My new series Ephesians A to Z begins tomorrow. I’m joining 1500+ bloggers at the Blogging From A to Z Challenge 2015. I’ll be using one letter of the alphabet each day to explore amazing, life giving, transformational truths from the book of Ephesians.
Ephesians is a book written to a people just like us. They were a people living in a modern city; with dozens of ethnic groups & social classes. There was a mix of ‘god’s’ & often a clash of cultures.
Most had lost any deep attachment to or real relationship with their god. They kept only an enthusiasm for elaborate festivals, parades & games. Think Santa Claus parades or Mardi Gras celebrations !
Cults vied for the attention of the Ephesians.
Into this superficial existence came the Gospel of Jesus. It promised to those oppressed by materialism & powerless religious ritual the hope of an inheritance in the life hereafter & a relationship with the Living God in the here & now.
Real relationship with Jesus met their deepest human needs- the need for dignity, purpose, belonging & love.
The promise was that they could experience Grace & Peace in the 9 to 5 of life.
Back to 1988
This isn’t the first time I’ve written about Ephesians. First came the little blue booklet you see at the right; Vine-Life Studies: Ephesians. It was written for a group of then Thirty Somethings who had a passion for the Word & a longing for more of God. They desperately needed their faith to be real in the 9 to 5 of life.
Here is the back story. It comes from the preface of the little blue book.
The strongest, motivating factor in my life has been the desire to study & know the word of God; to know God relationally & personally. With this desire, I’ve spent the last 10 years involved in women’s ministries-studying, teaching & training others to study & teach the Word of God. It was a delight to see others grow in their knowledge of the foundational truths of Scripture. Over 100 leaders (both men & women) were trained to enthusiastically lead others in our province.
This sounds like a wonderful scenario. But nagging doubts about the whole process began to surface.
My husband kept asking questions such as :
- What changes have occurred in your students lives?
- Are they winning more people to the Lord?
- Can you show me more Fruit of the Spirit in their lives?
- Are they happier?
I was defensive, angry & hurt but I had to admit that I could not answer his questions. My students knew more but I couldn’t see real growth in very many of them.
Nor did I see much change in myself.
- I was still struggling with the same problems & sins that I’d struggled with for years.
- In many ways the guilt over the struggle was robbing me of much of my joy.
- This was not what I had signed up for !
In October 1986 the Lord began a process of radical transformation in our lives.
Worship around the world had changed almost overnight.
We began to sing songs to God rather than songs about God.
The Holy Spirit Touched Us
Our Hearts Burned Within Us
God With Us
Not Just Theology
The Fire of the Holy Spirit warms but also purges. New beginnings come from painful endings.
In April of 1987 my work with the international bible study ministry came to an abrupt halt. Out of this painful death Vine-Life Studies was born.
The Lord called me to write a study that not only incorporated solid inductive bible study but gave opportunity for these truths to be actualized in the lives of the students week by week.
In Fall 1987, fifteen students piloted the Ephesians course. Week by week we worshiped, studied & prayed for one another. Week by week we saw answered prayer. Only two or three requests did not seem to be answered.
We saw :
- physical illnesses healed
- emotional scars removed
- relationships restored
- sins conquered
In the midst of the joy there was also sorrow & despair as
- a young mom in our group died of cancer
- another lost her husband
- others faced the heartache of addictions in their family
- there were wayward children
- some came to the brink of death with critical illness
Over the year we learned to be intimate, real & vulnerable with the Lord & with each other. Without shame & without fear we could say “this is how it is for me on the inside”. Without hesitation I could answer my husband’s questions by saying “every life including mine has changed”.
Back to the Future
Twenty-seven years later my mission is still the same . My mission is to know my God & teach you how to know Him.
My prayer those many years ago was that they would ‘Abide in the Vine & Bear Much Fruit’ as you worship, learn & walk with others.
That is still my prayer today.
I pray that God our Father would give you Grace & Peace.
I pray that Jesus will make his home in your hearts as you trust Him.
I pray that your roots will grow down into the Father’s love and keep you strong.
I pray especially for you ‘Thirty-Somethings’.
I hear your cry.
There Has to Be More
Join Us As We Explore