July 4, 2010

All Things Wise and Wonderful: Discovering the Riches of Christ (Week Three Lesson)

Can you believe we have completed half of our study? Time goes by so quickly…especially in the summer. I recorded this message early since we are spending the Fourth of July in the mountains of North Carolina with my Aunt and her husband. You never know if you will get internet connections up there! It is a wonderful place to visit in the heat of the summer.

Your words continue to amaze me as you share how God is using His Word to penetrate your hearts and minds just as we prayed so many weeks ago. Hebrews 4:12 tells us His Word is living and active, and you are living this Truth each and every time you dig into His Word and hear Him speak.

In this week’s homework, we talk about giftedness. Paul teaches us about the gifts God gives each one of us. You will learn to identify your giftedness and discover ways you can use that giftedness. There is no greater joy spiritually than operating in your area of giftedness.

I teach a Bible study here in Charlotte. At the end our study this year, one of the small groups gave me a gift basket full of the most beautiful treasures…all created by an artist named Sandy Thomson. I absolutely loved her work and contacted her personally to tell her how much I appreciated her work. As I was preparing for this study, God brought Sandy to mind again. She has found her giftedness…an extraordinary giftedness…and uses it for His glory. You can visit her web site at http://www.sandythomsondesign.com/. She has graciously agreed to allow me to give away a few of her creations. From the comments left today, we will select two winners.

Below please find the third lesson and the homework and reading assignment for next week. Don’t forget you can subscribe by e-mail and receive this post in your in-box each week by clicking on the link in my sidebar. However, you will not be able to see the videos or comments unless you visit my blog directly at http://www.wendyblight.com/.


Reading Assignment: Ephesians Chapter Four

Homework Questions: Please do as many questions as time allows. It is in your reading and studying that God will do His greatest work.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, my Redeemer and Savior, the Great I Am Who is the same Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow I come before You today inviting You into my lesson. Lord, You brought me to this study to teach me, grow me, and make me more like You. Please guide me into all wisdom and understanding. Open the eyes of my heart that I may see and UNDERSTAND the wonderful Truths in Your Word. Father, take my hungry and thirsty heart and fill it full. Through the power of Your Holy Spirit enable me to discern what it is You are speaking to me personally. Take away my pride, my fear, my hurt and work in me. Father, take these lessons and help them to make me more like You. Give me a pure and holy passion, Lord, to know and follow hard after You. Convict me when You have a Word to speak to me and make my heart tender to change and obey. Father, thank You that You love me unconditionally, and want only the very best for my life. I ask this in the Name of Your Son, Jesus, trusting You will be faithful with what I have entrusted You. Amen.

1.In Ephesians Chapters 1-3, Paul shares what God has done for us. In Ephesians Chapters 4-6, Paul tells us what we can do for God. In other words, Paul teaches us how to take what we have learned and apply it in our everyday living. After praying for unity among believers, Paul now shows us how to walk together in that unity as one body. In Ephesians 4:1 Paul writes, “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” What do you think Paul means by this?

2. Read Colossians 1:3-12.

a. What is the reason Paul is praying? (hint: 1:4)

b. What is Paul praying for them?

c. Why does Paul pray this for them?

3. In Ephesians 4:1-3, identify five ways Paul says we can live worthy of our calling.

4. Ephesians 4:7 says, “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.” In this verse, grace refers to a special endowment that brings responsibility for service. God created each one of us to function in the body of Christ in a special way through His enablement/giftedness.

a. Read Ephesians 3:7-8. What is Paul’s giftedness?

b. Have you ever thought about your giftedness? In what areas do you generally volunteer to serve?

c. What volunteer work brings you the most joy? Why?

5. Okay, were you totally confused by the reference in Ephesians 4:8 and verses 8-10? Me too!! Two commentators, Matthew Henry being one, write that Paul was not quoting one particular verse of Psalm 68. Rather, he wanted his audience to know the essence of Psalm 68 which is that a military victor has the right to give gifts to those who are identified with him. Thus, Christ, having captivated sinful people by redeeming them, is Victor and gives them as gifts to the church. He gives gifts to His church body to do works of service so that the whole body becomes united and mature.

a. If you are a member of a church, identify different areas of giftedness being utilized at your church. (Ephesians 4:11-12).

b. Are you equipped for service in your church? If so, what service are you doing?

c. If you answered “no” to (b) above, what equipping do you need to begin to serve in your church body? Where can you go to receive that equipping?

d. In what other areas of your life can you use your giftedness to serve the Lord?

6. If you looked at the list in Ephesians 4:11 and thought none of those fit me, don’t be discouraged. This verse speaks more of gifted believers given to the church. But there are many other gifts God gives to His children that we can use to serve the church. Read 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, 28 and Romans 12:6-8. The totality of the three passages in Ephesians, 1 Corinthians, and Romans identify all the spiritual gifts mentioned in the New Testament.

Dr. David Jeremiah teaches that spiritual gifts are tied by language to the grace of God. The Greek Word for grace is “charis,” and the Greek word for spiritual gift is “charisma,” a grace-gift. Don’t you love that??? God uniquely created you and me with special gifts of His grace that only we can do to serve Him.

a. List the spiritual gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, 28.

b. List the spiritual gifts listed in Romans 12:6-8.

c. How many total gifts did you identify from the three passages?

d. Read 1 Peter 4:10-11? What is listed here?

7. Now that you have read all the passages, and in light of what you answered in Question Number 4 (b) and (c), what spiritual gift or gifts do you believe you have?

a. How did you identify them?

b. Are you currently using your gift(s)? If yes, how?

c. What blessing have you noticed when you share your gift with others?

d. What blessing do you receive when you share your gift with others?

e. Before the end of our study, will you commit to use your spiritual gift or gifts at least once to bless another. Prayerfully invite the Lord into this exercise. For example, if you have the gift of encouragement, pray for the Lord to reveal names of one or more people in your life who need encouragement. Write a note, drop an e-mail, or make a call to that person. Journal how the Lord uses your obedience. Share what you did so we can all celebrate with you!

8. Paul has finished discussing unity in the church and beginning in Ephesians 4:17 enters into a discussion of purity and how essential it is among those who call themselves children of God. For us, we now move into the PRACTICAL part of Paul’s letter. The remainder of Chapter 4 tells us how to live as children of Light in this world of darkness. Read verses 17-24.

a. Read 1 Peter 4:1-5, focusing on verse 2. How does Peter divide two categories of desires in this culture?

b. Contrast the two categories and explain how daily living differs for them. Use examples from your own life, people you know, or celebrities.

c. Consider Ephesians 2:1-3 along with the 1 Peter passage. What specifically are the evil (pre-Christian) things that godless people enjoy? What controls their decisions? To what and where does this kind of life lead?

d. What does Peter warn his audience about in 1 Peter 4:4?

9. Read 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. Who does Paul say will not inherit the Kingdom of God?

a. Don’t you think it interesting that Paul begins verse 9 with a question: “Don’t you realize?” in the New Living Translation and “Do you not know?” in the NIV. Why do you think he began with that particular question to his audience?

b. List the practices of those who will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

10. Read 1 Corinthians 6:11. What is the key word (verb) Paul uses in the very first sentence in verse 11? There is hope! God does save and sanctify ALL people no matter their background, no matter their sin.

a. According to verse 11, what three things happen when one who lives an unholy lifestyle repents, asks forgiveness, and turns her life around?

b. So what about the person who claims to be a Christian yet still chooses to participate in the activities listed in verse 9-10?

c. In your own life, if you have accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, how has your life changed? Do some things remain a temptation for you? How do you deal with them?

11. Scripture teaches that as children of God we are “holy,” set apart for God. Paul writes in Ephesians 4:24 that we are created to be like God in true righteousness and “holiness.” Read the following verses and share what you learn about holiness.

a. Ephesians 1:4

b. Ephesians 2:21-22

c. Hebrews 2:10-11

d. Hebrews 10:10

e. 1 Peter 1:15-16

f. 1 Peter 2:9

12. Read Ephesians 2:25. Let’s talk a bit about truthfulness. Read the following passages and share what you learn.

a. Proverbs 12:17

b. Proverbs 14:5, 25

c. Proverbs 19:5

d. Proverbs 23:23

d. Proverbs 25:18

f. Proverbs 30:8

g. John 14:6

h. James 5:19-20

i. 1 John 1 6-7

j. 2 John 4

k. 3 John 3, 4

13. Read John 8:42-47.

a. What do Jesus’ words tell us about Satan and who he is?

b. What is the distinction between those who listen to God and those who don’t?

c. I believe Jesus’ words in John 8:44 are a wake-up call and a warning for His children. How can you take Jesus’ words and apply them in your own life?

14. Write out Ephesians 4:30. What does it mean? What does this say about the Holy Spirit Himself?

15. Let’s end this week reading Ephesians 4:32. I encourage you to write the verse below, spend the next five to ten minutes memorizing it, and find ways to live this verse out in your life this week. Journal what you experience and share what you learn.

Lets end our time together in prayer:

Heavenly Father, through the power of Your Holy Spirit enable me hold my tongue this week. I commit my heart, my tongue, my facial expressions, and my actions to you. I surrender my right to be right. Place on me a special anointing of Your kindness and compassion so that I may love others the way You love me. Father, create in me a clean heart, a pure heart that will not seek my own way. Give me eyes to see and hear what You would have me do. Father, bless my efforts and show me You are pleased with my desire to live according to Your Word. I ask this in the Name of Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who died for me. Amen.

Blessings to you today,

June 27, 2010

All Things Wise and Wonderful: Discovering the Riches of Christ (Week Two Lesson)

Wow, another incredible week of sharing! Thank you for continuing to post your comments. How you girls encourage and pray for one another though you live miles, even nations, apart blesses me.

This on-line study represents one of the most unique teaching opportunities I have ever experienced. I am so grateful God has allowed me to be a small part of what He is doing in your lives in and through His Word.

I continue to be on my knees on your behalf, thanking God for you…praying that His Word will fall powerfully upon each one of you…praying that He will give you ears to hear, eyes to see, and a mind to conceive every Word….binding in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord any attempt of the enemy to thwart what God has planned for you.

Below please find the second lesson and the homework and reading assignment for next week. Don’t forget you can subscribe by e-mail and receive this post in your in-box each week by clicking on the link in my sidebar. However, you will not be able to see the videos or comments unless you visit my blog directly at http://www.wendyblight.com/.

If you are having trouble reading and posting comments, here a some instructions.
To access the comments, scroll down to the end of my post. You will see that it says “58 comments” (or some number of comments). Click on that. It will take you again to my post, but this time when you scroll down you will see all the comments for that post at the end. Then at the end of the comments, you will see a box. Type your comments in the box. Then you can select “comment as,” which is how you want to comment. If you do not have a blog/Google/or some other type of account, select anonymous. Then click on “post comment,” and it should post your comment. Let me know if you have trouble.

Reading Assignment: Ephesians Chapter Three

Homework Questions: Please do as many questions as time allows. It is in your reading and studying that God will do His greatest work.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, Your Word tells me that You love me with an everlasting love, an unconditional, never-changing, all encompassing love. It is hard to understand that kind of love, Lord. As I spend time in Your Word this next week open my heart wide to receive this love. Help me to know how high and wide and deep and long Your love is for me. Show me in very real ways. And if there is anything in my heart that prevents me from experiencing Your love, Lord, please reveal it to me…past hurts, a sense of unworthiness, doubt, insecurity, shame…whatever it is, Lord, reveal it and help me to overcome it by the power of Your Word. Cleanse me, wash me, free me from anything that keeps me from growing closer to You. Empty me of the things that prevent me from being filled by You. Then, Lord, fill me to capacity with Your love. Make Yourself at home in my heart. Penetrate very nook and cranny. Leave no part untouched. In fact, God, I invite You to fill me to overflowing. Make it my desire to be so full that I can then share Your great love with those around me. Lord, make my time in Your Word this week sacred and pure…touch me in new and fresh ways. Renew a right spirit in me so that You can fill me and use me for Your glory and honor and praise. I ask this in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

1. Read Ephesians 1:9-10, Colossians 1:25-27, and Ephesians 3:3-6.

a. Paul speaks again in Ephesians Chapter 3 of a mystery. The mystery he refers to here is not like a Sherlock Holmes or Jessica Fletcher mystery. It is a truth hidden by God in times past now to be revealed according to His plan in His timing. One author called it a “sacred secret with a divine purpose.” What is the mystery here? (hint: Ephesians 3:6)

b. Why was this “plan” so radical?

Max Anders wrote this helpful statement to give us insight.

We have trouble understanding why Paul is making such a big deal out of this because we don’t understand the degree of separation that existed between the Jews and Gentiles. It is like saying that there will no longer be blacks and whites in South Africa…no longer Catholics and Protestants in [Norther] Ireland…no longer liberals and democrats in the United States.”

Think of the movie Invictus. Or maybe it helps you to think in terms of sports. It’s like saying there will no longer be Yankees and Red Sox fans, Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins fans, North Carolina Tarheel and Duke Bluedevil fans. It is like saying all these people are going to be one…and like it!!

c. What was Paul’s role with regard to this mystery?

2. Read Acts 2:42-47.

a. List specifically how the early church functioned?

b. Do you think that formula could work today? Why do you think modern-day churches differ so much from the early church?

3. Read Acts 9:1-19. Then focus on Acts 9:15, Acts 22:21, and Acts 26:15-18. What do each of these verses say about God’s call on Paul’s life. To whom did Christ specifically send Paul?

4. Why do you think God chose Paul, one of the worst persecutors of His people to carry the Gospel message to the Gentiles? What characteristics did God see in Paul (characteristics once used to persecute, now used to evangelize)?

5. Read Ephesians 3:12 and Hebrews 4:16.

a. What do these verses tell you?

b. Do you approach God with confidence? If you cannot answer “yes” to this question, explain what keeps you from feeling confident?

c. Does what you have learned these past few weeks give you greater confidence? Reread Ephesians 1:19-21. This same power that was available to Paul is available to you. So as you pray for the confidence to approach God with boldness, know you walk and pray in the power of the Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. Write your prayer below.

*If you already consistently and confidently approach the throne of grace with confidence, I invite you to write a prayer for someone you know who needs to know that same power in his/her life.

6. Read Ephesians 3:14-21. This passage is the second of two prayers recorded in Ephesians. You already studied Ephesians 1:15-23. The prayer in Chapter 3 is one of the most beautiful passages in all of Scripture. It deals with the spiritual condition of the “inner man”…the spiritual part of our beings. So often our prayers focus on our physical and material needs, and we forget to pray for the deep inner needs of our hearts. And never forget as you read this prayer that Paul wrote it from inside the four walls of a prison cell!

a. As you read verse 14, what is Paul’s posture as he prays?

b. Specifically, to whom does Paul address his prayer?

7. First, Paul prays for _______________. (Ephesians 3:16)

a. Write Paul’s words in Ephesians 3:16 below.

b. Read 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. Paul preached the Gospel of Christ for years, even at the risk of death. Relate this verse to Paul’s life, especially as he was writing this prayer. What motivated Paul?

c. Now take the 2 Corinthians verse and relate it to your own life. What is God speaking to you through these words? What motivates you?

8. Read Matthew 7:24-27.

a. Who does Jesus address in verse 24?

b. Who does He address in verse 26?

c. In these verses, Jesus specifically refers to “My teaching.” To what teaching is He referring?

d. What is the distinction between verses 24 and 26?

e. How is the presence of strength exhibited in verse 25?

f. How is the absence of strength exhibited in verse 27?

g. What Truth is God speaking into your life through these verses?

9. Based on how you handle adversity, which person are you most like in the Matthew 7 parable?

10. Ephesians 3:17b begins some of the most powerful words written by Paul.

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

**I love the New Living Translation

Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

a. What do these words speak to your heart?

b. What does Paul mean when He says Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust Him? Is Christ at home in your heart? If not, why not?

c. According to these verses, what happens when Christ is at home in your heart?

d. What is your part in this process…especially in helping your roots grow deeper?

11. The verb Paul uses is “rooted” (like a plant) and “established” (like a building) in love. The participles are in the perfect tense, indicating a past action (salvation) with continuing results (sanctification or becoming more and more like Christ). Read Psalm 1:3 and Jeremiah 17:5-8. Why is it imperative for Christians to be rooted and grounded in God’s love?

a. Give examples in the world today of people who are not grounded in God’s love? How is it reflected in their lives?

b. Now give examples of people who are rooted and grounded in God’s love? How is it reflected in their lives?

c. Share ways you can reflect God’s love in your life?

12. This question will take you on a bit of a journey. Visit the concordance in the back of your Bible and find at least five verses on God’s love. (The concordance is similar to an index and is located in the back of most Bibles. You look up verses by subject matter. For example, if you want to find a verse on “sin,” locate the word sin in the concordance. Underneath it you will find a list of verses containing the word sin). If you do not have a concordance, visit http://www.biblegateway.com/ and do a “keyword” search for love and find five verses. Don’t feel you have to stop at five…go as long as God leads you. Write the verses you find below.

13. In Ephesians 3:18, Paul prays that we would have the power to experientially know the love of Christ…to grasp the immensity of it…to really lay hold of it in our hearts and minds. What are the four ways Paul desires for us to experience God?

14. In Ephesians 3:19, Paul prays for us to be filled to the measure of the fullness of God. But if our lives are filled full with other things, we cannot be filled with the things of God. We must empty our hearts.

a. Do you need to empty your heart of anything? Invite the Lord to show you those things and prayerfully ask Him to empty your heart and begin His filling process.

b. Are there fruit and blessings that you desire fill your heart (mercy, patience, grace, peace, joy, hope, etc.)? Invite the Lord to give you a full and fresh filling of whatever it is you are seeking. Using the same method you used in Question 12, find verses and pray to know the fullness of those things in your life. God is eagerly waiting to fill you!!!

15. Finally, Ephesians 3:20 tells us that God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to His power that is at work within us…” Remember, Paul writes this in the context of unifying Jews and Gentiles…something that seemed utterly impossible at the time. But with God’s power of love in each believer’s life, Paul was confident and told his audience to confidently pray that the two could not only function together as one but also thrive together as one body. And when it happened, Paul said “to God be the glory in the church and in Jesus Christ throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen!”

Today, if you have something in your life that seems beyond repair, beyond hope, beyond change, will you believe God at His Word? Remember this power available to you raised Lazarus from the dead, healed the blind, made the lame to walk and the deaf to hear, and raised Jesus from the dead. Pray in faith. Find a friend, a mentor, a teacher, or a pastor or even one of us to join you in praying this prayer over your circumstances. Your God is FAITHFUL to keep His Word.

Sweet Blessings to you,

June 20, 2010

All Things Wise and Wonderful: Discovering the Riches of Christ (Week One Lesson)

What an amazing week this has been! Do you girls know that we now have over 1,800 women from across the globe studying God’s Word together? That simply astounds me. Every day as I sit at the computer and read your comments, I am touched and moved by what God is doing. All He asks is that we seek Him, and look what happens when we do!!!

Thank you, thank you for faithfully doing your homework and for openly and honestly sharing your answers. It blesses me beyond measure to see God working in you through the questions He laid on my heart for this study.

Before you jump into the lesson, please visit my friend, LeAnn Rice’s, wonderful new blog, http://www.shecooks.org/. It launches Friday, June 25th, and she has a great giveaway opportunity if you leave a comment. So jump over and help her celebrate her new blog!

Below please find your introductory lesson and the homework and reading assignment for next week. Don’t forget you can subscribe by e-mail and receive this post in your in-box each week by clicking on the link in my sidebar. However, you will not be able to see the videos or comments unless you visit my blog directly at http://www.wendyblight.com/.

Reading Assignment: Ephesians Chapter Two

Homework Questions: Please do as many questions as time allows. It is in your reading and studying that God will do His greatest work. Sometimes I include additional Scripture references. If you are in a time crunch, do not feel the need to look them all up. I provide them to take you a bit deeper on the topic of the question.

Prayer:

Father God, open the eyes of my heart to hear the wonderful Truths in Your Law. You tell me that Your Word is nourishment to my body and my soul. Feed me this week. Speak into my heart, into the places I need You to reach… places I have been hiding. Make my heart tender to receive Your Word, even when it is hard. You have a wonderful plan for my life, and You created me to do good things for Your Kingdom. Help me to discover that plan and to walk in those good works. I am ready, Lord, waiting to hear from You. Help me to take my eyes off of myself and put them onto You and You alone. Give me divine Wisdom, Knowledge, and Revelation, the kind that will change my life. Make me different for the time I spend with You this week.

1. In Ephesians Chapter One, Paul laid out God’s eternal plan for choosing us to be in relationship with Him and the blessings that our ours when we choose to live in that relationship. Chapter Two presents a wonderful overview of the Gospel message. Paul reviews for believers in Ephesus why they were saved, how they were saved, and for what purpose they were saved.

a. As you read Ephesians 2:1-3, what does Paul mean when he says his readers were “dead?” (for more on this read Psalm 14:1-3, Romans 3:9-12, Romans 6:23, Colossians 1:21, and Colossians 2:13)

b. Read Psalm 51:1-6, especially focusing on verse 5. King David wrote this Psalm after the prophet Nathan confronted him about committing adultery with Bathsheba. The King James translation says, “Behold, I was shapen in inequity.”

Read Genesis 8:21. According to God’s Word, sin infects a person’s life from conception. When Adam and Eve first sinned in the Garden of Eden, they infected the human race with sin. Every person born on the is earth is born into sin. This corrupt nature is called “original sin.” It is a bent to rebel against God, to value self above all else.

Read Romans 3:23. How do you respond to the Truth that basically all people even those who seem decent and moral, are disobedient and influenced by the devil?

Do you believe this? If you do not, how do you reconcile what you believe with these verses?

c. In Romans 3:9-18, what does Paul say about sin?

d. How many people, on their own, seek after God?

2. Living in original sin means walking and following the ways of the world.

a. Who leads the ways of the world? (hint: 1 John 5:19 and 2 Corinthians 4:4)

b. Define “ways of the world?

c. How does walking in the ways of the world differ from walking in the ways of the Lord?

3. Reread Ephesians 2:2-3. Verse 2:3 talks about gratifying the “cravings” of our sinful nature or flesh.

a. What are those cravings, desires, and thoughts?

b. In your own life, what are the temptations with which you struggle?

c. How has reading these verses impacted your understanding of your own sin nature?

4. Are you ready for the good news? Read Ephesians 2:4-5 again.

a. What does verse 4 tell us occurred to change our state of original sin?

b. Why did God do this? (Ephesians 1:7)

5. Romans 5:12-21 discusses what God did for us in depth.

a. How did sin enter the world? (Romans 5:12)

b. What did Adam’s sin bring to the human race? (Romans 5:16)

c. What did God’s grace bring to the human race? (Romans 5:17)

d. What do you learn from Romans 5:18-19?

e. According to Romans 5:21, what do we receive through God’s gift of grace?

6. Read Ephesians 2:5-6. List the three things God’s love did for us? (Hint: look at the action verbs)

7. Read Ephesians 2:8-9. These verses tell us it is by _____________ we are saved, through _______________, it is the __________ of God. What truths do you take away from these words for your own life?

8. Ephesians 2:10a (NLT) says, “For we are God’s masterpiece….”

a. Read Psalm 139:13-16. What do these verses tell you?

b. God specially knit you together, designed very part of you to be exactly who you are today…your eye color, your hair color and texture (I am talking to myself here…a girl with naturally curly hair who spends insane amounts of time and money to straighten it!), your height, your shape, your heart, your mind, your gifts, your talents, and your personality. He handpicked your family of origin, and if you are married with a family, your husband and your children. Share what you like and dislike about His plan. Be honest with your feelings, your doubts, and your questions.

9. Ephesians 2:10 continues, “…He has created us anew in Christ Jesus.” Do you sometimes doubt you can accomplish God’s plan? Maybe because of your family history or bad choices you have made. Maybe because of your present circumstances, which seem dim or hopeless. Maybe because you don’t like who you are. Maybe because you don’t feel accomplished enough, smart enough, worthy enough, talented enough, pretty enough, outgoing enough. Will you reread Ephesians 2:10? My friend, listen to Paul’s words and insert your name… “YOU, _________, ARE GOD’S MASTERPIECE!”.

a. No matter what has happened in the past, no matter what is going on in the present, you have a guaranteed promise. If you have invited Christ into your life by asking forgiveness for your sin and accepting Him as your Lord and Savior, you are a new creation. At that moment, God’s perfect plan for your life was put into play. And the only person who can interfere with that plan is you. Read Philippians 2:13, 2 Timothy 1:9, Romans 8:28, and Jeremiah 29:11-13. What do these verses speak to you?

b. Is there something in your past holding you hostage, keeping you from fulfilling God’s plan for your life? If there is, will you give that to Him right now? Will you believe with me that He is big enough to forgive, heal, rebuild, restore, and renew? Pray with me now…

Heavenly Father, I believe You have a plan for my life, plans for a hope and a future, plans to prosper and not to harm me. But, Lord, it is hard to see them right now. There is so much pain and anguish. I am struggling every day to find hope for tomorrow. Lord I do believe; help me with my unbelief. Take my doubts, my fears, my anxieties, and my dashed dreams and replace them with Your peace, Your hope, Your love, Your assurance, and Your provision. Father, take Your Word and sear it into my heart. Give me everything I need to trust in You for this place in my life. Father, open my eyes to see hope, to see the great plans You have for me! Keep my eyes on You and not my circumstances. I ask all this in the Name Above All Names, Jesus Christ, My Lord. Amen.

10. Ephesians 2:10 ends with “…so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” The NIV says we are created in Christ Jesus to do good works “which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Understand this clearly, we are not saved by good works but for good works. A saving faith results in a changed life that desires to serve and please God. God planned before the beginning of time for you to do Kingdom work for Him on this earth. We have God-given gifts and talents that when exercised in the power of His Holy Spirit will not be “work,” but will bring joy and pleasure to our lives. There is no greater joy than to experience God working in and through you to touch another person’s life.

a. Take a look at your design. Prayerfully ask the Lord to reveal your gifts and talents. Are you currently using those gifts and talents? If not, why not?

b. I want to encourage you if you are in a dry time, if you feel unequipped to be part of any plan, let alone God’s grand plan for your life, you are not alone. There are times when God must do a work in us before He can do a work through us. God spent forty years working in Moses before He could work through Him. Joseph suffered thirteen years, many of those in prison, before the Lord placed him on a throne, second only to Pharaoh. David spent years hiding in a cave, running for his life, before God raised him up to be the greatest King Israel has ever had. Paul spent three years in solace before God sent him forth as one of the greatest evangelists that has ever lived.

If you have struggled with Ephesians 2:10, ask the Lord to reveal what is keeping you from living out His plan. Ask Him if there is a work He must do in you before He can work through you. Perhaps it is related to what you prayed above. He is faithful. He will show you.

11. Let’s end our time together this week with Psalm 103:1-12. Soak in these verses for a few minutes. Share the portions that touch your heart and move your spirit.

There is so much more meat in this chapter regarding the relationship between Jews and Gentiles. But I hesitate to dig into an entirely new topic here and add more homework questions. I will try to do a quick summary.

Before Christ, there were basically two groups of people. The Israelites (Jews) were God’s chosen people under the covenant God made with Abraham. (Genesis 12:1-3, Genesis 15:18-20, Genesis 17:14) The Gentiles were a rag tag collection of small nation states continually warring with each other and with Israel. Historically, there has been animosity and, at times, downright hatred between these two groups. But this was NOT God’s desire, and He sent Jesus to end this strife. Paul spends the remainder of Chapter Two educating the Ephesians about this truth. If you are interested in going deeper, please read and study the verses below.

Ephesians 2:11-13
Romans 14:2, 5, 10-13, 17:22-23
Isaiah 11:10; 42:1, 6; 49:6; 53:11
Luke 2:25-32
Acts 10:1 – 11:18
Ephesians 2:14-22

Please know that I continue to pray for you and enjoy reading your comments. Your words are such a blessing, not only for me, but for all of us.

Sweet Blessings,