(Today begins with Paul's letter to the Christians at Ephesus—Ephesians 1.)
Before we go any further, before we get into anything else, you’ve got to know this – “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Thank God. That’s indispensable for my day, the one just before me, the race I’m about to run. It is for you, too.
Every letter to the church that the Spirit inspired Paul to write essentially begins with this same sentence. To all those at Rome and Corinth, Galatia and Ephesus, to the Philippians, Colossians and Thessalonicans, and to his dear sons in Christ, Timothy, Titus and Philemon, Paul offers the same truth—you’ve got everything! No more worries with God.
I have a lot to do today. I’ve got to promote and market my book; sign, package and mail those just ordered; write a blog and send an articulate email to hundreds; make calls on a cell phone that doesn’t work very well (“What, Ralph? I can’t understand you—you’re breaking up…”), replace a light fixture, walk the dog, tend the tomatoes, reorganize my office, work out, and be good to my visiting mother-in-law.
Sheesh! It’s all about me. Better get going.
Wait a minute. What would God say to me, first thing? “Grace and peace to you, Ralph, from God your Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
You really think so, God? Because of Jesus, I’ve got everything with you for nothing? Righteousness? Holiness? Love? Hope? Future? And you live in me? All of that? “Yes.” And because Jesus took upon Himself all of my sins, as though He committed them, I have not a worry with you? “Yes.”
“Ready now, Ralph?” Yes, Father.
Ephesus (now Turkey) was one of the most important cities of its day. It was like New York or Hong Kong…maybe on steroids. Everybody was busy, everybody was working at a frenetic pace because, well, you just had to. If you didn’t work hard and fast, somebody else would get the deal, close the sale, move the merchandise.
Paul founded the church at Ephesus and spent some three years there, so he knew what the city was like…and he loved those people. But Paul, father figure that he was, doesn’t first tell them how to live. He tells them how well off they are with God. Why? Paul knew that a revived heart and an energized spirit comes from the truth and is by faith. So, instead of giving them a motivational speech—“Get going for the glory of God!”—he gave them revival by telling them of the glory of God in them.
“Head’s up, Ephesians! In case you’ve forgotten, you’re really well off with God!”
Can you imagine what that might have meant to the Ephesians? In all their work, in all their trials, through their failures, weaknesses and frustrations, comes God’s word to them: “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
I so often need to hear that! You too?
You and I were made to have that as our starting point.