Leave behind sexual immorality

Ephesians 5:3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 

Sex sells, so so the saying goes. Everywhere we look there is some sexual temptation being thrown in our faces. We, as Christ followers shouldn’t give in though; right?  Right? See, that’s just it. Many who name themselves among God’s people have bought into the lie that sexual sin isn’t so bad. The truth is — it kills.

Today in the American Church we’ve glossed over sexual immorality as though it’s just part of life, not really a sin. Sins are things like murder and cheating on your taxes. Sex is just sex, no matter who it’s with or whether it’s in a marital relationship or not. It’s a lie and we’ve bought it, hook, line, and sinker.

We even convince ourselves that Jesus never talked about sexual immorality or that the Bible never condemns certain things. Who are we fooling? It’s all right there in black and white. Sexual immorality is sin and it’s not to be part of the lives of believers. This is one thing that we must absolutely be free from because it kills our relationship with the Lord. It comes between us because, when you boil it down, sexual immorality is idolatry; it’s putting something else before God.

This isn’t intended to beat you down. If you find yourself in the midst of sexual sin the last thing you need is condemnation. The truth is that Jesus paid the price to win victory over your sin and even over your temptation to sin. You don’t have to feel condemnation and you don’t have to struggle against this sin. You just have to claim the victory that’s already yours in Jesus Christ.

Got A Light

Matthew 5:14-16  “You are the light of the world–like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.  No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

Luke 11:36  If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light.

We usually separate The Beatitudes from the following verses about being salt and light and don’t put the two concepts together but I think that shining our light has some prerequisites.

Living for him with the attitudes and character that please him will make you a bright light in this dark world, if you are not doing that then there won’t be any light, you will look like everybody else that is living in the dark. But if you are living the beatitudes lifestyle you will stand out.

You are going to be strange in a world that seeks happiness in favorable circumstances and pleasant emotions, the world tells us to look out for ourselves but God’s expectations are different, he taught that happiness is found in living for him and when we live for him we will be a shining light in this dark world.

You have the potential to be the light, as a child of God you already have the light in you but you have a choice whether you will let it shine out for everyone else to see. Are you going to put a lamp shade or even worse a blanket over it so that it doesn’t help anybody else?

The light of good deeds are for God’s glory, don’t put the light on yourself so that you will get the credit, the world needs the real source of light and what it can do in their lives. If we live like his chosen people and have the beatitude attitude then we will want our light to shine on Jesus instead of ourselves so that they can see his love and kindness. That’s what this dark world needs.

RECENT POST ON DIGGING THE WORD:

Love like God loves

Ephesians 5:1-2  Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

There are many difficult mandates given in the Bible, none more impossible than the command to be imitators of God. How could fallen, sinful human beings possibly imitate a holy, perfect God?

This may seem like a setup for failure, but that’s far from the truth. God knows very well that we can’t be perfect and He’s only asking us to pursue following His commands with His help, not on our own. Anything He’s asked us to do is something He’s equipped us to do.

It’s interesting how important the theme of love is in God’s Word. So many of the laws and rules boil down to loving the Lord and loving other people. It would seem that there is no better way to imitate God than to love. Maybe there’s not even anything God wants us to do more than He wants us to love. To do so is a “fragrant offering and sacrifice” to Him.

We don’t try to be like God in order to gain favor with Him, we follow in His footsteps because we already have favor with Him as His adopted children. We don’t love Him and other people because we want to earn our place with Him, we love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19) and we’re responding to that epic love in the only way we can. We won’t do it perfectly like only He can, but we’ll be honoring Him by doing it.

We owe it to each other to forgive

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

If I asked you why Jesus had to die on the cross you would likely mention forgiveness. It’s true, the only way we can obtain God’s forgiveness is through a relationships with Jesus Christ. He paid for all of our sins, past, present, and future. But still we hold on to grudges against the people that have caused us harm.

How can we accept the forgiveness offered to us for every single bad things we’ve ever done and will ever do without being willing to show the same grace to people who do us wrong? Haven’t we done worse to God and yet been granted a pardon?

How arrogant we are when we hold onto the grace of God for ourselves and don’t pass it along to others. May we have eyes to see how wrong it is for us to do such a thing, how much it goes against God’s will for us. Who do you need to forgive right now? Have they really done something so much worse to you than you have done to the Creator who not only forgives you but does so through the sacrifice of His own Son? We owe it to each other to forgive, just as God in Christ forgave us.

Forget about it

Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

Revenge is never worth it. Holding a grudge does nothing to help anyone. Bitterness is a cancer that eats away at the soul. God wants so much more for your life.

Paul’s letter to the Ephesians deals mostly with unity within the body of believers, so it’s important to note that this refers to forgiving those who are our brothers and sisters in the Lord’s family. When we don’t forgive our own church family we can’t live the lives that God intends for us. The Church can’t function as it’s supposed to when we live with anger and bitterness towards someone.

Forgiveness, though, is a cure for many of the faults within the Church. Letting go of the hurts we hold on to brings healing that can release all of us from the shackles that we find ourselves in. Jesus didn’t die for our forgiveness just so that we can refuse to show the same grace to the people God’s placed around us. Forget about it. Let it go. Love those who have hurt you and pray for them – and yourself.

This is practice for the future

Ephesians 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Have you ever heard the expression, “you play like you practice?” The idea is that you are only going to perform on game day up to the level that you’ve prepared. It’s often a saying used to relate to sports, but it can apply to business, parenting, marriage, and even walking with Christ. We’re only going to perform when we’re called to a task the way we practiced in the little everyday things.

We’re all called to something by God, but it may be some time before something big is revealed to us. We may have to be faithful in a lot of small things before we actually have something come our way that we see as big. The thing is, to God this all counts. All obedience counts.

We were sealed by the Holy Spirit for a reason. God is conforming us into the image of His Son, and He’s going it one little bit at a time (2 Corinthians 3:18), through the small things we don’t see as significant. Open your eyes to what God is doing around you and through you. Take notice of the small steps of obedience He’s calling you to and follow Him.

God’s people watch their mouths

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

One of the most powerful parts of the human body is really not that big. The tongue has the power of life and death (Proverbs 18:21). We can make someone’s day or we can ruin their day. We can glorify God or we can bring disgrace to Him with the way we speak.

It’s God’s intention that His people would speak life to others, but especially to other believers. The message we send the world with the way we treat others is loud and long-lasting. If we treat each other badly, it doesn’t communicate grace to a world so desperately in need of it. In contrast, when we encourage and build up others, everyone around us can see the grace of God working out in our lives.

Encouraging words are beneficial to the whole body of God in the same way that ugly words hurt the whole body. Our words can either be the poison that leads to a slow death or the medicine that brings healing. If we’re after unity in the family of God, we have to choose our words wisely. We have to rely on the Holy Spirit to help us.

May we all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry (James 1:19).

A life lived for God is an honest life

Ephesians 4:28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.

A new life that comes about after being transformed by God is a life that leaves behind many old things. Habits, hangups, crudeness, lying, stealing…the list goes on.

Some of us in our old lives were thieves, taking anything we could get our hands on just because we wanted it. God’s people don’t live that way, though. We understand that all things really belong to God, not to us. Ripping someone else off doesn’t just hurt them, it hurts our relationship with the Father. He didn’t create us to be thieves.

If there’s one thing that God is not about, it’s selfishness. A deceptive lifestyle that cheats others only benefits the cheater and it’s not what God intends for His people. He’s called us to care for other people, not just ourselves (Philippians 2:3). This means that in our work and in our choices, we should have others in mind. We should be seeking to benefit them so that God can be glorified (Matthew 5:16).

For one of His people to steal is for the world to view God as a thief.  Making an honest living is not just the right thing to do, it shows others how God’s people live and brings Him honor.

Forgiveness takes away the enemy’s weapon

Ephesians 4:26-27 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. 

There are few things our enemy the devil hates more than a unified body of believers in Jesus Christ. He can’t stand to see God working through people who love one another and bear each other’s burdens. His strategy is to divide us.

We’ve all been to churches where there’s disunity. Maybe someone didn’t like the choice of colors for the new carpet or maybe someone got upset because the coffee pot was moved to another location. Whatever the reason, people get angry with their fellow Christians and they begin to miss out on the mission God has for them. That’s exactly what the enemy wants.

But when we forgive offenses that our brothers and sisters in the Lord commit, we offer him no ammunition to use against us. When we put away our anger and instead choose love, we don’t allow him a way in. When we value people and relationships more than things, we take away something from the enemy’s arsenal. We leave him weak.

When we choose to love, it honors God and brings Him glory. That should be our ultimate incentive for treating others well and acting in unity as a church of believers.

I’m So Happy

Psalm 92:4-6 You thrill me, Lord, with all you have done for me! I sing for joy because of what you have done. O Lord, what great works you do! And how deep are your thoughts. Only a simpleton would not know, and only a fool would not understand this.

Psalm 16:11 You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.

Psalm 119:47 How I delight in your commands! How I love them!

In the Declaration of Independence we proclaim that we have been “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” It seems pretty obvious that the average American really likes the pursuit of happiness part.

Right about now the song “Happy” by Pharrell should be going through your head. Our entire culture is built on seeking happiness in the things that the world has to offer. The world has a lot of cool stuff but the problem is, it doesn’t bring very much happiness for very long.

Long term happiness isn’t found in hanging out with ungodly friends, listening to the advice of self-help books and horoscopes, accumulating more cash and conforming to the cultural input around us, these are all dead-end streets.

Happiness in God’s presence
Psalm 16:11

Can you be happy in God’s presence? Maybe his presence is a scary thought instead of a pleasant one, if so then there are some changes that need to be made. We should be happy in his presence after-all that’s where you will spend eternity if you are a member of his family.

Happiness in God’s word
Psalm 119:47

Can you be happy in God’s word? Does the idea of studying God’s word sound like a total bore? If we realize that these really are God’s words then we should be excited to hear what he has to say and we should be motivated to live according to his commands.

Happiness in God’s work
Psalm 92:4-6

Can you be happy in God’s work? Sometimes the work that he is doing in our lives is painful and it may seem like there isn’t any reason to be joyful. When we really think about it and look at the blessings that we have it is easy to see that he is at work and that he has blessed us and we can put our hope in him despite the circumstances.

I will remember the enthusiasm of the Psalmist in these passages of scripture, he is so excited at these three thoughts, God’s presence, his word and his work in my life should energize me each day.

RECENT POST ON DIGGING THE WORD: