Friday, March 16, 2018

"of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of his power."   Ephesians 3: 7 NKJV

Grace is a word that is seldom used in the old testament. It's not there often because grace and truth come through Jesus Christ. The old testament definitely supports the idea of grace in that it speaks many times of the coming Savior. It also stands strong in  the love which is the most important aspects of why grace works.

God, in his unimaginable capacity to love us, sent His only son to take our place. He died because our sinful flesh couldn't redeem itself. Jesus is grace personified. Mercy is not receiving from God what we deserve in the way of punishment. Grace is his unmerited favor.

I wrote the previous paragraphs on Wednesday. On Thursday, I took my daughter  Rachel to the emergency room because of a bowel prolapse. She had a viral stomach upset for the two days before. She thought she had hemorrhoids, and it never occurred to us that it could be worse.

 The Doctor at the walk in clinic we went to was wonderful. She said go immediately to the emergency room which we did. Once at Stony Brook hospital, the doctor said it was a hemorrhoid, but just to double check we will have the colorectal department check you. Meanwhile she got some pain medication which was truly necessary.

Rachel got relief from the pain she had for two days. She must have a high tolerance for pain. The nurse came in to check on her and he said, "Boy you are really strong, I couldn't think of having that much pain." I was glad to see the color return to her face. The doctors from the colorectal department said you will probably need surgery. She was sent to pre-op and the doctor who was going to operate came in, and he said, Oh, it popped back in! 

He continued to say, "We will go in and repair the hemorrhoid, but we can give you a local anesthesia, instead of the general." "Awesome" is what I thought. About 40 minutes after I went into the waiting room the doctor comes to find me. He said, "There wasn't a hemorrhoid, she had a bowel prolapse. I didn't have to cut or stitch." 
I wanted to do my happy dance right there in front of everyone, but I held back. A half hour later I saw her, and she was groggy, but beautiful. She came home with me that night, and today she is fine. No need for any more pain medication.

While all of this took place, I was texting friends to pray. What a wonderful group of prayer warriors! Neither Rachel or I were distraught or worried. I have to say I leaned a little towards panic when told she would need surgery, but I bounced back to trust quickly. 

Fatigue also kicked in at some point, but I was not overcome by it.  I am forever grateful to God for sparing Rachel the pain and other consequences of surgery. The grace of God, which is referred to in our verse today, was upon us. God answers prayer, and he is a faithful Father to us, and to you. Blessings and love!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

"that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel,"  Ephesians 3:6  NKJV

Today is a snowy day in New York. Eight inches in my town of Setauket, and low temperatures make it a good day to stay indoors. Every one is home, even my daughter from Chicago. The snow won't last long since it's March. 

There is a fire in the fireplace, and I am trying to stay on task as my family is around. We are having February weather in March, and we had march temperatures in February. You never know what a day will bring. Two storms in March and another predicted for next week, and I'm happy to be here writing to you.

The sun will shine another day, I am sure of it. Looking forward to it has given me much joy and has for a while. If you don't like the weather, a new day is on the horizon. This is true in our walk with God. If you are struggling with a bad habit or a relational matter, keep at it, because with the Lord it can be changed.

Only God can unleash us from harmful thoughts, problems getting along with another or overcoming a weakness. If you are sure that you don't fit into any of these categories, maybe you should ask someone else. Ask them to be compassionate in their answer.

How we word our difficulties with a family member or friend is more important than pointing out a weakness. "It's God's kindness that leads us to repentance."Romans 2:4 We want to be Jesus' hands and feet to all those around us. Another may not remember what the subject matter is, but most people will remember how we made them feel.

" Your speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to any particular individual." Colossians 4:6 CJB

Following Christ and being like him means we care about what we say and do. It doesn't make us perfect, but our desire should be to become better. Displaying a life and heart that follows Jesus is what every longing heart yearns for. Do you know anybody who doesn't long to be whole? Me either.

Monday, March 12, 2018

"which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has  now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets:"  Ephesians 3:5  NKJV

Those who went before Paul did not know because God did not reveal it to them. There are many things that are better left unsaid. The last word in an argument. A bitter word to a close friend or family member. Words muttered to self under our breath.

This verse does not refer to words better left unsaid, but to words that didn't make sense to the hearers. The meaning was scrambled or understood to mean something else. The same words now are understood to mean the Gentile and Jew are made one through the blood of the Lamb, {Jesus Christ}. 

This oneness is referred to the people of God or the body of Christ, with Jesus being the head. What good is a body without the head? You guessed it: Nothing. The head gives all the commands to move here or there or to stay in one place. The head or brain is the center for all speech and thought.

What difference would God's people make on the earth without Jesus? The people of God would be of no effect if he were not within them. It is impossible to belong to Christ, and not be  attached. No one can run on their own without the head.

Belonging to a local church body is important for several reasons. The act of belonging brings safety to every individual because we were made for this. God made us to rely on each other. Someone has to be able to give us perspective from the outside of our own world.

A Pastor is to watch his people to guard each soul from trouble. This is called accountability. Without it we can easily be deceived and fall into sin. A close church group in larger churches is built especially for this. A spiritual mentor can help a pastoral staff to keep the flock safe.

We were made for relationship with God and his people. Those around us need to be careful to speak words of truth and life so that we can prosper spiritually. Love has to be the motive of the heart. Without the love of God all of this is just a dream. 

Friday, March 9, 2018

"by which when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ], "   Ephesians 3:4   NKJV

How can this be? A Gentile is to share in the same blessings and relationship with God as the Jew? It makes perfect sense to us, who have lived our whole lives knowing it to be true. Used in the plural, gentiles means a heathen nation.

God did not intend for the Jews to be exclusive forever. The coming of our wonderful Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to all peoples proves this to be true. God intended for all peoples from all cultures and backgrounds to experience the same blessings as his set apart ones.

It is in Christ alone that this could occur. The workings and function of the body of Christ is the mystery revealed to the Apostle Paul and he alone is equipped to make it known. The Gentile and Jew becoming the church, is God's microcosm of heaven on earth. It is a wonder to behold. 

It has to function properly to be used as God intends. I have a sinking feeling the reason we don't see the Kingdom here as we should is because the church isn't being the church.

I hope you understand I'm not talking about any particular church, or people but the body of Christ at large in America. We are missing character traits.  Obedience to God's word is a big one. You might have other issues you identify as a need.

I can imagine the Apostle Paul shaking his finger at America to get right with God, and to love one another. Corinthians 13 says, it's important to have faith and hope, but the greatest is love. Love conquers all things in life; the love of God especially.

What can you and I do to fix this one issue? I leave this up to you.When you are conscience of a need it is easier to find one. Look for someone to bless, help or just hug. Be the difference you want to see. 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

"And how the mystery[secret] was made known to me and I was allowed to comprehend it by direct revelation, as I already briefly wrote you," Ephesians 3:3 Amplified Bible

The fact that our friend, the Apostle Paul, served the very people he once tried to imprison baffles me.Only God can change a life to that extent. Paul's heart was in the right place. His motives were to serve God faithfully, only he was misguided. Jesus says to him in Acts 9:4 "Why are you persecuting me?"

Jesus wasn't on earth at the time, but His people, believers in Christ, were the ones being shamelessly bound in chains. Paul must have been confused for a while, especially since his eyesight left him. He got with the program quite easily. Something about riding a horse, and a bright light?

The mystery? It has to do with all that Paul has been saying in chapter 2. The chapters and verse components were added after the letter was written. Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus starting with chapter 1 through chapter 6. His complete thought continued to what we now know as chapter 3.

The mystery, is that God has included the gentiles into his salvation plan. Who would have thought? All of the old testament prophets knew. God told them so. A lot of things can go unseen when life gets in the way. It's easy for us to look back at all the history and see the flaws.

God also said that his people were to have no dealing with the gentiles. This was important because of the sin and diseases that were associated with other nations. It was God's desire to keep his people from the sin of idolatry and its trappings.

The important thing is that Paul sees and understands God's plan and moves with it. He has given us much insight into living the christian life, and how the body of Christ operates. God receives all the glory and praise for changing lives, like Paul. He get all the glory for a changed life like yours, and mine too.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

"For this reason I Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles- if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you,"  Ephesians3:1-2 NKJV

According to" Vine's Dictionary of Old  and New Testament Words" dispensation"  in this verse means stewardship. Paul says that this calling is for him to fulfill the word of God, by building the body of Christ, meaning the church. If we read Ephesians 1:10  we see it explained like this.

"that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth- in Him."

Paul explains to the Ephesians church why he was sent. To proclaim the gospel and to teach about the body being built together as one.{Amplified Bible} God placed this anointing on Paul, so that the work of God would be established. 

Let's step back and remember who this man was before he met Jesus. He was given papers from the Jewish Officials to put those who preached the gospel in jail. He vehemently opposed anyone who spoke about the Lord. I think anyone who is willing to go into other cities to drag believers to jail has to be a radical.

Paul was convinced that those who preached the gospel were infidels and needed to be stopped. Does God have a sense of humor or what? God takes the most rugged, devout Jew and opens his eyes about who he is, the One and Only True Son of God!

Our God is more loving, and compassionate than we could ever dream him to be. He sees this Paul, who is sincere in his pursuit of righteousness, yet without the relationship to the Savior. He doesn't knock him off his horse to hurt him, but to take every bit of his radical nature and make him a man after God's own heart.

We don't have compassion like that, but God saw the man, and knew his need, and used him to build the Kingdom.  This man has penned more than half of the new Testament! God is doing such things all the time. He transforms lives like the potter does the clay.

Here we read that the one who pursued believers for harm, now loves the same people who he once hated. He is a steward of the gentiles, a servant to help the ones he once had no use for. How great is our God! He turns darkness into light, and mountains into valleys!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

"In whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit." Ephesians 2:22 NKJV

This is the last verse of Ephesians 2. The Apostle Paul has honed in on a very important point in this chapter. We are all the same in Christ before God. The Jew who believes in Jesus as Savior has no place above any other believer.

This was a foreign notion to the Jews. Faith in the One True God gave them superiority over all other people in God's eyes. Those who knew that Jesus WAS the Messiah and were looking for him probably didn't have a problem with this.

Those who might have been looking at themselves would not want anything to do with such thoughts. Claiming that God lived within you by His Spirit would have been considered a crime. The old testament scriptures upheld everything that Jesus said and did. 

What is the problem? Self.

Isn't it always our own flesh that holds us back from believing for the miracle? Isn't it self that puts a hole in the middle of our faith? What causes you the most harm spiritually? Is it fear, or unbelief, or sickness? I remember saying to myself,"If I wasn't sick God would be pleased with me.What kind of theology is this? It doesn't come from the Bible.

God is pleased with those who love him, and are called by his
 name. Struggle is a normal part of life, no matter what we believe.The difference is that he accompanies us through the trials, and makes us better in the long run.

No Father wants to see their children struggle. Certainly God is the best Father of all. He looks at our strengthened trust, obedience or healing rather than the trial. His desire is first of all to make us pure like Him. This is how we touch a lost and very hurting world.

The body of believers in America need to come together in the Spirit. Without agendas, or plans. God will dwell in those who yield to him. Isn't the will of God what we are here for?