Tuesday, January 31, 2017


Ephesians 4:11-19

Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

Earlier in this letter, Paul had discussed the fact that Jesus is the chief cornerstone, the Apostles and prophets completed the foundation, and each believer fits into the building as God has gifted them (Ephesians 2:20) This is God’s blueprint for building His church. Apostles in this verse refers to the specific office of “apostle of Christ” meaning the 12 including Matthias and the Apostle Paul, making 13 in all. They were tasked with teaching the early church the truths they learned from Jesus, hearing and writing scripture, and confirming the Word, as the Lord, by the Holy Spirit, performed signs and miracles through them. When these apostles who were personally appointed by Jesus died, they were not replaced.

The early church prophets gave or explained revelation to specific congregations. There is still a gift of prophecy, but the prophets referred to in this verse were men specifically ordained to build the early church alongside the apostles.

Reformation Study Bible
prophets. The New Testament prophets conveyed special revelation to the early church. Their functions included prediction, exhortation, encouragement, warning, and explanation (Acts 15:32; 21:9–11; 1 Cor. 14:3). The teaching of the New Testament prophets and apostles laid the foundation of the church (2:20), and certain aspects of their work related to that unique task have been discontinued.

Evangelists have the specific gift of sharing the gospel, the good news that salvation is a free gift of God through faith in Jesus Christ, with unbelievers. Jesus commands all of us to share the good news, but some are particularly gifted in this area. Philip was an evangelist, and you can read how the Lord used him in Acts chapter 8.

Preachers/Teachers are those who shepherd the Lord’s “sheep.” They explain the word of God so that their congregations can internalize and live out what the Bible teaches in order to be witnesses, as lights in a dark world. They protect the flock by warning them about temptations, worldly appetites, and false teachers.

Ephesians 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

These gifted men were the “ingredients” for the success of the early church. Have you ever made “friendship” bread? It is a sourdough type of bread made from a starter passed from one friend to another. The early church under the leadership of the Apostles and prophets were the beginning. That starter continues to be passed down through the Bible, evangelists, and pastor/teachers to build thriving congregations. The model of the early church provides that starter base for all who would build a congregation that honors the Lord.

The leadership of the local congregation edifies (builds up and instructs) the believers under their care in order to help them ALL be faithful witnesses of the Lord Jesus. The pastor/teacher is not to be a one man or woman show. He/she is to instruct, inspire, edify the congregants in each of their giftings that the Lord has bestowed on them for the building of the church. We are all teammates trying to reach the same goals, and the pastor/teacher is the captain/coach who helps us become proficient in the game. We all work together to witness and to disciple new believers.

Ephesians 4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

We need to be rooted and grounded in the solid doctrine of the New Testament, and the pastor/teacher guides the church in that area. However, we as believers need to grow in our own knowledge of Jesus through prayer, Bible study, and obedience to what the Lord commands in His word. We will not completely achieve this transformation while in our earth-suits, but we should be maturing and becoming more Christ-like moment by moment as we surrender our wills to His, as we submit ourselves to the Lord’s pruning. The final metamorphosis to be completely like Jesus will occur when we are with Him.

1 Corinthians 15:52 (KJV) In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

Ephesians 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

Let’s take a look at this verse in the Amplified Classic Version:

Ephesians 4:15 (AMPC) Rather, let our lives lovingly express truth [in all things, speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly]. Enfolded in love, let us grow up in every way and in all things into Him Who is the Head, [even] Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).

As mature believers, those who have walked with Jesus and come to know Him better through His word, prayer, and obedience, we are to be living examples of the truth that He taught. Speaking the truth in love means lovingly encouraging or correcting fellow believers. It is not just that we speak truth because we care, but it is HOW we speak that truth. Not only the manner in which we speak truth, but the motivation behind our addressing a fellow believer is important. We need to be sure we are coming from a position of genuine love and concern. We should not speak in any way that we would be embarrassed for Jesus to hear because, after all, He does hear everything including our thoughts!

Jesus is the Captain and the owner of this ship called the church. He is the one who we must follow if we all want to be sailing the right direction.

Ephesians 4:16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

As we grow in Jesus, each one of us will operate the way He intends, fulfilling our individual purposes but working together to build up the church as a familyship of love.

Ephesians 4:16 (VOICE) He joins and holds together the whole body with its ligaments providing the support needed so each part works to its proper design to form a healthy, growing, and mature body that builds itself up in love.

Ephesians 4:17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

Now Paul tells the Ephesians what NOT to do. He tells them not to be like unregenerate, unbelieving Gentiles as they were before. He wants them to avoid falling back into their old ways when they were ignorant of the Good News of Jesus Christ. Unbelievers are “willfully ignorant” of God’s ways, choosing to ignore all evidence of His grace and power. They choose to be slaves of their sensual desires rather than servants of their Creator.

Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language:


1. Looseness; irregular indulgence of animal desires; wantonness; lustfulness.
Who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lasciviousness Ephesians 4:19.


1.       Each believer should be seeking to know Jesus more by being in the word, praying, and obeying.
2.       Believers need to exercise the gifts given them in order to build up the church.
3.       We need to admonish those who are slipping away but be sure it is done in an attitude of love and grace.

We need to continue living according to God’s word in order to prevent slipping back into the ways of the world.

Sunday, January 29, 2017


Ephesians 4:1-10

Ephesians 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,

Therefore - because of all the things he had written in the first three chapters, here is how the believer should respond. Paul reminded the Ephesians that he was in prison due to his mission ordained by the Lord to preach the gospel (the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ to all who believe) to the Gentiles. His imprisonment was in accordance with divine design. This would remind them that service to the Lord Jesus could come at a price to them as well. Paul admonished them to live a life worthy of their salvation and the specific gifts the Holy Spirit had bestowed on them. They should be worthily living out the purpose for which they were created. Not that they earned salvation in any way, but that their behavior would be evidence of the change brought about in them by the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 4:2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;

John MacArthur Study Bible:
4:2 lowliness. “Humility” is a term not found in the Lat. or Gr. vocabularies of Paul’s day. The Gr. word apparently was coined by Christians, perhaps even by Paul himself, to describe a quality for which no other word was available. Humility, the most foundational Christian virtue (James 4:6), is the quality of character commanded in the first beatitude (Matt. 5:3), and describes the noble grace of Christ (Phil. 2:7, 8).

Matthew 5:3 (NIV) “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Our Lord Jesus became human, and in that state of being a man, He was the perfect example of humility.

Philippians 2:7-8 (NIV) rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

The Creator and Sustainer of the universe humbled Himself to be born as a human baby. We are to be like Him, not thinking ourselves better than others but realizing we are all in need of the forgiveness and grace of God. A synonym for longsuffering is longanimous:

longanimous - adj showing patient and unruffled self-control and restraint under adversity; slow to retaliate or express resentment. “was longanimous in the face of suffering” Synonyms: forbearing patient.

Great word I’d never heard! Slow to retaliate reminds me of the instruction in Romans 12.

Romans 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Believers should be consistently characterized by humility and patience toward others by the power of the Holy Spirit working within them.

Ephesians 4:3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

If we are walking in the Spirit rather than in the flesh (by our own desires), the bond of peace would be the result. Our longsuffering and seeking peace are a direct result of the love the Holy Spirit gives us for our fellow (sister) believers. Divisiveness in the church is harmful not only to those failing to come together in unity, but also harms those observing this behavior.

Colossians 3:14 (NIV) And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Ephesians 4:4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;

The one body is the church, the Messianic community, those who believe Jesus to be the Messiah promised in the Old Testament. The one Spirit is the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity who indwells every believer. Our only hope is trusting Jesus, believing He died to redeem us by the grace of God.

Ephesians 4:5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,

Jesus is the one Lord. Jesus is the second person of the Trinity, but He and the Father and the Holy Spirit are One God. Hard for our finite minds to comprehend, but true. One faith would be the doctrine we believe as revealed in the Old Testament and brought to light in the New Testament, the understanding that salvation is by grace alone through faith. One baptism would be the water baptism of a believer as a public demonstration of that faith.

Ephesians 4:6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

God is the Father of all people in the sense that He created them. He is sovereign over all creation. However, He only makes His home in those who have trusted Jesus and the redemption He accomplished through His death on the cross and subsequent resurrection from the tomb.

Ephesians 4:7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.

All believers have been given immeasurable saving grace. Each believer is given spiritual gifts according to how Jesus has crafted them for His use as His workmanship. Not all are given the same gifts, but the gifts of each individual fit with the gifts of other believers to meet the needs of the church. Just as we are stones (jewels) or bricks in His temple, our gifts, like mortar, help to fit us together to strengthen the living building of the Messianic Community.

Ephesians 4:8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.

When Jesus ascended back into Heaven, he abolished our captivity to sin and death. It was after this ascension, that the Holy Spirit filled the believers at Pentecost and each believer from that time on. The Holy Spirit activates the gifts Jesus has for His followers. He had explained to His disciples that the Holy Spirit would not come until He had returned to Heaven.

John 16:7 (KJV) Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.

Ephesians 4:9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)

Jesus descended to earth as we noted earlier in the passage from Philippians chapter two, and served as the portrait, the example of humility and service. The lowest parts of the earth may refer to Jesus’ descent during the three days His body was in the tomb to announce his victory to the demons imprisoned there (1 Peter 3:18-19).
Now that Jesus has ascended back to Heaven, He is at the right hand of the Father fulfilling His position as Chief Priest and intercessor for all who believe. He also sustains the earth since He is restored to His rightful glory as a member of the God-head.

Hebrews 1:3 (NIV) The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

Ponder this: The Holy Spirit, through this letter of the Apostle Paul, repeatedly emphasized the word ONE. The Lord is drilling into us the unity that believers have and should experience in Christ. There should be no rifts between believers as there are in the world. When we share trust in the Lord Jesus, we should be able to have fellowship with one another within the church, between churches, in our communities, and around the world. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017


Ephesians 3:14-21

Ephesians 3:14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Paul has been stressing the unity of believers because of their common salvation in Jesus Christ. Toward that end, he now lifts them up in prayer. The Jews at this time usually prayed standing up. However, due to the realization that he could never be worthy and thankfulness to God for saving grace, Paul knelt in humility and gratitude. This was not just a physical posture but an inward attitude. The Father invested in us, gave His only begotten Son, in order to grant us salvation. We could never earn or deserve God’s love. He chose to lavish it on us. As the Holy Spirit made us aware that He had given such a priceless gift, all we had to do was receive it. Since we could do nothing to earn God’s love, we can do nothing to make Him love us less. Grace means that God chose to save us and keep us apart from anything we could do or fail to do. This should bring all believers to their knees in humility.

Ephesians 3:15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,

Jewish and Gentile believers, living and in Heaven, have one identity – Christian. We are all in the family of Jesus. We are all corporately His bride, His body, His church, the Messianic Community. We all have one Father – God. Paul will expound on this later in Ephesians.

Ephesians 4:4-6 (NASB) There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.

Ephesians 3:16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;

Our ultimate focus should be the inner man, our spirit rather than our earth-suit that begins perishing from the moment we are born. Paul prays for the Ephesian believers and all who would read this letter, that the Lord will strengthen them from within. The Lord supplies His power, His strength by placing the Holy Spirit within believers; but we need to pray for each other to be “plugged in,” as it were, on a daily basis. The power grid is there, but we have to access the outlet via prayer. It is possible for a believer to move counter to the Spirit’s leading. There must be a submission and cooperation on the part of the believer to access the full power available to him or her.

Ephesians 3:17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;

Paul is not praying for their salvation as he is addressing those who already believe. He is praying that since Jesus dwells in them, takes up residence, moves in, they will abide in that knowledge, in that power. I would relate this to what Jesus taught that is recorded in John 15. We are to abide in Christ as He abides in us.

John 15:5 (NASB) I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

Our total source of power is the Holy Spirit within us. The Love that placed Him there is vast.

Reformation Study Bible
3:18 breadth and length and height and depth. These measures of space recall the temple image of 2:21. As the “living stones” (1 Pet. 2:5) are linked in love, God’s dwelling grows and is filled with Christ Himself. God uses the love among “all the saints”—Jew and Gentile alike—to build a whole that is greater than any of its individual parts. The spatial language exalts Christ’s love for His people—a love that is inclusive, inexhaustible, and self-sacrificing.

We have seen that in our own ministry. We are more than our individual personalities or expressions added together. Christ brings us together to be something neither of us could be separately or even dream of being as a team. Christ working in us, enables us to be more than we could ever be without Him. The reality is that we are nothing without Him.

God’s love, power, and especially His grace are incomprehensible to the unregenerate (un-saved) mind. The Holy Spirit within us enables us to glimpse the extent of God’s work both in us individually and in the Messianic Community, God’s family, as a whole.

Ephesians 3:19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

How can we know something that passes knowledge? Jesus’ love cannot be known intellectually. It is exclusively revealed by the Holy Spirit working in and through us. As we receive His love, love Him in return, and share His love with others, our understanding grows along with our faith. It is a circular experience that continually comes back to the Father’s gracious love for His children, those who believe, and has no end.

Ephesians 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

Jesus is the one doing the work. We are the instruments He uses to do the work. Jesus, is the master builder, and we (the church) are His handiwork. We are the vehicle He uses to spread the Good News, to build one another up, and to glorify God. We saw this truth in Ephesians 2:10 and Paul expresses the same idea to the church at Philippi:

Philippians 4:13 (AMP) I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]

If one receives an infusion of medicine via an IV, the medicine permeates the body via the circulatory system. Jesus infuses us with His strength in our spiritual system via the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Paul ends his prayer for these believers by asking the Lord to glorify Himself through the church throughout the ages.

Ponder this: Are we asking and expecting God to glorify Himself through us individually, through our local body of believers, and through the church worldwide?

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


Ephesians 3:8-13

Ephesians 3:8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;

Paul describes himself as less than the least of the believers. He felt God’s grace in allowing him to preach the good news of Jesus was unmerited favor. However, of all people, he seemed to have the best of pedigrees.

Philippians 3:3-8 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath thereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: circumcised the eighth day of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness that is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, these I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.

Paul knew that everything we do in our own strength rather than in the power of the Holy Spirit indwelling us, is worthless. He went so far as to call his achievements “dung,” poo-poo! None of us are worthy of the gift of salvation God bestows on us by his grace. Much less are we worthy to be used of Him to share the Good News. But God chooses to use weaklings to demonstrate His strength. In our perfectly complete weakness, He is shown utterly strong. As Stephen Curtis Chapman sings, “His strength is perfect when our strength is gone.”

What does Paul mean by “the unsearchable riches of Christ?” Even living forever, there will always be more richness, more wealth of relationship, to be mined out as we increase in knowledge of Jesus. His gifts to us, our inheritance, are like the stars – seemingly without number. The Apostle John describes God’s love as unfathomable. To fathom is to measure the depth of a body of water. We are completely unable to reach the bottom of God’s rich love.

Ephesians 3:9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:

Paul’s aim was to help all people understand the mystery of fellowship, familyship, between Jews and non-Jews as they are united in the belief in salvation through Christ Jesus. Redemption of people from every nation was always God’s intention and design from the very beginning. Before the Jewish nation even existed, long before Abraham was born, the Lord told Eve that her Seed would crush the serpent’s head (Gen. 3:15). Eve was not a Jew, but this promise of the Messiah was made to her. Paul, like the Apostle John, identifies Jesus as the Creator of the world (John chapter 1).

Ephesians 3:10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, 11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:

We looked up verse 10 in a couple of different translations to help us unravel what was being said. The Complete Jewish Study Bible expressed the idea well:

Ephesians 3:9b-10 (CJB) This plan, kept hidden for ages by God, the Creator of everything, is for the rulers and authorities in heaven to learn, through the existence of the Messianic Community, how many-sided God’s wisdom is.

The note in the John MacArthur Study Bible made it clear that “principalities and powers in the heavenly places” refers both to angels serving the Lord and fallen angels (demons) and the heavenly places denotes the entire spiritual realm. Observing the church enables spiritual beings to have a better understanding of the multi-faceted wisdom of our God. Imagine that! Angels are learning from observing humans and their interactions with God and others. I love the term “Messianic Community” because this is what we have been trying to describe as a “new man,” not Jew or Gentile. We are united in our belief that Jesus was and is the promised Messiah of the Old Testament scriptures. God’s forever family, His church, the Bride of Christ, the Messianic Community are all synonymous terms describing the unity of believers in Jesus.

Ephesians 3:12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.

Ephesians 3:12 (VOICE) His faithfulness to God has made it possible for us to have the courage we need and the ability to approach the Father confidently.

Jesus’ faith is imparted to us by the Holy Spirit. Because of His faith and our reciprocal faith in Jesus, and His faithfulness to us by redeeming and sanctifying us, we have complete access to the Father and can approach Him boldly. Jesus was faithful to obey God’s plan to redeem His chosen ones, and He continues to be faithful in His current position as our intercessor. He is faithful to advocate on our behalf, to make our case before the Father, that we have been saved by our trust in the Son by God’s grace. When Jesus’ flesh was torn on the cross, the veil was torn in the temple symbolizing our freedom to come with confidence into the presence of God through the blood of Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 10:19-25 (NASB) Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

Ephesians 3:13 Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.

Paul does not want the Ephesians to be distracted and detoured from their pursuit of Christlikeness due to his sufferings in prison. He wants them to understand that even the trials we go through are designed to bring us and others who observe God’s working in our lives closer to Jesus. Our trials are helping to shape us into who we are to be as children of God. In Romans, Paul pointed out that our present trials are nothing compared to the glory we will experience and share in when we are perfected in Heaven. It is not comfortable, but it is comforting, to know that God is molding me into the image of Jesus the Son through all of my difficulties on this journey in my earth-suit.

Romans 8:18 [But what of that?] For I consider that the sufferings of this present time (this present life) are not worth being compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us and in us and for us and conferred on us!

1.       None of us are perfect or in any way worthy of God’s grace, but He offered it even when we were His enemies.
2.       Once we receive the gift of salvation, once we have surrendered our right to ourselves, God can use any and all “circumstances” to shape us into who He intends us to be.

3.       God’s wisdom, grace, and love are all things we can never completely understand; but we can enjoy exploring the depths of them forever when we become a part of His family through faith in Jesus Christ. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017


Ephesians 3:1-7

3:1 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,

Paul never referred to himself as a prisoner of the Jews or of the Romans but as a prisoner of the Lord. The account of how he came to be imprisoned in Rome is found in Acts chapters 21-25. When he appealed to Caesar, he was transferred to Rome to await trial. Since the reason he was arrested in the first place was that he was preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, he considered that the Lord had orchestrated his imprisonment and would use it for His glory, and He certainly did. Also, the Jews had falsely accused him of bringing Gentiles into the temple area because of his being known for preaching to the Gentiles, so in that sense, his concern for the Gentiles and the Lord’s commission that he preach to them had landed him in prison. God ordained Paul’s imprisonment, perhaps in part to allow him to write the letters that would become a major part of our New Testament. God knew He would use them to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth. The spread of Paul’s teachings, like ever expanding ripples on the water, helped to disseminate the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout Asia Minor, Europe, and beyond as they are still expanding today.

Ephesians 3:2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:

By “dispensation” Paul is referring to his work, the stewardship or administration of the gospel to the Gentiles. God’s grace extended to all people groups, not exclusively to the Jews. Paul preached the message of inclusion of the Gentiles as ordained by God through the work of Jesus on the Cross. Not only did Paul preach this, but John, the beloved disciple, included all kinds of people when he wrote, “For God so loved the WORLD” in John 3:16.

Ephesians 3:3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)

Paul had alluded to this mystery of the Gentiles being co-heirs with the Jewish believers in Ephesians 1:9-10. Now he is expounding upon this. The message of this mystery is the main reason the Jews wanted to put him on trial, he appealed to Caesar, and was at this time a prisoner in Rome. The following is part of his testimony before King Agrippa:

Acts 26:22-23 (NIV) But God has helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen— 23 that the Messiah would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would bring the message of light to his own people and to the Gentiles.”

The “mystery,” in part, is the creation of the church, Jesus’ bride, Christians. We are new people in the sense of each of us being individually reborn through our relationship with Jesus; but we are also new people as a group, people who are neither Jew nor Greek. God’s forever family has no cultural, racial, or economic divisions – we are one in the body of Christ.

Ephesians 3:5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; 6 That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:

Isaiah 49:6 (ESV) he says: “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

The covenant God made with Abraham included the fact that all nations would be blessed through him; and the verse above speaks of salvation reaching to the ends of the earth, but the Jews did not understand this to mean that Gentiles would share in their inheritance as the chosen people of God.

Genesis 26:4 (NIV) I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed,

Gentile believers would not only be blessed but would be adopted into His forever family as daughters and sons of God and brothers and sisters together with the Jewish believers. There will be no prejudice at all in Heaven!

1 Corinthians 12:12-13 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

All believers have the river of the Holy Spirit flowing through them (John 7:38). Therefore, we all look forward to our inheritance with Jesus in Heaven.

Ephesians 3:7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.

We are all called to be witnesses and to minister to one another. The Lord Jesus himself, addressed the apostles in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-19) telling them to witness and to make disciples, and this applies to us as believers as well. However, a minister does not choose ministry as a profession for themselves. They are set apart by the Lord for this purpose. I struggled with the validity of own “calling” for several years; but the Lord persisted until I surrendered. Even after I surrendered to be God’s megaphone, I questioned the Lord at times and reminded Him of all the reasons I did not feel qualified (cerebral palsy, being a woman, limited use of my hands, insecure about public speaking, etc.) Ultimately, it is not our own worth that causes God to place us in ministry but what He empowers us to do despite our weaknesses and imperfections. I do not know who first said this, but I have heard it quoted many times: “God does not call the equipped. He equips the called.”  It was God’s grace and power working through Paul that made him a minister and a witness to the Gentiles as well as the Jews.


1.       God’s gracious gift of salvation is available for all kinds of people, not just one race or class.
2.       When God calls you to a specific task, He will empower you to carry it out.
3.       We are not to be prejudiced toward others whom the Lord has saved by His grace.

4.       We must not discount God’s ability to use us to spread the good news due to factors such as our own race, economic status, “disabilities,” or lack of formal education. NO EXCUSES!

Thursday, January 19, 2017


Ephesians 2:14-22

Ephesians 2:14 (KJV) For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;

Jesus is our shalom. We would translate shalom as peace. However, shalom is much more than that: it means oneness, completeness, wholeness, nothing missing and nothing broken. Jesus not only restores wholeness to our individual broken lives, but brings together Jews and Gentiles who trust in Him into a distinctly new category of people called the church.

The Complete Jewish Study Bible:
2:14 “He…has broken down the m’chitzah which divided us.” This dividing wall in the Temple posted the inscription; ‘No man of another nation to enter within the fence and enclosure around the Temple. And whoever is caught will have himself to blame that his death ensues!” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 15:11-5). The m’chitzah separated Gentiles from Jews and prevented equal access to the sacrifices. Yet, just as the veil of the Temple was torn in two when Messiah died (Matt. 27:52), so too both Jew and Gentile are united with the Messiah and may enter into God’s presence together (Heb. 9:6-14; 10:19-22).

Jew or Gentile must both come to the Father through faith in Jesus. That middle wall, the barrier that said one had access and one did not is not obliterated by the cross of Christ. Jesus is the only way to the Father for any person.

John 14:6 (KJV) Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Ephesians 2:15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:

Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language:

1. The quality of being an enemy; the opposite of friendship; ill will; hatred; unfriendly dispositions; malevolence. It expresses more than aversion and less than malice, and differs from displeasure in denoting a fixed or rooted hatred, whereas displeasure is more transient.
I will put enmity between thee and the woman. Genesis 3:15.
The carnal mind is enmity against God. Romans 8:7.
2. A state of opposition.
The friendship of the world is enmity with God. James 4:4.

By the sacrifice of His life, Jesus destroyed the divisions that kept the Gentiles apart from worshipping the one, true God, the only one worthy of mankind’s worship. This was not only the physical wall in the Temple but all it represented. Gentiles could not be a part of the feasts, the sacrifices, the rituals of Judaism. They were outsiders – those “far off.”  By unifying His body, the church, Jesus brought peace between the Jewish and Gentile believers, who were formerly enemies.

Ephesians 2:17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.

Isaiah 57:19 (KJV) I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord; and I will heal him.

The peace prophesied by Isaiah was that the Jews, those near to God, and the Gentiles, those who were formerly far away from the Lord, would be unified in one completely new family, the church. The coming together of the Jew and the Gentile, the healing of centuries of enmity and strife, was made possible through the Son’s sacrifice in obedience to the Father.

Matthew 26:42 (KJV) He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.

Ephesians 2:18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

Paul was Jew who enjoyed Roman citizenship because he was born in a Roman city. Since he had been a Pharisee, he truly understood the adversarial relationship the Jews had with the Gentiles. He wrote to the Ephesians (Gentiles) that through Jesus, they had the same access to God the Father that He had as Jew.

Ephesians 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

Once we are in Christ, our identity changes. Paul was saying these people were no longer Jews or Gentiles, but instead were saints, believers. The new category of Christian meant being members of God’s forever family.

Galatians 3:28 (ESV) There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

The unity found in the family of faith is like no other. All who have been chosen by God, who have received the free gift of salvation purchased by Jesus, are completely equal members of God’s family.

Ephesians 2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

Jesus is the corner stone, the stone by which all other stones are lined up. The prophets and the Apostles, the human authors of much of scripture, help to form the foundation that holds up the building. Jesus provides that firm foundation. The members of the church, those who have trusted Jesus are living stones being perfectly placed together to build a dwelling place for God even as each of us is indwelt by His Holy Spirit.

1 Peter 2:5 (ESV) you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

God does not use sub-par building materials. Take a look at how He is building the New Jerusalem:

Revelation 21:18-21 (ESV) The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. 21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

In my natural state, I was an ordinary old rock, but Jesus has transformed me. God calls those who trust in Him and obey Him “precious jewels.”

Malachi 3:17a (AMPC) And they shall be Mine, says the Lord of hosts, in that day when I publicly recognize and openly declare them to be My jewels (My special possession, My peculiar treasure).

I really like the song “Diamonds” by Hawk Nelson. You can listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yf1ARbpB0gA

Ponder This: Jew, Gentile, Man, Woman, Rich, Poor, Black, White, Green or Purple, we become ONE family when we surrender our lives to the Lordship of Jesus. Not only that, we are changed from lifeless, ugly rocks into living, radiant, sparkling jewels by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit living in us. PRAISE THE LORD for His grace and power to build us together into His church, a place He desires to inhabit!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


Ephesians 2:8-13

Ephesians 2:8 (KJV) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
Grace - charis – graciousness (as gratifying), of manner or act (abstr. or concr.’ Lit., fig. or spiritual: espec. The divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude): acceptable, benefit, favour, gift, grace(ious), joy, liberality, pleasure, thank(-s, -worthy). (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible)

God’s grace, His favor that we cannot deserve or earn, influences our heart to salvation. The evidence that this change has occurred is that we reflect the nature of Jesus in our daily lives. Because of God’s grace, He even provides the faith we need in order to trust Jesus for salvation – even faith is not our own doing. The entire redemption experience is dependent on God’s provision rather than our own abilities, works, or worthiness. We did nothing to attain the status of salvation. Our only part was receiving the gift God gave us when He chose us from before the foundation of the world. I have no “bragging rights” when it comes to being redeemed. My redemption was purchased by Jesus on the cross and applied to my need by the Holy Spirit. I was dead spiritually, and the Lord made me alive.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

God not only chose us before He formed our world, but He predetermined the good works He would do through us after we surrendered to Jesus, that we would become more and more like Him (sanctification).

Romans 8:29 (ESV) For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

Philippians 2:13 (KJV) For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

My cousin, Russell Little, posted a good word on Ephesians 2:8-10 on Facebook the other day, and I asked if I could share it here:

We can't receive justification by good works, but we do good works because we are justified by His grace. We need to unwrap the package that is tailor made for each of us in Christ Jesus, and walk in those good works. God ordained that for each of us. It is exciting to watch for the random opportunities (from our side) that lie ahead. (Russell Little – Susie’s cousin)

Ephesians 2:11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;

The Ephesian believers were not Jewish, they were not of the nation set apart as God’s chosen people in the Old Testament. They were gentiles (non-Jews) who had never converted to Judaism, and therefore, had never been circumcised according to Jewish law. Gentiles were despised by the Jews and even called “dogs.” However, Christ died for Gentiles as well as Jews (see Mark 7:25-30).

Ephesians 2:12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

Before hearing about Jesus and believing in Him, the Ephesians had been directionless, following after myriad false gods and not knowing the true God or any of His benefits laid out in the covenant promises since they were not Israelites. They were completely without hope.

Ephesians 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

Rabbinical teachings referred to Gentiles as being “far off,” as in not near to God. The blood of Christ afforded them the privilege of being close family members with the Lord Jesus. They even had the Holy Spirit of God dwelling in them.

Ponder This: Unbelievers today suffer the same problem as the Ephesians – they are far from God and without hope. Sharing the gospel, the good news of salvation through Jesus as a free gift from God, is our opportunity to bring hope and light to those desperately in need of God’s grace. Witnessing is not a chore and not a prescribed method of explaining the gospel. It is our privilege and is simply sharing what Jesus has done for us with someone who needs to know Him.