Ephesians 1:1-3: Celebration of God’s Blessing

Ephesians 1:1-3

Celebration of God’s Blessing


We live in a place where the church is marginalized in regard to being considered a difference maker in society. The church is usually negotiable when it comes to competing priorities. The church is considered a consumable commodity that can be shopped around for and consumed based on the likings of the consumer. But Jesus did not view the community of his kingdom is such demeaning ways.


The church, as the community of God’s kingdom, is seated with Christ in the heavenly places and is the vehicle by which the kingdom is making proclamation to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places of the manifold wisdom of God. Frankly, that is truth is larger than my taste in music and the beauty of the sanctuary.


The church is the bride of Christ for whom he died to rescue and bring to himself, and therefore the church as the community of the kingdom of God has glorious purpose and value not only in the heavenly places but also as a witness to the kingdom of God.


Taking from our time last week, we remember that Ephesians explains what the Church’s cosmic role is as the Body of the Cosmic Christ. Ephesians reveals the position and job description of the church in effecting God’s new order (kingdom of God)[1]. It answers the question, what does it mean to be in Christ, and what does this demand of us?[2]


So we begin to look at Ephesians through this lens of understanding.


In typical Pauline fashion the first three chapters of Ephesians is heavy doctrine and the last three are the practice of that doctrine. Chapters 1-3 will reveal the glorious doctrine of the churches cosmic role in effecting the kingdom of God. Chapters 4-6 will into how the cosmic function of the church directly affects what we do in our physical existence (4:1 “…walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called…”; 5:1 “…be imitators of God as beloved children…”; 6:1 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord…”)


The introduction of Ephesians in 1:1-3 (some argue the whole first chapter is built on this construction) is constructed on the Hebrew blessing song called the “berakhah”. The reason is that Paul introduces the Ephesians to their blessed status in Christ and the “berakhah” makes sense as the vehicle for such words.


The feel of the first three verses is like that of a rising song that starts somewhat softly and crescendos in verse three on the blessed God who has placed us in Christ.


Let’s take a look at this blessing song of Paul’s introduction to the Ephesians.


The Celebration of God’s Grace to transformed servants 1:1a

Paul begins with the celebration of the Father’s grace to transformed servants like himself.


“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,”


Paul, who epitomized Ephesians 2:1-3, is now an apostle according to the will of God.


Paul was Saul, named after the first king of Israel who was a head taller than any man. Saul, named after the king from whose tribe he is descended. Saul, who was a Pharisee and zealous for the law. Saul, who was commissioned by his boys to arrest Christians and even approve of the Christian’s execution like Stephen. Saul, larger than life, great family heritage, high profile job. Saul.


Saul met the king of the universe as he was doing his destructive work in Acts 9 and was transformed by the risen Christ and takes on a new name, Paul. Paul means “small”.


The instant contrast is clear. Saul was big and advancing his big name. Jesus sovereignly engages Saul and shows him who is king and Saul becomes Paul.


Humility resulting in exaltation rather than arrogance resulting in destruction is what Jesus got done in that encounter. Paul has been liberated from the crushing bondage of ego.[3] 2 Corinthians 4:7 is a Pauline reminder that this glorious gospel is put in vessels of clay to show that the all-surpassing power comes from God and not us. How liberating is that?


See, This grace was certainly not due to Paul’s own will. He was a militant against the kingdom and the kingdom came crashing in on his will that was held bondage in sin and liberated him. All of us, if we are in Christ, have tasted this glorious gift.


Paul celebrates this glory. Paul, no longer Saul, who is now an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, not his own will, celebrates his status.


Not only did Jesus save Paul, but Jesus gave Paul a work to do. Jesus gave Paul a mission in life. Apostle. God can take murderers and give them a ministry.


How many of us must celebrate the fact that we are now in Christ and that is due to the fact that we were transformed by gospel of the kingdom when we were least looking for it? All of us!


How many of us must celebrate the fact that we have a purpose for what we do due to the transforming work of the gospel? All of us!


Whether you like your job or not is not the point. The point is that your transformation by the gospel results in your salvation and divine purpose in your work to know Jesus Christ and make him and his kingdom known. That is bigger than any of us and will out live all of us unless the Lord returns first.


Celebrate that!


The Celebration of God’s Grace to the Saints in Ephesus 1:1b-2

Paul then moves to the celebration God’s grace to the saints at Ephesus. This letter is “To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:”


Two words stand out here that Paul is celebrating with the Ephesians over: “saints” and “faithful”.


Both of these words are adjectives, describing words. Paul is describing the Ephesians. Paul does not use the noun version of “saint” or “faithful”. In the noun form the implication would be that these Ephesians are innately “saints” or innately “faithful”. That would not be true. They used to walk according to the prince of the power of the air (2:2). Paul uses the adjectival form. Paul is describing their state not their nature.


This is huge. By nature, these Ephesians were “by nature children of wrath like the rest of mankind” (2:3). But things have changed. Jesus has invaded with his elective grace and transformed the Ephesians from children of wrath to the place that, sinners though they are, are described as “saints” and “faithful”.


It’s clear from chapter 4-6 that they still sin, but their sin is no longer counted against them for their behavior is described as “saint” and “faithful”.


This is exactly the work of the gospel of the kingdom. Jesus righteousness is imputed to sinners in such a way that they, although left with a flesh of sin, are counted as “saints” and having been “faithful”.


The reason they are “saints” and “faithful”? They are “in Christ”.


If they were still in themselves, they would not be “saints” or “faithful”. They would be naturally children of wrath. But due to the elective work of Jesus Christ, they are in him and counted in their behavior as “saints” and “faithful”. That is something to celebrate!


We, if we are in Christ, are also “saints” and “faithful”. We are not longer children of wrath. We are no longer sinners. We are “saints”. Why? Because we don’t sin? No. We do sin. But being in the sinless and faithful one, Jesus, we are credited with his perfection and faithfulness!


This is indeed really good news. This is truly something to celebrate!


Because they are “saints” and “faithful” these Ephesians can receive the typical Pauline greeting of “grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”


Because they are counted in Christ as saints and faithful these beloved of God have him as their Father and receive grace and peace from God, their Father.


If we are in Christ, grace and peace are ours in abundance from our Father who has brought us into the family. This is truly something to celebrate!


The Celebration of the Saint’s Blessing in Christ 1:3b

Because these saints and faithful ones are at peace with God and receiving his grace they are now “…blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places…”


We will look at the blessings next week, but it is imperative we take note of why there are spiritual blessings to be enjoyed. This reason is two words: “in Christ”.


By my count Paul uses the language of “in Christ” or synonymous language such as “in Christ Jesus; in him; in whom; etc., 33 times.[4] The bulk of these 33 occurrences happen in the first two chapters.


Paul says in 1:3a that the Father has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places and then Paul commences to unpack those spiritual blessings in Christ.


Let’s do a quick look at these instances:


1:2b the saints are faithful in Christ Jesus

1:3 saints are blessed in Christ

1:4 Father chose us in Christ

1:5 through Christ Father adopted us as sons

1:6 we are blessed in the beloved (Christ is beloved by Father and we are in Christ and therefore blessed in being loved by Father)

1:7 we have redemption in Christ

1:10 all things are / will be united in Christ (in other words the kingdom is reconciling all the broken / scattered creation under the reign of Christ)

1:11 in Christ we have obtained an inheritance

1:12 we hope in Christ (our hope is centered in Christ nothing else)

1:13 (x 2) we heard the truth in him / we believed in him (truth came through hearing about Jesus / our belief must be centered in Christ)

1:15 we have faith in Christ (Jesus is the object of our faith)

1:20 Father has exercised power toward us in Christ

2:5 with Christ we are made alive

2:6 (x 3) we are raised with / we are seated with / we are in the heavenly places in Christ (this was key for the very spiritual Ephesians who upon their transformation burned their books of spells and magic in the city and would wrestle with the understanding that there was no fear in the spiritual realm because Jesus rules it and they are now with him and under his authority in ruling it)

2:7 Father has shown us kindness in Christ

2:10 we are Father’s workmanship in Christ

2:13 in Christ we have been brought near

2:15 in him we are now one new man no longer two divided (unity among mankind is possible in Christ)

2:18 through him we have access to the Father

2:21 the household of God is held together in Christ

2:22 in Christ we are being built into God’s dwelling by the Spirit

3:6 Gentiles are partakers of the promise in Christ

3:12 (x 2) we have boldness and access through faith in Christ

4:21 (x 2) we are taught in Christ and the truth is in Christ

5:8 we are light in the Lord

6:1 children are to obey their parents in the Lord

* 6:18 we are to pray in the Spirit to put on our armor for fighting the spiritual battle

* 6:21 ministry is defined as being in Christ[5]


This is the reality, but oh how easy it is to hear this and not live in it!


We have to believe Father that our blessedness is a reality (2 Cor. 12:1-6; Col. 3:1-4; Phil. 3:20-21)

We have been beset with the cancer of naturalism that causes us to doubt anything that is not empirically testable. The problem with naturalism is that it cannot account for the super-natural.


Hebrews 1:6 reminds us that without faith it is impossible to please God. We must hold on to our tiny faith that our citizenship is in heaven.


Our faith is the target of Satan’s temptations (see 1 Thess. 3:5). Paul sent to find out about the faith of the Thessalonians because he feared Satan had tempted them to abandon the faith.


We have to focus on our blessedness as truth (Colossians 3:1-3)

Often this just does not feel true. But this is why we don’t trust our feelings. Our inner person has been transformed by the gospel of the kingdom, but our physical person is still broken. The inner and physical parts are so inter-woven that it’s hard to pull them neatly apart. We believe, but we need help with our unbelief. We trust, but often we doubt. We know with our reasoning what Scripture says, but our feelings don’t match up with what we know to be true.


This is when we have to come after Jesus like our lives depended on it because they do. I have died and my life is hidden with Christ in God. I have to make this a focus of my pursuit.


We have to ask for growing experience of our blessed status in Christ (Luke 11:13) (operation of the Holy Spirit)

Jesus taught us to ask for this. If we ask, Jesus said he would cause the ministry of the Spirit to grow in us showing us more of our status in experience not simply mental ascent.


The Celebration of God’s glory in God’s blessedness 1:3a

Paul orders the text the way he does (3a comes before 3b = God is blessed so we are blessed as we are placed in him in Christ) so that we will see that our blessed state is due to the truth that God is blessed in his very nature and our blessed state is due to his blessed nature. We are to understand the highlight of the text is not our blessed state, because we have heard the gospel, but the highlight is the nature of God who makes us blessed in Christ. I ordered the “points” the way I ordered them on purpose (out of order according to the text) to highlight this reality so that some foolish person would not dare to believe our blessed status somehow is more vital than the God who makes us blessed. So, the order of our points of teaching this morning from the text is expositional in their order to help make the point Paul is making in the “berakhah”.


The crescendo here, according to Scripture, is opposite of what Victoria Osteen says it is, that we worship God not because God is God or deserving but because worshiping God will make us happy and God wants us to be happy above our worship of him as the point (God’s chief end is to glorify man and enjoy him forever). We are the point of worship, according to her. Paul leaves us with no doubt about that in Ephesians 1:1-3.


I love how Paul defines “blessed” in verse 3. It truly makes me excited because my blessed status is not due to my mental state at the moment (whether I’m feeling happy or not) or my financial status at the moment (barely getting by or amassing stuff that my kids will have to divide or throw away when I’m dead). Aren’t you glad that your relationship with God is not determined by how you feel in the moment or what you have in the moment?


Blessed is the state of God. Blessed means the happy state of God the Father. The God of the bible is a happy God. Not happy like an emotive high because of some external circumstance, but happy as the very nature of God. Contented. Completely at rest in himself in community in Trinity.


This is why we don’t simply describe blessed as abundant material possessions alone. One can have abundance and be cursed. Blessed is being in Christ and contented in Christ regardless of external circumstance.


God is blessed. He is the definition of blessed. Therefore, if we are in Christ we are blessed! We have Jesus and we have all we need to be at rest and content.


I have died and my life is hidden with Christ in God. When I’m in Christ I have life and the availability of Trinitarian community that images the Father, Son and Spirit that I am in, and all that is needed. That is something to celebrate.


In conclusion, the community of the Kingdom of God has much to celebrate. Our status of blessedness is the nuclear reaction that defines who we are and what we are to do. We are to abide in the Vine, go to his harvest in his peace and easy yoke, pray for the Lord of the harvest to send more laborers and for kingdom fruit and enjoy watching Jesus bring the fruit as he rules the war in the heavenly places and on earth in advancing the kingdom.


Before we launch to work let’s make sure we revel in and celebrate our lofty and powerful status of being in Christ and blessed in being in Christ beyond measure that we may do the work well and full of the happiness of being blessed in Christ, therefore making much of Christ and exalting Jesus as our great King and goal.


Let’s celebrate that together as we worship King Jesus and proclaim to the powers in the heavenly places the manifold wisdom of God!


[1] Parenthesis mine

[2] Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Ephesians, (Wheaton; Crossway, 1990), p. 15.

[3] R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Ephesians, (Crossway: Wheaton, 1990) p. 17.

[4] This is by my count in the ESV. Some may count other occurrences that I did not count or I counted some others did not.

[5] * 6:18 and 6:21 are not necessarily “spiritual blessings in Christ” as the other occurrences in the book, however, the Spirit’s mission to exalt Jesus makes our prayer in and under the Spirit’s influence puts us into Christ’s purposes and puts us into his power and our ministry is only ministry when it is in the work of Christ not simply serving others. So in this sense I include 6:18 and 21.


Ephesians: An Introduction


A question we may ask is: why study Ephesians as we are studying the truth of 1 Timothy 3:15 on how one ought to behave in the household of God, the church, that is a pillar and buttress of the truth?

First, the correspondence from Paul to Timothy was written to Timothy as he shepherded the church at Ephesus, and what Paul wrote was not so Timothy-focused that it excluded the Ephesian Christians. We have worked hard to show how the instruction to Timothy also applies to the church at Ephesus.

Second, Paul spent significant time with the Ephesians (Acts 19-20) and made many disciples in Ephesus. Since Paul writes to Timothy in shepherding the people Paul so passionately served, it makes sense to also study the instruction Paul wrote to this church that was so important to him.

Third, the church at Ephesus finds itself on the frontier of the kingdom’s work in The Great Commission in Acts as the Kingdom (Christ’s rule and authority) advances.

The kingdom of God is powerful. Tim Keller defines the kingdom as, “…the renewal of the whole world through the entrance of supernatural forces. As things are brought back under Christ’s rule and authority, they are restored to health, beauty and freedom.” Father’s supernatural work is at hand and the good news of the Kingdom is running and advancing and it is powerful.

The kingdom is like microscopic yeast in dough. The yeast does its fascinating work under cover until it makes this glorious lump of goodness. The rule of Christ and his gospel is powerful. The gospel of the kingdom makes disciples. Disciples multiply inside the domains of society. From these domains of society the church grows. Kingdom / Disciple / Society / Church.

Ephesus epitomizes this glorious reality of the church naturally growing from a domain of society because the gospel of the kingdom was making disciples.

Paul passes through Ephesus (Acts 19:1) and finds some disciples. No doubt this is due to Priscilla and Aquila and Apollos preaching and teaching, but apparently, there have been people transformed by the gospel but not through direct discipleship, but transformed, and they are gathered and Paul finds them and begins to disciple them and the people get to experience an “end of the earth Pentecost” as it were (note that all the Acts 1:8 places the gospel of the kingdom advances to gets to experience a little of the Jerusalem Pentecost that validates the gospel’s message in that part of the kingdom’s advance; its not normative prescription but mission validation). Paul then launches a 2-3 year ministry in Ephesus.

What if the gospel of the kingdom is making disciples under our nose and we simply ride the wave of the kingdom to starting a new campus (es), see new ministry birthed, children adopted and folded into our fellowship, racial reconciliation through multi-ethnic pastors serving together on the same team and so forth? This is reality. The Spirit has already been at work preparing people and locations and holy desires for the rule of Jesus Christ. We need to see the glories of this kind of work up close in the book of Ephesians.

What if the gospel of the kingdom is making disciples in our people group and we simply ride the wave of the kingdom and hold out our hands to receive the fruit of the harvest? What if Father is at work in ways that by-pass our understanding of how things normally work?

Ephesus was like that. Jesus, the ruler of the universe, seated in the heavenly places, has placed us with him there in our great salvation. The kingdom is advancing under the direction of King Jesus, and we his people are recipients of a mission that is powerful and supernatural and working and we’ll get a glimpse of that in our study of Ephesians.

Finally, Kent Hughes summarizes “why Ephesians?” better than me when he says, “…we will see…furthermore the grand theme of Ephesians and its dual focus on Christ and on the church – the “mystery” of “Christ and the church” (5:32). The theme is clarified when we compare it to that of Colossians. Colossians explains Christ’s person and work in relation to the whole universe – the Cosmic Christ, whereas Ephesians explains what the Church’s cosmic role is as the Body of the Cosmic Christ. Ephesians reveals the position and job description of the church in effecting God’s new order (kingdom of God) . It answers the question, what does it mean to be in Christ, and what does this demand of us?

Because Jesus rules the kingdom’s advance we have a role in Jesus’ work in his supernatural kingdom. We need to see this and taste this.

But, the question we may ask is not what we will do with Ephesians, but the question is what will Ephesians do with us? To ask it another way, what supernatural power of the kingdom will Father unleash as we understand and engage in the work of the kingdom?

Let’s get a look at the grand landscape of Ephesians through some highlights of the text:

1. Ephesians shows us an example of the supernatural work of the Kingdom of which we are a part (Acts 18:18-20:38)
We learn that Father used the faithful service of his faithful workers to expand the Kingdom, but we also see that Jesus had gotten there before them through some means and there were people who were gathered and waiting on further instruction.

Let us not think that the kingdom’s advance hinges on us alone. Jesus assumes the responsibility of advancing his supernatural work and he will get it done. Our job is not making things happen. Our job is abiding in him and reaping the fruit of his labor.

The question is not whether Jesus is at work in Rome or in our people group. The question is whether we have eyes that see and hands and feet seeking to be in the harvest Jesus is preparing. The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few, the Lord said. So, I believe there is not a lack of harvest but a lack of laborers.

Laboring in the kingdom is not the same as simply attending church services. Are we fighting sin in our own lives? Are we fighting sin in our culture? Are we addressing the fall in our town? Are we actively growing in the faith? Are we actively becoming more aware of the leading of the Spirit and his prompting to work? Are we growing in our awareness of being completely his instrument in every moment of every day? Are we actively engaging our Spirit gifting in serving the body and advance of the kingdom? Are we actively making disciples?

Ephesians may reveal the supernatural work and our part in that work and this study may mobilize many laborers to be involved in the harvest.

2. Ephesians shows us our spiritual blessings in Christ (Ephesians 1)
Our election to justification 1:4
Our election to adoption as children 1:5
Our redemption and forgiveness of our trespasses 1:7
Our knowledge of God’s mystery and purpose set forth in Christ to unite all things in Christ 1:9-10
Our obtaining of our inheritance due to Fathers good predestining work 1:11
Our sealing with the promised, indwelling Holy Spirit as the guarantee of obtaining our inheritance (the earth) 1:13-14

3. Ephesians shows us the lavish grace of God to save us when we could never save ourselves (Ephesians 2:1-9)
As dead creatures due to the fall, we followed after Satan. But Father being rich in mercy made us alive with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly places so that he may show us the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness. Wow!

This salvation required faith, and he graciously bestowed on us as a gift what he required of us so that none of us can boast that we generated that faith.

When we stand before Christ at the restoration of all things none of us will brag that we believed due to our superior seeking of Christ, unlike our lost friends who failed to do so.

We will fall on our faces and give thanks that he rescued us when we were not seeking rescue.

4. Ephesians shows us that we are his workmanship created for good works that he has prepared for us already (Ephesians 2:10)
The glorious reality is that we were created for good works and we don’t have to go make those good works up. Jesus made us for good works that he prepared for us to do.

I’m convinced that this is the unique wiring Jesus put in each of us. We are to go after our gifting and wiring and Psalm 37:4 desires that he put in us in order to take that discipline and gifting’s domain under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. For example, God made some of us teachers. Jesus prepared the good work of my job for me, and it is my task to bring the domain of education/teaching under the lordship of Jesus Christ not just in name but also in practice.

5. Ephesians shows us the reality of the unity we possess in Christ (Ephesians 2:11-22; 4:1-16)
Segregation of the body of Christ in race and age is NOT Christ honoring and defeating for the body of Christ. Our unity among age and race is a purchased gift by Christ and the possession of that gift is ours for the grasping if we will simply but with much difficulty learn to do life together outside of our cultural preferences and do life together under the values of God’s kingdom.

We have to ask ourselves what the kingdom looks like and all of us must reach for that as our preference with our cultural distinctions second but still in tact.

When we get to the Revelation we see all nations gathered before Christ, but we see all nations. The distinctions are in place. However the distinctions come together under the banner of the exaltation of the King of the nations, Jesus.

What would it look like for a fellowship in Rome to look Black, Hispanic, Asian and White with the leadership as multi-cultural as the body? Is this possible? Not only is it possible, it is available if we seek the kingdom.

How do we do this? We’ll talk about that as we move through Ephesians. But it won’t be comfortable.

6. Ephesians shows us the reality that God is able to do far more than we can imagine because of the supernatural power of the kingdom at work in us (Ephesians 3:20-21)
This instruction comes after Paul talks about the fact that through the church God is making known the multi-faceted wisdom of God in the heavenly places to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. So, Paul tells them not to lose heart over what he is suffering. So, somehow, in Paul’s suffering and in the church’s work God’s wisdom is being put on display. Who can do this? Who can handle that? That’s heavy stuff.

Fear not! Father is able to do far more than we can fathom!

Listen, our job is abiding in Christ. Jesus’ job is producing fruit. Our job is to remain faithful. Jesus job is making is effective. And he can do far more than I am willing to give him credit for in my fretting and worry.

Our worries and fears are to melt into confidence that if we do God’s work in following his way then he will do more than we bargained for. That sounds like a win!

7. Ephesians shows us the precious nature of the church to Christ Jesus through the institution of marriage (Ephesians 5:22-33)
The church is not throw away and attendance and engagement in the church is not optional. So much of the church is demeaned and replaced with other vehicles or simply neglected because our pragmatic worldview won’t allow us to imagine there are spiritual implications at stake through the church beyond what I can see and feel.

To combat this the Father created marriage as an institution. Marriage displays the mystery of Christ Jesus and his bride, the church. Therefore, we don’t mistreat the church and we don’t demean marriage. The church upholds the institution as a living display of the gospel and the gospel defines and upholds marriage.

Don’t think that the church, despite appearances sometimes, is irrelevant. She is the beloved bride of Christ Jesus and we dare not abandon her for something else.

8. Ephesians shows us the war we engage in as we do the supernatural work of the kingdom (Ephesian 6:10-20)
Finally, this work will be a spiritual struggle. Don’t expect life in the church and work in the church to be a picnic. This work is war!

Satan hates us and will mobilize the hounds of hell to come against us and the work of Christ.

Apathy, lack of knowledge, a theology built on anything except Scripture, fear, worry, misplaced priorities and values, abused resources, wrong understanding of our position in Christ, false understanding of who we are in Christ, false understanding of the Father’s care for us, frustrations, and so on can be battering rams of the Evil One.

The external conflict we see and experience is only symptomatic of the fact that we are not wrestling against flesh and blood. But we do wrestle with the principalities and rulers of darkness in the heavenly places.

Ephesians will challenge our naturalistic worldview. There is just more in play that what we see with our eyes. We need our discernment sharpened, Scripture reading/study tightened up and our prayer closet life intensified.

The kingdom is here and is coming fuller each day. The question for us is: are we doing the work of the kingdom or are we fighting against the advance of the kingdom either inadvertently or overtly and just need to repent?

Worship is always a good indicator of where we are. Psalm 50:23 “The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to the one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God.” Come and offer thanks in song by singing of the Father’s greatness. If you can’t offer thanks with the people of God, then what repentance needs to happen? Offer thanks by repenting. But don’t leave without having made much of Jesus Christ in thanksgiving either by worshiping with the people of God or repenting among the people of God.

Either one (thanksgiving through congregational worship / repentance) is a grievous blow to the enemy!