Paul wanted to remind the people in Ephesus that the secret to living by faith is to focus on the author of that faith and not on these present circumstances. Paul encouraged the Ephesians to approach God freely and with confidence. They did not have to perform any rituals or have a secret code. God remains present and ready to hear prayers and prepare, protect and provide for His own in any and all circumstances.
Next, Paul reminded these people that this was not about him (Paul). He prayed for the well being of the Ephesians. Paul was in prison, in Rome and facing martyrdom–but he prayed for these people. He prayed for their well being, but more importantly, he prayed that the Ephesians would grasp the volume, the depth, and the vastness of God’s love for them. This God that could do exceedingly, abundantly and immeasurably more than men can imagine stood ready to minister to His chosen.
That same God stands arms held open wide for us today. He is still God, He is still great, and he can still do immeasurably more than we can imagine. If we could grasp the volume, the depth and the vastness of God’s love for us; then, we would come before the Lord with confidence and lay our lives, our concerns, and our sin on the altar for the Lord to take. We would walk by faith and trust God to do as He has promised, never forgetting that He alone is God! If we will grasp that truth; we will be able to walk in peace and confidence, knowing that God has got this.
God Bless You
12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.
A Prayer for the Ephesians
14 For this reason, I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 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 Lord’s holy people, 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.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.
It was simple, Paul was sick of the roadshow evangelists touting their difficult journies. They had it so tough. They would come to the churches with tales of adventure about God delivering them to preach the gospel. Paul was sick of it. If it was modern days, Paul simply would have said–“it is not about you!”. Instead, Paul tells the Corinthians where God had taken him. Once a Jewish star, now beaten, starved, stoned, naked, and shipwrecked. There was nothing glamorous about Paul’s missionary journies. That was his point–The journey was about honoring and sharing Christ.
In our lives, it is still about honoring God and sharing the gospel with any and everyone who would listen. We conduct our lives in a manner worthy of Christ, but, we do not shift the focus from Him to ourselves. Paul was trying to state the obvious–If we make it about ourselves, then why bring Christ into it at all. We need to live lives that honor God. We do not need to receive awards for that, we simply need to trust God to prepare us, protect us and to provide for our needs. If we will, as we humbly seek the Lord, He will use us in ways we never would have imagined. That is the reward–not what we receive, but what we leave behind as a legacy to Him.
God Bless You
Whatever anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?
30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me.33 But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands.
Paul next took on another difficult issue–variance in the Gospel. Many Jewish Christians of the time were displeased that the Gospel spread to the Gentiles. There was a council called in Jerusalem and the leadership (Which included Peter, James, and John as well as Paul and others) agreed after much prayer and discussion, that the Gentile Christians were only responsible to accept Christ and follow Him. They were not subject to Jewish circumcision or dietary laws.
So as Paul returned to the mission field, he was being followed and criticized by these Jewish Christians. They claimed that for the Gentile Christians to be truly saved, they had to follow Jewish tradition, dietary and circumcision law. So Paul was being discredited as an apostle and as a teacher. In the process, people were being drawn away from following Christ and causing division. So, Paul was calling those teachers out as frauds and telling the church that the gospel remained simply to know Christ and to follow him. It required nothing extra. It was bad enough that they were undermining Paul’s ministry, but, they were also teaching doctrines that simply did not line up with the truth.
Then and now, our salvation comes from accepting Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives–nothing more. There is no dress code, dietary law, traditional holiday to follow–we simply need to trust God and follow Christ. Amazingly, that looks different to different people. Some walk-in freedom to eat or drink in moderation; while others abstain from certain food or drink. Some folks dance and go to movies–while others completely refrain from those forms entertainment. Bottom line–salvation is still knowing Christ personally and following Him daily. If He leads you to live a structured and disciplined life, awesome! If he leads you to relax and enjoy socializing in the world–great. We are neither to judge or condemn.
Jesus said it best, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness–and all these things will be added to you!” Matthew 6:33
God Bless You
I hope you will put up with me in a little foolishness. Yes, please put up with me! 2 I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. 3 But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.
5 I do not think I am in the least inferior to those “super-apostles.”[a] 6 I may indeed be untrained as a speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way. 7 Was it a sin for me to lower myself in order to elevate you by preaching the gospel of God to you free of charge? 8 I robbed other churches by receiving support from them so as to serve you. 9 And when I was with you and needed something, I was not a burden to anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied what I needed. I have kept myself from being a burden to you in any way and will continue to do so. 10 As surely as the truth of Christ is in me, nobody in the regions of Achaia will stop this boasting of mine.11 Why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!
It is difficult to do life. Everyday pressures, expectations, and circumstances wear us down and push us to the edge. It was the same during Paul’s time. People were doing jobs, getting married, raising kids and dealing with life’s pressures and without technology. In the midst of that, Paul tells the people do not be unequally yoked. As a married couple, it is critical to be aligned. in life, we need to be aligned with those we count on to walk through life with us. If we are not, it adds a layer of complexity in an already complex situation. Is it doable, sure! Is it difficult–you bet! Bottom line Paul told the Corinthians–get aligned.
In our time, it is equally important to be aligned. Believers should consider faith as a critical component for marriage. If a couple does not share the same faith, it will mean strife at every major event. Going through a crisis together and aligned is often the only thing that allows the family to pass through to the other side. There is little in the world that encourages such alignment. Yet, when we see families aligned in faith, there is so much more harmony and unity in good and bad times. They operate with a purpose and a perspective that is bigger than themselves. In Paul’s time and now, folks must consider faith a critical component in choosing a life partner and in raising a family!
God Bless You
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial[b]? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“I will live with them
and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they will be my people.”[c]
“Come out from them
and be separate,
says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
and I will receive you.”[d]
“I will be a Father to you,
and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”[e]
Paul is serving up two messages this day. The first message is that the light of God is delivered to those that would believe in a very straight forward way. There are no tricks, nor is there a lot of pomp and ceremony. The truth is simply that God loves us, but, our sin has separated us from that love. Christ came and revealed God’s love to us and then demonstrated it by His death, burial and resurrection. We must accept God’s gift and follow Christ to restore the relationship with God and have eternal life. While the message is simple, many are blinded to that truth simply because they are not willing to submit or believe in the spiritual aspect of life.
The second message is equally critical–as messengers, we are like jars of clay. We are neither glamorous nor are we impervious to the attacks of life or of our enemy Satan. What is more, as we follow God, we can be assured that we will be pressed down on every side–but not crushed. We will seem perplexed–but not in complete despair. We will be persecuted–but, not abandoned-He will walk through it with us!!! We will be struck down–but not destroyed! We will be containers full of Christ’s Gospel–ready to die; knowing that even in our death–Christ’s gift of life will be revealed. It is so much bigger than us, so we must live ready to do whatever it takes to reveal Christ to all who might believe!!!
God Bless You
Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”[a] made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
Paul was struggling with the idea of returning to Corinth. He had initially intended to return, but, the issues he raised in his first letter were difficult and left many angry and upset. So Paul decided to forgo a second trip. Paul still wanted this young church to know, however, that they were a valuable church and He loved and prayed ceaselessly for them. So Paul, simply put, said it is time to forgive and move on. He agreed to forgive anyone that challenged him and asked the Corinthians to do the same. It was not worth the pain and anguish of losing their friendship or their faith to battle. So Move on and move forward.
In our lives, no matter our depth of faith, We also face times and challenges that leave us hurt and wondering if we can continue to move forward. Like Paul, we must carefully evaluate whether such hurt or disappointment is worth the cost of losing our ministry and mission. If we look at the world through the eyes of grace, it is often better to forgive and move forward even after things seem unforgivable. We, like Paul, need simply to lay the anger and hurt on God’s alter and allow him to restore and heal that which seems broken beyond repair. If we will, we can see God’s miraculous work and know He can do what we cannot!
God Bless You
So I made up my mind that I would not make another painful visit to you. 2 For if I grieve you, who is left to make me glad but you whom I have grieved? 3 I wrote as I did so that when I came I would not be distressed by those who should have made me rejoice. I had confidence in all of you, that you would all share my joy. 4 For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you.
Forgiveness for the Offender
5 If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent—not to put it too severely. 6 The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. 7 Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.9 Another reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. 10 Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, 11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.
Love never fails, or ends! Paul continued his discussion about spiritual gifts, He wanted to shift the focus from the manifestation of the gifts, and return the discussion to the true gift. Love is God’s greatest gift to us and for us. Without Love, life loses all its luster and purpose. God designed people to be in relationship with him and with each other. The common theme in that design is the gift os Love. So Paul encouraged the Corinthians to see the word from the perspective of God’s chosen and not focus on tongues, prophecy leadership or one of the other spiritual gifts but to instead focus upon Love. When God’s people can focus upon him and his love, then the outpouring of the gifts are abundant. Christians use the gifts to serve God and His people. They were never supposed to be the prize, they were to be the tools to lead the world to God, the real prize.
In our lives, God has shown us that it is the same. In the midst of a chaotic culture, those who are faithful, hopeful and loving are the ones that truly experience peace and purpose. Whether or not they are doing miraculous things or simply laying their lives down for Christ and the family of God, God gets the glory and we enjoy his grace and power. We cannot fully understand God’s plan for our lives. It is so much bigger than we conceptualize. But if we trust him,(Faith), remain hopeful (Hope) and love Him (love); then he will pour out his blessings in our lives and prepare us to be a light and a guide to others. Let’s cling to the great gifts–Faith, Hope, and Love and allow him to reveal other gifts in His timing!
God Bless You
8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.12 For now, we see in a mirror dimly but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.