Made for Community reading plan from Love God Greatly that I completed, I think, back in 2015. My Nevada daughter and I were talking a bit about community yesterday -- and I have been seeing it played out in our volunteer work and also in our church -- so this seems like a great fit for me to share with you all. With this study, as I have often done, I used the SOAP method of Bible study. Just a quick reminder that the S is for Scripture, O is for observation, A is for Application and P is for Prayer. As you will see, I really went in-depth with this study.
The first section was Made for Community with God. Here goes with the verse for the first day of that section.
S= "And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
"That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:6-7)
O= We need to look back to the preceding verses to get the full context of verses 6-7. Verses 1-3 talk about what we were prior to salvation.
Verse 3 turns a corner. "But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath made us alive together with Christ." We are saved by God's amazing grace! Then verse 6 continues with what God is doing, and verse 7 with what He will do.
Scofield explains that "in heavenly places" literally means "in the heavenlies" and "signifies that which is heavenly in contradistinction to that which is earthly." He adds that "the heavenlies" may be defined as "the sphere of the Christian's experience as identified with Christ in nature, life, relationships, service, suffering, inheritance, and future glory in the kingdom. The Christian is a heavenly man [or woman], and a stranger or pilgrim on the earth."
For the phrase "riches of His grace", Scofield gives a cross-reference of Psalm 103:8-11 --
"The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.
"He will not always chide; neither will He keep His anger forever.
"He hath not dealt with us after our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
"For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him."
Dr. H.A. Ironside points out that "the ages to come is "the Greek expression for eternity. It consists of untold millions of ages running on forevermore. Through all the ages to come God is going to exhibit the exceeding riches of His grace."
And Ironside goes on: "Some of these days I am going to have a part in a great exhibition, when from the ends of the earth there will be gathered together all the redeemed of the Lord. Then God will demonstrate to all created intelligence how it has been the delight of His heart to show great grace to great sinners. That is our future -- a future that does not depend on our faithfulness but on His, who saved us by grace in order that we might show His glories forevermore."
A= This is an encouragement to me today as I consider the Christian's past, present, and future. Like all believers, I was once "far from God, and dead in sins", as the hymnwriter has put it. But now, because of God's great love, rich mercy, and amazing grace, my citizenship is in heaven. I am a stranger and pilgrim in this world, just passing through. In the ages to come I will, along with all other believers, spend eternity praising Him and will be part of His "exhibition", showing how through time He has delighted in showing great grace to great sinners.
P= "Lord, how thankful I am for all for all that You have done in my life! I'm so thankful that You drew me to You with Your lovingkindness. If not for Your amazing mercy and grace, I would still be dead in trespasses and sins. Instead, I am part of Your redeemed family, a citizen of heaven even as I sojourn as a "stranger and pilgrim", an exile really, on this earth. And so much to look forward to -- praising You for eternity!
"Yet I must honestly admit that some days have been incredibly sad and difficult. I have thought today how I would never have dreamed how my life would turn out. It has had more heartache, more sadness, more time out of comfort zones, than I ever imagined. Yet I must praise You that it has also been far more glorious and spiritually blessed, far more spiritually prosperous, than I would ever have imagined. I praise You for all that You have brought me through, for all that You will continue to do, and for the glorious future that awaits, in Jesus' name, Amen."
And there's the first installment in my study of "Made for Community." I hope it's a blessing to someone today!