"Love Because You Are Loved" ~ How Ephesians Taught Me to Love My Mother Better
"For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." ~ Ephesians 2:10
This beautiful verse from the book of Ephesians is one of my favorite in the Bible. I have mentioned it in numerous posts because it has been paramount to my new life in Christ. There is such meat in this verse, God's unmerited grace, the fruit of the Spirit, and God's powerful and creative work in us. As I recovered from an eating-disorder which plagued my life for years, I found that my comfort and worth come from Christ Jesus and this verse became part of my Words to Live By. The whole book of Ephesians offers profound spiritual substance, and I truly believe this book can transform a Christian's walk to become a fully devoted follower of Christ.
Recently, I had the honor and pleasure of joining the launch team of my blogger friend Sarah Koontz for her Worthy of the Calling A Free 31-Day Online Bible Study. In this study of Paul's letter to the Church of Ephesus, Sarah digs deep into God's Word exploring the beautiful truths of Ephesians including how to foster your spiritual gifts, how to love because you are loved and so much more.
About the Study
Here are 7 quick facts about the Worthy of the Calling Study:
▪It's a FREE email-based online Bible study.
▪It takes just 10-15 minutes per day to complete.
▪It follows a five days on, two days off format.
▪It covers the whole book of Ephesians.
▪It includes 4 free digital gifts from Sarah’s Creative Partners.
▪ It launches on October 16, 2017
▪ Register today at SarahKoontz.com/Worthy
Throughout the month of October, we will be celebrating the release of this powerful new study
with weekly giveaways at SarahKoontz.com and other collaborating blogs so keep reading for more information on this week's giveaway.
Interview Q&A with Sarah
I was able to ask Sarah a few questions about the Worthy of the Calling study which I am so happy to share with you.
What is the single most powerful spiritual truth you gained from doing this study of Ephesians?
The radical truth that God’s work ALWAYS empowers our walk embedded itself in my heart early in the process of writing this study. I love how Paul prayed for the Ephesians (3 different times in the book). He asked God to open their eyes so they could see all they already possessed. The purpose of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians was to help them FIRST understand who they were in Christ (Eph 1-3) so he could teach them SECOND how to walk with Christ (Eph 4-6). God’s work empowering our walk. Such a freeing truth!
How has creating this study, and digging deep into Ephesians strengthened you in becoming a fully devoted follower of Christ?
The more time we spend in God’s Word, the more time God’s Word spends in us. It took months of consistent personal study to prepare my heart to write the Worthy of the Calling Study. That regular time in God’s Word equipped me to make some significant changes in my life. Specifically it gave me the courage to begin taking a Sabbath rest every Sunday. No work. No Internet. Just God, family, and rest. I don’t think I would have ever made that decision without first dedicating myself to regularly studying my Bible.
What is your favorite verse from Ephesians?
That is such a difficult question. As I wrote each day of the study, I fell in love with the particular truths in that passage. I think the most life-changing verse for me has been Ephesians 6:12, “For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.” This particular verse comes right before Paul’s admonition to put on the full Armor of God, and it is one I always remind myself of when I am facing relational issues. People are not our enemy—Satan is! The real battle is not here on earth—it’s in heaven!
Why did you choose Ephesians 4:1 as the inspiration for the name of this study?
Ephesians 4:1b, “Walk worthy of the calling you have received,” was listed as the key verse for Ephesians in my study Bible. From the moment I first read it, I knew it had to be the focus verse of this study, because I think we all struggle with our own sense of unworthiness from time to time. So all the credit goes to the authors of my study Bible, thank you for directing me to this pivotal verse! I also love that Ephesians 4:1 is the turning point in Paul’s message. It’s where he shifts his focus off of God’s work and onto our walk. (Link to my Study Bible: https://www.amazon.com/Study-Bible-Women-Hardcover/dp/1586400983 )
Ephesians is a letter of encouragement, encouragement in who we are in Christ, as well as our nature and purpose as the church and body of Christ. God's heart toward His church is revealed in this letter, as well as Paul's towards the Church of Ephesus, Sarah's heart toward the church is also shown through her writing and insights.
Church isn't a building; it is people and relationships, Sarah conveys this sincere point from start to finish.
She continually offers reassurances, and throughout the daily readings I was strengthened and heartened in my identity in Christ and His plan for me.
The Worthy of the Calling study deeply impacted me in a way I had not anticipated. God used this study to gracefully show me an area of pride and weakness in my life.
My relationship with my mother has always been strained to put it lightly. Our meetings more often than not, are filled with tension and end in hurt feelings, miscommunications, resentment or anger.
Countless times with fresh wounds, I have told myself that I wouldn't forgive her this time, that I was done speaking to her. I have told myself that I shouldn't have to say sorry that it was all her fault.
No matter how much affirmation I received from others, I wanted hers. I longed for an intimate parent/child relationship that never manifested. I was looking for her to fill my heart.
Sarah's words and the Holy Spirit helped me realize that only Christ can fill my heart, that all the affirmation I longed for was found in Him.
I have had too high of expectations for my mother.
When I am bitter, angry, and discontent in my heart towards my mother, where does Jesus fit? Sarah states that when our hearts are filled with unresolved anger and bitterness, the enemy strikes and often, fills our minds with lies. Oh, this is so true! I know that after a row with my mother, I begin to let lies of my worthlessness invade my mind.
What further jolted me was, as Sarah points out, that freedom from the heartache is found in forgiveness. Take a look at Ephesians 4:32,
"Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you."
Oh yes, sister, I have made plenty of mistakes I am a sinner, so is my mom, God saves us all by grace. So as Sarah gently reminded me,
God extends mercy, not giving me what I deserve, and He extends grace, giving me what I do not deserve, and because of this, I must do the same towards my mother.
When we fill our hearts with God’s love, purity and grace flow out of every aspect of our person. ~ Sarah Koontz
Building on these spiritual insights, at first reading Ephesians 6:1-9, it is apparent that Paul is discussing earthly relationships.
However, Sarah points out that there is another layer to these verses, Paul's primary concern in these verses is our heavenly relationship.
Understanding this perspective makes all the difference.
It is because God forgives me time and time again that I should continually forgive my mom, not because her actions are forgivable. It is because God commands me to honor and respect her that I must do these things, not because I submit to human authority, but because I yield to God.
I should respond towards my mother out of obedience and trust in Christ. I need to relinquish my pride and be humble of heart, patient, loving, forgiving, and respectful towards my mother. As Sarah so eloquently and simply puts it,
Love Because You are Loved. ~ Sarah Koontz
Walking in the truths I learned will not be easy, and I can't do it of my own accord and strength, but I can through Jesus. This study has caused a change in my perspective; I do not know if things will improve with my mother and my relationship, but I pray they will. I thank Sarah for helping me better see my heavenly calling that I may walk worthily in it.
Sarah breaks Ephesians into bite-sized chunks revealing Paul's message and how we can apply his words to deepen our walk and grow spiritually. She points out meaning that I had not noticed from previous readings of Ephesians. Sarah makes astounding connections, to history, Scripture, her life, our lives. I love how the study is a call to action. Sarah, like Paul, doesn't expect her reader to read through Ephesians passively, she wants us to dig deep and discover what God is speaking to our spirit. I implore you sister to join me and discover how to walk worthy of the calling you have received.
Yours Truly, LeNae
October 16-23 Giveaway
Throughout the month of October, we will be celebrating the release of this powerful new study with weekly giveaways at SarahKoontz.com and other collaborating blogs. Each handcrafted giveaway item is inspired by the beautiful truths of Ephesians and their combined value is more than $600.00.
This week the giveaway is a Custom Sign by 1byhisgracecreatons + Set of Prayer Cards by Kimberly Amici + Custom Mug from Adorned Fox (a $43.99 retail value).
Shop all of the items offered as giveaways for the launch party at SarahKoontz.com/WorthyShop
Sarah Koontz Bio and Social Media Links
Sarah Koontz is a passionate storyteller who enjoys using illustrations to communicate deep spiritual truths. Sarah writes to inspire women of all ages to explore the beauty of God’s design at SarahKoontz.com.
Sarah lives on 13-acres in South Dakota with her husband, two daughters and a rowdy flock of chickens. She revels in their simple, uncluttered life. You can also find Sarah on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. Read Sarah’s full bio here.