Daily Devotionals

 
 
 

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Week 2, Thursday, Ephesians 2:8-9

Thursday, April 30, 2020 – Ephesians 2:8-9

Saved By Grace

by, Pastor Paul Georgulis
 

Scripture: 

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9 (New International Version)

 

Paul reminds us that we have not earned our standing with God. Salvation is available only because of God’s grace provided by the death of Jesus on the cross. It is entirely initiated and freely given by God alone. Grace is a gift, and a gift, by definition, is free – it cannot be bought or earned, only accepted. Grace is best understood as unearned, undeserved favor. As with any gift given to us, our job is simply to receive it.
Watch this powerful video on God’s Grace Watch Video
 
While Salvation is about God’s work and not ours, it doesn’t mean the way we live our new life in Christ is unimportant. A change of attitude and behavior is hugely important in the lives of Christ-followers. We need to understand that our new Christ-like behavior is part of our secure acceptance as part of God’s family. Good behavior doesn’t save us, but it’s because we have been saved that we should want to do good works. Saving us is God’s work. He had Christ die on the cross to pay the penalty for all our sins. Our new behavior – what the Bible calls “works” – shows our love for God and our gratitude for the grace He freely gives to us.
 
 

Prayer:

God, thank you for your grace. We don’t deserve it, but you still want to give it. Please allow the fact that you have saved us from our sins to change the way we live our lives so that we can share what you have done for us with others, eventually changing their lives.

In Jesus’ name I pray, amen!


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Week 2, Wednesday, Ephesians 2:6-7

Wednesday, April 29, 2020 – Ephesians 2:6-7

The Already But Not Yet

by, Pastor Paul Georgulis
 

Scripture: 

For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.” – Ephesians 2:6-7 (New Living Translation)
 
 

As was discussed in yesterday’s devotion, prior to coming to faith in Christ, we were headed down a path of destruction, BUT now we have hope. Because of Jesus, we have life. Yes, sin kills and destroys, BUT Jesus heals us, bringing new life and transformation. In verse 6, Paul states that we have been raised from the dead along with Christ, and united with Him.  

There’s a theological paradigm known as “the already but not yet.” This paradigm states that followers of Jesus are actively taking part in the kingdom of God, although the kingdom will not reach its full expression until sometime in the future. That is to say that – as followers of Jesus – we are “already” in the kingdom, but we do “not yet” see it in its full glory. The kingdom of God is described in Scripture as both a realm presently entered and as one entered in the future.

So, verse six is talking about us being resurrected from our old way of living – the already – and is also referring to the future when we will be resurrected into God’s heavenly kingdom – the not yet. It’s both a hope now, and a hope for the future.

In verse seven, we see that God will point back to our lives – which have been transformed and redeemed by Him – and use our transformation as evidence of His abounding and overflowing riches toward His children.

Can you imagine that? Can you imagine God looking at you, smiling upon you, and being ecstatic that His grace and love changed you and that you are now redeemed, perfected, and a shining example of how His love changes and transforms us?
 
 

Prayer:

Father, in light of these verses that portray what it means when we believe in your Son and turn our lives over to you, I cannot help but to stand in awe and silence of the inexhaustible and unsearchable riches of your grace toward us. Thank you for the already but not yet that allows us to experience you here on this earth, and then in paradise when our days on this earth have come to an end.

In Jesus’ name I pray, amen! 
 

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Week 2, Tuesday, Ephesians 2:4-5

Tuesday, April 28, 2020 – Ephesians 2:4-5

But…God!

by, Pastor Paul Georgulis
 

Scripture: 

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” – Ephesians 2:4-5 (New International Version)
 
 

In verses one through three, Paul painted a bleak picture of how lost and hopeless we were before coming to faith in Christ. We were dead because of our sins, but God. We were rebels against Him, but God. We were enslaved by the devil and our sinful natures, but God. “But…God” may be the two most welcome words in all of Scripture. They show that even though what came before them was negative, what comes after – because of God showing up – will be positive. God could have left us spiritually dead, in rebellion against Him, and in bondage to our sins, but He didn’t. He did not save us because of – but rather in spite of – what He saw in us. 

In verses four through five, we see where hope came into the picture. Here, Paul is saying that we do not need to live any longer under sin’s power. The penalty of sin, which is death (Romans 6:23), and its power over us were miraculously destroyed by Jesus on the cross. Through faith in Christ, we now stand acquitted – not guilty – before God (Romans 3:21-22).

God doesn’t take us out of the world or make us like robots who can do nothing but what we were programmed to do. We will still feel like sinning, and we will still sin. The difference is that before we started following Jesus, we were dead in sin and were slaves to our sinful nature. But now we are alive with Christ and have His help to avoid sin and live with real joy and freedom.
 
 

Prayer:

God, I thank you for showing up. I thank you that when I look back at my past sins and mistakes, I can confidently say “but…God” and remember that I am no longer there. I can say, “but…God” and know that I am different, changed, redeemed, and on a new path towards becoming more like Jesus. I pray that you would continue giving all of us these “but…God” moments so we can continue to be in awe of you and the way you work in our lives.

In Jesus’ name I pray, amen!


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Week 2, Monday, Ephesians 2:1-3

A Devotional Journey through the Book of Ephesians 

Never Forget

by Pastor Paul Georgulis
 

Scripture: Ephesians 2:1-3

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.” – Ephesians 2:1-3 (New International Version)

In these verses, Paul describes the old, sinful nature of followers of Jesus. He describes them prior to coming to faith in Christ as dead – not as unfulfilled or incomplete – but dead. Their spirits were dead because they had broken relationships with God, the source of life.

When we ask Jesus to forgive us of our sins, we can take comfort in knowing that He takes our sins and removes them as far from us as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). If this is the case, then why is Paul writing here to remind the Ephesian believers and everyone else who received this letter – including us – of past sins? He was not writing to remind people of their past to condemn them or to make them feel bad about their past life choices, but to give them a greater understanding and appreciation of the work of God in Jesus. It is important for us – as followers of Jesus – to never forget our pasts – the conditions from which Jesus saved us. Those memories, though sometimes painful, will inspire us to thank Jesus for all He has done for us. So, remembering our past sins will actually help us to appreciate and love Jesus more. Remember, but don’t turn back to and repeat.
 
 

Prayer:

Father, I thank you for saving me from my past, present, and future sins. I know that without you, I would be hopeless and lost, meandering down a dark path to nowhere good. But you, Lord, are good. You lit up my path, showed me the error in my ways and that I was empty without you in my life, and you filled that void. Help me to remember my past, but to not repeat it. And Lord, I also thank you that you don’t remember it – that the moment I asked for forgiveness, you threw my sins so far away and chose to only see the new me – the me that you have forgiven and redeemed.

In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.


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Week 1, Saturday, Ephesians 1:22-23

Saturday, April 25, 2020 – Ephesians 1:22-23

We Are the Church

by, Pastor Paul Georgulis
 

Scripture: Ephesians 1:22-23

 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” – Ephesians 1:22-23 (New International Version)
 

Jesus does not walk the earth as He once did. You cannot see, hear, or touch Him. Sometimes I think about what it must have been like to be one of His earliest followers who could walk, talk, eat, and laugh with Jesus. What would it have been like to share a meal with Jesus? What would it have been like to stare deeply into His eyes as He explained the purpose of His coming to this earth and the depth of His love for us? What would it have been like to hug Jesus?

I want us to think about these questions and sense the wonder in them. The truth is that Jesus is no longer walking this earth in bodily form the way He once was; however, He is walking it in a new way. Jesus walks – and works in – this earth through His church. The church is not the building that is currently closed due to the Covid-19 epidemic. The church is the Body of Christ. The church is us. 1 Corinthians 12:27 states, “All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.” We are the church. We are Jesus’ body in this world, and, therefore, “the fullness of him who fulfills everything in every way.” Just as a head needs a full body in order to function, Jesus – being the head – needs us – His body – to continue the furthering of His kingdom and fulfilling of His mission.

So, even though we are having to practice social distancing right now, it would behoove us to keep in mind that none of us should attempt to work, serve, or worship merely on our own. We need the entire body – we need each other.
 

Prayer:

Father, thank you for creating us to be your body and for giving us a part to play in the spreading of your gospel. This is the same gospel that changes us from the inside out, so we ask that you would use us to help others to learn about and come into relationship with you so that they can be changed from the inside out as well.

In Jesus’ powerful, life-changing name I pray, amen.
 

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Week 1, Friday, Ephesians 1:18-21

Friday, April 24, 2020 – Ephesians 1:18-21

Open the Eyes of Our Hearts, Lord

by, Pastor Paul Georgulis
 
 

Scripture: Ephesians 1:18-21

18 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, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 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.” – Ephesians 1:18-21(New International Version)
 

“Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. Open the eyes of my heart. I want to see you!” If your religious upbringing was anything like mine, then reading the above-quoted words brings back memories of youth group, retreats, summer camps, and mission trips where you sang Michael W. Smith’s “Open the Eyes of My Heart,” which was written – along with 120 other popular worship songs – by Paul Baloche. About the writing process of “Open the Eyes of My Heart,” Baloche stated, “In Psalm 95, it says, ‘Come let’s sing for joy. Let’s shout out loud. Let’s kneel in worship. Let’s clap our hands.’ That’s all neat, but I began to realize you can teach externals, but unless something is happening from the inside out, it’s just really a form. It’s like a cloud without rain.”

The Apostle Paul understood the fact that unless there is an internal change – unless God is allowed into our inner beings and allowed to begin changing us from the inside out – it is meaningless. You are just singing theological words that mean nothing to you but have a catchy tune. But if change is happening – if God is moving in your life and transforming you into the image of His Son, Jesus – then the eyes of your heart will truly be opened to the hope and inheritance that we have through our personal relationships with Jesus.
 

Prayer:

Lord, I’ll keep this short and simple. Open the eyes of our hearts. We want to see you!

In Jesus’ glorious name I pray, amen.
 

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Week 1, Thursday, Ephesians 1:15-17

Thursday, April 23, 2020 – Ephesians 1:15-17

A Shift in Understanding

by, Pastor Paul Georgulis
 
 

Scripture: Ephesians 1:15-17

15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 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.– Ephesians 1:15-17 (New International Version)
 

In these verses, Paul is not praying for the Ephesian Church to gain knowledge about God, or to learn about Him and start to put their faith in Him. He’s not praying in this way because these Ephesian believers were already committed followers of Christ. What Paul is praying for here is a shift of their complete understanding of who God is and for them to understand God’s very character.

If we are honest with ourselves, perhaps we need this shift, too. Perhaps we already came to faith in Christ and lived our lives fully for Him for a while, but then life happened – we got busy, we got distracted, we allowed our focus on Jesus to wane. In these verses, Paul’s desire for the Ephesian believers, the other churches who would receive this letter, and for us today is that we would know God better. And that’s my prayer for you, as one of your pastors – that you would come to know God better. For those whose passion for God has dimmed over time, I pray that He would reinvigorate you. For those whose passion is strong, I pray that He would increase that passion and fan the flame to bring you into a deeper level of relationship with Him.
 
 

Prayer:

God, make it so we want nothing more than to be in your presence and to know you on a deeper, more intimate level. Lord, let our words be few, and let us become even more in awe of you.

In Jesus’ awe-inspiring name I pray, amen.


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Week 1, Wednesday, Ephesians 1:13-14

Wednesday, April 22, 2020 – Ephesians 1:13-14

We Have God’s Mark Upon Us

by, Pastor Paul Georgulis
 
 

Scripture: Ephesians 1:13-14

13 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, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory.” – Ephesians 1:13-14 (New International Version)

Jesus didn’t just give His life for us; He gave His life to us. Wait a minute…Didn’t we read earlier (verses 5 & 11) that God predestined us and chose us before the foundation of the world? But it says here that we are also to believe the gospel. How can we be both predestined and have a part to play?

God has given us His Spirit. In fact, in other translations, it says that the Spirit is given as a down payment. The idea is that you put a down payment on something you want to eventually own (e.g., a house, an RV, a car). What you’re saying is, “I’m putting money down to say that one day I will pay enough money to own this.” And God is saying, “When I gave you my Spirit – when you believed in the gospel, when you trusted in Jesus – I gave a down payment and I have you, but one day I will totally have you.” And this is a promise to us that one day God is going to totally and completely have us with Him for all of eternity.

This is a taste of heaven. No more pain, no more suffering, no more sickness. Not having all of that is awesome, but here’s the great thing about heaven: God! You’re going to see God, and not only are you going to see Him, but He is going to be glorified, which means that we are going to be completely filled with joy. That’s the way that we will live and it’s the way that we can live right now – not perfectly, like in heaven, but you can taste it, because you have God’s mark upon you, and His Spirit is living in you.
 

Prayer:

Abba, Father…I thank you that you didn’t only give your life for me, but you gave it to me. I thank you for sending your Holy Spirit to be my helper and my guide. I thank you for where you have guided me thus far, and I pray that you would continue to guide me closer and closer to you. Lord, when I am truly spending time with you and soaking in your presence, I can get a glimpse of what heaven will be like. Thank you for the price you paid for me so that I can experience heaven both here on earth, and in eternity when my time on this earth comes to an end.

In Jesus’ most Holy name I pray, amen.
 

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Week 1, Tuesday, Ephesians 1:7-12

Tuesday, April 21, 2020 – Ephesians 1:7-12

Blinded and Redeemed

by, Pastor Paul Georgulis
 

Scripture: Ephesians 1:7-12

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, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. 11 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, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.” – Ephesians 1:7-12 (New International Version)

There’s a lot of flowery language in this passage, but we need to understand that the Apostle Paul is talking about the culminating event of the Bible – Jesus dying in our place for our sins, rising again, and triumphing over sin and death. This is talking about what God had to do to bring us into the reality of His sending His Son as a sacrifice to save us from our sins. God had to redeem us. Redemption means “to buy back.” It was an old slavery word where you would literally buy back a slave from the auction block. They would literally be bought back, taken out of slavery, and given freedom and a better life.

This is what God did for us, and it’s what God did for the Apostle Paul before he became the Apostle Paul. His name was Saul and he was a religious nut job who thought that it was a good idea to kill Christians. In fact, in Acts 9:1, we see that Saul was breathing out murderous threats against Christians. One day, as he was en route to elevate the threats into action by killing more Christians, God got a hold of him in a powerful way, knocking him off of his donkey and blinding him for three days. In this process, God revealed Himself to Saul and he became the Apostle Paul, a man with a new mission in life – a mission that was the complete opposite of his prior mission.

This is how we come to Christ, too. That is to say that we get blinded by our old worldview and way of living, we get knocked off of our own ideas and our trying to do life on our own, and we see Jesus in a new way. And that’s what God’s grace is. We don’t deserve His grace, but He still wants to give it to us out of His immense, unconditional love for us.
 

Prayer:

Thank you, God, for saving me from the slippery slope that was my life of sin. Lord, you know that I was headed down a path that kept getting darker and darker, but you showed up, lit up my life, and changed my direction. Now, Lord, my journey only leads toward you. Please help me to always keep my eyes on you and help me to not stray from your path. I love you, Lord. Thank you for changing my life!

 

In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

 

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Week 1, Monday, Ephesians 1:1-6

A Devotional Journey through the Book of Ephesians

by, Pastor Paul Georgulis
 
 

Monday, April 20, 2020 – Ephesians 1:1-6 – God Chose You!

As we dive into the book of Ephesians, it’s good to have a little background. So here it is…

Book: Ephesians

Genre: Epistle (letter)

Author: The Apostle Paul

Audience: Paul wrote this letter to the Church at Ephesus. However, some scholars believe this letter
was an encyclical – a letter intended to be circulated and read among all the churches in Asia Minor. If this is the case, the Ephesian Church just happened to be the first recipient of the letter.
Purpose: Paul wrote to strengthen believers in their Christian faith by explaining the nature and
purpose of the church – the Body of Christ.

 

Scripture: Ephesians 1:1-6, emphasis on verses 4-6

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 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.” – Ephesians 1:1-6 (New International Version)
 

Did you catch that? God – the Creator of the entire universe, including the 7.8 billion people who currently live on this earth, and the 100.2 billion who once walked this earth – chose to love you. God chose you! And not only did He want to choose you, but it brought Him immense pleasure to do so. Let that sink in for a moment.

This shows us that Salvation – our eternal, spiritual deliverance from the wrath of God and our entry fee into an eternity in heaven – depends totally on God and that we can do nothing to earn it on our own. God is looking for us. God relentlessly pursues us. It has been that way since the beginning; it is that way now. Through God’s infinite love for us, He has adopted us as His own children. It baffles us to think about why God chooses to love us when we are flawed and sinful people, but Christ’s sacrifice on the cross – that He willingly endured for us – makes us holy and blameless in God’s sight. In light of this, we should want to do nothing but express our thanks to God for pouring out His wonderful love on us!
 

Prayer:

Lord, I can’t wrap my mind around the fact that you chose me, that you want a relationship with me, and that you love me. I know me, and I know the things I do that separate me from you. And yet, you know them, too, and you still chose me. I am honored, Lord. Thank you for your relentless, never changing, unconditional love. Help me to always live my life in a manner worthy of receiving that love.

In Jesus’ most precious name I pray, amen.
 

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