This year we start a new series called 'Understanding God'. First using Ephesians to rehearse some 'core theology' (i.e. how we understand God), we will then spend some time looking at the cross through different windows, before using Zechariah to see God speaking into the life of the people past and present.
Ephesians 1 starts with praise (v3), because God blesses! This blessing is already there, not conditional, not held provisionally. Everything we do or say should be in the context of this blessing. Yet Paul talks of spiritual blessings and heavenly realms throughout the letter. We must remember the pure physical is never the whole picture, and be conscious of the spiritual dimension.
No matter how mysterious that dimension might be, Paul makes clear that God is in control with Jesus as Lord. Every power, in whatever form, from local people power right up to a pan-national caliphate must ultimately submit to Him.
God's choice also figures in this passage (see v4, v5, v11, v13, as well as v1 with Paul chosen as an apostle). Here is an opportunity for thinkers among us to go deeper: e.g. does God choose only some to be saved, and what are the implications? Perhaps better to understand that Paul is referring to God's 'before creation plan': to bring a universe into being through Himself in Father-Son-relationship, and provide for that creation to be restored to Himself through that same relationship, i.e. Jesus Christ.
This is the global purpose of God we see elsewhere (e.g. 1 Tim 2:4). A purpose that people are called to, that we also find ourselves caught up in. Do we personally have a sense of that, and how God wants us to live within that? Hence the key question/challenge:
Key Qn: [UP] Do you know God's calling on your life?
Challenge: Pray for a fresh sense of calling
Being in the centre of God's call is the best place for you. The exact nature of that call will differ for each of us. Sometimes we need to double check, lay our own ideas down ... for God to freshly place His plans back in us. Make a point early this year of praying for your own sense of calling, share the walk by praying for this with a trusted friend.
Having our sense of God's call refreshed and rehearsing God's purposes, is all part of knowing God better. Our motto this year is exactly that: Ephesians 1:17 that you may know Him better. There is always more of God to discover, always a fresh room with new aspects. Note that this is a spiritual thing, not just an intellectual exercise!
God blesses by granting us His Spirit to live within us, marking our lives, enabling us to know the even greater blessings ahead of us that are already guaranteed (v13, 14). So be caught up by His Spirit into God's blessing!