In my Bible Journaling I focused on Ephesians 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” The study I am doing focused on the fact that we have spiritual blessings. Most of us, when we talk about blessings, usually highlight physical or material things, and rarely mention the blessings God has given us spiritually. I know I have a tendency to think more of God’s goodness materially than I do what He has given me spiritually.
As we read through the first chapter of Ephesians, Paul outlines some of those spiritual blessings. First, in verse 4, the Apostle Paul says that God chose us before the foundations of the world. Think of that! God chose to have us in His family before He ever created the earth and man. How awesome is that?! The verse goes on to say that the reason He chose us was so that we could be blameless before Him, and He did it out of love. At this time of the year, there are so many people who feel unloved and neglected. Christmas is a very hard time for them. Lost loved ones, dysfunctional families, strained relationships, health problems…the reasons run the gamut. But there is One who loves us unconditionally, and His Gift, the Gift of His Son, was given because of His great love for us!
The second blessing Paul lists in verse 5. It says we are predestined to become a part of His family. He adopted us through Christ, to become His children. The notation in my Bible says that predestined means “marked out in advance.” Before God created us, He marked us as His. Now, I don’t want to get into a huge theological discussion about predestination, because there are varying views. But the way I see it, yes God predestined us to be His, but the decision to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior is still up to us. God gave us free will, so we aren’t forced into being a Christian. In my mind, the thought that God loved me so much that He wanted me to be His child before He ever created me, is too awesome for words!
The third blessing is found in verse 6. “For the praise of the glory of his grace, ‘wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.’” His grace is a huge blessing! If not for God’s grace, we would have no hope, no future, no eternal life. I found a definition of grace online, and it said the word “grace” “comes from the Hebrew word, CHEN, and literally means favor, to bend or stoop in kindness to another as a superior to an inferior.” It also said that God’s grace has been termed “unmerited favor”, “but it is more than an attitude of favor or mercy.” (Taken from Wikibooks) Grace is given, not because of anything we have done, because we can’t earn it, but it is given to us because of God’s great love to us.
The fourth Spiritual blessing is found in verse 7, where Paul says that as Believers we have redemption through the blood of Jesus for forgiveness of sin, “according to the riches of his grace.” My Bible notation says that redemption refers to the release of a slave or captive upon receipt of ransom. But Paul speaks of the forgiveness of sins, and the notation says that redemption in this case is used in a moral sense. So that, Christians are released from being slaves to sin and God’s wrath, and because of Jesus’ shed blood on the cross, we are free from sin and redeemed.
In Ephesians 1:8, Paul says that God has given us His grace which consists of wisdom and prudence (or insight). My Bible says this verse can read, “He lavished upon us this grace which consists in all wisdom and prudence.” He lavished this upon us, which to me, means He loves us so much, that He gave us wisdom and insight, over and above anyone else. Wisdom and insight, or as I understand it, discernment, are things that God grants us, that we need to live a holy, consecrated life before Him. The sign of a mature Christian is wisdom, understanding, and discernment. The ability to sense the right and wrong course of action, whether it be in action, speaking, or in attitude.
The next blessing is found in verse 11, “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” Paul says God has given us an inheritance. My Bible notation says that this verse can also read, “by whom we were also made an inheritance.” Meaning, we are treasured by God. The Bible says that we are the apple of His eye. We are His special creation, and because of this, He wants to provide and care for us as His special anointed ones.
Spiritual blessing number seven is found in verse 12, where we find our purpose and the result of that purpose. “That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.” Our purpose is to be His praise! We should give Him glory. Why? The rest of the verse tells us, because of the change Christ as made in our lives after we have trusted in Him. Praise and worship is one of our functions.
Verse 13 tells us that we are sealed by the Holy Spirit! What a blessing that is! God has placed a hedge around us, and kept us as His own. The evidence of this is that we receive the Holy Spirit the minute we accept Jesus as our Lord, Master, and Savior. My Bible notation says that in Bible times a seal denoted ownership and protection. We are under the protection of God!
The last blessing is found in verse 14, “Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” My Bible notation states that this verse means that our salvation is guaranteed. The Holy Spirit is called “the earnest of our inheritance”, much like you would think of a down payment of a loan, you put up “earnest money” as an installment of your loan payment and guarantee that you will pay off the loan. God has guaranteed that our salvation is paid in full! Our salvation was bought and paid for through the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross.
In my mind, Christmas and Easter are all tied up together. Without Jesus coming as a Baby in a manger to a virgin in Bethlehem, there would be no Easter. Without Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection from the dead, there would be no need of Christmas. The story is complete. God’s miraculous plan was fashioned before the beginning of time. His love for mankind is so vast, no one can comprehend it all.
To think that He would provide a way of salvation from sin at the very beginning of creation, sacrifice His Own Son for us, and desire a relationship with us, is beyond all imagination. How blessed we are to have that kind of a God!
For those of you who have never asked Jesus to become your Savior and Lord, Christmas is the perfect time! The Bible says, “Now is the day of salvation.” (II Corinthians 6:2 KJV) Sin has separated mankind from God, and broken the relationship between God and man. But, through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, His death for your sin, He paid the penalty and bore your sin. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” And Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (KJV) Jesus took that penalty of death for your sin and mine. John 1:12 says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” (NASB) But, He isn’t a bully, demanding your acceptance of Him. He is a gentleman, and He waits patiently, knocking on your heart’s door, waiting for you to open your heart to Him and invite Him in. Revelation 3:20 says, Behold I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come into him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” That means He will enter your life, live in and through you, and change you into the person He created you to be…pure and holy before God. Praying and asking Him is as easy as talking to your best friend. You don’t need flowery language, just pour out your heart and tell Him everything. Tell Him you know you are a sinner in need of His grace, accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, ask for His forgiveness, and then promise to follow Him all the days of your life. The Bible also says that once we have made that commitment to Christ, we must confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our heart that God raised Him from the dead, then we shall be saved. (Romans 10:9) Then, we are to tell others. Jesus says in Luke 12:8 and 9, “Also I say unto you, Whosever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God.”
I hope you take that step of faith and accept Him. It will be the best decision you ever made. What a way to start a new year, starting a new life with Christ! Merry Christmas and may God bless you!