Summary: If you need some encouragement - find out how He master-minded your salvation, and wishes to lavish wonderful things on to your life.
Don’t you love getting good news? "Congratulations, you may have won $1,000,000 in the Publishers Clearinghouse Giveaway." That’s false good news - but real good news: "Congratulations, it’s a boy" or "Yes, I will marry you" or "The cancer has completely gone away - and I don’t understand why." Or: "I love you!"
Ephesians is a book full of good news. It’s a book about love and unity. It is God’s love letter to you! It’s not about problems and false doctrine and sin and factions - this is a good news letter - one designed to encourage, not chastise. It’s a book that shows the value of friendship in the body of Christ - and how going through hard times together makes us closer to each other and to God.
And it shows the wonderful master plan that God has for each and every one of us. In this crazy mixed up world where we never know what’s going to face us tomorrow - it brings hope that there is a plan and it’s a good one! Let the words of the book wash over you - bathing you in love and hope.
1 I, Paul, am under God’s plan as an apostle, a special agent of Christ Jesus, writing to you faithful Christians in Ephesus. 2 I greet you with the grace and peace poured into our lives by God our Father and our Master, Jesus Christ.
The 3 most ancient manuscripts that we have of this book don’t include the words "in Ephesus." That’s led some to believe that this letter was a general one, not written to any church in particular. Either way - it is God’s Word for the body of Christ.
I like how The Message calls Paul a "special agent." We all have a special position in God’s kingdom - as priests, co-heirs with Christ, ambassadors, and even guerilla warriors sent in to hostile territory to rescue the wounded and dieing.
3 How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. 4 Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. 5 Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) 6 He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.
Chose, predestined, and adopted are three ways that describe what God did for us - words that pack a punch when it comes to the theological arguments around pre-destination versus free will.
But as The Message renders this paragraph - instead of some rigged game - where God holds all the cards and lets us see them only when the outcome is known - words like "takes us" "He had us in mind" "had settled on us as the focus" and "decided to adopt us."
Its much more like a master event planner - who lays out the agenda and the menu with great love and care - wanting only the best for those he cares about deeply.
Believe it or not - God loves us humans and wants us to reach Him and experience His great love and blessing.
Twice in this paragraph and the following God’s pleasure is noted - isn’t that neat? "It’s my pleasure to bring you into My family" he says. What an invitation!
7 Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people - free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! 8 He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, 9 letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, 10 a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.
I just picture the Father all excited about what He has done - how perfect it is, how beautiful - then laying it out to us. The depth of love God has for us is really unbelievable - because all of His plans center around the giving up of His only begotten Son Jesus.
Did you know that God has a long range plan for your life? We often just live day to day - and Jesus told us to do that in Matthew 6:34 "Don’t worry about tomorrow, tomorrow will worry about itself."
Then in Hebrews 12:2 it says "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith." These are construction terms - the architect and the finish carpenter.