Welcome to our continued exploration of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Paul starts the circular letter we call Ephesians with a beautiful doxology. A doxology, you may recall from previous years of congregational singing, is a short hymn of praise to God. Doxologies are often added at the end of canticles, psalms, or church songs. Doxologies, as we will see in greater depth next week, are commonly sung to the Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
As we begin to unpack the rich scripture contained in Paul’s letter to Ephesians, I wanted to stop and meditate on Chapter 1, Verse 3. In the Greek, verses 3-14 are one long sentence, but bear with me as we focuse on verse 3. We will explore the passage in its entirety next week.
Praise be to the God and Father of our LORD Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Ephesians 1:3 (NIV)
In their culture, Jews referred to blessings as God’s kindness to them and their thanks and praise to Him. This is a practice that continued in the early Christian church, especially since Paul was a well-educated Jew who had converted to Christianity.
When we focus all our attention on what’s wrong, we fail to see what’s right. We get tangled up in the disaster that the world is and totally miss out on the goodness in our daily life. The year 2020 certainly has magnified a lot of challenges we face as a people, a nation, and a globe. But let us not allow the challenges to distort our view of reality so much so that we become blind to the multitude of blessings God has bestowed upon us.
God has chosen us in Christ. We are redeemed by the blood of Christ. We are adopted into the family of God. We are “sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.” God, out of His kindness and unfathomable love for us, showered us with grace and granted us mercy. It is not somehting we earned. It is not something we even merit. It’s simply something God did for us out of the pleasure of His will. Why are we saved? Because it pleased God to do so. He takes joy and delight when a sinner, like me (and you), is saved. The heavenly host sings with gladness at the redemption of every lost soul.
Praise be to God because the Father sent the Son and the Spirit to bring believers into fellowship with Himself and fellowship with one another. How GRAND is that? What a blessing! Blessed be God as a result of the blessing He bestowed upon us.
Life is sacred as is creation. Let us not curse it all so much so that we blaspheme it’s Creator in the process. Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, our Lord and Savior, and remember that God is good all the time and all the time God is good!
We have progress to make in a myriad of areas as a nation. But, as the day is long, so there will remain work to for us to do. We are always works in progress until that day the Lord returns. America is a historic nation, the likes the World has never seen. It is not perfect. But, it is a great country. Indeed, it is the greatest country on Planet Earth.
America remains a land of opportunity. It remains a place where you can live a life beyond your past. You are not chained to live a destiny you did nothing to deserve, here in America. In America, you CAN do better. Our stories are diverse. Our backgrounds are broad. This nation is a melting pot of ideas and ideaologies. We don’t all think the same. That’s the beauty of America. We have the FREEDOM to disagree and the FORTITUDE to still be friends. We don’t all look alike, sound alike, or think alike. Yet, America is still a place where dreams come true. It is a land where hard work gets you somewhere. You can benefit from the fruits of your own labor here in America. It is a place where good still happens every day. It is a land where love exists and hatred and evil have NOT won the day.
To live in America, is a blessing. To be born here is an even greater blessing. But if you’re like me and you moved here from somewhere else, living in America is no less a blessing to you and me than to those who are fortunate to have been here since birth.
While I am still an immigrant residing permanently here in the US, I look forward to the day that I can fully claim to be an American. I love this place that has become my home. In talking with a friend this week, I told him I miss John Wayne because I think the Duke would straighten all this out.
Father God, thank YOU for the tremendous blessings YOU have bestowed upon me and all those who call YOU by name. Thank YOU for the blessing of redemption through the shed blood of Jeus Christ, of being adopted into the family of God, and for being sealed by the Holy Spirit. Thank YOU God, for waking me up today and every day. I am grateful for YOUR many blessings, including the opportunity to live here in a land with great opporutnity. I pray for our leaders, our nation, and all the people living here. May YOU grant us wisdom, discernment, and courage. Yes, give us courage to change the things we can and must change. Yet, let us continue to praise YOU for all the good YOU have shown us, and me, YOUR humble servant. In Jesus’ Name! Amen.
What blessings are YOU grateful for today?
Know that you are loved!
More of Him, Less of me