In most relationships we possess it is only a matter of time before we ask, “So are we good?” We say this in many ways but basically we want to make sure everything is good between us and those we love. If everything is good we have confidence. If things are not good we lack confidence. Jesus came to make the complete declaration from God into our lives WE ARE GOOD! This should give us amazing confidence to live our lives to the fullest awakening that life in others!
Our society isn’t going to be changed because of polished church services that have mastered excellence in our experiences. There is something deeper going on with all these leaders working so hard to provide such attractive church services. Most Christians aren’t fully surrendered to Jesus and that’s why we have to work so hard at our presentations to keep everybody entertained.
In the Book of Ephesians we find instruction to believers who lived in a society that very much resembles our society in America. Ephesus was one of the leading cities of that time financially, spiritually and geographically. It was a very multicultural, pluralistic society.
In Ephesians Jesus is revealed as The One Who Awakens God’s Blessing In The Earth. It is only God’s awakened blessing that will transform humanity!
Eph 4:1 …I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received…
You are called by God. You can tell somebody’s opinion of you by what they call you. Sociologists tell us we make nicknames for love/hate. God CALLS you his child.
Eph 3:17-19 May Christ dwell in your hearts through faith–that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strngth to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth & length & height and depth, 19 and to know the love of X that surpasses knowledge, that u may be filled w all the fullness of God. ESV
God isn’t just wanting to conquer emptiness. He desires to fill us with all the fullness of God so He can overflow from our lives into others!
Eph 4:10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whle universe
God fills the whole universe and when manifests Himself. All creation awaits for the sons and daughters to be revealed.
Society will change when we express God’s relational care for humanity leaving His mark on people’s lives.
In the Old Testament when a person was anointed they were smeared with oil described as running down Aarons beard. This left a mark of oil in the place where the person was anointed. This helps us understand a deeper meaning behind these verses.
Job 29:3-6 When His lamp shone over my head, And by His light I walked through darkness; 4 As I was in the prime of my days, When the friendship of God was over my tent; 5 When the Almighty was yet with me, And my children were around me; 6 When my steps were bathed in butter, And the rock poured out for me streams of oil! NAS
We are marked by his anointing. Our steps release something of a mark in the earth drawing attention of humanity to Jesus Christ!
The greatest tragedy of distraction is the life you never live and the difference you never make in other people’s lives.
Laziness is the result of lacking of vision. We must get a picture of what God has in mind and when we begin to see ourselves the way He does it changes everything about the way we love, serve and give!
Eph 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. NIV
Jesus awakens God’s blessing in all of the earth for all humanity!
Gen 22:2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love–Isaac–and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” NIV
Isaac is placed back on the wood as the sacrifice as Abraham’s faith is tested. Suddenly God provides. Amazingly there are an abundance of parallels with this event and the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Jesus was also placed on his back on wood as a sacrifice.
Archaeological evidence suggests that the place of the crucifixion of Jesus was at the summit of Mt. Moriah. It is entirely possible that the exact spot where Abraham’s son Isaac was laid on his back on that wood is where Jesus was crucified.
Gen 22:17-18 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore…
Incredible type of God’s blessing being released as a result of this obedient sacrifice.
Eph 1:7-10 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. NIV
God made his promise to Abraham in Gen 13 using the dust of the earth as his illustration. Then in Gen 15 he uses the stars of the sky. Both are significant and speak of God’s blessing both in the earthly realm and the heavenly realm. The blessing of God is released in both realms of our lives as we come into Christ.
We really must learn to keep our practical lives spiritual and our spiritual lives practical. We are the salt of the earth. Salt is Sodium Chloride. Sodium alone will kill you. Chloride alone will kill you. However you will die if you don’t have them combined in your system. We need to learn how to pray as a family and we also need to learn how to have fun together as a family if we really want to experience all God has in store for the blessed family.
Eph 1:13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit NIV
Notice this was released in your life, “when you believed.” Faith is both a natural and a supernatural resource. Several years ago, an experiment was performed in a school in the San Francisco Bay area. A principal called in three teachers and said, “Because you three are the finest in the system and you have the greatest expertise, we’re going to give you ninety selected high-IQ students. We’re going to let you move these students through at their own pace this year and see how much they can learn.”
The three faculty members, the students and the students’ parent thought this was a great idea. And it seemed they especially enjoyed the school year. By the time school was through, the students achieved 20 to 30 percent more than the other students in the entire San Francisco Bay Area.
At the end of the year, the principal called the three teachers in and told them, “I have a confession to make. You did not have ninety of the most intellectually prominent students. They were all run-of-the-mill students. We randomly took ninety students from the system and gave them to you.”
The teachers naturally concluded that their exceptional teaching skills must have been responsible for the students’ great progress.
“I have another confession.” said the principal. “You’re not the brightest of the teachers. Your names were the first three drawn out of a hat.”
Gen 15:6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness. NIV
You were never created to live out a life that you could live without God’s help. A life you can live without him is not the life He’s called you to live. Aren’t you glad God doesn’t consult your budget to determine your dream. Don’t act all surprised when God asks you to do bigger things than you can do.
This is why giving a portion of our income as an expression of worship to God has always been part of God’s plan. Every time we increase from the world’s system tithing reminds us that we are part of a more powerful system.
A steady rhythm of exercising your faith will strengthen your faith for unseen fights ahead. Doesn’t take God long to promote you. Just takes a while to prepare you especially when we are being uncooperative with his preparation. Jesus sacrificially embraced and released Gods blessing to the world around him – so should we!!
Eph 1:17-19 “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe… NIV
Revelation and Wisdom are many times inclined in opposite directions and both are necessary.
THE MESSAGE BIBLE INTRODUCTION TO EPHESIANS:
What we know about God and what we do for God have a way of getting broken apart in our lives. The moment the organic unity of belief and behavior is damaged in any way, we are incapable of living out the full humanity for which we were created.
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians joins together what has been torn apart in our sin-wrecked world. He begins with an exuberant exploration of what Christians believe about God, and then, like a surgeon skillfully setting a compound fracture, “sets” this belief in God into our behavior before God so that the bones—belief and behavior—knit together and heal.
Once our attention is called to it, we notice these fractures all over the place. There is hardly a bone in our bodies that has escaped injury, hardly a relationship in city or job, school or church, family or country, that isn’t out of joint or limping in pain. There is much work to be done.
And so Paul goes to work. He ranges widely, from heaven to earth and back again, showing how Jesus, the Messiah, is eternally and tirelessly bringing everything and everyone together. He also shows us that in addition to having this work done in and for us, we are participants in this most urgent work.
Now that we know what is going on, that the energy of reconciliation is the dynamo at the heart of the universe, it is imperative that we join in vigorously and perseveringly, convinced that every detail in our lives contributes (or not) to what Paul describes as God’s plan worked out by Christ, “a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.”
NIV BIBLE INTRODUCTION TO EPHESIANS:
Traditionally named Ephesians, this letter may not actually have been written to the believers in Ephesus. Some of the best early copies of the letter don’t include the phrase in Ephesus in the greeting. While Paul spent two years in Ephesus, this letter appears to address people Paul has never met.
Paul here presents a two-fold pattern, first explaining the new identity believers have in Christ and then bringing out the implications for their new way of life. God has brought everything together under the rule of the Messiah, exalting Jesus above all things. Paul echoes a phrase from Psalm 8—God placed all things under his feet—to show that Jesus is the truly human one. Jesus fulfills the original human calling to rule over the creation properly. Jews and Gentiles have been brought together into one body, with Jesus at the head. God is now creating one new humanity from all over the world through the reconciling work of the Messiah.
This means Jesus-followers must give up their former way of life and practice purity in daily living and integrity in their relationships. The reciprocal responsibilities of those in and under authority are used as key examples of the new kinds of relationships God is expecting. Paul cautions his readers that they are entering a spiritual battle. They must arm themselves with all the resources God has provided, until the Messiah brings unity to all things in heaven and on earth.
ACTS 19 DESCRIPTIONS OF THE EVENTS HAPPENING IN THE CITY OF EPHESUS.
Background of the city and Paul’s history there. Ephesus was one of the leading cities of that time financially, spiritually and geographically. Known for good roads leading to various places so many backgrounds blend into Ephesus = very multicultural, pluralistic society. It was one of the leading spiritual centers in the Roman empire and magic was practiced aggressively in this culture.
If you are willing to believe in evil then it forces you to become spiritual. Many in Ephesus were spiritual and their response to overcome evil and wickedness was largely to be involved with magic.
Paul’s going to talk about spiritual warfare, principalities and Jesus as ruler over all because these people lived in a spiritual center where people largely did not believe in Truth as Christians understood it. This is very resembling to our culture today. People are very spiritual but who “god” really is isn’t really important. Sections in our bookstores are religion and spirituality and there is a common avoidance of any dogmatic claim about who God really is.
The most popular god in Ephesus was the godess Diana – 7th wonder of the world = The Great Temple of Dianna. This religion controlled much of the money of the culture meaning it controlled much of the cultural movement. They had an annual day of celebration for the godess dianna.
Acts 19 Paul is pulling into Ephesus, a city of 250 million people filled with astrology, magic & goddess worship. Paul’s approach to entering a community was to enter the synagogue and begin speaking, teaching and preaching. Then he would move into the marketplace sharing his faith having started in the synagogue. He would minister to these people who had an understanding of the Old Testament hoping to win them to Christ so then they would be given to the cause of evangelizing our faith.
Acts 19:1 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples 2 and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied. 4 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. 7 There were about twelve men in all.
8 Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God.
The lecture hall of tyrannus (tuh rain nus) would be the equivalent of renting a room in a Community Center. Rent space to have art class, financial class and the next room is Paul’s class on Jesus the Messiah. He spent 3 years ministering in Ephesus which is twice as long as he spent anywhere else. The main reason was because converts would fan out from Ephesus to various areas very effectively due to the strategic location of this influential City. OKC is the crossroads of America. Paul was appealing to people who worked their 9-5 jobs and took classes in the evenings and this is what you’re doing = studying, learning, growing and reaching others with your faith.
Acts 19:9 But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. 10 This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord. 11 God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them. 13 Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding. 17 When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor. 18 Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. 19 A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. 20 In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.
21 After all this had happened, Paul decided to go to Jerusalem, passing through Macedonia and Achaia. “After I have been there,” he said, “I must visit Rome also.”
There is a major conversation going on in our world and culture about prayer and it’s involvement in the healing process. Christians should be involved in this conversation!!!
People were healed and evil spirits left them. Some issues of sickness are spiritually-related. There is another realm that we must be willing to not only admit but to address!
The devil hates the image bearers of God. These 7 sons left running down the street because they were using their cultural spirituality applying faith in Christ as an element of application. Person sharing prayers she’d written – who are you praying to? It doesn’t matter. Yes it does! Dialing a number in the spirit realm asking whomever answers to heal your child is just like that. It does matter what number you dial.
The essence of worshiping Jesus is to turn your back on all things you’ve given yourself to before. Your life, your money, your time it all belongs to Him. They brought all their “stuff” and sacrificed it to their God as the One True God. This was a huge statement in their culture and it would also be in ours if people could see what this would look like in their own lives. No way to see it unless the Holy Spirit enables you to see it.
Spirituality and financial gain are tied together and when the conversions began effecting the commerce you start having problems and Paul did.
22 He sent two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia, while he stayed in the province of Asia a little longer. 23 About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way. 24 A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in no little business for the craftsmen. 25 He called them together, along with the workmen in related trades, and said: “Men, you know we receive a good income from this business. 26 And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that man-made gods are no gods at all. 27 There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited, and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty.” 28 When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 29 Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The people seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia, and rushed as one man into the theater. 30 Paul wanted to appear before the crowd, but the disciples would not let him.
People get very spiritual when it affects their pocketbook. Hey we’re losing money – okay Dianna is being robbed of her divine majesty!
This theater would hold more than 20k people! You have to love Paul here – he sees all these thousands of people and says he let’s preach! The disciples told him that wasn’t a good idea because these people are wanting to kill you.
31 Even some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, sent him a message begging him not to venture into the theater. 32 The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there. 33 The Jews pushed Alexander to the front, and some of the crowd shouted instructions to him. He motioned for silence in order to make a defense before the people. 34 But when they realized he was a Jew, they all shouted in unison for about two hours: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 35 The city clerk quieted the crowd and said: “Men of Ephesus, doesn’t all the world know that the city of Ephesus is the guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of her image, which fell from heaven? 36 Therefore, since these facts are undeniable, you ought to be quiet and not do anything rash. 37 You have brought these men here, though they have neither robbed temples nor blasphemed our goddess. 38 If, then, Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a grievance against anybody, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. They can press charges. 39 If there is anything further you want to bring up, it must be settled in a legal assembly. 40 As it is, we are in danger of being charged with rioting because of today’s events. In that case we would not be able to account for this commotion, since there is no reason for it.” 41 After he had said this, he dismissed the assembly.