25 February 2017

Stone 43 - Ephesians and Philippians

Today we will take a look at two books which were both letters that Paul wrote to the churches in that area: Ephesians and Philippians. Let's start with the letter to the church at Ephesus.

Paul begins the letter by pretty much laying out the gospel. As I read Eph 1:8 I was reminded of a song that I enjoy called "Hello My Name Is" by Matthew West. The connection was simply due to the word 'lavished'.
...that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding"
In the song, Matthew sings, "What love, the father has lavished, upon us, that we should be called his children."

Isn't it amazing?! The gospel story...! So much love that He would give His one and only perfect Son in an effort to reclaim sinners like us. What love the father has lavished upon us! To top it off, as 1:8 states, it was done with all wisdom and understanding! God knew what He was doing!

The word lavish is defined as bestowing something in generous or extravagant quantities. So much undeserved love He has lavished upon us that we might not perish but would have everlasting life. As with any gift, however, it must be accepted. It must be opened.

Paul reminds the Ephesians about this amazing gift.

In verse 18 Paul prays that the eyes of our hearts might be enlightened which made me think of another song called Open the Eyes of My Heart. Many people have sung this song but the one I remember and am fond of is the version by Michael W. Smith.

I also pray that our hearts might open up to the message of the gospel. I just think of sitting in a hot tub and imagine the warmth of the water surrounding me. In the same way, I desire that all of us might enjoy the warmth of God's love filling our hearts to overflowing. Lavish.

Chapter Two observes that we were dead in our flesh - children under wrath - and that we were made alive in Christ because of His great love for us (Eph 2:3-5). Lavish.

However, although we were once gentiles of the flesh (Eph 2:11), we now, through Him (Jesus *1*), have access by one Spirit (*2*) to the Father (*3*) - (Eph 2:18)

We are now called to live new lives in Christ according to the gifts we have been given to build up the church (Eph 4:11-12). We are to no longer walk as the gentiles walk (Eph 4:17). Lord, help us to walk in the light as Paul encourages (Eph 5:8-10).

**It is sort of funny, I think, that Ephesians 5:19 talks about music and I have multiple songs that I have thought about while reading this.

Paul then makes a comparison with Christ and the church to husbands and wives. Just as Christ gave His life for the church, husbands ought to give their lives to their wives in an effort to build her up. Wives ought to willingly allow their husbands to guide them they they may fulfill that responsibility.

**I know that I am in need of improvement in that area. Ironically, the battle against the flesh is a difficult, spiritual one (Eph 6:12). My flesh is a selfish sort. Each of us have our tendency towards sin. Mine is in the area of selfishness. While at times, I feel as though "progress" has been made - whatever that is - I know that really just fall flat on my face in this area. Paul describes the armor of God and admittedly, I have always enjoyed the imagery of this. You know, I am a guy that likes fighting and battle movies so picturing this some sort of futuristic version of Camelot makes me smile. Unfortunately, I feel as though sometimes when I want to suit up and go to war, that my suit doesn't fit right and my shield is too heavy making me look like just a kid in an adult uniform. Then I am crushed. The journey is long and no one ever said it was easy.

Please enjoy the video on Ephesians from our friends at the Bible Project.

More thoughts on music... (Php 1:6) An old song by Steve Green - He Who Began A Good Work In You.

Have you started developing a relationship with Jesus? Regardless of where you are in that relationship - Jesus began a good work and will be faithful to complete it. Will you be faithful to Him as well?

Paul writes about how it would be better to die and live with Christ (Php 1:23) but acknowledges that to stick around is better for others (Php 1:24).

Verse 1:27 calls us to live our lives in a manner that is worthy of the gospel of Christ. That is a pretty tall order. Are we willing to live a life of suffering for the sake of the gospel (Php 1:29)? Will we remain steadfast despite the heat? The power of the flesh is strong.

In chapter two, Paul writes about Jesus and his death on the cross and encourages us to live like Christ (Php 2:5, 14-15). Paul warns us to beware of those who would mutilate the flesh and to not put any confidence in the flesh (Php 3:2-3).

The value of Christ is such that all things are filth and their loss is actually gain in comparison (Php 3:8-9).

It is for this reason that we rejoice! Of course, I could not miss mentioning the song based on Philippians 4:4 - Rejoice in the Lord Always. This one is how I remember it from years ago but I enjoy this newer modernized version.

One of my favorite verses is Philippians 4:8.
Finally Brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable - if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise - dwell on these things.
Such a great encouragement, but remember that our battle is a spiritual one and the enemy is more than happy to make you think that morally evil things are good. This is why we must be grounded in scripture - in God's Word. He alone knows all about that which is good.

Enjoy the Philippians video from our friends at the Bible Project.

Keep fighting the Good Fight!

Until next time, 

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