Ephesians 1:15

Here is my commentary on Ephesians 1:15. I am publishing these once or twice a week, but you can read all of the available articles at our web-site.

Ephesians 1:15

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love to all the saints…

To Paul the christians in Ephesus are legends! Paul has heard of them in other places, particularly in Rome where he is in prison. Hundred of kilometres away, people are bringing him reports of the faith and love of the christians in Ephesus.

They didn’t seek fame, but were just doing what God was leading them into. Perhaps this was rare enough even in the early days of the church to be noteworthy.

I have been on the receiving end of this kind of praise. A few times our church has been wonderfully generous in projects which have come to the attention of agencies and even of governments overseas. We just did what the Lord laid on our hearts, expecting that this is just normal.

Paul hears great reports about the church in Ephesus. Yet in Revelation they are warned to return to their first love or they would have the lamp removed from its lamp stand. Ephesians was written about 62 AD while Revelation was probably written late in that same decade.

It is so easy to lose the edge, the joy of our salvation, the first love for Jesus. We must protect our hearts lest we grow cold in our love for the Lord.

The Ephesian saints were famous for their faith in the Lord Jesus. There was something that st apart this faith from normal every day faith. They knew that they knew that Jesus was their Lord. They had committed their lives into His hands. They were “All in”, holding nothing back.

Jesus was their focal point, their heart’s desire, their first love. They trusted Jesus, were faithful to Jesus, believed in Him– as the true Lord, the true Redeemer, the true friend.

The Ephesians were also famous for their love for all the saints. The word for love here is agape which is the God- shaped love that knows no discouragement or refusal, but insists on only wanting what is good for the other person. This church was invested in the whole church.

They loved one another first of all. They made sure that nobody was in need. They shared all that they had with those who had nothing. They gave themselves to each other, being Christ for one another.

The Ephesians loved all the saints. This suggests that they looked beyond their own organisation, beyond their own city. We know that Paul helped to organise appeals among the churches to help those who were going through hardship such as famine. Perhaps the Ephesians were the first to step up, being an example to “all the saints” of how to show love to “all the saints.”

Key points from this verse:

• The Ephesian christians were legendary across the Roman Empire
• They had extraordinary faith in Jesus and love for the saints.

Reflection on John 12:20-36

Scripture

“The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

Observation

Some Greek Jews ask Philip to take them to Jesus which, along with Andrew, he does.

Jesus says that His time to be glorified has arrived. A seed must die in the ground to multiply. A person who loves his life will lose his life.

Jesus calls out, “Father glorify your name.” A voice from heaven answers Him. Some of the onlookers hear it as thunder, while others say that an angel spoke to Jesus.

Jesus goes on to say that they have their light with them for just a short time. He urges them to put their trust in the light so they may become sons of light.

Application

The person who lives as though this life is all there is will ultimately lose their life. The person who lives for eternity will gain eternal life.

Many people, even christians, are consumed with the things of the world- career, marriage, family, housing. These things are important, but must not be the focus of our attention.

Many people talk about work- life balance. What is the point about juggling career and family when all of it will pass away so quickly?

We need to put God’s will at the centre of all our thinking. If you are to be a doctor or engineer, electrician or mechanic, do it all for God’s glory.

If God calls us to move to another town or another country, let’s do it because it is God directing us not our personal ambition or the directive of some boss.

Jesus tells us to “hate” our life in this world. He doesn’t mean that literally, but He is saying that what we do for Him must be more important than the concerns and worries of this life.

He also promises that if we seek His Kingdom and His righteousness, then He will provide all the other things for us.

Prayer

Lord it is so easy to be captivated by the things of this world. Please help me to let go of these things and let you direct every part of my life. Amen.

Reflection on John 12:11-19

Scripture

Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word.

Observation

Jesus enters Jerusalem for the Passover Feast. The great crowd that had gathered for the Festival meet Him, take up palm branches and shout “Hosanna!”

Jesus rides through the crowd on a donkey to fulfil Zechariah’s prophecy.

The crowd that had seen Lazarus raised form the dead continue to spread the word about Jesus, but the Pharisees be come more desperate as they say, “the whole world has gone after him!”

Application

The ongoing reaction of people to the miracle of Jesus being raised from the dead is a thorn in the flesh for the Pharisees. They claim that “the whole world” is following Jesus because of the witness of these people.

One of the the themes of John’s gospel is the power of testimony. Here we see it again as people are wanting to follow Jesus because others have told them what they saw.

My testimony is powerful because nobody can contradict it. It happened to me. I was there. My life since I met with Christ testifies to the transforming. power of salvation.

We can argue about theology, spirituality or philosophy. Everyone is entitled to an opinion. Nobody can argue with my testimony.

The reason why the gospel spreads so rapidly and continues to impact lives is simple. It is true experientially. Countless millions of people around the world agree. Jesus is alive. He was dead but now He is alive.

Prayer

Thank you God for the reality of the gospel. Thank you for this relationship I have with you that changes everything. Amen.

Reflection on John 12:1-10

Scripture

Mary took a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she wiped it on Jesus’ feet, and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

Observation

Lazarus, Mary and Martha hold a feast in honour of Jesus. During the meal, Mary takes a pint of expensive perfume and pours it on Jesus’ feet. The fragrance fills the house.

Judas asks why the perfume wasn’t sold to give to the poor. Jesus tells him to leave Mary alone.

Meanwhile a large crowd gathers to see both Jesus and Lazarus. The chief priest make plans to kill Lazarus as well as Jesus.

Application

In a sacrificial act of worship, Mary poured out expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet, and the fragrance of it filled the house.

True worship will always be costly. It may carry a financial cost as we sow into God’s kingdom. A bottle of perfume worth a year’s wages is an extravagant act of worship.

Mary’s worship was costly in terms of her reputation and people’s opinions of her. She didn’t care about that. She poured out her love for Jesus in a way that seemed excessive to all who did not have a heart for worship.

Worship is about honouring Jesus. The whole feast was about Jesus, not the quality of the food or the living standards of the hosts. When we allow our adoration of Jesus to be side-stepped by the choice of songs or the noise of children, we have missed the point. We must focus on Jesus.

There is a fragrance about sincere, heart-felt worship. It fills the house, even the city, and it transform the neighbourhood. It can do nothing less.

Judas was not impressed. He didn’t see that Jesus, the Son of God, was worthy of honour. He found self-righteous reasons to justify his lack of worship, but he missed the point because his heart was not right.

Prayer

Lord, teach me to worship you extravagantly all my life. Amen.

Reflection on John 10:22-42

Scripture

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

Observation

At the Feast of Dedication, the Jewish leaders again confront Jesus. They demand that Jesus tell them plainly that He is the Christ.

Jesus replies that He has already said plainly that He is the Christ, and that His miracles confirm this. The problem is that they do not hear His voice because they are not His sheep.

The Jews try to seize Jesus to stone Him, but He evades them and goes back to the Jordan, where many believe in Him.

Application

To be a follower or a sheep of Jesus means that we recognise His voice. There are several ways of doing this:

1. Through the Bible. The Bible is God’s word to us. It reveals His nature, His desire to set us free from sin, and His will for the way we should live.

2. Through the preaching of the Word and the worship of the community of faith. The local church is a great focal point for seeing how God’s people live, and also for pointing out the blind spots in our understanding.

3. The Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit dwells in the heart of every true believer. He is the voice of Christ inside us, guiding us into righteousness, convicting us of sin, and raising our consciousness of our ability and opportunities to serve Christ.

4. The extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit such as prophecy and words of knowledge. The Holy Spirit speaks to us in the “still, small voice”, speaking directly into specific situations. Sometimes other people will bring to us a word that confirms what God has already been saying to us, or perhaps sparking something new about the direction we should take.

In all of these ways, the Lord never contradicts Himself, and our main check should be the Scriptures. God will never tell you to commit adultery or to steal; but He will give you insights into loving Him and the people around you more.

Prayer

Thank you Lord that you speak often to us. Help me to recognise your voice. Amen