Eph 6:19-24

Eph 6:19-24

19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,

20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Paul loved to talk about Jesus.  Everywhere he went, he would find people to tell them about Jesus.  In the synagogue, in the open market place, or finding a place he could stand and preach.  It didn’t matter – Paul would preach and let people know the mystery of the gospel.  He was bold with the gospel at all times.

I want that kind of boldness.  My brother-in-law died a last week in a car accident.  He was bold for Jesus.  No matter where he was or who he was talking to, he would tell them about Jesus.  He would talk about the blessings of God.  He would ask them if they knew Christ.  There was no doubt he was a man of God, and that he loved the Lord, if you ever stopped  to talk to him.  You knew he loved the Lord.  Give me that kind of boldness – that I may always talk about Jesus!

21 But that ye also may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things:

22 Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts.

Another messenger from Paul, Tychicus, was sent to update the people on what was going on with Paul.  They knew he was in prison, but dd not know about his health, or his mood, or what was coming to him from the Romans.  They were concerned with how Paul was doing.  The people of Ephesus really cared about him, as he had planted the church there, and he was the one who led many of them to Christ.  Paul knew this, and wanted to make sure they knew he was doing fine.

People care about you, too.  I have been out of church now for almost a year due to the chemo and cancer I have been going through.  And my church has some mold in it, so I can’t go there for risk of getting sick.   People are asking all the time how I am doing, so my wife and the pastor keep the updated.  If you are a member of a local church, and you have not been lately, I would guess there are some who wonder if you’re okay.  They may not call, but they are thinking about it.  Make sure you attend regularly if you are able so people know you’re okay!

23 Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

24 Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.

Paul leaves with comforting words.  Peace, Grace, faith and love to all.  Paul was always concerned that  the people were well grounded in the things of God.  he desires peace in the church, that there will not be arguing, disputes or disagreements among thee brethren.  He wanted them to have love with faith – I like that combination!  Have love to one another, and have faith that love will return to you.  Never worry if someone may not show you the love you need – have faith it will come.  Love with faith!

Lastly, grace to all them that love Jesus.  Grace to all of you, my friends.  This brings an end to our study in Ephesians.  I have enjoyed going through this book,and I hope you have as well.  I am not sure what book  will do next – I am open for suggestions.  I am going to take a short break from this blog, and I will let you know through my other blogs when it will start up again

Thanks for reading!

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A Prisoner and a Minister

Ephesians 3:1-1

For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,

If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:

In the previous chapter we ended up talking about the fact that the Ephesians were not strangers anymore, but they have been fitly framed together by God to serve his purpose as a habitation of the Holy Spirit. That is the cause Paul starts out with here – of keeping the body together as God has placed the people in it. Then he says he’s a prisoner of Jesus Christ for the Gentiles. When you look up the word prisoner in Strong’s you’ll find out it is exactly what we think it is it is – a person who is held captive. I would like to think of Paul as captivated by Jesus Christ and not necessarily held captive.  We can be captivated by something good. If you look up the word captivated, it is defined as attracting and holding the interest and attention of somebody else. There’s no doubt in my mind that Paul was captivated by Jesus Christ.  I’m captivated by Jesus Christ. He is the amazing Son of God whom we can’t help but be attracted to.

Next he talks about the dispensation of grace. The word dispensation carries with it the meaning of administration, like the management of a household or household affairs. It’s a type of stewardship – stewardship that Paul was given of the grace of God to share with the Ephesian Church. They say that what makes the Christian faith different from all other faiths is the message of Grace. And Paul recognizes that. The preaching of Grace is an amazing thing in the world of religions.  Most religions require works.  You have to do something in order to be saved and go to heaven.  Christianity is based on the grace of God, who gave His Son as a sacrifice so that we could go to heaven.  That’s a big difference.

How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,

Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)

Paul now brings us back to the mystery. We talked about the mystery of His will and the fact that there really isn’t a mystery to the will of God. His will is spelled out right before us in His word. Christ is the Word made flesh to dwell among us. And now the mystery has been given to the Gentiles. They are also able to trust in the word of God and find favor with God. Before, the Gentiles were thought of as outsiders, and there was no way that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was going to bless them. But Paul knew that the Old Testament prophets said the word would eventually go out to the Gentiles (Is 49:5-6). That’s part of the mystery. Why did the Jews never see that in the scripture? Why were they so opposed to Paul going to the Gentiles? Now we know that the gospel is for all men everywhere on Earth.

Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;

That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:

Paul says that in the past this mystery wasn’t made known to the men, it was hidden in the prophets. But now it’s been revealed by the Holy Spirit. The fact that the word is going to go out to the Gentiles and they will be fellow heirs and be partakers of His promise in Christ. This is an amazing thing especially if you were Jewish. God brought them up out of Egypt, they were called his special people, He set you apart for all those centuries and now it’s going to Branch out to other people besides Jews.  It’s a major change in their thinking. We’re now included in that group of Gentiles!  We are now partakers!  I love the promise in Christ.  Praise the Lord

Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.

And now Paul says he was made a minister.  At the beginning of this section he calls himself a prisoner. If ministers are prisoners I guess I’m a prisoner too. I know that I’m captivated by Jesus. Paul mentions that it’s only by grace that he has been chosen as a minister. God, by working his power in Paul,  brought people into the kingdom of God. Paul always never takes credit. Everything he does, he gives glory to God.  It is the effectual working of God’s power that is touching lives and saving souls, not Paul.  It’s not Paul’s preaching. It’s God working through him.  He is a willing vessel to allow God to move. Let’s make sure that we’re sharing the grace of God.  It is God that draws souls to be saved, not our preaching or our charisma.  The preaching is necessary, for that’s the testimony that they hear.  But it is God’s power and grace that saves the sinner.

By His Grace

Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

Christ gave us life when we were dead in our sins. What a beautiful statement Paul makes here. I know that my life was radically changed when I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior at 24 years of age. I had been raised in the church (my  mom was the church secretary) and ran away from God in my teenage years getting into all kinds of trouble and doing things twasted not only my money, but my life. I was going nowhere fast. Well let me correct – that I was going to hell fast. But God sent a friend and he started to witness. And through a number of letters he planted seeds that eventually resulted in my salvation. Something was born in me that day that just kept growing. It was that new life that he’d given me by his grace. There is no doubt that my spirit was quickened that day

And after He quickened my spirit,  He raised me up so that I can sit in Heavenly places with Jesus Christ. Jesus said the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. It’s right here with us. It’s time we started acting like this is the kingdom of heaven. Sharing our love and the love of Christ that he gave us with others so that they can know Christ. We have an obligation to go into all the world and preach the gospel.  That preaching is love for our fellow man. It doesn’t matter who they are or what culture they come from. All that matters is that they know Christ. They need to be raised up, they need to be quickened, they need to be set in Heavenly places just like we are.

That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

Paul here looks into the future and he wants us to know that there are things to come there are much more amazing than we can possibly imagine. The exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us. Doesn’t it amaze you sometimes when you hear testimonies of what God has done. I have not watched the movie “Miracles from Heaven” but I understand that it’s a powerful show that talks about a miracle and how it affected a family. Those are the exceeding riches of his grace. Over and over again I hear testimony about what God has done and it brings tears of joy to my eyes to know that God still moves in kindness toward us through Jesus Christ. He loves us so much and we should be sharing that love with everybody we know.

 

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Not of works, lest any man should boast.

These two verses are probably used to explain salvation more than any others in the Bible. I don’t know how much I can tell you about these you don’t already know. We are saved by God’s grace – there is nothing we have done to earn it. It’s a gift. Like any gift it has to be accepted and opened by the receiver. We just had Christmas around here. How many of you left your presents under the tree and said “Oh, I have a gift”. And then you just left it there and didn’t open it. There are many churches that preach that Christ died for their sins and they’re going to heaven. They don’t say anything about the fact that we have to accept His sacrifice personally into our lives. But Christ’s sacrifice is like that gift sitting under the Christmas tree that you haven’t opened if you haven’t ask him into your heart on a personal level. I pray that you have. It will change your life.
Paul emphasizes that it’s not works gets us our of salvation. If it was works the brought us salvation, we would boast and say “Look what I’ve done”. Many Christians do that anyway Pride sets in because of their accomplishments. “Oh, well,I’m  a worship leader”,  “I’m a “minister”,  I’m a teacher”.  In God’s Kingdom we are all the same, there is no room for boasting. Because He doesn’t save us because of the work we do. He saved us because He loves us. Loved us enough to send His own Son as a sacrifice for sin. Only by His grace can we can get into heaven. It is a gift from God, accepted by faith.

Don’t Worry, Be Praying

Philippians 4:6

Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving

let your requests be made known unto God.:

 

You might remember song from decades ago that told us “Don’t worry, be happy”. It was quite a hit back then and it was a lot of fun to sing. The beauty of that song is there’s a lot of truth to it. Philippians 4 6 it’s a reminder to us that God has things in control.

The first thing Paul says is to be careful for nothing.  That word careful can literally mean full of care. It can also mean don’t worry. I want to take you back to Matthew chapter 6 during The Sermon on the Mount. Jesus tells his disciples to consider the lilies of the field.  They don’t work but they’re clothed. Or consider the birds flying in the air. They don’t work but they’re fed. Our heavenly Father loves us a lot more than He loves them. And what does Jesus tell us to do?  Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you (Matt 6:33).

Then he goes on to say we should take no thought for tomorrow. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.  Again, Jesus is telling us not to worry about what’s coming tomorrow. Now that doesn’t mean we should hide our head in the sand and not plan for a future. All of us have schedules to keep, and God expects us to be faithful to those things we are committed to, like work, kids events, church, etc.  We have to plan our days accordingly.  What Jesus means is that we need to concentrate on today and serving God today and fulfilling the Great Commission today. We’re not sure whether we’ll even be alive tomorrow.

One of my favorite authors is a man named Fenelon. One of my all-time favorite quotes of his is “Don’t insult today by looking for a better tomorrow”. Fenelon rights over and over again about the fact that we have only been given enough grace for today, for this very moment. We cannot possibly know what situations we will get into tomorrow, but when we do God will give us the grace to make it through. There is absolutely no reason to worry my friends.

After all that he tells us that we should take everything to the Lord in prayer. If we’re in a position where we might worry that’s a great time to pray.  Not just pray “Lord save me from this situation” but pray and give thanks that God is going to deliver you. We see this over and over again in the Psalms. David is talking to the Lord about his enemies being close at hand or overcoming him and then in the very next sentence he’s giving the Lord thanks and praise for delivering his for him from his enemies. This is the attitude we need to have every day.

David also says we should take everything to the Lord in Prayer by supplications. Supplication is a stronger word than prayer. It’s almost like begging but it’s in a humble fashion. A person who gives supplications feels unworthy to do so but they need an answer.  So they continue asking until the answer comes. They are not so high and mighty that they think they deserve one, they just know that the person they are asking is faithful.

The umbrella of Thanksgiving over all of our requests is huge. Not only giving thanks for the answer but giving thanks for the to the one who provides the answer. We should be in a continual attitude of praise to our Heavenly Father as we go before Him with our requests. Never take his Mercy for granted.

Philippians 1:14b

“are much more bold to speak the word without fear.”

What is it that keeps me from witnessing to my family, my neighbors, and people I come across in everyday life?  For me, it’s not that I don’t have the ability to make intelligent conversation.  I have been in Toastmasters for almost 30 years, and have been in sales for over 25.  Talking is not a problem.  I make conversation every day on a number of different topics.   But rarely do I witness Christ in these conversations.  Why?

It’s not because I do not have knowledge.  I have read the bible through countless times.  I have attended Bible college courses.  I have taught adult Sunday school classes and have preached from many pulpits as an evangelist.  I know the gospel, I know how to share it, and I know how to ask people f they would like to have Christ in their life.  But rarely do I do that in everyday conversations.  Why?

It’s not because I do not know the benefits and how it will help people.  I have tasted of the grace and mercy of the Lord so many times I cannot begin to count them.  I have enjoyed His peace and joy for almost 40 years.  I have been led by His spirit out of more trouble than I can remember.  I have a rich testimony of the blessings of the Lord in every aspect of my life.  But I rarely share that testimony when with friends.  Why?

Fear – that’s why.  Fear of being rejected or ridiculed or of not having the right words to say.  But they are not rejecting me!  They are not ridiculing me!  It’s Christ they are rejecting and ridiculing, just as it was when He walked this earth.  Why should I keep from witnessing because of these two reasons?  And he third excuse?  Christ told us the Holy Spirit would give us the words to say – I just have to rely on Him, not on my own knowledge.  That’s always my problem!

I have no excuse not to witness without fear.  I need to be bold in my witness all the time, not just when It’s convenient for me.  People need the Lord – people around me, people that I love.

 

Lord, make me bold in my witness.  Let me not fall back on the excuses I have used in the past, but let me listen to your Holy Spirit to guide me through the conversation.  I know they need the Lord, and I come across a lot of people every day.  Help me to be the witness you deserve

Philippians 1:7c

“ye all are partakers of my grace. ”

Am I full of grace?  So full that others can partake of my grace without me losing what I have?  In our world today, grace is a lost art.  People are more concerned with themselves then with others.  My wants, my needs, my cares, my troubles.  It seems that no one really notices what is going on in another person’s life.  It is how it affects me that matters!

All day long we go by people who are hurting in their lives.  Yet when those people say something harsh, or do something we don’t like, we take it as a personal attack and feel sorry for ourselves.  Instead of trying to understand where they are coming from, which is the graceful thing to do, we only are concerned with how it affects us.  Grace is lacking – self-centeredness is in full display.  Then we go out and talk about our hurt, moving farther and farther away from grace and into maliciousness.

It is time for us to open our hearts to the hurts of others.  It is time for us to display grace that only God can give through us.  We expect grace from others – why are we so slow to give that grace to others?  When we are wronged, forgive and don’t spread the hurt to others.  When someone says something hurtful, try to see where that person has been hurt.  When circumstances don’t go our way because someone doesn’t act the way we want them to, try to understand their point of view.  This is grace in action.

It is so important that grace flow form the heart of all those who call themselves Christian.  This is how the world gets to understand grace.  After all, we are partakers of grace through Jesus Christ!  How much more should we allow others to partake of the grace He has shown to us.

Lord,  help me to live a life full of grace.  Help me never to be harsh, judgmental, or argumentative – especially with those who don’t know you.  Help me to exhibit the love and compassion for others that you have shown to me.