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Psalm 107:1-9 1
1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. 2 Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—those he redeemed from the hand of the foe, 3 those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south. 4 Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle. 5 They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away. 6 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. 7 He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle. 8 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, 9 for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.

parchedearthBackground

Psalm 107 is about God’s providential care of people in distress, in banishment, and dispersion. (1-9) In captivity. (10-16) In sickness. (17-22) Danger at sea.(23-32) God’s hand is meant to be seen by his own people. (33-43)

Biblical Truth 2

In the first nine verses of Psalm 107, there is reference to the deliverance from Egypt, and perhaps also from Babylon: but the circumstances of travelers in those countries are also noted. It is scarcely possible to conceive the horrors suffered by the hapless traveler, when crossing the trackless sands, exposed to the burning rays of the sun. The words describe their case who the Lord has redeemed from the bondage of Satan; who pass through the world as a dangerous and dreary wilderness, often ready to faint through troubles, fears, and temptations. Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, after God, and desire communion with him, shall be filled with the goodness of his house, both in grace and glory.

Items for Discussion

  • Compare the endurance of God’s love for mankind and mankind’s love for God?
  • God’s love spans generations—how can we as God’s People make sure our love for God spans generations?
  • Why does suffering and despair focus mankind on God while affluence and success seem to insulate us from God?
  • What are the risks that affluence poses to our society?
  • What are the risks posed by suffering and fear?

Ephesians 2:1-10
1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Background 3

Some think that the letter to the Ephesians was a circular letter sent to several churches, and that the message directed to the Ephesians happened to be taken into its content and thusly named after this church. This might have become the general belief because it is the only one of all Paul’s letters that has nothing in it peculiarly adapted to the Ephesians. The message has a common message to all Christians, and especially to all who, having been Gentiles in times past, were converted to Christianity.

But then, on the other hand, the letter is expressly inscribed (Eph. 1:1) to the saints which are at Ephesus; and in the close of it he tells them that he had sent Tychicus to them, who, in 2 Tim. 4:12; he says he had sent to Ephesus. It is a letter written while Paul is in prison: and some have observed that what Paul wrote when he was a prisoner had the greatest love and respect in it when it came to God. When Paul’s problems were plentiful, his consolations and experiences were also more plentiful. We see here that when God’s people are afflicted, those who minister to them often rise to the occasion as well and their own ability to endure is subsequently enhanced.

Paul’s purpose is to settle and establish the Ephesians in the truth, and further to acquaint them with the mystery of the gospel. In the beginning he represents the great privilege of the Ephesians, who, having been in time past idolatrous heathens, were now converted to Christianity and received into covenant with God, which he illustrates from a view of their deplorable state before their conversion, Eph. 1:1-3:21. In the latter part (which we have in the Eph. 4:1-6:24) he instructs them in the principal duties of religion, both personal and relative, and exhorts and quickens them to the faithfully discharge these duties. What we find in Ephesians is a summary of the whole Christian doctrine.

Bible Truth

In the beginning two verses we have the introduction to the whole letter, which is much the same as in Paul’s other letters. Paul then gives thanks and praises to God for his inestimable blessings bestowed on the believing Ephesians, and reminds the Ephesians that they are saved by a gift of God’s Grace and the work of Christ’s sacrifice, not through any work that they may have done.

Items for Discussion

  • What do you believe the relationship is between good works and grace?
  • Why must we understand that we were lost before we can understand that we are saved?
  • Paul’s love for God was enhanced by prison, how can that be? What forces were at work here?
  • What do you think it would have been like to be a guard at the prison that held the Apostle Paul?

Discussion Challenge

  • How should the Church respond when it is confined by the world, when the Church is imprisoned by worldly sin?
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