334 - A Letter to the Ephesians (Part 1) – Becoming A Child of God
NOVEMBER 30 - Nº 334 Ephesians 1 – 3
While he was confined to a house and chained to a soldier in Rome, Paul never stopped sharing the Gospel. Many people came to visit him so they could learn more about Jesus. Paul also spent much of his time writing letters to the churches he had started in Asia and Greece. These letters became known as his “prison epistles.” The first letter Paul wrote during this time was to the believers in Ephesus. He had spent three years teaching in this world-renowned center of religion and commerce. But it had been seven years since a riot had forced him to leave (see #316 - November 12 and #317 - November 13), and he missed his friends. Paul started the letter by explaining how much God valued these Gentile believers and wanted to bless them. Even before He created the world, God had designed a way for them to become His children through Jesus Christ. That’s why Jesus died on the cross—so their sins could be forgiven, and they could be adopted into God’s family! God promised that when they believed this, He would become their Father! He also promised to send the Holy Spirit to seal the deal! The Holy Spirit would come to live inside each new believer as a guarantee of this relationship. He would provide all the power and blessings they needed to live as God’s children and act like His heirs. Paul insisted that no matter how enticing the world’s promises were, they only resulted in death and eternal separation from God. God’s promise, however, brought life and an eternal relationship with Him. He went on to explain that there was nothing anyone could do to earn this relationship—it was a gift. “It is only because of God’s grace and through our faith that any of us can be saved from death!” he exclaimed. “And even our faith is a gift from God!” Since God had given them so much, Paul encouraged the Ephesians to live in a way that pleased Him. He explained that God had already prepared special tasks for each of them. Although these “good works” could never save anyone, doing them would demonstrate how much they appreciated God’s incredible gift of adoption—and all the blessings that came with it. The opportunity to join God’s family had originally been available only to the Jews. Others could choose to participate only by accepting Judaism and living under the Jewish laws. They were called proselytes. But now, Paul explained, anyone who believed that Jesus had died on the cross for their sins could become a member of God’s family. They were not required to become Jewish first. Both Jews and Gentiles had an equal opportunity to become God’s children and the heirs of His promises. Paul stressed the importance of God’s children living together in peace. Sibling rivalry had no place in God’s family. Jewish and Gentile believers had to learn to get along. In his letter, Paul included a prayer for the Ephesian believers. He asked God to give them the strength and power that were available through the Holy Spirit. He prayed that Jesus would feel at home in their hearts as they lived out their faith in him. He asked God to let them experience the incredible dimensions of His love as they watched Him do amazing things—things far greater than anything they had ever imagined!
There is nothing we can do to earn a place in God’s family, but we can show our appreciation for what God has done for us through our “good works.” Each day should become a treasure hunt as we search for the “good works” that He has already prepared for us—the special tasks He has assigned that will bring us blessing and joy and demonstrate our thankfulness for His mercy. What does He want you to do today?