Posts Tagged With: Ephesians

Did I Do That?

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Spiritual Gifts

But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him us it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. 

All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and He gives them to each one, just as He determines.

(Ephesians 4:7, 11-13, 16; Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:11)

You already had a nice little handful of talents before you came to God. But look at you now.

God made you with an inborn set of natural abilities, things that have just always come easily to you. Maybe you have a nice singing voice or a flair for calligraphy. Maybe you’re good with numbers or can fix anything on wheels. You’ve trained these abilities, honed them. But the raw materials and understanding were built into your natural makeup. They are gifts from God in every sense of the word. Now that you’ve become a born-again Christian, though, God has given you an extra set of gifts, spiritual gifts, to equip you to play the vital role He’s given you in His church. Where natural gifts may dictate the kind of work you’ve chosen, the hobbies you enjoy, or the subjects you like most in school, spiritual gifts are designed to activate your field of ministry. They supercharge you with un-natural abilities to give, to comfort, to challenge, or to speak with boldness. They won’t take the place of the things you do well, but they will open up new vistas of opportunity and responsibility for you to be all that God created you to be.

“Every member of the Body has the potential to be and should be led and fed toward functioning as a fully equipped agent of Jesus Christ.” – Jack Hayford

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Tomorrow’s Reading: God has given you an indescribable gift and the incredible experience of living in His power. But Christianity isn’t all about receiving . Are you ready to give it all?

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Inside Information

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Living in the Spirit

But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual truths with Spirit words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgments.

(John 16:13-14; 1 Corinthians 2:10b-15)

When the Spirit of the living God dwells inside you, you’re a whole lot smarter than you think.

That ocean of relief and refreshment that you felt as you turned your back on sin and turned your life over to Jesus Christ’s control was the Holy Spirit of God rushing into your heart, filling you with the raw power of everlasting life. The Bible says: “Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is  a deposit guaranteeing out inheritance.” (Ephesians 1:13b-14) Sort of like earnest money on the house God’s building you in heaven. Once we get there, we’ll understand all that our salvation means. We’ll see why we had to go through some of the tough times we faced on earth. Maybe we’ll even find out how God pulled off that Red Sea thing, or why He thought it best to put our big nose right in the middle of our face. But until then, God has given us His Spirit, so that we don’t have to rely on our own vague observations and knowledge about spiritual things in order to do what He wants, to understand His plans for us, to put ourselves into position to serve Him with power and freedom.

“There is no one who magnifies Christ as the Holy Spirit does. His most intense desire is to reveal Jesus Christ to men.” – R. A. Torrey

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Tomorrow’s Reading: Oh, by the way, along with the gift of the Holy Spirit comes your own custom made package of spiritual gifts, which can take you far beyond your natural abilities.

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What Would Jesus Do?

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Thinking with the Mind of Christ

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.

 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.

(Philippians 2:5-11; Ephesians 5:1-2, 8; Romans 12:2)

If you’re serious about letting Christ change your life, you’ll be asking yourself this question a lot.

Christ’s death on the cross did a lot more than teat up your rap sheet and clear your name with the Judge. By accepting His death, you have also accepted His life, the seeds of a new character that He is forming inside you as you let His words become yours, as you begin adopting His nature of purity, trust, and humility, crowding out the self-centered clutter you’ve been accumulating all these years. Christ has come to clean house, to bag up the stuff that needs to go in the garage, to throw open the windows for fresh breezes of godly insight and perspective, to shine the revealing light of His word into every corner of your life. As He starts to work within your everyday experiences, you’ll not only begin doing things His way, but thinking the He thinks, becoming sick to your stomach at the sight of your own unfaithfulness. Yet you are renewed to seek your thrills at no other place than the satisfying waters of Christian obedience and to filter your daily decisions through the lens of His unselfish love.

“God’s intention is that we be free from this world’s mindset. When we think like God thinks, we are free from the bonds of Satan.” – T. W. Hunt

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Tomorrow’s Reading: Once you’re known the Father’s love and felt the Son’s transforming embrace, you can open your life to the sweet presence and safeguarding of the Holy Spirit.

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Power in Your Corner

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Your All-Sufficiency in Christ

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power. (Ephesians 1:17-19)

That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:16-21)

There’s no way to underestimate the struggle of Christian living. Or the power God’s put in you.

Trusting God to help you overcome your sins and shortcomings sounds so spiritual, doesn’t it? Turning everything over to God, letting God handle your problems, giving your burdens to the Lord… can’t argue with the wisdom there. But when it’s just you and your bad temper, or your runaway sex drive, or your weakness for cherry cheesecake, where do you find the strength to say no? You might nor guess it to look at you, but you have available to you, right now. The same kind of power that God “exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead” (Ephesians 1:20). And as you begin facing even your toughest challenges with the weapons of prayer, Bible truth, worship, thanksgiving, accountability, and other specific strategies that you’ll begin gaining through experience, you’ll see sin’s deception for what it is, you’ll turn your back on habits that have had your number for years, and your heart for instant gratification will be changed into a heart that knows where its power lies.

“Just as He delivered us from the overall reign of sin, so He has made ample provision for us to win the daily skirmishes against sin” – Jerry Bridges

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Tomorrow’s Reading: Gut instincts and willpower were all bad to go on before you met Christ. So don’t expect trusting God to come naturally. Be prepared to hit a learning curve.

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Happy 4th of July!

Celebrate the 4th of July with Video Gaming’s Finest Fireworks!

Celebrate the 4th of July with Video Gaming's Finest Fireworks!

During the American Revolution, the legal separation of the Thirteen Colonies from Great Britain occurred on July 2, 1776, when the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence that had been proposed in June by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia declaring the United States independent from Great Britain rule. After voting for independence, Congress turned its attention to the Declaration of Independence, a statement explaining this decision, which had been prepared by a Committee of Five, with Thomas Jefferson as its principal author. Congress debated and revised the wording of the Declaration, finally approving it on July 4. A day earlier, John Adams had written to his wife Abigail:

The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.

Adams’s prediction was off by two days. From the outset, Americans celebrated independence on July 4, the date shown on the much-publicized Declaration of Independence, rather than on July 2, the date the resolution of independence was approved in a closed session of Congress.

Historians have long disputed whether Congress actually signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, even though Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin all later wrote that they had signed it on that day. Most historians have concluded that the Declaration was signed nearly a month after its adoption, on August 2, 1776, and not on July 4 as is commonly believed.

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  • In 1777, thirteen gunshots were fired in salute, once at morning and once again as evening fell, on July 4 in Bristol, Rhode Island. Philadelphia celebrated the first anniversary in a manner a modern American would find quite familiar: an official dinner for the Continental Congress, toasts, 13-gun salutes, speeches, prayers, music, parades, troop reviews, and fireworks. Ships were decked with red, white, and blue bunting.
  • In 1778, from his headquarters at Ross Hall, near New Brunswick, New Jersey, General George Washington marked July 4 with a double ration of rum for his soldiers and an artillery salute (feu de joie). Across the Atlantic Ocean, ambassadors John Adams and Benjamin Franklin held a dinner for their fellow Americans in Paris, France.
  • In 1779, July 4 fell on a Sunday. The holiday was celebrated on Monday, July 5.
  • In 1781 the Massachusetts General Court became the first state legislature to recognize July 4 as a state celebration.
  • In 1783, Moravians in Salem, North Carolina, held a celebration of July 4 with a challenging music program assembled by Johann Friedrich Peter. This work was titled “The Psalm of Joy.” This is recognized as the first recorded celebration and is still celebrated there today.
  • In 1791 the first recorded use of the name “Independence Day” occurred.
  • In 1870, the U.S. Congress made Independence Day an unpaid holiday for federal employees.
  • In 1938, Congress changed Independence Day to a paid federal holiday.

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But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Philippians 3:20

 

Every year on July 4th America remembers its freedom from British rule, but as citizens of heaven who are only incidentally American citizens, we daily have a more significant liberty to celebrate.

 

What freedom do citizens of heaven have to celebrate?

 

Freedom from bondage

  • Luke 4:18  “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed,

 

Freed by Christ

  • John 8:32-36  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone.  How can you say that we shall be set free?” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.  Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever.  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

 

Freedom is universally desired

  • Heb 2:15  and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
  • 2 Pet 2:19  They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity–for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.

 

Freed from the law of sin and death

  • Rom 8:2  because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

 

Freed from the bondage of satisfying God’s law

  • 1 Cor 9:21  To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law.
  •  Gal 2:4  This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves.
  •  Gal 4:22-23  For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman.  His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise.
  •  Gal 4:30-31, 5:1  But what does the Scripture say? “Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son.”  Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.  It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

 

Freed from the sins committed under the first covenant

  • Heb 9:15  For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance–now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.

 

Freed from our sins by his blood

  • Rev 1:5  and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,

 

Freed from accusation

  • Col 1:22  But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation–

 

Freed from the power of sin

  • Rom 6:7, 18, 20, 22 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin … You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness … When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness … But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.

 

Caution: Do not think your freedom is permission to sin

  • 1 Pet 2:16  Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.
  • Gal 5:13  You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.

 

Free to approach God with confidence

  • Eph 3:12  In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

 

Freed from spiritual blindness

  • 2 Cor 3:16  But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17  Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

 

Freed from the curse of a decaying body

  • Rom 8:21  that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.  
  • 1 John 3:2  Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

 

Free to be a slave to others

  • 1 Cor 9:19  Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as
    possible.
  • 1 Cor 10:29  the other man’s conscience, I mean, not yours. For why should my freedom be judged by another’s conscience?

 

Caution: Don’t let your freedom from the law lead others to violate their consciences

  • 1 Cor 8:9  Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.

 

Freed by the law of love

  • James 1:25  But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does.
  • James 2:12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom

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