For Ministry Resources Youth Series : Ephesians

Lesson 01: Ephesians 01/03: Jesus Blesses Us

Lesson 01

Ephesians 1:3-14 is the longest sentence in the whole New Testament. It’s just phrase after phrase of pure excitement about all that God has given us. Paul is so excited that he didn’t even have time for punctuation. This theology-packed run-on sentence can be summed up like this: “Praise God because we are blessed beyond belief.” Let’s break down three blessings from Christ that have the power to change our lives.



Large Group

Large Group Instructions

PREPARATION
Materials:
Leader
Note:

Download the attached script to bring with you to the podium.

  • Play: Ephesians Countdown - Countdown
Materials:
Leader

Show an old iPhone commercial or ad prompting “There’s an App for That.”

“There’s an app for that.” This tagline dominated the world during the launch of the iPhone. While this is common knowledge now, it took a lot of clever marketing to convince people that phones could be used for more than calls. Thus, Apple spent a fortune advertising the app store. Do you want to see the constellations? There’s an app for that. Do you want to watch dog videos nonstop? There’s an app for that. Do you want to make a phone call? We think there’s an app for that.

If ancient Greece were to come up with an advertising slogan, it would likely be “there’s a god for that.”

Greek culture believed that dozens of gods and goddesses manipulated every part of their daily lives.

Zeus was the god of lightning and rain. Thus, they would make sacrifices when their crops needed water.

Neptune was the god of the sea. If you wanted your sailor to come home safely, you would turn to him.

Aphrodite was the goddess of love. If you wanted someone to like you, you would ask her to convince her son, Cupid, to shoot them with a love dart.

There was a god for every physical need they had, except one big one — spiritual needs.

Materials:
Leader

There is a book in the Bible called Ephesians. It’s a letter written by the apostle Paul to the Greeks living in a thriving city called Ephesus.

They were as Greek as Greek could be.

They celebrated Greek philosophers, loved the Olympics, and ate a lot of feta cheese.

More importantly, Ephesus was one of the religious capitals of the ancient world. Thus, they were well acquainted with mysterious gods and goddesses.

The Ephesians didn’t just love the gods; they memorialized them on every corner in Ephesus.

This city was home to one of the seven wonders of the ancient world — the temple of Artemis. This building was an architectural marvel with huge columns, lavish design, and world-famous symbolism.

  • VISUAL ILLUSTRATION: Show a picture of the temple ruins.

As far as the Greeks were concerned, Artemis was the god who reigned supreme.

However, Paul introduced the people to a God whose glory wasn't found in a physical building, but in the spiritual realms.

Their gods blessed them with crops, fish, and rain, but the true God blesses us with eternity.

The Greek gods give physical blessings, but Jesus gives spiritual blessings.

Materials:
Leader

Contextualizing this Passage:

Paul wanted the whole world to know the glory of God and the greatness of Jesus. That's why he spent his entire Christian life dedicated to traveling the known world to tell people about Jesus.

When Paul visited Ephesus on his second mission trip (Acts 18), he witnessed both breakthrough and backlash.

During his tour, he worked miracles and saw hundreds of people saved. There was a tipping point during his journey though.

The gospel led many Ephesians to reject Artemis and begin worshiping Jesus.

Some of the people who accepted Jesus as their savior got carried away and burned some very expensive and sacred scrolls.

As more and more people rejected Artemis, a riot broke out and Paul was nearly killed (Acts 19:11-41).

Paul, certainly reflecting on this near-dearth experience, carefully penned his letter to the Ephesians to explore one central topic — the life-changing power of Jesus.

Yes, that’s powerful, but it’s also very practical. He wanted his audience to know that Jesus was the one true God and that he reigned supreme. But he didn’t leave it there. He also examined how that truth would change their lives. Let’s explore the opening paragraph of Ephesians that celebrates the goodness of God.

Can't you just feel the joy in Paul’s voice?

Fun fact: this section of scripture is the longest sentence in the whole New Testament.

It's just phrase after phrase of pure excitement about all that God has given us.

He's so excited that he didn't even have time for punctuation.

—TRANSITION —

This theology-packed run-on sentence can be summed up like this: "Praise God because we are blessed beyond belief."

Let's break down three blessings from Christ that have the power to change our lives.

Materials:
Leader

The Greek word for “blessing” is “eulogia,” which directly translates to “benefit.”

Our spiritual blessings aren't just perks; they are life-altering realities that come through our connection to Christ.

Paul opens his letter with a zinger. God doesn’t just give us benefits, he gives us supernatural blessings.

Jesus blesses us with "every spiritual blessing."

This is an important comparison to the traditional belief structures in ancient Greece.

Greeks prayed to gods who would provide for them materially.

Paul encourages his readers to rethink their entire religion by turning to a God who blesses us more spiritually than materially.

We fall victim to Ephesian-like thinking all the time.

We ask God to bless us with a nice house, a fancy car, or a big bank account.

All of those things are good, but they're not the best that God has to offer.

Our savior blesses us spiritually.

A car is good, but freedom is better. A house is good, but peace is better. Wealth is good, but eternal life is better.


Think like Paul. Thank God for your invisible, intangible, and spiritual blessings.

There is more than you can even comprehend.

Praise God because we are blessed beyond belief.

  • ILLUSTRATION: Tell a story of adoption.

Have you ever met a family who went through adoption? It's a beautiful thing.

In an instant, the child's life is changed forever. They have a new family, a good home, and long-term protection. It's so much bigger than a new last name; it's a new identity. They have been accepted into a loving family.

Paul parallels our identity to that of an adopted child.

God adopted you into His spiritual family. Jesus picked you up, gave you a new identity, and accepted you into a loving home called the Church.

In ancient Ephesus, people were allowed to disown their children up to one year after their birth with no consequences.

However, if a family adopted a child, they were legally forbidden from rejecting them.

Their future was secured with a signature on the adoption paperwork.

No clauses.

No exceptions.

No turning back.

The same is true for you. Jesus selected you for adoption.

This means that He will never reject you, disown you, or let you go.

God won't kick you out.

Jesus won't send you packing.

You will belong for good.

This is a forever family.

Our faith isn't just about beliefs; it's about belonging. You belong to the eternal family of God.

Praise God because we are blessed beyond belief. God blesses us in so many ways — first spiritually, then we are blessed with a new family, and lastly, we are blessed with the greatest gift of all — our salvation.

The word in verse seven for "grace" means “unmerited favor.”

You didn't earn it and you don't deserve it, but you still get to experience it.

Isn't there something special about being in a family built on the foundation of forgiveness?

God doesn't just give us grace; he "lavishes it on us."

God dishes it out freely and there is always more to go around.

When you make a mistake, God forgives.

When you make a wrong turn, God redirects.

When you feel like a failure, God's mercy will help you carry on.

You are forever safe in God's grace. It's a spiritual blessing that knows no end.

God's blessings are as vast as the ocean and we are just standing on the shore.

Sure, we can see some of them, but we are hardly scratching the surface.

Materials:
Leader

God has blessed us beyond belief. Praise Jesus for that.

Just when you struggle to count your blessings, remember that God's blessings are invaluable, invisible, spiritual, supernatural, and eternal.

Paul’s message to the Ephesians is the same message he wants us to receive today: Praise God because we are blessed beyond belief.

Our blessings aren’t necessarily physical, rather they are spiritual.

You have been blessed with adoption, forgiveness, and an eternity with Jesus.

No material blessing can even come close. God blesses us, so we should praise Him.



Small Group

Small Group Instructions

SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION
Materials:
Small Group Leader
  • TALK IT OUT Go through these questions with your circle. Be honest. Be open. Talk through the tough stuff.

Ice Breaker: Go around your circle and share this week’s highs and lows. What was the best part of your week and what was the lowest part of your week?

Q1: The ancient Greeks worshiped greek gods in pursuit of physical blessings like rain, crops, and wealth. What physical blessings do your peers usually pursue?

Q2: How is a physical blessing different from a spiritual blessing?

Q3: Which spiritual blessing from Jesus resonated with you the most? (We are blessed “in the heavenly realms,” We are blessed with adoption, or We are blessed with grace and forgiveness). Why?

Q4: How can we praise God for spiritual blessings even when we are lacking material blessings?

Application: Pray to God every day this week thanking him for one spiritual blessing that you have received.

Materials:
Student
  • This reading plan includes:

    Isaiah 49:14-16 John 20:24-29 Romans 8:26-30 Psalm 103 1 Corinthians 2:9 John 13:34
 1 Corinthians 13:1

    Do the following with each passage:

    ASK– God to connect with you here. In prayer, start by slowing down and inviting God to be present. Begin with focus and openness to see what God has for you today.

    READ– the selected section of Scripture slowly. Take note of the words and phrases that intrigue you, reading them a second time if necessary.

    REFLECT– on what grabs you. How does this passage personally relate to your own life and experiences?

    RESPOND– to the Scripture. Speak directly to God about what’s on your mind and heart. Look for ways to live out what you’ve uncovered.

About For Ministry Resources Youth Series

FMR develops a monthly youth ministry curriculum that is free to all local churches. Each monthly release includes a sermon series, small group series, Bible devotional, and supporting graphics packs that are original, practical, and ready to use.