Ephesians 1:4-6, MSG
“Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.’”
Ephesians chapter 1 is such a rich passage of Scripture exuding the completely undeserved, incredible blessings that, by God’s amazing love and grace, are ours in Christ Jesus. To list just a few: we’re chosen, adopted as sons and daughters, forgiven, ‘completely free of penalties and punishments chalked up by our misdeeds (v7) … we’re made whole and holy by his love’(v4) … and we have a God-given purpose and destiny in life: ‘it’s in Christ we find out who we are and what we’re living for’ (v11).
If you’re ever feeling down and need reminding – and we all do sometimes – it’s a wonderful place to find the reassurance of all that Christ won for you and for me when ‘His blood was poured out for us on the altar of the cross’ (v7). It was all accomplished for us. That’s why at the end of it all, Jesus cried out those victorious words, ‘It is finished!’ Amazing love and grace!
But the verse in Ephesians 1 that really struck me this morning is verse 6: ‘He wanted us to enter into the lavish gift-giving by the hand of His beloved Son’. Although God ‘thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need’ (v8), we have a part to play … a personal responsibility. We have to enter in. And I guess that’s where the challenge is for each of us today. God has done everything for us in sending Jesus, but are we willing to play our part, to take up our personal responsibility and enter in?
I used to struggle terribly with negativity. I remember someone once saying to me, lovingly but firmly, ‘Julie, negativity is your friend and has been for a very long time, but it needs to go!’ It was really hard to be confronted like that, even if it was in love! But I am so grateful, because with those words of confrontation came Holy Spirit conviction. I knew it was true. God had provided everything for me, but I still chose to focus on the bad things in my life, and not lift my head to welcome all the good that God had provided for me, and wanted to bring into my life, make a living reality – His redemptive plans and purposes.
Since then, little by little, I have begun to learn to count my blessings. I now love that old song, ‘Count your blessings, name them one by one! Count your blessings, look what God has done! And it will surprise you what the Lord has done!’ It’s true, as we count our blessings, the wonderful spiritual ones and the everyday ones too – a new day, the sunshine, the rain, a beautiful sunset, health, friends, family – we find ourselves beginning to ‘enter into our heavenly Father’s lavish gift-giving’. And my experience is that it’s like taking off an old pair of glasses that give a frustrating, black, distorted view of life, and putting on a new pair that give a clear and bright and exciting view of the abundant life Jesus won for us!
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for all the incredible blessings You won for me on the cross at such a high price. Thank You for the breath in my lungs today, thank You that I’m alive and I belong to You, and You have good things for me. I want to truly enter into all that You’ve won for me. Help me to count my blessings and truly enter into Your lavish gift giving, Amen.