Don’t Give Up!

Philippians 4 v 13

The Apostle Paul wrote the letter to the Philippians around A.D. 61.  By that time he had suffered greatly for being an Apostle of Jesus Christ.  When he wrote that verse about being able to do “everything through him who gives me strength” he had real experience and suffering to back that up!

In order to learn more about that suffering, we need to read Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians.  He wrote this letter between A.D. 55-57 several years before he wrote Philippians.  Listen to the kinds of suffering and danger Paul lived through as he explains his missionary journeys to the Corinthian church.

“…I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again.  Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.  Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move.  I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers.  I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.”

2 Corinthians 11:23-27

verse 32

“In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me.  But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands.”

That is phenomenal that Paul lived through all of that!  It is important to note that 40 lashes usually killed a man!  Paul was lashed 39 times 5 different times with a brutal Roman whip with sharp pieces of bone embedded in it–that is 195 lashes all over his back!  Can you imagine the scars?!  Most anybody in the world would have given up after only 1 incident of 39 lashes, but Paul did not give up.  He didn’t even give up after being stoned and shipwrecked!  Why?  One reason and one reason only–he could do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthened him!  He was on a mission from God and nothing was going to stop him!

Paul paid the ultimate sacrifice for his faith around A.D. 65 when Emperor Nero ordered that his head be removed with a sword.  All that did was set Paul free to go home to Jesus, and they never did stop his ministry!  All believers are living proof of that as we read his letters in the Bible all over the world every day!

The Lord did a mighty work through our brother Paul.  That same strength is inside every believer of Jesus!  Don’t give up!  Whatever you have going on in your life right now, keep going and don’t ever give up!  If Paul could do all that through Christ, then you can be victorious over anything the world throws your way too!

You can do all things through Him who gives you strength!  May God strengthen and encourage all of our hearts!  In the Name of Jesus, Amen!

Grace and peace to you all!

2 Corinthians 13 v 14

 

I Am Praising God!!!

Ephesians 4 v 32 black & white

My heart is filled with great joy today!!!  Many of you know my story of suffering and how I hurt many of my friends and family during that time.  Last night, the Lord moved in my spirit and He told me to look up one of those great friends that I had hurt.  I found him online instantly and emailed him!  I asked him for forgiveness and congratulated him on his success.  I found his resume online and he has an electrical engineering degree from CSU and he is a very successful engineer in his field!  The dude is crazy smart!  I am so proud of him and so thankful to God!  I also told him about what God has done with my book and blog.  This morning, I checked my email and he emailed me back!  Praise God!  It was so good to hear from him after losing touch for almost 7 years!

Brother G-child, if you are reading this, thank you for emailing me back!  My heart is just exploding with joy right now!  You were always a great friend and we had some great times together!  I enjoy those memories still today!  It is so good to hear about your life and I look forward to meeting up in October for that 55k ultra race you are running in Sedalia!  You are a wild man!  Thank you for your forgiveness and for receiving me as a brother in Christ!  God bless you man!  I love you brother!  I never stopped praying for you and the fam!

I am living proof that God forgives, heals, and reconciles!  Hallelujah!!!  Let that be a testimony before God and man!

If you missed the post where I talked about my regrets about the people I hurt and the post where I confessed regarding my time wrestling God, please read those below.  I openly confessed what I went through during my time of suffering and how God redeemed it all!  He is still doing that even now!  He is making all things new!

Regret

Wrestling God

I did not know how my old friend would receive me, but he received me in love and forgiveness and for that I am forever grateful!  I never want to dishonor God, my friends, or my family ever again!  I have been trained by God’s discipline and I just want to stay right by His side forever and walk humbly with the Lord all the days of my life!  Amen!

Remember this promise folks:

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

1 John 1:9

Remember to treat each other in love this way:

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Galatians 6:2

And above all else, please remember this:

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Ephesians 4:32

That is what my brother in Christ did for me today!  That forgiveness has set my heart free!  He is a very good friend that is like family to me and I desperately needed to seek his forgiveness.  It is so amazing that he emailed me back!  I am just so happy and at peace right now!  Praise God!  I am really looking forward to seeing you brother!

My friends all over the world, please, confess your sins, be healed, be forgiven, and be at peace!

In the Name of Jesus who loves you!

Grace and peace to you all!

Thank you Jesus!!!

1 John 1 v 9 confess

 

 

Hollow by Tori Kelly

This is a song called “Hollow” from Tori Kelly’s last album Unbreakable Smile.  This is one of the most beautiful songs to the Lord I have ever heard.  May He wrap you in His love and fill up your cup!!!  We are all hollow with a God shaped hole in us, and only the love of God can fill it!

Grace and peace to you all in the Beautiful and Powerful Name of Jesus!

1 John 3 verse 1

I Love Colorado!

IMG_4131
Close up shot of Pike’s Peak from our home.

I wanted to take some time today and share the beautiful state where I am from.  Where we are from is a huge part of who we are!  From culture to climate and everything in between, where we are from tends to shape our lives in one way or another.

It has always fascinated me that we all end up where we do.  Why was I born smack in the middle of the United States of America and not say India or Azerbaijan?  I don’t know, but I know God has a plan for all of us!  You are all beautiful souls and I love you in the Name of Jesus!

Most of us have people from all over the world reading our blogs.  It is so fun to see where God takes my site next!  I’m sure you all feel the same.  My Mom sent me a really nice large map, so I could keep track of all of the places where all of you live.

Blog map

Hello to all of you beautiful souls out there all over the world!  Hopefully you can zoom in on the map and find your pin, enjoy!  We are not so far apart are we?  Hey don’t forget, you can see Russia from Alaska!  One funny side note real quick: my father in law was once elected to the Alaska State House of Representatives and he actually knew and worked with Sarah Palin!  He has pictures with her and everything.  Anchorage is like a small town.  Just some cool family history.  Many of you know my wife is from Alaska.  Anyway, the world is not that big.  It is very small and I love connecting with you all!

So, about that tour of Colorado, the state I love, let’s go!

Welcome to colorado sign

You will see these signs at the borders of the state.  Welcome to colorful Colorado!

Pike's Peak from God's Garden

Let’s head south about an hour from here to Colorado Springs.  This is another shot of Pike’s Peak as seen from “Garden of the gods” or what Christians in Colorado call “God’s Garden.”  It is a beautiful area of natural rock formations at the base of Pike’s Peak.  It is fun to go hiking the trails through the park!

Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods 2

Garden of the Gods balanced rock
Famous “Balanced Rock”

Garden of the Gods aerial view

Cool place!  A few hours south of Colorado Springs, are the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Mesa Verde National Park!  Here we go!

Great Sand Dunes National Park
Great Sand Dunes National Park

I have lived in Colorado for over 32 years of my 40 years on earth, and I still have never visited the dunes!  There are still so many places I want to visit in my own state!

Great Sand Dunes NP elk

The Great Sand Dunes National Park is nestled in the Sangre De Cristo Mountain Range in the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado.  Beautiful!  For more information check out: https://www.nps.gov/grsa/index.htm

Even further south in Montezuma County, Colorado is Mesa Verde National Park.  This is one of the places our whole family wants to visit!  I pray we can go here someday.  It is just a few hours south of us in the very southwestern corner of our state near Cortez, Colorado.  It is very close to the “four corners” area where the borders of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona meet.

Mesa Verde

“Mesa Verde National Park was established in 1906 to preserve and interpret the archeological heritage of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for over 700 years.  Today, the park protects nearly 5,000 known archeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings. These sites are some of the most notable and best preserved in the United States.”

https://www.nps.gov/meve/index.htm

This is an amazing archeological site!  They have done an excellent job preserving it too!  I encourage you to research it.  It’s very cool!

Mesa Verde 2

Heading several hours back north, we will find Denver–my neck of the woods!

Colorado where I grew up

This is a picture of one of the roads in the town I grew up in near Denver.  Quite a view!  We can see God’s majesty every day, and the mountain peaks belong to Him!

Denver big view

The mountains are in the West, so it is always easy to know directions.  I grew up just a few miles south of Denver near the base of the Rocky Mountain front range.  You can see my hometown just to the upper left of the city.

Salt Lake City Skyline

Denver skyline

I am excited to take you up to Red Rocks Amphitheater!  It is one of the most famous concert venues in the whole world!  I have been there several times, and it is awesome!  It is an open air amphitheater that is nestled between natural rock formations that provide incredible acoustics.  It sits only 15 miles west of Denver in Morrison, Colorado.  It is very close to our home and I grew up seeing shows there!

Red Rocks entrance 2

Red Rocks sign

Red Rocks entrance

Red Rocks 2

Red Rocks sunset

Red Rocks 3

Red Rocks at night best

Red Rocks at night

Yes, it is an incredible place!  I saw George Thorogood there when I was a kid (he sang “Bad to the Bone”).  In college, I even got invited to see a great Irish concert there once with Sinead O’Connor, Great Big Sea, and The Chieftans.  It was so much fun!  It reminds me of the old Roman amphitheaters in Ephesus!  It is a lot of fun to see your favorite band play here!  My sister and her husband flew all the way from Illinois one time just to see a show!

No trip to Colorado would be complete without visiting our world class ski resorts and Rocky Mountain National Park!  Let’s start with the Park since I lived up there in the summer of 1998 (yes, the same summer I had my angel encounters).

Rocky Mountain National Park elk

Rocky Mountain National Park is a must visit place on this earth!  It holds the Continental Divide, many 14,000 foot mountains, and a plethora of wildlife and natural beauty!  I lived up there when I worked at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park as a camp counselor in the summer of ’98.  It was a blast!  I worked with 2-4 year old kids and we did pony rides, nature hikes, and lots of arts and crafts!

Estes Park
Estes Park, Colorado

YMCA EPC

When I lived there, a giant elk affectionately named Samson by the town folk roamed freely on the grounds of the YMCA.  He was magnificent!  That little guy in the picture is not Samson.  I wish I had a picture of him!

YMCA 2

Here are the grounds of the YMCA with the lodges and staff dorms.  I stayed in the dorms over to the left.

YMCA 3
YMCA Grand Lodge
YMCA 4
Many great church services and weddings are held here!

I want to take you up to Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park now!  The entrance is very close to the YMCA!

According to the National Park Service:

“Covering the 48 miles between Estes Park on the park’s east side and Grand Lake on the west, Trail Ridge Road more than lives up to its advanced billing.  Eleven miles of this high highway travel above treeline, the elevation near 11,500 feet where the park’s evergreen forests come to a halt.  As it winds across the tundra’s vastness to its high point at 12,183 feet elevation, Trail Ridge Road (U.S. 34) offers visitors thrilling views, wildlife sightings and spectacular alpine wildflower exhibitions, all from the comfort of their car.”

It is an amazing drive I have done several times!  I highly recommend it!  Come vacation in Colorado and be amazed!

Trail Ridge Road 3

Trail Ridge Road

Trail Ridge Road Big horn sheep
Say Hi to Mr. Rocky Mountain Big Horn sheep!

Trail Ridge Road sign

Trail Ridge Road big view

Trail Ridge Road snow wall
Trail Ridge Road in winter
Continental Divide RMNP
The Continental Divide

Continental Divide sign

Long’s Peak is also in Rocky Mountain National Park.  I climbed that with my friends the same summer I worked at the YMCA.  It was incredibly difficult and I almost died twice reaching the summit!  People die all the time trying to climb this mountain.  Another man just died this summer.  Let me show you why.

YMCA 5

That is a picture of Long’s Peak as seen from the YMCA.  It is the big mountain on the left with the notch in it.  That notch is called the Keyhole.  It is 14,259 feet of pure danger, and my friends and I made it to the top in July of 1998!  I will do a full blog post about that someday, but for now here are a few pictures.

Long's Peak 2

Long's Peak

It is like a mini Everest when you are up there.

Long's Peak Keyhole
The boulder field and keyhole. That little castle building is for protection from deadly lightning storms.
The Ledges on Long's
This is what you see once you go through the keyhole. It is the back side of Long’s called “The Ledges.” People fall here all the time.
The Trough Long's Peak
After the ledges, you have to climb “The Trough.” I saw a little rock bounce down this slope while I was climbing it, and it hit a guy in the hand and broke his finger.
The Trough on Long's
Top of the trough looking back down at the ledges.

After the trough is the scariest part of the climb.  It is called “The Narrows,” and you are literally inches from falling 14,000 feet.  Clouds were going by my head and I could feel them on my face.  They had a coolness and grit in them.  It was so cool!

Long's Peak the Narrows
The Narrows! That is a picture taken looking back at the point where the top of the trough is (at the top of the trail).

If you make it through the narrows, then you have to face “The Homestretch” to the summit!  I started sliding backwards while I was climbing this, but the tip of my boot caught a little rock that was sticking out and stopped me!  It is so slick and there is not much to hold onto!  We should have had ropes and pick axes!  Crazy!

The Homestretch on Long's

If you survive the homestretch, then you make it to the summit of Long’s Peak.  Welcome to a 14,259 foot view of Colorado and the entire Rocky Mountain range!

Long's Peak Summit view

Do you want to know what I learned climbing this enormous deadly mountain?  It is summed up in one great verse!

“In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him.”

Psalm 95:4

No trip to Colorado would be complete without visiting a few of the ski resorts!  I would like to show you Breckenridge, Vail, and my favorite resort Winter Park!

Breckenridge.png

That is Breckenridge.  It’s a cool town and a great resort!

Vail at night
Vail, CO is a chill place to vacation.
Winter Park at night
Winter Park, CO

This is my absolute favorite mountain town!  Welcome to Winter Park, Colorado!  My Uncle and Aunt used to run a bed and breakfast up here.  It has two parts to the resort: the Winter Park side and the Mary Jane side.  Both are awesome for snowboarders like me!

Winter Park Village at night
Beautiful Winter Park Resort Village
Winter Park perfect powder
Oh man, that is soooo sweet! Check out the fresh powder (a.k.a. pow or freshies)! That is Winter Park white gold!

Winter Park is also home to Parsenn Bowl which is above 12,000 feet.  It is an amazing 1700 vertical feet of phenomenal skiing and riding!

Parsenn Bowl
Snowboarders on the rim of Parsenn Bowl

Parsenn Bowl description

Ryan boarding Feb 2000
Ryan riding Parsenn Bowl in Feb. 2000

Well, that just about does it!  I hope you enjoyed your trip to Colorado!  If you have never been here, I pray you get to come visit us someday!

God bless you all and may God bless the state, city, and country where you live!

Colorado big view

Psalm 121 v 1 & 2 lift up your eyes

 

 

Making All Things New!

Revelation 21 v 1

Did you know God is making all things new?!  Yes, even now He is at work redeeming the whole earth!  The Lord, I AM, reconciled us to Himself through Jesus and He is making all things new!

Fix your eyes on Jesus and that hope today!  Don’t let your heart be weighed down by this world.  I know when I focus on this earth and all the sin and hurt that exists here, I get weighed down!  So, may we focus on the new heaven and new earth that is coming and may we be transformed by the renewing of our minds!  In the Name of Jesus, Amen!

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.  I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them.  They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”  Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

He said to me: “It is done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.  To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.  He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.”

Revelation 21:1-7

Are you thirsty for new life?!  Jesus offers you that!  You can overcome the world, sin, and death through Jesus!  When you believe in Jesus, springs of living water will flow from within you by the power of the Holy Spirit!

“On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood up and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”

John 7:37-38

God is making all things new and you can have that refreshing newness in your life right now!  He is bringing His Kingdom here and there will be no more death, mourning, crying, or pain–Hallelujah!  I pray you receive that precious gift from God today!

Grace and peace to you all!

Romans 10 v 9

Sunday Morning in Ephesus

Ephesians with boat

Good morning everyone (or evening depending on your part of the world)!  I have been up since 2 a.m. and I’m feelin’ the Spirit, so here I am to blog for the Lord!  This is a fine day that the Lord has made, so come along with me as we spend a little time in ancient Ephesus!

Ephesus 1

The Book of Ephesians is considered The Apostle Paul’s crowning achievement by many Bible scholars.  Paul wrote the letter to the church at Ephesus around 60-63 A.D. while imprisoned in Rome.  His main purpose for the letter is to teach the believers who they are in Jesus Christ (including assurance of salvation, how to be saved, the power of the Holy Spirit, the promise of God’s covenant, and our relationship with God), explain that Jews and Gentiles are now one in Christ, give them practical advice on how to live a Christian life that pleases God, and he explains the spiritual battle we are in and what we must do to stand strong and be victorious in it.  Yeah, it’s quite a letter!  I encourage you to read the entire six chapters!

This study will be a bit longer (3,310 words) as I will highlight the key lessons from each chapter as we take a nice Sunday stroll through ancient Ephesus.  It is a dream of mine to visit all the places of the Bible! How about you?

Ephesus was the most important city in Asia Minor.  According to research done by BibleAtlas.org, it was:

“A city of the Roman province of Asia, near the mouth of the Cayster river, 3 miles from the western coast of Asia Minor, and opposite the island of Samos. With an artificial harbor accessible to the largest ships, and rivaling the harbor at Miletus, standing at the entrance of the valley which reaches far into the interior of Asia Minor, and connected by highways with the chief cities of the province, Ephesus was the most easily accessible city in Asia, both by land and sea. Its location, therefore, favored its religious, political and commercial development, and presented a most advantageous field for the missionary labors of Paul. The city stood upon the sloping sides and at the base of two hills, Prion and Coressus, commanding a beautiful view; its climate was exceptionally fine, and the soil of the valley was unusually fertile.”

https://bibleatlas.org/ephesus.htm

Ephesus by the sea

According to research done by biblestudy.org:

“Ephesus was the capital and premier city of Asia Minor’s western region (known as proconsular Asia).  It was the Athenians who initially colonized the city, which is located near the mouth of the Cayster river (and opposite the island of Samos).  It was famous for possessing a Temple dedicated to a pagan goddess named Diana.  This pagan shrine is generally considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.  For many years during the Roman period the city was considered the second largest populated area of the Roman Empire (the largest being the empire’s capital city of Rome).  In the first century B.C. the city had a population of more than 250,000, making it the second largest city in the WORLD.”

Ephesus map

Ephesus map best

Chapter 1: How blessed we are in Jesus!

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”

Ephesians 1:3

That is a great way to start a letter!  Right away Paul wants the believers to realize that they have been given everything they need in Jesus.  So have we!  We lack nothing when we come to Jesus and we are blessed in the heavenly realms!

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.  In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will–”

Ephesians 1:4-5

Did you know that?  God chose you and adopted you!  How cool!

Paul also wants them to understand that they are forgiven and redeemed by the Blood of Jesus, and that freedom came by the grace of God.

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.”

Ephesians 1:7-8

Paul makes it clear that every believer in Christ has full assurance of their salvation, which is guaranteed by the Holy Spirit!

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.  Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory.”

Ephesians 1:13-14

Those who believe in Jesus belong to God, and that glorious inheritance is fully secured by the Holy Spirit inside of us!  Your salvation is guaranteed!  Amen!

Paul ends the chapter with a powerful prayer that I highly recommend praying over yourself and your family!  Whole countries need to be praying this!

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.  I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.  That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.  And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”

Ephesians 1:17-23

Amen!  Yes, please!  I would like more of that!  Do you understand just how powerful Jesus is and what has been given to us in Him?  The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is living inside of us!  That one section of Scripture makes it very clear indeed!  Pray that prayer and God will answer it!

Ephesus 6
“The great theater of Ephesus was started under Lysimachus in the third century B.C. It could hold twenty-five thousands spectators and was the largest outdoor theater in the ancient world. It exhibited fights between wild beasts and between beasts and men.” -biblestudy.org

Ephesus 4 theater 2

Ephesus 4 theater

Chapter 2: Saved by Grace and One in Christ

“All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts.  Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.  But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved.”

Ephesians 2:3-5

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Ephesians 2:8-9

Paul wants to be sure the believers understand very clearly that their salvation is a gift from God and comes only by His grace through faith in Jesus.  He is very clear that we cannot earn salvation by our own merit.  This is the foundation of the Christian faith!  We are sinners.  We cannot work our way into Heaven.  No amount of meditation or good works are ever going to get you to Heaven.  Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

Saved by grace through faith

 

One of the most important truths Paul stresses to the new believers is that they are now included in the same promise of God’s covenant alongside the Jews.  He helps them understand that Jews and Gentiles are now one in Christ and that salvation is for all people!  This was crucial because up until Jesus came, the Israelites were the only people included and that would have been everyone’s understanding at that time.  Jews and Gentiles did not mingle and that was well known.

“Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men)–remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.”

Ephesians 2:11-13

Salvation in Jesus Christ is not only for Israel.  It is for the entire world!  The covenant of Isaac and the promise to Abraham that all nations would be blessed through him was fulfilled in Jesus!  That covenant of forgiveness and salvation in Christ is for every single person on the earth!

“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations.  His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.”

Ephesians 2:14-16

There is no Jew or Gentile in Jesus Christ.  We are all one and at peace in Him!  Amen!

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household..”

Ephesians 2:19

Ephesus 9

Ephesus 11

Ephesus 7

Chapter 3: Further explanation of inclusion of Gentiles & Our relationship with God

In chapter 3, Paul continues his explanation of how the Gentiles are included into the same promise as Israel.

“In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets.  This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.”

Ephesians 3:4-6

Paul also gives a short and powerful description of the new relationship God offers all people to have with Him!

“His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.  In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.”

Ephesians 3:10-11

That is an incredible offer from God!  The veil was torn when Jesus died.  There is no longer any separation between God and people.  He wants to have a deep relationship with us!  Through Jesus, we can approach Him freely with confidence that He will accept us in love.  He destroyed the barrier between Jews and Gentiles and we are all just human beings in need of God’s grace!

Paul ends chapter 3 in verses 14-21 with a powerful prayer and reminder of God’s power.  I highly recommend praying that too!  I will post those verses at the end.

Ephesus 8

Chapter 4: Unity and Putting on the New Self

“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.  Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit–just as you were called to one hope when you were called–one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

Ephesians 4:1-6

The promise of salvation through Jesus Christ is for everyone regardless of culture or status.  Once you belong to Jesus you are given the Holy Spirit and there is unity among all believers through that Spirit!  Very cool!

Paul also explains how God is making us new, and gives some detailed instructions on how to live for God.

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Ephesians 4:22-24

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Ephesians 4:31-32

When you accept Jesus, God washes away your old self and He makes you brand new!  That is what all people truly want.  To be washed clean and made new by God is the longing of every soul!

Ephesus sea
Ephesus by the Aegean Sea

Chapter 5: Be imitators of God

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Ephesians 5:1-2

In chapter 5, Paul stresses the importance of holy living.

“But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.  Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.  For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person–such a man is an idolater–has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”

Ephesians 5:3-5

Paul also gives the most important instruction ever given to wives and husbands.  If we love each other and serve each other in the way Paul describes, our marriages will be at peace in God’s order.  After 17 years of marriage, that is easier said than done, but if we loved each other in this way every day, just think how powerful that would be!

“Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.”

Ephesians 5:22-23

Now that might make some women mad, but wait until you read the next part about how men are supposed to love their wives!  Being the husband comes with a great responsibility that we are held accountable to God for.  Check this out:

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”

Ephesians 5:25-27

Can you imagine how great our marriages would be if we loved each other like that every day?!  That is not a picture of an abusive husband dominating a submissive wife.  No!  That is a picture of mutual love and respect that is focused solely on Christ.  Amen!

“”For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”  This is a profound mystery–but I am talking about Christ and the church.  However each of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

Ephesians 5:31-33

ephesus ancient city

Chapter 6: Advice to Parents & Kids, The Spiritual War, and the Armor of God

Paul covers it all in this letter doesn’t he?!  This is the last chapter in the letter and it contains some of those most famous and most quoted verses in the whole Bible.

Paul begins by giving very wise advice to families with kids.

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  “Honor your father and mother”–which is the first commandment with a promise–“that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”  Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

Ephesians 6:1-4

Our homes would be much more peaceful if we lived that way every day!

Paul ends his letter by explaining the ancient battle that we are engaged in.  In order to live victoriously on this earth, you need the power of the Holy Spirit.  The battle we are in is not physical, it is spiritual.  Every day it is spiritual!  We cannot fight the dark powers of this world on our own.  We desperately need Jesus!

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

Ephesians 6:10-12

Folks, I know that is true!  I lived it along with my mother, father, and sister for 4 years (’92-’96) as we suffered torment by a demon living in the house we moved into!  There are most definitely spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms, and only Jesus can deliver you from it!

“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”

Ephesians 6:13-18

That is how you get the victory over the evil that lives on this earth!  With faith in Jesus Christ you can stop all of the evil one’s attacks!  That is real power people!

“Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.”

Ephesians 6:24

Ephesus 10

I hope you enjoyed your visit to ancient Ephesus by way of Paul’s letter!  I pray God’s Word takes root deeply in us and I pray He may give us the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that we may know Him better!

Grace and peace to you all!

“For this reason, I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have 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.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!  Amen.”

Ephesians 3:14-21