Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: (ESV)
I have a confession to make. I have a favorite book of the Bible. It is the book of Ephesians. Don't judge me. I imagine you have a favorite book as well. The Bible is a collection of 66 wonderful books. All of them are given to us to reveal our awesome God. And I love them all. But this letter that the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at the city of Ephesus is particularly wonderful.
In this opening verse, we find Paul saying some profound things. Let's consider who Paul is, who the recipients of this letter are, and what they have in common.
Who is Paul? In Galatians 1:13 Paul says, "For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it." That's a pretty bad history. How could someone who violently persecuted the church of God be used by God to do anything positive? And before we answer that question, let me ask you a few questions. How would you describe yourself? What is in your past that defines you and hinders you from being used by God? Do you feel like you have failed God in such a way that you are incapable of receiving his mercy, much less being used by him? If anyone should feel that way it would be Paul. But, listen to his words to his friend Timothy:
1 Timothy 1:15–16
 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.  But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. (ESV)
Paul identifies himself in this letter to the church at Ephesus as an Apostle, not as a murderer. His identity was given to him by Jesus Christ. He is "an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God."
How do you identify yourself? If you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior it is important that you let God establish your identity, not your past. How would God identify you? Fill in this blank: __________________________, by the will of God.