Devotions on Ephesians 1:1-14–Saints of God
July 10-16, 2017
Monday, July 10, 2017–Saints of God
“To the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful” (Ephesians 1:1).
Casey saw what was happening and sprang into action. A young mother pushing a stroller was crossing the intersection with her pre-school daughter. The mother was distracted by the crying baby in the stroller. She didn’t see the oncoming car nor that her daughter was lagging behind, preening her dolls hair. Casey dashed across the street and pushed the girl out of the way. The car struck Casey a glancing blow, enough to send him to the hospital with a severely bruised hip and leg. People called Casey a hero for what he did. Casey didn’t like the title. He didn’t feel like a hero. He was a pimply faced teenager who sucked at sports, was lost in math class and struggled with the fact that he was gay.
When we read a passage like this one, which identifies us as saint, many of us like Casey feel uncomfortable. We don’t feel holy like a saint should feel holy. We tell ourselves that we haven’t done anything saintly—and we’re right, we haven’t. Jesus designated us as saints by what he has done. Jesus gave us the ability to live in a relationship with a loving God. Today we walk with God but we live on earth. We are both holy and human.
Lord, enable us to celebrate our sainthood and live in its reality. Amen.
Tuesday, July 11, 2017–Saints of God
“Who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:3).
Manuel was an inquisitive toddler. One morning he discovered an abundance of toys in the drawer underneath the stove. There his parents had placed a multitude of pots, pans and covers for his enjoyment. For most of the morning, Manuel noisily celebrated his fantastic discovery and the loving generosity of his parents (while his mother listened to soothing music on her headphones).
Paul announces that God has poured out all of God’s blessings upon us. His emphasis is on their abundance. We don’t need to determine which are spiritual blessings and what are not. Nor do we need to locate them on earth or in heavenly places. Our task is to enjoy them—to open our lives to experience them and to rejoice in God’s generosity. We have everything we need and then some. We lack absolutely nothing. Wow! Thanks be to God!
Lord we are overwhelmed by your love and grace. Thanks. Amen.
Wednesday, July 12, 2017–Saints of God
“He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:5a).
The conversation over our freedom and our destiny is an ongoing one. Are we destined to marry the person that we do, or is it simply a matter of free choice? Is it a person’s destiny to be a CEO, a high school teacher, a homeless person or public figure, or is this the result of choice, hard work and circumstance? This conversation may never end; we may never understand the dynamics of destiny in our lives.
There is one aspect of destiny that we do understand. It deals with our relationship with God. God’s purpose for moving in human history is to bring about the destiny of our adoption as God’s children. God’s movements are not limited to a specific group of people, such as Jews or Christians. The Spirit of God is moving in and through all people so that everyone may be family, know that God identifies them as God’s children and invites them to call God Abba (Daddy)/Amma (Mommy).
Today we live out our destiny as God’s children.
May your Spirit move, Lord, so that everyone, everywhere lives as your children and experiences your love. Amen.
Thursday, July 13, 2017–Saints of God
“According to the good pleasure of his will” (Ephesians 1:5b).
Akihito and Tamara disciplined themselves to take fifteen minutes every day after work and spend time with each other. It was their way of decompressing, sharing the important events of their day and of reaffirming their love for each other. Gary and Jim affirmed their love for each other by repeating the words, “I love you” to each other at least two time a day. Manuel and Lolita loved to walk hand in hand along a beach near their home.
It never gets old—being reminded that we are loved. The words, “I love you,” bring joy to our hearts and courage to our spirits as we face the challenges of life. In like manner, we never tire of being reminded that God love us. God is for us and not against us. Nothing can separate us from God’s love and God will always walk with us through the triumphs and tribulations of life. Today we celebrate love and its power in our lives.
Thank you, Lord, that your love for us is steadfast. Amen.
Friday, July 14, 2017–Saints of God
“In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance” (Ephesians 1:11).
Everyone knew Jared came from money. The rumor had it that his parents founded one of the big software companies in Silicon Valley, which employed thousands of people and was worth billions of dollars. When Jared received his inheritance, he’d become the principle stockholder of a large company, own a dozen houses, a couple of private jets, a yacht and a bajillion dollars. Jared wasn’t waiting for his inheritance before he enjoyed life, though. He wore nice clothes, drove a high end SUV (the Ferrari attracted too many speeding tickets), had a nice apartment and was generous to a fault. Several charities benefited from Jared’s largesse.
Like Jared, we have an inheritance. In his letter to the Romans, Paul says that our inheritance is so great that “[He] considers that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). Our inheritance is beyond our imagination. We don’t need to wait to experience the riches in store for us, however. God has poured abundant blessings into our “trust funds.” Our accounts are overflowing with love, joy, peace, patience—the fruit of the Spirit along with God’s presence and power. There’s enough for everyone.
Lord, your gifts to us are so abundant. Help us to use them wisely to your glory. Amen.
Saturday, July 15, 2017–Saints of God
“So that we … might live for the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:12).
Jamal had filled his bedroom with dozens of trophies from the several sports that he played during grade school and high school. He was a gifted athlete and many of the trophies and medals represented first places and MVP’s. When asked which his favorite trophy was, Jamal pointed to one in the center of a bookcase. “That one,” he said. “That is a state baseball championship trophy. I batted in the winning run.”
As followers of Jesus we pick up many trophies as we journey through life. Some may be athletic in nature, others might be from our work or even family memorabilia. While we strive to live “for the praise of his glory,” one trophy that we could collect might be,” I saw Jesus in what you said or did,” from a person with whom we shared God’s love and grace. Another trophy might come at the end of time, when Jesus pats us on the back and says, “Well done good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23). There can be no greater trophies than these.
Lord, may our words and actions give you glory and honor—always. Amen.
Sunday, July 16, 2017–Saints of God
“We’re marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 1:13).
Sargent Karen Mathers lay on her cot in an Army base in Afghanistan. She was four months into her deployment—four months and thousands of miles away from her husband and two year-old daughter. While the sights, sounds and smells of home filled her mind, she spun a plain gold band on the ring finger of her left hand. It was the symbol and seal of a life-long commitment, never ending love and the companionship with her husband. Karen pulled out a piece of paper from her shirt pocket and unfolded it. Her daughter had filled the paper with scribbles. The words, “Love You Mommy,” were printed in the corner of the paper. Obviously her daughter had help from her husband. The scribbles brought tears to her eyes and a craving to hold her daughter and to feel her daughter’s arms around her neck. Those two objects were the physical seal and her connection with home.
We have no pictures, rings or other items to remind us of the relationship that we have with the Lord, and the promises that await us. We do have the Holy Spirit in our lives, though. The Spirit is God’s presence, promise and connection with our true home. Wherever we are and whatever we face, the Spirit assures us that we are not alone nor are we forgotten.
Thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit, Lord, and her ministry in our lives. Amen.