everyone who disagrees with me! I serve a risen Savior Who is still in this old world today, moving in the hearts of people around the world. Islam can deny Him and murder others in the name of their god. It doesn’t change truth.