Live Like a Child of God – It Is YOUR Choice!

But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be named among you, as becometh saints; 4Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.” Ephesians 5.3-4

In v. 1 of this chapter in Ephesians we read these words: “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children … ” So we need to keep our thoughts within the context of this truth. In light of Paul’s call for us to be followers of God, he issues some severe warnings. You may read these verses and think to yourself, “He doesn’t need to tell us all these things. We are Christians don’t do those things.” Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every Christian obeyed the Holy Spirit and abstain from all the things Paul mentioned?

I am saddened to say that many of the practices of the unsaved have crept into the church over the years. We teach our teenagers to protect their bodies against ungodly sexual behavior, but many of them come right back at us with, “Everybody is doing it. If I am a Christian, what difference does it make? I’m going to heaven anyway.”

Stranger still is the Christian husband or wife who jumps off the path of righteous living and when they are discovered, their testimony is destroyed. Each one of us as we look at our husband or wife, needs to see your spouse and the relationship you have should be as unto the Lord. When you see your spouse, look beyond them, and see God standing just over their shoulder. Such a vision will remind you that as you engage in that relationship day after day, looking over their shoulder keeps you mindful that this relationship is unto the Lord first.

Paul’s final phrase is a good reminder: “rather giving of thanks.” When you remember to give thanks for the life God has given you, it will move your focus from the life dominated by the flesh to one that is dominated by the Spirit. Once again, these are just my thoughts …

 

Like the Boy Scout Motto – Be Prepared!

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6.12

How does it feel to be wrestling with someone or something you cannot see? Our enemy isn’t someone we can grab by the collar and wrestle to the ground and overcome with a show of strength. As a matter of fact, it would be foolish for us to attempt to overcome him in our own strength anytime. Take note of how Paul describes this enemy: (1) principality, (2) power, (3) ruler of the darkness of this world, and (4) spiritual wickedness in the heavenlies.

Paul knew about this enemy first hand. He encountered him almost every place he went to preach the gospel and/or start a church. In case you are wondering WHY this enemy would pick on you, just remember that he took Jesus on when He was in the wilderness.

In another place he is described as a roaring lion: “Be sober (be serious), be vigilant; because YOUR adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking who he man devour.” Satan’s intent for each one of God’s children is to render them totally ineffective in doing kingdom work, and to keep them spiritually defeated as much as he possibly can.

This entire passage in Ephesians 6 is critical to our battle down here on earth. In the preceding verse (11) Paul tells us what we need to do: “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Wiles is a plural word meaning tricks, ruses, ploys, schemes, dodges, maneuvers subterfuges, shenanigans, artifices, guile, artfulness, cunning, craftiness. In a nutshell, the devil is sneaky when it comes to the ways he comes after God’s children.

IF we want to be victorious over Satan, we must take Paul’s advice and put on the whole armour of God (vs. 13-18). Just my thoughts …

Where Is God Anyway?

And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29.13

Jeremiah is writing to those who are being held captive by King Nebuchadnezzar. God is sending to them a message of hope. Most of us have had occasion to cling to Jeremiah 29.11: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” I like the wording found in this translation: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (ESV) These captives were going to be held as slaves for 70 years. They needed hope.

The next verse continues to bring encouragement: “Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.” (v. 12) God is reassuring them that He has not forgotten them or where they are. He reminds them, “When you call (even from Babylon) I will hearken (hear) you.” If your life is anything like mine, you have been in places where you think that God can’t possibly know what your situation is or even where you are. But God says, “I will hearken unto you.

Now that we have seen the context of our verse, let’s consider it: “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” Our conversations with God must always be from a heart that is honest, transparent, and full of expectation. God is saying to them and us, Come to me with an insatiable desire to find me, and I will be right where you need me to be.” God wants us to move from a mindset that wonders where He is to one that acknowledges that He is right where I need Him to be and the rest is up to me. After God has done all that He can do, the rest is up to us to “search for (Him) with all (our) heart.” Just my thoughts …

 

Not Just a Suggestion!

But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Acts 1.8

These are the last words of Jesus to His disciples. In the very next verse they watch as He ascends to heaven. So, since these are His LAST words to them, they must be significant – both to them AND to us.

Jesus is not stuttering here when He say, “Ye shall receive power … “ The work of God can never be done in the power of the flesh. All the flesh wants to do is make itself look good. But Jesus tells us: “ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you … ” When you and I received Christ as our personal Savior, we IMMEDIATELY received a part of God Himself. He gave us His Holy Spirit to be our guide and our teacher. Holy Spirit power is ours … all we need to do is release our lives to God and claim the power the Holy Spirit is offering us.

What is this Holy Spirit power for anyway? Jesus answers that question for us: “ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” I learned in English class when in school that when the word “shall” is used in the second or third person (ye/you), it has the effect of being a command. Jesus is not SUGGESTING here that we be witnesses. He is giving us a command AND these are the last words that He spoke while here on earth.

As members of a local congregation, we owe it to our church and our community to be witnesses where we live and work. But there is another dimension here. When we help plant churches in other communities, we are helping to reach our Judea. When we enable missionaries to go to a foreign field and carry the gospel, we are helping to reach “the uttermost part of the earth.

How about this week, we ask God to open a door for us to share our life in Christ with someone, and how about if we make it possible through our giving to help plant churches in areas where there are no gospel preaching churches. And how about responding to God’s call if He wants us to go “to the uttermost part”? Finally, let’s participate in giving to missions to enable those whom God has already called to be able to go where God has called them. Just my thoughts …

Loved and Forgiven – What More Could We Want!

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loves us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor death, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8.37-39

“ … more than conquerors … ” What an incredible phrase! We are not JUST conquerors,; we are MORE than conquerors. In this great 8th chapter of Romans, Paul has revealed so many wonderful truths – but up to this point, this is the highlight. This position of being “more than conquerors” is only possible because of “him that loves us.” We are not conquerors because of anything WE have done, but because of everything that CHRIST has done on our behalf.

In these next two verses, Paul enumerates all the things that CANNOT separate us from the love of God. Look at these things: life, death, angels, principalities, powers, things present, things to come, height, depth, and (just in case he forgot something) any other creature. I have neither the time or space to explore everyone of these words, but I believe it is important for us to look at a few of them.

(1) Principalities – Satan is the chief principality. His goal for everyone of God’s children is to convince us that we CAN be separated from God’s love by something we have done. But the unchangeable truth is that once we are in the family of God, we are in that family to stay – no matter what happens. (2) Things present … things to come. When you and I look into the future, we cannot tell what will happen or how we will respond to what happens. So Paul gives us this assurance: “nor things present, nor things to come … ” Take heart … your past is just that – passed. Jesus paid for every sin and the Father loves you because you have received His Son and He has forgiven you. You can take that to the bank. Meditate on these truths today and let God reveal Himself in a very real sense through His Word. Just my thoughts …

Let God BE God!

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. 7Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” 1 Peter 5.6-7
As Christ followers, you and I are called to a life of humility and total dependence on God. That being said, the emphasis of these two verses is a reminder to us that God longs to care for us but in order for Him to do that, we must yield control of all of who we are and all of what we possess. I think it is noteworthy that Peter is the disciple chosen of God to write these words. When he first met Christ he was anything but humble and when it came to the cares of his life, he handled things in a pretty head-strong way (remember the Roman soldier who came to arrest Jesus and Peter cut off his ear).
Think with me about this first phrase: “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God … ” When God tells us to humble ourselves, what does that mean? I believe He is saying to us that we need to remember Whose  we are when we are in His presence and there is never a moment when we are not in His presence. Peter tells us the reason for this statement: “that he may exalt you in due time..” When I am willing to humble myself before god, He will exalt me in His time.
When we have humbled ourselves, the next verse becomes much easier: “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” The realization of our need as Christ-followers will cause us to WANT to cast our cares on Him. When He offers to carry my burden, that means that I don’t have to. And if we are brutally honest, there are some burdens that we THINK we can carry, but we can’t. So why not let God be God in your life and see how you attitude and countenance changes. Just my thoughts …

Do You Know You Are Blessed Today?

The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: 25 The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: 26 The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.” Numbers 6.24-26

Every time I read these verses, I am deeply moved with the message (in the form of a prayer) that Moses records for God’s people. Here are the life-changing phrases that are given to us: (1) the Lord bless you, (2) the Lord keep you, (3) the Lord make his face shine upon you, (4) the Lord be gracious unto you, (5) the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and (6) the Lord give you peace. Do you realize that every one of these statements reinforces God’s love FOR us and his presence WITH us?

What would your life look like if you lived with the constant reassurance that God is going to bless you and keep you? The blessings of God come in so many forms and we are constantly trying to figure them out. Why don’t we stop trying to figure them out and live joyfully with the knowledge that God CARES? When I think about the truth that God is keeping me, the fear of anything that this day can bring cannot overcome God’s keeping power. Philippians 1.6 says: “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.

Look at these next two phrases: “The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee.” When the Lord makes His face shine upon us, He is expressing His pleasure in the truth that we are His child, and that our life is pleasing to Him. To be gracious to us in an extension of His character to grant us the grace we need for this day’s living.

Finally we read: “The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.” We must link the statements “make his face shone upon you” and “lift up his countenance upon you.” God’s purpose for us never changes. He never wants us to think that we must live without his face being attentive to where we are and what we need. And neither does He want us to think that His countenance is not a reflection of His love for us. It is then that He willingly makes available to us His peace. We must give to God our desire to control everything in our lives and in exchange He will grant us His peace. Just my thoughts …