Here in Paul’s farewell to the Ephesian Elders, he is urging them to fulfill the ministry laid out before them…to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel Message, and continue to give to the needs of the less fortunate. And Paul’s words still ring true today. As Believers, the Lord demands that we support and serve the widow, orphan, and poor among us. Jesus reminds us in John 12:8 that we will always have the poor among us, and assisting them will always be an urgent, unavoidable necessity. But we’ll also soon discover, by doing this helpful service, we receive something in return… a intangible blessing of God that words cannot express.
We were all once, “…without hope and without God in the world.” We were separated from Him by a chasm so deep and wide… there was no way of getting across by ourselves. In this bleak darkness our desperation grew, and we felt the hopelessness of being abandoned. But God then provided the bridge across that vast chasm…it was in the shape of a Cross. The gracious gift of redemption and reconciliation was bound to this Cross as the blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ, ran down it. Yes, we were all once hopeless and cut off from God…but then God built a bridge for us…in the shape of a Cross.
This verse starts out with the words, “I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord”. The Hebrew word for “tell” here has two definitions – the first being to remember or reflect upon, the second being to declare or proclaim. When we stop and reflect upon just how much the Lord has done for us…how many good things He has provided…how merciful and kind He has been towards us – how can we not want to share with others this love? Ephesians 2:4 tells us, “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.” It is only by that unwarranted, unmerited love of God you are the person you are today through Him.
The area of our lives that the devil is most easily able to gain a foothold… is when we have unforgiveness in our hearts. II Corinthians 2:10-11 tells us that we need to forgive in order that Satan might not outwit us. When we harbor unforgiveness, we allow the devil to capture a place in our heart…setting up a position – a base of operations for further advancement against us. We need to remain then vigilant…forgiving and forgetting quickly, so as not to allow him the ability to take advantage over us.
What does being part of a family mean to you? To me, it means walking in the front door without having to knock first. It means having a place that I can call my own where I feel safe and secure. But most importantly, being part of a family means I have people I can trust with my very life…that will be there for me at a moments notice, and will love me unconditionally. The same goes for the Family of God…seeing that as Believers, we are now part of God’s household…and with it, all the benefits there of. For this loving family circle we are part of is made up of all those who went before us, every precious saint that confessed Jesus Christ as Lord, with the center of this family unit being Jesus Christ Himself.
You are the work of God’s hands…lovingly created with unique abilities, gifts, talents, and passions. When God made you, He had the eye of an artist and the soul of a poet as He formed you…for you are truly a work of art to behold. There is no one like you, for you are God’s workmanship…created to be like Him in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:24)…and eager to do what is good. (Titus 2:14)
It tells us here to stand fast against the enemy, but unless you’ve prepared for battle ahead of time, the enemy will have you for lunch. The belt of truth is that solid foundation of doctrinal knowledge of God’s Word…It’s His unshakable, unchangeable, everlasting truth that we need to gird our heart, soul, and mind with. Our belt of truth also holds all our weapons in place around our waist… weapons that are always at the ready. Finally, this belt of truth girds us with the power and authority of Jesus Christ to stand firm against anything the enemy throws at us.
You’ve all heard, bad things happen to good people…and it’s not “if” but “when” trouble will come your way. And just because you call yourself a Christian doesn’t mean you’ll somehow be insulated from the evil in this world. For in your lifetime you will have sickness, setbacks, and loss…there’s no getting around it…for we all live in a very broken world. But it’s how you react and face each trouble that will make all the difference. With God you have the ability to stand your ground when evil comes your way. II Corinthians 6:7 tells us, “…in the power of God; with weapons in the right hand and in the left.” You can stand and face down anything the world throws at you with God’s Word… His truth in one hand, and His promises in the other. We don’t have to live in fear of tomorrow. For we have weapons to extinguish all those fiery darts thrown our way. We can then stand firm in the power of God…faithful not fearful, confident not cowering, trusting not trembling.
We can’t begin to fathom God’s great compassion towards us. For we are separated from Him by our sin… spiritually dead…with no hope. But God saw us through eyes of unconditional love…looking beyond who we were, to who we could become in Christ Jesus. This gift of grace is extended to all…for it says, “it is by grace you have been saved.” The work has already been done, it was accomplished on Golgotha when Jesus was crucified. There is nothing we can do to receive it, for it is God’s unearned and unmerited favor that bestows this free gift of eternal life on us. We may never be able to fathom God’s mercy, but we can accept and trust in His Son, Jesus.
It tells us in John 1:12-13, “Yet to all who receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” When we are born again into the family of God we become His children. And just like little children we learn by our Heavenly Father’s example. We’ve all seen tiny toddlers attempting to mimic adult actions…it’s how children learn to do things…they model and copy their parents. We are to be imitators of God…modeling our lives after Him, and living as His beloved children.