Are You in the Will?

Have you dreamed about inheriting treasures from a long lost relative? To be "in the will" would change your life forever! Consider the rags-to-riches story of Jack Wurm. In 1949, Mr. Wurm was unemployed and bankrupt. As he strolled along a San Francisco beach, he found a bottle with a scroll inside. He discovered that this "message in a bottle" was the last will and testament of Daisy Singer Alexander, heiress to the Singer Sewing Company fortune.

The faded paper read: "To avoid confusion, I leave my entire estate to the lucky person who finds this bottle, and to my attorney, Barry Cohen; share and share alike." The courts discovered that she had written the note and thrown the bottle into the Thames River in London. It had drifted across the oceans to San Francisco and reached a penniless Jack Wurm. Jack inherited over $6 million in cash and Singer stock.

Similarly, God has sent us a "message in a Bible." Within this book you'll find the "last will and testament of our Lord" with a different kind of inheritance—spiritual treasures. How will you respond? Will you walk past it? Or, like Jack Wurm, will you step out in faith and take action? Failure to take God's promises seriously leads to spiritual poverty. Jack's inheritance can't begin to compare with the spiritual wealth God offers His heirs! The book of Ephesians reveals the magnitude of your heavenly treasures.

DAY 1: The Messenger

DAY 2: The Beneficiaries

DAY 3: The Benefactor

DAY 4: The Redeemer

DAY 5: The Guarantor

DAY 1

THE
MESSENGER

Topics: APOSTLE, TRANSFORMED, GENTILE, PREJUDICE, SANCTIFICATION, DOING GOOD

Preparation

Father, I confess that this world tugs at my heart to go in directions that are not Your will for me. Use this study to transform my mind and direct my heart to follow You. Amen

GOD'S WILL

Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is. Romans 12:2, NLT

Exploration

Meet Paul, the author of the letter to the Ephesians. Paul wrote this letter while imprisoned in Rome for preaching the gospel. Though on trial for his life, Paul was concerned with the spiritual well-being of the churches he established on his missionary journeys. It was his honor and duty to deliver the "last will and testament" of our Savior to the church in Ephesus. Let's spend some time getting to know Paul, the messenger. As you study, ask yourself, "Am I in God's will?"

Read Ephesians 1:1-23, then focus on verse 1.

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, . . . Ephesians 1:1

1. What did Paul call himself?

2. How did he become an apostle of Jesus Christ?

Read Acts 9:1-31 to discover how Saul the Pharisee became Paul the apostle.

3. According to Acts 9:1-2, what was Paul like before he became a Christian?

4. Describe how Paul was converted to Christianity (Acts 9:3-6).

5. According to verse 15, to whom did the Lord call Paul to go?

6. Focus on verses 22-23. How did the Jews respond to Paul's conversion? Why?

7. According to verse 26, how did the disciples respond to Paul? Why?

Transformation

8. We have seen that Paul knew God's will and purpose for his life. Write out what these verses teach you about God's will for your life.

SCRIPTURE

GOD'S WILL FOR YOU

1 Thess. 4:3

1 Thess. 5:18

1 Pet. 2:15

9. God's will includes our sanctification.

Journal about some of the areas in which God has helped you separate yourself from a sinful behavior.

10. It is God's will for us to be thankful.

Journal a note of thanksgiving to God.

11. It is God's will for His followers to be doers of good deeds. Which of the good deeds below will you perform this week?

___ Phone an unbeliever

___ Visit an elderly friend

___ Baby-sit for a family

___ Prepare meals for the needy

___ Pray for a missionary

___ Other ____________

Saul of Tarsus thought he was in God's will when, in fact, he was in bondage to his strict religious observance of the law. When God interrupted his life, Paul was transported from religion to relationship. He became a new creation in Christ. Paul learned to breathe the air of freedom by living in God's will. Jesus said, "If the Son sets you free, you will indeed be free" (John 8:36, NLT).

Henrietta Mears, a beloved Bible teacher, taught the secret to true freedom. She explained, "A bird is free in the air. Place a bird in the water and he has lost his liberty. A fish is free in the water, but leave him on the sand and he perishes. He is out of his realm. So, the Christian is free when he does the will of God and is obedient to God's command. This is as natural a realm for God's child as the water is for the fish, or the air for the bird."

Contemplation

All heaven is waiting to help those who will discover the will of God and do it.

J. Robert Ashcroft

DAY 2

THE
BENEFICIARIES

Topics: FAITHFULNESS, GRACE AND PEACE, PEACE, ANXIETY

A five-year-old named Justin heard the story of the monk Simon the Stylite, who attained sainthood by sitting on a lofty pillar for forty years. The boy was intrigued with literally climbing closer to God, so he decided to imitate Simon. Placing the kitchen stool on top of the table, he climbed his precarious perch and began his journey to sainthood. His mother saw him and cried, "Justin, get off that stool before you break something!" Justin jumped off his perch and marched out of the room saying, "You can't become a saint in your own home."

Paul called the Ephesians saints. It's easy to view some people as true saints—Mother Teresa or Billy Graham, for example. However, it's more difficult to comprehend that all believers (including you and me!) are saints in God's eyes. You don't have to stay perched on a lofty pillar to attain sainthood. A saint is simply a person who belongs to God and is set apart for Him. If Paul wrote a letter to you, a believer, he would call you a saint.

Preparation

Thank You, Lord, for the riches of your inheritance. Don't let the gold and silver of this world fool me. Remind me daily that my treasure is in heaven with You. Amen

RICHES

You knew how full of love and kindness our Lord Jesus Christ was. Though he was very rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich. 2 Corinthians 8 9, NLT

Exploration

Yesterday we learned about Paul, the messenger of God's will. Today we turn our attention to the beneficiaries of his letter.

Review Ephesians 1, then focus on verses 1-2.

. . . to the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus: . . . Ephesians 1:1

1. How did Paul describe the Ephesians?

2. What Christian attribute did the Ephesians display?

3. Faithfulness is "making faith a living reality in one's life" (Nelson's Quick Reference Topical Bible Index). Look at the following verses, and write down what they teach about manifesting faithfulness in different areas of your life.

SCRIPTURE

FAITHFULNESS MANIFESTED

2 Chron. 34:10, 12

Prov. 14:5

Luke 16:10

1 Cor. 4:1-2

3 John 5

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 1:2

4. In this benediction, what two things did Paul pray for the Ephesians to experience?

5. Who gives this grace and peace?

6. Note the titles given to God and to Jesus. What do these mean to you?

Transformation

7. In Ephesians 1:2 we learned that saints experience grace and peace. Check the boxes below that indicate ways you have attempted to create peace in your life.

___ Listened to music

___ Called a psychic hotline

___ Ignored my problems

___ Used drugs or alcohol

___ Stayed busy

___ Other___________

Journal about whether or not these have been successful at giving you lasting peace. Why or why not?

8. Jesus said, "I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world" (John 16:33, NLT). Where (or with whom) can peace be found?

9. Paul revealed the way to restore peace in an anxious heart: "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7). Using the space provided, journal through the three steps that lead to peace.

Step One: "Be anxious for nothing." Name your greatest fear, and then give that anxiety to the Lord.

Step Two: "In everything by prayer . . . let your requests be made known to God." Write out a prayer about that fear or situation that causes stress.

Step Three: "With thanksgiving." Write your own psalm of praise, thanking God for setting you free from this fear.

We have discovered that saints are people who are faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ. We have learned that a faithful Christian life exhibits ongoing and active faith. Faith is tested by the tough stuff in life—when the chips are down and the heat is turned up. I read about an elderly woman, badly crippled by arthritis, who was asked, "Do you suffer much?" She pointed to her hand and responded, "Yes, but there is no nail here. He had the nails, I have the peace." She then pointed to her head saying, "There are no thorns here. He had the thorns, I have the peace." Finally, she touched her side and declared, "There is no spear here. He had the spear, I have the peace." This faithful woman was a modern-day saint. She understood the incredible gift of grace given to her by God, and she was filled with "God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand" (Philippians 4:7, NLT).

Contemplation

A great many people are trying to make peace, but that has already been done, God has not left it for us to do; all we have to do is to enter into it.

Dwight Lyman Moody

—Women's Bible Journal