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Monday, July 31, 2017

Who is it for?

The Tuesday morning group is studying Ephesians.  This week we are in Ephesians 3.  It has been a great study thus far.  One of the overwhelming themes has been the lavish grace that God has poured out in our lives.
Who is it for?
After doing the overview of the book – by the way with any book it is best to start with an overview, that way when one is studying the parts, one can relate them to the whole.  Then end with a summary of the book.  So the movement is from the whole to the parts and back to the whole.  While this method will not completely eliminate errors in one’s approach to the book, it will greatly reduce the tendency to take a passage out of context.

After doing the overview, we have been working through the book essentially a paragraph at a time.  These past few days I have been working through Ephesians 3:1 – 13.  While the truth is in other places in Paul, Ephesians 3:2 has impacted my thought and actions this week.

At first I struggled a bit with Ephesians 3:2.  Why would it be a condition of Paul’s effectiveness with his gentile audience that they have heard of his calling to them?  There are times when a passage does not make sense to me that I will let the struggle go, knowing that I will come back to it later in another study.  This time Ephesians 3:2 would not let go.

I am still struggling with the first conditional phrase, however, the rest of the passage has refocused my thinking and understanding our assignment as disciples and fathers.

As mentioned above, the outpouring of God’s lavish grace on us is one of the main themes of the book (results of the overview).  In Ephesians 3:2b Paul describes his ministry, his service to the gentiles, as a stewardship of that lavish grace.  It would be worth your time to look at the other passages that use this word (here is the portion of my study that does that).  He is to steward, manage, and I believe entrust that grace to others.  It is a solemn assignment.

The striking thing though is in Ephesians 3:2c.  Paul states that that grace was given to him for the ones he is called to serve.  It is not given to him for his benefit but for the benefit of the people with which, for which, and to which he stewards the lavish grace of God.

As disciples we are to be about making other disciples, Matthew 28:18 – 20.  In so doing we are, as Paul, to steward the lavish grace we have been given.  That stewardship entails getting the gospel right.  But, the purpose, the reason, the aim of the grace we steward is not for our benefit, our reward, our exalutation, or recognition.  No, the purpose of the grace given to us is for the benefit of those with whom we share it.

As fathers, what the Lord does in our lives is for the benefit of those who are our closest disciples, our kids and when and if, our grandchildren.

Many of us, at times myself included, tend to focus on what we need, what we want, what is important to us, whether we get the recognition that we think we deserve.  Here Paul is reminding us that when God is working in our live it is not just about us.  His purpose is that grace He lavishes on us is stewarded into a lavish grace through Him into the lives of our children and others.

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Last Brick – Part 4 (Firewall cont.)

The last imperative in 2 Timothy 4:5 is “fulfill.”  Paul commands his apprentice to “fulfill your ministry.”  Like many of Paul’s sentences, the word order in the original is emphatic placing the imperative at the end and the object first.  So literally, “the service (ministry) of you fulfill.”
The Last Brick – Part 4 (Firewall cont.)

Why would Paul stress this to his protégé?

If you read ahead in 2 Timothy 4:6 – 18, you will note that people left the ministry and deserted Paul in his time of need.  The implications are that though Paul finishes well, 2 Timothy 4:7, there are many who do not.  One of my friends points out that we find many in their 20’s and 30’s on fire for the Lord, but, he observes, there are few in their 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s that do more than slide for home.

Paul wants Timothy to complete (the root of the word here translated fulfill) fully the assignment that the Lord has given him.

This last imperative is particularly important for all of us.  2 Peter 5:8 reminds us that we have a faithful, intentional, murderous enemy.  Success, completion, fulfillment in and of our Christian life and ministry to others is under constant attack.  This stark reminder by the apostle coupled with the similar warning by Peter in 2 Peter 3:17, should serve to keep us diligent to continually rely and depend on the Lord to finish this race.