Monthly Archives: July 2006

Because this weeks p

(Because this week’s passage is longer, I have chosen to give it to you in complete form first, with the topical points highlighted.)

“In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14 this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.
15 I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. 17 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, 18 so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. 20 God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. 22 And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”

In Paul’s day, just like today, truth was subjective. The ancient Greeks debated the meaning of truth and its origin, and its relevance. Then, just as today, there were many voices of opinion and viewpoints, and many “roads” to enlightenment. However, when Jesus Christ came, He made a claim that no other religious leader had made. He claimed to be God and to be The Truth. Not only that, when He made this claim as recorded by the Gospel of John, He declared Himself to be “before” Abraham, saying that He was preexistent before creation.
Last week I spoke of the eternal plan of God and that, it existed with God prior to creation. That God the Father had a great loving intent in Jesus Christ before the foundation of the world for us, in this plan of redemption. In this passage, Ephesians 1:13-23, details of the plan begin to unfold for us. They are, in fact, details of truth. In this passage, truth passes from subjectivity to objectivity. Truth becomes a surety. Here is how.
First, a list of the important words, in their sequence of the text: Hear; believe; sealed by the Spirit; pledge, wisdom, revelation, knowledge, enlightenment of the heart, hope, believe (yep, again); fullness. Check it out, from hearing to fullness. That is a leap of faith, but not in the ordinary televangelist simplistic way! This process that Paul is showing us. The plan of God is a process, and we get from hearing to fullness by all other things that happen in between. Let’s break it down some more. I will not belabor the hearing to believing part, because I think most of us get that. Except one thing, we do not stop coming to a newness of believing. That is why there is a 2nd “believe” in the sequence.
The first believe is when we accepted Jesus Christ initially. It is our first awakening. At that point, the Holy Spirit (called of promise here because He is promised to us), SEALED us. Now, there is nothing really hokey-pokey going on here. This is a contractual term understood in Paul’s day. It has to do with inheritance. Remember, we are children of the King, with an inheritance. The Holy Spirit is God’s “Down Payment” on that inheritance, (verse 14) and is His mark of promise to pay in full. At the point of our enlightenment to the truth that Jesus is the Christ, the only son of God, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our hearts, and continues the work of this process called redemption, that is ongoing.
Verse 15 will give us a brief flash back to the first part of this series. Remember the word Love and the cross reference to John’s Revelation of Jesus to the Ephesians in AD 90? “Thou have left thy first love…” he told them. Here, years before the book of Revelation was written, Paul writes to the church at Ephesus and states that he has heard of their love! So they must have had it at some point, huh?
The series of words continues with wisdom, revelation, and knowledge. (Verse 17) So far, in this process we have traveled from hearing to belief to new birth (sealed by the spirit). We then begin to understand that it is by God’s grace that He gives us His pledge. This pledge is described in many passages, such as John 14-16, Isaiah 32.15, Isaiah 59.21, Joel 2:28, Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, Ezekiel 39:29, and many more. Now, I hope you will find time to actually read these verses, meditate upon them and digest them in your spirit. It would be great if you did it at this point, because it will help me make the next one.
The Holy Spirit is described in the Bible in many ways. One of them is the spirit of wisdom. I believe that wisdom is far more important than knowledge, because wisdom is the learning of knowledge experientially and applicably. In other words; “try and try again.” One man calls it the “University of Hard Knocks.” I remember being younger, note I said “younger”, and such an idealist.
I had an answer for everything, so I thought. The reality is the knowledge I had was only based on what I thought and solely on my opinion. There was not any wisdom there. Even though I read from the philosophical “greats” and used quotations to sound good, there still was no real wisdom there because the True Holy Spirit of Wisdom was someone I had not really experienced. I believe this is why Paul lists Wisdom ahead of revelation. He is suggesting that we lend ourselves to some good old experiential learning. In life it helps to be teachable, because in learning with an open heart comes wisdom, which takes us back to the beginning of the process again, many times. Sometimes the first thing wisdom teaches us is how to hear. Moreover, when we truly begin to listen to God, then the real revelation begins!
That Revelation is not just any ole kind of knowledge either. Verse 17b tells us specifically, that “as we come to know Him” it must be a process of relational growth. Wow! God already knew us, we found out early on in the chapter. Now, in His awesome grace He shows us that He wants us to know Him. This knowledge is a relational knowledge. It is an active and interactive knowledge, compliments of the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. Verse 18 then caps this passage off with unbelievable goodness.
First, this relational knowledge will focus our spiritual attention on matters of the heart more than just matters of the head. We can get over just being idealist with empty philosophies of humans. The awakening we experience with-in us turns on the illumination of the powerful Spirit of wisdom and revelation, and give our hearts “eyes”. What a metaphor! We begin to look at the world with our hearts and minds, not just our minds. There is another benefit to point out here, among the many within this passage.
When these things begin to happen to us, we come to know hope. There is a vast difference between hoping with our natural minds and knowing hope. I have a relative with cancer right now and I hope that she recovers. In my hoping, I am acting mentally and emotionally that her situation, which is not good, will change. You see, I am not assured that her situation will change. There are certain things in the natural world over which I have no control. However, in Jesus Christ and with the Indwelling presence of the Spirit, there is an inner knowledge about life one can have. I have come to know the hope of eternal life. In this truth, there is assurance, because the eternal one dwells within me. The closer one comes to God in wisdom and revelation within, the more one comes to know hope. The more we come to know hope, in each area of our lives, the more we come to belief for God to control other circumstances. We release more to Him. The more frequent we come back to belief for God to work new works in us, the greater the fullness in life we have. The greater the fullness in life we experience, the more we understand “what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. 20 God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places.” Vs 19-20

There is much more about this chapter. To be truthful with you, every time I read the Bible and meditate on it, I find something new and rich, even though I have read the same passage before. I am always baffled by those who tell me “I have read the bible once, and have had enough of it; the liturgy is all I need.” I realize there are plenty of great books to read out there, and I read many books, but the number one place to dine for me is at the banquet table of God’s wisdom as revealed in the Holy Bible. In it I can:

Receive (the Spirit and promise)
Listen (wisdom)
See (revelation-understand)
Know (relationship)
Open-up (enlightened heart)
Activate inactive Hope
Believe Again
Renew (fullness of life)


Back to the Holy Fire Part 3

     The benefits of being a child of a king are enormous. Just in the earthly sense, imagine you are a child of a king. Think of the palaces of the kings in the Middle East and all the grandeur. Think of the level of honor given to those who live in royalty in England. They are often the objects of pomp and circumstance. Honor guards salute them. Military might guard them. Heads of state celebrate them. This is exactly what I find in our passage for this session. Ephesians 1:5-12 (NRSV):
     5 He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will,” God, the creator king of the universe, has done two things. He planned our adoption and looks at us through Christ as His children. With that, reality comes all of the inheritance that belongs to the children of royalty. We are children of the king. Second, the nature of God’s actions in adopting us tells us something about our relationship with Him. We are told in this passage that it is according to the pleasure of God’s will. Another translation adds the word kind to the word will; saying, “according to the pleasure of His kind intention [will]…”  At the risk of sounding sarcastic, and I really don’t mean to… but consider the idea conveyed here for a moment and weigh it against the voice of those in the body of Christ today that over emphasize the placed of Reason alone in reading the Bible. What I mean is that what I personally read in this one verse is not meant so much for my mind as it is my HEART. It is a sentence designed to encourage me about how much God loves me, and past tense, loved me in Alpha eternity, that He planned what he did. Of course, the reason is connected to the heart, but I do not think that God intends for us to allow our minds to dominate what He is saying TO our hearts. It is His kind intention toward us that He wants us to experience as children.
6 “to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”His grace is bestowed. I realize that people hardly use that word anymore, but it carries a rich meaning. To me, it conveys an image of one bearing many gifts, loaded down so much, there is no room to contain all of the wonderful things brought to give away. I recall the voice of the Spirit one day that revealed this sentence to me. It was at a time, long after my diagnosis with HIV and about a year after going on medical leave, and I was pretty bored and desolate. I was reading about God abiding with me, and heard that still small voice say, “It’s as if God wants to come into your home and unpack all His stuff.” I had a picture of Jesus coming into my apartment with a suitcase and opening it up, revealing a vast, eternal supply of everything imaginable!
7 In him we have:
Redemption through his blood,
The forgiveness of our trespasses,
According to the riches of his grace
8 that he lavished on us.
It is all too good to be true. Look at the words used in verse seven: Redemption; Forgiveness; Riches; Grace; these are separate actions and objects, yet they are connected to the kind intention of the eternal God. They compliment one another. They tell use about the nature of God’s intention. For instance, His forgiveness is rich and gracious.  His grace includes the act of redemption, (paying the kinsmen’s redeemers price), richly for us, the cost was His own son. You see, in the Old Testament, when a debt was owed and the borrower could not pay, the debtor could be taken into slavery to repay the debt, and sometimes he even forfeited his property. However, there was a provision in the year of Jubilee, every 40 years, that a relative, (kinsman), could pay the debt and redeem the person back and the property. This is the picture we have in God’s intention of Grace through Christ. Christ was the payment for us, and our spiritual richness and inheritance. God paid that enormous price. Our understanding of should be sensed esoterically and in the heart. It transcends our reason. God intends for it to. He lavished it upon us for that reason.

The Exposition of th

The Exposition of the Our Father
Expositions or commentaries on the Our Father were very common in the Middle Ages as an aid to meditation. For St. Francis the Our Father was a very important prayer, since it was his decision to take God as his Father that led him to dramatically renounce his own inheritance in the piazza of the Episcopal residence at Assisi. St. Francis’ exposition of the Our Father manifests more clearly than any of his writings the clarity and profundity of his grasp of spiritual realities.
According to some sources, St. Francis taught his friars to recite this prayer. 4 Indeed, it is most useful as an aid to recollection. The date of composition is unknown. 5
O Most Holy “Our Father:” Creator, Redeemer, Consoler and Our Savior. 6
Who art in Heaven:” in the Angels and in the Saints; enlightening them unto knowledge, because Thou, Lord, art Light; inflaming them unto love (amor), because Thou, Lord, art Love; indwelling and filling them unto blessedness, because Thou, Lord, art the Highest Good, the Eternal One, from whom is every good, without whom nothing is good.
“Hallowed be Thy Name:” may the knowledge of Thee in us be made bright, so that we may know, what is the breadth (cf. Ep 3:18) of Thy benefactions, 7 the length of Thy promises, the sublimity of Thy Majesty and the depth of Thy judgments.
Thy Kingdom come:” so that Thou may reign in us by grace and makes us come unto Thy Kingdom, where vision of Thee is made manifest, love (dilectio) of Thee made perfect, company with Thee blessed, enjoyment of Thee everlasting.
Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven:” so that we may love Thee with (our) whole heart (cf. Lk 10:27) by thinking of Thee always, with (our) whole soul by desiring Thee always, with (our) whole mind directing unto Thee all our intentions, by seeking Thy honor in all things and with all our strength by expending all our strength and sense of soul and body in submission to Thy love (amor) and not in anything else; and may we love our neighbors even as our very selves by drawing all to Thy love to the extent of (our) strength, by rejoicing over the good things of others just as over our own and by compassionating (them) in evils and by giving offense to no one (cf. 2 Cor 6:3).
Give us this day,” Thy Beloved (dilectio) Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ,
our daily Bread:” to remember and understand and reverence the love (amor), which He had for us, and those things, which He said, did, or endured on our behalf.
And forgive us our debts:” by Thy ineffable mercy, through the virtue of the Passion of Thy Beloved (dilectio) Son and by the merits and intercession of the Blessed Virgin and all Thy elect.
As we also forgive our debtors:” and what we do not fully forgive, Lord make us fully forgive, so that we may truly love (our) enemies for the sake of Thee and intercede devoutly on their behalf with Thee, rendering to none evil for evil (cf. 1 Thes 5:15) and striving in all things to advance unto Thee.”
And lead us not into temptation:” hidden or manifest, sudden or importune. 8
“But deliver us from evil:” past, present, and future. Glory to the Father, …. 9

Canticle of Brother Sun

Most high, all-powerful, all good, Lord!All praise is yours, all glory, all honorAnd all blessing.To you alone, Most High, do they belong.No mortal lips are worthyTo pronounce your name.All praise be yours, my Lord, through all that you have made,And first my lord Brother Sun,Who brings the day; and light you give to us through him.How beautiful is he, how radiant in all his splendor!Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Moon and Stars;In the heavens you have made them, brightAnd precious and fair.All praise be yours, My Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,And fair and stormy, all the weather’s moods,By which you cherish all that you have made.All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Water,So useful, lowly, precious and pure.All praise be yours, my Lord, through Brother Fire,Through whom you brighten up the night. How beautiful is he, how gay! Full of power and strength.All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Earth, our mother,Who feeds us in her sovereignty and producesVarious fruits with colored flowers and herbs.All praise be yours, my Lord, through those who grant pardon For love of you; through those who endureSickness and trial.Happy those who endure in peace,By you, Most High, they will be crowned.All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Death,From whose embrace no mortal can escape.Woe to those who die in mortal sin! Happy those She finds doing your will!The second death can do no harm to them.Praise and bless my Lord, and give him thanksAnd serve him with great humility

Back to the Holy Fir

“Back to the Holy Fire” – What Really Matters?
                   A study of the book of Ephesians
    By way of introduction, I would like to talk to you briefly about the methodology of exegesis. Just what is exegesis? To put it simply, it is the verse-by-verse study of scripture expounded. Often, scholars will take the passage of scripture on a “microscopic” level, and explain the meaning of the written text word-by-word, taken from Greek or Hebrew texts. I enjoy the expository, verse by verse approach to bible study, taking a slow pace, because it allows one to digest the esoteric (higher and philosophic) meaning of the letter, while seeking to understand what is written in historical context. However, when a new believer asks me how to begin study of the Bible, I usually suggest that they read it just as it was written, like a letter. That is exactly what most of the New Testament is, letters written to various churches concerning how to live out the Gospel life. The four Gospel are historical accounts of the life of Jesus. The book of Acts is the history of the birth of the first century church. Romans through Jude, (the majority of the N. T.) are Epistles, (letters) and Revelation is a literary form of gematria and apocalypse written to tell the story of the plan of Christ revealed in the Earth until His second coming. So, I tell new believers and most layfolk to read the Epistles like letters and the Psalms like poetry, the proverbs, well, like proverbs. In it’s simplicity, the Bible can best be understood.
    For instance, when one reads “do not murder” in the book of Exodus, I think that is fairly plain. How about this one, “love your neighbor as yourself…” and even though we all may have had a neighbor or two in the past that challenged our love, that one is still plain as well. Yet, there are passages that are best  read in context of the historical times, and are not meant to be lived out today. If we read the Bible as a letter, we leave room in our mind and heart to decide what is really relevant for today, and what isn’t. Most of the time, the practical things that apply to us are quite evident, if we give the Bible a chance. It is with this attitude that I launch into a look at the Ecclesial Book of Ephesians. It is a letter of Paul divided into six chapters and can be described as having to do intently with the heart of the believer and the heart of the church. It is most likely one of my favorite New Testament writings. I hope you will find blessing in its encouragement in the coming weeks.
Why cross-reference?
 Some have asked the question why people cross-reference scripture. My answer is that it is helpful to understand the mindset of the day. If the same phraseology is used in other writings, or other topics are addressed, more light can be shed on just what the writer intended the reader to understand. It is quite reliable, since the writers of the New Testament were in close contact with each other, and even Paul spent time with the Apostles in Jerusalem before heading out on his missions. He also spent many months with Luke, John, and Mark. 
Chapter One
     1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,      to the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus:      Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
    Right away, there is a great lesson in the scripture. The very first word. Someone once asked, “What’s in a name?” If you know the story about the conversion of Paul, you understand that before he became a Christian his name was Saul. It was on the road to Damascus that he saw his vision of Jesus, and Christ asked him” Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Not long into the story, Jesus Christ changes Saul’s name to Paul. I believe that there is some significance to this story, at least there is a beautiful imagery to be seen. The name Saul was of Hebrew origin and meant “to ask or pray.” Saul had persecuted the Christians relentlessly, having even been present at the stoning of Stephen, holding the cloak of one of the participants. He was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish leadership council. He was a very public figure and most likely very self-righteous. The name Paul now lends the imagery. In Greek, it means “small”. You see, Jesus humbled Saul on the road to Damascus that day, and convicted him of his sin, quickening his heart to the wrong he had committed. It also served to humble Paul the rest of his life, because historians say he was a small man in stature, anyway. Perhaps he was always reminded of his humble state, and how the Lord had changed his life that day, because of his name.
    The next phrase “an apostle of Christ by the will of God..” stands out to me because he was not one of the original twelve. Either Paul was being a bit self reliant and appointed here, or the Holy Spirit is revealing to us that it is God who ultimately chooses whom He will. The word Apostle means “One Sent”. So in the sense that Paul was sent by Christ to preach to the Gentiles, he was most correct to use the term. Some would argue his apostolic authority, but the rebel in me simply states “you will know them by their fruit, by their works…”. Most people who have doubted Paul’s authority to me have never shown me equal impact on the world coming from them. The Holy Spirit bears the witness to the works of believers.
    The next phase is a favorite of mine. To the Saints. No canonization is needed. These folk lived long before the first pope was venerated. The true definition of a saint; the faithful in Christ Jesus.
    Paul’s prayer is one that is universal for all that grace and peace be upon them, and ultimately us. Notice that there is a connection between the concept of grace and peace. Without grace, there can be no truly inward lasting peace. In addition, without the atonement of Jesus Christ, which made peace through the cross, there is no fullness of Grace.

The Many and the One

The Many and the One Time”

Did you ever wonder about God‘s timing or about the phrase “In the dispensation of the fullness of times…?” (1) The word times, in the plural tense, indicates that God is in control of more than one time line. More than one set of circumstances or events. He is specifically in control of each person and at the same instant in control universally of the many. In control of each individual’s events and can intervene at any time and specifically, the right time for that person, circumstance or event. In the New American Standard Bible Romans, 5:6 states this way: “For while we were…at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” There is more that just one instance of time indicated here, which you will see if you will carefully read the text. The phrase “ for while we were” implies each of us when we were fixed  in sin at different times. Each of us have been in sin at different places on this time line we live on. Since that is true, than Christ’s death transcends any fixed point on that time line, because He died at the right time “while we were yet sinners.” We have each come to know Christ at different times and certainly sinned in different months, seasons, and years. We are diverse and what it took to bring us to Christ is then just as diverse. It surpasses the limitations of any one fixed point in time and becomes the time when He reached each of us with His death, and His life. Each one is different. God is omnipresent in time. He is neither limited nor fixed to any certain point, so that any point at which He touches the lost and brings them home becomes the right time. The right time is really an archetype of each time Christ delivers, heals, touches, and saves. It is the universal time of the call and the individual time for each saint. We can rejoice today that our Father has a specific plan that is according to His kind intention for us, (2) and that He executes it at just the right time. It is just the right time for each of us!

          It is awesome to realize that it is at that point when He then brings us to Himself, in the heavenly sphere of timelessness where He abides.  Suddenly, we become limitless in Him translated into His presence and power. We begin to abide in Him and that means that when begin to live on His time schedule and in His perfect timing not measured but experienced. If we abide in Christ, then we can realize all the right moments in the dispensing of His will for ourselves. We are to consecrate ourselves. That simply means to set aside time for God.  Those who have been idle must rise up and synchronize with the pulse of the Almighty God.  The Spirit calls us to His presence and this is the right time. The acceptable moment He has chosen for healing, salvation, and holiness. As He is so we must become and when He is, so must we be also. (3)  That, my beloved, is now.

(1) Ephesians 1:10

(2) Ephesians 1:5

(3) I John 4:17

Back To the Holy Fire 2

“Back To the Holy Fire”
   The book of Ephesians, verse by verse
     Br. Timothy Spaulding

     I enjoy books that have to do with renewal immensely. I also like building and rebuilding. The thing that is most attractive to me about Christianity is the forgiveness factor, the holy heart of Jesus, and the all-inclusive love of God. The book of Ephesians is all about those issues.
     Chapter 1 gives us an overview of the eternal plan of God for our wholeness and redemption, and that we are transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. It tells us that this plan was decided prior to the creation of the world! God had good intentions way back then. Chapter 2 takes us into the resurrection power, and our place of peace in the heavens. We are told how God has put to rest the old law and reconciled the estranged. Chapter 3 energizes the inner being of the believer, encouraging us to be full with the depths of his power and love. Chapter 4 describes the glorious Bride; the Body of Christ, and how the church is to function until He returns. Chapter 5 tells us about relationships and proper behaviors. Chapter 6 finalizes this letter by giving us spiritual equipment to face the challenges that life can throw our way.  This book is a comprehensive book of renewal that will rekindle the flame in any heart, that is, any heart willing to receive.

     Ephesians 1:3-6 (NRSV) “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, 4 just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. 5 He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”
Verse 3 The first wonder I notice is the emphasis on a relationship that is found in this verse. It is not so much that it is father/son, as much as it is a parental relationship, with all the love and protection that comes with a healthy and good family life. This is embedded in creation. Paul is praising God for being that kind of God; the good parent who through the example of love and resurrection power in Christ, adopted us, and blessed us as His children. This thought carries us even further in blessing; we read that God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing. Wow. This is almost too much grace to comprehend already, and we are only three verses into the book! We are blessed. Do you feel down this week? Then let me be a bit evangelical here; repeat aloud and say from your heart, “I am blessed because God planned it that way…” It will begin to sink in and when you and I realize who we really are in Jesus Christ, our faith will grow, and we can endure the trials ahead. By the way, look where the blessing come from – heavenly places. It is a transfer of power by the divine one to the children of His image, to empower them to become the created in fullness and wholeness. All we need to do is believe and receive. (I know, it sounds like, well…)
     St. Francis was a true mystic and he knew that to fulfill the will of God, he had to receive according to his faith. Much like Francis, Paul is preparing the Ephesians for life by telling them who they are, who God intended all of us to become before God ever said the first word of creation. We were the first and foremost God’s heart. All of creation is uncertain for the purpose of humanity to come to the knowledge of the love of God in Christ. What a grand and eternal intention. That is why I love the phrase “to live with intention for God.” It is because God has such great intention for his children that we should return that love and compassion through our own.
     Verse Four      He chose us. So many have made so much dogma out of this passage that has caused not only debated and division, but loss of life. A beautiful book starts out with great intention, and then that epiphany is lost because some return to the life of Pharisees and Sadducees. Listen to the phrase: “just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.”  The only point here is this: chosen to be holy and blameless when it comes to love. Now Jesus said it this way: “the whole law and prophets are summed up on this; love God with all your heart, mind, and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself” and Jesus gave us a new amendment in this, “you shall love each other as I have loved you.” It is about love, folks! He chose us for love. He chose us to live in love. He chose us because of love. In His choosing us, He loved us. He loved… For God so loved… For God so loves…  The phrase is about love and true holiness and living without pointing the finger – without blame. God says, “I do not want to point my finger at your sin anymore.” And so we should not point the finger either. It is about love.
     Verse five and six – It is for God good pleasure that the divine Godhead chose to create us and then dwell within us. It is the desire of the Holy One that we should praise and honor God, brining glory to Christ, not division. We should minister out of Love, and build the church in peace. It is the reality of eternal love, this quality of life that God has intended for us from the beginning. The holy fire ignites with that reality. It spreads when we live it with intent, and then the Lord of Glory receives the praise and honor due His name. It is at this point we begin to understand the word beloved.
     Jesus, the beloved one from the foundation of the world (cosmos) the system of people, and nations, and thoughts, and ideas. Jesus made the way possible back to God, from a world system that had fallen so far away from the intent of the Almighty.
You see, free will is part of living with intent, and being created to freely love and praise the one who made us. Some chose another path. Sin entered the system (cosmos) and darkness vale the way. The path to the beloved was obscured. However, God knew all of this, even before it would happen. That is the beauty of it all.  God knew that iniquity would dawn, and so the Father planned the love plan, before creation and that “dawn of darkness”. Knowing that once iniquity became reality and then in reality the Beloved met iniquity with power; God freed us in Jesus and from the power of iniquity. It does not have to abound in our lives. Love can abound. All of this was planned before the foundation of the world (cosmos) was in place. God is all knowing, (omniscient), including the future. Verse 6 is clear. All of this was placed on us through the Beloved (Jesus) from the beginning.
     I find it quite interesting those years later, another writer, writing to this very church of Ephesus, John, in the third chapter of Revelations tells them “you have left your first love.” This statement comes from the John who was nicknamed”the beloved” of Jesus. You see, John had spent time in Rome with Paul while Paul was under house arrest by Caesar. John later became the Bishop of Ephesus and the mentor of Polycarp, one of our early church historians. This is an important cross reference, the type I referred to in my introduction last week.
     The church was about to undergo much persecution, and John was writing to prepare them for that. He reminded them of the first principle of faith to rekindle their strength; love.
     However, those letters in Revelation serve us today and Ephesians can serve as the key to repair the brokenness described in the letters to the seven churches. The first foundation laid in the book of Ephesians is the principle of Love. The first church dealt with in the apocalyptic letters is Ephesians, and their dysfunction; they had left their first love. This is the foundation for us today. To rekindle the fire, we must rebuild on Love. It must be the kind of love found in Jesus Christ from the foundation of the world. It is a love with intent.