This month in Sunday School, we've started a new series of lessons using the book of Ephesians. I enjoy every book in the Bible, each having something unique to offer to believers. However, I do have several "favorites" that stand out for various reasons at different seasons and situations in my life. Proverbs is a wealth of wisdom, Psalms overflows with encouragement, Romans points the way to salvation and renewal, James convicts my actions to match my words (and vice versa), Hebrews contains the "Hall of Faith" that inspires me, Genesis shows the awesomeness of the Creator, Ecclesiastes shows perspective, Job reveals the triumph of unwavering faith in God, etc.
But what is it about Ephesians that touches my heart? Well....
I participated in a Bible study of Beth Moore's once called "Believing God". I was still a "babe in Christ" at the time (I didn't come to know Jesus as my Lord and Saviour until 2003!) and it was exactly what I needed at that time. One of the lessons included a look at the first chapter of Ephesians, starting at verse 4. For a new believer, I cannot describe the impact of these words: "...who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will..." It's one thing to know that Jesus died for the sins of all, but to know that God CHOSE ME FOR ADOPTION BEFORE CREATING THE WORLD??? Wow. I don't know about anyone else, but that had HUGE impact on me!
In Chapter 2, we see that "it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Grace, that lovely, soul-saving word. God's Riches At Christ's Expense. "So that no one can boast..." Beginning my journey as a believer so late in life, in a church whose membership was 90% missionaries or Bible translators, amongst so many who had devoted almost their entire lives to the service of the Lord...well, it was pretty intimidating. I certainly had nothing to boast about. What an encouraging reminder it was to know that no one else did, either. And then there's that word, "workmanship". What are other examples of God's workmanship? How about sunsets? Majestic mountains? The simple song of a bird in the early morning, or the cheerful glow of lightening bugs on a summer evening? The mighty crash of waves breaking on the shore?
Me? Yes, me too. I am God's workmanship, a work of art created by His loving hands. A masterpiece. Wow.
After that, Paul goes on to share his prayers for the Gentiles (us), and imparts words of instruction for us as believers, wives and mothers. Lastly, he describes the "armor of God". Going back again to the Beth Moore study, she keyed on the shield of faith as our defense, "with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one." (verse 16) Whenever I feel attacked, I can hold up my "shield" (physically, I'm using my hand) and remember these things: God is who He says He is, God can do what He says He can do, I am who God says I am, I can do all things through Christ, and God's Word is alive and active in me. Do I think I'm a bad mother? "I am who God says I am." How will I ever handle homeschooling 2 teens, 2 preschoolers and a toddler while working the farm, keeping my home and not lose my sanity? "I can do all things through Christ." My husband has been unemployed since January, our savings was wiped out two months before that happened, our van broke down, the washing machine is on the fritz, the pipes under the kitchen sink are leaking, the kids keep outgrowing their clothes, and vine borers killed all our squash plants. Will we survive? "God can do what He says He can do."
And that's why I love Ephesians.