Ephesians, A study trip through

Posts from Ephesians

After reading through Romans a chapter a day since January I think I’ve read the book about 14 times this year. I’ve been pondering which book to read next. The book of Ephesians keeps popping up in my head so this morning I read the preface. It is a letter that Paul wrote while in prison in Rome so beyond the words in it, the where, why and how of this book compels me to study it next after studying Romans. First the book to Romans and then the book from Rome.

I found this this morning and it is my heart for me and those who read my posts.

“12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 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.

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. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray also 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 the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”

I want to know God better. I want to know the hope that he has called me to, the riches of his glorious inheritance, and his incomparable great power.

Ephesians 2

It was a cold and cloudy January morning. I had just left college to become the manager of my family’s business, the Burger Bar Cafe. It was Sunday, so we were closed. I was in the back room getting breakfast for my pregnant wife. We were newlyweds and pregnant with our honeymoon baby. So much change in one year. Getting married, getting pregnant, moving three times, starting college to become a pastor, leaving college to become a dad.

It was that morning in that restaurant back room right next to the dishwasher that I finally understood that God loved me, not based on anything I did or didn’t do, not on my “works” but just because he is a loving and gracious God, a God who “stoops low” to aid those he loves. That’s the day that Ephesians 2:8-10 came to life to me. That’s the day I was saved.

Part of my desire to go to college and become a Pastor was the need to please God. To earn his favor. I had just given that up and I was floundering. But this verse popped into my head and I understood that I couldn’t earn Gods favor, because he had already graciously given it to me through Jesus.

” For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Thank you Jesus for the path you put me on and for loving me and our family. For dying for our sins and also providing for all of our needs. Thank you for being gracious to me, for saving me. I love you Jesus.

Ephesians 3

We live in a desert. Eastern Washington state is a desert. It lies in the rain shadow of the Cascade mountains. Our annual rainfall is around 10″. There is very little water here naturally. My Grandpa Loeffelbein’s property in Cashmere, out on Pioneer Ave had a Tiny little stream. It was so small that I could jump across it. The odd thing about it that it was always flowing, and it flowed fast. It was not a lazy little trickle. Put your foot in and it would try and knock you over. It took strength to stand in the flow. The water was cold, and the force was steady and strong and constant.

Sometimes my life feels like a desert, arid and dry. I need a source of refreshing.

God’s love is like that little stream in some respects. It’s steady, strong, constant, refreshing, water in a desert. It just isn’t little. Nathan Dowd quoted someone recently who said, “God’s love is an ocean without shores and without bottom.”

“17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

Lord I need to know your love today, not just know it but feel it. I need your wisdom and understanding, I’ve got things to do today that go beyond me. Help me Jesus. Fill me up.

Ephesians 4

Every once in a while, our Pastor will say that what he is speaking about is “family business” meaning it pertains to those of us who are part of that specific body of believers. It is a specific message to a specific group of people.

I feel like Ephesians 4 is a “family business” chapter but not just for the people in Ephesus but all believers everywhere for all time.

I think I just said that it is specifically written to a general group. At least that’s what I intended.

John 3:16 is written to everyone, everywhere. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Once we decide to follow Jesus we join a new group, the body of Christ. The group of people known as the body of Christ live by a different set of guidelines.

I will use myself as an example. Basically, there has been a shift, a change of command has happened. I used to be in charge. I did what I wanted. Now I have given over the control of my life to Jesus.

I’ll let Paul say it, “Living as Children of Light
17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. 20 You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. 21 Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Paul goes on to say how our honesty in word and deed, and our reaction to anger needs to be different now that we are filled with Gods spirit. Our life experiences haven’t changed. We will still face the same temptations and trials that the general population does but now we are empowered to respond differently.

I’d like to quote one more verse that reminds me that when I need to forgive someone, that I too am in constant need of forgiveness.

“32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Ephesians 5

Ephesians 5 is more family business meaning this is written specifically to those who are following Jesus, to Christians.

Being a Christian is brand new to some of us. What do we do? How do we act? What are the rules?

Here’s a general guideline:”1 Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Things NOT to do:

Be sexually immoral
Be greedy
Get drunk
Don’t do these.

Instead, Do these:
Be filled the Holy Spirit
Sing
Make music
Give thanks
Wives submit to your husbands like you do to Jesus
Husbands love your wife. be the Christlike man that a woman doesn’t have to fear submitting to. Love your wife like you love you. Love like Jesus did- Die to yourself and live for Jesus and your family. Love your wife. Love your wife like you love you. Love your wife. (I added one more “love your wife” than Paul did, sorry, now two more)

Being a Christian is the simple life. It is not the easy life but it is simple.

Live a life of love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.

Ephesians 6

Ephesians 6 I want to start at the end.

Paul says that he has entrusted the letter to Tychicus not just as a postman but as one who will encourage the believers there. Basically, Paul said Tychicus will carry the letter in his hand, but he will stay and help because he has Jesus in his heart. Tychicus will be a living letter to the Christians in Ephesus. Tychicus is mentioned 5 times in the bible and every time it says this guy can be trusted, “faithful servant”, one who encourages. I want to be like him.

To the family of God:
Kids, obey your parents,
Fathers, raise them right. Do not exasperate
Slaves (people who have bosses, and even bosses have bosses) work like your boss is Jesus himself, obey respect, work hard
Masters (bosses) remember we all have one master Jesus and there will be a day of personal accountability.

We are in a battle but it’s not with who you think, because if you can mentally picture your enemy with skin on then you got it wrong. Our battle is not with flesh and blood and so neither are our defenses or weapons. Our battle is spiritual: truth, righteousness, good news of Jesus, faith in him, and being saved by him are our battle gear, the word of God is our only weapon.

Weird war. Let’s get to it then.

The Flu and Father Brown

What do a stomach bug and a TV show about a crime solving priest have in common?

Two essential elements of Christianity. That’s what. Repentance and confession. In The series Father Brown is more concerned about the criminal’s soul than he is about solving the crime.

His main goal in the show is to get the guilty party to repent and confess.

Today I came down with a Flu bug. I was at work when I decided to turn around, change direction and go back home. I repented of my decision to go south east to Moses Lake, I turned around and headed north west back to Ephrata.

I was only home a couple of minutes before my stomach confessed of everything I had eaten. It wouldn’t be satisfied with a partial confession, it had to have it all out.

“5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all[b] sin.

8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”

Take it from me, when a stomach confesses it is nasty business. All kinds of ugliness comes out. The same is true for a heart and soul.

Usually working together with confession and almost always preceding it, is repentance. My favorite story of repentance is found in the book of Luke. Jesus tells the story of 2 brothers. The younger cashes in his inheritance and goes partying. When he runs out of money he also runs out of friends and ends up destitute, feeding pigs.

“17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.”

The next verses are what I think are the best bd description of God’s Father heart towards us, his wayward children.

““But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”

Are you feeling a long way off? Sometimes I do. It’s mostly my fault too. I go my own way and then feel estranged but Gods heart towards me, towards us has not changed. God is scanning the horizon anxiously waiting for us to return.

Repentance and confession are not our ticket back in to his love. God loves us. Repentance and confession are our way to be purged and healed.

So I say and you can say it with me if like; Forgive me Father, I have sinned against you and against heaven. I am unworthy to be called your child.

And he says about us and to us, welcome home!

3 guys

Three guys….

Why do so many jokes start with 3 guys?

The next thing I will say here is no joke.

On this day about 2 thousand years ago three guys hung from crosses on a hill outside of Jerusalem. They weren’t tied to the cross, they were nailed, through the hands and feet. Two of them were thieves, the third was a man named Jesus.

We have a record of his Jesus’ last words. The last thing he said was, ” it is finished ”

“When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (Jn 19:30)

What did he mean?

He meant that the job of paying for all of the sin in the world, all the wrongs, all the hurts and hates, the stains on the souls of men that could not be removed by men had been removed by God.

This is no ordinary man this guy Jesus. He is the very, the only son of God.

Much to our relief he did not stay dead. 3 days later he rose from the dead. He is alive! Jesus is alive.

He died to finish the plan of our salvation and he rose from the dead to give us eternal life.

Three guys hung on crosses to their deaths. One guy said “It is finished”. And so it is.

All we gotta do is ask.

A letter from our dad

Not everyone has a dad but wouldn’t it be cool to find a long love letter addressed to you from your father? Even if you didn’t know him, he knew you?Something that not only gushed words of love but gave you instructions on how to live the best life possible? A letter that showed that life and the world and even world events had been all arranged just so you could be born and live. A description of the purpose of your life. The letters end with a promise to return to you and reunite with you.

This letter exists. It exists for each one of us. This letter is the Bible. The Bible is a love letter from our father. Our father is the being who created not just us but every thing that exists including time and space and light and darkness.

Because of misuse and abuse some of us discount or discredit the Bible. We call it many things, we malign it, we return abuse on it, or worse, we ignore it.

I was born into 20th century America and I now live in 21st century America. We are being called a post Christian society. We have forgotten about our fathers love letter to us.

One of my goals in life is to reacquaint my contemporaries, the people I live and work with, the folks and families, those people who my kids and my grandkids will be living and working with after I’m gone, to know about the letter, the love letter that my Father, our father has written to us all.

There a line in the letter that sums up the message succinctly.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

John 3:16-17

God not only proclaims his love for us he has shown it by sending his son Jesus to pay the price that is required by God to reconcile us back to Himself. Why do we need to be reconciled?God does loves us but we have been separated from him by a thing called sin. Sin isn’t just bad things we do, but it’s in our very nature. We can’t get rid of it or do good to appease him for it. We are powerless, but God, being God could sacrifice himself by offering up his one and only son Jesus to die in our place. This one act covered all people for all time. All that is left to do is to accept the gift.

In another place in God’s love letter to us it says this in order to explain how to grab hold of this wonderful offer; “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”’

Romans 10:9-11

Bloom where you’re planted, unless you are dead.

John 11

Bloom where you are planted, unless you are dead.

“17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles[b] from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.

32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”’

This week some famous people died. George Beverly Shea, 104. Chyna, 46. Prince, 57. My uncle Delvin passed away recently. He was buried next to my parents who both died in 2003, January and June. I stood on the ground that covers my parents remains.

Most people once dead stay dead.

Or do we?

“25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”’

This is the question we all must ask ourselves: Do we believe this?

Jesus will show his authority over death by raising Lazarus. And it won’t be long in our reading of John before Jesus himself is put to death. But death couldn’t hold him.

The questions remain.

Who is this Jesus?

Do we believe him?

I do.

Note: yesterday I posted a picture of myself in front of my truck Rusty. Both of us, Rusty and were dead, but brought back to life. I was clinically dead after being in a car accident. With Rusty it’s s figure if speech with me it’s a fact. Miraculously I came back to life.

Jesus remembers us.

John 11

Wait, what?

“Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, 7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

8 “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”

9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”

11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”

12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.

14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”

16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”’

There are a couple of things that happen here that make me scratch my head.

Jesus said that the sickness wouldn’t end in death but Lazarus dies. But it doesn’t end there.

Lord willing I’ll talk more about that tomorrow.

The second thing is that John mentions a thing about Mary washing and anointing Jesus’ feet as if he had already told us about it but it doesn’t get written in until the next chapter.

I have often felt that in the story of my life I only play a minor supporting role. In the credits of “Peters life, the movie” towards the end, right before they thank the caterers and the city of Ephrata there will be “and Peter Loeffelbein”.

I think lazarus’ sister Mary may have felt that way about her life but her simple act of ministering to Jesus was so well known that John could reference it before he had written it.

I think this says our service to Jesus may be more significant than we know. He remembers it all.

Do the right thing and do it for the right reason and for the right person.

Do it for Jesus. And keep doing it because he remembers it all. Keep serving him. Love people. Serve people. Keep going. He remembers it. He remembers us. It is significant.

We are significant to him.

God’s kids

I am a Father and a grandfather. My children are now having families of their own. To these little people, I am not the disciplinarian bringing the spanking spoon, I am the treats and gifts toting snuggle and play person.

It may be strange to think about this but God has no grand children. Each generation born must be born again into his family.

“And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him. See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.”

1 John 2:28-3:3

Each generation much choose to follow Jesus on their own. God becomes the father of my children and he is becoming the father of my Grandkids as they receive Jesus as their personal savior and give their lives to him.

Last night we had a family crisis and we prayed together with our kids but we prayed as God’s kids. We were 2 generations and yet We prayed to our Father and their Father and their children’s Father. He answered in a way that is better than I could have hoped for.

Thank you Father for hearing our prayers and answering. Thank you that you take us, each person where we are, that you forgive our mistakes and accept us into your family as your children. And thank you for loving us lavishly which includes discipline and correction.