In The Heavenlies
A daily devotional for March 2nd
3Praise 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. 4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace 8that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
11In 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, 12in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession—to the praise of his glory.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 1:3).
Remember that all these blessings are available to us in the realm that Paul calls the heavenlies. He is not referring to heaven here; he does not mean going to heaven when you die. We get such distorted concepts of heaven! Heaven, as most people envision it, is not an attractive place to me—damp, rainy clouds; unstrung harps out of tune; and white robes. A good travel brochure could make west Texas look preferable to heaven. And yet most people think that this is what Paul is talking about when he speaks of the heavenlies.
in the heavenly realms is a reference to the invisible realities of our life now. These realities certainly reach on into eternity, but they are something to be experienced now in your inner life—your thought life, where you feel conflict and pressure, struggle and disaster—that is part of the heavenlies. It is where we are exposed to the attack of the principalities and powers that are mentioned in chapter 6, those dark spirits in high places who get to us and depress us and frighten us and make us anxious or hostile. The heavenlies is not only the realm of conflict but also where God can release us and deliver us, where the Spirit of God reaches us at the seat of our intellect, emotions, and our will. It is the realm of those deep, surging urges that rise within us and create either a restlessness or a sense of peace, depending on the source from which they come. So don't read this as though it were something out in space somewhere. These blessings are yours in your inner experience now if you are in Jesus Christ.
Obviously, all of this comes to us in one great package
in Christ. If you are not a Christian, you cannot possibly claim these benefits, because they are not yours—there is no way you can appropriate them unless you are in Christ. But if you are
in Christ, there is nothing to keep you from having all of them, every moment of every day. That is why it is so important that we discover what they are.
These are much more than mere theological ideas. They are facts, foundational truths that undergird us in every moment of our life. And unless you understand those facts, you can't utilize or benefit from them. In that way they are like natural laws. The laws of nature operate regardless of how we feel—they are impersonal in that respect.
In my experience of doing electrical work in an addition to my home, I've discovered that electricity follows a pattern of its own and takes no notice of how I feel at the moment. That can be a shocking experience! It is not in the slightest degree impressed with my position as a pastor. It doesn't hesitate to retaliate for any violation of its laws that I commit. It is up to me to discover how it works and then to respect it if I want to utilize it. The same thing is true of these great facts. They will not do you a particle of good if you don't discover what they are and believe them enough to operate on the basis of them.
Father, thank You for these vast truths. I pray that my understanding may be made equal to them. I can't grasp them properly apart from the work of Your Spirit, and I pray that You will open my eyes and help me to see that these things are true indeed.
Life Application: There are foundational truths that undergird us every moment of our life. Have we moved past mere theological ideas to appropriate the Life we were designed to live?
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Copyright © 2007 by Elaine Stedman — This daily devotional is from the book The Power of His Presence: a year of devotions from the writings of Ray Stedman; compiled by Mark Mitchell. It may be copied for personal non-commercial use only in its entirety free of charge. All copies must contain this copyright notice and a hyperlink to www.RayStedman.org if the copy is posted on the Internet. Please direct any questions you may have to webmaster@RayStedman.org.