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Sunday, May 19, 2019
I Kings 14-18
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
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.
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--
to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
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.
And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ,
to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment--to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,
in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.
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.
For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints,
I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.
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.
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,
in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.
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.
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,
in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
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.
For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
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.
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.
He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.
For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household,
built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.
In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.
And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles--
Surely you have heard about the administration of God's grace that was given to me for you,
that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly.
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.
I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God's grace given me through the working of his power.
Although I am less than the least of all God's people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,
and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.
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.
I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.
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.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. NIV. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.
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