Category Archives: Identity

Learn to pray as part of a family

Ephesians 3:14-15 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,

When we pray, we don’t do it as a chore that’s required of us to please a deity that doesn’t care about us personally. When we pray we approach our loving Father, who cares about us. He’s not distant from us, He’s only a prayer away.

All too often we neglect to pray in the context of a family. If you’re a child of God who has been adopted into His family, then every other one of His children is your sibling. Families think about what’s best for every member, and Christians ought to do the same. We’re called to be part of God’s family, to project His image into the world, and to carry out His purposes — together.

That means when we pray, we should be thinking about the greater context of God’s family. What’s best for the overall purposes of God? What will best benefit all of His people? Who can we pray for right now that’s
-weak and needs strength
-lonely and needs comfort
-sick and needs healing?

What does the Father want for me in the context of everyone He’s called to be His own? Does He want me to pursue something that makes me uncomfortable? I should pray for His guidance. Does He want me to reach out to someone? I should pray for boldness?

When you bow your knees before the Father, do so in a way that keeps in mind your place in His family, among many other children.

Grace to the least of all the saints

Ephesians 3:7-13 Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.

We’ve all been given a ministry and the Lord has equipped us specifically for the role He’s given us. What’s your ministry? If you’re not sure, take an inventory of your circumstances, talents, abilities, resources, and even what burdens you.

The Apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesian church with his own specific burden. No one else quite cared the way Paul did about certain people or certain issues they faced. He had his own ministry that was no one else’s. You and I also have to live out our own calling, not one that belongs to someone else.

Just when you may object to the idea that you are a minister of any sort, look at Paul as an example. He not only calls himself the least of all the saints, but if you know anything about his history, you know he’s not exactly who one might have expected to be used in such a huge way to see people converted for Christ. If Paul’s the least of all the saints, the chief of sinners in his own eyes, how can you be any worse? You’ve received no less grace than Paul. Isn’t it time you had “boldness and access with confidence through [y]our faith in him?”

The mystery of the gospel revealed

Ephesians 3:1-6 For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

There’s so much about God that we’ll never be able to understand in this life and much of that won’t even be revealed to us until such a time as we can better accept it. The Father does, however, from time to time, choose to reveal mysteries about himself.

When Paul wrote his letter to the church in Ephesus, he wrote to a people that had long heard of the coming of the Christ, of the Messiah. The Jews in that time were quite aware of the prophesies about the Sent One, but some of them missed Him when He came in the flesh. The invisible God dwelled in a physical body (Colossians 1:15), revealing all of His nature (Hebrews 1:3), but He went unnoticed by many.

Then God chose to do something unexpected. He revealed himself to those outside the “chosen people.” He made it possible for the so-called Gentiles to join into His family. For most of us today, this has personal significance. If you are not of Jewish lineage and you have put your faith in Jesus Christ and received His salvation and adoption as one of God’s own children, this means everything.

We’ve been brought in on a promise made to a people long ago. We’re now coheirs under that promise, able to receive all that is due to God’s people, to His children. We are now His family.

Member’s of God’s household

Ephesians 2:17-22 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

The startling truth about God’s work to reconcile us to himself through Jesus Christ is that it comes with full acceptance. It’s not just that God forgives us and then forgets about us. He doesn’t forgive in a way that is passive. He fully forgives, so much so that He brings us on in to His own family and His own household.

Stop, think about that for a minute. You’re part of God’s own household. Does that seem a little crazy? It’s right there in His Word. It says it plain as day. He joined us together with Him and welcomed us into His household. We’re not strangers, not even just acquaintances. We’re His children and we belong in His home.

You know what you do with people who are truly welcome in your home? You invite them to make themselves comfortable, to eat of your food, to use your facilities. “My home is your home,” as the saying goes. But God is the one calling us to His home, allowing us to partake of everything that is His. This passage rightly points us that we are being built together as a dwelling place for God, with Jesus as the cornerstone. What a picture. What a home!

One new Man

Ephesians 2:15-16 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.

One of the amazing effects of Christ’s work on the cross to save us is the unity that comes through reconciliation. He didn’t just die for me and He didn’t just die for you, He died for us and He prayed before His work was completed that we would be united (John 17:21). He accomplished what He set out to do, and that included bringing us all under the banner of Christ.

The initial work was to unite Jews and Gentiles, but today there are continued effects in that people of different backgrounds and denominations can still be intimately united by the gospel as we’ve all been reconciled to God and to each other.  Jesus didn’t just earn us peace with God, but also peace with our fellow believers.

We don’t always see this in practice, but it grieves the heart of God to see His people fighting amongst each other. He didn’t reconcile us to himself and adopt us all into His family so we could fight like we’re enemies instead of brothers and sisters. It’s ok to disagree, but it’s not ok to disregard what God intended to unite us.

 

He is our peace

Ephesians 2:14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility

Jesus Christ not only brings peace into our lives through ending our hostility toward God, our separation from Him, and our bondage to sin, He himself is our peace. He bring us peace because there is no other way.

When we read things in God’s Word such as “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1), or “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:14), and other such reminders, it’s hard not to have peace.

Next time you find yourself anxious, fearful, feeling condemned, or without peace, just think about what’s been done for you. Think about the victory that’s been won by Jesus to reconcile you to the Father. Think about your adoption into His own family.  There you’ll find peace. In Him you’ll find peace.

Nothing but the blood of Jesus

Ephesians 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Christian, what did you do to get into God’s family? Did you earn your way in? Buy your way in? How were you able to go from being dead and in sin to being alive and free from sin? No, you didn’t raise yourself from spiritual death. You didn’t earn your way to God. Your reconciliation to Him was purchased by one thing only. Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

What a beautiful thought that we’ve been brought into the family of God as His adopted children by no work of our own. Generally, we tend to reject the notion that we can get something for free. The saying “There’s no such thing as a free lunch” is a popular one. We’re skeptical that anything in this world can be free of charge.

But our acceptance into God’s family? That’s not something we could earn even if we tried our very hardest. The only way to get that is to through the blood of Christ. It’s not for sale. The choice is take it for free or don’t take it at all.  It’s bought and paid for, earned by the One sinless person who ever lived becoming sin in our place.

We’re no longer strangers to God, no longer enemies. We’re now His children, loved by Him, protected by Him, and cared for by Him, not because we did anything to earn His love, but because He first loved us and chose us to be His. We were lost, not Him. We didn’t find God, He found us, and rescued us.

Once separated

Ephesians 2:11-12 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

We all have a story to tell and in every one of our stories there is a part where we were separated from God. The one thing that can ever separate us from Him is sin and since we’ve all sinned (Romans 3:23), we can all be guaranteed a time of isolation from the Lord.

That time of being apart from Him, when we weren’t His but the world’s, we were captive to our own sinful natures and without hope. God loves us too much to leave us in our sin and that’s why He sent a Rescuer, a Savior to reconcile us with himself. Even while we were dead in our sin, God did this for us. He chose to save us when we had no hope. He could have left us to our own devices, but He didn’t.

As we think back on our stories, it’s important not to forget the time we spent apart from God. It causes us to more fully appreciate what it’s like on the other side, as His children who have been adopted into His own family. It also helps us to appreciate that there are still lost people out there who have yet to hear the good news that a Rescuer was sent for them. It causes us to take action for their sake.

We are His workmanship

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Each and every one of us is special because God created everyone differently. In each of us He put a unique personality, specific traits, and He even gave us each a purpose of our own.

Ultimately, we’re all on the same mission, working towards the same goal, to life up Jesus and glorify the Father, and to bring people to a saving knowledge of Him. Along that journey, though, we all play different parts. You have a task that only you can do. I have one that only I can do. God empowers us to do exactly what He’s called us to do.

He’s given you a set of talents that are yours alone. They’re not to be used for your own gain, but for His purposes. He gave you your talents and you purpose in life before He even created the world. Before time, you had a mission. Before the world was in existence, you were equipped. Then God formed you and set you apart. Live with the knowledge that you are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works that He prepared beforehand.

By grace you have been saved through faith

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

The blessings of God never quit. His grace is something that’s just too good to comprehend. And when we look at the fact that even our own salvation is of Him rather than being based on our own merit, it’s  hard to believe.

It’s so hard to believe, in fact, that some people outright reject the notion that salvation is a free gift and they try to earn their way into God’s favor. It doesn’t work that way though. He has offered eternal life as a free gift through His Son. He’s so adamant about the fact that we can’t earn our salvation that He makes mention of it multiple times throughout His Word. God means for us to know that He gives this gift freely.

We cheapen the gospel when we try to add to it. When we make it Jesus + works or Jesus + _______________, we lost sight of the great cost that was already paid to earn our salvation. Jesus went through great lengths to reconcile us to God. Grace provides us the chance to accept that.