Ephesians is one of my favorite books in the Bible. Filled with such truth about who we are in Christ, the glorious grace given to us through Christ, and the promise and hope of life lived in and through Him. As we take the next couple of months to dig into these beautiful Scriptures, I don’t want to miss for a minute the wonder of it all. I hope you all are excited as well.
Throughout my life, I’ve done numerous Bible studies. Some topical, others expository. I have gleaned so much from the amazing authors who have written books and studies from books of the Bible and important topics such as freedom in Christ, experiencing God, having the mind of Christ, and who I am in Christ.
For years, I have had an on again/off again relationship with God’s Word. I have always loved the time spent in God’s Word, but, like Leslie wrote in her post Four Obstacles to Reading the Bible (And How I Moved Past Them), there were obstacles I let stand in the way. About a year ago, I began an in-depth study of God’s Word that transformed my time with Him. I’m finding that spending time with Jesus and in His Word is an amazing opportunity and privilege that I get to do. And coming to know Him in a more personal way is helping me convert a lot of cognitive/head knowledge to heart knowledge. I am also learning to ask God for what I desire.
St. Ignatius, a man from the 1500s who deeply desired to know Christ more and encouraged others to do the same, said that at the beginning of each prayer period it is extraordinarily helpful to pray for a certain grace or a gift from God. In naming what we desire, it opens the door to receive what it is that God wants to give us.
Last year I began each day asking God for a specific grace: What do I desire in this time of study and prayer? It might look something like this:
- God, I deeply desire to know You more – who you really are and not my version of You.
- God, grant me the grace to understand more deeply your love for me.
- God, please give me a more compelling image of Jesus Christ.
So, as we begin this Ephesians study, let’s ask ourselves what it is that we specifically desire.
- God, I pray for a deepening intimacy with you.
- God, grant me the grace to understand on a deeper level who I am in Christ.
- God, I desire to understand with my heart, not just my head, your glorious grace which you have given me through Your Son.
Not only is this a great practice for the beginning of the study, but also at the start of each day as you sit down to spend time with the Lord.
Over the next couple of months, as we walk through the book of Ephesians, you can follow along by using our study guide (you can download these here, Glorious Grace workbook). This guide will give you, as the reader, the opportunity to Memorize, Read, Meditate, Reflect, and Respond.
Memorize: Memorizing Scripture is such an important practice that we as believers get to do. From the time I was a very little girl my Mom taught my brother and I how to memorize Scripture. To this day, many years later, I still remember those important Truths. And the Holy Spirit will often bring to my mind these Scriptures when I most need them.
“I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You” ~Psalm 119:11
“I delight to do Your will, O my God. Your Law is within my heart” ~Psalm 40:8
Read: The passages of Scripture from Ephesians will range from 10-16 verses per day. As you read begin reading each passage, ask God to “open the eyes of your heart” (1:18) to see what it is that He wants to reveal to you through His Word.
Meditate: After reading the passage, meditation is an opportunity to ask questions about the passage.
The following questions will be provided for you on the study guide:
- Is there a truth to be believed?
- Is there a commandment to obey?
- Is there a promise here to be trusted?
- Is there a sin to avoid/confess?
You can also personalize your meditation questions, by asking questions such as:
- How is the freedom of Christ being demonstrated in my life?
- Where in my life is God inviting me to let go of self-centeredness or control that hinders my ability to connect with Him intimately?
- How do I praise, love, and serve God?
- How do I react to God’s call on my life?
- Am I truly aware of and living out the glorious grace of Christ that has been poured out on me?
Rest: Worship God in your spirit by sitting still before Him. Ask Him move the Truths of His Word from your head to the deep places of your heart. Be still before Him and consider His great love for you. Listen for His voice as you quiet your heart before Him. I have found in these silent moments of contemplation, I am able to both hear God’s voice and respond to Him, deeping my faith and trust in who He is and how He is leading me.
Reflect: Also known as journaling. This is an opportunity to write down the important things that you sense you are hearing during your time of rest and contemplation. It’s also a great place to include anything that you sense God leading you towards or away from. Journaling has become such a vital part of my time spent with God and in His Word! I have found that in writing down Scripture and the things that God is showing me, I have a treasure that I can come back to time and time again. In times of hardship, distress, or confusion, when I am not sure which way to turn or what to do, I go back and re-read my journals. I am reminded of God’s promises to me and of His faithfulness. How He has shown Himself to me in the past and how He has been faithful to me time and time again. “He is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), so even if I don’t “feel” His presence in a way I have in the past, I can physically see how God has been with me time and time again.
Respond: This is a great way to respond directly to God regarding the time you have spent with Him and in His Word. Some ideas for this time are to write out a prayer to God based off of the Scripture reading, something you sense God calling you to do or a desire that you have. Another idea is to choose one of the verses from the passage and write it out in the first person. For example, from Ephesians 1:6-7:
“So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave our sins” (Ephesians 1:6-7).
God, thank you for Your glorious grace that You have poured out on me, your beloved daughter. Thank you for your abundant kindness to me. Thank you for purchasing my freedom with the blood of Your only Son (written as a prayer back to God).
Our deep desire is that this not just be “another study.” Instead, our prayer both for ourselves and each of you is that it is an opportunity to KNOW God more. To see Him as He really is. To understand on a deeper level who we are in Christ Jesus.
We look forward to embarking on this beautiful journey with you. As always, we would love to hear from you as God reveals His glorious grace more and more in your life.