6/12/17 Purify Your Heart & Soul

“Empty your hearts and souls of all darkness.  This is the breeding ground for all kinds of sinful behaviors, and if allowed to continue, you will be tempted to give in to lust and all manner of other sinful behavior.  Don’t even let the idea of these behaviors come into your hearts, but live worthy of a child of the King.  Let your speech be clean and pure, not tainted by foul language or sarcastic jokes at the expense of others.  Fill your words with joyful thanks to God.  You know that there is no place in the Kingdom of God for sinful speech or behavior, so out of respect and love for the One who has promised you an inheritance in His Kingdom, behave as a child of God instead of as a child of the world.  Don’t let yourself be fooled by those who promise what they cannot give.  Their words are empty and their promises lies, and it is because of people like this that God’s punishment comes upon the world.  They are not willing to give up being slaves to sin, preferring this slavery to the freedom of serving God in love.  Do not share in their sin, or you will end up sharing in their punishment.”

 

Ephesians 5:3-7

6/11/17 Called To A Greater Love

“Through Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross, we have been forgiven of all sin and are now God’s children, loved and cherished by Him in a way that is so much greater than even the love that earthly parents have for their children.  Because we are God’s beloved children, we are called to a greater standard of love for Him and for each other.  We are called to love in the way that He loves us.  Jesus showed us how great His love is for us by willingly giving up everything for us – His Heavenly home, His status as the King of the Universe, His very life and connection to His Heavenly Father.  He endured hell for us.  Now, He calls us to be willing to sacrifice what is dearest to us out of love for each other.  We are to love each other in the same way that God, through Jesus, loves us, and by so doing, we are also showing our love for God, giving sacrificial love to each other as a gift for God.  This is the greatest gift we can give to our Heavenly Father, greater than songs sung to Him, sacrifices offered to Him, money given to Him, or works done in His Name.”

 

Ephesians 5:1-2

6/10/17 How To Be New

“Stop lying to each other, because we are all members of one body in Jesus, and lying to your brothers and sisters is like one hand trying to deceive the other.  The prophet Zechariah said, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor.’  It is alright to get angry, because we are human with human emotions, and we will inevitably do or say things that will offend others.  We learn in the psalms, ‘Be angry, and do not sin.’  Don’t do or say anything out of anger, because you will regret it later.  Instead, separate yourself from the object of your anger until you have enough self-control to respond out of love.  And be careful not to stoke the fires of your anger, allowing it to grow into bitterness and cause hardening in your heart.  Instead, deal with your anger before the end of the day, doing all you can to come to a place of forgiveness before you go to sleep.  Otherwise, you give Satan a foothold into your heart.  He is always lying in wait of such an opportunity and will not waste it.  In your old life, did you steal?  Do not do this anymore, but work hard to earn what you need or want, doing good and wholesome labor, and in this way you will have enough for yourself and enough to give to others in need.  Control your tongue, so that you do not use foul or offensive language.  Speak words of love so that you may build others up instead of tearing them down.  God’s Holy Spirit is alive and working in your hearts.  Listen to His leading and follow it, instead of ignoring Him to go your own way.  You will only bring disaster upon yourself and grief to God, your Heavenly Father who has imprinted His seal upon you as a promise that you are His forever.  Have nothing to do with bitterness, sinful actions stemming from anger, riotous living, cruelty, or unkind words.  Forgive one another in the same way that God has forgiven you, and let all your actions and words toward each other come from a heart full of love for God and each other.”

 

Ephesians 4:25-32, Zechariah 8:16, Psalm 4:4

6/9/17 Act Like You Have Been Made New

“This is who you are now – a child of God, reborn with a new heart and new eyes.  I declare before God that this is true.  There was nothing that you had to do in order to earn this salvation and new life; in fact, there is nothing that any of us could ever do to earn it, because we are incapable of living lives free of sin.  But now that you have received this gift of salvation, do not continue to live as though you were never given it.  You are no longer walking around blind, as most of the world does, separated from God by their sinfulness, neither seeing nor understanding what is happening around them and in their own hearts, unable to feel even the pain their own sinfulness is causing them, giving themselves up to all sorts of sinful behaviors because it is the way of the world, and adding to the sinfulness of the world through their actions.  You are new creations in Jesus.  Your eyes have been opened to the truth and your hearts have been remade, turned from stone to flesh, inhabited now by the Holy Spirit.  You have heard the message of Jesus.  He Himself, through His apostles and through His Holy Spirit, has taught you, and you have begun to see and understand clearly for the first time ever.  Not in order to receive the gift of new life, but because you have been given this gift of new life, you must leave behind the sinful life you lived.  The old you was full of corruption, greed, and lustful desires, but you have been made new, and the Holy Spirit is working in your hearts to cleanse those things from you.  Let Him do this so that you will no longer desire sinfulness, but holiness and goodness.  Be made new in every part of your lives.  Discard the old selves and put on the new selves, as if you were throwing away dirty, torn clothing and putting on brand-new tailored suits, created just for you by God in order that you might attain the perfection that He wants for you.”

 

Ephesians 4:17-24

6/8/17 Working Together In Love

“Jesus called some of us to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to travel the world teaching His message to all people, some to be pastors and teachers.  He bestows gifts upon each of us so that we can work together to prepare each other to do His work and to build each other up as His church, His body, until we are united in our faith, and our faith in turn will make us certain in the knowledge of Jesus as God’s one and only Son.  This work of faith in our lives will continue, bringing us to the fullness of ourselves, making us who God created us to be by working in our hearts through the gifts He gives us.  He wants us to not stay children in our faith, influenced to turn this way and that by every new idea that comes our way, not susceptible to the deception of those who would seek to turn us away from our faith.  Instead, He wants us to be secure in the truth of God, lovingly speaking and acting out that truth to those around us in Jesus’ Name, so that we may ‘grow up,’ secure in our faith.  Jesus is the head of the church, and He unites all His children under Him as His body.  We, His body, work together in faith and love, each member doing his part to contribute to the whole body so that the whole body may grow and be built up in love.”

 

Ephesians 4:11-16

6/7/17 Gifts From Above

“Jesus gives us His grace and His spiritual gifts when we give our lives to Him, giving each person what he or she is ready and able to receive, gradually, throughout our whole lives.  He wisely measures each gift to match the person who is to receive it, and it is the responsibility of each one of us to receive these gifts and put them to use in order to do God’s will in our lives and in the lives of those around us.  In the Psalms, we are told, ‘When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.’  If Jesus ascended, He had to have first descended into the depths of the earth, the only place where He was ever completely separated from God.  But He conquered sin and death, leading captivity captive, as the psalm tells us, and now He has ascended, both from the grave back to earth, and then from earth into Heaven, His true home, from which He bestows His gifts upon those who He now calls His own, filling Heaven and earth with His grace.

 

Ephesians 4:7-10, Psalm 68:18

6/6/17 Live Worthy Of The Name Of Christian

“As a prisoner of Jesus on your behalf, I implore you to live your lives in such a way that when you stand before God to give an account of your lives, you will not be ashamed of how you have conducted yourselves.  Live humbly, acting with kindness and gentleness.  Say and do everything out of love, being willing to endure suffering patiently and with joy in your hearts.  Do all you can to live in unity and harmony with each other, as led by the Holy Spirit, in love and peace.  We are all brothers and sisters in Jesus, the same Holy Spirit living within each one of us, calling us to live as one body in Jesus.  He is our One Lord, the one and only Son of our God, who is the one God and Father of all of us, enthroned above us all, working in us and through us by His Holy Spirit, which was given to each of us through the same baptism.”

 

Ephesians 4:1-6

6/5/17 Paul’s Desire For The Ephesian Church

“So now I, Paul, a prisoner of Jesus for you Gentiles, bow my knees and my heart to God, the Father of our Messiah, Jesus, the one who is the Head of our family of faith, both on earth and in Heaven.  I pray that He would strengthen you both spiritually and physically through the Holy Spirit living within you, that He would live in your hearts and build you up in your faith, that your roots might be strong in His love, that He would share with you the riches of His glory in wisdom, so that you might see and understand how great His love is for you – the height and length and depth and width of His great love that, even when seen through the wisdom He grants you, is greater than anyone can ever know.  I pray that God would fill you up with Himself, through His love.  All glory and honor belongs to Him, in the church, through all of time and forever after, by His Son Jesus, and in His gracious love, power, and wisdom He is able to do infinitely more than we could ever ask or even imagine.  Amen.”

 

Ephesians 3:1, 14-21

6/4/17 God’s Grace To The Lowest Of His Servants

“It is astounding to me that God would grant His grace to me, that He would make me His apostle to the Gentiles, because I am the lowest of His servants, unworthy of this precious gift.  But that is exactly what He did, so that I could share with all the Gentiles the immeasurable and inexhaustible riches found in a life dedicated to Him through Jesus.  Not only that, but He entrusted me with the revealing of the mystery of Himself to all people, that mystery that has been hidden from everyone since the beginning, but which Jesus came to reveal to us.  This mystery is the will of God, and the relationship we were meant to have with Him, and can now have with Him through His Son, Jesus.  And through our reconciliation with God by the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf, we have the Holy Spirit within us, revealing God’s will and His wisdom to us, and in turn, giving us the privilege of revealing it to others who have not yet heard the message.  This was God’s plan for us since before He created all things, and it is being fulfilled through us, as we continue to tell the world about Jesus and His love and forgiveness.  Through Jesus, we now have what people have been wishing for since sin first entered the world – access to God.  Since you know all of this, I ask you to consider my imprisonment and my troubles as simply my service to Jesus to bring glory to Him and to you, His church, through Him.”

 

Ephesians 3:8-13

6/3/17 The Mystery Of God Revealed To Us By His Son

“You know that God gave me His grace on your behalf, that I might be sent as an apostle to the Gentiles, to reveal to you the mystery that He revealed to me.  I have written to you before of this mystery, so that you could understand what God revealed to me on your behalf.  Before Jesus came, this mystery was still unknown to the human race, but Jesus came to teach us about the true nature of God, and His desire for His children.  Now, through the Holy Spirit, the message is revealed to His apostles and prophets so that Gentiles and Jews can be brought into the family of God together, as one in Jesus, sharing in the promised inheritance of the Kingdom of Heaven through the spreading of Jesus’ message of God’s love and forgiveness for His people.  It is for this purpose that I became the apostle to the Gentiles, and have been travelling all over Asia sharing the wonderful news of Jesus’ sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins.  And I have been able to do this only through the gift of God’s grace to me and to all those who would come to Him, through the power of His Holy Spirit.”

 

Ephesians 3:2-7