Treasure beyond measure—that is what we possess as believers in the Lord Jesus! The Apostle Paul expressed this truth so beautifully in his letter to the Ephesians apprising them of their spiritual wealth. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). Let us continue to explore in this week’s lesson a small portion of what has been given us and our response as receivers of God’s generosity.
DAY ONE: The Gift of Spiritual Blessing
A. As you read today’s lesson, your geographical location or position is different than mine. However, as believers, our spiritual position is identical because of our position in Christ. Paul emphasizes this position in his letter to the Ephesians.
- Believers in Ephesus might have at one time identified themselves as being “in Artemis,” the goddess of Ephesus. In whom were we formerly positioned according to I Corinthians 15:22?
- Christians have their very life in Christ. Underline the nine references to your position “in Christ” or “in Him” in Ephesians 1:1-14. In what way is that relevant or a blessing to you today?
B. God has benefitted, prospered or gifted believers in every age as referenced by the use of “blessed” more than 400 times in the Old Testament alone.
- In Luke 1:39-45, who is the one “gifted” by God and which relative recognized the gift by inspiration of the Holy Spirit?
- With what have believers been blessed according to Ephesains 1:3?
- What does II Peter 1:3 suggest to you about the sufficiency of God’s blessing?
C. I have a friend who organizes her Christmas gifts by wrapping alike all the gifts for a particular family member. Paul, in chapter 1 of Ephesians, organizes our gifts based on the three Persons of the Trinity.
- From Ephesians 1:4-6, what are the gifts of the Father?
- Who is the Giver in verses 7-12 and what are His gifts?
- In Ephesians 1:13, what word describes the gift of the Holy Spirit believers receive at the moment they hear and believe? From verse 14, what is the gift that is guaranteed by the sealing of the Holy Spirit?
- Since these spiritual endowments (from verses 1-14) have been given to believers, they are available to be enjoyed by faith. Of your numerous spiritual blessings listed in Ephesians 1, pray about which one you will appropriate as you face this day.
DAY TWO: The Gift of the Holy Spirit – Part 1
A. Jesus, our Immanuel, as He approached His final hours before the Cross, spoke words of comfort to His disciples recorded in John 14. His desire was for them to know the benefits to them of His going and the change in relationship with Him when He was no longer physically present.
- From John 14:15-27, what additional names for the Holy Spirit can you find and what does each name suggest about the Spirit’s role in a believer’s life?
- Look in John 14:16-17 for words that identify what the giving of the Holy Spirit would mean to every believer in every age henceforth?
C. Of the many names found in Scripture for the Holy Spirit, the most familiar would likely be Counselor (John 14:16), also translated Comforter, Helper or Advocate from the Greek word “parakletos.” The word means “one who is called alongside to help.” The suggestion is that someone is coming to assist a person in need or trouble. While Jesus was physically present, He was the One the disciples turned to for help or in trouble. Only after His ascension would the disciples recognize the value of the gift Jesus promised them.
- Initially, where do you first turn for help in trouble?
- In what circumstance have you sought the Counselor and learned the value of this gift?
C. In calling the Holy Spirit the “Spirit of truth” (John 14:17 and 16:13), Jesus establishes that the essence and character of the Spirit is truth. The Holy Spirit speaks only the truth about the Father, the Son, God’s will, sin and salvation.
- In I John 4:1-6, we have a practical “truth test.” List from this passage the clear indicators of how one may recognize God’s Spirit of truth.
- One other emphasis of the role of the Holy Spirit and truth is found in John 16:14-15. It could be argued that this is the primary role of the Holy Spirit. State in your words what this role is. Who receives glory when the Holy Spirit bears witness?
DAY THREE: The Gift of the Holy Spirit – Part 2
A. My husband remembers from his childhood a relative’s citrus tree that had been grafted into in such a way that branches of the same tree bore different varieties of fruit. More simply stated one tree was bearing many kinds of citrus. This day’s focus will be on the role of the Holy Spirit—Who is our gift—in reproducing the character of Christ in us as identified in Galatians 5:22-23, the fruit of the Spirit.
- Each and every believer is to possess all of the fruit listed in the Galatians passage. Challenge: Name the fruit from memory. (Hint: There are nine parts to this fruit.)
- Now I have a different illustration. Picture the “gift towers” that are featured at Christmas. These are usually stacks of decorated boxes filled with fruit and other goodies and tied together with a bow. In the tower we are going to build, love will have the top position. Using I John 4:8-12, I Corinthians 13:13, and John 13:34-35, why do you think love is listed first in Galatians 5:22?
- Two more boxes in our tower with a Christmas connection are joy and peace. Use the references provided to define the fruit:
Joy—Nehemiah 8:10, James 1:2, Luke 1:44
Peace—Philippians 4:6-7, Romans 5:1, Romans 12:18
- Optional Challenge: Continue the tower using a concordance to research the remaining fruit.
B. Recently, I heard the story of a young child diagnosed with a heart condition. Part of the diagnosing process involved a procedure that would look inside the heart. With the procedure completed, the little girl asked the technician, “Did you see Jesus in there?”
In terms of what the child had asked, no, Jesus was not visible. But the question is a legitimate one. Non-believers know there is a standard of life for the Christian. Jesus should be seen in you and me in the way we act, speak, relate, and live.
- Thinking of the fruit of the Spirit given you, how will you go about looking more like Jesus by “keeping in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25) this Christmas season?
- What Jesus promised the Father would send has come. Write your prayer thanking God for the gift of His Holy Spirit.
DAY FOUR: Giving Thanks for Our Gifts
A. As I write this, in two days we will celebrate a day of thanksgiving in my country. This holiday originated in a desire to thank God for all His provision and blessing. Sadly, in many homes, the emphasis of the day is feasting. Although feasting certainly did accompany days of celebration and thankfulness in biblical times, still God and His goodness were the focus. God’s Word calls His people to be thankful, and, as recipients of the gifts He has poured out through the Lord Jesus Christ, we will concentrate on thankfulness in today’s verses.
- Praise, worship and thanksgiving flow from the hearts of those who have experienced God’s grace, mercy and blessing. From the verses that follow, what are the elements of giving thanks that are common in these examples of thanksgiving: Psalm 95:1-2, Psalm 100:1-5, Nehemiah 12:27,31,40,46?
- I Thessalonians 5:18 commands us to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” What is your circumstance in which you may have been previously unthankful? In view of God’s grace, when did you choose to thank Him for it instead?
B. Thanking God specifically is demonstrated by Paul in his letters.
- What is Paul thankful for in I Timothy 1:12-14 and I Timothy 2:1-4?
- As you read what Paul thanked God for in II Corinthians 2:14-17, consider where and with whom you might be lead today. How might you be the aroma of Christ there?
C. In any season, but especially the Christmas season, Mary’s response of praise and thankfulness (known as “the Magnificat”) in Luke 1 is a vivid picture of God’s greatness and love. Joy and trust, rather than worry and fear, filled Mary’s heart because of her accurate view of God and her absolute belief that He would do what he had promised.
- From Luke 1:46-53, what does Mary know to be true about God?
- What is Mary thankful for personally?
- Write your own Magnificat. For instance, you might begin with “…for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is His name”.
DAY FIVE: Giving Gifts
A. Certainly, gift giving is one of the dominant activities in celebrating the birth of the Lord Jesus. Whether our giving is to family, friends or the needy, God is concerned about our attitude in doing so. God’s attitude about giving is best described in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son.” God gave the example of giving motivated by love.
- State the principles about attitude and giving that you can learn from Matthew 23:23, I Corinthians 13:3, and II Corinthians 8:1-5.
- How have you shown that you consider giving a privilege?
- Contrast Jesus’ words in Acts 20:35 with what you have observed in most people’s view of giving.
B. It has been my experience that I cannot out give God. A gift given with the proper attitude benefits the giver more than the receiver.
- Find benefits for being a giver in Proverbs 11:24-25, Luke 12:34 and I Timothy 6:18-19.
- Study II Corinthians 9:6-11. What is one purpose for which the Lord chooses to materially bless?
- When and how have you enjoyed further blessing because of your giving?
C. In His earthly ministry, Jesus made it a priority to regularly give to the poor. (See John 13:28-29.)
- Summarize what these verses say about giving to the poor: Isaiah 58:6-11, Ezekiel 16:49, and Galatians 2:9-10.
- In Matthew 25:35-46, Jesus identifies Himself with the needy. In what way does He do so?
D. As we complete this week’s lesson, consider again the principle in giving that we read in II Corinthians 8:5.
- Following the example of the Macedonian churches, what should happen before we give a gift in the Lord’s name?
- Join me in expressing love and adoration for the Lord as you read this excerpt from the poem, “In the Bleak Midwinter,” by Christina Rossetti.
What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd I would bring a lamb;
If I were a wise man I would do my part;
Yet what can I give Him?
Give Him my heart.
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