Ephesians – Belief and Behavior
We hear about the deep love God has for us demonstrated on the cross where Jesus took all sin of all people and paid the debt in full. We see God in the world created for us to journey for a little while. We see His love expressed in the little things others do for us and us for them. Giving and receiving love, we learn, is a joyful activity in our lives as Christians. This joy stems from the Father, giving us a glimpse of His love for us. We feel His Presence when we are troubled and perplexed about life. We experience His love and care when we go through heartache. We feel His strength as we go through and get to the other side of our troubles. How deep is the Father’s love for us?
We must stop and think about the depth and width and height of His love for a moment. Take all the time you need. I don’t think we will ever quite fully understand the full extent of God’s consistent, unconditional love until we meet Him face to face. In the meantime, we read and relish His Word, written by writers inspired by our Father to let us in on the secret plan He has had all along to make a way for us to be with Him forever. That Way is Jesus, His one and only Son, who left heaven to go to hell and back for each one of us. How deep the Father’s love for us, indeed!
Paul’s response to God’s love is to love others with a life goal to help people understand and respond to God’s Plan, The Message of Jesus Christ. So great is Paul’s passion and purpose just thinking about the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love that it drove him to his knees in prayer for others’ strength, understanding, and tenacity to stay focused on Christ.
Need I remind you that Paul is in a dark, nasty jail pit below the earth while writing this wisdom to the people gathered in church groups? Paul wastes little time on his situation and more time carefully sculpting the right words to tell how deep the Father’s love is for us with words and prayer for encouragement to stay strong in a current world of persecution for being a follower of Christ!
What is our response? Mm. How long has it been since we were driven to our knees for others, lost without the love of Christ living in them? Oh, how deep the Father’s love for us…Glory to God! Yes! Don’t give up telling, showing and experiencing God’s love!
“God can do anything, you know–far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, His Spirit deeply and gently within us.” Oh, yes!
Ephesians 3, The Message
The Secret Plan of God
1-3 This is why I, Paul, am in jail for Christ, having taken up the cause of you outsiders, so-called. I take it that you’re familiar with the part I was given in God’s plan for including everybody. I got the inside story on this from God himself, as I just wrote you in brief.
4-6 As you read over what I have written to you, you’ll be able to see for yourselves into the mystery of Christ. None of our ancestors understood this. Only in our time has it been made clear by God’s Spirit through his holy apostles and prophets of this new order. The mystery is that people who have never heard of God and those who have heard of him all their lives (what I’ve been calling outsiders and insiders) stand on the same ground before God. They get the same offer, same help, same promises in Christ Jesus. The Message is accessible and welcoming to everyone, across the board.
7-8 This is my life work: helping people understand and respond to this Message. It came as a sheer gift to me, a real surprise, God handling all the details. When it came to presenting the Message to people who had no background in God’s way, I was the least qualified of any of the available Christians. God saw to it that I was equipped, but you can be sure that it had nothing to do with my natural abilities.
8-10 And so here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head, the inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ. My task is to bring out in the open and make plain what God, who created all this in the first place, has been doing in secret and behind the scenes all along. Through followers of Jesus like yourselves gathered in churches, this extraordinary plan of God is becoming known and talked about even among the angels!
11-13 All this is proceeding along lines planned all along by God and then executed in Christ Jesus. When we trust in him, we’re free to say whatever needs to be said, bold to go wherever we need to go. So don’t let my present trouble on your behalf get you down. Be proud!
14-19 My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
20-21 God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
Glory to God in the church!
Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!
Glory down all the generations!
Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you. Thank you for Your Word penned in an obscure place that is the wisdom and guidance for our maturing lives today. Thank you for loving us deeply, profoundly, consistently, and unconditionally. Our minds are not enough to realize the depth of your love but we will spend our eternity trying. Continue to transform me deeply and gently. Transform Your church. Transform the world.
In Jesus Name, Amen
And I’m singing (been in my mind while writing this)…
How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory
Behold the man upon a cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished
I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ