Category Archives: Ephesians

Eye Chart

blurry-vision-eye-chartA friend of mine, Greg Fish, from Hope Church (a Free Methodist Community), shared with thought with me yesterday; “You wouldn’t cheat on an eye exam. It would change the way you see everything after that.” This caused me to ask a question, what eye exam could I be cheating?

At times we see things from the lens of the culture we live in. My NEIGHHOOD, MY STATE, MY COUNTRY or various things like that. Philosophies and actions are based on that one perspective under the misunderstanding that all cultures see from the same perspective.

At times some look through the lens of our religion or denomination. I see statements all the time like, Christians do this or should do that. They cheated their eye exam by taking the big line at the top MY PERSONAL EVANGELICAL EXPERIENCE and claims it represents all the billions of Christians world-wide.

Ephesians 1:18 says “having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you”. Steven J. Cole interprets this as “praying that God would give the saints a spirit of wisdom and revelation” and let “God enlighten the eyes of your heart.”

In place of cheating the eye chart and thus seeing through blurred lenses, allow the good doctor to show us the whole chart clearly and allow a complete view with our eyes and our heart.

Thursday of the Commandment

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” John 13:34

Today is Maundy Thursday. The name comes from the Latin mandatum, the first word in the Latin rendering of John 13:34, “A new commandment (mandatum novum) I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” Holy-Thursday-Maundy-Thursday-2015

This commandment was given by Jesus on the Thursday before his crucifixion. So Maundy Thursday is the “Thursday of the Commandment.” This is the commandment: “love one another: just as I have loved you.” But what about Galatians 5:14? “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” If the whole law is fulfilled in “Love your neighbor as yourself,” what more can “Love one another as Christ loved you” add to the fulfillment of the whole law?

I would say that Jesus did not replace or change the commandment, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” He filled it out and gave it clear illustration. He is saying,

Here is what I mean by “as yourself.” Watch me. I mean: Just as you would want someone to set you free from certain death, so you should set them free from certain death. That is how I am now loving you. My suffering and death is what I mean by ‘as yourself.’ You want life. Live to give others life. At any cost.

So John says, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. (1 John 3:16). Was Jesus loving us “as he loved himself ”? Listen to Ephesians 5:29–30, “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.”

In the horrors of his suffering, Christ was sustained “who for the joy that was set before him” (Hebrews 12:2). And that joy was the everlasting gladness of his redeemed people, satisfied in the presence of the risen king.

Therefore, let us see the greatest love in action on Maundy Thursday and tomorrow on Good Friday. “having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” (John 13:1). He loved us to the uttermost. And let us be so moved by this love that it becomes our own. “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.(1 John 3:16).

This is the commandment. This is the Thursday.

Love to the Uttermost Devotional Readings for Holy Week
John Piper

Renovation Time

 ... and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:24

renovation

The new self refers to the renovated nature. Like a house interior that’s been renovated. Same house new inside. The change is so great, that there is no impropriety in speaking of one who has experienced it as “a new person.” We has new feelings, principles, and desires. We have laid aside our old principles and practices, and, in everything that pertains to moral character, we are new.

This is not a small change. It is not a mere change of the outward condition. No, no new paint job or dry wall patch here.  It’s not just being brought from the world into the church, and being baptized.

Our body is still the same; the intellectual structure of our mind is the same; but there has been a change in our principles and feelings which challenge us. The interior of our house has been completely redone.

God works in us through His Spirit to make us like Him.

Better Than Planned

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” Ephesians 5:15-16, 20

broken-downInterruptions are nothing new. Rarely does a day go by as planned.

Life is filled with inconveniences. Our plans are constantly thwarted by forces beyond our control. The list is long and ever-changing: Sickness. Conflict. Traffic jams. Forgetfulness. Appliance malfunctions.

What we cannot see, however, is the other side of inconvenience. We think it has no purpose other than to discourage us, make life more difficult, and thwart our plans. However, inconvenience could be God’s way of protecting us from some unseen danger, or it could be an opportunity to demonstrate God’s grace and forgiveness. It might be the start of something even better than we had planned or it could be a test to see how we respond to adversity. Whatever it is, even though we may not know God’s reason, we can be assured of His motive; to make us more like Jesus and to further His kingdom on earth.

God had a purpose. Knowing this, we can thank Him, being confident that He is giving us an opportunity to redeem the time.

Spiritual Community

1 Chronicles 12:21-22 They helped David against the band of raiders, for they were all mighty men of valor and were commanders in the army. For from day to day men came to David to help him, until there was a great army, like an army of God.”

Hebrews 10:24-25And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”

It must have been amazing to watch David amassing men around himself until it was like the army of God — God is doing exactly the same thing in our days. The difference is the kinds of battles we’re fighting. David and his men engaged in physical warfare against bands of raiders; Philistines and local Canaanite tribes. We are in a spiritual war … “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12

isolatedA program by National Geographic gives a powerful illustration for us. In the great annual wildebeest migration in Serengeti National Park in Africa a giant herd, thousands of wildebeest, slowly move in groups across the plain. They are invariably followed by stalking lions. But the lions never attack the herd – they simply watch carefully for the stray wildebeest, either careless or seeking greener grass, who separates himself from the larger groups of animals. The isolated wildebeest will become the sudden prey of the lions who attack with lightening speed and ferocity.

We all need real relationships and spiritual community. It’s not enough to simply “go to church”. We need to be the community of believers, actively participating in loving, serving, praying, counseling, encouraging, admonishing, eating, rejoicing, weeping, and forgiving as the family of God.

Far too many people are isolated. Are you one of them? Do you know someone who is isolated? David’s army was successful and safe because they were together in mind heart and purpose. Wildebeest, as well, survive when they stick together. Find your spiritual community and be faithful to it. It should not be a formality, but a family reality with a warfare mentality.

Guard Your Words

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29

We’ve talked about that verse when talking about cuss words. We’ve talked about that verse when talking about helping others.

But this verse applies to what you say in private just as much as the other two.

The words you say—even when no one is around—soak into your brain just the same as if you are listening to someone else.

But we say things to ourselves on a pretty regular basis. And as many times as we converse with ourselves on a regular day, the things we say begin to burn into our brain just as if someone else is saying them over and over and over again.

You can talk yourself into believing more things than anyone else on this planet can. Literally.

So be very careful to guard the things you say to yourself.

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You’re Helping to Build the Army of God!

1 Chronicles 12:21-22 “They helped David against the band of raiders, for they were all mighty men of valor and were commanders in the army. For from day to day men came to David to help him, until there was a great army, like an army of God.”
Hebrews 10:25 “Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
It must have been amazing to watch David amassing men around himself until it was like the army of God — Jesus is doing exactly the same thing in our days. The difference is the kinds of battles we’re fighting. David and his men engaged in physical warfare against bands of raiders; Philistines and local Canaanite tribes. We are in a spiritual war against “…principalities, against powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” [Ephesians 6:12]
A program by National Geographic gives a powerful illustration for us. In the great annual wildebeest migration in Serengeti National Park in Africa a giant herd, thousands of wildebeest, slowly move in groups across the plain. They are invariably followed by stalking lions. But the lions never attack the herd – they simply watch carefully for the stray wildebeest, either careless or seeking greener grass, who separates himself from the larger groups of animals. The isolated wildebeest will become the sudden prey of the lions who attack with lightening speed and ferocity.
In spiritual warfare isolation is equally dangerous, as our enemy roams like a roaring lion looking for separated brethren to prey upon. We all need real relationship and spiritual community for protection against our enemy who is constantly stalking vulnerable prey. It’s not enough to simply “go to church”. We need to be the community of believers, actively participating in loving, serving, praying, counseling, encouraging, admonishing, eating, rejoicing, weeping, and forgiving as the family of God.
Far too many are isolated, and seriously vulnerable to the spiritual attacks. Are you one of them? Do you know someone who is in this dangerous condition? David’s army was successful and safe because they were together in mind heart and purpose. Wildebeest, as well, survive when they stick together. Find your spiritual community and be faithful to it. It should not be a formality, but a family reality with a warfare mentality.

Watch Your Words!

Proverbs 12:18 “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names can never hurt me!” At one time or another, all of us have sung this schoolyard song. But have you ever stopped to consider how incredibly untrue it is?
Granted, name-calling isn’t going to break any bones or have the same physical effect of hurling debris at someone. But let’s be honest—sometimes words inflict wounds that run deeper and last longer. Words have a powerful impact!
We see this portrayed perfectly in Proverbs 12:18. It says there’s a person whose words are like a sword piercing someone’s heart. You know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of words like that. Something is said that utterly cuts you down. It leaves you limping and lying on the battlefield of life.
On the flip side, there are also people whose words promote health. What they say has a way of infusing fresh life and vitality into us. We’re revived and invigorated to press on instead of dwelling in discouragement. Our circumstances haven’t changed, but our spirit has been strengthened by the “tongue of the wise.”
Words are powerful. They can damage and destroy, or they can encourage and edify. Again, we’ve been on the receiving end of this reality. But now we need to consider our role on the other side.
God has given most of us the capacity to communicate, to express ourselves through what we say. Remember, our words have a powerful impact on others, and we should be constantly watching our words to make sure they’re promoting health instead of piercing hearts.
Ephesians 4:29 “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear”

The Whole Armor of God

Hit the road running! I’m working out all the details of TA-50 (field gear) so I can go to the field next week. This reminds me of Ephesians 6:10-18 where Paul reminds us to put on the whole armor of God so we may be able to withstand in the evil day and stand firm.
Prior planning prevents poor performance is a slogan we hear all the time. Paul wants us to prep accordingly with the right equipment so we are ready to meet the challenge ahead of us.