A Breathtaking PanoramaDaily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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 for adoption to sonship 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, 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 reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under 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 put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you 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.
Today, we return to the Letter to the Ephesians. If you've joined the Daily Reflections in the last month, I should explain that I began a close study of Ephesians in June, the start of a long, slow walk through this amazing book. Then, during August, I took my traditional summer break, resending reflections on Romans that I wrote a couple of years ago. Now I'm back to writing new reflections and will pick up where I left off in late July. We had just finished Ephesians 1:7: "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace."
Before we press on, however, I thought it would be wise for us to pause and drink in once again the breathtaking panorama of Ephesians 1:3-14. Back in early July, I used the illustration of the view from Inspiration Point in Yosemite, California as a way of explaining the power of this biblical passage. Last month, my family and I spent our vacation only fifty miles from this stirring vista, fifty miles as the crow flies, that is. Between our location in the eastern California and Yosemite Valley lay the lofty peaks of the High Sierra. If we had driven to the Valley, we would have covered well over a hundred miles. Yet we did not need to make this drive to see amazing scenes of natural beauty. Though the Eastern Sierra doesn't have anything to rival Yosemite Valley, it does offer inspiring views of mountains, lakes, valleys, forests, rivers, and glaciers. When I sit and ponder such wonders, my soul is quieted and my heart expanded. I am reminded of the greatness of God, both his power and his beauty. (You can see a few panoramic photos from my recent vacation here.)
Ephesians 1:3-14 offers a similar viewpoint, though in the inspired words of the Apostle Paul. You may recall that I have called this passage Paul's eulogy. The word "eulogy" is based on the Greek word eulogia, which means "blessing." In Ephesians 1:3, three forms of this Greek word appear, clearly identifying the passage that follows as a eulogy, a blessing, a hymn of praise to God.
The eulogy in Ephesians 1:3-14 reveals a vast vision of God's work in the cosmos, beginning before the creation of the world and continuing until the end of time, when all things in heaven and earth will be brought to unity in Christ. Moreover, have been chosen by God to join in his mission as his beloved children.
Let me encourage you to read Ephesians 1:3-14 slowly, prayerfully. Drink in its refreshment. Allow your mind to be expanded by its vision. Let your heart be stirred by its revelation of God's glorious grace. See once again how you fit into this grand painting of God's salvation.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Why are we so moved by panoramic views of natural beauty? What does this say about us? What does it say about God? Which elements of Ephesians 1:3-14 most resonate with you today?
PRAYER: All praise be to you, O God, because you have blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ. You have chosen us to belong to you and to join you in your mission. You have predestined us to be your beloved children. You have lavished your grace upon us. You have redeemed us from slavery to sin and forgiven us for our trespasses. You have made known to us the wonder of your plan to unite all things in Christ. You have made us your own so that we might exist for the praise of your glory.
All praise, glory, and honor be to you, gracious, marvelous, mighty God, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Images sourced via Creative Commons.