Ephesians Devo #11: The Ramifications

Ephesians 1:15-16

“15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.”

We’ve covered a lot of depth with Paul in just fourteen verses… God’s Treasure Map has located us and has spoken of a life-long journey of discovery.

It sounds like the Ephesian saints were as excited as Paul hoped they would be as treasure-seekers.

Our response-ability is now tested: Are we as excited to seek treasure, even in the times and situations which cause us grief, anger, shame and disappointment? Do we see the light which shines in the darkness to overcome it and to expose it… and recognize this work of God as more treasure to be had?

Joy through suffering. A seeming paradox, if not for what Paul has already told us with regard to God’s perfect plan. Faith begets love, and thanksgiving begets remembrance. Faith is trust based upon experience. Love is our present state, and an action while being present. Hope is trust placed in the future, based upon the past.

Without faith and hope in God, our present love would be based solely upon ourselves. Faith, Hope… and the greatest is Love.
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Ephesians Devo #10: The Identity

Ephesians 1:13-14

“13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”

Yesterday, I said, “He chose us… we get to choose back.” This is our response-ability… an ability to respond because of who we now have become in Christ as the New Creations that we have become, and that we now and forevermore bear a recognizable seal of blessing (referred to in verse 1:3) which we experience in this life, and will experience even more greatly in the next.

“God owns me.” How does that make you feel? Say it to yourself three times, slowly… “God owns me.” Go ahead!

Now, say it out loud. Say it out loud two more times. How is this truth, the ‘gospel of your salvation’ impacting the way you think and feel about yourself? About others?

I double-dog-dare you to go up to someone you know, someone you are comfortable with, and say to them aloud, “God owns me!” and see how they respond. What is their response-ability to you displaying your own?
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Ephesians Devo #9: The Choice

Ephesians 1:11-12

“In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.”

God’s plan is perfect. It’s execution is exact. It’s details are well-thought out, and there is no margin of error… God’s plan has no mistakes.

And we were chosen, in Christ, to be a part of that plan. In all of our strength and frailty, in all of our pride and humility, in all of our sin and obedience, we have been called into something greater than our own experience apart from God which means that the plan has been worked out regardless of the calamity and chaos we see in the world and which sometimes causes us to despair.

God invites us to pursue His will, that we might also be participants in His glory. He chose us… we get to choose back.
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Ephesians Devo #8: The Plan

Ephesians 1:11-12

“In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.”

God’s plan is perfect. It’s execution is exact. It’s details are well-thought out, and there is no margin of error… God’s plan has no mistakes.

And we were chosen, in Christ, to be a part of that plan. In all of our strength and frailty, in all of our pride and humility, in all of our sin and obedience, we have been called into something greater than our own experience apart from God which means that the plan has been worked out regardless of the calamity and chaos we see in the world and which sometimes causes us to despair.

God invites us to pursue His will, that we might also be participants in His glory. He chose us… we get to choose back.
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"Can you come out and play with us?"

I'm a couple days late sharing this wonderful story...

We've experienced enough significant snowfall and cold temperatures here in the PNW which, when coupled with winding roads with steep grades, an infrastructure which lacks the experience to know how to respond to road conditions (and lacks the equipment to act in accordance to that wisdom), and the inexperience which most of the drivers here have when it comes to winter roads, means school and business closures.

Boom. Snow-maggedon 2019 has fallen upon us (all 3" of it) with more expected this weekend.

On one of the school snow days, there was a knock at my front door followed by repeated and insistent doorbell ringing... My young lady friends were on the front porch dressed in their finest snow-garb and holding plastic sleds and displaying beautiful smiles and the sparkling eyes of youthful innocence and excitement


"Can you come out and sled with us?" My goodness! Such a wonderful and beautiful invitation to goodness and play; yet, I needed to decline. Too much work still needed to be accomplished. Too much grown up agenda needed to be checked off. Too much.


After I joyfully celebrated the wintery blanket with them, I shared the disappointing news that I would not be able to come with them.


"But... Who is going to push us on our sleds?"


There it was: I'm big. I'm (possibly) strong. I'm safe. I'm fun. I serve a purpose for two early elementary-aged girls on their quest for the ultimate wintery sledding experience.


After I sent them on their way, I am confident that they didn't wallow in disappointment as I did. Later on, I could hear their high pitched squeals and laughter as they navigated the hilly road of our dead-end street with wild abandon. I wanted to join them. I wanted to taste that child-like thrill of wonderment and excitement and innocence through the eyes of a child.


A something Matthew 18:3-ish kind of experience where children lead us and us adults submit to joy.


Go sledding.
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Peace Be Upon You, Little Sister...

I let her go before me in line since she only had a few items. It wasn't until she put them down on the conveyor belt which moved her groceries forward to the cashier that I noticed that they were all nutritional essentials for an infant. Similac, infant cereal, and other food items vital to the sustenance of a newborn human being. After the cashier rang up her items, my young line-cutter presented the cashier with her WIC checks. It was at that point that the chastisement began for not presenting the government-provided payment prior to the items being rung up. As I watched a new drama unfold—The young white cashier was clearly upset that her protocol had been upset, the young woman of color being publicly shamed because she didn't follow protocol, and that she relied upon the government to help feed her baby—I felt my own anger and shame rise.

Two or three or 10 times, she looked at me with darting eyes which told me she was assessing and evaluating my mood. Was I angry? Was I upset? Was I judging? I tried to find words to speak which would help her to understand that I understood her plight. Candace and I both have been there before. Both of us have experienced a shame and embarrassment of using WIC checks to feed our child because we did not have enough money to bear the burden on our own. Shame plays a powerful role in excluding others from the communal table to which God has invited us.

I told myself to count to ten. And when 'ten' was reached, my calm could be found and my voice would speak in defense of this young woman by purchasing the $20 or so of food she placed herself in shame's way to bring home for her child.

Thank God that the manager—a woman who displayed compassion and, seemingly, an understanding for where this young mother found herself—quickly addressed and processed the WIC coupons, sending young mom on her way.


My Turn.

As the young cashier checked out the grocery times which I had selected, I bit my tongue. And, as most of you are aware, I have a big mouth and too often speak my own mind. Here it comes…
"I cannot imagine how difficult it was for her to use those coupons AND have attention drawn to her for not following the correct protocol…
can you?"

I paid. Per store policy, I bagged my own groceries. I left.

I have the opportunity to say things to cashiers and others when I see injustice. I'm a white male (pretty big and described by some as intimidating). Children usually describe e as gentle and playful. No matter what, i am a human co-journeying this life and tis community experience with others.

Who are you?
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Ephesians Devo #7: Immersion

Ephesians 1:9-10

“And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.”

The Treasure Map of Blessings in Christ is a revealing of God, not only of God within and about us. The wisdom and understanding we have received in our New Creation identity allows us to know the Giver in new and previously unfathomable ways. It pleases God for us to explore His map and to become more intimate with our knowledge and experience of the Trinity.

We now know what it means to be God’s children, because Jesus has made it known to us. We know what it is to die, to be raised back again in this life, and to function within the mystery of God’s willing us into a new relationship which is restoring us, day by day.

God not only has a plan
for me, He has a plan through me. God not only has a plan for us, He has a plan through us. As we allow ourselves to be shaped and transformed by the Holy Spirit, we are simultaneously being invited to shape and transform the restoration of the Fall… all of which is orchestrated and revealed through Christ.

God in Christ, Spirit in Truth and in Love, indwelling and redeeming and making all things new through co-creation with the Created.

Unfathomable. Mysterious. Marvelous. Inviting. And the invitation is always open…
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Ephesians Devo #6: The Doctor is In

One of my favorite bands hailed out of Athens, GA. Vigilantes of Love, and frontman singer/songwriter Bill Mallonee, infused powerful metaphor and thought provoking lyrics into amazing music. When I listen, I'm moved in both mind and body.

Now everybody got some stuff they've been trying to cover up
Pressed for conviction it'd be more than enough
Doctor is in surgery is free
Use no anesthetics but it's all guaranteed

I Can Explain Everything, from the album Welcome to Struggleville


Ephesians 1:7-8

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.”

in Christ Jesus… (vs. 1)…In the heavenly realmsin Christ (vs. 3)… in him (vs.4)... in accordance with his pleasure and will (vs. 5)… in the One he loves (vs. 6)… In himin accordance with the riches of God’s grace (vs. 7)

We are only seven verses into the text, and Paul has located us on The Great Treasure Map of God, where riches abound and where we are invited to search and find and explore our identity from now until eternity. Each of these ‘in’ locations are sweet and personal. God is calling us Beloved.

The gift of redemption is very near and dear to the vocabulary of Paul; he uses it seven times out of the ten it is found in the New Testament. It hearkens back to the divine act of deliverance the people of Israel experienced when they were freed from the bonds of captivity and slavery to Egypt.

We are free. The wages of sin no longer hold us captive. We are now slaves to righteousness. Our whole identities have been remade and renewed through God’s own lifeblood.

This gift which none of us deserves is described here as beyond the wealth of anyone’s comprehension, and lavished upon us to the point of overflow—we cannot contain it, it spills out and over us—to move beyond us and into this broken world, with two words which capture different nuances of one idea: ‘wisdom and understanding.’ The first speaks to general wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. The second suggests that the outward overflow moves us to apply that same wisdom in practical application

Who we are, where we are located with regard to our New Creation identity, is freely-given and abundantly resourced, and it comes without any works, any human effort, mystical technique, or religious perfection.

We are Beloved.

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Ephesians Devo #5: Love is a Many-Splendoured Thing....

Ephesians 1:4b-6

“In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.”

“In love…” How wonderful! This love is not just an emotional response, but it is also responsive action. God responds to His own desire by willing and bestowing the title of adoptive family member upon us; something He chose to do and feel, as verse 4 says, before the realm of Creation even existed. God has been carrying us in his heart and mind since eternity.
That, is love!

No wonder Paul sings the praises of God in response to this great and all-encompassing love! God responded in love to imagine us. God responded in love to create us. God responded in love to redeem us… all of which was before we came into existence. Love’s responsive action of provisional grace—freely given—means that the offer stands for all of Creation to respond back to God’s invitation of adoption.

God is Love. God is
in love. God loves us with the same ferocious love through which the Trinity loves and communes together. Think back on verse 1:3.
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Ephesians Devo #4: Us vs. God

Ephesians 1:4

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.”

Today, I was reminded about the power of egocentricity. Someone stopped into my office to discuss prayer, and why we should even bother to do it. They spoke specifically about baby Rowen, who died last week after open heart surgery and prolonged recovery efforts. This person pointed out that people all over the globe were asking God to give this child healing, but God just did whatever He wanted anyway, ignoring the pleas of the saints.

Our conversation which followed was about what prayer really
is, and how there are more aspects to it than treating God like a vending machine. Egocentricity turns the God of the Universe into the god of my universe.

We are reminded in Ephesians 1:4 that we serve a bigger God than we can imagine… One who has something in mind for us to be and to become through His work and through His determination of value. God has chosen qualities and characteristics for us to live within (I was almost tempted to say, ‘live up to’, but that would open the door for works-based salvation).

Whether this passage is concerned with predestination or not is moot. God is in control, and we need to remember that. I think that when we focus upon predestination, we walk ever-more-closely to the line of Egocentricity.
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