Archive for October, 2017

TRUTH: The Power of the Church II

October 26, 2017

Whether political, electrical, or physical, most of us understand power to mean the ability, capacity or authority to do something. The Greek word for power is dynamis (dü’-nä-mēs) which means strength power, ability. We know that we need power to do any kind of work. With all the storms that hit Puerto Rico, we continue to hear that most of the island is without power. In that sense, we are talking about electrical power for generators, lights, refrigerators, etc. The power of the storm is exemplified in the destruction that it left in its path. If we consider another world crisis, the threat of nuclear destruction between North Korea and the United States of America, that is another form of power at the atomic level.

In Ephesians 3, it is used in verses 7 and 20 of the divine power considered as acting upon the minds of men. I would also add acting on the hearts of men. \

 of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power.  (NASB)

I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. (NIV)

20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. (NASB)

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (NIV)

I don’t have a lot of time this morning, but I wanted to get this out. In the spiritual context, we need to know, understand and TRUTH: The Power of the Church. Make no mistake about it, the power of the church is the Holy Spirit. We clearly see that in the verses above. We also see that great power in Ephesians 1:19–232:56

Remember that I asked you to meditate on the thought that it is the Holy Spirit of God that powers us to accomplish the work of God. I also asked you to remember the phrase – work of God. According to dictionary.com, work is defined as exertion or effort directed to produce or accomplish something; labor; toil. Generally, we all would agree with that definition; however, spiritual matters are not general tasks. Spiritual matters are ordained by God designed to bring glory to Himself. As such, we need to be clear on why we need to know the TRUTH: The Power of the Church.

Biblically, how do we define work. The Greek word for work is ergon. Strong’s Concordance of Greek words defines ergon or work as:

  1. business, employment, that which any one is occupied

    1. that which one undertakes to do, enterprise, undertaking

  2. any product whatever, any thing accomplished by hand, art, industry, or mind

  3. an act, deed, thing done: the idea of working is emphasised in opp. to that which is less than work

Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words tells us the following about ergon or work. (note – the links below will not open in a new window and will lead you away from this page).

Work (Noun and Verb), Wrought:

denotes

(I) “work, employment, task,” e.g., Mar 13:34Jhn 4:3417:4Act 13:2Phl 2:301Th 5:13; in Act 5:38 with the idea of enterprise;

(II) “a deed, act,”

(a) of God, e.g., Jhn 6:28299:310:3714:10Act 13:41Rom 14:20Hbr 1:102:73:94:3410Rev 15:3;

(b) of Christ, e.g., Mat 11:2; especially in John 5:367:32110:2532333814:111215:24Rev 2:26;

(c) of believers, e.g., Mat 5:16Mar 14:6Act 9:36Rom 13:3Col 1:101Th 1:3, “work of faith,” here the initial act of faith at conversion (turning to God, 1Th 1:9); in 2Th 1:11, “every work of faith,” RV, denotes every activity undertaken for Christ’s sake; 2:17; 1Ti 2:105:182Ti 2:213:17Tts 2:7143:1814Hbr 10:2413:21; frequent in James, as the effect of faith [in Jam 1:25, AV, “(a doer) of the work,” RV, “(a doer) that worketh”]; 1Pe 2:12Rev 2:2 and in several other places in chs. 2 and 3Rev 14:13;

(d) of unbelievers, e.g., Mat 23:35Jhn 7:7Act 7:41 (for idols); Rom 13:12Eph 5:11Col 1:21Tts 1:16 (1st part); 1Jo 3:12Jud 1:15, RV; Rev 2:6, RV; of those who seek justification by works, e.g., Rom 9:32Gal 3:10Eph 2:9; described as the works of the law, e.g., Gal 2:163:25; dead works, Hbr 6:19:14;

(e) of Babylon, Rev 18:6;

(f) of the Devil, Jhn 8:411Jo 3:8.
See DEED.

Clearly, there is biblical work. In response to the question of “What must we do to do the works God requires?”, Jesus said, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” John 6:29 Furthermore, in John 17:4, Jesus said, “ I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.” Undoubtedly, work involves tasks, but the greater emphasis here is on our belief in Christ. It is our belief in Christ that makes us a part of God’s family, that enables us to be indwelled by the Holy Spirit.  Micah 3:8 says, “But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord

It is the power of the Holy Spirit that is the emphasis in the verses we were looking at in Ephesians 7 and 20. We know from Acts 1:8 that it is the Holy Spirit who empowers us to do the work, which is primarily to believe in Jesus, God requires. It is the same work stressed by Paul when he said, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10) Again, we see the TRUTH: The Power of the Church. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to participate in God’s eternal purpose which is “… that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,” (Ephesians 3:10).

I want to know, and I want you to know the TRUTH: The Power of the Church. Without the Spirit of God, we cannot know God nor do the work of God, for He is The Power of the Church. If I find myself struggling, being frustrated, failing and failing, it is because I have attempted to live life on my own without The Power of the Church. When I see that, I confess that sin. Surrender control to the Holy Spirit and am empowered to resume my work, believing in Jesus, to accomplish tasks prepared in advanced for me.

TRUST: The Power of the Church

October 25, 2017

Whether political, electrical, or physical, most of us understand power to mean the ability, capacity or authority to do something. The Greek word for power is dynamis (dü’-nä-mēs) which means strength power, ability. We know that we need power to do any kind of work. With all the storms that hit Puerto Rico, we continue to hear that most of the island is without power. In that sense, we are talking about electrical power for generators, lights, refrigerators, etc. The power of the storm is exemplified in the destruction that it left in its path. If we consider another world crisis, the threat of nuclear destruction between North Korea and the United States of America, that is another form of power at the atomic level.

In Ephesians 3, it is used in verses 7 and 20 of the divine power considered as acting upon the minds of men. I would also add acting on the hearts of men. \

 of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power.  (NASB)

I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. (NIV)

20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. (NASB)

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (NIV)

I don’t have a lot of time this morning, but I wanted to get this out. In the spiritual context, we need to know, understand and TRUST: The Power of the Church. Make no mistake about it, the power of the church is the Holy Spirit. We clearly see that in the verses above. We also see that great power in Ephesians 1:19–232:56

Tomorrow, I will finish my thoughts, but I have run out of time. It will be everything here plus a little more. For now, meditate on the thought that it is the Holy Spirit of God that powers us to accomplish the work of God. Remember the phrase – work of God.

TRUTH: Prayer For the Unseen Needs

October 21, 2017

Most of the prayers that we pray relate to physical, financial, vocational or relational needs or desires. Depending on your age, you may desire to grow to a certain height, or you may request for your bones not to ache. There are times when you are asking to make greater amounts of money or for the new job that would get you there a lot quicker. Lastly, we may pray for a spouse, for children, for family and for friends. All those prayers are important, but they are of this world. God desires greater for us. Here is the TRUTH: Prayer For the Unseen Needs.

Ephesians 3

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

As Paul communicates his prayer requests for the Ephesians to them, he gives them the desired result of the prayer. Let’s look at those prayers and the benefits of the TRUTH: Prayer For the Unseen Needs.

  • God to strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being – why? so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. Who would not agree that we need the God’s power to strengthen us as we face the temptations of this world that the wicked one taunts us with. Just as our physical bodies need physical strength, our spiritual body or spirit need to be strengthened. Isaiah talks about God strengthening us in our weakness. Furthermore, we have our own sinful desires that are with us daily. In case you were not aware, we all have a disposition to certain sins all of which are a perversion of God’s will and way. The inner being refers to God’s Spirit connecting and speaking to our spirit. “For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:11 Ultimately, the Spirit is given to dwell in us to provide us the strength to have victory over sin. In John 14:23, “Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” Paul reminded the Corinthians of this when he said, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” We also see that the Spirit lives in us in what Paul told Timothy when he said, “Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” God desires to make His home or His temple within us. Wow. That is deep, too deep for me to grasp. It is only through the Spirit though that Christ may dwell in our hearts.
  • I pray that you,…18 may have power, …, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. Notice that it takes power – spiritual power to understand the blessings, things of God. Paul reveals the four dimensions of God’s love through Christ. I am sure that I have not grasped it yet. Since Christ’s love is dimensional, His love can be measure, but I am not sure by what apparatus. Our only indication is in obedience. In John 14 Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commands.” Again in verse 23, Jesus said, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” Seemingly, Jesus completes the circle – obedience brings about God making His home in us. Love is to be the hallmark of the believer. In John 13, Jesus tell us “35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”” In John 15:17, He tells us to “Love each other.” Lastly in 1 John 5:2, God solidifies our kinship with Him when John said, “This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands.”
  • I pray for you “to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” – In 1 Kings 8:27, Solomon stated “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! Psalm 139:7-10 says, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
    If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” We need to be filled with the fullness of God through Jesus by the Spirit. Of Jesus, Paul told the Ephesians in chapter 1 verse 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.

I think non of us truly comprehends those things, and how many of us prays those things on a regular basis. Now that we have a better idea, we need to abide by the TRUTH: Prayer For the Unseen Needs.

TRUTH: For He Himself is our Peace

October 20, 2017

As I sat here this morning, I was directed to a passage that I had read earlier in Ephesians. Now, I know why. Two days ago, I had a very dear cousin to die. She is survived by her mom, two brothers, her sisters and her son. It was thinking about her son that tore into my emotions. My heart ached at the thought of him not seeing her at his football games, at his prom, at his graduation, wedding, etc. I never questioned God despite fervent prayers of a righteous man not ending in the manner I had prayed. Separately, God told my wife and me that He not only knows what is best but does what is best. My inability to see it does not negate that truth about Him. When I acknowledge who God is, His character, and what God can do, His authority/power, I have not choice but to consider this as a Moment of Faith. He reminded me today of the TRUTH: For He Himself is our Peace.

If allowed, He will be the peace of my family in this death as well as any of us in any of our circumstances. Let’s look at how Jesus is the TRUTH: For He Himself is our Peace.

Ephesians 2

11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit

Paul is sharing God’s plan for redeeming the fallen world through the church as we see in Ephesians 3:10.  Through Jesus’ incarnation, crucifixion and ascension, salvation is possible and personal for every person (Ephesians 2:4–7). Furthermore, Paul speaks of sharing more wisdom about reconciling two groups, Jews and Gentiles. He does that by revealing His wisdom that both groups can be seen as not enemies or in opposition but as those unified in faith (Ephesians  2:13–18). In that passage, we are told “For he himself is our peace”. Jesus brought peace with God and peace with man. Not only so, but He also brought unity between former enemies characterizes and symbolizes how He unifies man with Himself as well as with one another. Unity is wisdom.  That unity is to demonstrate to  the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms as well as those of us on earth God’s plan  (Eph. 3:9–10). The church is supposed to work together to reveal God’s power – that power that is at work within us to enable us to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine” (Eph. 3:20).

in Ephesians 2, we clearly see the TRUTH: For He Himself is our Peace.

17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. 19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

Because Jesus came and preached peace, we have access to the Father. We are no longer separated from God through Christ Jesus. Consequently, 

  1. We are no longer foreigners to God.
  2. We are no longer strangers to God.
  3. We are citizens of God’s kingdom.
  4. We are apart of God’s people.
  5. We are members of God’s household – His family.
  6. We have Jesus to serve as our foundation of our lives.
  7. We become a part of His church, the holy temple in the Lord.
  8. We become a dwelling place of God by the Holy Spirit living in us.

Here is the TRUTH: For He Himself is our Peace. If we know Jesus as Lord and Savior, no matter our circumstance even in the death of a loved one, God can give us peace because God is our peace in Christ Jesus.

TRUTH: The Purpose and Posture of Prayer

October 18, 2017

As I saw highlights of a NBA player’s injury of his ankle, one of the players interviewed stated that when something like that happens all we can do is pray. When the storms hit Houston, St. Thomas, St. Croix, Puerto Rico and other places, people called for prayer. Now that the wild fires allowed the storms to have their day, people are calling for prayers for those who have died in those fires and for those who have lost homes and possession by the fires in northern California.

Almost all of us know what it means to pray. Prayer is engaging God, who is Almighty, about whatever is our circumstance or condition. While the most of us may know what is prayer, do we all know the God to whom we should pray? Do we know the TRUTH: The Purpose and Posture of Prayer. Our expectation in prayer is that God will respond, but God has expectations too.

Briefly, let me address who God is. In Isaiah 45, God, says, “I am the Lord, and there is no other, apart from me there is no God” The word for Lord is Jehovah. The word used for God is ‘elohiym which means the Supreme GodIn fact, God says there is no other god. Now that we know who God declares Himself to be and whom I believe, lets look at the TRUTH: The Purpose and Posture of Prayer.

Remember, we have been in Ephesians 3. This is what the text says

I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people,this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ,and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory. 14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.

In verse 14, we see the TRUTH: The Purpose and Posture of Prayer. Paul provides us with insight into why we should pray and how we should pray. He said, “For this reason…” What reason? In this case as in all, we should know God’s purpose. Paul was praying for the Ephesians role in God’s plan of using the church to make the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms. The point of our faith and salvation is for us to glorify God. Our sole existence is to glorify God. If what we are thinking, saying or doing does not bring glory to God, we are not living on purpose. We are not truly living I would submit. To live is to have life. Life is not merely breathing, walking, talking or functioning. Jesus distinguished that when He said, ” I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) The abundant life means that we are in relationship with God knowing, experiencing and sharing Him in our daily lives. The purpose of our prayer should not be to get what we want or need, but that God would be glorified and known as a result of our requests. If we or others alone are the end of our requests, then we fall short of the purpose of prayer. 

Paul also provides insight into how we should pray or the posture of prayer. He said, “For this reason I kneel before the Father” In kneeling, Paul assumed a position and posture of humility, of dependence, of recognition of God as the authority to whom he must submit. Remember Philippians 2:10, it says, “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,” Who is it that we have access to the Father? Jesus! “For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.” It has been submitted that this position kneeling is of utmost humility was in contrast to the more normal posture of prayer in that culture which was to pray standing with hands raised up. Guzik provided a list of kneelers in prayer. Let’s look at others who knelt in prayer.

Solomon prayed on his knees (1 Kings 8:54).
Ezra prayed on his knees (Ezra 9:5).
The Psalmist called us to kneel (Psalm 95:6).
Daniel prayed on his knees (Daniel 6:10).
People came to Jesus kneeling (Matthew 17:14Matthew 20:20, and Mark 1:40).
Stephen prayed on his knees (Acts 7:60).
Peter prayed on his knees (Acts 9:40).
Paul prayed on his knees (Acts 20:36), and
other early Christians prayed on their knees (Acts 21:5).
Most importantly, Jesus prayed on His knees (Luke 22:41).

I am not saying that the only acceptable posture of prayer is kneeling, but Paul strikes the importance of it as we are all called to be humble and reverential before the Father. The posture of kneeling before God, the King of Kings, is a signal to humble ourselves before God. Remember in James 4:6, God says “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Again, I am nor is the Lord being dogmatic about kneeling in prayer, but we are called to bow before our God to show our recognition that we are humble, reverent and subject to Him.

Now, we see the TRUTH: The Purpose and Posture of Prayer. Let’s practice it today.

 

 

TRUTH: How Not to be Discourage in Your Suffering II

October 13, 2017

This post will be short. If you want to read what I wrote yesterday, click the link below. In the first post TRUTH: How Not to be Discourage in Your Suffering, points of emphasis of how not to be discouraged were shared; however, one and the last statement in verse 13 puts an exclamation mark on it. To me, that phrase shares the WHY we should not be discouraged. It is more in line with the how of Jesus endured the cross scorning its shame that is mentioned in the first post.

Ephesians 3

I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people,this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ,and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.

In writing the Ephesians, Paul said that my sufferings “are your glory”. Likewise, our sufferings are other people’s glory. The Greek word for glory is doxa (do’-ksä). According to the Strong’s Expository Dictionary, doxa primarily signifies an opinion, estimate, and hence, the honor resulting from a good opinion. It is used here in the New Testament always a good opinion concerning one, resulting in praise, honour, and glory. It was not only for their glory but all who read the scriptures. While imprisoned, Paul, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, wrote the books (letters) of Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, and Philemon. God multiplied the glory of Paul’s suffering to impact not only those whom he wrote at the time but with all who will hear and be impacted by those who heard and acted out of what he wrote. I would be an example of the latter.

This is the TRUTH: How Not to be Discourage in Your Suffering II. Your sufferings will be of great benefit for others if you respond as Jesus and the greats in the faith have – by trusting God in and through it to produce His perfect will in you. TRUST Him and walk through the trial like Jesus and Paul did.

TRUTH: How Not to be Discourage in Your Suffering

October 12, 2017

In Christendom, there are some who say followers of Christ are not supposed to experience hardships, trials or suffering. That is a down right lie. The Holy Scriptures, from beginning to end, are replete with examples of godly people who experienced hardships, trials or sufferings. From Joseph, Daniel, Jesus to Paul, we see them experience those. If we are to follow Christ, Jesus must serve as an example. Furthermore, His disciples, of which Paul was, also serve as an example for us. As such, let’s look at the TRUTH: How Not to be Discourage in Your Suffering.

Ephesians 3

I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people,this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ,and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.

In verse one, Paul said, “For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—” Paul realized that he was a servant (v.7). Paul was telling the Ephesians that he was a prisoner of Christ for the purpose of the gospel. Similarly, in Philippians 2, Paul said that ” if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ…In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus… he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” In Matthew 11:29, Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” No one will argue that Paul had a difficult life, but he certainly found rest for his soul. That is how any of us can find rest for our souls. That is the entire point of the TRUTH: How Not to be Discourage in Your Suffering.

Esther, Stephen, Paul and Jesus all saw their actions as needed for the good of those whom God had called them to experience hardships, trials or sufferings. I must admit that my failure to remember that I am to love my wife as Christ loved the church causes me to falter repeatedly in meeting God’s command to give myself up for her. TRUTHfully, there are times when I resent having to do stuff for her when I fail to see myself as a servant for the gospel and for my wife. HEADLINE: Marriage is not solely for us. God’s purpose in marriage is to symbolize Christ’s love for the church. Again, here we are back at being a servant. For the believer, there is no way around that our lives are supposed to be one of service for and to Jesus. Jesus suffered relationally, emotionally, physically and any other “lly” that we can think of as we begin to become selfish. Jesus relinquished what was rightfully His, his glory and being worshipped, for the gospel. In fact, He did not only give up what was His, He took on what was not His. 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Again, this is the TRUTH: How Not to be Discourage in Your Suffering.

To the end, Jesus maintained that servant’s mentality which enabled Him to gladly suffer on our behalf. Again, it was not only Jesus, but there are others who modeled the way for us. Listen to what Hebrews 12:1-3 tells us.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross,scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

The passage makes others and especially Jesus the central focus of our thinking not ourselves. In fact, the text tells us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” For most of us, that is thinking about ourselves. We get entangled and thrown off the purpose of the gospel when we look at ourselves. Pride surfaces because we are not getting treated well or like it is about us. The servant or the prisoner of Christ reflects on the fact that our lives are not our own. Once more in Galatians 2:19-20, Paul models the way for us when he wrote “19 “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” This is truly the way to the TRUTH: How Not to be Discourage in Your Suffering. At every turn in his service, Paul recognized that his service to Christ was not about him but about Jesus. This is how we defeat discouragement. 

TRUTH: Christ is our Access and Confidence to Approach the Father.

October 9, 2017

It is a long accepted belief that men could not just walk into the presence of kings without a dire consequence. We see one example of that in the book of Esther when she responds to the call the to speak to the king on behalf of her people. Esther said,  “All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.” Undoubtedly, there was a consequence of approaching the king without his consent. TRUTH: Christ is our Access and Confidence to Approach the Father.

Similarly, God had expectations for how man, the High Priest, was to approach the Father. In Old Testament times, the High Priest was the only one who could approach God on behalf of the Jews and that only on one day of the year. Leviticus shares some insight into this point. ” The Lord spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron who died when they approached the Lord. The Lord said to Moses: “Tell your brother Aaron that he is not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the ark, or else he will die. For I will appear in the cloud over the atonement cover. “This is how Aaron is to enter the Most Holy Place: He must first bring a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering.’” The High Priest was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies once a year on the Day of Atonement to make an animal sacrifice for the sins of the Jewish nation. He had to do this year after year because the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away a person’s sins forever (Hebrews 10:2-4). But Jesus, who is our great High Priest, made it possible for our sins to be taken away forever when He died on the cross. Consequently, man’s sins can be forgiven when we believe in HimTRUTH: Christ is our Access and Confidence to Approach the Father

In part, this is what Paul shares in Ephesians 3.

Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power.To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, 10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. 13 So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.

The reality is the TRUTH: Christ is our Access and Confidence to Approach the Father. It is only through Jesus that we have access to God the Father. This is a point of emphasis that the scriptures repeat several times.

  • John 14:6 – Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
  • Romans 5:2 – through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.
  • Ephesians 2:18 – For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
  • Ephesians 3:12 –  In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
  • 1 Corinthians 12:13 – For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
  • Ephesians 4:4 – There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called;

Not only is Christ our access, He is our confidence in approaching God the Father.

  • 2 Corinthians 3:4 – Such confidence we have through Christ before God.
  • Hebrews 3:14 – We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.
  • Hebrews 4:14-16 – 14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
  • Hebrews 10:19-22 – 19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
  • Hebrews 10:35 –  So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.
  • 1 John 2:28 – And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.
  • 1 John 3:21 – Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God
  • 1 John 4:17 – This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.

Without Christ, none of us should expect that we can enter into the presence of God. We should not expect that God will respond to our prayers. “13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” 1 John 5:13-15. That is is the TRUTH: Christ is our Access and Confidence to Approach the Father. 

TRUTH: More about the Manifold Wisdom of God

October 4, 2017

Ephesians 3:10 tells us that God reveals or shares His wisdom with the purpose that “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.” The fact of the matter is that wants us to know the TRUTH: Christ is the Manifold Wisdom of God. He will use His church to reveal that to rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms. Along the way, we get the benefit of knowing God. This is why it is vitally important that one believe in the one true God, so the right character is revealed and shown to man as well as those in the heavenly realms. Our purpose as followers of Jesus is much bigger than we realize. Our purpose in living for Christ is of earthly and heavenly significance. We cannot fully comprehend the wisdom bound in Christ, but an effort to reveal TRUTH: More about the Manifold Wisdom of God, I submit the following to you.

Again, manifold speaks to a great variety of kind. Wisdom or sophia refers to the broad and full of intelligence; used of the knowledge of very diverse matters. Of wisdom, Vine’s Expository Dictionary conveys the following:

That was TRUTH: More about the Manifold Wisdom of God so is this.

Paul is sharing God’s plan for redeeming the fallen world through the church as we see in Ephesians 3:10.  Through Jesus’ incarnation, crucifixion and ascension, salvation is possible and personal for every person (Ephesians 2:4–7). Furthermore, Paul speaks of sharing more wisdom about reconciling two groups, Jews and Gentiles. He does that by revealing His wisdom that both groups can be seen as not enemies or in opposition but as those unified in faith (Ephesians  2:13–18). In that passage, we are told “For he himself is our peace”. Jesus brought peace with God and peace with man. Not only so, but He also brought unity between former enemies characterizes and symbolizes how He unifies man with Himself as well as with one another. Unity is wisdom.  That unity is to demonstrate to  the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms as well as those of us on earth God’s plan  (Eph. 3:9–10). The church is supposed to work together to reveal God’s power – that power that is at work within us to enable us to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine” (Eph. 3:20).  TRUTH: More about the Manifold Wisdom of God than I can explain.