Wednesday, March 21, 2018

"and to  make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ,"   Ephesians 3:9 NKJV

The Gentiles has the same chance to be God's people as the Jews. This is the mystery that Paul is talking about. Some of you may not be reading each day so I wanted to make sure everyone knew. Paul is overcome with this revelation, since the Jews were to have nothing to do with others. No touching, talking or contact in any way. 

Why did God tell his old testament people to stay away? It was symbolic of sin; and it was also physical. Those who did not follow the mosaic law were susceptible to disease and sickness. When the Israelites raided a foreigner many times God commanded them not to take any livestock because of the disease that spread to them. Sometimes the disease was because of sinful practices.God was painting a picture in their minds of the ravages of sin and darkness.

Today sin is looked upon as an ancient word and concept but God doesn't see it any differently. Sin began in the Garden of Eden, and it will continue until Jesus returns. Our job is to be obedient to God with all of our heart, and to teach others to do the same.

The lie of the enemy is that it no longer is a concern. If people don't believe something is wrong, why would they have to repent?  

Monday, March 19, 2018

"To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ," Ephesians 3:8 NKJV

When Paul says the unsearchable riches,  I believe he means that we could never come to the end of the riches that God has given. In searching out all that God has for us, we would not have enough time in our lives to find them all. Precious jewels on earth rot with time: these riches endure forever, and never stop glistening.

God does want us to be aware of what he has done for us. He wants us to seek for him, because he will be found. Just as Jesus spoke in parables, God has hidden truths in his word for us to identify. Why does he hide them? They are only for those who seek after him, and put him first in their lives.

If everyone knew the treasures hidden inside, they might trample them, and not consider the truth within. Our heart attitude is what Jesus is after. I wish I could tell you there was an easier way, but there's not. Dying to our own selfish ways is the only way to see Jesus.

Paul is very humble in this passage, probably since he remembers where he was before Christ. That is enough to humble any of us. The light of the Gospel thrusts us out of darkness and shame, and gives us" joy unspeakable and full of glory." 1Peter1:8

The joy of the Lord is with Paul as he now encourages those he once incarcerated. His life is a perfect example of a life that was changes completely by the grace of God. What wonders does God have in store for you and I? Only time will tell.

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.