I'm three days into all of my children being in public school. This is the first time in 16 years that I have had no one home with me and despite the fact that part of me is excited, another part is scared and struggling with this new chapter. It's totally different from what I'm used to as we spent around 6 years homeschooling and now I'm barely involved in their schooling at all. I spent 16 years answering question after question all the live long day and now no one is here interrupting my thoughts as I write except me. And strange as it may be, I miss it.
A friend of mine posted some things that she learned- or maybe was just reminded of- today in Ephesians 1 and that led me there too, in search of some encouragement for my morning.
Ephesians is yet another letter written to a church by Paul. This letter is written to the people of Ephesus. Paul opens his letter like this:
"I, Paul, am under God’s plan as an apostle, a special agent of Christ Jesus, writing to you faithful believers in Ephesus. I greet you with the grace and peace poured into our lives by God our Father and our Master, Jesus Christ." (Ephesians 1:1-2)
And then he jumps into his letter with both feet, sharing that which he feels God calling him to share. I'm reading and using The Message today, which breaks this section up into paragraph chunks. In order to create ease in listing out what is there, I'm going to share a paragraph at a time followed by what I see. Here's the first one:
"How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son." (1:3-6)
There is so much promise to be had in these verses! Look at this:
1. God is blessed by us and, in turn, we are blessed abundantly by Him
2. God himself escorts us to the highest of blessings in Him
3. God chose us from the beginning; we are wanted!
4. We are the focus of God's abundant, extravagant love
5. God makes us whole and holy through his love for us; we are no longer broken but whole because of Him!
6. We are adopted into the family of God; we are not alone, we are not unvalued, we are not without family.
7. God welcomes us into celebration because of Jesus!
"Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth." (1:7-10)
And even more promises and gifts from God:
8. We are abundantly FREE because of Jesus, because of his sacrifice for US!
9. God provides everything we need
10. Each and every one of us plays a unique part in God's great plan. He WANTS us to be a part of His plan. He chose us specifically for the part we play.
"It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone." (1:11-12)
And as if that weren't enough, there's more promise in these verses!
11. Our identity is IN CHRIST! We don't need to wonder who we are because God tells us!
12. God promises to show us what our purpose is in life, why we are living where we are.
13. And again, God chose each and every one of us even before we knew Him.
14. God has purpose, unique overall purpose for each one of us and for everything around us.
"It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This signet from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life." (1:13-14)
And finally these for today:
15. Because of our salvation through Christ, we are free- signed, sealed, delivered from sin by the Holy Spirit.
16. Our lives on Earth are not the end, they are only the very beginning of his plan for us.
17. We are here to praise God
18. God promises us a glorious life.
With all of those promises laid out before my eyes, I can't help but feel that God joy deep within me and breathe fresh hope into my lungs this morning. And I'm not even a morning person! ;) I am so deeply thankful for the promises of God, for God's love, for his unending grace in my life. And I am even more thankful that there is NOTHING that I have to do earn any of it from him except to accept it into my life. And the same is true for every single person on the planet. What an amazing gift He has given to His creation!
Go and be blessed today! Don't forget to also be a blessing to someone else. :)