TRUTH: Are You Living Among Them or Above Them?

August 17, 2017

TRUTH: Are You Living Among Them or Above Them? Wow! What a powerful, poignant and pointed question especially in relation to all the protesting and political events that have transpired over the past week in these United States of America.

United or Untied? The difference is where you place the “i”. Seemingly, we are becoming untied in our country; however, that is not far from the TRUTH: Are You Living Among Them or Above Them? 

Ephesians 2

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the believers living in Ephesus. He wanted to provide some direction for their new lives as a result of trusting in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Consequently, he had to address some behaviors that were not reflective of the life of one following Christ as Lord and Savior. Similarly, there are some seminal moments for us to consider as we ponder the TRUTH: Are You Living Among Them or Above Them? 

Paul was told them that “All of us also lived among them at one time…” Who is them? Them are the people who have failed to surrender their lives to pursuing Christ and a life of holiness and godliness. They were committed to “…gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath

With all that is going on in these United States of America, the question of united and untied can be answered in where you place the “i” in terms of trusting “i”n self or “i”n Christ. It determines answer to the TRUTH: Are You Living Among Them or Above Them? As Paul proposes, we can look at our behavior to determine whether we are Living Among Them or Above Them. 

Clearly from the text, we are Living Among Them if we are following the ways of the world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, satan. If our behaviors are rooted in gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts, we are living among them. We are doing what they do rather than what Christ would have us to do in imitation of His character. The “i” is pursuing self rather than Christ. Conversely, we are Living Above Them if our behaviors are rooted in Christ as evidenced by the Fruits of the Spiritlove, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. 

Are the conversations that you are having about the protests in Charlottesville, VA reflective of those who are Living Among Them or Above Them? As you are sitting, eating, or riding with family and friends, what dominates your conversation? Are you with those who are following the ways of the world and of the rule of the kingdom of the air or are you with Jesus in how He would respond? The question is for self-assessment. For those professing Jesus as Lord and Savior, there is no room for deviating from the script i.e. the Holy Scriptures. Love one another as I have loved you which is forgiving and bearing the sins of the other, which is making you family even though you don’t truly or really belong to the family.

The world is watching us. More importantly, the Triune God is watching to see if you who profess to follow Jesus will demonstrate character that makes answer to the TRUTH: Are You Living Among Them or Above Them easily discerned.

Remember:

Matthew 15:18 says, “But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.

John 5:28-30 says, “28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. 30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.

Lastly, 2 Corinthians 6:16-18 says,
16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

“I will live with them
    and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.”

17 Therefore, Come out from them
    and be separate, says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.

18 And, “I will be a Father to you,
    and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

Come out from living Among Them and come to living Above Them.

TRUTH: How to Assess Your Spiritual Vitality

August 14, 2017

On a regular and daily basis, emergency or 911 calls are made for people who sustain some type of physical injury requiring help beyond basic first aid. Most of us can look at a person and determine whether someone needs physical assistance because his/her life is in danger. I wonder though how many of us can assess whether some one is in need of dire spiritual assistance because their spiritual life is in danger. I want to help us know the TRUTH: How to Assess Your Spiritual Vitality.

In the post TRUTH: You were Dead in your Trespasses and Sins, the beginning of how to make that assessment was outlined. Let’s pick back up in the text.

Ephesians 2

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

The text tells us that if you do not know Jesus as Lord and Savior, the TRUTH: You ARE Dead in your Trespasses and SinsYou are still under the control of satan and are separated from God. You are spiritually dead. It is clear from the text that the person has surpassed a 911 call for spiritual assistance. The person is already DOA. Let’s look examine the text to see the TRUTH: How to Assess Your Spiritual Vitality.

  1. One is separated from God in his/her trespasses and sins (Isaiah 59:2)
  2. One is deserves death because of his/her sins (Romans 6:23a)
  3. One is dead in his/her trespasses and sin. (Ephesians 2:1)
  4. One is dead spiritually if he/she walks according to the course of this world or follows the ways of the world which are according to the prince of the power of the air i.e. satan. (Ephesians 2:2)
  5. One is dead spiritually by being disobedient to God as he/she follows the the spirit (satan) of disobedience rather than the Holy Spirit who leads us to obedience (Ephesians 2:2)
  6. One is dead spiritually whose life consists primarily of living in the lust of his/her flesh (Ephesians 2:3) Galatians 5:19-21 tells us that “19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.” Furthermore, we know that “For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.” 1 John 2:16
  7. One who is dead is NOT a child of God but a child of wrath. Simply, John 3:36 says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” Children of wrath are those who reject Jesus as the Son of God and the Savior of man from the consequences of sin particularly the eternal consequences of sin.

Now, you have a clear, specific and biblically-based means to the TRUTH: How to Assess Your Spiritual Vitality. You know whether you have surrendered your life to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. You know whether you follow your passions, desires or lusts rather than following God. By virtue of our nature, we have been placed in a round of spiritual hot potato. The wrath of God, the hot potato, will remain on you if you reject Jesus as the Son of God and Savior from sin. Furthermore, you remain a “child of wrath” without Christ’s sacrificial death serving as your payment for your sins. Assess your life truthfully not based off what you think or feel. If you need to make a spiritual 911 call, cry out to Jesus to ask for and receive the forgiveness of your sins (Romans 10:9-10). 

TRUTH: You were Dead in your Trespasses and Sins

August 11, 2017

TRUTH: You were Dead in your Trespasses and Sins. There are a number of universal concepts that really do not need explaining. The concept of being dead is real and understood by almost all mankind save those too young. Despite the universality of the meaning of death, I will spend a great deal of time on defining what is meant by the term dead. According to dictionary.com, dead is no longer living; deprived of life: According to the Greek, the word used for dead in Ephesians 2:1 is nekros which in a proper sense means to:

  1. one that has breathed his last, lifeless

  2. deceased, departed, one whose soul is in heaven or hell

  3. destitute of life, without life, inanimate

while metaphorically it means to:

 

  • spiritually dead

    1. destitute of a life that recognizes and is devoted to God, because given up to trespasses and sins

    2. inactive as respects doing right

  • destitute of force or power, inactive, inoperative

Ephesians 2:1-2 (NASB)

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.

The Apostle Paul is the middle of thought in this verse. Having just explained the power and authority of Christ, Paul is telling the Ephesians of their condition prior to their belief in Christ as the Son of God and their Lord and Savior.

He says “you were dead in your trespasses (transgressions) and sins. Trespasses (paraptōmameaning “a false step, a blunder” (akin to parapipto, “to fall away,” Hebrews 6:6), lit., “a fall beside,” used ethically, denotes “a trespass,” a deviation, from uprightness and truth.

  1. to fall beside or near something

  2. a lapse or deviation from truth and uprightness

    1. a sin, misdeed

Isaiah 59:2 captures one’s spiritual death before belief in Christ Jesus. The verse says, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” To be separated from God is to be dead spiritually. When God has hidden His face from you and does not hear your prayers or cry, that is truly being separated and certainly dead. TRUTH: You were Dead in your Trespasses and Sins

Thank God that the TRUTH: You were Dead in your Trespasses and Sins is a past tense statement. It is because of one’s trust and faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Lord and Savior that one can escape being dead in his/her trespasses and sins. Furthermore, one escapes being under the control of the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. With faith in Christ, people move from being sons of disobedience to become sons of light. 

If you do not know Jesus as Lord and Savior, the TRUTH: You ARE Dead in your Trespasses and Sins. You are still under the control of satan and are separated from God. You are spiritually dead. If you die physically, you will be separated from God for eternity. That is what the bible calls spending eternity in Hell. On the other hand, for those who have surrendered their lives to Jesus as Savior and Lord, you will spend eternity united and relating to God because through Christ’s sacrifice and your faith in Him, you have overcome that separation. God’s face is no longer hidden from hearing your prayers or pleas for help. TRUTH: You were Dead in your Trespasses and Sins is a true blessing and one of those that Paul mentions in Ephesians 1:3 where he says, God “has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”

 

TRUTH: Jesus’ Power & Authority: ALL Things Under His Feet

August 4, 2017

Just look around at the various social structures, we live in a time where people crave power and cast aside authority. The bible is clear about both power and authority, but people do not desire to follow, so submitting to authority is jettisoned. Psalm 110:1 says, “The Lord says to my lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feel.”  Now, let’s look at Daniel 7:13-14 – “13 “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” In the Old Testament, it is only God who comes on the clouds (Ps. 104:3Is. 19:1). As such, the “Son of Man” originates in heaven and comes by divine initiative. The “son of man” is Christ, the Messiah. Jesus referred this passage to Himself, and doing so caused the religious leaders of His day to accuse Him of blasphemy (Matt. 26:6465Mark 14:62–64). Jesus is given God’s sovereignty (power and authority) and exercises the rule symbolized by the stone that fell in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream seen in chapter 2 of Daniel. Jesus refers to Himself as the Son of Man many times in the New Testament. Furthermore in Matthew 28:18, Jesus came to the disciples and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. TRUTH: Jesus’ Power & Authority: ALL Things Under His Feet

All this brings us back to Ephesians 1 where Paul was teaching them the TRUTH: Jesus’ Power & Authority: ALL Things Under His Feet.  Before we go any further, we need to be clear on what we mean by Power and Authority. Power is the ability to do or act in order to influence or outright accomplish a desired end. Authority is the right to exercise power to control, command, or determine. Again, the emphasis today in not us but Christ. This is about who Jesus is not us, or at least I should say it is about who Jesus is and the benefit that we reap for one being a child of God. 

Ephesians 1 (NIV)

18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church,23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

No matter the creation, all of them are in subjection to Jesus Christ for the church, His body. Consequently, all creation must yield to Christ’s Power & Authority in the here and now, or they will experience the consequence of their disobedience which ultimately results in their condemnation and damnation. Jesus loves His body or church. In fact, they are the sole reason for His incarnation. Luke 19:10 says, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Earlier in Ephesians, Paul said, God chose believers in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. 

What does this mean? It means the Jesus came for those who were destined to be children of God. If you are a child of God, you will experience the TRUTH: Jesus’ Power & Authority: ALL Things Under His Feet. It means that throughout your life you can expect the triune God to act on your behalf to bring about His will in your life. WHAT IS GOD”S WILL FOR THE FOLLOWER OF CHRIST? Romans 8:29 says, “29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters”. Simply, you can count on Jesus to exercise His Power & Authority on behalf of you to accomplish God’s purpose for your life.

God gave Jesus to be head, ruler, Sovereign Lord over all things. We don’t determine but God does. When life is battering you, remember that Jesus is the Sovereign Lord who exercises Power & Authority on behalf of you to accomplish God’s purpose for your life. We must trust that He knows what is best and does what is best even when the circumstances are truly contrary to that TRUTH. Why? We live/walk by faith and not by sight.

For me today, I want to focus on the TRUTH: Jesus’ Power & Authority: ALL Things Under His Feet

 

 

TRUTH: Know God II

August 2, 2017

When an author really wants people to know something, they use more colorful and descriptive language that paints a more defined picture of the desired reality that the author wants the reader to have. Because this is a function of language and how the human brain works, we see literary elements used in a variety of writings. This is true of the Word of God too. Today, we look at the Apostle Paul uses of allusion, imagery, paired, adjectives, personification and foreshadowing. What was Paul’s purpose? He wanted the Ephesians, and God us, to see the TRUTH: Know God II.

The Apostle Paul was praying that for those believers in Ephesus. We see that in Ephesians 1.

15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,

In verses 15-17, Paul is saying that we must grow in our knowledge by having wisdom that is knowing what is right and doing what is right. Paul also attributes that knowing to the Spirit. He prays that the Spirit may reveal or give a revelation of who God is.

Now in verses 18-20, Paul is telling the TRUTH: Know God II. This is the second dimension of knowing God. First, Paul asks God to give the Ephesians the Holy Spirit, so He could give them wisdom and revelation to Know God better. Like an onion, we must peel the layers back to Know God II. Paul is expressing to them that there is a spiritual dimension through which they must see life. Like Neo in the Matrix, we must see beyond the natural confines of our mind. We must operation in the spiritual. We do so by seeing which is why Paul prays for the Ephesians.

Let’s peer into what Paul prays for the Ephesians to grow in their knowledge of God.

  1. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you.
  2. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in or that you may know the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.
  3. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in or that you may know his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms. 

In regards to hope, Paul uses a metaphor to ask God. He prays that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened. In this case along with others, metaphors are used to denote mental vision. To be enlightened means that more light is given to perceive. It is akin to when I woke up this morning. I had to use my cell phone to give me more light to find my way. Greater light is equated to greater understanding/knowledge. Regardless, the focus or the thing Paul wants them to Know God II is hope to which the believer has been called. Hope (  ) is defined as the expectation of good, hope; in the Christian sense it is the joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation. Furthermore, it is the hope of God’s presence, promises and power in your life in the here and now. It is that hope in God’s presence, promises and power that would aid us in our hardships, sufferings or trials. Whether hope in the here and now or for salvation at the coming of Christ, Paul wants the Ephesians and us to grow in our knowledge of the hope to which we were called. If you were called to it, you have not only have an expectation of God but a right to it extended by God. This notion has a capstone in found in Romans 8:28-29 which says, “28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”

What does Paul mean when he prays “that you may know the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.” The calling refers to salvation and its benefits. One is the glorious inheritance. Riches refer to the abundance of something. Here it not just an inheritance; it is a glorious inheritance. That adjective assigns godly attributes to the inheritance believers receive. It is a direct link to what Paul says in verse 8 of the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. It is God’s grace that makes the inheritance of salvation available. Paul uses the notion of inheritance to capture the mind of the Ephesians. An inheritance is left for the benefit of an offspring, child or descendant. Paul wants them to know that they have a glorious inheritance in them first starting with being in the family of God proved by the indwelling Holy Spirit, then for them to remember that they have access to every spiritual blessing as stated in verse three of Ephesians 1. To reiterate, the presence, promise and power of God in the here and now is perhaps it. I tend to think though it is the Spirit Himself as Paul says “inheritance in his holy people.” Remember verse 14, the Holy Spirit is “is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” TRUTH: Know God II

I don’t even feel right trying to address all of these blessings especially his incomparably great power for us who believe. Nevertheless, I will say this. Paul says God’s power is incomparable; yet, he draws a comparison to give us greater sight or understanding of the power that is available to us as God works His plan in our lives. The comparison is that it is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms. I don’t even know what that means, BUT I know it is big because Jesus went from being a curse, accepting the penalty of our sin on the cross, to being in the place of honor and power – seated at the right hand of God. Again, there is too much. It is a power that we have seen but is incomparable. We see it but don’t understand it which is Paul’s point of the prayer – that they would understand the power available to them. TRUTH: Know God II.  Ponder those things. 

Paul’s pray for them to Know God reminds me of a song by Trip Lee title Know Me.

TRUTH: Know God

August 1, 2017

Guzik wrote ” A famous writer named Alexander Pope wrote, “Know then thyself, presume not God to scan; the proper study of mankind is man.” Charles Spurgeon responded to this famous statement: “It has been said by someone that ‘the proper study of mankind is man.’ I will not oppose the idea, but I believe it is equally true that the proper study of God’s elect is God; the proper study of a Christian is the Godhead. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father.” “For philosophy comes to man with the message, Know thyself; the Gospel meets him with the far more glorious and fruitful watchword, Know thy God.” (Alford)” TRUTH: Know God

I say that the biggest endeavor we have is to know Jehovah, the Only True God. When we know God, we know our purpose for existence. Everything we do is rooted in our concept of who God is. The clearer our vision of who God is, His character, and what God can do, His authority/power, our decisions become more aligned to the righteous life God desires for us. TRUTH: Know God

The Apostle Paul was praying that for those believers in Ephesus. We see that in Ephesians 1.

15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.

To know God better is to know God more than you did before. Notice, Paul assigns the acquisition of knowledge to God alone. He says, “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” The words “the Spirit” is a direct reference to the Holy Spirit whom Jesus stated in John 14 that ” the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” We already learned in Ephesians 1:13 that the Spirit of God is given as a deposit, living in, to all who trust Jesus as Lord and Savior. TRUTH: Know God

Paul is saying that we must grow in our knowledge by having wisdom that is knowing what is right and doing what is right. Paul also attributes that knowing to the Spirit. He prays that the Spirit may reveal or give a revelation of who God is. The idea of a revelation has nothing to do with a mystic like Mrs. Cleo, but that of the Spirit searching and knowing our deficits of knowledge of God to improve our understanding and applications of those truths about God. Through Christ, we know the Spirit can see what is in the hearts and minds of man. Therefore, we can be sure that the Holy Spirit does not need to seek knowledge of the Father that He otherwise lacks. The Spirit probes the depths of divine knowledge for our benefit. TRUTH: Know God

In John 14:6, ““I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus said, “16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,” Do you know God through Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior? If not, you want to experience the TRUTH: Know God.

 

TRUTH: What People See and Hear About Believers

July 26, 2017

People are known for a myriad of reasons. There are all kinds of television shows dedicated to reporting on people. People are known for governing the country. People are known for being artist or athletes. People are known for being celebrities. Do we really know them despite what is reported? I guess the more appropriate statement is that people are known for what is reported which is a function of what people see and hear. For those who profess Christ as Savior and Lord, Paul tells us the TRUTH: What People See and Hear About Believers.

People do not necessarily believe what we tell them, but they are more apt to believe what they see and hear. When they see, conclusions are being made about our character based on observed behaviors. That combined with what others say who have also seen a believer help complete a picture. When what people see and hear are consistent, a clear picture for who we are, our character, is revealed. This is what the Apostle Paul addresses to the Ephesians – the TRUTH: What People See and Hear About Believers.

Ephesians 1 (NIV)

15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.

The Apostle Paul started or at least fanned the flames of the church in Ephesus. At least two years had gone by since he was last there. Some even say as much as five years had elapsed. Nevertheless, his point is that the people had seen and heard about the Ephesians’.  What does Paul say is important about the TRUTH: What People See and Hear About Believers? Faith and Love for all God’s peopleFaith and Love are the primary products or evidence of one’s pursuit of Christ. In John 13, Jesus said, “34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”” For the believer, love is a distinguishing mark for the believer in Christ. Paul extends that in 1 John 4:20 where he says, “20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.”

In regards to faith and love, Paul associates them in the oft quoted thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians where he says, “And now these three remain: faithhope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13  It was their faith in Christ that bound them together in love. Faith in Christ supersedes familial and cultural ties which is seen in Acts 18 where Paul commits himself to sharing the gospel with the Gentiles. It was Pauls Faith and Love for all God’s people that committed him to the Gentiles instead of the Jews. Thus, he proved his faith and love by what he did just as Jesus said.

Lastly, the last thing and the point that Paul was demonstrating the TRUTH: What People See and Hear About Believers. He was saying that it should produce thanksgiving and prayer on our part when we see and hear about another’s faith. Who are we praying for whose faith and love you have seen? Effectively, Paul was a preacher, but he also showed that preachers as well as those whom he ministers should be committed to praying for those who demonstrate faith in Christ. We see that here for the Ephesians in verses 15 and 16, but we also see that for the Romans, Thessalonians and to Philemon.

The TRUTH: What People See and Hear About Believers should produce in us thanksgiving and prayer. In the body of Christ, who are you giving thanks for and for whom are you praying?

 

TRUST: God Works out Everything in Conformity with the Purpose of his Will

July 24, 2017

We are consumed with the future. We are not just consumed with the future, but we are consumed with ensuring that the future holds what is good for us, our children and future generations. On a global scale, nations, not just individuals, are working to address matters related to climate change. Just look at the amount of life insurance people purchase trying to ensure a good financial position for their loved ones. In this country, the rhetoric over the National Debt has loomed large over the past few presidential cycles. Whether global, national or individual, we are consumed with the future; however, we should TRUST: God Works out Everything in Conformity with the Purpose of his Will.

TRUST: God Works out Everything in Conformity with the Purpose of his Will. What does that really mean and what impact should that have on our lives? If you are a follower of Christ and hold fact to Jehovah as God Almighty, we should be consoled at that statement. Everything for the believer in Christ is predicated on the character, who God is, and the authority/power of God, what God can do. Numbers 23:19 addresses the core issue of what we should believe about God – “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?” (ESV) Furthermore, God is faithful. When we know that God is Almighty, keeps His promises and is faithful to do all He promised, we should TRUST: God Works out Everything in Conformity with the Purpose of his Will.

Let’s look at our text that connects God’s character, who He is, and God’s authority/power, what He can do, to our future.

Ephesians 1

11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. (NIV)

I do not want to miss the obvious. The “him” above in the text is referring to Jehovah God, the one true God. Isaiah 45:5 says, “I am the Lord, and there is no other, apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledge me.” Those are not my words, but God’s. Again, when we know God’s character, who He is, and God’s authority/power, what God can do, we should TRUST: God Works out Everything in Conformity with the Purpose of his Will.

This is not a solitary idea. It has been demonstrated by God from His interaction with Adam and Eve through Revelation. While I admit, that it certainly does not always appear to be that way, God is working out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will. What does the Word tell us about God’s purpose? The Lord Almighty has sworn, “Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen. (Isaiah 14:24). “For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?” (Isaiah 14:27). What does God say about His will? His will stays consistent from generation to generation (Genesis 17:7). God accomplishes His will (Genesis 22:8). He reveals His will (Judges 18:5). God is with us when we are being used to accomplish His will (1 Chronicles 28:20). His will is good, pleasing and perfect (Romans 12:2).

Joseph is one great example of how we should TRUST: God Works out Everything in Conformity with the Purpose of his Will. We should be other examples, so God can be glorified through our difficulties, hardships, trials and sufferings. If we are followers of Jesus, that is what He exhibited – bringing glory to God through His sufferings. Now, will you TRUST: God Works out Everything in Conformity with the Purpose of his Will?

TRUST: God Works out Everything in Conformity with the Purpose of his Will.

 

TRUTH: The Impact of Doubt and Disbelief

July 22, 2017

The Bible is God’s instructional book on how His followers and believers should live. There are matters that God says we should indulge and matters we should not. Typically, those acts are characterized as acts of the flesh, behaviors we should stay away from. There are the acts of the Spirit which are the behaviors we are to pursue and partake. We one such listing in Galatians. There are other warnings that are throughout the scriptures. God’s disapproval and condemnation about doubt and fear begin in Genesis and end in Revelation. We are often told what to do or what not to do. Rarely, do we connect behaviors with relevant consequences outlined in the Word. The consequences are there in the Word, but it is our failure to link them to behaviors. Today, I want to do that. I want to tell you the TRUTH: The Impact of Doubt and Disbelief. 

What is most important to God is God. God treasures and values His character more than anything or anyone else; however, it is not sinful because God is perfect. Don’t get lost in our human thinking. We will see one who did that and suffered for it later in the post. In Numbers 23:19, God says, “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?” God makes promises to His followers. Furthermore, 2 Corinthians 1:20 tells us “20 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.” God has made many promises to those who have trusted Jesus as Lord and Savior. We need to understand that to avoid the TRUTH: The Impact of Doubt and Disbelief. 

For almost a week now, I have been reading, thinking, telling people about 2 Kings chapter 6 and 7. For me, I have really focused on chapter 7 as it speaks to the TRUTH: The Impact of Doubt and Disbelief. There is a lot going on in this passage. It is a continuance of the previous chapter as well as a comparison and contrast of characters in how they respond to God. It is so important that you read it. As such, I am listing it here. The Impact of Doubt and Fear can be traced in verses 1, 2, 18, and 20. Despite that, God uses lepers to speak to the opposite of Doubt and Fear which Trust and Courage. God’s actions cannot be isolated to one excerpt from scripture, so read read 2 Kings. Here is chapter 7.

Elisha replied, “Hear the word of the Lord. This is what the Lordsays: About this time tomorrow, a seah of the finest flour will sell for a shekel and two seahs of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria.”

The officer on whose arm the king was leaning said to the man of God, “Look, even if the Lord should open the floodgates of the heavens, could this happen?”

“You will see it with your own eyes,” answered Elisha, “but you will not eat any of it!”

Now there were four men with leprosy at the entrance of the city gate. They said to each other, “Why stay here until we die? If we say, ‘We’ll go into the city’—the famine is there, and we will die. And if we stay here, we will die. So let’s go over to the camp of the Arameans and surrender. If they spare us, we live; if they kill us, then we die.”

At dusk they got up and went to the camp of the Arameans. When they reached the edge of the camp, no one was there, for the Lord had caused the Arameans to hear the sound of chariots and horses and a great army, so that they said to one another, “Look, the king of Israel has hired the Hittite and Egyptian kings to attack us!” So they got up and fled in the dusk and abandoned their tents and their horses and donkeys. They left the camp as it was and ran for their lives.

The men who had leprosy reached the edge of the camp, entered one of the tents and ate and drank. Then they took silver, gold and clothes, and went off and hid them. They returned and entered another tent and took some things from it and hid them also.

Then they said to each other, “What we’re doing is not right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us. Let’s go at once and report this to the royal palace.”

10 So they went and called out to the city gatekeepers and told them, “We went into the Aramean camp and no one was there—not a sound of anyone—only tethered horses and donkeys, and the tents left just as they were.” 11 The gatekeepers shouted the news, and it was reported within the palace.

12 The king got up in the night and said to his officers, “I will tell you what the Arameans have done to us. They know we are starving; so they have left the camp to hide in the countryside, thinking, ‘They will surely come out, and then we will take them alive and get into the city.’”

13 One of his officers answered, “Have some men take five of the horses that are left in the city. Their plight will be like that of all the Israelites left here—yes, they will only be like all these Israelites who are doomed. So let us send them to find out what happened.”

14 So they selected two chariots with their horses, and the king sent them after the Aramean army. He commanded the drivers, “Go and find out what has happened.” 15 They followed them as far as the Jordan, and they found the whole road strewn with the clothing and equipment the Arameans had thrown away in their headlong flight.So the messengers returned and reported to the king. 16 Then the people went out and plundered the camp of the Arameans. So a seah of the finest flour sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley sold for a shekel, as the Lord had said.

17 Now the king had put the officer on whose arm he leaned in charge of the gate, and the people trampled him in the gateway, and he died, just as the man of God had foretold when the king came down to his house. 18 It happened as the man of God had said to the king: “About this time tomorrow, a seah of the finest flour will sell for a shekel and two seahs of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria.”

19 The officer had said to the man of God, “Look, even if the Lordshould open the floodgates of the heavens, could this happen?” The man of God had replied, “You will see it with your own eyes, but you will not eat any of it!” 20 And that is exactly what happened to him, for the people trampled him in the gateway, and he died.

Let’s see the TRUTH: The Impact of Doubt and Disbelief. 

Okay, in a nutshell, what happened?

Verse 1 – God made a promise through the prophet Elisha
Verse 2 – The officer doubted God’s promise
a. He Doubted the Person of God – who God is i.e. that He is faithful
b. He Doubted the Power of God – God had the power to do what He said
c. He Doubted the Process of God – God can do things in ways beyond our minds
d. He Doubted the Prophet of God – God sent Elisha and Jesus – believe them
Verse 2 – God condemns the Doubt and Disbelief
Verse 3-16 – God proves His Promise and Provides for His people
Verse 17-20 – God accentuates His condemnation of Doubt and Disbelief.

David Gusik summarizes the offier’s disbelief this way:

All in all, the officer well illustrates the conduct of unbelief:

· Unbelief dares to question the truthfulness of God’s promise itself.
· Unbelief says, “This is a new thing and cannot be true.”
· Unbelief says, “This is a sudden thing and cannot be true.”
· Unbelief says, “There is no way to accomplish this thing.”
· Unbelief says, “There is only one way God can work.”
· Unbelief says, “Even if God does something, it won’t be enough.”

What God spoke to me about over the past week is about Fear and Failure (2 Kings 6) as well as Doubt and Disbelief (2 Kings 7). I urge you to consider your ways. I urge you to consider the promises God has made to you in a circumstance you presently face. I urge you find a promise if you don’t have one. Your success hinges on your faith in God and His power to accomplish the promises He has made to you. Otherwise, you, like the officer, will find out the TRUTH: The Impact of Doubt and Disbelief. 

TRUTH: Are You Sealed?

July 18, 2017

In the ancient world, Ephesus was a center of travel and trade. Located on the Aegean Sea at the mouth of the Cayster River, Ephesus was one of the greatest seaports of the ancient world. Three major roads led from the seaport: one road went east towards Babylon via Laodicea, another to the north via Smyrna and a third south to the Meander Valley.  When goods or merchandise was brought into Ephesus and sealed by the owner, it was placed on ships and carried to Rome and other European cities. When the goods arrived in port and identified by the seal, it was claimed by the owner, who redeemed that which was his. TRUTH: Are You Sealed?

To reiterate, the physical mimics the spiritual. In a spiritual sense, the bible talks about a seal of ownership. Just as the person who had the seal demonstrated ownership of any goods or merchandise, God has a seal that demonstrates His ownership. Anyone without that seal does not belong to God. Let’s see this in the scriptures. TRUTH: Are You Sealed?

Ephesians 1:11-13

11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,  (NASB)
13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, (ESV)

It is clear from verse 13 that the promised Holy Spirit is the seal of God’s ownership of any particular person. TRUTH: Are You Sealed? There are a variety of other verses that work in concert with verse 13. Let me share those with you. All from the ESV

1 Corinthians 3:16 
16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?

1 Corinthians 6:19-20
19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Romans 8:9-11
You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Galatians 4:6
And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”

1 John 3:24
24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.

1 John 4:13
13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.

TRUTH: Are You Sealed? The answer is found in Ephesians 1:13 which says, “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit” If you have not believed in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior evidenced through a surrendered and obedient life, you are NOT sealed. If you are not sealed, you are not included in Christ; therefore, you forego all of the spiritual blessings namely salvation of your soul from the wrath of God because of your sin.

TRUTH: Are You Sealed? If not, repent and follow Jesus. Romans 10:9-11 says, ” If you declarewith your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”