I have a hard time believing God loves me. Don’t get me wrong, I firmly believe He loves YOU. But it’s much harder for me to trust and accept that He loves me. If you’re like me and have a hard time coming to terms with how much God loves you, Ephesians 1 is a good place to start.
This incredible chapter is basically an outpouring of God’s compelling love. It’s so jam-packed with beautiful phrasings about God’s love that it can be a little overwhelming. It’s like walking into a Bath & Body Works – you’re completely surrounded by a zillion scents that your nose goes on sensory overload and stops working. So that’s why I thought we could stop and take each verse one at a time and enjoy the aroma of God’s intense love.
We’ll cover the first half of the chapter, but I encourage you to read the whole chapter (and book – since it’s actually a letter, it’s meant to be read in one sitting!). I’m posting the whole section here but then I’ll go back verse by verse to discuss each segment. I pray that God will open our eyes to see the height and depth of His love through this passage.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.Ephesians 1:3-14
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places…
This verse says that God has blessed us – even ME – with every spiritual blessing. He’s not withholding anything. (This is part of Satan’s attack against us – remember the serpent in the garden with Adam and Eve?) Satan wants us to think God is keeping something from us, withholding the goods. But the truth is just the opposite: He is giving us every single spiritual blessing He’s got. He’s not just sending us a monthly stipend, He’s signed over His entire bank account to us.
God is not stingy. Sometimes I think we’re stingy with our own grace and forgiveness toward other people because somewhere down deep in our hearts we think God is stingy with His love.
But think of the story of the prodigal son (a story that God told about himself): When does the prodigal forgive his son? Was it when the son had groveled on his knees? When he’d finally made it up to his dad? No, the prodigal was searching the horizon for his son – and before the son could even ask for forgiveness, the prodigal is interrupting his son to lavish his grace on him! This is God! He is not stingy. He is lavish. He spoils us with his grace.
4 …even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love…
He chose us. He chose me. When? Before the foundation of the world. I don’t exactly know how this all works, but I know that it means God has loved me for a long time. This is not the work of an absentee father – this is the love of a parent who has maxed out their child’s education fund before they were even born.
And, He’s making me whole, making me holy, making me new. This is an ongoing process. Just because I’ve sinned after my baptism and conversion into Christ doesn’t mean I’m done for – God has cleansed me in the past and He’s cleansing me in the current and He’s cleansing me in the future.
“In Love” – this is His motivation! He’s doing these things because He loves us. Sometimes I can easily doubt God’s heart for me. “If God loves me so much, why is this happening?” or “If God really loved me, He wouldn’t allow this to happen…” we’ve all had those thoughts, but if we just entrusted ourselves to God’s love, we would be able to approach those difficult questions with more peace and security.
5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will…
God has adopted me. His Family is my family now. Think of how you are when you’re home: you don’t hold back, you don’t feel bad if you make a mess. You say and do what you need to do. You pitch in when someone needs help. You relax and put your feet up when you need to. This is how we need to be with God’s Family – ourselves.
“According to the purpose of His will” – God’s long-term intention for us is to be part of His family and to experience the blessings of being IN HIM.
6 …to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
Praise His glorious grace!
The Gospel message is NOT, “wow, look how far she’s come.”
The Gospel message is: “Wow, look at how He loves her. Look at how He cleanses her and carries her. Look at how He’s given her purpose and life. Look at how HE changed her.”
The Gospel message isn’t about US – it’s about God and His glorious grace.
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace…
I am redeemed. Set free. My chains are gone. Do you feel this today, mamas? If you belong to Christ, this is the truth – whether you feel it or not.
If you’re having difficulty with these truths today, try to identify what’s causing your feelings and fight against them.
First, it’s important to know whether or not you are in Christ. If we know that according to the Scriptures we are forgiven and in a right relationship with Jesus, then we can be secure in our standing with Him. If you’re not sure if you have been forgiven or are right before God, it’s imperative to figure out what God is calling you to do in order to be saved.
Now, if you belong to Christ, these are the truths of the Gospel: God loved you so much that He couldn’t live without you. He created you to be in a relationship with Him and He sacrificed that which was most important in order to be with you. However, Satan wants to snatch away truth and joy and love. How is Satan doing that for you today? We cannot be unaware of his schemes.
8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight…
AKA: God spoils us with his grace. He’s the parent who goes over the top for his kids. Again, Paul shows us that God is not stingy with us. He’s extravagant.
Think about this: when Jesus turned water into wine, what did the wine taste like? How much wine did he produce? Get this: the wine wasn’t so-so, it wasn’t even simply good wine. It didn’t just “get the job done.” The wine was so good that the MC at the wedding called over the groom and was like, “Bro, this is dope.” Er, something like that. And Jesus didn’t just toss a few bottles toward the newlyweds – He created about 180 gallons of wine. That would be approximately 908 bottles of wine. (Source: John Eldredge)
Nine hundred and eight.
God is not stingy.
“In all wisdom and insight” – this means that God is extravagantly loving us on purpose. He knows what he’s doing. It’s not an accident that He chose you and loves you and lavishes His grace on you.
9 …making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
The spiritual blessings we’re experiencing now were formerly a mystery to God-seekers everywhere. Abraham, Moses, David, Daniel – God only gave these guys glimpses into what we’re living now. It was a mystery to them that one day we would all be able to have an individual and unique relationship with God. One where we could approach God anywhere at any time. They didn’t know about the riches of love waiting for us in eternity (though they hoped for this).
Yet God has revealed His amazing plan to us and let us in on His eternal secret: He wants us, He’s fought for us, He wants to be with us, and He’s made a way for that to happen.
And He did all of this through Christ. In such an incredible fashion, too. The God who split the Red Sea and delivered the Israelites out of the Egyptian’s hands came down to Earth in the form of a newborn child. And not just a newborn child – an infant born to an unmarried girl, squatting in a barn. You know, just the kind of king we would all make ourselves to be. The even crazier thing is that God didn’t create this rags-to-riches story for Himself – the story of Jesus is one of hardship, trial, sacrifice, suffering, and more suffering. And why?
For us. For me, and for you. Because God wants you that badly.
11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will…
An inheritance. As in, something you get when someone close to you dies and leaves all their possessions to you. This is what happened with Jesus: He died, and He left His relationship with God as our inheritance, along with all of the riches in the spiritual realms that we can only imagine.
Again we see these words “predestined” and “purpose” and “according…to his will” – we don’t have to get super tripped up by predestination to see that God evidently loves us and loves us on purpose. It’s not an accident that you are here reading this – God wants you. It’s not an accident that you have access to the Scriptures and can pray to God. He wants to hear from you.
12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.
“To the praise of his glory” – that’s our goal. That’s my goal. To live to praise Him. To live so that others can praise Him. It’s why Paul was so content to delight in his weaknesses – because it showed God’s strengths and compelled others to praise God.
If there’s something that you do well, and you do it so well that you’re tempted to be arrogant or prideful about it. Don’t give in. Instead, praise God. HE created you to be able to do that thing really well – so praise Him. Point to Him.
If there’s something that you do really poorly, and you’re tempted to feel insecure and defeated. Don’t give in. Instead, praise God that HE is perfect in those areas. He is the perfect parent, the perfect Creator, the perfect friend, the perfect everything. So praise Him. Point to Him in your weaknesses. Point to Him in your strengths.
13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
If you belong to Christ and have the Holy Spirit, this is what that means: you have been sealed for Jesus. When He comes back, He will find you. He will bring you home with Him.
Remember what we were talking about earlier about an inheritance? That seal is proof of our inheritance. And we’re not just talking about some junky mobile home that Grandpa Judd left to us filled to the brim with worthless racing memorabilia.
We’re talking about heaven. We’re talking about eternal life. We’re talking about the rest of our time without pain, without tears, without sin. We don’t know exactly what heaven will be like, but we do know those things. And we can imagine – and know that it’s beyond our imaginations!
You know what I like to do in my spare time? I love to look at Airbnbs around the world. I fantasize about vacations. Places to go, incredible houses to stay in, spectacular sights to see.
And I might get to see some of those places in my lifetime. Or I might not. But one of the things I love thinking about doing in heaven is exploring with God. I believe, and hope, I’ll get to see all the things I never got to see in this life – and far, far more – with God in heaven. Can you imagine?
And, of course, I’ll be able to do it without all of the fear that comes with new places and experiences here in this life. I’ll be able to surf the tallest wave without fearing for my life. I’ll be able to explore a new city without worrying that I’ll get lost and never found. And I’ll be able to do it all with God – my Father, my closest confidante, the One who loves me more than anyone ever will.
Until then, Paul says that we have the Holy Spirit living inside of us as a promise of the things to come. He is waiting with us until all of God’s plans can be fulfilled in eternity.
I hope this encourages you, mamas, to believe in God’s love. To trust in His love. To live in His love. And to pass that love on to those around you.