Advent… getting ready.

Advent: The Greatest Gifts of All

Welcome to Advent, the season that welcomes our Lord Jesus and leads up to the celebration of His birth.  This study will take, perhaps, a slightly different slant to the season as we open Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus.  Why Ephesians?  Well, you are right to suggest that the book isn’t very “Christmasy.”  There are no stories about trips on donkeys, a baby born in a stable or angels singing outside the window. 

The book of Ephesians mirrors many writings throughout the Bible.  It includes these two main points:

  1. God loves you and has always had a plan for you
  2. And that plan has always included the hope and glory and power and wisdom and love of Jesus our Messiah.

Even if you have never bowed your knee to Jesus as your personal Savior and Lord, know that God loves you and has a plan for you.

So, let’s take the month of December, between now and Christmas Day and give Ephesians a closer look. At its core, we’ll discover 25 wonderful gifts God desires to give each one of us.  They are The Greatest Gifts of All.   Are you ready to receive them?

From Ephesians Chapter 1:15-23 (NIV), a prayer for you from Paul.

For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 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 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 his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ 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 name that is invoked, 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.

The very words of God. 

Paul starts this prayer offering thanksgiving for the church.  He asks God to give them all wisdom and revelation so that the church may know God better.  And then Paul prays for their heart… so that they may know His hope, His inheritance and His power!  And then He affirms that that power is the same that raised a dead man to life and in its fullness, is available to us… filling everything in every way.

There will be a new devotional thought each day, beginning tomorrow, December 1st.  So bookmark this page, or subscribe to the receive your daily Advent devotional via the “follow blog via email” button at the right.

The 25 Days of God’s greatest gifts, from the book of Ephesians (chapter and verse in parenthesis):

  1. The gift of every spiritual blessing (1:3)
  2. The gift of being adopted as God’s son or daughter (1:5)
  3. The gift of being sealed with God by the Holy Spirit (1:13)
  4. The free gift of Salvation (2:8)
  5. The gift of work to do at God’s request (2:10)
  6. The gift of being a citizen of Heaven (2:19)
  7. The gift of grace for all ministers, that is everyone who ministers in Jesus’ name, for all believers (3:7)
  8. The gift of boldness and confident access (3:12)
  9. The gift of Jesus dwelling in our hearts (3:17)
  10. The gift of knowing how much Christ loves us (3:19)
  11. The gift of unity (4:4-6)
  12. The gift of grace (4:7)
  13. The gift of learning with a purpose (4:11)
  14. The gift a new self, in the likeness of God (4:24)
  15. The gift of Christ himself, an offering, a sacrifice (5:2)
  16. The gift of encouraging others (5:18-21)
  17. The gift of family (5:22-6:9)
  18. The gift of victory over the enemy (6:10-12)
  19. The gift of weaponry, the belt of truth (6:14)
  20. The gift of weaponry, the breastplate of righteousness (6:14)
  21. The gift of weaponry, the boots of readiness to share the Gospel (6:15)
  22. The gift of weaponry, the shield of faith (6:16)
  23. The gift of weaponry, the helmet of salvation (6:17)
  24. The gift of weaponry, the sword of the Spirit (6:17)
  25. The gift of prayer (6:18)


(c) 2011 Rich Ronald

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“Not another test, God?”

When you were a student in school, how did you feel about tests?  Some of you were the super smart students weren’t you?  “Bring ‘em on!” you would say.  But for those of you who are wired like I am, you probably didn’t like tests.  Did you ever not study and then when the prof handed out the exam say a little prayer that evoked the supernatural:  “God, I know I didn’t study for this, but please, guide my pencil.  I need a miracle today.  In Jesus name, Amen.”

What about now?  How do you deal with tests?  I’m referring now to tests of faith.  I’m guessing that you have something on your heart today where you need God to show up?  To the believer, I would say we all do.  Everyday.  Don’t you need God everyday?  Especially today.

Continue reading ““Not another test, God?””

It starts with a clear vision to be more like Jesus.

Have you been to the optometrist lately?  You know that vision test they do… “How is this?  Better or worse?  Fuzzy or clear?” 

Do you have a clear vision or life target?  This isn’t just a question for college students, this is a question for everyone.  What is your vision?  Or, taking a cue from the questioner in a job interview, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

For some this is an easy question to answer.  For others it might be a real challenge.  I’d like to think I’m a man of vision, but I must share with you that, today, I am no where where I thought I’d be five years ago.  God allowed circumstances in my life to reshape my vision to be more what He wanted for me.  And that’s a very good thing.  

We’ve been saying that we want to “be more like Jesus.”  That’s also a very good thing.  But what does that mean?  How do you plan to get from where you are today to that state of being more like Jesus tomorrow?  Does it mean paying closer attention to various spiritual disciplines like prayer?    Does it mean a major life change or a career altering decision?  Does it mean simply extending a loving, grace-filled hand to someone who needs it?

I believe, at its core, “being more like Jesus” comes down to loving your neighbor. 

Continue reading “It starts with a clear vision to be more like Jesus.”