Friday, May 12, 2017 Encouraging Faith

Daily Bible Reading:  2 Kings 15-16, John 3:1-18 H-Icon_Ch30_Chain

Today’s reading in “The Story” is found in your book starting with the transition near the top of page 452 (chapter 30) and ends before the transition on the top of page 456 with the words, “…undying love.”

If you do not have “The Story” you may read the passages in the NIV Bible:  Ephesians 1:1-10, 16-23; 2:1-22; 3:14-21; 4:1-6; 5:21-33; 6:1-4, 23-24.

Paul wrote the letter to the Ephesians sometime in AD 60–61, around the same time he wrote Colossians and Philemon, as he sent all three letters by the hand of Tychicus, accompanied by Onesimus.  It was during this time that Paul sat in Rome undergoing his first Roman imprisonment , making Ephesians one of the four epistles commonly known as the Prison Epistles. The others are Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon.

In Paul’s other epistles, or letters, that he wrote to other churches, we see him address specific issues or challenges that those churches were encountering.  So he wrote those letters to either correct them, or encourage them to lead godly lives.  But Ephesians, and our reading today, are different because they deal with topics at the very core of what it means to be a Christian—both in faith and in practice—regardless of any particular problem in the community.

ephesians-1.21Paul began his letter with praise to God for His creation, as well as for His incredible grace that He shows to His children.  Paul expresses praise to God for the salvation He gives us through Jesus Christ, and encourage the Ephesians with the knowledge that god has supplied them with faith, which is given to both Jews and Gentiles.  But He gave this faith to them because they were made alive in Christ through His death and resurrection, freeing them from their sins and adopting them as God’s children.

The reading today is one of the most uplifting and encouraging piece of writing ever produced by Paul.  We should be encouraged, just as were the Ephesians, as we read this.  Paul clearly describes our salvation as provided by the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf, out of love for all humankind.

After Paul explains how all have been made alive in Christ, he further encourages believers, both Jews and Gentiles, that we are all one body under Christ.  What an amazing gift!  That God would send His Son to allow all mankind to become His children!

Paul then encourages the Ephesians and us as believers that he prays for the Holy Spirit to strengthen our faith.  He prays for future generations to have faith and to grow in the riches of God’s salvation.  What a blessing!

Furthermore, Paul admonishes all believers to be unified in the faith and to grow in maturity.  That means that we as believers should not be fighting with one another, but Ephesiansbe dealing with one another in brotherly love as followers of Christ.  That’s not always easy, is it?  But Paul encourages us to be reminded of whose children we are, so that we will act accordingly and in so doing, be an example for those who do not yet believe.

Paul continues with instructions on good Christian living.  He encourages husbands and wives to love one another and to respect one another.  The example he gives of the relationship between a husband and wife is that of Christ and His bride, the church.  As he gives examples, we see how this instruction is beneficial to marriages, as well as to the body of Christ.

He further provides advice to Christian households.  He speaks of honoring fathers and mothers.  He instructs all children to honor their parents.  He also encourages fathers not to “exasperate” their children.  In other words, he is saying that parents should follow the example of Christ ad raise their children to love and honor the Lord.

We close today with this benediction from Paul:  Ephesians 6:23-24 (NIV) 23 Peace to the brothers and sisters, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.

Prayer:  Lord, thank you for the encouragement that you give us today in the letter from Paul to the Ephesians.  We need your encouragement because it is sometimes difficult to live a Christian life.  Help us to lead a godly life and to love one another as You have loved us.  Amen.

 

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