I am transformed by Christ’s unlimited love

“14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17  that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge.” Ephesians 3:14-19

In Ephesians 2:1-3:21, the apostle Paul expounded upon the unsearchable riches of God’s grace through the Lord Jesus Christ. He expresses his appreciation of this grace in his concluding prayer (Ephes. 3:14-21). Bowing one’s knees “to the Father” expresses surrender and submission to Him (Ephes. 3:14). If you were abandoned or abused physically, emotionally, or spiritually by your earthly father, it may feel very vulnerable or unsafe for you to take a knee before Your heavenly Father. It is okay if you do not kneel because He understands your struggle and He still loves you.

To “bow … to the Father” suggests an intimate face-to-face contact with one’s heavenly Father. Paul uses a play on words from the word “father” (patera) in 3:14 to the word “family” (pateria) in 3:15. A father is the head of a typical “family.” God the Father is not only the Father of “the whole family” of Jewish and Gentile believers in one body, the Church (Ephes. 3:1-6), He is also the Ultimate Father over all families on earth. Every human family exists as a family because of God’s relationships as a “Father.” Much of the brokenness in our world today is due to the wounds connected to one’s relationship or lack thereof with his or her earthly father. God wants to heal our brokenness with His love.

Paul asks God the Father that his readers “be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man” according to His vast resources (“the riches of His glory”) “that Christ may dwell” in their “hearts through faith” (Ephes. 3:16-17a). The purpose of this request for intimate fellowship with Jesus and for power is so these believers who are already secure (“rooted” like a plant and “grounded” like a building) in Christ’s “love … may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height” of “the love of Christ” (Ephes. 3:17b-19a). The words “comprehend” (katalambánō = to lay hold of so as to make one’s own) and “know” (ginṓskō = to know especially through personal experience) in Ephes. 3:18 and 19 refer to more than understanding Christ’s love intellectually. They refer to knowing His love experientially.

Paul refers to the four dimensions (“width … length … depth … height”) of Christ’s love to show just how unlimited (“passes knowledge”) His love is. First, we see that Jesus’ love is wide (“width”) enough to include all people (“Jew” and “Gentile” – Ephes. 2:11-3:7), regardless of one’s color, culture, or country. Christ’s love is not partial toward any particular ethnicity or political persuasion. He died for “all” people (cf. 2 Cor. 5:15; I Tim. 2:6; I John 2:2), including you and me. Perhaps other people have rejected you or treated you as an inferior, but make no mistake – Christ deeply loves you and He proved this when He shed His blood for you on the cross (Rom. 5:8). 

Christ’s love is long (“length”) enough to transform Gentiles “who once were afar off” from God (Ephes. 2:13) and Jews “who were near” to God (Ephes. 2:17). His love reached back to eternity past when He was planning His relationships with you and me before He created the universe (1:4-5; 3:9-10). His love also reaches to eternity future when we will be with Him in heaven – free from sin, shame, and Satan (Ephes. 1:10, 14; cf. Rev. 20:10-22:21). It does not matter how far you have gone from Him, Jesus loves you and He welcomes you to come home to Him and His Father (Luke 15:20). When terrible things happened to you in the past, Jesus was there watching with tears in His eyes, compassion on His face, and love in His heart. His love for you is not limited by time and circumstances.

The love of Christ is deep (“depth”) enough to rescue sinners from the depths of their sin and shame, and save them from eternal punishment in hell when they come to Him in faith (cf. Ephes. 4:9-10; cf. Mark 9:43-48; John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Rev. 20:11-15). You may have spent more time in jail than in church, but this does not diminish Jesus’ love for you. Christ died for us when we were still His ungodly enemies (Rom. 5:6, 8, 10). If Christ gave us His best when we were at our worst, how much more will He give us now that we are God’s beloved children (John 1:12; Rom. 8:31-32)!?!

Jesus’ love is high (“height”) enough to seat us next to Him in the heavenly places “far above” all His opponents, including the devil and his demonic armies (Ephes. 1:20-21; 2:5-6). Before we were saved, we were under the power and authority of Satan and his world system (Ephes. 2:2), but now we are seated next to Jesus in a position of power and victory “far above” all the enemies of God (Ephes. 1:20-21; 2:5-6). Therefore, we can live victoriously for Jesus because in Him, we are winners, not losers. The Bible tells us, “We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37). Jesus’ love leads us to victory over Satan and all his lies so that God is glorified “forever and ever” (Ephes. 3:20-21).

We may know of Jesus’ love intellectually, but do we know His love experientially in the depths of our “hearts” and souls? So many broken people in the world today are bound by fear and shame. Only Christ’s love can remove the fear (I John 4:18) and the shame (Isaiah 54:4; 61:1-3; Matt. 12:20; Heb. 12:2). Only His love can unite people from different backgrounds, cultures, and various depths of sin through His grace after He saves those who believe in Him alone for His gift of salvation (Ephes. 1:13-14; 2:8-9). What human governments have failed to do throughout history, Jesus Christ can do the moment we believe in Him. Know Jesus Christ and make Him known to a broken and ashamed world.

Prayer: Loving Father in heaven, I bow before You filled with thanksgiving for the unsearchable riches of Your grace. Please forgive me for looking at You through the eyes of sin and shame, instead of through the eyes of faith. Please grant me the strength in the depths of my heart to know experientially Your unlimited love for all people, including me. There was a time when I believed no one could love me as I am. But You have changed me with regard to this lie. Your love is wide enough to include all people, including someone who feels left out and “lesser than,” like me. Your love is long enough  to reach those who are very far from You (the worst of sinners) and those who are very near to You (the best of sinners). Your love is deep enough to reach down to the depths of my sin and shame; to go where no other person wants to go. Thank You my Lord that my sin and shame do not diminish Your love for me. I praise You that Your love is high enough to seat me next to You in the heavenly places far above all Your enemies. May Your Spirit enable me to be more than a conqueror through Your unlimited love so that all the glory is given to You. In the loving name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

I can come boldly into God’s presence

“In whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.” Ephesians 3:12

Is it difficult for you to draw near to God in prayer, especially after you have sinned? Do you perceive God to be too distant or unloving to approach Him with your problems? Does the thought of talking to God scare you? If so, listen to what God’s Word tells us in Ephesians 3:12:

“In whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him” (3:12).

The moment we believe in Jesus Christ for salvation from hell we are placed “in Christ” (Ephes. 1:13-14; 2:8-9). This phrase “in Christ/Him” refers to how God sees us. In the first three chapters of Ephesians, the apostle Paul has been focusing on how God sees us after we come to faith in Jesus. In our last lesson we learned that “the mystery of Christ” refers to the equality of Jews and Gentiles in the body of Christ which had not been revealed previously in the Old Testament (Ephes. 3:1-6).

As a member of Christ’s body, the church, I can approach God’s throne room in prayer with “boldness” and “confidence.” The word “boldness” (parresia) literally means “all” (pa) “speech” (rhesis) or freedom to say all. It conveys an attitude of openness that comes from freedom and a lack of fear. The word “confidence” (pepoithesis) refers to being persuaded that God is Someone I can fully trust and rely upon, much like the confidence that a beloved child has towards his gracious and loving father.

As a forgiven and saved sinner through “faith in” Christ (Ephes. 3:12; cf. 1:7; 2:8-9), I can approach God without any doubts, fear, or hesitancy, wondering if God will welcome me into His throne room. This bold approach to God is not based on any achievements or feelings of my own, but upon the finished work of Christ whereby He paid the full penalty for all my sins when He died in my place on the cross (John 19:30; I Cor. 15:3-4; Col. 2:13-14).

If I lack boldness approaching God in prayer, it could be because I have looked to my own efforts or feelings instead of Christ’s sufficient sacrifice for my sins. If I doubt or disbelieve that all my sins are forgiven and that I am totally accepted by God based on what Christ has done, I will have less boldness in prayer.

But what a wonderful privilege we have as God’s beloved children to take our troubles, our problems, our loneliness, our sadness, and our fears to our gracious and all-wise Father in heaven. This is all possible because of Christ’s finished work on the Cross.

Have you ever had a friend who knew a very famous and distinguished person? You would never have any right to enter that famous person’s presence were it not for your friend’s relationship with that person. This is what our Savior, Jesus Christ, does for us with the most distinguished Person in the universe – Almighty Father God! In the presence of our faithful Friend, Jesus Christ, there is always an open door into God’s throne room.

Prayer: Gracious Father in heaven, thank You for reminding me that I am always welcome to come into Your throne room because I am totally accepted and forgiven through faith in Your only perfect Son, Jesus Christ. Please remove the lies that keep me from approaching Your throne of grace without fear or hesitation. You are for me and not against me as demonstrated by giving me Your best when I was at my worst. I am still amazed by Your outrageous love for me which motivates me to know You more intimately and to make You more well known to a lost and perishing world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

I am an equal in God’s family

“That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel.” Ephesians 3:6

Throughout the history of the world there has been the “haves” and the “have nots,” the “greater thans” and the “lesser thans.” To be brutally honest, I have seen myself as one of the “have nots” or “lesser thans.” In large part I believe this is due to the effects of shame in my life. Much of my shame comes from believing lies about myself. Lies that say, “I am bad,” “I am worthless,” “No one would love me as I am,” or “I cannot depend on others to help me.” These lies were attached to wounds I acquired in my past, and they promote isolation and defeat.

But God wants to set us free from these lies so we may live the kind of life He created us to live. One of the ways God sets us free is by placing us in His family, the Church, where we can learn a new way of seeing ourselves and living as God intended us to live.

In the book of Ephesians, the apostle Paul talks about being “in Christ,” which has to do with how God sees us. We have learned that in Christ we are chosen (1:4), adopted (1:5), accepted (1:6), redeemed and forgiven (1:7), and many other wonderful truths depicting how God sees us.

Today we are going to learn that we are equals in the family of God. The apostle Paul was called by God to minister “the mystery of Christ” to Gentiles (Ephes. 3:1-4). The word “mystery” (mystḗrion) refers to a previously hidden truth that is now “revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets” (3:5). This mystery is explained in verse 6:

“That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel” (3:6).

There are three aspects to this mystery:

1. Gentile and Jewish believers are EQUAL HEIRS (“fellow heirs”) of the “unsearchable riches of Christ” (3:6a, 8). All the spiritual blessings that Paul has written about up to this point in Ephesians belong to both Jewish and Gentile believers. Our inheritance is the same. Therefore we do not need to think we are lesser than others.

2. Gentile and Jewish believers are EQUAL MEMBERS in “the same body” of Christ, the Church (3:6b). From the very beginning of the church age, the Church has consisted of all people who believe in Christ alone to save them from hell forever. One believer is not more loved or valued than another believer. We are all loved and valued the same. Therefore, there is no need to work hard to improve our status in the Church.

3. Gentile and Jewish believers are EQUAL PARTAKERS of the “promise in Christ through the gospel” (3:6c). The gospel message was not limited to Jews, but is also for all people to believe (“whoever” in John 3:16 includes everyone). Hence, we do not need to isolate or withdraw from others in the Church because we were all saved by grace through faith (Ephes. 2:8-9).

In each of the three Greek words that Paul uses to describe our equality in the church, they all begin with the same prefix “sun” – a preposition that means “with.”

“fellow heirs” = sun + kleronomos.

“same body” = sun + soma

“partakers” = sun + metochos

“Sun” however differs from “meta,” the other Greek preposition meaning “with,” in that “sun” describes a more intimate relationship.

Let me give you an illustration that distinguishes these two words… making biscuits. Take all the ingredients and put them out on a cookie sheet. Measure out the flour, the shortening, the baking powder, etc. Put each ingredient on the sheet. All of those ingredients can still be separated, but at the same time they are with each other— that is a picture of the meaning of the word “meta.”

Now take all of the ingredients and mix them together. Cut the dough and put it in a pan and bake it. After it has baked, it comes out as a biscuit. Once the ingredients are baked together, the biscuit serves as a perfect picture of the meaning of the preposition “sun.” No scientist can separate the ingredients of that biscuit because they are united together in intimate union! That’s the idea of the preposition “sun.”

All Christians are joined together in unity by our common spiritual DNA – the indwelling Holy Spirit. Every believer shares a position of equality in the body of Christ because of God’s grace, not because of their heritage or achievements. In God’s eyes we all are equal in our inheritance, our membership, and in our partaking of the promise of Christ through the gospel.

Prayer: Thank You Father God for showing me my true value in the body of Christ, the Church. I am an equal in Your family because of Your grace. Please apply this truth to my soul so I can see myself as an equal among the members of Your family and preserve the unity that Christ established through the cross. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

I am God’s holy temple

“…20b Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” Ephes. 2:20b-22

The apostle Paul sees believers in Jesus as a magnificent temple created by God with Jesus Christ as “the Chief Cornerstone” (2:20-21). At the time Paul wrote these words, the “cornerstone” was the essential part of the foundation of a building. It was the stone with which the builder squared up all the other stones to give the building stability and strength. The “Chief Cornerstone” of this temple is Jesus Christ (2:20b; Matt. 16:18; I Cor. 3:11; I Peter 2:4-7), and all the other stones represent Jewish and Gentile believers who are “being fitted together” much like a building under construction (2:21a; I Peter 2:5), with God continuing to add (“grows”) new believers as the gospel is preached (2:21b).

Today God does not inhabit a physical temple like He did in Old Testament times (I Kings 8:10-13; 2 Chron. 7:1-2). He now indwells His church which is a spiritual and “holy temple in the Lord” spreading all over the earth (2:21b). The church began on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), and it will continue until the day of the Rapture when it is removed from the earth (cf. Matt. 24:36-51; I Thess. 4:13-5:11).

The moment a person believes in Jesus for His gift of salvation, the Holy Spirit seals him and places him in the Church through the baptism of the Holy Spirit (2:22; cf. 1:13-14; 2:8-9; Acts 10:43-48; I Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:26-27). God’s Spirit lives inside us now and our purpose is to reflect the glory of God (I Cor. 3:16; 6:19-20), not to draw attention to ourselves or to other Christians. We can reflect God’s glory by relying on the Holy Spirit to empower us to live a holy life; a life that pleases the Lord Jesus.

But when we choose to sin, we are acting in a way that is contrary to who we are in Christ. For example, if we see ourselves as an alcoholic at the core of our being, what will be the most natural thing for us to do – stay sober or get drunk? Get drunk. What will be the most unnatural thing to do? Stay sober. But if we see ourselves as a holy temple of God, what is the most natural thing for us to do – stay sober or get drunk? Stay sober.

Satan wants to convince us that we are sinners at the core of our being. Why? Because sinning is accepted as a natural expression of our true selves. But if we realize that at the core of our being we are a holy temple of God, we will come to the conclusion that sinning compromises who we are. Sin hides who we truly are in Christ.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, I praise You because I am not alone. You live inside me now and promise never to leave me nor abandon me. I am no longer a piece of trash or a dirty vessel because You indwell me, and that makes me holy. You are my Comforter and Teacher Who heals me and instructs me. I am now a part of a spiritual temple that continues to grow exponentially all over the earth as the gospel is preached. I now have many brothers and sisters in Christ who love me and whom I can love. Lord Jesus, You are the Chief Cornerstone of this expanding spiritual temple, and I can look to You for the stability, security, and strength I need to live a holy life which reflects Your glory to a lost and perishing world. Thank You, Lord Jesus, and Holy Spirit, for healing my broken and wounded heart so I can experience the fullness of Your love. Help me to see myself as Your holy temple so I may be and live holy for You. In Jesus’ powerful name I pray. Amen.

I now have instant access to God


“For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.” Ephesians 2:18

Do you ever get frustrated with artificial intelligence? You call a customer service phone number and talk to a computer that mimics the cognitive functions of human beings? After pushing several buttons and being placed on hold, you are finally able to talk to a live person. Thankfully, Christians do not have to worry about such delays when it comes to talking to God in prayer.

After addressing how Jesus reconciled Jews and Gentiles to one another and to God through the Cross (Ephes. 2:14-16), the apostle Paul focuses on their equality before God. He writes, “For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father” (Ephes. 2:18). Both Jewish and Gentile believers have direct “access” to God “the Father” through Jesus’ death on the Cross.

Before the Cross, access to God was through Judaism, but now access is “through” Christ by the Holy “Spirit” for all who believe in Jesus for salvation regardless of culture or background. The word “access” (prosagōgḗ) means to “come towards (near) and have intimate (face-to-face) interaction” with God.

Imagine trying to make an appointment with the President of the United States of America. You telephone the White House, tell them who you are and that you would like to make an appointment. Then the questions bombarb you: “Who are you? Where are you from? What is the nature of your inquiry? Can anyone else help you? He’s very busy.” “I know he’s busy …”

But if the President’s son calls him, that’s not the kind of response he will get. It will be, “Oh yes, I’ll put you right through.” His kids can ring up and just say, “Hey, dad, I’ll be there in 5 minutes. I’m gonna pop in and see ya.” They can walk right past the security guards and secretary into their father’s oval office because they are children of the world’s most powerful leader.

That’s the kind of access we have with God. This is such a magnificent privilege for all Christians. We do not need to go to God through a priest, a pastor, or some other spiritual leader. All believers in Jesus can approach God directly now as His children because Jesus’ shed blood removed the barrier between us and God. We can now enter God’s throne room in heaven through prayer anytime, anywhere, about anything. No one can keep us from entering God’s presence, and nothing can keep God from answering our prayers.

Prayer: Father God, thank You for the direct access I now have into Your presence in heaven through the shed blood of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Thank You for the Holy Spirit who enables me to go to You in prayer at anytime about anything. No one can keep me from approaching You in prayer and nothing can keep You from answering my prayers. This is such an awesome privilege that I do not want to take it for granted. I look forward to our next conversation soon. I love You PaPa. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

In Christ I can draw near to God

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2:13

Have you ever felt like an outsider? No matter how hard you tried, you could never seem to fit in with others? It is like you felt others were more blessed than you are? You always felt “less than” others?

Or have you ever felt this way with God? No matter how hard you tried to live a good moral life, God always seemed to be distant from you? Others seemed to find favor with God, but not you? It is like having leprosy. Both God and others seemed to want nothing to do with you. Does this resonate with you?

If it does, please take heart because you are not alone. The apostle Paul wrote to Gentile believers who once felt the same way about God and the Jewish people. Paul writes of Gentiles before they became Christians “that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (Ephes. 2:12).

Before Jesus, these Gentiles “were without Christ” in that they had no corporate hope focused on a Messiah, as did the Jews (2:12a). They were also “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel,” having no part in what God planned to do in and through Israel (2:12b). These Gentiles were “strangers from the covenants of promise” that God had given to Israel (2:12c). They had “no hope” as a race of people as the nation of Israel did (2:12d). And these Gentiles were “without God in the world,” unlike Israel whom God had reached out to and drawn to Himself (2:12e). This is why a Jew despised Gentiles in the time of the apostle Paul and wanted nothing to do with them.

Two very important words begin verse 13 – “But now…” In the past, Gentiles were outsiders who were far from God and His chosen people, “But now in Christ Jesus,” Gentile believers “who once were far off have been brought near” to God “by the blood of Christ” (2:13).

Our sin separates us from God (cf. Rom. 3:23, 6:23a), but the death of Christ provided the basis for Gentiles (and Jews) to be “brought near” to God. Notice that it is the “blood of Christ” that brings us “near” to God, not our church membership, prayers, water baptism, good works, or associations with others.

In the past you may have felt like an outsider, like no one, especially God, could accept you or love you just as you are, “but now” you can come near to God through the blood of Christ if you will simply believe or trust in Him alone and His full payment for all yours sins on the cross and His resurrection. If you do this, Christ will save you forever from hell and give you everlasting life so you may draw near to God in heaven as His forever child (Ephes. 2:8-9; John 1:12; 3:16).

Prayer: Gracious heavenly Father, thank You for the blood of Jesus Christ which paid the full penalty for all of my sins. Although I was once far off from You because of my sin and shame, I can now come near to You and Your family, the Church, through the blood of Your only Son, Jesus Christ. May Your Holy Spirit renew my mind with this marvelous truth so that when I am tempted to medicate my loneliness or pain with worldly counterfeits, I will draw near to You instead for the comfort and security I long for. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

In Christ I live according to God’s plan

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10b

Before believing in Christ for salvation, the Bible tells us, “we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind” (Ephes. 2:3). Before we were saved by grace through faith in Jesus (Ephes. 2:8-9), we lived according to our own sinful desires. We did what pleased us.

But when we came to Christ in faith, we began to live according to God’s plan. How can we discover His plan for our lives? The Bible says, “We are … created in Christ Jesus for good works.” We were not saved to simply sit on a couch to watch TV or play video games. We were saved to do “good works.” Notice that good works follow our salvation, they are not necessary for our salvation.

How do I know what good works God wants me to do? This verse tells us that “God prepared beforehand” our good works “so that we should walk in them” (2:10b). Pastor Rick Warren has produced a very helpful tool to help Christians discern the “good works” or ministry God has prepared them to do using the acrostic S.H.A.P.E.

S – Spiritual gifts. Ask yourself, “How has God gifted me spiritually?” You may have a speaking gift such as teaching or evangelism. You may have a serving gift such as helps or leading. The good works God has designed you to do should include the use of your spiritual gifts. For years I served in pastoral ministry which made it difficult to use my primary spiritual gift of evangelism. But when I began to serve in an evangelistic ministry, I became more fruitful and fulfilled because I was doing what God shaped me to do.

H – Heart. Ask yourself, “What am I passionate about?” My wife is excited about making jewelry for others out of beads. She can do that all day without getting bored or tired. I, on the other hand, am passionate about sharing the gospel with others. I get recharged doing this. If we serve in a ministry for which we have no passion, we will lack motivation and fulfillment.

A – Ability. Ask yourself, “What natural talents has God given me?” May be you are a gifted musician, singer, or writer. Perhaps you are gifted in working with computers, cars, or machinery. You may be very gifted in relating to children, teenagers, or the elderly. Pay attention to your natural talents when participating in a ministry.

P – Personality. Ask yourself, “What kind of personality has God given me?” Are you an introvert or extrovert? A free online tool to help identify your personality is found at www.truity.com/test/enneagram-personality-test. Ignoring the personality God has given us when considering a ministry, can lead to much frustration and stress.

E – Experiences. Ask yourself, “What kind of experiences have I had?” God will use good and bad experiences to equip us for ministry. For example, if you were abused as a child, God can use that experience to comfort others who have been through something similar. On the other hand, if you have experienced success in the business world, God can use that to minister to others in a business. God does not waste our experiences.

When we identify our God-given S.H.A.P.E., God can use that to place us in a ministry where we will be more fulfilled and fruitful, and God will receive more glory. God wants us to walk in the good works that He has shaped us to do. When we do, our lives will never be the same.

Prayer: Gracious heavenly Father, I no longer want to live according to my sinful desires, but according to Your plan for my life. Thank You for helping me identify my God-given S.H.A.P.E. so that I can find a ministry that You have designed for me that brings You the most glory and enables me to be fruitful and fulfilled. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

In Christ I am God’s masterpiece

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus…” Ephesians 2:10a

Before we come to Christ in faith, we are spiritually dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephes. 2:1). That is, we do not have God’s life (eternal life) in us and therefore we do not know God on a personal level. Our lives were defined by trespasses and sins. But look how that has changed.  “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus…” (Ephes. 2:10a). I used to be in trespasses and sins – that is what defined me and drove my life. But now I am “in Christ Jesus.” I used to be dead, but now I am God’s “workmanship.”

The word “workmanship” comes from the Greek word poíēma which is where we get our English word “poem” from. A poem is a collection of words that are specially chosen and put together so that they make a powerful statement that lasts. God is saying that you are His heavenly poem – you have been specially chosen by God to make a powerful statement about His grace that endures forever.

Another word that describes this is the term “masterpiece” – like a painting that has been specially created or like a potterer carefully creating something out of clay that is unique and has his personality and stamp put on it. You are God’s Masterpiece –  something He has poured Himself into to change your life. You used to be defined by sin and shame, but now you are defined by being in Christ. And God sees in you holiness … beauty… and goodness. Everything He sees in Jesus Christ He now sees in you.

You may see yourself as this person who has failed or who lacks certain abilities. Perhaps the voices from your past have told you that you were a mistake…that you can’t do anything right. But God is now telling you that you are His masterpiece… a beautiful work of heavenly art that He is putting on display for all to see and admire just how great His grace is toward you. Take time today to look in the mirror and say to yourself, “In Christ, I am God’s masterpiece, not a mistake.” The more you see yourself as God sees you, the more you will reflect this truth in your daily living.

For example, if someone unfairly criticizes you, step back and ignore the lie that says, “You are a big mistake,” and replace it with the truth that says, “You are God’s masterpiece!” The more you see yourself through God’s eyes, the more you will live the way God made you to live.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, much of my life I have seen myself as a big mistake; as someone who cannot do anything right. I am asking you to heal these deep wounds in my life so I can begin to see myself as You see me. I am Your masterpiece, not a mistake. I am Your heavenly poem that You want to put on display for others to see just how great Your grace is toward me. Please apply this truth to my heart so I can see myself as You do and begin to live as Your wonderful masterpiece! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

I am seated next to the exalted Lord Jesus Christ

5 Even when we were dead in trespasses, [God] made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:5-6

Before we became believers in Jesus, the Bible describes our spiritual condition as being “dead [separated from God] in trespasses and sins,” controlled by “the course of this world,” under the authority of “the prince of the power of the air,” and driven by “the lusts of our flesh” (2:1-3). Today let’s focus on being under the authority of Satan and his world system.

Before Jesus Christ, we were under the power of the devil. He directed our thoughts and our lives through the voices of unsaved family, friends, the media, the government, the educational system, the economy, and the laws of the land. When we listen to these voices of Satan they will draw us in a direction that will destroy us. Voices that say, “It’s just pictures on a computer or a magazine. It doesn’t hurt anybody.” Or “You can’t be complete or fulfilled if you don’t have a man or woman.” Satan’s voice says, “Whatever it takes to get what you want, you do it.” This voice says, “You can’t forgive that. What he or she did to you is too terrible to possibly forgive.” And we could go on and on. These voices lead us down a path that results in defeat and destruction. So before we were saved, we were dead in our sins and under the power of the devil. But when we come to Christ, we are now under a new Power and Authority.

The first two words of verse 4 are the most powerful words in all the book of Ephesians: “But God…” Would you circle those two words? Since we were dead in our sins, separated from the Lord, God breaks in to help! We need to be reminded of “God, who is rich in mercy” and “love” (2:4). “My life is spinning out of control”BUT GOD. “I feel like I have to do drugs or have sex in order to be liked”BUT GOD. “My parents cannot get along”BUT GOD. “I have no hope” BUT GOD.

God’s grace has made all the difference in our lives when we come to Christ. I once was dead in my sins, but God “made us alive together with Christ” (2:5a). Why? Because “by grace you have been saved” (2:5b). Grace which I could never deserve or earn has made me alive with Christ. According to verse 6, where are you seated? “And raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (2:6). We are now seated next to Christ in the heavenly places. When God the Father looks to His right and sees His Son seated in a place of power, He sees you sitting there with Him.

What happened to Jesus 2,000 years ago happened to you when you believed in Christ for salvation. And where is Jesus seated in relation to the devil according to Ephes. 1:20-21? God the Father “raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion,” including the devil. So Jesus is seated “far above” Satan. So if you are seated with Jesus, guess where you sit today in relation to the devil? Far above him. In God’s eyes, you are now seated in a position of power and victory over all the opponents of God.

Satan cannot really get to us unless we let him. There is safety and power in the heavenly places. We need to go up high where God is located so the Enemy cannot get to us. We do this through prayer and abiding in the truth of God’s Word. God wants you to know that in Christ, you are a winner, not a loser.

Whenever you change your position you change your perspective. When you look at your life while seated next to Jesus in the heavenly places, things that looked chaotic and confusing down here on earth, suddenly take an orderly shape, like the way fields and houses do when you are looking at them from a mountaintop. This is one reason why I love to hike in the mountains. God gives me a new perspective up there. The Lord is saying that if we want to experience victory over sin and Satan, we need to start living life from our new vantage point.

I am reminded of a joke about a thief who had been watching a family for several days in a residential area. He observed each evening that this family failed to lock their back sliding glass door at night. So one night, after the family went to bed and turned off their lights, this thief sneaks up to the back sliding glass door. With a flashlight in one hand, the thief slowly opens the back door with the other hand and starts shining his flashlight in the kitchen. Suddenly he hears a strange voice say, “Jesus is watching.” The thief is spooked and drops his flashlight on the kitchen floor. As he scrambles to pick up his flashlight, again he hears this strange voice say, “Jesus is watching.” Finally the thief picks up his flashlight and shines it in the direction of the voice and sees a parrot in a cage. With a sigh of relief he says, “Oh, it’s just a talking bird.” The parrot then looks down to another corner of the kitchen and says, “Jesus is watching.” The thief then shines his flashlight towards that corner of the room and sees a huge, ferocious Rottweiler dog. Immediately, the parrot commands the dog, “Attack him, Jesus!”

When Satan comes knocking at the your door of your heart, you can say to the Lord Jesus Christ, “Attack him, Jesus!” and then slam the door in Satan’s face. Why? Because in Christ, you are seated next to the most Powerful Person in the universe! In Christ, you are a winner, not a loser. Before you were saved, you looked up to Satan in fear, but now, seated next to Jesus, you are able to look down at the devil with confidence knowing that you are on the winning side. Take a moment and look in a mirror and say to yourself, “In Christ, I am a winner, not a loser.” The more you see yourself as a winner in Christ, the more you will act like a winner for Him and ignore the voices of the devil.

Prayer: O Lord God, thank You for being rich in mercy and love towards me even when I was dead in my sins and living in rebellion against You. Thank You for making me alive in Christ the moment I believed in Him for the gift of salvation. Thank You for showering me with Your grace when You seated me in the heavenly places next to the exalted Lord Jesus Christ far above all Your enemies, including the devil and his demonic armies. Although I used to look up to Satan in fear, I can now look down on him with confidence knowing that I am seated in a position of authority and power next to Jesus far above the devil and all his armies. I pray Your Holy Spirit will apply this amazing truth to my life so that I will see myself as a winner in Christ and ignore the lies of the devil. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

I am sealed forever by God the Holy Spirit

“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14

When Pat and I returned to the USA from the Philippines recently, we met many people in airports and on airplanes who were feeling very insecure about the Coronavirus. People who live in the Philippines have several reasons to feel insecure ranging from natural calamities such as Taal Volcano, typhoons, and earthquakes to a lack of food, unemployment, and the threat of violent crimes.

One of the most insecure feelings that all people can have is not knowing where you will go after you die here on earth. The truth is all people die (unless of course you are a Christian and the Rapture or removal of the Church takes place). Not being certain of your eternal destiny produces deep-seeded insecurity in people. People take extreme measures to avoid thinking about death. They color their gray hair or go on extreme diets and exercise programs trying to delay the inevitable.

Please understand, no matter how insecure you may feel right now, God does not want His children to be insecure. He has given us incomparable security in the Lord Jesus Christ and He wants us to share this security with a lost world that is becoming more and more insecure.

In Ephesians 1, God describes several spiritual blessings for His children. The one we are looking at today involves the seal of the Holy Spirit. When I “heard” and “believed” the “gospel… of salvation” I was “sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession” (1:13-14). The word “sealed” (sphragizō) was used in the ancient world to refer to a legal signature which guaranteed the promise or contents of what was sealed. It signifies ownership and security caused by the backing of the owner.

The word “guarantee” (arrabōn) was a regular feature of the Greek business world. The “arrabōn” was a part of the purchase price of anything paid in advance as a guarantee that the rest of the price should in due time be paid. The seal of the Holy Spirit guarantees that the remainder of our “inheritance” blessings will eventually be given to us. The primary aspect of our inheritance involves life in heaven with the Lord Jesus.

Registered mail is a good example of the seal of the Holy Spirit. When something is registered at the post office it is sealed until delivered. Actually only two persons can open registered mail – the sender (if it is delivered back to him) and the recipient. When we believe in Christ for eternal life, we are sealed by God the Holy Spirit until we go to heaven. God is the One who sends us on our way to heaven, and God in heaven is the Recipient on our arrival. There is no power greater than God who can break the Holy Spirit’s seal. Only God can break this seal and He promises not to do so “until the redemption of the purchased possession” which is when the church is delivered safely and securely to God in heaven.  

No matter what I do or don’t do after being sealed by God the Holy Spirit, I am guaranteed a safe and secure delivery to God in heaven. Therefore, I do not need to look to anyone or anything besides the Holy Spirit to give me security in this life. My security is found in God the Holy Spirit, not in achievements, affluence, appearance, or the approval of others. This amazing truth must not be neglected or misrepresented because it is intended to bring “praise” and “glory” to our great and gracious God!

Prayer: I come to You God Holy Spirit, and I thank You for sealing me the moment I heard and believed the gospel of Jesus Christ. Thank You for assuring me that You will safely and securely deliver me to my Father in heaven. I praise You that no one and nothing can break Your seal on my life except God the Father. And this will not happen until You safely deliver me to Him in heaven. Knowing this teaches me not to look to counterfeit substitutes for my security, but to solely rest in You for this deep need in my life. I give You all the glory God for this precious truth! In Jesus’ name. Amen.