As I’ve highlighted on the blog, I’m currently teaching a Bible study on Ephesians at my local church. It has been such a joy but last week might have been one of the sweetest. Instead of doing a devotional, I wanted to share with you one thing one woman shared with all of us during that time.
The longer I walk with the Lord, the more I realize how much I don’t know. Perhaps that seems backwards, but the more I study, the more I realize that the depths of God’s Word and his character are inexhaustible. In many ways, I join Paul in proclaiming, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Rom 11:33). We will be searching the depths for eternity! This had been on my mind and heart for the past few weeks, and then Ms. Anna confirmed what I felt the Lord had been stirring in my own heart.
She told us that when she was young, she prayed to the Lord: “Keep me teachable.” What is wonderful about Anna is she is living out that prayer and the Lord is answering it. She is nearly twice my age and yet is learning from this youngster. She was also teaching us through the discussion. Women hear Titus 2 preached at them quite a bit, that older women should teach younger women. I learned more from Anna’s example of humility, grace, and wisdom last Tuesday night that no amount of advice about being a good wife could replace. Advice is good, but the example of a life well-lived plus hearing biblical teaching is irreplaceable.
It could be tempting to think that one day we might “arrive,” and if we think we have, we will miss out on the wonderful joys of learning and being taught. May we never be puffed up because of our knowledge (1 Cor 8:1). My prayer for you and me is that the Lord would keep us teachable all the days of our lives.
(If you are interested in joining us on Tuesday night you can learn more here: http://www.trillianewbell.com/2018/08/15/lets-study-ephesians/)
(Note: For the next six weeks I’ll be posting short devotionals based on a live Bible study I’m leading on Ephesians. For more information about that study and to join us if you are in the area, take a look here: http://www.trillianewbell.com/2018/08/15/lets-study-ephesians/)
My husband and I had two broken engagements before we were married. Yes, two. I was young and immature. I thought I needed to live it up a bit longer when really what I needed was Jesus. I wasn’t a Christian and neither was he. But my Thern continually pursued me. He never held my sin against me. He lavished care and sometimes, even gifts on me. But it wouldn’t be until the Lord sought me and saved me before I would marry this man I have loved now for over 15 years.
The love and the pursuit of any human being pales in comparison to the love and pursuit of God, yet Thern’s persistence and genuine desire for me reflects God’s character that we see in Paul’s praise in Ephesians 1:1-11.
At least seven times we see Paul referencing God’s pursuit of us. The opening praise sets the stage: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing…” (3-emphasis mine). It is God who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing. It is God who chose, predestined, and adopted us. It is God who continually gives us grace and we look forward to an inheritance–all by his own will and good purposes.
In the original Greek the first twelve verses is one long sentence, and for good reason! Paul is overwhelmed by the goodness of God to sinful people. It’s an ocean of praise and adoration. And one thing is clear: we did not pursue God—he pursued us. And we would never be able to earn, let alone think of, the spiritual blessings that the Lord bestows upon us: redemption through the blood of Christ, forgiveness of sin, adoption as sons, everlasting love, an imperishable inheritance, grace upon grace, and so much more. And God achieves this through is own Son.
One commentary noted that Jesus is mentioned fifteen times in the first fourteen verses. Jesus made the way for the blessings we receive. Paul reminds us again later in Ephesians that it is not our own doing—it is a gift of God in Christ Jesus (2:4-9). In Christ Jesus and because of Jesus we have the gift of redemption and all that comes with that amazing gift. The cosmic reality of our union with Christ is worthy of our every praise.
We might be tempted to think that we deserve God’s love and affection. We might believe that we earned it by our good works. We might even think that we were the ones who allowed him to have a relationship with us. These verses tell us a different story and I’d dare say a much better one. The God of the universe thought of us, created us, sought us, adopted us, sent His son to die for us, forgives us, and we didn’t do anything but receive it. Like Paul, we praise God for all his blessings and we thank Jesus for his sacrifice. Let’s look to him for all things—He is the giver of good and perfect gifts, namely himself.