Who’s In Charge

1 Peter 2:13-14 For the Lord’s sake, respect all human authority—whether the king as head of state, or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right.

Ever since the Garden of Eden, Satan has tempted us by questioning authority, he lied about God and Adam and Eve began to wonder about God’s intentions and whether the rules that he gave them were fair.

God’s commandments have been questioned every moment of every day ever since that day and we can see the consequences all around us but we still want to live life our way.

Accepting authority and being submissive is required of every child of God, it is necessary in our relationship with God and in every other relationship that we have. From family to the work place and in government, there is an order that God designed to help us live together in harmony.

We see the idea of submission demonstrated in the Trinity, all of them working together in unison, each of them fulfilling a role and each of them bringing glory to the other and doing what is beneficial to the whole.

✔ Jesus sought to bring glory to God the Father. (John 15:10)
✔ Jesus willingly died for us. (John 10:17-18)
✔ The Holy Spirit gives Jesus glory. (John 16:13-15)
✔ God the Father gave glory back to Jesus. (John 8:54, 17:24)

Too bad we do not get to enjoy this oneness and cooperative spirit from the people that we relate to but that doesn’t get us off the hook. We need to be submissive and give ourselves to helping others and building them up. (Philippians 2:3-8)

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Nothing but the blood of Jesus

Ephesians 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Christian, what did you do to get into God’s family? Did you earn your way in? Buy your way in? How were you able to go from being dead and in sin to being alive and free from sin? No, you didn’t raise yourself from spiritual death. You didn’t earn your way to God. Your reconciliation to Him was purchased by one thing only. Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

What a beautiful thought that we’ve been brought into the family of God as His adopted children by no work of our own. Generally, we tend to reject the notion that we can get something for free. The saying “There’s no such thing as a free lunch” is a popular one. We’re skeptical that anything in this world can be free of charge.

But our acceptance into God’s family? That’s not something we could earn even if we tried our very hardest. The only way to get that is to through the blood of Christ. It’s not for sale. The choice is take it for free or don’t take it at all.  It’s bought and paid for, earned by the One sinless person who ever lived becoming sin in our place.

We’re no longer strangers to God, no longer enemies. We’re now His children, loved by Him, protected by Him, and cared for by Him, not because we did anything to earn His love, but because He first loved us and chose us to be His. We were lost, not Him. We didn’t find God, He found us, and rescued us.

Once separated

Ephesians 2:11-12 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

We all have a story to tell and in every one of our stories there is a part where we were separated from God. The one thing that can ever separate us from Him is sin and since we’ve all sinned (Romans 3:23), we can all be guaranteed a time of isolation from the Lord.

That time of being apart from Him, when we weren’t His but the world’s, we were captive to our own sinful natures and without hope. God loves us too much to leave us in our sin and that’s why He sent a Rescuer, a Savior to reconcile us with himself. Even while we were dead in our sin, God did this for us. He chose to save us when we had no hope. He could have left us to our own devices, but He didn’t.

As we think back on our stories, it’s important not to forget the time we spent apart from God. It causes us to more fully appreciate what it’s like on the other side, as His children who have been adopted into His own family. It also helps us to appreciate that there are still lost people out there who have yet to hear the good news that a Rescuer was sent for them. It causes us to take action for their sake.

We are His workmanship

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Each and every one of us is special because God created everyone differently. In each of us He put a unique personality, specific traits, and He even gave us each a purpose of our own.

Ultimately, we’re all on the same mission, working towards the same goal, to life up Jesus and glorify the Father, and to bring people to a saving knowledge of Him. Along that journey, though, we all play different parts. You have a task that only you can do. I have one that only I can do. God empowers us to do exactly what He’s called us to do.

He’s given you a set of talents that are yours alone. They’re not to be used for your own gain, but for His purposes. He gave you your talents and you purpose in life before He even created the world. Before time, you had a mission. Before the world was in existence, you were equipped. Then God formed you and set you apart. Live with the knowledge that you are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works that He prepared beforehand.

By grace you have been saved through faith

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

The blessings of God never quit. His grace is something that’s just too good to comprehend. And when we look at the fact that even our own salvation is of Him rather than being based on our own merit, it’s  hard to believe.

It’s so hard to believe, in fact, that some people outright reject the notion that salvation is a free gift and they try to earn their way into God’s favor. It doesn’t work that way though. He has offered eternal life as a free gift through His Son. He’s so adamant about the fact that we can’t earn our salvation that He makes mention of it multiple times throughout His Word. God means for us to know that He gives this gift freely.

We cheapen the gospel when we try to add to it. When we make it Jesus + works or Jesus + _______________, we lost sight of the great cost that was already paid to earn our salvation. Jesus went through great lengths to reconcile us to God. Grace provides us the chance to accept that.

The immeasurable riches of His grace

Ephesians 2:7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Many of God’s blessings that He reveals here on earth are a taste of things to come, a shadow of the real thing. This is the case when it comes to His grace. We experience grace during this life and it’s beyond our comprehension. We can try, but we’ll never grasp the lengths the Lord goes through to extend grace.

But one day it will all become clear. What we see now as in a dim mirror will one day be clear as can be (1 Corinthians 13:12) and what we only understand in part we’ll understand in full. If God’s grace is so amazing now, just imagine fully understanding it. Just imagine the mystery that God is waiting to make known.

One day, all that remains hidden will be revealed in Jesus Christ, the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15), the One in whom the fullness of God was pleased to dwell (Colossians 1:19).

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Seated with Him

Ephesians 2:6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus

There are many things for God’s people to look forward to in the future, but there are also some amazing promises for the here and now. The thing is sometimes we can’t recognize the difference between what’s waiting and what’s in front of us.

We have a tendency to look at verses like Ephesians 2:6 and assume that it says we will be seated with Christ once we die and get to heaven. But it doesn’t say that, does it?  It says He raised us up with Him and seated us with Him when we were saved. If this is true, then what does it mean for us right now?

In context, we have been made alive in Christ and now share in His preeminent glory. We share in His victory, as it is now our victory. Keep in mind that our enemies are not of flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12). They’re spiritual, and here we see the relevance of the fact that we were raised up with Him, and seated with Him in heavenly places. Christ has conquered all sin, death, and evil spirits and therefore so have we.

More than conquerors

Romans 8:37  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

In Christ we will prevail against any attack that comes against us because we are more than conquerors.  A conqueror will take on the enemy and claim victory, maybe even winning every battle he ever faces.  But one day, like everyone else, he’ll die.  All of the victories cannot stop death from coming for him.  All the battles won will be forgotten.

But in Christ we don’t fight temporal battles with little lasting impact.  When we fight on God’s team we fight eternity-centered battles.  Though it may not seem like relying on God to get us through the emotional effects of coworkers insulting us because of our faith could have anything to do with eternity, the underlying truth behind the fact that God is with us in everything we face for His sake is undeniably eternal in nature.

We are more than conquerors because we belong to the One who conquered death itself.  We’ll live on with Him as victors, having been glorified in Him.

———-  Are you fighting any battles right now that you need victory over?

What’s In Your Wallet

Matthew 6:19-21  “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.  Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.  Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

1 Timothy 6:17-19  Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment.  Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others.  By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.

Accumulating wealth is a great idea, go for as much of it as you can get, in fact let’s be greedy about it. Just be sure that you are talking about the treasure that you are storing away in heaven.

Just you use your earthly wealth correctly it will help you accumulate more heavenly wealth. The best use for our earthly wealth is to use it to help people in need and use it to help spread the gospel message around the world.

I must not be proud of how well I can provide for my needs or place my trust in my earthly wealth, instead I need to be generous and willing to help those that are in need that I have the ability to help.

Help me Lord to remember that my money belongs to you, help me to know how to use it for your purpose.

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Spiritual Disciplines – Prayer

Matthew 6:6,7  But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.

Simply defined, prayer is talking to God.  Even as Christ followers, our lives can sometimes get so busy that we simply don’t take the time to talk to our Lord.  This is a great mistake.  In order to grow spiritually, we must be conversing…mostly listening…to God.

In our fast food culture, things come quickly and we can’t stand the thought of actually waiting.  We have access to so much “on-demand” that it’s hard to just be still and listen to what the Lord has to say.  But we must if we are going to learn His will.  Prayer, coupled with Bible study, is one of the most important disciplines in the daily life of a Christ follower.  Without reading God’s Word and communicating with Him, how are we to know who He is and what He requires of us?

Some may say that they just don’t know how to pray.  Jesus gave us a great example in Matthew 6:9-13.  We call it The Lord’s Prayer, but really this is a format, a template, of how we are to pray.  This is not simply a prayer to be memorized and uttered.  No, this is a blueprint for how our prayers should be.  Does that mean that God does not hear us if we pray outside this format?  No, God knows all that we need before we even ask (Matthew 6:8).  He is not so strict on this format that we would never hear from Him if we prayed differently, but we should attempt to keep the principles of this prayer in place.  Thanksgiving, praise, petition, repentance, seeking guidance.  It’s not a magic formula, but a guideline.

The Lord is not interested in repetition and memorization.  He wants our hearts to turn towards Him.  He desires our attention and our praise.  We make a great decision when we choose to include prayer as part of our day.