By Fawn Ellerbrook
This week we kicked off the Ephesians series! Throughout this series, we’ll be diving deep into this letter from Paul written to the Church in Ephesus around AD 60-61. If you’re newer to the Bible, Paul was a major contributor to the New Testament (the part of the Bible written after Jesus’ birth and ministry). He was also a former Pharisee, an influential group of Jewish leaders, and known as Saul of Tarsus. As a member of this group, Saul (Paul) was known for harshly persecuting Jews that professed Jesus as the resurrected Messiah.
After a radical experience with God, Saul was changed forever and became known as Paul – one of the greatest catalysts for the Gospel and early Church. He believed in the message of Jesus so deeply that it literally changed everything about His life and He devoted each remaining moment of His days to teaching, challenging, correcting, and building the Church alongside a core group of other Apostles and leaders. Ultimately, Paul would give his life as a martyr for his faith.
To get an overview of this powerful letter we’ll be exploring together, watch the video below. It’s about eight minutes long and provides insight into the time Ephesians was written and what Paul is teaching us throughout the text.
The Bible is full of rich truth, encouragement, correction, and direction that equips us to move from where we are to where God wants us to be – one step at a time. In the Book of Romans, Paul reminds us that these truths and principles are meant to lead us in every part of our life:
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. (Romans 12:1-2, Message Version)
God is a personal God. He’s Immanuel, God with us – a name not restricted to the Christmas season, but one that should fill us with hope and courage in our everyday lives, 365 days a year.
As we study the Book of Ephesians together, let’s take it slow and really pay attention to what God is saying to each of us individually. You can connect with God’s Word by simply committing to open it up and allowing it to develop that “well-formed maturity” in you with each step of obedience. In Eat this Book, Eugene Peterson says this:
“Obedience is the thing living in active response to the living God. The most important question we ask of this text is not, ‘What does this mean,’ but ‘What can I obey?’ A simple act of obedience will open up our lives to this text far more quickly than any number of Bible studies and dictionaries and concordances.”
Thankfully, there are plenty of awesome tools available to help us navigate the Bible. For instance, you may remember the S.O.A.P. Guide from last year’s The Problem with the Bible series. This guide provides a framework of four simple steps to use as you read Scripture. Download the S.O.A.P. Guide here.
I’m excited to be taking this journey through Ephesians together as a church. I believe it’s going to be an impactful time as we lean into what God is saying to us individually and as a church family – especially as 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting begins this Friday, January 10! To learn more about the heart behind this, watch Sunday’s message here. You can also join the Bible reading plan on YouVersion/The Bible App beginning this Friday here.
Just like Paul wrote in Romans, God will bring the best out of you when you place your life before Him as an offering every day. So, be intentional about seeking God and His heart for you through this series and time of prayer & fasting. God is with you, God is for you, and no matter what, He is faithful!