Hi Friend! Welcome to episode 30 of Tending Your Soul podcast! I’m Mariel and I’m excited to have you joining me as we begin a new season of the podcast opening a book of the Bible that offers such stability in the midst of uncertainty.
The world is trying to define us and redefine us. The world and the enemy offer us invitations to identity that are not based on anything more than twisted lies. Thankfully the truth is that we are not defined by our desires, our sin, or our flesh. God has laid out your identity in the Bible if you are His. And He also laid out the identity of those who deny Him.
As we step into the garden in midsummer, we are surrounded by the fruits that were planted and tended to throughout the season. Heavy red tomatoes, bright green jalapenos and bright yellow marigolds that help keep those tomato worms off my plants!
Our souls are similar in that what we plant and tend to in our souls will be the fruit that comes forth in due season. Plant the lies of the world and tend it with the chaos of media and fleshly desires and we will bear fruit of that. But if we plant the Word of God and tend our souls consistently by the truth of God then by the grace of God He will bring forth fruit of the spirit in us and through us.
So come through the gate of the garden with me and sit for a bit here in the warm sun. Let’s invite God to tend our souls today by His Word by taking time to pray.
Master Gardener, thank you that you invite us to draw near and know you better through your word. Would you impart your life-giving truth to us today as we lean in and offer you the soil of our hearts? Amen.
Using the guidance of the TEND method, once we have taken the time to pray, we then examine the scripture.
Today we are starting the book of Ephesians. I recommend listening or reading the complete book on your own, as that helps us gain context which is very important in discerning the right lessons and responses as we work through the book. It is also important to prepare the soil before we begin planting in the soil of a garden and same is true as we begin tending our soul by the Word. We want to be sure we know the setting and people and time and purpose of this book.
This was originally written as a letter by Paul whose conversion story is incredible and you can read about it in Act 9. He is writing to the church at Ephesus in about 62 AD. We can read about Paul’s missionary visit to Ephesus in Acts 19. The incredible thing that we need to know about the writing of this letter is Paul writes it to this church from prision. He is under house arrest, guarded by roman soldiers as he pens this letter to believers in Ephesus. The letter was so circulated by the ancient churches that eventually the phrase in verse one that says “to the saints who are in Ephesus” later dropped the “in Ephesus” part. The letter was considered to be for all believers nearly from the start.
As we tend through the first chapter in the coming weeks, we want to be careful to keep this context in mind. A man who loves the Lord is writing to fellow believers and this is what God has put on his heart to write. These words are of course fully God-breathed but they are also Pauline in nature as we see Paul’s passion flow through them. He is so fiery about this and writes with such furry that in chapter one, verses 3-14 are one long run-on sentence. It’s as if he barely pauses to take a breath.
So let’s examine today’s verses. Ephesians 1:1-4.
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God. To the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him in love.
What a gorgeous opening Paul pens here for these believers! As we examine the verses, we want to be sure we pay attention to the pronouns, as Paul is extending grace and peace to these believers in Ephesus and he is including himself as a sojourner with them saying “our” Lord and acknowledging that He has blessed “us” and chosen “us” and “we” are holy before Him.
Once we have examined the verses by slowing down to writing them then we move to noticing the lessons. Here we ask ourselves what is this teaching about God? And in these verses, we see that grace and peace come from God, He is our father and the father of the Lord Jesus. We also see in verse one that it is through His will that we are chosen to be His. In verse 3 we also see God is an abundant blesser, right? He has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing, He holds nothing back.
As I come to discern the lesson I ask is there a sin, promise, action, command or example in these verses? One example I see is how though Paul is in prison he still extends grace and peace to others. Extending grace and peace is not to be based on our circumstances or feeling but rather out of an overflow of having received grace and peace from our God and Father.
A promise that stands out to me in these verses is that we as believers and followers of Jesus, are chosen beforehand to live holy and blameless before God because we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ. In the verses that follow we will get into the details of the spiritual blessings we have in christ but for today, in these verses we see the promise of them.
Once we have noticed the lessons about God and the spiritual lessons in the verses, then we can turn them into a question we can respond to. So if one lesson we see is that we can extend grace and peace regardless of our circumstances and emotions, then to whom do I need to extend grace and peace to today? Or maybe even what is holding me back from extending grace and peace? Might it be that I need to receive God’s grace and peace for myself first? Or is it that I am more focused on the overwhelming circumstances and my own emotions rather than the grace and peace that are mine in Christ? Certainly, something to pray through or journal about today.
And if the promise here is that God has abundantly blessed me in Christ with EVERY spiritual blessing, then how can I live from that abundance today? In what areas of my life am I instead living from a scarcity mindset?
For me, I know I can get distracted with the noise and activity of daily life and miss receiving the grace and peace of God that I need in order to extend that to others, especially my family and those nearest to me. So today I will slow down and remind myself of these verses and let the grace of God and the peace of God be the anchors for my soul. Writing down where I saw His grace and His peace around me helps me to remember. It’s His grace to get the text from my son, the encouraging call from my husband after a long work meeting and even the summer air on my morning walk or the sounds of the evening frogs singing as I walk the dog.
These gifts remind me of His grace and peace and as I bring them to mind I am filled by His blessings and able to respond to others with grace and peace.
How about for you, friend? In what areas of life do you live with a scarcity mindset? Or where do you see your need for His grace and peace as you seek to extend it to others around you today?
Let’s ask the Lord to fill us afresh with His truth today so we might live from an overflow.
Thank you, Lord, that you tend our souls with the truth of your word. Draw near and fill us with grace and peace so we might extend that to those you bring around us today. Thank you for the abundance of blessings you lavish on me, open my eyes to see that in detail today. Amen.
I hope this has been a gift for you today, sweet friend.
I want to invite you to get your free guide to cultivating intimacy with Jesus at marieldavenport.com it’s a downloadable booklet to guide you with tips for quiet time, Scripture memory and my TEND method.
May it encourage you to keep tending your soul by the Word of God.