Tag Archives: Ephesians

Do not cease to give thanks

INGMRF-00042023-001Ephesians 1:15-16 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers

Spiritual growth comes in seasons. There are times when our faith is strong and there are times when it is not as strong. This is true with anyone. In those times when the momentum isn’t there and it seems that we’ve lost steam, it’s important that we never cease giving thanks.

It’s in those times, when we’re down but still giving thanks, that our faith grows. Our gratitude to our Father grows our love towards Him. Our increased love towards Him results in our loving others more as well.

Paul’s expression to the church in Ephesus demonstrates how thankfulness for someone else’s faith and love can encourage them and help them to be more thankful, to grow in love for God and in love for others. Thanks leads to faith, which leads to love, which leads to more love, more thanks, more faith, and on and on.

Try this. No matter how you feel right now about your current situation, just give thanks to God for all that He is. See if you don’t increase in your love for Him as you pour out gratitude. See if you don’t have a different attitude.

 

A Genuine Man

F1ONRF-00003778-001Ephesians 4:25-32  Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,  and give no opportunity to the devil.  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. 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.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Nobody likes a phony. We can often accept imperfections as long as people are genuine. Paul speaks to that in verse 25, saying to get rid of all the falsehood and smoke screens in our lives, and be real with each other. This comes directly after encouraging us to “put on our new self” in Christ. I believe that the vulnerability and honesty Paul mentions is critical to the overall goal here – we have to break down all the walls and barriers that human nature puts in the way of true relationship.

A major component of that effort is found in verse 29 – “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth.” Rather, we ought to lift each other up and be Givers of Life. When people walk away after interacting with us they should feel encouraged and touched, whether they are fellow believers or not. Go back to the “salt of the earth” idea. What is the aroma surrounding your personality? Is it pleasant to those whom in reaches? Taking it one step further, nobody ever said, “This is the best salt I have ever tasted!” While we are supposed to flavor and enlighten, this is not about us as all. Unless our efforts point to Christ, we are wasting our time and making it about us.

In verse 31, Paul describes the inner chaos and turmoil that marks a lost soul, much like the smoke-filled room from yesterday. In contrast, we are to be “tender hearted.” Tendons in the body connect, reach out, and enable. However, they are not weak and malleable. Tendons are among the toughest fibers in the human body – they do not break easily. I think we ought to be the same. Connecting hearts, forgiving one another, engaging someone else’s life with thoughtfulness and care…these are crucial tasks, and it says nothing about weakness.

Forget the stereotypes of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, but at the same time, strongly reject the soft male idea that was projected in the 1970’s – one of passivity and lack of direction. (Ladies, please don’t feel left out. Becoming and raising tender, Godly men is a job for both sexes.) Jesus was tender hearted and understood the feelings of others, yet was the strongest man that ever lived. This is our calling.

———-  Take an honest, prayerful look within yourself and ask, “How am I doing at being the kind of Christian Paul describes in Ephesians? Where can I improve?” Seek God’s guidance in making you more into the image of Christ.

*This devotion by Jeremy Bunge first appeared in February of 2011.

The Church: a temple

1 Corinthians 3:16-17 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

The Church is not a building. God’s people, however, are a temple for the living God. Did I lose you?

In Ephesians 2:18-22, we’re told that Jesus Christ is the cornerstone for the Church and that the foundation was laid by the Apostles. That’s construction talk, but it’s not literally talking about a church building. We, together, are the temple of the Lord. You’re not the temple, I’m not the temple. WE are the temple.

How can God’s temple be holy (v.17) if we’re each so sinful? How can we be the dwelling place of our Lord if we’re stained and tainted? We’re unworthy to be called His people, let alone His dwelling. The Spirit dwells in us collectively, though. It’s because of His presence, because of the righteousness instilled by Christ, that we’re given the privilege of being a home for God.

The holiness of Jesus is the starting point of this Church, laid upon the foundation which came with God’s commission to His people. And I’ll let Paul finish by saying, “In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:22) Find comfort in the fact that all together we make up the temple of God, which He swears to protect.

Incorruptible love

Ephesians 6:23-24 Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.

There are few things as awe-inspiring as the love of God that He showed in Jesus Christ. When God put on flesh and dwelled on the earth, He professed His love in a way that is hard to understand, but powerful to feel.

His love is incorruptible, and since we love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19), ours ought to be incorruptible as well. If it’s real, and it’s true, then there is nothing that can stop it. We know that there’s nothing that can stand between us and the love of God (Romans 8:38-39).

God’s love comes with some things, like peace and grace. You want to really know peace? Experience God’s love for you. You want to really know what grace is? Turn to the Father in your lowest moments. He’s real and He loves you. Don’t take it for granted, bask in it. Breathe it in and let it fill you with awe.

Be encouraged

Ephesians 6:21-22 So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage your hearts.

We all need people in our lives who we can talk to and who we can expect to encourage us. Without people like this, times can get very tough. We start to believe lies about ourselves and we need someone to pull us out of that funk.

With all this talk of spiritual warfare in Ephesians, it’s important to note that not everything that feels like attack is actually opposition from the enemy. I’m quick to blame spiritual attack when sometimes I’m being disciplined by God. He disciplines those whom He loves (Hebrews 12:6, Proverbs 3:12, Revelation 3:19). Sometimes it’s discipline that comes as a result of our sin, and sometimes He’s just conforming us into who He wants us to be.

I’m thankful for the brothers in Christ that I can turn to that help me to realize when I’m in a season of discipline and pruning and when I really need prayer against spiritual opposition. It’s encouraging to hear from someone that he has the same struggles and I’m not alone. It’s also highly encouraging to hear an uplifting and wise correction when I’m thinking about giving up.

Do you have people like this around you? If not, it’s highly recommended that you find someone from among the body of believers who can speak into your life. Be encouraged.

Pray for your pastor

Ephesians 6:19-20 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

Do you pray for your pastor and leaders in the church? What about missionaries and charity workers?  We ought to be in prayer for anyone and everyone who proclaims the gospel.

The Apostle Paul closes out his section in Ephesians on spiritual warfare by asking the people to pray for him as he proclaims the gospel. It was taking the gospel public that had him in prison, and the last thing he was going to do was give up preaching it. It’s safe to assume that the Ephesians and many other Christians did pray for Paul and that his effectiveness was in large part a result of that.

Your pastor needs prayer as well. It’s not easy to get up before people and preach on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It comes with a lot of spiritual warfare, as does the work of missionaries in the field. They desperately need the support of other believers.

Take time each day to pray for the people that are bringing the Good News to those who have not heard. Pray that God would direct them, protect them, and work through them to reconcile people to Himself.

To persevere, pray

Ephesians 6:18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints

It may sound like an easy answer, but when facing spiritual warfare, one of the best tools we have is prayer. Though many of us would say that this is obvious, we still neglect to take advantage of the ability to speak to our Creator.

Most of the time, when we’re in dire circumstances, we turn to just about everything before we resort to praying to our Father who is able to provide all things. The truth is that when we’re depressed, He brings comfort, when we’re worried, He provides peace, when we’re being attacked, He gives protection. There’s no reason to look anywhere else before seeking Him.

Prayer isn’t just a defensive tactic though. In fact, prayer is one of the primary ways to be proactive in spiritual warfare. When we keep alert in prayer, we’re ready and equipped for what comes at us. When we’re aware of God’s direction and we follow Him, we’re sensitive to what He wants us to see.

Keep in contact with the Father and you’ll find yourself where you need to be. Pray at all times.

You’re equipped with a sword

Ephesians 6:17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God

In spiritual warfare, we often find ourselves on the defensive against the enemy’s attacks. We have to protect ourselves when he goes after us, and we do this with truth, righteousness, faith, salvation, and the gospel of peace. We are equipped with an offensive weapon, though.

The one way we fight is with the Word of God. It’s more powerful than just being a book full of words on paper. It’s living and active (Hebrews 4:12). It’s our primary way to make sure we survive spiritual warfare. Knowing, studying, meditating on, and internalizing the Word is preparation for and strategy in the battle.

Not to gloss over the importance of salvation in this fight, the mind is protected by the assurance we have in the cross of Jesus Christ that we are reconciled with God. Out of that flows the drive to fight and the ability to claim victory. It’s in what He’s done, not what we do, that we have that victory.

Spend time with the Word. Rely on the assurance of your salvation in Jesus Christ. Keep fighting the good fight.

Shield yourself with faith

Ephesians 6:16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one

What sustains you when you face trials in your life? Is it the good works you’ve done? The good books you’ve read? The respect you’ve earned or the status you’ve achieved in your job? How about the possessions you’ve acquired? Or is it faith that keeps you going?

In spiritual warfare, there are offensive measures and there are defensive measures. We are proactive in some ways, and reactive in others. It’s no secret that the enemy of our souls is prone to attack when we are gaining momentum. It should be expected. When that happens, we’ve got to be ready to put up our shields to counter him.

Satan’s attacks can come in the form of doubts, depression, failures, trials, or any number of other struggles. When we’re going through them, they hurt, but faith is effective at keeping him from succeeding.

Faith isn’t just about looking ahead. Sometimes it’s about looking back at how the Lord has kept us up to this point and remember that He always will. Recalling all that He’s done for us is very often the thing that keeps the enemy’s attacks from being effective. Knowing that He’s on our side is very comforting. Keep your shield ready.

This is war

Ephesians 6:10-11 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

Life is not always what it seems to be. There are battles going on that we don’t see, schemes being put into play, and even protection we’re not aware of.

We’re in the middle of a war and it’s to be taken seriously. There’s no getting around the fact that God’s enemy, our enemy, Satan, is at work to destroy the plans of our Creator. We can’t stand by idly and allow him to take out families, marriages, ministries, and ultimately souls. We need to open our eyes.

The thing is, this isn’t an evenly matched war. Satan is not the evil version of God. He doesn’t have the might of God, the knowledge or the abilities of God. He’s incapable of victory. The strength of the Lord is our strength. If we take up the armor He’s provided for us, we have victory. We will prevail against all attacks.

We’ll talk more about the armor we’ve been given over the next few days. In the meantime, consider what it means to be on God’s side during this war.