As I approached the table at the restaurant one morning, Stan was starring off into space, appearing to be deep in thought. “What’s on your mind?” I asked.
“Good morning,” he replied. “There’s something I read earlier this morning that I just can’t get off of my mind.”
Continuing, he added, “I began making my way through the apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians again this morning. Something in the very first verse caught my attention. I’m not sure I had ever seen it before, but I think it has application to and for me and my faith walk.”
“Doesn’t everything in the Bible have such application?” I asked with a smile.
“Good point, my friend,” Stan replied. “Yes, it all has application, and with this particular verse where Paul states who he was writing to, I think there’s a point that’s aimed directly at me.”
“You’ve got my attention,” I replied. “Let’s have it!”
“In the opening verse,” Stan replied, “Paul says he is writing ‘to the saints who are at Ephesus, and who are faithful in Christ Jesus.’”
“So?” I replied.
“The way I’m looking at this, for my personal application,” Stan said, “is that Paul was writing to the believers in Ephesus. Period. Nobody else, just believers. But Paul goes on to mention that he’s writing to those ‘who were faithful in Christ Jesus’.”
“So,” I said, “Paul was writing to two different groups of people; is that what you’re saying?”
“Yeah.” Stan replied. “Actually sub-groups. Seems to me Paul is addressing two groups of believers: those who were faithful and those who were not. Just like today. And just like me.”
“Just like you?”
“Sure,” Stan said, “I’m a believer, but there certainly are times when I’m not faithful in being who and doing what God intends for me.”
“And why’s that?” I asked.
“We can talk about that forever,” Stan replied with a smile, “but the bottom-line explanation is simply the failure to be a full-time disciple.”
“Oh,” I said, “the part about denying self, taking up what God has for you to take up, and following Him wherever, however, and whenever; is that it?”
“That’s it,” Stan replied. “And the ‘whenever’ is supposed to be always!”
Bible verses to consider:
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus, and who are faithful in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 1:1.
His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your master. Matthew 25:21.
And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, that you brought me to the truth of the finished work of Christ Jesus on the Cross so that I can count myself a believer with the assurance of salvation and redemption. However, you know and I know how many times I am not faithful to what I believe or to what you have for me to be and to do as your child. Please forgive me for all of those times I am unfaithful by exalting myself, doing what I want apart from you, and going wherever I want, rather than denying self, taking up what you have for me to take up, and following you wherever you want to lead. I want only to live what I believe. Please help me with that. Thank you I can and do bring all of these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Think on this: Are you a believer with the assurance of salvation and redemption so you know you will spend eternity in God’s presence? If no, why? What’s standing in the way of accepting God’s free and gracious gift? If you are a believer, how are you doing with living a life of faith? As well as you would like? As well as God would like? If you sense changes may be needed in the level of your faithfulness, how are those changes going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?