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New Testament


Day 1 & 2

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READ: Ephesians 1:1-14

THINK: Though God already knows all that will take place and has a specific plan for your life, He doesn't cause or force you to make the choices you do. God's ultimate purposes will be accomplished, but you must choose for yourself whether or not to be part of God's overall plan and eternal purpose for His people. God has chosen to adopt you into His family and has set aside an eternal inheritance for you. And while He will al- ways be faithful to you, it's up to you to rely on Him so you can remain faithful and fulfill His plan for your life.

RESPOND: What does it mean to be "in Christ Jesus"? (See 1:1 second note.) According to verse 4, why has God chosen us, and how should that impact how we live? What does it mean to be "adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ" (v. 5)? (See 1 John 3:1 note on being "children of God.") What does it mean that in Jesus Christ we have "redemption" (v. 7), and how does that come "through his blood"? (See 1:7 note.) In what way is God's will a "mystery"? (See 1:9 note.) What does it mean that all things in heaven and on earth will be brought together "under one head, even Christ"? (See 1:10 note.) What does it mean that in Christ we have been "chosen" and "predestined" according to God's plans and purposes (cf. vv. 5, 11)? Does this mean that God determined who would follow Him and that people really have no choice in the matter? (See 1:11 note. Also see article on Election and Predestination, p. 1706.) What does it mean that the Holy Spirit is a "seal," and what does that imply for Jesus' followers? (See 1:13 first note.) In what way is the Holy Spirit a "deposit guaranteeing our inheritance"? (See 1:13-14 note.) What other roles and functions of the Holy Spirit are mentioned throughout Ephesians? (See 1:13 second note.)

PRAY: Give God thanks for having a plan already established for your life. Thank Him for adopting you into His family and laying up an inheritance for you in heaven. Pray for strength and devotion to accept and follow His plans.

ACT: Has God given you a specific opportunity to honor Him - something He's planned that could help you grow spiritually or influence others for Christ? Perhaps you've hesitated to act because of doubts or fears. It's your choice whether to hold back or to step into God's purpose. Choose today to venture boldly toward God's destiny for you.

READ: Ephesians 1:15-2:10

THINK: Sometimes it may seem that in order to get the best opportunities in life you need to know certain people and have the right connections. But God isn't dependent on other people's reputations and influence to get you where you need to be. As His child and a follower of Jesus, you represent Him and have the full backing of His power and authority. As you rely on the Holy Spirit, you will be able to endure anything that comes your way and accomplish anything that God intends for you, influencing others for Christ along the way.

RESPOND: In what way do Paul's prayers for the Ephesians reflect God's desire for all followers of Christ? (See 1:16-20 note.) According to this passage, what are some of the functions and purposes of the Holy Spirit and what does He reveal to Jesus' followers? Why do we need God's power, and what does it provide and accomplish for us? (See 1:19 note.) What do verses 20-22 indicate about Jesus' authority? In what way is the "fullness" of Christ evident in His church? (See 1:23 note.) What benefits and purposes does the church have as Christ's "body"? What do the first few verses of chapter 2 indicate about "those who are disobedient" to God and who follow "the ways of the world"? (See 2:2 note.) Why should this give Jesus' followers a deep sense of compassion for those who do not follow Him? According to verses 4-10, what are the benefits that God's grace has provided for us? In what way does God's grace provide for our spiritual salvation apart from any of our own work or efforts? (See 2:9 note.) Why is it vital to understand this? Even though we are not saved by works, in what way are good works still relevant and necessary for Christians? (See 2:10 note.) What purposes can good works serve?

PRAY: Pray for the people you will encounter today who don't know Jesus. Ask God for the opportunity to share His grace and to help you influence them in a positive way for His honor.

ACT: Show compassion in a practical way to someone who doesn't know Jesus. This may be through a simple act of kindness, a word of encouragement, a helpful gesture, etc. Perhaps you could invite the person to join you and some friends for an activity that will show them the type of good time those who follow Jesus can have.

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