Faith of a Father

"Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; for he is faithful that promised; – Hebrews 10:23

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Following the Leader


When our children were little, one way that we were able to keep up with them in the stores was to have them hold our hand. There were times when I was pushing the loaded grocery cart and it took both my hands to push it so I had to improvise. On one occasion when my wife was not with us, I had brought all four of our children with me (we had not had our fifth yet). I had Trent in the backpack, Amber in the seat in the cart and wanted to ensure that Ashley and Tyler would stay nearby so I had them hold onto my back pockets. As long as they stayed close and held on, they felt secure and I knew they were right with me. It didn’t matter where I led them, they were there, close by. There security was not in what was going on around them, but was in me because they could feel me, they were next to me, their Daddy.

Paul tell us in Ephesians 5:1 that we are to be followers of God as dear children and I think before we get into the extended passage and discussion, how we are to follow after God; as dear children, I wanted to discuss the first thoughts that come to my mind.

Children’s security should be in their parents. As followers for Christ, our security should be in our Heavenly Father, the perfect example of a loving father.As His child, the closer I am to Him, the more secure I am, regardless of what is going on around me. Like a child that runs off, the further I am from God, the less secure I am in His hand, not by His doing, but mine.

I John 4:4 says, “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”

Regardless of what is going on in our lives, we are overcomers because of Christ and His sacrifice enabling us to become children of God. As we rear our children, we need to always remember that we are setting examples for them and should be asking them, as Paul asked us in I Corinthians 11:1, to “follow me as I follow after Christ”.

Let’s ask ourselves the following questions:

How can our children follow after Christ if we don’t teach them?
How did I do last week?
What can we change today to help our children tomorrow?

Following in Christ’s footsteps leads us to security and ultimate victorious living.


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The Problem with “Andy Griffith”

So, do you like watching the Andy Griffith Show?  You know, the wholesome show with the down home humor and quaint town.  Barney, the inept deputy is constantly getting himself into trouble and Andy, the Sheriff provides his country wisdom to work out the problems of the day.  Each episode has an overriding lesson for the viewers. What’s not to like?  Over all, I think the show has some redeeming qualities but as I have watched them from time to time, there is a reoccurring problem in the foundational structure of the show that I think we need to be very careful about and particularly discerning if we allow our children to watch the show.  In many episodes I have found that subtle lies are often told and accepted.  To me, this is very troubling, particularly as this show is often extoled for its values. 

As we come to the next section of our study in Ephesians (4:25-32), I want to make a quick stop at verse 25.

Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

Lies vs. Truth – How often in our daily lives do we hear the comment about “little white lies?”  Isn’t that we see often in shows such as the “wholesome”, “family values” show of Andy Griffith?  As seen on TV, it is unfortunately far too often so easy to bring this idea into our own homes and we don’t even realize it.

I will not elaborate on this topic, but another example that comes to mind is the topic of Santa Clause and his friends.  From the very beginning of our parenting experience, we never told our children that there was a Tooth Fairy or Easter Bunny or Santa Clause for them to believe in.  We would describe Santa as a Christmas Clown or someone dressed up in a costume for fun during the Christmas season.  I’m not here to judge anyone on what you do or say about such topics but I would ask that you consider the foundations that you are laying for the future of your children’s character.

As our children get older and they are able to understand truth, should we be said to have provided them with an example of “ok lies”?  God forbid.  As parents we do enough unintentional lying without deliberately lying to our children.  If we are willing to make it acceptable within our families to tell “little white lies”, to be deceptive to the ones that we love the most, how much bigger will that deception carry over into our other relationships such as our extended family, our church family, our neighbors, and our co-workers and bosses?  The crooked CEO’s and politicians didn’t wake up one morning and determine to be deceptive to those to whom they are accountable to, their deception began in the home.

As we rear arrows (our children) to be shot into a dark world, are we honing them into straight arrows or crooked arrows?

In the proceeding verses in this chapter, Paul speaks in generalities about living a godly life, in verses 25-31 Paul gets into some specific interpersonal sins that we need to be cautious about in our relationship with others. With each sin that he warns us about, he tells us what to replace it with.  Don’t do this, but do this.  In verse 25, he tells us to put away lying but speak truth.

How are we doing as parents?  Are we keenly aware of the world around us and the deception and lies that it bombards our households with?  Are we instructing our children in truth and pointing out the lies of this sinful world and our own sinful nature?

Character is like a seed planted in a young heart.  How we feed and water it or neglect it may not be evident today, but as the fruit grows within their heart, so will the sweet or bitter flavors be known.

Those who think it’s permissible to tell white lies soon become color-blind. 

Austin O’Malley.

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Parts are Parts


Parts are Parts, Which Part Are You?

 Ephesians 4:16

From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

Our body is an amazing, complex structure.  Every part of it has a defined purpose.  The evolutionists have told us in the past that we have vestigial body parts such as wisdom teeth, the tailbone, and the appendix, parts that we don’t need, or over time have lost much or all of its purpose.  Of course we know this is not true.  Try sitting down without a tail-bone, see how that works out for you.  Every part of the body has as purpose and without it, the body suffers.  Either a function does not get done or other parts of the body must work overtime to compensate.

The same is with the Body of Christ.  Every member is an important part of the body.  When we are all together and performing our function, not worried about what the other parts are doing or not doing, the Body of Christ can run better than a well oiled machine.

Try walking without your little toe.  Yes, you can walk without it but you will have to re-learn to balance yourself.  The same goes for the body of Christ, it can function without various members, but how much more can be done when it has both its arms, legs and kidneys?  To optimize the either the physical body’s performance or the effectiveness of the Body of Christ, parts are parts and all parts are needed.

I’d encourage you to go back to my December 17, 2011 post called:  Are you a Vestigial Christian?  and revisit this topic of Vestigial Christians.

Our bodies are made up many parts and everyone is needful to the body.  The Body of Christ is equally needful of every part, every member.  If we fail to do our job, to perform the function in the body that Christ has called us to do, the Body will not perform at its peak performance and others will have to compensate for our failure.

So what about you and your family?  How can your family become an effective part of the Body of Christ?  You may say that you’re too busy or your children are too small to be a vital role in the Body, but you’d be wrong.  We all have the same hours in the day, it is how we choose to spend them that’s important.  Even young children can be a source of encouragement to someone, young or old.  I’ll bet there are plenty of older saints in your church and circle of life that would love to have young people come by regularly, even for just a few moments say hello and maybe drop off some cookies.  How about ministering as a family to encourage other believers?  Here are just a few ways our family minister to the Body:

  • I serve on the Missions Committee of our church.
  • My wife encourages other homeschool mothers and is a group leader in a women’s group.
  • As a family, we go to the Salvation Army regularly and provide music for a service
  • Our daughter sings in the choir and sings solos in the church service
  • My wife and I are leaders in our Sunday School class
  • Our children play their instruments (guitar, mandolin, banjo, and fiddle) as special music occasionally on Sunday nights, at nursing homes and in the Christian School
  •  Our oldest daughter ministers to other young women through her blog            
  • Our daughters baby sit for young mothers that attend a weekly Bible study

There are many ways even young people can encourage other believers.  What our family does may not be practical for your family, but if you’re not fulfilling your role in the Body of Christ today I’d encourage you to take some time today to contemplate how you, how your family can fulfill your role in the Body of Christ today.

Not you, not your spouse, nor your children are Vestigial Christians, as Christians, we all (yes even young children) have been given a measure of grace and spiritual works.  Have you allowed your spiritual muscles atrophied to the point of being useless and need to be build back up or are you exercising your good works?

Parts are parts, and all parts of the Body of Christ are necessary.

Have you found a unique way for your family to minster to the Body of Christ?  Why not reply with a comment and let readers know.  You may encourage others to think outside the box as well.

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Is It Truth or Love?


“But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:” Ephesians 4:15

In this verse we see that the opposite of deception and craftiness is “truth in love”.  I notice in this verse that it does not just say “truth” but “truth in love”.  It is unfortunate that oftentimes as seasoned Christians we can become inpatient with young believers and become so intent on teaching and preaching truth that we fail to show Christian love.  We fail to use the compassionate love that Christ used so often.

I grew up in a generation and in an area in the north where many sermons, particularly revival meetings, contained Biblical truth but were often yelled most of the way through the message.  Don’t get me wrong, I understand the need and importance of inflection in public speaking but to yell a sermon does not come across to most people as love.  In the Book of Acts we read of the Apostles proclaiming the Gospel to the crowds, and in Paul’s writings he writes with conviction and with power but his tone is a tone of compassion and love even in the midst of his chastening of the Believers.

Remember in the Scriptures where Christ threw out the money changers and called them a den of thieves?  Christ was speaking to those who were already against Him.  His response to their actions was effective because it was not his normal demeanor with them.  I don’t recall anywhere in the Scriptures where Christ spoke harshly to those He was trying to teach.  Christ spent a lot of time with His disciples and no doubt there were times when He had to be firm and very direct, but even then it was apparent that He loved them.  In observing Christ’s conduct, who is our ultimate role model for communications, I see two things:

  1. Love’s foundation is based in truth.
  2. Christ’s message was always heard by the hearer (truth without love is seldom heard)

I have often thought back over the years and contemplated something that I saw far too often.  I saw time and time again preacher’s and missionary’s children (as well as other children) walking away from the faith they grew up in.  In seeing this occur, I have come to several conclusions.  First, the Scriptures are clear that we as individuals, regardless of our upbringing, choose for ourselves the straight and narrow road or the broad highway.  No child can live out their parent’s faith.  It must be personal.  Many loving and caring Christian parents have done all they can to train up their children in the way they should go only to have a son or a daughter reject the truth of God’s Word.  The choice to turn away from God is always an individual decision.  The second conclusion that I have come to based only from an outsider’s view but seeing it often, is that many times these children lived in homes where truth is made know firmly, very firmly, with what appears to be an absence of Christ’s love with the communication of these truths.  Often times in our zeal to teach and communicate truth we fail to include the ever so important ingredient of love.

One of my struggles over the years has been with patience, particularly on occasions when I think the individual either should have gotten the message the first time or I think they are callous to the issue.  In these occasions I would typically walk away and stew about the situation that just occurred.  I must realize that in these moments I must question my motives.  Am I trying to communicate truth in Christian love or is my anger due to my own selfishness?  What is it that is angering me?

Jonathan Edwards had this to say about anger:

“We should never be angry but at sin, and this should always be that which we oppose in our anger.  And when our spirits are stirred to oppose this evil, it should be as sin, or chiefly as it is against God.  If there be no sin and no fault, then we have no cause to be angry; and if there be a fault or sin, then it is infinitely worse as against God than it is as against us, and therefore it requires the most opposition on that account.  Persons sin in their anger when they are selfish in it; for we are not to act as if we were our own, or for ourselves simply, since we belong to God, and not to ourselves. When a fault is committed wherein God is sinned against, and persons are injured by it, they should be chiefly concerned, and their spirits chiefly moved against it, because it is against God; for they should be more solicitous for God’s honor than for their own temporal interests.”  (The Spirit of Love the Opposite of An Angry or Wrathful Spirit, 1 Corinthians 13:5)

Is my motive to teach them or to get my way?  When it is my goal to communicate a principle or concept, particularly biblical ones, is my communication done in Christ-like love or in harshness?  When as a parent it is my duty to disciple a child, is it done in love or in anger?  One way to know this is; do your children fear you when they have done wrong or do they fear the consequences of their sin?

When we are teaching or preaching or even disciplining young believers, are we communicating truth in a way that they are motivated by fear or love and compassion?  Yes, there may be a time for “tough love” but being tough is only effective when the love is evident.

I’m reminded of a saying I heard many years ago, “I can’t do anything about it if you dislike me because of my position, but I can do something about it if you dislike me because of my disposition.”


Do You “Mark the Wall?”

measuring faith

Ephesians 4:14 “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;”

Here we see Paul is telling the Ephesians (and us) that we as Christians need to grow up because otherwise there are consequences. Like children, due to the lack of maturity, young Christians are easily influenced by wrong doctrine and deceptive religious leaders and authors.

My father in law has told such stories of how as a young married couple he and my mother in law were easily deceived shortly after their conversions. He describes how that once saved by God’s grace, they had such a hunger for the Word of God that they reached out to a number of organizations seeking to be spiritually feed. Unfortunately most of these organizations begged for money, and lots of it, yet provide at best spiritual pabulum and at worst outright heresy. It was when, again by God’s grace that they began to attend a solid Bible Believing church that taught them the Word of God where spiritual grow began to blossom within their lives. This initial growth embedded within their hearts a spiritual discernment enabling them to rightly divide the Word of God for continued and sustained growth to maturity. If you asked either one of them today if they believed that they were spiritually mature Christians they would say as Paul says, “I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14 ) but the evidence of their maturity is exemplified in the hundreds, yeah thousands individuals they have personally influenced, mentored and discipled towards the Word of God and righteous living.

While part of us wants to live in a “Peter Pan” world of never growing up so that we can ignore accountability, Paul is reminding up that this kind of thinking will only hurt our walk with the Lord. I would also add that not only will this affect your life but also the lives of those around you. If I as a parent refuse to grow in the Lord, and have little to no desire to search the Scriptures, the potential negative effect on my wife and children could be devastating.

So how are you, how am I doing on our spiritual growth chart? Yes, some people grow faster or mature sooner than others but the question is; are you growing in the Lord? When my kids were little my wife used to mark the wall to see how much each of them had grown, some looked like they never grew and we only really noticed it when we made that new mark on the wall. And of course if we left it for each child to do their own measuring, seldom if ever was it accurate. So what about you? When was the last time you “marked the wall” of your spiritual life? Do you, do I attempt to measure ourselves or do we allow ourselves to be measured against the ruler of God’s Word? Why not take some time today to “mark the wall” and see how you’re growing, you just might surprise yourself.

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The role of the Church: Ephesians 4:11-12


Ephesians 4:11-12 

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;   For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

 In these verses we read how Christ equipped the church and for what reason.  Many books have been written about the subject of these roles in the church and I could not do justice here to the topic so for those interested, an in depth study would be recommended.  

John Maxwell, noted Christian author and Leadership “guru” gives his definitions of these five roles in his “The Maxwell Leadership Bible: 

  1. Apostle:  One sent forth to pioneer and establish new works and new leaders.
  2. Prophet:  One who speaks forth God’s Word to inspire, correct, and motivate.
  3. Evangelist:  One who shares Christ with outsiders and trains others to do so.
  4. Pastor:  One who shepherds, guides, and guards God’s people as they serve.
  5. Teacher:  One who trains God’s people in the truth and teaches others to do so.

 I believe that all but the role of the Apostle are still active roles in the church today.  John MacArthur gives supporting Scriptural references to support this view: 

Six biblical reasons may be given as to why the apostolic office is not for today:

1.    The church was founded upon the apostles (Eph. 2:20)… Their role was to give grounding, support, direction – to provide the underpinning for a fledgling church. They were the church’s founders. That role was fulfilled by them and by definition can never be repeated.

2.    Apostles were eyewitnesses to the resurrection (1 Cor. 9:1)… There is no trustworthy evidence that (Jesus) has appeared to anyone since the close of the apostolic era.

3.    Apostles were chosen personally by Jesus Christ (Mt. 10:1-4).

4.    Apostles were authenticated by miraculous signs (Ac. 3:3-11; 5:15-16; 9:36-42; 20:6-12; 28:1-6)… No such miracles were ever performed – even in the apostolic era – by anyone other than the apostles and those commissioned by them.

5.    Apostles had absolute authority (Jude 17)… When the apostles spoke, there was no discussion.

6.    Apostles have an eternal and unique place of honor (Rev. 21:14).

John MacArthur, Charismatic Chaos, Zondervan, © John MacArthur, 1992, p. 148-151

 As we look at the roles described in verse 11 for the church, we can see how that Christ gave the church all the leadership roles needed to make the church successful for the cause of Christ.  As we consider our churches today often times the churches that seem to over emphasis one or a few of these roles above others are the same churches that have lost their spiritual balance.  Like and individual that loads up only on proteins or only on carbohydrates, the church that does a similar thing will eventually become spiritual malnourished and will become ineffective. 

 The purpose of these roles in the church is as it says in verse 12: “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” 

 And to that end, let me ask you this question:

 How can a spiritually malnourished saint perform their God-given work in ministry effectively?  And if they, if you, if I cannot effectively fulfill our responsibilities as a Christian, how can the body of Christ be edified or encouraged?  Consider your church today and then ask yourself these questions: 

  1. Is my church helping me and my family to become well balanced Christians? 
  2. Is it calling sin – sin, right – right and wrong –wrong?  Or is it afraid to address sin?
  3. At times do I feel the Holy Spirit convicting me of my sin or is every Sunday marshmallows and cotton candy? 
  4. Is my church an evangelistic church, reaching out to the lost and proclaiming the way of Salvation and encouraging and teaching me and my family to do the same?
  5. Does my church reach out to shepherd the flock, getting past the superficial topics and issues and helping its members to deep dive into each other’s lives as a way to encourage, uplift, support and edify each other?
  6. Is it dividing the Word of God rightly?  Is it teaching biblical doctrine or is it teaching feel-good sensationalism?  Is it helping and encouraging you and your family to dig deeper and build your spiritual life in such a way that you in turn can disciple others?

 If your church is not helping you to eat a spiritually balanced diet, then determine if it is you or the church.  If you’re only picking the sweets from a balanced spiritual buffet, then shame on you, repent and learn to eat the broccoli.  You’ll find that it’s does a body good.

If you find that the church has good intentions but fall short, in the right spirit and with humility go to your pastor and discuss the topic.   But if your church cannot, or is unwilling to provide a balance diet as Paul has outlined in verse 11, seek another church that can and will.  You may say, but Donn, I attend a small church and you don’t understand, it just isn’t big enough to provide it all.  I know what it is like to be a part of a small assembly of believers.  I know what it is like for your family to be the only ones in attendance at a service.  I know what it is like to be a teenager and the only ushers.  Our family started a church in mid to late 1970’s in Chatham, Ontario, Canada.  We did not have the resources today but my Dad had preaching and teaching tapes available to the membership.  He had a large library that people could borrow from if they desire.  Even in small churches today there are so many resources available to us as Christians that we should not lack in our spiritual diet.  There are books, CD’s, DVD’s, online courses, blogs and websites that we can feast on.  The key to all of these is to be discerning in knowing which ones to dine on and which ones are spiritual junk foods.   Your pastor and spiritual mentors can help you to determine at which “restaurant” to dine.

 So are you being spiritually completed at your church?  If not, what are you going to do about it?

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Getting Back to Ephesians….

I recently finished the series entitled: Lessons From a Heart Attack and I wanted to get back into my study of the book of Ephesians.  I’ll probably intermingle other topics along the way.

 As a reminder, I have broken up the book of Ephesians into sections about relationships.  So far we have discussed the following:

  1.  Our Relationship with God = Chapter 1-2:10
  2.  Our Relationship with Christ = Chapter 2:11-3:21
  3.  And we are now in beginning of section three:  Our Relationship with Fellow Christians and the World = Chapter 4:1-5:21

 Since it has been awhile, why not go back and review some of the previous posts.  These can be found to the right under “Categories”.

 I plan to have my next posting on Ephesians within the week.


Are you a Vestigial Christian?

But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.   Ephesians 4:7

The proceeding verses tell us in what manner we are to walk but in verse seven Paul begins to tell us about the gifts that are given to each Christian.  There are two general types of gifts mentioned in this verse.  One is the foundational gift of God, which is the gift of the indwelling of Jesus Christ within us, our gift of Salvation.  The second gift mentioned here is the “grace gift” or the special ability for service given to each Christian, whether Jew or Gentile, young or old, as Christians we are all given at least one grace gift and we are expected to exercise our gift(s) for the edification of the body of Christ.  As a body has many members, each member has a purpose and function.  So too we, as members of the body of Christ all have our purpose for edification, not the tearing down and working against each other.

An interesting note for us as parents, Paul makes it clear that EVERYONE, this includes children are given grace gifts. As such, it is our responsibility as parents to help our children discover their grace gift and to teach them how to use these to edify the body of Christ, yes, even as children. 

“Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?  He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)”

 In verses 8-10 Paul quotes from Psalm 68 to explain what is he means when he says, “according to the measure of Christ”.  Paul is explaining that it is the power that works in us (Ephesians 3:20) that enables us to serve the body with the grace gift(s) given to each of us.  Take the time to go back and read Psalm 68 and see the power of God that works in us.  The grace gifts are not only for the outgoing, the polished tongue or those with an electrifying personality, but God, knowing full well who we are and our self-perceived  shortcomings and limitations has given each of us grace gifts and He has given us HIS power to exercise them.

I find myself for the most part to be more of an introvert, the guy who would rather sit at home than go to a party.  I’m the guy who gets weepy eyed and emotional, the guy who’s not good at public speaking, yet God know who I am and has given me the power to exercise the specific grace gift He has entrusted to me.  The question for me is am I willing to step out of the boat and take God at His word?  Are you?

We know that every part of the body is needful.  And contrary to the evolutionists, there is no such thing as a vestigial organ (a body part having lost all or most of its original function).  Every part of the body was designed by God and has a purpose.  And so it is with the body of Christ, we all are designed by God and have a grace gift that is needful to the body.  He made no mistake when He “issued” you your grace gift.  God has a purpose for each and everyone of us in the body of Christ.  The question for you and me is are we willing to actively learn, understand, develop and use our grace gift(s) that God has designed and purposefully given us for the edification and full function of the body of Christ?

There are no vestigial Christians; we are only limited by our power source, and what a power source He is.


(Thoughts, comments and insights are always welcomed to any post.)

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But He’s Different Than Me…

After several weeks of failed attempts to divert from the text and go off on a rabbit trail on the topic of diversity and tolerance, I have finally learned my lesson, stick with the text.  In verses three through six of chapter four of Ephesians, Paul discusses the topic of unity of the believers.  “Endeavouring” to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism,  One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” Ephesians 4:3-6

As a review, we recall in chapter two and three, how Paul addressed the conflict between the Jews and Gentiles and how that we, as Gentiles are fellow-heirs with the Christian Jews.  This was a big deal back then and I suspect it is a big deal in Christianity today.  Moving into chapter four Paul reviews our vocation and how we are to walk in our vocation –through lowliness, meekness, longsuffering and forbearance in love and then he gets to unity of the believers.

Paul uses the word “endeavoring” in verse three to describe how we are to approach this biblical unity.   Endeavoring means to do/give/be diligent, to labor, to study.  We are not to approach unity with a hum-drum attitude, and attitude of carelessness or complacency.  Unity does not come easy and Paul is telling us that we are to be diligent, to pursue it, work at it, to strive for it.  

How often do we pursue unity among our breather that may be a little different than ourselves?  Do you homeschool, use the public school system, or a Christian school?  How is your unity with those who use other forms of education then yourselves?  What about your church?  Is it an “us 4 and no more” kind of church?  Do they fellowship with other churches that do things a little different than you do?  I’m not talking about having unity with a family or church that has significant doctrinal differences for as we know, light and darkness cannot not go together, but what about those that may do things a little different than you do?

Why is it so hard to have unity with people that are different?  Paul hit the nail on the head, the verse just before verse this one.  We always want to assume that we are right and the other person is wrong.  We want to be the person that has it all together but that other person or group are the ones that just can’t get their act together.  Oft times don’t want the heat attitude of longsuffering or tolerance for those who may be in a different place in their spiritual walk.  We have the attitude of, “Hey, I got it, I understand what God is teaching me, why don’t they?”  Not realizing how God deals with us as individuals and therefore each of us are learning different biblical principles at different times or places in our lives.  It is interesting and obviously planned by the Holy Spirit to have Paul write about these character qualities BEFORE he mentions unity.

Another reason why we find it so hard to find unity with those different then us is because we fail to remember what Paul reminds us of in verses four through six.   “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism,  One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”  Notice that last phrase, “and in you all”.  Wow.  How often to I fail to remember this of other Christians?  How about you?

On the flip side, I think that we all have had instances where we were somewhere in a non-“religious” setting and we met someone for the very first time and immediately our hearts spoke to us and told us that they were believers.  How does this happen?  It is that unity of the Spirit that is bound in the Peace of God. No other faith on this earth can ever hope to have this kind of Spirit-filled unity.  We are blessed beyond measure to have the Holy Spirit, the third part of the Trinity, living inside of us.  Teaching us, guiding us and uniting us together in one body.

In a world that teaches and preaches diversity and how much we are all different, the Holy Spirit and God’s Word, teaches us how much we as fellow-heirs have in common.  That is the foundation to unity.

We could continue on for another many hours discussing this section of this chapter but if I even intend to get to chapter six, the chapter I originally wanted to discuss, I need to move along.

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Forbearing One Another in Love

My first cursory review of the last part of verse 2 was inaccurate.  I read it as to bear or lift one up in love but this does not seem to be the definition.  It says to, forbear one another in love.  The word forbear means to put up with – to endure.  Another translation uses the phrase “showing tolerance”. 

You see, when Christians around us see things differently, hold different views in portions of the Scriptures, put more emphasis in one area of their life then someone else, and yes, even at times offend us and harm us in so many ways, we are told in this verse to put up with them.  They may be a little weird, they may have a few “extreme” convictions or preferences, or they may be lacking discernment in a few areas of life but we are called to, forbear one another in love.  As an example, Paul discussed the issue of eating meat offered to idols in I Corinthians 8.  Here Paul was describing how that some felt eating the meat that had been offered to idols was sinful while others did not see this as an issue.  In summary, Paul tells the Corinthians that while there is no issue in eating this meat because there is only one true God, if eating the meat causes another brother to stumble and sin, then we should defer to the weaker brother and not eat this meat so that we are not encouraging them to go against their conscience and sin.  In essence Paul was saying that the one should forbear or tolerate the other in love.  Not to do so was actually sin by the “stronger” Christian.  (For some good messages on the Conscience please listen to our  Pastor, Dr. Bryan Ferrell here.) 

You know, there are just some people that are hard to deal with or with whom to get along.  I can think of a half dozen people right now that for one reason or another, we just kind of clash, and on the flip side, I am probably on someone’s list.  But Paul is reminding us that along with lowliness, meekness, and longsuffering, we are to “put up with / tolerate” in love those around us.  Can you imagine Christ and his tolerance for the brethren?  Can you imagine the differences, the Son of God had with his disciples?  Yet He loved each one of them, and was willing to die for them.  In the same way, He has tolerated us in love so much that He died for you and me.  We are undeserving, hardnosed, rebellious, sinners, deserving of Hell only, yet He loved each one of us enough to die for us.  Put that up against your tolerance for your fellow believers and see how you compare.  We come up short don’t we?

It’s hard to forbear in love a fellow believer when our own hearts are not striving for that lowliness, meekness and longsuffering.    Yes, in public, out of responsibility or duty we can usually find a way to put up with other Christians that differ from us, but how are we at home?  How do we respond when their name comes up around the dinner table?  How is our heart attitude toward the individual?  Are we really forbearing in love?  When our own hearts are right with God, and we are practicing lowliness, meekness and long suffering, and we are pursuing our ultimate vocation which is to be a follower of Christ, we are able to respond outwardly in love from our heart rather than responding with hypocrisy.  Please don’t read into this that I am implying that to prevent this hypocrisy we should be rude and respond how our heart really feels towards an individual, (some would try and call this “being real”). Remember, two wrongs don’t make a right (bad heart, bad response).   We should examine our heart, and recognizing the lack of real love for that individual, and through the Holy Spirit we should be convicted unto repentance.

Although the other items in this verse are big, for me at least, forbearance in love can be extremely difficult to keep in check.   If someone isn’t doing what I do, or doesn’t believe exactly as I believe, if I am not careful, I can become judgmental and shun those people.  This sin, yes sin, can creep into our lives so easily causing our pride to grow (lack of humility), and our meekness and longsuffering to be stifled so that we cannot accomplish what Paul writes about in the next verse – Unity.

I think we can see through this entire verse that Paul is focusing not on our outward actions but on the heart attitude.  Come back and we’ll take a quick look at how unity cannot be achieved without the fulfillment of verses 1 and 2.

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Longsuffering or Patience? Ephesians 4:2 continued

Longsuffering.  As we continue in our study of Epheisans 4:2, we come to this word seldom used in today’s vocabulary.  When I look up the definition of longsuffering it says, “patience, endurance, constancy, steadfastness, perseverance”.  Noticing the word patience, I looked up the definition for patience which says, “steadfastness, constancy, endurance”, the same definition for longsuffering.  I found this odd because in various passages such as Col 1:11 and II Timothy 3:10 both use Longsuffering and Patience in the same verse.  Why?  I have come to the belief that like meekness and gentleness, longsuffering and patience are defined as an inward heart attitude and an outward action.  Longsuffering is your heart attitude, allowing the Holy Spirit control over your emotions.  Patience is the outward expression of the Holy Spirit controlling your actions.  While I have not been able to find supporting commentary explaining the two differences exactly as I have put it, Matthew Henry separates them in his commentary on Col 1:11, into bearing patience and waiting patience.  I think my definitions can sit side by side with his definitions.

So Paul is saying that as a practical matter, as we walk in our vocation, we are to walk in longsuffering, a right heart attitude.  If we have the inward heart attitude of longsuffering, the outward expression of patience will be an outflow of the heart.  Paul is telling us what we have learned in Matthew 12:34, “that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh.” 

For a time, we can fool people by our actions but ultimately our true self, our heart, will be exposed.  There have been so many examples of this over the past several years as we follow the political scene.  So often politicians will say and do the exact opposite.  We have heard some preach family values only to be caught in immoral activities.  We have seen others tell how they value the hard worker and then tell how they want to “share the wealth”.  When we hear these things, we get outraged, I get outraged.  Yet how often are we, am I, guilty of saying one thing and doing another?  How often do we fail to deal with our heart attitude and only try to control our actions?

Being in Human Resources as a vocation (a secondary vocation), and as I study more and more and then apply God’s Word to everyday practical living, my heart’s eyes are seeing how that the secular world attempts to change / improve the actions of the employees without addressing the heart.   While I have known this for many years, it has become even more evident to me.

 We have policy after policy to tell people how to behave, what they can and cannot do yet unless the heart attitude is in sync with the company attitude, the expression of the heart / behavior will come through anytime it gets a chance.  Think through employees or co-workers that you have worked with, those whose heart is in tune with the company tend to need very little discipline and have a “can do” attitude.  These kinds of people need very little in the way of policies or rules.  Those who tend to have disciplinary issues, those who have continual authority problems typically are those who need the rules and policies and management watches them like a hawk, knowing they will step out of line. It is just a matter of when.

Now take this back around to you and me, to our families, to our children.  Unless our hearts are right, the wrong will come out in our actions.  There is a saying in our family and it goes like this, “Obedience without honor is disobedience.  If we want gentleness in our families, we need to teach meekness, if we want patience, we need a longsuffering heart.

Are we getting the hint from Paul that godly relationships must begin in the heart and not in our outward actions?

Reader, we cannot have true gentleness without meekness, we cannot have true patience without longsuffering.  I know I have some work, how about you?

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Meekness Ephesians 4:2

In the last post we briefly discussed the topic of lowliness or humility.  As we continue on with a brief word study of the word Meekness, we find that many sermons have been preached and books have been written on each of the characteristics described in Ephesians 4:2.  In just a quick internet search I found over 360,000 hits referencing meekness and the Bible. 

In our search we found a variety of definitions for the word Meekness.  Many will use the word meekness and gentleness interchangeably but these two words are truly different.  Gentleness (epieikeia) refers to our outward actions while meekness (prautes) describes a heart and mindset, an internal attitude.   Matthew Henry describes meekness as, “that excellent disposition of soul which makes men unwilling to provoke others, and not easily to be provoked or offended with their infirmities; and it is opposed to angry resentments and peevishness.”  A.R Fausset has this to say about meekness, “that spirit in which we accept God’s dealings with us without disputing and resisting; and also the accepting patiently of the injuries done us by men, out of the thought that they are permitted by God for the chastening and purifying of His people ( 2Sa 16:11 ; 2Ti 2:25 Tts 3:2 )…”   And A.W. Tozer wrote, The meek man is not a human mouse afflicted with a sense of his own inferiority. Rather he may be in his moral life as bold as a lion and as strong as Samson; but he has stopped being fooled about himself. He has accepted God’s estimate of his own life. He knows he is as weak and helpless as God declared him to be, but paradoxically, he knows at the same time that he is in the sight of God of more importance than angels. In himself, nothing; in God, everything. That is his motto.”  Today in the Word, September, 1989, p. 19

I consider my own heart in this area of meekness and how it relates to my vocation(s).  Gentleness is something I find fairly easy to show.  As they say, I’m a lover not a fighter and so because confrontation for me can be difficult, having an outward gentleness can be somewhat a default action. 

I reflect back on my childhood and can see how this played out in my young life.  I grew up with two older brothers and a sister that is 3 years my junior.  I can remember times when I would get so angry with her that I would rush at her and raise my fist to strike a devastating blow all to end up bring that fist down on her arm with such gentleness she could have mistaken the “hit” as an infant’s tap.  While I had learned that hitting her would bring the wrath of Mom or Dad down on me and so I constrained myself and showed “gentleness”, I was far from being meek.

I find it so much easier to show gentleness to others in my daily walk, whether it is as a father, husband, employee, boss, neighbor or any other vocation I have, than it is to actually have meekness – the right heart attitude.   I find that for me, and I suspect each of us, it is so easy to put on a facade and to hide our true heart attitudes.  Why is this?  I suspect the root sin of all sins, pride keeps us from allowing the Holy Spirit control in our hearts because in short, we think more highly of ourselves then we ought.  It is interesting how this ties back to our discussion on lowliness / humility isn’t it?

Dear Lord, help me to learn humility (ok, take it easy on me please) so that I can not only show gentleness to those around me, but to show meekness.  May I strive to have a pure heart and not just goodly actions.  And may I often remember, in myself nothing, in God, everything.

–          Donn

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Walking the walk (Ephesians 4:2)

In verse one we discussed what our vocation was, and now in verse two Paul begins to delve into to the details of how we are to walk in our vocation.  Ephesians 4:2 says:  “With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;”

With lowliness and meekness, longsuffering and forbearing one another in love.   Wow, our vocation is to have these traits.  This is to be our demeanor as we walk the Christian life.  As I look over what God has called me to do, I start to ask myself, do I exemplify these characteristics in my vocation(s)?

Lowliness.  The lexicon defines this as having a humble opinion of oneself; a deep sense of one’s littleness.  So often I compare myself to others and what I can do or have done instead of comparing myself to the Creator.  How often do we lift ourselves up because of our job, or finances, or our “network” of friends?  How often does pride get in the way of being humble?  Far too often I am afraid.  Let your mind wander a little and think of your vocation, your calling from God.  Do you see more pride than humility?  Even in our primary calling of being followers of Christ, I can see where my pride inches in.  I’ve grown up in a Christian home, went to Christian colleges, have been a steady active member of a Bible believing church, read my Bible, have more Bible knowledge than most pastors in third world countries and many even in this country.  It is easy to become prideful and push off humility even when it comes to our spirituality and our relationship with God.  Let’s be honest with ourselves, it can be so easy to unknowingly become like the Pharisee and say I thank my God that I am not like…

I have given this example before but find it appropriate to do so again.  Take a grain of salt and place it in your hand, go ahead, get some salt…..  Now, imagine that single grain is our universe and you and I are on the earth inside that universe.  Now imagine your hand is the finger tip of God.  Do we now get a deeper sense of our littleness? 

So how are you doing in lowliness in humility?  Can you see it in your Christian walk?  More importantly can others?  What about the other secondary vocations you have been called to do?  Are you a husband, father, employee, church member, neighbor?  Do others see humility in your life as you live out these callings?  I’m afraid I can say for me, at times yes, at other times, not so much.

Oh that I would not forget who I was, a sinner deserving of Hell.  A sinner, who, left to my own devices would be living a life of vile debauchery and spitting in the face of God at every opportunity.  Without the Lord, I’d have to look up to see the bottom.  But thanks be to God for His endless love.  The one and only Holy God that reached down and drew me near to Him has shed His grace and mercy on me that now I can say with confidence and joy, I am a child of THE King.

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Ephesians 4 – Our Vocation

So is my vocation more than just my job?

Oh, it is so much more than a job.  As we found in the last posting, the term vocation means a calling or an invitation and in this case it is a calling or invitation from our Heavenly Father.  First and foremost, we all have been called to be a follower of Christ.  The gift of salvation is the greatest invitation we are offered and our decision to accept or decline this will have eternal consequences.  Have you accepted this invitation?  If not, why not?  What is preventing you from doing so today, right now? (The Gospel)

This overriding vocation is seen in Matthew 16:24-26.  Christ says that we are to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him.  If I am to deny myself and even be willing to lose my life for His sake that pushes everything to the side, nothing else will have a priority; nothing else will / should matter as much to the Christian.  All other vocations within our lives are secondary and in essence are God given avenues used to express our primary vocation and our commitment to our Lord.  If one has declined to follow after Christ then all other vocations are incomplete, superficial and at best only providing temporary satisfaction having no lasting worth.

In addition to my vocation to follow after Christ, I have been given secondary vocations such as: being a husband, a father, a church member, an employee, a boss, and the list could go on and on.  Each of these are responsibilities I have accepted and it is important in HOW I perform these callings because it is in these that my primary calling to follow after Christ is magnified. 

We should not just claim the name of Christ but we are to live Christ-like in all that we do (I Cor. 10:31).   Too often Christians heed the call of the world to compartmentalize our faith.   We are constantly being told by the world it is ok to have our faith as long as we leave it at the door of our homes or churches.  We are told not to allow our faith to influence us at work, school or in the debate on morals or other topics, etc.  Unfortunately many times we comply thinking that by doing so we will win them to Christ but we fail to realize we will rarely win someone to Christ if  we share a compartmentalized faith.   If our vocation is to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him, then every other vocation we accept has to support our primary vocation of following Him.

In the next two verses, Paul begins to describe in what manner we are to behave.  Take the time to review these verses and let’s pick it up there next time.

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Walk Worthy in our Vocation Ephesians 4:1

Picking up in Ephesians were we left off, in chapter 4 verse 1 it reads, “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,”

In chapters 1-3 Paul appears to have written with more doctrine in mind but now he seems to be getting into the more “practical’ living with regards to our faith.  Matthew Henry divides the book into 2 sections.  Chapters 1-3 is about our privileges and chapters 4-6 is about our duties as Christians.  I am dividing up the book by relationships.  We started with our relationship to God (1-2:10), then our relationship to Christ (2:11-3:21), and now we are starting to look at our relationship to fellow Christians and the World in general (4:1-5:21).  Hey, this is my blog, I can divide the book of Ephesians up the way I see it.  If you don’t like it, go write your own blog.  🙂 Following this, I see three other relationships that we will discuss later. 

Paul begins this chapter with instructions to the Christians at Ephesus to regulate their life in a manner worthy of the invitation in which we are called / bid / invited, and more broadly, to all those reading his letter.  (Remember at the beginning of our study on Ephesians we discussed that this letter may have originally been written to be circulated to many churches and not just the church as Ephesus.) 

It is interesting that Paul says they are “worthy”.  We, in and of ourselves, are not worthy of anything.  But, as Paul writes earlier in his letter, we have  been chosen before the foundations of the world, we have been predestined unto the adoption of Christ, and we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of HIS grace, we have been made alive with Christ, we’ve been made nigh to Christ, Christ has broken down the partition between us, through the Spirit we have access to the Father, as Gentiles we are made fellow heirs by the Gospel, we have boldness and access with confidence by Christ Jesus, that is how we are worthy, not by our deeds but by Him.

 As I read this passage and try to internalize it I then have to ask myself what is a vocation?  When I go to to get the definition, we see that it is defined as a calling, an invitation.  It is a call to an action, a response is required.  Once I am called or invited, I have a decision to make.  I have to accept or decline the invitation. Then I have to decide to act.  And then how do I act?  In what manner do I act?  I don’t believe that just being born into my family is a calling or vocation, because I did not have to make such a decision, but I do believe that my vocation(s) affects such relationships in a major way.

So what is my vocation?  Of course the first thing that came to my mind was my job, I have heard many messages referring to our employment as our vocation.  Although a different title, I’m the Human Resources Director at a world class international organization.  I can therefore begin to apply the next verses given by Paul.  But is that it?  I should think not.  My vocation does not stop there.  It is multifaceted. 

Next time we will go deeper into this multifaceted vocation.

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Ephesians 3:14-21

Here we realize that we are strengthened according to His glory, we in and of ourselves can do nothing. It is only by the Spirit who empowers us with Might / Ability can we have a foundation of love in our lives. It becomes apparent that we as mankind cannot have a foundation of love apart from the Spirit. It is only through His strength / empowerment that we can have the ability to love, to agape love. And it is only through His strength can we comprehend the vastness of Christ’s love. The unregulated man that does not have the Spirit cannot know this kind of love so in man’s feeble way they try to imitate such love but fail miserably. The world’s love is a false or an ungodly love and cannot be a perfect love.

All this is part of Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians. If we recall, the city of Ephesus was a pagen city where the temple of Diana was located, a temple of lust and fleshly passion. Knowing this, I wonder if this was the reason for Paul addressing this in his prayer for them. Regardless the reason, it is important for us as Christians to remember daily that the only way for us to have and express His love is to allow Him to control our lives and allow Him to empower us.

I find that as a frail man it is daily, difficult to give up myself to His control. Our sin nature, my sin nature reals at the thought. Daily I pray for such submission and daily I fail.

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Ephesians 2:19-22

As we continue to read in Ephesians chapter 2 verses 19-22, Paul is telling the Christians in Ephesus that as gentile Christians, they were fellowcitizens with the Jewish Christians and they were “family” in the house of God. I am reminded that just as I would reach out and extend help to a family member (by blood) in need, so to should I reach out and help (spiritual) family members in need.
In Matthew 25:31-40 Jesus tells how because some gave strangers food, drink, clothing and a place to lay their head, they did it unto Christ. While it is only a small amount and we should do more, I am glad that our family, in various ways, supports fellow Christians around the world on a monthly basis. It is, in a small way helping family that we have never met and we are doing it as unto Christ. One day, when we get to heaven, we will find out how our small gifts blessed and encouraged others around the world.
In verses 20-22, Paul tells us that the household of God is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets and that Christ is the cornerstone. The apostles and prophets were used by God to deliver His doctrines which is critical to our faith, but Christ is the cornerstone, the anchor-point, the reference and standard that all of Christianity is based on. Just as the cornerstone is this reference point, everything we say and do as believers should always be referenced back to Christ to ensure that the church, that all believers in Christ fit and work together in the right manner.
With Christ being the cornerstone, it amazes me that so many people and churches can name the name of Christ yet there foundation is built on a religious figure or a doctrine contrary to Christ and His word. Their foundation is built on sinking sand. In the end their entire building will fall and become rubble. This is why I believe it to be so important that we teach our children God’s Word and that it is the first and final authority for everyday life.

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Ephesians 2:14-18

Eph 2:14-18 “For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.”

For He (Jesus Christ) is our peace. We see in these verses where Christ makes peace between the Jews and the Gentiles. We live in a world with so much turmoil and strife. Just recently a suicide bomber was caught on a US airliner before he could complete his mission. A terrorist in our own military went on a killing spree on a military base. Or federal government wants to take control of our healthcare. Christianity and Christian principles are being attacked in schools and in local, state and federal courts. The economy is shaky at best and many are losing their jobs. Natural disasters destroy property and taking hundreds and thousands of lives. Yet He is our peace. When I think of how Christ brings people together I think of the illustration of a triangle, with God’s heart and will high above us. One person is on the lower left corner and another is on the lower right corner. It doesn’t matter which person is “more right” than the other or “further from God” than the other, it doesn’t matter how skewed or lopsided the triangle may be, God can bring people together who are willing to seek after Him. As both individuals draw nigh to God and move closer to Him, they are drawn closer together as individuals, as fellow believers. Yet if only one person draws nigh to God, the triangle become more and more skewed. If peace is dependent on us alone, there would be no real peace for our selfish desires rise up. We talk of peace treaties and peace talks around the world, but there will be no real peace apart from Christ. Man’s attempt to bring peace is futile without Christ. In the Sermon on the Mount Christ said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God. It is interesting that it does not say that these peacemakers are great, famous, profound, etc. It says they shall be called the children of God. Why would that be? I believe because only the children of God can have and can share divine peace.

As a husband and a father of five children, it is my responsibility to teach my family this important biblical principle. Real peace comes when we are focused on Christ. When the black waters flood into our basement causing thousands of dollars in damages, when friends lash out in anger, when sickness and pain hit, and when it seems like the whole world is either caving in or against us, we can still have peace. In some instances, I have rested in His peace, other times I have failed. Each time when a hardship hits us, when a difficulty comes our way, I have a choice, exemplify His peace in my life or allow the flesh to take control.

Each morning I wake up and pray a brief prayer to put on my armor for the day, and one part of that prayer is that I would put on peace, that where I walk I might bring peace. To my shame, some days I have removed peace from my life earlier then other days. How about you? Do you strive to put on peace each day?

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Finishing up a study of our relationship with God

Today I plan to rap up my study of our relationship with God as describes in Ephesians with an overview of Ephesians 2:1-10.

In verses 1-3 we see our prior condition as sinful man. We are described as being dead in our sins living selfish, lifeless lives without any real purpose leading to a dead end (literally and spiritually). As we travel down this selfish lifeless path paved with disobedience we willing ignore our final destination some how thinking that if we ignore it it will somehow not be our end.

I have had the opportunity to talk to so many people by way of an off topic HR bulletin board to see these verses being lived out daily. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” People today fill their lives with so many things and activities that they are not able to hear that still small voice of God calling out to them. We have so many devices and gadgets today yet we are busier now than ever. Why is that? Shouldn’t we have more time to listen for God? How many times do I myself get caught up in the cares of this world that I fail to be still? Far too often I am afraid. Unfortunately I think we as a society are running from many things. We are running from others, always trying to either stay ahead of the Jones or leaving a trail of disaster for others to fix. Some are running from themselves because they know the real “self” and too often don’t like what they have become. And yet others are running from God because in their minds if they ignore God or pretend that He is not there somehow they don’t have to be accountable to Him. What kind of life is all this? Selfish and lifeless without real purpose. How fitting verses 1-3 are to those that are dead.

But then we get to verse 4, and oh what a change takes place for the believer. “But God, who is rich in mercy for his great love wherewith he loved us,” Oh but for God…. we would be condemned to eternity in hell, but for God… our lives would be without purpose. God, who is rich, above all others, has perfect mercy and is the only one that can bring life from the lifeless by way of death of His only begotten Son and then makes us to sit with Him, with HIM!

Why would the Creator of all the universe, the God of eternity want you and me to sit with Him? That is how much mercy and love He has for us. It is unfathomable to me. Do this for me, go to your kitchen and get the salt shaker…go ahead, I’ll wait…now pour out a tiny bit of salt into your hand. Next, get rid of all the salt except for one grain of salt in your palm. Now imagine the house you’re in is world, the town you’re in is the universe and the state you’re in is galaxy. Now look at that tiny grain of salt in your hand and image that is you. Compared to the vastness of time and space, we are smaller than a speck in God’s hands and yet He loved us and has extended his mercy to us. Wow, what an awesome God we serve.
Look at the next verse, verse seven. “That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” This is why God has done what He did for us. To show us by His kindness the richness of His grace, the undeserved favor toward us.

Note that there is nothing that we as sinful man can or could do to gain the love, mercy and grace of the Father. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. ” God knew that in order for us to receive this great gift, there could be no room for our pride. We are His workmanship, He handcrafted mankind at the beginning of the world to do good works. We failed, but because of His craftsmanship He can take the unusable, a blob of selfish, lifeless clay and form us back into His image (Genesis 1:26-27, II Corinth 3:18).
We are that tiny speck of salt so small and insignificant yet because of the richness of His love for us we can have fellowship with Him. That is His heartbeat, for us to be the recipients of this vast love, mercy and grace.

In the Image of God

In the image of God, we were made long ago,
with the purpose divine, here his glory to show;
But we failed Him one day, and like sheep went astray,
thinking not of the cost, we His likeness had lost.

But from eternity, God had in mind,
the work of Calvary, the lost to find;
From His heaven so broad, Christ came down earth to trod,
so that men might live again in the image of God.

Now that I have believed, and the Saviour received,
now that I from the cry, of my guilt am relieved,
I will live for my Lord, not for gain or reward,
but for love thinking of, what His grace has restored!

I’ll never comprehend, redemption’s plan,
how Christ could condesend, to die for man;
Such a Saviour I’ll praise, to the end of my days,
as I upward, onward trod in the image of God.

As we conclude this first section of Ephesians we see that Paul has described what God has done for us so that we, specks in the palm of His hand, can have a personal relationship with Him.

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The testimony of the Ephesians and Paul’s prayer for them

Paul continues in verse 15 of Ephesians 1 by telling the Ephesians that he has heard of their faith and that he continues to pray for them. The question that I have for myself and for others is, is your faith, is my faith such a part of our lives that others that live in other communities have heard of it? Do our actions, deeds and words exemplify Christ? Have you heard of someone’s faith in another community? I wonder what our country would be like today if we had more people with the faith like the Ephesians.
Paul describes how he prays for the Ephesians in verses 15-23. It wasn’t the superficial pray of God bless so and so and so and so, but he prayed prays of great depth with a desire to see the saints at Ephesus deepen their relationship with God. It is this same desire that I have of myself, my wife and children, that we may each grow and deepen our relationship with our heavenly Father. I don’t want myself and my family to have the same kind of “faith” so many professing Christians have, a superficial faith of convenience but a deep intimate relationship with the God of all creation. That our eyes might be opened to His will for our lives (vs. 18) and that we might spiritually see the many blessings that we have as His children (vs. 18). I want my family to see the mighty power of God in their lives daily (19). I want them to see God split the storm clouds as I have seen, I want them to see how God provides water as I have seen, I want them the see God remove Satanic oppression and bring instantaneous peace as I have seen. I want them to know God in such a way that when they pray, God hears and stops all heaven to listen to them. That is my desire.
The next post I plan to rap up Paul’s insights to our relationship with God, followed by a time studying our relationship with Christ.