A Study of Ephesians Reflecting Upon Discipleship

Meet The People: Ephesians 1:1-14

Pray for wisdom and revelation while reading. Read slowly and then again read quickly (it helps if you can read aloud). There are peculiarities  about the people of Ephesus which may help us understand why the letter is written the way it is.

The origin of the Temple of Artemis (Diana) stems from a meteorite which landed in the area and people in Ephesus claimed they were in divine plans before the earth was formed to house and guard the Temple. This could effect why Paul wrote 1:1-14. Female citizens were held in higher esteem than foreigners from Italy to Lycia. There are women named as judges, and even admirals. This is very different from the way women were treated in Palestine which could effect Paul’s writing 5:22-33. Some manuscripts of Ephesians do not contain the title in verse 1, but only a deliberate space, as if it was originally written as a circular for Christians all over the world.

Getting to Know God’s View of His Children (ourselves)

Paul (small), God wanted to send (apostle) him representing Christ’s authority to Gentiles, Acts 26:16-18. Saints (a group of people set apart for God’s use), this word describes everyone that is a member of the church, it is always PLURAL, reminding us that we can not grow in holiness without fellowship in the church. ‘Believers’, this means they were made holy by God and maintained their sanctification by faithfully trusting God in their everyday life. In Christ, v1,3,4,6,7,9,10,11,13, (inside the Anointed One of God) This is a spiritual position, regardless of your physical location. It means that when God gives us His Spirit of Christ, Rom. 8:9, in our heart, that our bodies are encapsulated in Christ’s love, forgiveness, knowledge of the mystery and protection, we are sealed, v13. This phrase occurs at least 30 times in Ephesians alone!

Blessed v3, (Eulogy, high speaking praise), Matthew 10:32, Zeph. 3:17. This is towards us as well as towards God because of what He gives us and the position He puts us in. Revelation 3:5.

Chose v4, God’s choice is anyone who chooses to obey Jesus. If we choose to obey Christ, He puts us in Him, and the position makes us CHOICE. The gift of God’s righteousness and Holy Spirit in our life, is what constitutes our holiness. If we are placed in a holy position with Him, we should live holy lives, 1st Pet. 1:16, 2:4-9.The Praise of His Glory  v6, 12,14. That God’s goodness & power will shape us into a more clearer image of Jesus in our lifestyle & attitude. If this is happening, we will openly give Him the credit.The Mystery v9, God’s goal through past centuries, finally revealed and made clear in Jesus Christ as Paul writes in Eph. 3:5-6.Predestined v11, (to know and make a precise decision beforehand), This means that God alone understands what choice we will make before we make it, regarding our decision of whether or not to express the faith He offers us through His message. His nature of being love allows us the power of choice.  He never makes a decision for us. His will is that no one should perish, but since He gave us our own power to choose, he predetermined that only those “in Christ” would have purity in eternity. 2nd Pet. 3:9Sealed with the Promised Holy Spirit… A Deposit! v13-14, Security is only the beginning of a glorious and eternal future. Your identity is wrapped up in Him.

Ephesians 1:15-23, Meeting God’s Agenda for His Children.

God wants His children to know how to pray and what to pray for. If we are to grow in our discipleship, we must consider what kind of prayers are engraved into the eternal letters of God.  Facts we should always remember about talking to God.

He will listen to his children concerning anything, but He only answers our prayers in revealing His will, not our own, 1st Peter 5:6-7.

Only people “in Christ” can have complete confidence in coming to the Throne of Grace and presenting ALL our needs, this means whatever we have to say to God, none of it can be heard without being sanctified by Christ our mediator, therefore we need to pray “in Christ’s Name”, that is by His authority not our own. Hebrews 4:16 & John 16:26.

Humility & Perseverance are paramount in prayer, no matter what kind of prayer we pray, be it intercession, thanksgiving, petitions or supplication, without humility in our prayers, we cannot be heard. Equally important is to maintain humility by demonstrating patient continuance in persevering with prayer until we understand what God’s agenda is, in this way we can prove what the will of the Lord is, Luke 18:2-8 & 11-14, 1st Tim. 2:1, Rom. 12:2.

Getting to know God’s agenda in our rapport as disciples:

THE SPIRIT OF WISDOM & REVELATION. Christians have given into our heart, the Spirit of Christ through faith during baptism as a gift. Paul encourages us to pray that our Divine Guest living with us, will help us grow in knowing Christ in a practical and spiritual way, so that we can live like Him. When we first become Christians we do not have as much of the wisdom of God and knowledge of Christ as we should, so we need to pray for it, so that His Spirit sees and feels the cooperation and submission of our spirit, and knows that we want His help in growing into a living example of Christ. Then our discipleship can truly be experienced and shown. 

THE ENLIGHTED EYES OF YOUR HEART (mind or understanding). We may not realize it, but our facility of intellect needs light. Our imagination can be darkened or enlightened, and depending on your location spiritually, determines whether you are exposed to divine light or are cheated of it in the darkness of this world. Divine light was first introduced into our world during creation, Gen. 1:3, before the stars and sun was made by God, indeed He is called the Father of lights, James 1:17, and Jesus said “I am the light of this world”, Jn. 8:12, 12:35-36, wanting us to become children of light. When His light begins to shine brighter in our lifestyle, then our discipleship becomes real. Disciples should pray for a brighter life which exposes the dangers before us.

THE HOPE OF HIS CALLING (an invitation you are summoned to achieve) Are we all fully aware of God’s desire to receive us into His eternal habitation? How much does He want us to experience being like Christ and living with Him? Do we believe He is a rewarder? We can’t please Him if we do not believe this, Heb. 11:6.

THE RICHES OF GLORY, Oh to receive the full payment after our deposit! v13-14. Living on earth like you are actually already at home will help you pray for the riches of His glory to come.

THE SUPER POWER OF GOD, The Holy Spirit’s power is only measured by the immeasurable might of Divinity, therefore there are no limits! This power is not latent, but in action. How? By the resurrection and ascension of Christ, and that is where we are! Rom. 1:3-4.

Ephesians 2:1-10, Humans Discovering The Divine Purpose 

Jesus is The truth, The life & The way, (Jn. 14:6), and He told us that he came to give us life and live it more abundantly. (Jn. 10:10). This is the divine purpose for humans, but sadly most humans just survive in this life, only to die spiritually while pretending to be alive. Sadder still, many Christians are truly born again, and begin to really live, but end up struggling spiritually, only to give up their faith to the world’s definition of life. However, the good news is that every Christian has the opportunity to overcome spiritual death and live true life abundantly now and forever more in Jesus Christ.

KEYS TO LIVING TRUE LIFE:

Being Determined to Never Die Again! It is amazing how often the rescued Hebrews longed to go back to Egypt. Because of their complaining, many of them never made it to the Promised Land in Palestine. Christians can turn back on Christ and end up in this sin sick world, how do we avoid it? Sin always has a killing power, it kills innocence, no one is really the same after they have sinned, it kills ideals, at first we regard something wrong as horrible and then when we are personally tempted to do it, we curiously but uncomfortably explore, while being totally aware of it being wrong, then after we have done it, we find it easier the next time, eventually we are doing it without any shame. The fatal power of sin, is that it makes the next sin easier, sin kills our will to fight wrong.

Being Determined to Grow in God’s Love, Grace & Wisdom! The nature of God moved Him to make us alive, do we believe this? We cannot stop sinning enough to obligate God’s movement in rescuing, washing and sanctifying us.  His gracious nature should take over our life, but will we imitate it? His love is alive in the message of the cross & in the presence of the Spirit, Rom. 15:30, but can we feel it? His wisdom is shared in the work of the church and preaching of The Word, but can we accept it and try to apply it? Growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus is imperative, 2nd Peter 3:18. How can we take greater faith in His grace? How can we feel the love of God affect us? How can we apply His wisdom to our everyday lifestyle? PRAYER is the starting point for these determinations.

Being Determined to Express Your Faith in Jesus! The way we are being saved, and the purpose for which we are saved, are both VERY important to understand. If we accept these truths, we will be compelled to rejoice and share this great gospel. Here are some key words to help us stay determined:

Salvation, the act of rescuing someone from danger and delivering them to safety.

Grace, giving divine blessings to sinful people.

Kindness, an appropriate act of fine gentleness, or a mellow effect on something  bitter.

Faith, the evidential substance of something yet unseen.

Gift, something given freely without any cost to the recipient.

Works, action or deeds performed for a wage.

Created, to establish a functioning home in barrenness, or to build lyrics from words.

Good, something which is inherently beneficial and practically useful.

Do you believe God’s graciousness is working through you in accomplishing or achieving good work?  In the subject of golf, if a novice as I had to complete an easy course like Palm Valley Lakes, for me, it would be an achievement, but if our accomplished golfer, Ray Miller were to complete the same easy course, it would just be a simple accomplishment. But on a higher scale, Tiger Woods could probably do it blind-folded! What if you had the strength, knowledge and attitude of Tiger Woods? The Course would be victorious for you, no matter what you thought of golf. God has set before each Christian a course to walk in this life and whether you are ignorant of it, or mature and wise about it, God’s grace, strength and wisdom will help you complete the course. Don’t stop, keep walking! Don’t be a coward and run away, keep fighting the good fight overcoming evil with HIS good. The Good News is that as our Christian life here on earth is finished, our final score is the score of Jesus if you just keep playing till the end. If at the end of a golf course, Tiger Woods gave you his score card, you would call that grace!

Ephesians 2:11-18, Disciples Growing into Friendship  One of the darkest descriptions of humanity is set beside the most beautiful descriptions of God. This great contrast is meant to help disciples yearn and enjoy friendship with God.

BEING BROUGHT NEAR TO GOD THROUGH BLOOD, FROM HAVING…

            …No Noble Title

            …No Holy Anointment

            …No Eternal Citizenship

            …No Guaranteed Promises

            …No Certain Hope

            …No Real God

MAKING BOTH JEW & GENTILE, ONE AND…

            …Tearing down the dividing wall of hostility

            …Doing away with the Law

            …Creating in Christ, one new person

            …Resulting in both having Peace with God

            …Having Access.

v11, Gentiles, Any race or nationality, even the nomadic alien & mongrel, EXCEPT Jews.

v11, Called,  In this context it is a term to denigrate character.

v12, Covenants of Promise, Abraham’s Circumcision & Moses’ Law.

v12,  Hope, The aspiration of a future CERTAIN positive goal. 

v13, Blood, What ran through the veins of Jesus was of divine origin, and was a divinely anointed price which was sanctified and proven powerful in the resurrection. See 1st Peter 1:19. 

v15, 17, Peace, A friendly rapport between two characters who were formerly hateful. See Lk. 10:6, Jn. 16:33, Hb.7:2 &  12:14.

v14, 16, Enmity, not the expression of hate, but the core reason for bitterness between enemies, see Romans 8:7 & James 4:4.

v15, "Commandments Contained in Ordinances", Rules in Genesis through Deuteronomy.

v15, "One New Man", The spiritual body of Christ on earth, characteristically new, not necessarily chronologically new, see Jn. 13:34 & 2nd Cor. 5:17

v18, "Access", the legally acceptable means of being presented to royalty, see Romans 5:1-2. 

v18, One Spirit, God’s Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 2:19 – 3:7, Holy Citizens With A Message 

Something must be done before The holy and almighty God of the universe comes to live with humanity, taking up residence with people of all cultures. What is it? Several acts of Grace:

            1. People must be made citizens, v19

            2. People must be made holy, v19 (saints)

            3. People must be adopted into His family, v19. (household)

            4. People must be given a foundation, v20.

            5. People must be joined together, v21.

            6. People must be growing in holiness, v21.

            7. People must be educated, v4 (you may understand)

Then and only then, can people share the promise in Christ together, v6. What is this promise, and why is it so special?

1. A Christian’s citizenship is in Heaven, Php. 3:20

2. A Christian’s spirit has been purified and made holy, Heb.10:22

3. A Christian’s family is Christ’s family, Mt. 12:48-50.

4. A Christian’s life is based on the foundation of Christ’s work, Eph. 2:20.

5. A Christian’s purpose is serving together the God who put us together. Gal. 5:13-14

6. A Christian’s growth is in the fruit of the Spirit, Gal. 5:22-23.

7. A Christian’s greatest education is the good news of Christ & his mind, 1st Cor. 2:16.

Today, The Holy Temple of the Living God is The Church. Inside Christ’s Body on Earth, we find that it has…

… a spiritual altar of sacrifice = the Blood of Christ, Hebrews 12:24

… a spiritual basin for washing = Baptism, 1st Peter 3:21

… a spiritual table of showbread = the Communion, 1st Cor. 11:24-27

… a spiritual altar of incense = the Prayers of Christians, Rev. 8:3-4

… a spiritual lampstand = the Word of God, Psa. 119:105 & Luke 1:79

… a spiritual ark  = The Spirit of Glory in us and Heaven, Eph. 1:3 & 1st Pt. 4:14

…remember the veil in the old Temple was torn from top to bottom when Jesus died.

Where are you as a disciple of Christ in His Body, the Church? The answer will help you define your discipleship. A Living Stone has a place in this Temple which is growing, where are you and what are you doing? 1st Peter 2:4-5

Ephesians 3:8-21, God’s Glory Affecting Disciples

God designed the church to be the pillar and ground of the truth, 1st Timothy 3:15.  Once we recognize that all credit, praise and glory goes to God, then and only then, will we be delivering the truth. Disciples should be wanting a teamwork effort in making known the manifold wisdom of God to glorify Him before the principalities and powers in the heavenly places.  In other words, if we are helping each other work out and publicly express Godly wisdom in our lives, then the powers in the heavenly places will see that God is glorified today and sometime in the future the world will see it too! The world may ignore it, but those in the heavens can’t.  What means more to you?  What your neighbors think of God in your life, or what the angels think of God in your life?

The Effective working of God’s Power, v7….Enables disciples to make known God’s grace & wisdom, 2nd Tim. 3:10-11

Infinite riches for the insignificant, v8

Spreading the Enlightening Message of Equality Everywhere, v9

Christians ARE the Media, v10,

God’s will in Jesus makes power and the work possible for us, v11-12

Taking Pride in Being a Part of the Family, v13,  see Luke 18:1, 2nd Cor. 4:1,16, Gal. 6:9, 2nd Ths. 3:13.

Praying like you mean it, v14-15. Perseverance is essential in proving your prayers are sincere, Lk. 18:1-8. This enables your faith to grow in the knowledge of Jesus and gives you His strength to live it and share it, Jude v3

Praying for Tomorrow, v16,  Power through His Spirit in the inner man, Jer. 31:33.

The Residence of Love, v17

The everlasting equality of His love, v18. If God in Jesus could die for you, would you die for a friend? John 15:13.

Growing in God is more of an experience than academic, v19

Having expectations of His power that is higher than your own, v20, His power is not limited to Paul’s miraculous works. Paul teaches that we should pray for God’s power to work through us. Is His power working through us? Is His power in us, used to experience miracles? Or is His power in us, used to experience Jesus and make known His manifold wisdom? Col. 1:28-29, Jude v24.

All praise, credit and glory goes to God the Father, v21, not the church!

Ephesians 4:1-16, The Real Reason We’re  Disciples ! 

Walking worthy, is hard and all of us fail from time to time. Even the apostle Paul couldn’t walk worthy of the gospel everyday in his calling to be an apostle, he calls himself a wretched sinner needing deliverance, Romans 7:13-25.   

            Who helps us TRY to walk worthy? The inner dwelling of God’s Spirit in our heart. Because of His presence and help, we are saved, in our feeble attempt to walk worthy.  If we do not try to COOPERATE with God’s Spirit of Christ, we do not really belong to Him, and forfeit the great gift of salvation we are in possession of, Galatians 5:16-21.

How do we cooperate with the Spirit of Christ and actually live worthy lives? By having…

Humility – “an attitude of modest thinking of others more important than yourself”

Gentleness – “an expression of humble thinking”

Patience – “being willing to wait beyond the other person’s expectations”

Love – “affectionate benevolence”

Nobody can show these qualities CONSISTENTLY, because of the devil’s influence on us through the world. Daily we may be dogged and cheated of gentleness, patience, humility and love, because we give more time to the world than we give to the Spirit of Christ.

No matter how hard it is to walk worthy, we should prayerfully TRY.  Since Jesus suffered for us to give us this calling invitation in the good news, we should at least TRY as an expression of our thankfulness for his sufferings and salvation. 1st Peter 2:18-25

The 7 fold oneness of unity in the doctrine of Christ is The Spirit’s expression of unity.

The Body – “the churches of Christ”

The Spirit – “The Holy Spirit of Christ”

The Hope – “The Final Glorious Home of Christ”

The Lord – “The Christ in Jesus of Nazareth”

The Faith – “The Mind & Teachings of Christ in the New Testament”

The Baptism – “The Immersion for the forgiveness of sins by Christ”

The God – “The Father of Christ”

If we ALL  AGREE on the above definitions, then the Spirit can help keep us bonded together in peace to strengthen our expression of unity in Humility, Gentleness, Patience & Love. Peace is best shown in active fellowship, because the word points to friendship.  See Acts 7:26, “at one again” is the same Greek word for Peace in Ephesians 4:3. So if we are going to be disciples, we need to recognize our place in real teamwork, and where do we get the strength for that? What is this friendship in Christ for?  A good socializing? Or an honest attempt in evangelising?

4:7-13: The goal of maturity is for every disciple. The FULLNESS OF CHRIST is seen in each Christian being able to demonstrate His Character, that is the fruit of the Spirit of Christ, which humble thinking allows, including Gentleness, Patience and Love. The gifts of Christ are Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors & Teachers. All of them are still with us today and could not have been given to us, if Jesus had not come or left. The necessity of Christ leaving is best seen in John 16:5-15. Our benefit is exactly what God is determined to give Christians if we will be disciples and follow Jesus everyday. The purpose of God in EDIFICATION (v12) is to make suffering expedient or profitable, Heb. 12:10 = Jn. 16:7. Which is the reason Jesus teaches such drastic action should be taken against sin in our life, Mt. 5:29-30, which is for our benefit.

Ephesians 4:17-32, The Practicality of Discipleship ! 

v17, The Futility of our Mind is to be Rejected, as a Christian, it is the Mind of Christ we must adopt, 1st Cor. 2:15-16, Php. 2:5-8. Jesus prayed that Christians would KNOW him, as well as a wife knows her husband! John 17:3. Too many Christians wear WWJD apparel and never know WWJThink, Feel and See.  The DOING, is impossible to know, unless you understand Him. Once we start understanding His mind, we truly become one in our fellowship, Gal. 3:28. This is when we start living the abundant life, Jesus came to give us, John 10:10.

v18-19, Alienated from the Life of God…to work all uncleanness with greediness. People who stay in the world and indulge in the world’s mind, end up getting worse and worse. This attitude causes blindness, John 12:39-40. God’s wrath rests upon them to one day be destroyed, 2nd Ths. 1:8-9.

v20-21, IF, the biggest word in the dictionary! Learning about Jesus is not difficult, it’s done in numerous ways, but however you choose to learn of Him, you learn the truth.  We cannot live by bread alone, we need spiritual truths to truly live, Mt. 4:4. The Holy Spirit will always work to preserve the truth in the Bible about Jesus. His Deity, Love, Law, Wisdom, Passion and Power in Life are all here for us to realize. John 15:26.

v22-24, Putting off sinfulness and putting on True Righteousness & True Holiness. These are gifts from God, not our own righteousness or holiness, but His, Heb. 12:10-12, Rom. 5:17-18. Do gifts motivate you?

PUT AWAY…taking off our self, like dirty clothes, we feel ready for freshness, Mt. 5:3. How do we ‘put away’?   see Romans 8:13 &  Mt. 27:1, Living by the Spirit, you KILL your desires off. Crucifixion was normally a slow and painful death, Gal. 5:24

Lying, v25, this would include those deceitful lusts, bragging and rumours unfounded. Telling a half truth is really telling half a lie.

Uncontrolled Anger, v26, Be only angry with what God is angry with, and immediately ask Him to take vengeance on the problem or enemy.

Theft, v28, if you find a dollar on the sidewalk downtown, the one & only thing you know is that it’s not yours, give it to a beggar! Christians are never in need of more money than what God furnishes through our labor. The lottery is nothing but ‘robbery by mutual consent’.  Ex 20:1-17, Don’t Covet!

Rotten Words, v29, if you can’t say anything encouraging, shut up!

All Bitterness, v31, Sarcasm & name calling.

Wrath & Anger, v31, unbridled temper & vengeance.

Clamor, v31, throwing a fit of words.

Evil Speaking, v31, rude talk, which includes jokes & insults.

Malice, v31, criticizing and denigrating someone’s character, slander, etc…

Does this leave any room for constructive criticism in instruction? Only if you have the solution to the problem! If you can’t talk about the solution, don’t even mention the problem.

PUT ON…putting on Christ, like new clothes, He gives us dignity & security , Gal. 3:27.

Kindness v32,  Being gracious in your behaviour, including courteous & good manners.

Tender-heartedness v32, Being sympathetic and able to feel compassion.

Forgiveness v32, to give pardon without any dues.

How Did Christ do this? Freely for us, and at great cost to Himself. So if we are to forgive others, it should cost us some pain or price and it should cost the offender nothing. Read and practice 2nd Cor. 2:8, your discipleship will actually bless someone besides yourself!

Ephesians 5:1-14, The Disciples Enlightened Lifestyle

v1, Little children are never expected to imitate their Parents really well. But they areexpected to learn and try, as they grow, more is expected of them. 1st Peter 1:14-16. Why? Because Jesus died to make us holy, so it is apathy in an unholy lifestyle that grieves the Spirit of Christ, Eph. 4:30. God’s Spirit in us, can be quenched or stifled, 1st Thes. 5:19. The work of the Spirit on our heart, can be neglected, 1st Tim. 4:14, and the Psalmist points out that The Father can take His Spirit away from us, Psa. 51:11. But the beautiful and powerful goodness of God is in this truth:  God’s Spirit can never be extinguished, because He is the Spirit of Life & Light, 1st John 1:5-7. The light still burns and brightens. Our sins, can diminish His brightness in our life, but He still burns, Heb. 12:29.

v2-3, Disciples should never be identified with sexual immorality, filthiness,covetousness, obscene behavior, foolish talk, and vulgar joking, none of these things should we even mention! What does our T-shirt say? What does our actions say?

v4, To give thanks, is God’s will for us, 1st Thessalonians 5:18. How many ways can you say or show thank you?

v5, God’s wrath waits to be poured out on people who are rude, sexually immoraland greedy. His inheritance we have promised to us when we become a Christian, is  forfeited when we live selfish, rude or immoral lives. Why? Because our actions speak louder than words, and this tells God we don’t really want His inheritance He has promised us. Our actions say that His rewards are not worth living for, or thanking Him for.

v6, Have you ever had someone tell you what ‘rude’ is? Only to learn later that Godhas a different definition. The turning point in our faith is whether or not we are willing to accept God’s definition, rather than our own. Often times, it is the TV which deludes us into accepting the wrong definition. Be careful and do not rely on the V-chip. Gal. 1:11-12.

v7, Peter & Paul gave the same warning to 1st century Christians which are just aspertinent and helpful to modern Christians, 2nd Peter 2:3, 18-19. What fellowship does light have with darkness?

v8-9, The Fruit of the Spirit is not the fruit of your righteousness but His. As wefollow Him, we are enlightened to realize this privileged position. There are 12 Greek words which describe the fruit of God’s Spirit when you compare Rom. 6:21-22, containing, Holiness. Here in Eph. 5:9, there is  Goodness, Righteousness, Truth, and in Gal. 5:22-23 we have Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control. If we cooperate with God in growing these virtues, we will SHINE.

v10-13, Our enlightenment is not for ourselves alone of course, it is to help others seeclearly what is wrong and dangerous. How do we expose something, without talking about it? Actions speak louder than words. A life that is full of Goodness, Righteousness and Truth will show up a contrast against what is Bad, Wrong and Deceitful.

v14, Disciples that sing, shine brighter! This verse is a song from the point of  Isaiah26:19-21. With the Spirit of our resurrected Lord in mind, it is sung with victory in our hearts. 

Can Disciples Be So Heavenly Minded That They Are No Earthly Good?Ephesians 5:15-21 

v15, Wise People are only wise in God’s in view, if they love God’s wisdom, not the wisdom of this world. Many Christians are street-wise, but do not have the mind of Christ and are ignorant of God’s definition of wisdom. We can have it, if we want it and pray for it, James 1:5. Once we start praying for wisdom, we need to be alert to how we are behaving in our lifestyle. To walk “circumspectly”, means to keep an eye on your boundaries so that we can stay on the straight & narrow path which leads to life and all of God’s inheritance, Matthew 7:14.

v16, We know that when times are hard, we must make the most of every opportunity. Likewise, when days are evil, we must make the most of righteousness, Romans 12:11. Grasp every opportunity to do good, that you can, in this lifestyle, your making the most of your time here on earth. It doesn’t matter whether we are facing persecution, or living in luxury, our life is still just a vapour, and tomorrow is not a guarantee, therefore the Christian race must be ran, not walked! Although Paul uses the word, “walk” often in his letters, the word ‘walk’, never means to take daily life lackadaisical, “walk” simply means lifestyle, it is not a walk in the park, Jn. 10:10.

v17, How many times are we forced to collect pieces of a puzzle and work at fitting them together to get a picture? Ever been a new patient with no doctor? Ever tried to write a book? Ever put a budget together and use it longer than a month? Our life is full of ways we try to UNDERSTAND what to do, or how to do it. The Lord’s will is like that for each of us individually, we must personally put a diligent effort into learning God’s word, and then try prayerfully to put it into practice. This is why churches of Christ stress daily Bible readings and memory verse work. Now if only every Christian stressed applying what God says daily, the church would be so much more stronger, blessed, sacrificial and bigger!

v18, Drunkenness is like the abuse of anything, it destroys our better moments and weakens what goodness there is in us. Junk food, non-prescribed drugs, laziness in the sun, smoking tobacco and rude words, are all forms of abuse and work to our demise. God’s lifestyle works to our many benefits.  The way we prevent any kind of abuse, is to be busy growing in God’s Spirit, He will fill us with goodness. How? Daily sing, pray, read God’s Word, and make sure we are truly giving more in life than we our taking, Acts 20:35.

v19, Speaking to yourself and singing in your heart can be done without making a sound. So even if you can’t carry a tune in a bucket, you have no excuse for not obeying this command. There are 150 Psalms to choose from, anyone can find one. Hymns are religious or moral anthems, the Bible is full of them and they are good for memory work in the New Testament. Spiritual Songs are tunes which are associated with spiritual messages, a good way of reminding yourself of what is right, is to hum a tune, this is exactly what the Christian is instructed to do in Psalm 1:2, the Hebrew word for “meditate” means “sound out” the law. What kind of sound you make is determined by what tune you associate with spirituality! What exactly is Paul telling us to do here? Pluck your heart strings, not your guitar. This is to the Lord, and for your own benefit, it affects Him and He blesses you. It is interesting to note, that Paul is not giving them instructions here for congregational worship, he is simply telling them how to be filled with The Spirit.

v20-21, Telling God we are thankful is an act of gratitude which affects our attitude to deal with everything in a godly way. Accomplishing God’s will for you, 1st Thes. 5:18. If you are thankful for your brother at church, you’ll be given the wisdom to humbly meet his needs, better than your own. SO therefore, you cannot be so heavenly minded, that your no earthly good. God can use you best in meeting the needs of others, when your consistently directing your hearts desires to Heaven.

Ephesians 5:22-6:4, Discipleship to Christ Is Very Personal

WIVES, v22 “as to the Lord”, This phrase should alleviate any fear of wives feeling like the Lord is asking them to become a ‘door mat’ and accept, without any reaction, a husband that is abusive or insensitive to her needs, or even unfaithful. Wives should be willing to look in the mirror and ask themselves, “in what ways does the church submit to Christ?” Is that submission allowing abuse? No. The church’s submission to God is actually a blessing, when we submit, we allow God to strengthen us and grow the fruit of His Spirit. He makes us one in all the virtues of Christ’s character. How can a wife emulate submission, the church has towards Christ, towards her husband? 1st Peter 3:1-2. The word “submit” or hupotasso is actually in verse 21. Wives should try to understand the word “respect” towards their husbands, or  phobeo “to fear” in verse 33. This is also used in 1st Jn. 4:18. Where we are told that ‘fear’ will not allow love to mature. Fear is a difficult word in the Greek New Testament, it is used in many different ways, and is always defined by the context, not by the dictionary. For example, if we are afraid (distrust) of God or a husband, we will never be able to feel our love for Him mature and grow stronger, but on the contrary, if we fear God or a husband in a way that shows respect (trust) for His role and responsibilities, then we will indeed be surprised at how much more stronger our love is for Him.  In what ways can a wife show genuine respect for her husband’s responsibility to provide spiritual food, cleanliness and protection in their life together? Does the phrase, “IN EVERYTHING” v24, help wives answer the question?

HUSBANDS, v25 “love” is a command repeated four times in this passage. Why would husbands need to be TOLD to love their wives? Because it is not a physical love. Agape is a decisive committed desire to do what is in the wife’s best interest, no matter how unlovable that wife is. Even when Christ’s disciples fled in the face of his death, He still died for them, and even for sinners, Romans 5:8. In every problem a couple faces, God expects the husband to persevere & initiate the process of reconciliation. This is love. Remember, as long as Christ’s disciples were reasonable, Christ was more than gracious to them. But when His disciples couldn’t be logical or were weak, Christ curbed His teaching and work on them, John 16:7-13. Husbands, remember and learn that there is a good time and a bad time to approach the work of reconciliation after problems have occurred. 1st Peter 3:7. A Husband’s Headship is spiritual, not necessarily physical. Christ is the spiritual head of the church, not necessarily physical. This is why we have Elders to be head in physical matters for the church, Heb. 13:7, 17. Christ doesn’t command the Church to build it’s chapel in a certain fashion. But He does demand His church dress in a certain fashion, it’s called modesty, 1st Peter 3:3-5. In what ways can a husband make sacrifices for his wife’s spiritual needs? Does the phrase, “AS HIMSELF” v33, help husbands answer the question?

CHILDREN, When does adulthood begin?  Is there any difference between obedience & honor?  John 12:26 is a promise closely attached to the promise in Ex. 20:12. Every child should understand the value of life and that value should be set by our parents actions. A child can not honor their parent while giving their bodies away before marriage, they must wait for their parent to give them away in marriage. Sex before marriage, turns boys into dishonourable thieves, and girls into rebellious hypocrites. Children are supposed to be ‘of the Kingdom’, Lk 18:16-17 & Jn. 13:33. Sometimes children get so calloused or apathetic, they leave Dads wondering where they went wrong, but if everyday, Dads will realize their responsibility to understand and show the following command, then children will grow into godly Christians, this is the command: Raise your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. What does this mean? It means,  Daily show them the nature and admiration of the Lord. Dad’s are you doing this?  BONDSERVANTS OF CHRISTWhat gives Christians Discipleship? – Ephesians 6:5-9 

BOND-SERVANTS verse 5,  We are saved to serve, John 13:1-17 & 34-35, Hebrews 9:14. The reason many Christians do not know this, is because, they want salvation for escaping punishment, not to become a servant, It is not God’s will that Christians be unemployed, 1st Timothy 5:8, 2nd Corinthians 12:14.  Christ turns work into a privilege instead of a punishment, Gen. 3:17-19. A Christian that relies on government grants instead of searching for employment or becoming self-employed, is not relying on God! Christians should trust God to provide for our needs and serve in whatever job we can find, in order to serve Him who helps us most!   It is not God’s will for Christians to be lazy in their retirement, Proverbs 21:25-26 & 26:16, Matthew 25:26, Galatians 6:10.

FEAR& TREMBLING Verse 5. When God’s word tell us we should fear someone, is God asking us to consider their personality, or their purpose? A divine perspective on the utmost respect being shown by Christians is seen in 1st Peter 2:18-24. DOING GOD’S WILL, verse 6. This is a harder command for some of us, than showing total respect. How can our heart be driven to do God’s will and not our own? When faced with obedience that you know will bring pain, even Jesus struggled to obey, but by trusting God our Father in prayer, Jesus did it, so can we, Luke 22:39-44. This is where Jesus took on the form of a slave in the face of the cross, Php. 2:7. Can we take on the form of a slave in the face of Christ when going to work? If we can do this in prayer, it will stop us from being mere men-pleasers and turn us into God-pleasers.

SERVICE, verse 7. Turning physical work into spiritual work can not be done, unless we accept the truth of James 1:2. Attitude is all-encompassing. Paul urges Christians in Corinth that when slaves are “called in the Lord, they become the Lord’s freemen”, 1st Cor. 7:22, and enter a service which is perfect freedom. That attitude, logically worked out through time, has ultimately destroyed slavery, but meanwhile, it gives to the abused employee in a bad job, lightened though not yet removed, a power of service with a good will, as to the Lord. This is good news!

RECEIVING ‘GOOD’ BACK FROM THE LORD! Verse 8. When we hear the words of God, “Well done, good and faithful servant”, we will be seeing all the good we have done come back alive and sit in your lap. Revelation 14:13. God wants us to think of our charitable deeds as living entities turning into eternal rewards. Do you believe this?

YOUR MASTER, verse 9. Jesus accepted the highest title on earth, John 20:16, 28, and heaven, Rev. 19:16,  yet served as the humblest of servants. We likewise should humble ourselves in daily calling Jesus “My Lord & God, King and Savior”, this will enable us to serve with the right attitude.

THE EMPLOYERS, Perhaps the hardest task for Employers to accomplish is emulating The Master in showing no favoritism to all your employees. Perfect justice and fair rules in employment is best achieved by daily practicing the golden rule, Luke 6:31. Doing unto others as you would have them do unto you, is exactly what gives Christians a discipleship to the Lord Jesus.  Do we live the ‘golden rule’?

Ephesians 6:10-24 – Disciples in the Army of God

Strong in the Lord and in the Power of His Might, v10. When anyone enlists in the Army, we are given access and training in the Government’s panoply of devices. Why? Because the Government authorizes or empowers us to use them. Do you use everything God has authorized or empowered you to use as a Christian soldier? If you try, make sure you are using His power, authority & strength, not your own. The battle of overcoming evil with good should be fought with His wisdom and energy, not yours. Romans 12:19-21, 2nd Tim. 2:1 & Php. 4:13.

The Whole Armour of God…against the Schemes of The Devil, v11. Christians cannot afford to be ignorant of what Satan uses against us, the Devil will take advantage of our immaturity and render us helpless to do what is right, if we do not put on every single piece of the armour God offers in his army. 2nd Cor. 2:11, 6:4-7.

Spiritual Hosts of Wickedness, v12. These minions, demons and evil influences abound and are led by Satan described as the ruler of the sky’s domain, active in people who are living in rebellion against God, Eph. 2:2.

Stand, v13. We have not DONE ALL to stand, unless we are trying to put on, learn about and use, every item in this panoply given to us by His grace. The ‘evil day’, Paul refers to, could be any trial you encounter. Every Christian has spiritual valleys and peaks in their daily life, until the Lord comes. Make sure you DAILY follow Him, Luke 9:23.

The Belt of Truth & Breastplate of Righteousness, v14. The Roman centurion’s belt held the breastplate & sword’s sheath together, Isaiah 11:5 & 59:17. Truth is what makes the word sensible and useable. It is the summation of everything the word says, Psa. 119:160, 2nd Thes. 2:10. Here we learn how inseparable God’s gifts/devices are. Righteousness is spoken of in 1st Thes. 5:8, referring to faith and love symbolizing the breastplate. Practicing righteousness is vital to survival of life, it protects your heart, do what is right or die in the fight, 1st Jn. 2:29. 

The Shoes of Preparation, v15. We can not begin to train as a soldier without shoes. Once you know the gospel, you must learn how to use it. This learning is your footwear and keeps the soldier standing to launch the gospel forward.  Isaiah 52:7 & Romans 10:15.

The Shield of Faith, v16. The 2 1/2 X 4 ft shield was soaked and mounted together, forming a wall of protection, or instant foxhole for soldiers to fight safely from. Faith is what we use to quench the fiery darts of Satan, and we should bond together in fellowship to ensure safety in the battles of temptation and trial.

The Helmet of Salvation & The Sword of the Spirit, v17. Knowing your salvation is protecting your thoughts from deception, and letting the world delude you into doubting your eternal hope, life and rewards. The hope of eternal life motivates us to purify ourself (1st Jn. 3:3) and we thereby remain faithful to receive it (1st Jn. 2:25), as the end of our faith, 1st Pt. 1:9. The helmet is also a signature of identity to the enemy, from afar, they know whose Army they are fighting against. If God be for us, who can be against us? The Spirit’s sword is given to every trained soldier of the Lord to talk about Jesus and be able to converse about Scripture. Use it respectfully and correctly, as it is not your own, Heb. 4:12, Rev. 1:16 & 19:15-21.

All Prayer, v18. Without communication, no soldier gets anywhere. Every single thing a soldier does, is because he is in communication with his superior. Pray constantly, 1st Thes. 5:17.

Boldly, v19. If you can’t speak the truth with confidence, then be quiet and live it, you still have more training to do. Sometimes actions speak louder than words.

An Ambassador in Chains, v20. Paul wrote courageously from jail, surely we can pray for confidence in our comfort.

Tychicus, v21. The words ‘beloved’ and ‘faithful’, give each of us a goal in our fellowship with one another. God will use our time spent together, if we will be genuinely concerned about the other person’s needs. The faithfulness of Tychicus qualified him to be a courier of the gospel letters of Paul, integrity was his middle name. If we can express the same kind of love and faith Tychicus did, we too will be equally eternally famous, Col. 4:7, 2nd Tim. 4:12 & Titus3:12.

Comfort Your Hearts, v22. The strength of the Lord involves sharing the gospel with each other in fellowship. We are weak and immature spiritually, because we do not speak the truth in love with one another and spend too much time complaining.

Lord Jesus, v23. Our Commander is also are empathetic Savior, who better could we follow?

In Sincerity, v24. Love Jesus genuinely, and keep your love for Him alive, don’t let it grow cold, Rev. 2:4.

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