God’s Masterpiece

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Ephesians 2:10 (NLT) reads, For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Read this verse again slowly.) 

God’s masterpiece.

Do you believe that? It comes straight from God’s Word – we are God’s masterpiece!

Other translations may say God’s workmanship, or God’s handiwork. The Greek word in this passage emphasizes that we are the work of an artist, performer, or poet. We may be fascinated by the artwork created by Van Gogh or Picasso, but God is fascinated by His handiwork. 

God’s masterpiece. 

The implications of this within our lives cannot be overstated. God is not looking down on us, but is drawing near to us. It is not we who set the terms of what we need to do for God to love us. He and He alone sets the terms. And He has already decided, we are…

God’s masterpiece. 

READING & PRAYERS:

     EPHESIANS 2:1-10

Why do you think Christians struggle to believe we are God’s masterpiece? 

Take the opportunity to remind yourself throughout the day that you are God’s masterpiece. 

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I confess that seeing myself as Your friend or Your child is a challenge, and to see myself as Your masterpiece is a truth I often struggle to believe. Help me to replace any lies I may believe about You or about myself with these truths from Your Word. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Reflecting God’s Mercy

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As followers of Christ, we are invited to not only follow Him, but to reflect His glory upon the world around us (see 2 Corinthians 3:17-18). And even though our first inclination may be to judge others’ immoral behavior, it’s always good to pause and consider Ephesians 2:4 in a deeper way. 

The Life Application Study Bible note on this verse says, 

We were dead in our sins, but God. . . . We were rebels against him, but God. . . . We were enslaved by the devil and our sinful natures, but God. . . . These may be the two most welcome words in all of Scripture: “but God.” God could have left us spiritually dead, in rebellion against him and in bondage to our sins. But he didn’t. He did not save us because of, but rather in spite of, what he saw in us. In addition to thanking him for what he has done for us, we should also show humble patience and tolerance for others who seem unworthy or undeserving of our love and compassion. They may be spiritually dull, rebellious, and even antagonistic toward God. So were we; but God loved us anyway. Can we do less for fellow sinners?

READING & PRAYERS:

     EPHESIANS 2:1-10, 2 CORINTHIANS 3:17-18, JONAH 1:1-3

God has shown you grace and mercy without measure. In what ways may God be inviting you to reflect this same level of grace and mercy upon others who are far from Him? 

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I confess there are times in my life when I am like Jonah. Instead of following through on Your invitation to reflect Your love and mercy to others, I withdraw. Instead of thinking of others, I give in to my self-centered tendencies. Help me, this day and every day, to share the Good News of Your love and mercy with others. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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The Biggest ‘But’ in the Bible

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How regularly do you think of your past – the unwise, unhealthy, even ungodly decisions you have made? And how regularly do you allow your past to define you? Perhaps you think things like…

  • “I’m just a sinner, saved by grace.”
  • “I didn’t have my act together back then and God is still wondering when I will get it together.”
  • “I try to be good, but I’m not sure I’ll ever please God.” 

Thoughts like these aren’t uncommon. But they’re also not biblical. In Ephesians, it seems clear that Christians in Ephesus struggled with similar thoughts. Paul emphasizes this in Ephesians 2:1-3 by writing things like, You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil…

But then Paul follows up with what may be the biggest ‘but’ in the Bible. But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. Paul is essentially saying, “Let God’s grace, not your past, define who you are.”

READING & PRAYERS:

     EPHESIANS 2:1-10 (also read the commentary notes in your study bible of choice)

Be honest: What (or who) do you most regularly turn to for your identity?

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I confess there are times when I see myself as a sinner and not as a saint. But Your Word tells me that if I’ve placed my faith in Christ, I am a saint. Your Word tells me the gospel is Good News. Your Word tells me You are rich in mercy. Today, continue to help me see myself as You see me. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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Ephesians 2:1-10 – Dig Deeper Into the Text

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Imagine writing a letter to a large group of missionary friends to offer them some encouragement. You do your best to remind them of important gospel truths and also take the opportunity to write out a prayer for them. But without concluding the prayer with, “Amen,” you simply continue writing the letter. Years later, those reading the letter are likely to question exactly when the prayer begins and ends. 

Ephesians 1:15-23 is, without a doubt, a prayer for the Christians in Ephesus. But many scholars note that the prayer does not end in verse 23, but it continues on. A reader today sees a new chapter and automatically assumes it’s a new section, but for the people who read Paul’s letter in Greek, Ephesians 1:23 and 2:1 are connected with the word “and”. The New Bible Commentary notes that if 1:23 and 2:1 were conjoined into one sentence as written in Greek, the emphasis on these two verses would be, “and you, being dead in your transgressions and sins, he made alive with Christ.”

Today, read Ephesians 1:15-2:10 as if it’s one continuous prayer.

READING & PRAYERS:

     EPHESIANS 1:15-2:10

Read today’s passage as one ongoing prayer. In just one sentence, how would you explain to somebody else what Paul really hopes the Christians in Ephesus will understand? 

Take some time to reflect a bit more on this passage: What is God inviting you to more fully understand about Him? 

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, today I am very grateful for the reminder that I am alive in Christ. While I may not always feel alive in Christ, I can rest in assurance that I am. May I live this day freely and fully alive in You. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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The Power to All Who Believe

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Imagine you’re having a conversation with God, and He asked you, “What is it you think I want from you?” How would you answer this question? 

Some may say, “I think God wants me to be a good person,” but what exactly does it mean to be a good person? Others may say, “I think God wants me to do what pleases Him,” but the Scriptures say much more about trusting God than trying to please Him.

The prayer from Ephesians 1:15-23 is, at the very least, a part of what God desires from His people. Primarily, 1:18-19 reads, I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

What does God desire from His people? 

  • That you may know the hope to which He has called you.
  • That you may know the riches of His glorious inheritance (how valuable you are to God!)
  • That you may know His incomparably great power.

READING & PRAYERS:

EPHESIANS 1:15-23 (also read the commentary notes in your study bible of choice)

Prior to reading today’s devotional, how would you have answered the question, “What is it you think God wants from you?” 

Today, what is one specific way you can offer God what He truly desires from you?

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, today’s reading was a great reminder that what I think You want from me may not be what you actually desire most from me. Continue to help me know, deep within me, the hope to which You have called me, the rights of Your glorious inheritance, and the incomparable greatness of Your power. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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The Riches of His Glorious Inheritance

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When reading through the Scriptures, when you see certain words repeated often, it’s usually a sign that the author really wants to emphasize the importance of this word. As an example, Paul regularly uses the word inheritance in his letter to the Ephesians. In many cases, this term is used to encourage Christians to rejoice in the inheritance we have already received (1:11) and the inheritance promised to us (1:14). 

But later on, this term is used in a different context. In Ephesians 1:118 reads, I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know…the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.

If you read this too quickly you may miss it. The context of this verse isn’t about Christians rejoicing in the inheritance we have already received. Instead, this verse is about God’s inheritance. Here, Paul is praying that Christians would know with absolute certainty that the people of God is His inheritance. His followers are His treasured possession. He desires to be with His people. 

READING & PRAYERS:

EPHESIANS 1:15-23 (also read the commentary notes in your study bible of choice)

In what ways do you see yourself? Does the truth that you are part of God’s inheritance, His treasured possession impact your view of yourself? 

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I confess that I don’t regularly see myself as somebody treasured by You. Continue to help me see myself in the same way You see me, and help me to grow in seeing others as You see them. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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The Hope to Which He Has Called You

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Think about this: When you’re navigating through life’s challenges, do you pause to consider what you know with absolute certainty? For example, you may know a colleague was late to a meeting, but you may not be absolutely certain as to why they were late. A friend may reveal that they’re struggling financially, but you may not know the exact circumstances that led them there. In most situations, we all have to admit that we don’t know much for certain. 

But pay attention to Paul’s prayer here. Ephesians 1:18 (NIV) reads, I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you…

Paul prays that Christians would know the hope to which he [God] has called you… The NIV Zondervan Study Bible notes that the word hope in this verse is not a simply wish, “…but a confident expectation of what is to come since it is ultimately grounded on God’s faithfulness.” Paul’s prayer here is that you would know with absolute certainty and full expectation, the hope to which God has called you.

READING & PRAYERS:

EPHESIANS 1:15-23

In what ways do you find yourself hoping for what you desire instead of focussing on God’s hope for you and others? What steps can you take to focus more on God’s hopes? 

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I confess that I often spend more time thinking about how to be a good person than I spend thinking and praying about the hope to which You have called me. Forgive me for the times I think more about my hopes than Your hopes for me. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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Paul’s Prayers

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When you’re praying for a friend or family member, what are your prayers like? Do you pray for their salvation, that they would come to have faith in Christ? Do you pray for some kind of physical healing? Do you find yourself praying for your will to be done in their lives, or do you find yourself praying for God’s will to be done…whatever that may look like? 

Throughout the New Testament, we get an interesting picture of Paul’s prayer life. In his book titled Prayer, Pastor and Author Timothy Keller writes, “It is remarkable that in all of his writings Paul’s prayers for his friends contain no appeals for changes in their circumstances. It is certain that they lived in the midst of many dangers and hardships. They faced persecution, death from disease, oppression by powerful forces, and separation from loved ones. Yet in these prayers you see not one petition for a better emperor, for protection from marauding armies, or even for bread for the next meal. Paul does not pray for the goods we would usually have near the top of our lists of requests…[what] he most frequently prayed for his friends, was for them to know God better.”

READING & PRAYERS:

EPHESIANS 1:15-23

In today’s reading, Paul is praying specifically for the Christians in Ephesus to grow in spiritual wisdom. What are at least 3 things that stand out to you from this prayer? (If interested, click here to read a lengthy compilation of Paul’s prayers in the New Testament.)

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I agree with Timothy Keller, it really is remarkable that in all of Paul’s prayers for his friends, he does not pray for changes in their circumstances. When I reflect on my own prayers, I recognize that I often pray for better circumstances for me and my loved ones. Help me to let my prayers be more focused on knowing You and Your will than asking You to fulfill my will. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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