"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him." (Ephesians 1:3-4, ESV)
The focus of praise in Ephesians 1:3-4 is what God has done in Christ. This is the key phrase around which the entire first chapter of Ephesians revolves. Christian faith and life have their center in God’s Son and this letter to the Ephesians therefore opens with an expression of gratitude for all that is found in Him. God who is worthy of worship has already blessed all his people in Christ through the saving events of His life, death, and resurrection.
It mentions in v. 3 that these blessings happen “in the heavenly places.” I don’t think that phrase is referring to heaven. I think that the “heavenly places” are a reference to the invisible realities of our life now. It reaches on into eternity, yes, but it is something to be experienced now, in the inner life. That is what Paul is talking about -- your thought-life, your attitudes, your inner life where you live, where you feel conflict and pressure, struggle and disaster -- that is part of the “heavenly places.” It is where the Spirit of God reaches us at the core of our intellect, our emotions, and our will. These blessings are yours if you are in Jesus Christ.
In v. 4 we see that one of the eternal purposes of God was to choose His saints before the “foundation of the world.” But, we struggle with the timing of this: "before the foundation of the world." Before we existed, before we ever took a breath, we were chosen in Him. Before there was an earth, no matter how far back in time you put it, yet the statement stands that you and I, as the very persons we are among the billions of people, if we are saints, were chosen in Him. How could that be? Do you see how that boggles the mind? We must realize that we are dealing with an Eternal Being, one who knows the past, present, and future. An omniscient God with whom there is not past or future, but only an eternal present. One who determines all things “according to the purpose of His will,” as the next verse has it, and brings them to pass so that they all work together to accomplish what He wants accomplished. As finite human beings we can only sit in amazed wonder and say, "Lord, how great thou art!"