God’s Blessings; February 28, 2020

Ephesians 1:3 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.

The letter to the Ephesians is considered by some to be the pinnacle of Paul’s writing. It was considered so by my grandfather, W. O. Carver, who wrote probably his best book, The Glory of God in the Christian Calling, on Ephesians. I have always felt a deep affinity to the book myself, and virtually every verse of it is underlined in one color or another in my Bible. Paul wrote in such long Greek sentences that it becomes difficult to translate into other languages and still make sense. (My grandfather included his own translation in his book.) My understanding is that the section from verse 3 through verse 10 at least, if not through verse 14, is all one sentence! That said, the richness of the content is worth the trouble of digging into it. This verse gives us a preview: every spiritual blessing in heaven (as the Japanese translates it)! We really have no framework to grasp the infinity of God’s gracious blessings toward us. One of the delights of walking with Christ is discovering more and more of these blessings. Then, we have eternity in heaven to look forward to! None of that would have been possible had Jesus not chosen to be born as a human baby, living our life along with us and taking the penalty for our sins on Himself, so that we might be cleansed and made acceptable to our perfectly pure and holy Creator, Father God. That’s what Ephesians is all about, and really, the whole Bible. If reading the Bible doesn’t sometimes put you in absolute awe of what God has done for you, then you aren’t reading it correctly! It is so much more than our human minds can comprehend that we absolutely need the help of the Holy Spirit to grasp it. (1 Corinthians 2:14) However, He does help us, so reading the Bible under His guidance is a delight indeed.

I of course didn’t choose the family into which I was born, but it was an incredible blessing. Not only was one grandfather a seminary professor, the other was a pastor, and my parents were missionaries, with my father having received his PhD in Greek at the age of 23, writing his dissertation on the use of “in Christ” and related expressions in the New Testament. You could say that faith and academics were the two pillars of our household! (In an amusing side note, when my mother was in college, one summer she offered to edit her father’s latest book to catch errors, and got his permission to simplify some of his sentences. When the book was published, one reviewer said, “The most readable Carver yet!” My grandfather had read so much of Paul that his sentence structure had become similar.) I committed myself to Christ at the age of seven, but my spiritual growth since then has hardly been even, with major ups and downs. However, it has certainly been a saga of discovering more and more of the things referenced in this verse. It is easier and easier to rest, relax, and rejoice in my Lord, just as He has told me to do, even though I am surrounded by unknowns. I am not at all anxious about COVID-19, for example, because I know that my God would not allow anything that could not be used for my blessing, whatever it might feel like in the short term. As a pastor, I seek to help others have this same revelation of the incredible, gracious blessings of God, and to my great joy, some indeed do get it, and radiate the joy of the Lord to those around them.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for all Your plans for today. I ask for Your anointing as I prepare the sermon notes for Sunday, and as I do some visitation this afternoon. I pray that my walking this morning would be effective in maintaining this body You have given me, so that my every interaction would accurately represent You to those around me, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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