Wednesday, January 31, 2018

"Far above all principality, and power and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come."  Ephesians 1:21 KJV

I hope you are well today. We had snow in New York, Monday into Tuesday. It is warm enough today that it is melting. It is beautiful, and everything looks new and clean, until the sanders come along, and muddy it. After a few days, it sags, melts and isn't as fresh.

At first it reminds me of heaven; clean, fresh and new. It soon goes down hill, and is tainted with the things that destroy its beauty. This is a picture of sin in our world, and our lives. But Jesus, the All Knowing One, the Perfect representation of the Father, never fades, or wearies in well doing. He can't appeal to another above Him, because there is no one above Him.

Dominion, according to Vine's Dictionary, means  Lordship, power. Principality means rule. No big revelation in either of these. Let's look at Zephaniah 3:17." The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing."

This is our God! The One who is over all things wants to rejoice over us with singing? Not only does he want to, do does.Wow, this is huge when I think where I came from.We all came from nothing, but God made us His own. Out of His great mercy, we are saved from destruction, and safe in His loving arms.

Our God is all pure, all loving, all kindness, all truth, not to mention all powerful. Yes, let's mention it. Nothing can stand in His way. His plans will prevail in this world. We can be part of His kingdom coming in fullness on this earth. In fact He wants us to be a part of what He is doing here.

Jesus said that His people will rule and reign with Him in His millennial Kingdom.[ 2 Timothy 2:12] How can he take me, flesh and blood, and make me useful for his work? It is only through the finished work of Jesus on the cross. There is power in believing the gospel truths, that Jesus shed His blood so that we could be clean. I'm going to thank him today for this tremendous gift!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

"Which he exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places."  Ephesians 1:20  {The Amplified Bible}

I can't overlook this verse. I know I posted it yesterday but I didn't get a chance to share about it. Let's look at the word "exerted" in Vine's Expository Dictionary. We find that the greek word - energeo, which means to work in, to be active, and operative. We certainly can see how this is an appropriate usage of this word. 

Let's face it, I can't come up with any word or words that can describe this incredible work that God did in raising Christ. We need to understand that Jesus was beaten and raw when he died. He didn't look pretty, like in the movies. He was so disfigured the Bible says that he didn't even look like a human.   { Isaiah 52:14}

God's power that far exceeds our wildest imagination, made his body whole, and breathed life anew into it. How can I explain this? I can't, but one day we will be free of these earthly bodies and we will be in God's presence. We will know that power and authority in its purest form, coming from its source.   

By the Holy Spirit, we are given the power of God. The more we look to God, the more we change, and He can fill us. We need to exert our wills to press into the presence of God. It is God's will for us to be filled with healing, restoration and blessing, but it doesn't come naturally. We have to take what is rightfully ours as children of God.

Moving past our own desires and weaknesses isn't easy, but it is worth it. Any time we push past ourselves to gain more of the kingdom of God, we gain understanding, wisdom, and strength.  Many christians in foreign countries know this very well. Many have died for the gospel and wouldn't back away and deny the truth.  

Monday, January 29, 2018

 "And his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 1 :19-20  NIV

I can't believe that this is a picture of my daughter. She has changed a lot over the past 4 years. Now that she is 16 life has a whole new meaning for her. She is aware of the world in which we live. The stresses of this generation surpass anything that my generation knew.

Our kids today know about school shootings, heroine epidemics, suicide bombers in a crazy world, gang wars and many more violent acts. Not to mention the sexual exposure that my generation knew nothing about. Television, movies and the internet want to bombard them with images that can make it harder to say no to illicit sex.

Thank God through Jesus Christ we have power to to say no to the sinful, evil ways of this world. The amplified Bible says:"So that you can know and understand what is the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His power in and for us who believe." Ephesians 1:19

God is telling us here that his strength is limitless. It is so vast that it cannot be measured. It surpasses any other strength that we have ever known or could ever know. When God tells us "Peace, be still." he is more than able to give us peace. When he says to us, "I am your healer", we know he is able. When God says to us through his word, let me carry your sorrows he is able.

God never meant for us to carry emotional or physical pain. We walk through these things, and he is right by our sides. Sometimes our pain is miraculously removed, and sometimes we have to walk through it.
 No matter what he choses for us his strength is there to meet our need. It doesn't always feel like it is, but we are not meant to be moved by our feelings. We are meant to lean on brothers and sisters who can pray and love us. "We who are strong ought to bear with the shortcomings of the weak and not to please ourselves."  Romans 15:1 

God bears with us in our lack of ability, but he also provides a way out. This is not to ever say in pride, that one is better than another. We are all a work in progress, and Jesus gives generously to all. Some of us have been christians for many years, and others might be first discovering His incomparably great power. 

All of us want to see a miracle, but none of us want to be in the place where we need one. Jesus was dead when he was raised from the grave. We need to die to self to be filled with the strength of the Lord. What a wonderful Savior!

Friday, January 26, 2018

"By having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints - His set-apart ones, " {Ephesians 1:18} Amplified Bible

 I chose the amplified Bible today because it is close to the literal translations. I try hard to give you the best research and commentaries because it's God's word. We want truth, not just words on a page.

I love the use of words at the beginning of this verse. "by having the eyes of your heart flooded with light,"it says. This figurative language gives us a new twist on the meaning. 

Verse 17 left us with, "that you may know Him better." Having the eyes of our heart opened to receive the wisdom and revelation also mentioned in 17, we are beckoning for the truth. Our hearts are prepared to soak in the revelation he gives us. 

The word beckoning means to follow, or something that seems to be appealing or inviting. James 3:17 says, But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. Who wouldn't want these gifts? The Bible says that God is love, and all of these definitions of wisdom fit perfectly with His love for us.

God gives to each of us wisdom so that we may "know the hope in which he has called you."This hope is not just of heaven some day, but abundant life here on earth. When our hearts are set free of the burden of sin and destruction we are living the life God intended for us on earth. 

Jennifer Kennedy Dean, a wonderful Bible teacher calls life without Jesus, not life. She is right on, because if we aren't lifted out of our sinful, natural ways we don't see the light of God and the wisdom of His words."For the Lord gives wisdom and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding." Proverbs 2:6 

From wisdom we have peace. Our hearts can rest when we are basked in God's truth and love. His ways are so amazing and life giving. Life that is far beyond anything we know in the natural.
When we keep our eyes on Jesus, we can't help but grow closer to His heart.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

"I keep asking  that the  God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. " Ephesians 1:17 NIV

You may be wondering why I changed font color a few weeks back. I like change, usually. I change the furniture around in a room, or wear a different pair of pants with a new blouse. I might change up the ingredients in recipes.This can sometimes lead to dinner being a flop. I think you understand my point. 

Boredom has never been a fun thing. I like fun. How I describe fun may be different than your definition. I love music, and I sang in the chorus in High School and in church. As a christian, I love to express  my love for God through music. It speaks to my heart.

The Apostle Paul says that he is constantly asking for God to fill the church at Ephesus with "the spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better." This type of prayer is never boring or out of date.We don't grow out of our need for wisdom and revelation. We grow in these attributes as we mature.

None of us can say that they have all wisdom and knowledge. Some may think that perfection has arrived at their door, but the Bible tells us otherwise. While we are in these bodies, we can grow. I don't know about you but I need more wisdom, strength, and humility in my life. 

We can't see the fullness of all that God has for us here on earth. We get a glimpse, and a taste and it wets our appetite for more.This hope is what keeps us free from bitterness and hate. We know God has many many things that are far better than the few glimpses we see. I believe God wants to give us more of him while we are here too.

This is where persistence in prayer is important. Paul knew that we continue to knock, ask and seek. If we aren't seeing on earth those things Jesus said are ours, we need to press in more. Prayer is not us talking and God doing. Prayer is about our relationship with Him. More than giving us what we think we need, God wants us to seek him.The process is more important than the answer at times.

The more we know His heart, the better we will understand His hand. God wants us to understand. He doesn't hold back in any of his blessings. He delights in pouring out good gifts on his children. He won't give us what hurts us, unless there is a desired end in mind.

 I had a relationship that feel apart after a year because it was a bad relationship. I insisted that this is the one God wanted me to marry. I was wrong, but it took me years before I realized God wasn't in it. God had so much better for me, but because of my hurts from the past I didn't see the flaws in the relationship. I wasn't being realistic. God has done a work in me, but it took a lot of work, and patience on my part. God is patient with us. I am glad! 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

"For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you remembering you in my prayers."  NIV            {Ephesians 1:15-16}

The Apostle Paul started as a hater of those who followed Jesus. Who would have thought this man would follow obediently behind the one who he condemned? It took an appearance of Jesus, or a bright light, knocking him off his horse, for him to believe. Maybe that wasn't enough because he remained blind from the light.  God spoke to Ananias to go to pray for Paul to receive his sight back. 

Paul did not know that Jesus was the true Messiah when he hunted for Christians to put in jail.What an enormous transformation took place in his life. Some of us need a miracle in our lives before we will believe.Others will not believe even if they receive a miracle.

God knows exactly how to bring each soul to himself, but we still need to engage our will and say yes. In our verse we see that Paul loves these people, and is excited about their faith. His giving of thanks to God for them is a blessing to him, and to the people at Ephesus.

 A flood of relief and joy can overtake us when we realize that someone is plucked out of the fire and into the hands of Jesus. Death is eternal separation from God, and everything that is good, just and right. There is only darkness, fire, and pain. God never intended for anyone to go there. It was only for the devil and his angels of death. Pride, arrogance and sin is what leads to death.  

When we humbly admit to God that we need His grace, mercy and forgiveness to save us, only then will we see God. We were made for God to fill our emptiness and so nothing else will fit. We have temporary pleasures that work for a moment, but fade quickly and we are off to find something else to fill our hole.

Even if we are able to fill the aching need within us, it will not get us to Him. We would be spinning our wheels only to end up in desperation and defeat. He is the Lord God Almighty, and so His rules are what hold the universe. We can be strong willed, obstinate,  and self- absorbed , but in the end we gain nothing.

Give thanks today for those who help you to know God in a deeper way. I'm sure that the Ephesian church prayed for Paul while he was in prison, and God met him there. Meanwhile he taught them through his letters and much good came from it. God can turn even the worst situation and cause some good to come from it. Be blessed today!

Monday, January 22, 2018

"who is a guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory." Ephesians 1:14 

"That {Spirit} is a guarantee of our inheritance- the first fruit, the pledge and foretaste, the down payment on our heritage- in anticipation of its full redemption and our acquiring[Complete] possession of it, to the praise of His glory." Ephesians 1:14 Amplified Bible

I love using different versions of the Bible to gain insight into a verse. I try to remind myself the purpose of different versions and that the amplified is a paraphrase to bring to light the meaning.

 It is not a word for word translation, which tries to stick as close as possible to the meaning in the original language.  The Amplified would not be used to establish doctrine or for teaching. I'm glad for it because extending the language helps me to better understand the text.

 The text is not any good if we can't understand what it says. Still we need to dig deeper to find meaning because of cultural differences. The days of the new testament are extremely different than our life in 2018. If we just look at the noise pollution around us compared to a day before airplanes, technologies, and electric we would be amazed.

What I want to share is this verse. The Spirit of God,  the third part of our triune God, has been given to us, as an inheritance. When we say "Yes" to Jesus, and live for him, we are sealed, which I delighted in sharing with you yesterday.{Please read yesterday's blog if you haven't already.}

The presence of God is with us whether we can feel Him or not. It's not about our emotions, it's about the truth."The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of the Lord endures forever."{Isaiah 40:8} English Standard Version. God has given this guarantee because he knows our nature. We need something to lean on or grab on to. The God who made all things by the breath of his mouth has said it is sealed.

Will we defy the Almighty in saying this is not true? Not me. It's a down payment if you will, in anticipation of the entire, complete redemption that comes with Christ's return. We are in the church age, you know.

 We don't have the entire view yet. It's as if we are sitting in the last row of a beautiful dance, and we can only see when people ahead of us move. We can't possibly understand the entire program. The day is coming lovely ones, when we will see, in full view, as if we are the only one.

 We won't be aware of anyone else. We won't care what we are wearing, or how our make-up looks, because the one and only the one true God will be looking straight into our eyes.The thought of it now makes me want to run and hide, but on that day, we will stand strong, knowing that our redemption is here!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

"In him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. "  Ephesians 1:13

This cute little house can be found on Main Street in Stony Brook. It looks as if you would find it in a small town in the country, but once this town was a small town in the country. Long Island is now mostly suburban, even though the city is 60 miles away. 

As a child I lived only a few miles from this town. We loved to come here to feed the ducks at the pond, or walk near the shopping area. The Long Island Sound was near, but it was a sleepy, place far from the busy city life. It still would be except that the largest University in the New York State system is smack dab in the middle.

 I got saved at a small church not far from here. I was in High School, and I had no idea that Jesus was alive, or that he cared anything about me. My friend Debbie wanted to go to this place called Pinecrest, so I went because she did. I did not know that God had planned for us to find him there. 

It was not your ordinary church. It was a large house that was added on to several times, to accommodate more people. The music was just a guitar, and a singer, and the Pastor used his bible to speak from. I had never heard the bible used in a church before.

My mother took us to the Presbyterian church on occasion, so my exposure to such things was limited. I could not believe that these people actually believed the words of the bible, but then
 I didn't know what the bible said. I was sure that I would never go back there and was glad to leave.

Debbie had other plans. She thought the whole experience was wonderful! How was I going to get out of this, I wondered. Before I knew it, we were on a retreat at this place. All of my fears melted away after a while, and I knew that Jesus loved me. I  surrendered my life to him, and it was the best decision I ever made. Forty one years later I still serve him.

This verse of the day solidifies what God did in my life. After a few years of reading and studying the bible, I realized that He had sealed me, with his Holy Spirit. I didn't have to fear falling out of his hands, or that sin would overtake me because He made provision for me. He sealed my life, so that I would be forever his. This may seem to some as a unbelievable story, but it is not. It is God's truth from his word. I believe God!

Friday, January 19, 2018

"in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory." Ephesians 1:12

These tropical flowers are thriving inside a huge greenhouse in Pennsylvania. I'm sure this is the only way we could see such beauties without going to the tropics. Our climate is not conducive to such flowers. Warmth is what is needed twenty four seven in order for growth to occur. Sometimes I feel like this too. I very glad that God pours out his love on us, so that when we are in cold, wintry seasons of the soul, we can live on the truth he has stored away in our hearts. 

The Apostle Paul is addressing the church in the city of Ephesus, and the surrounding areas. This is one of the first churches since Jesus rose from the dead.The time is about A.D. 60, and Paul is in prison in the city of Rome. It is obvious that he cares for the people because he is assuring and loving as a father would be with his child.

Can you imagine being a member of one of the first churches? Everything is new, and much emphasis would be placed on prayer and carefully following Jesus' commands. The believers trusted one another, because others would not have any understanding of the faith. Acts 2:44

In our society, many think that an understanding of who Jesus is comes from a definition, or a pre conceived notion without experiencing salvation. A lethargy has come upon some with lack of enthusiasm and joy. This is not what christianity is. "The joy of the Lord is my strength and my shield." Psalm 28:7 

WE need to experience some of the wonder of the early church. Jesus is alive today as much as he was back in the beginning of the church age. He hasn't changed, but we can be lulled to sleep by all that we have. Those who rely on God for their daily bread do not forget his kindness. There is a hopeful expectation, and a heart's cry of humbleness. 

Lord, help us to rely on you for our daily bread. Not our natural food, but our spiritual sustenance that our soul longs for. If we cry out to you to fill us, you will hear and answer. Let us not be lethargic in any of our ways. May you be first in our hearts and lives.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

"In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will."NIV Ephesians 1:11

It took everything in me not to put brackets around the bible verse above. I want to break out of my conformity to my own rules. Why is it that we become such creatures of habit? Oh, I think it is because of the comfort it brings to us, to know all of our rules are kept, and everything is neat and tidy. 

Rules are good, but I know I can take following directions to an extreme. I am trying to break some of these mundane no meaning ones. God plans are defined, orderly, and always have a reason. At times we think we know why he does What he does, and at other times, we aren't sure. Does this give us an excuse to follow our own lead? No, His word is sure, and his plans are good.

We may not realize why things happen in our lives, but I believe God will reveal all of the whys when we meet him in heaven. According to our verse today, we have been chosen by God, " who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will."

Do you believe this verse? Can you believe God is good in his plans toward you even when tragedy occurs? When you see no way out of your troubles? Does God change, or do we change our minds about things? Malachi 3:6   "For I am the Lord, I change not."

We can believe God is good in spite of our circumstances. We can trust his heart even when his hand seems to be giving out something we don't want, or understand. He is a good Father, and at times we need a change in our lives that will humble us, help us to look at life differently, or bring us to reality. 

I had a change in my life, and I will never be the same again because of it. I went through post- partum depression. I look at life  one day at a time now. I cherish every day, because we don't know what a day may bring. I look at my husband with new eyes, and love him as if I may not have him tomorrow. This is not a depressing thing to me, it makes each new day a fresh, wonderful one. 

Maybe you have been through a trauma, or a sickness and you see the world anew. If you haven't your time may come. The lessons learned through these times can be priceless. God knows how to get our attention, and bring lasting change to humans. He has been doing so for many thousands of years.  In his love, he portions out the things necessary to make us who we need to be, for his purposes. Amen!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

"to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment - to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ." {Ephesians 1:10} NIV

You might not know this, but we are in the church age. This is what Bible scholars call the time from pentecost, [Acts 2] to the rapture. {1Thessalonians 4:13-18} I know this knowledge hasn't been earth shattering or anything, but we will discuss it a little further, and you will see why it is important. 

Most christians realize that this current world state is not all that there is. We live in a world where war and rumors of war are all over. 24 Million children world-wide suffer from severe acute malnutrition, a deadly condition if not treated. {} More families are displaced from their countries than ever before. The family structure as God intended is constantly under seize. 

All we know of life is what we see in this world right now. This will  change after the tribulation, when Jesus comes to earth to reign from a thousand years. This is known as the Millennial Kingdom. This is what our verse for today is referring to. No more hunger, war or governments fighting each other. Christ will be the light, and ruler over all.

John Eldredge,  in his recent book-"All Things New", discusses the restoration of all the things we love. Just as Adam and Eve lived in a perfect environment, so the world will return to this pre-sin state. Eldredge says,"What will be the great sustaining hope of your life? For the Christian, this means that in the end, nothing is lost. Understand this, and your life will change -  today and forever."

Hope is what our lost world needs! What causes anxiety, anger, despair - the loss of hope. Our hope as Christians is not like the world. Hope in God is not a question, but an exclamation point! 
It refers to a solid ground, not an uncertain future. "Firm and certain expectation is what "Unger's Bible Dictionary says of hope.

Our God is an awesome, never failing God, and He fully intends on keeping every promise he has made. My son told me today, that a year ago he told the Lord that he would do what ever he needed to do to get through college. No  more foolish behavior, no more flunking. Today, he applied for graduation in May.

 That is our God. When we decide to take him seriously, and follow him, life begins anew. We may never live to see the millennial age here on earth, but we know he is with us, and his promises are true. Right here and now we can live beyond our circumstances.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

It is a wonderful time to be alive! Winter cannot stop our hearts from celebrating the truth of God, and His work being done on earth. In my heart I would curl up on the sofa with a blanket and cup of tea and not move, but there is much good to be done. There is a time for tea and blankets, Thank God.

"And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, {Ephesians 1:9}

Do you like mysteries? I used to like  the t.v. series "Murder she wrote", which was based on the Agatha Christie novels.There wasn't any blood, or gory details, just a good mystery to figure out. Never as simple as the butler did it, but always a good challenge. I like this sort of mystery, a thinking kind of setting where you can't sit back and not engage.

God hasn't hid His will from us, otherwise He never would have sent his son. He wants us to know his ways, and he wants us to listen. Not only did he plan out our salvation, it pleased him, a lot. Why did it please him?  He wanted you to be born, so that he would have a relationship with you. God is all about relationship. What exactly does this mean for our everyday lives?

It means that you count in God's eternal plan, and purposes for this world. Every thing you do. Every thing you say. Everywhere you go. You have an opportunity as I do, to influence some one for God. Jesus plans on coming back to this earth very soon. Many don't know him, but he wants to give them every opportunity to know him before it is too late.

When he returns every sickness will cease from ever harming another person. No one will go hungry. There will be no war, or fighting. The very earth that we live on will react and rejoice. No more decay, not a flower will die or wilt. I don't think we will have to think about calories, or foods that will hurt us. We will have banquets that will last for a long time, because no one will be running here or there.

When we honor God in our dailyness, he is closer to his coming. Why does he wait? More souls to come to His saving grace. God would not have any to perish, but some will not turn their hearts to the truth. Pray, pray, pray for the lost. Every one wins as more come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Won't you pray?

Monday, January 15, 2018

On a cold winter's day, it is great to look at something alive and bright. This was one day that I had trouble waking up. It is 5:00 pm and the sun is down; there's a large fire in the fireplace, and I'm glad to be inside.  My husband asked my son to build a fire earlier, and he said where do you want me to build it? I guess he was sleepy as well.

"which he lavished upon us in every kind of wisdom and understanding[Practical insight and prudence,]Ephesians 1:8 Amplified Bible

God lavishes us with his grace according to Ephesians 1:7. Think on this for a moment. Grace is God's unmerited favor, that I haven't been given because I deserve it, or did anything in order to obtain it. I can't be "good" enough, or "smart" enough or wise enough to have it placed on me. It is only His love and desire  to freely give this grace to me that I can have anything at all.

This can make me uncomfortable. I want to be in charge. It's not that God decides in a random way who receives and who doesn't. It makes perfect sense how we are able to  see His hand on our lives. It is because we want Him. Our desire for the truth lines up with His desire to pour it out on us.

It makes perfect sense that when we aline our will to His hand that wisdom and understanding begin to dawn. The God of all the heavens and the earth has made a way for us to live with his blessings if we will only follow His lead. This is where the problems begin. One person says all you have to do to follow after God is pray. Another says you have to tithe to unlock the blessings of God. 

 Men are replete with answers about "how to" do anything you can think of.  What does God care about? He cares about your heart attitude. Can I be perfect? Not at all. Can I look to Jesus to give me the strength and ability to do what He desires? Yes, I can. Is this an easy thing? Never, but it is worth every struggle we have with our selves to do what God says. This grace bestowed on us is a bit of heaven come down to earth. It is a reflection of our Father in heaven, who loves us with an everlasting love. The end result if peace.

Ask the man on the street what he would give for peace of mind or heart. How many people truly have these gifts? Some might say, I will have peace when I have enough money. Nelson Rockerfeller once said when asked how much is enough money, "Just a little more." Others might say, "I'll have peace once I retire," but peace never comes. If I learn to be a teacher or doctor or climb Mount Everest, I will have inner peace, and these dreams never bring peace. 

"Peace I leave with you: my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." { John 14:27}

These are the words of our Great King, Jesus. If we cry out to Him, He hears, and fills our hearts with everlasting peace. It comes with no cost, no effort on my part. All He asks for is my heart.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

"In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sin, according to the riches of His grace" {Ephesians 1:7} NKJV

I'm wondering if you like my basket? It came with food in it last Christmas or the one before.  I had these other items around my house and I combined them to make this wall hanging. At first I wasn't sure if I liked it, but then it grew on me. It hangs in my kitchen, without the words of course.

I know my taste is not the same as everyone else, and I'm fine with it. What kind of a world would we have if everyone only liked one style decor, or clothing, or house? God made each one of us as an original and we can rejoice in how He has made us.  

It's good to agree with God in what he has made. It's not prideful, it's accepting who he has made us to be, and being glad about it. This acceptance of self brings peace, and His love can flow out of us in a genuine way. I'm not saying that we love our sin. I'm talking about loving the individual God made you to be. When we abandon the old self, with its selfish, mean and destructive ways, we will truly shine with the glory of the Lord.

Oh dear, I have really strayed off course today, but I know the above paragraphs are meant for several someones. If this is you, grab hold of God's love for who he made you. Even with all your flaws and gifts, and thank him today for the process that he is working in your life, to make you more like Him. Once we surrender to his work, we can relax and go with the flow.

I'm not saying that life will be a picnic when we surrender to God. I do think a lot of stress is tossed to the wind because our striving to do life on our terms is alleviated. We are not alone. Whatever you are feeling there are others who have gone through similar circumstances. The enemy of our souls wants us to feel alienated and alone in our emotions. His lie is that no one has ever felt like you do, and that's just not true. 

If you would like to talk to someone who understands, leave a message at the bottom of this blog post, and a caring,  praying Christian woman will answer you. God loves you and I do too. "Walk with the King and be a blessing." Robert A. Cook

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

"which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved." {Ephesians 1:6}

I hope that you can feel the rich warmth of this picture, and not the coolness of the snow. It is meant to display the golds and rich browns of the trees as the sun reflects off of them. It is still; can you sense he is working behind the scenes?  Even though these trees look dormant, dead, and lifeless, this rest is storing up the strength that is needed in the future. He is always working for us, on our behalf, so that we can thrive.

As we continue walking through Ephesians chapter one, I want to concentrate on the end of verse six. There is something very special to me here. Before my husband and I were married, we had some issues that needed to be dealt with in our lives. I was passive aggressive toward him, and he felt uncomfortable with this. I wasn't aware of what I was doing, but it came out in counseling.

I'm not saying that it was all my fault, we both had important communication faults that we were glad to get rid of. As the counselor worked with me I told him how I knew that God freely accepted me, and that I was in the Beloved. {The  New King James Version reads,"He made us accepted in the Beloved.}

I knew this was true, but I didn't know where it was in the bible. In the 80's we didn't have computers or iphones to look these things up. Isn't it funny how quickly we forget what life was like without technology?

Finally I found it here in Ephesians. It brought healing to my heart, to know that no matter what happened God would always receive me, and he accepted me even with all my shortcomings and fears.The beloved is our Lord Jesus! To realize this truth made my heart rejoice and I was strengthened in my relationship with God. We read in the Song of Solomon 6:3, "I am my Beloved's and he is mine."

When I rejoiced in the Lord, he in turn rejoiced in me. What an amazing revelation this was. I came from a broken home, where the word love was never spoken, and rarely shared. To know that God's word said that as I loved him, he loved me in return meant everything! This wasn't just another "nice" bible verse. It was downloaded into my heart by the living God.

I hope you can say to me today that God has done something similar for you. Maybe you have no idea what I'm saying but desperately want the hope that I have in God. He is a faithful Father and wants nothing more than to pour His love on you and cause you to thrive for his glory. Call out to Jesus, and ask him to forgive you of your sins, and failures and he will!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

I hope you can enjoy the stark whiteness of this page, with the darker colors of the wreath.It reminds me of winter in the vastness of these two characteristics. Everything outside right now is bright white as the sun shines on the snow.

 The trees are varying shades of grey and tan, but are always changing as the sun changes its degree of dominance. The evergreens against it  makes for a painter's palette. In a hour all of the hues change as the sun makes its way across the sky. I live on a beautiful Island. If it were warmer these tress would not dig down deeply into the soil in the harsh winter.

We can't have everything in one place, at least not on earth. Forgive me for my tangent. Grace is what I planned on sharing with you. 
" The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love."  Psalm 145:8

Grace is different than love, or mercy and is found in God alone. We can extent grace to someone, but only because it has already been extended to us in Christ. This is similar to love. The bible says that "God is love." 1John 4:8 No one can show love unless it is first given to them from God.

 Mercy is what God showed to us in sending Christ to die in our place, and pay our debt. Only after a believer is "in Christ"or "In Him" Ephesians 1, can the grace of God flow to them. I found this quote in the Unger's Bible Dictionary, page 430. "Knowledge of and faith in this glorious "in Christ" position is the key that makes it actual in the believer's everyday experience."

 " Grace thus rules out all human merit. It requires only faith in the Savior. Any intermixture of human merit violates grace." {Also from Unger page 430.} Grace has to be in the purest sense all that we rest in. Chapter one of Ephesians is all about being in Christ. 

There is no other place I'd rather be. This is the place of blessings, safety and stability.This is where change can come. This is where I 
can abandon all insecurity and fear. From this perspective, I can see God, in his holiness and perfection. Not completely, because I am still in this frail body, but just a taste is enough to long for what's to come. I hope that you are longing for more of him too.

Monday, January 8, 2018

"To the praise of His glorious grace which He has freely given us in the One he loves." {Ephesians 1:6}

 I can't believe that it is still so cold in my house! Those of you in warmer climates, I wish I was there today. We were told by the local news that it would be warmer today, and I guess it is, but not by much. My hope is that it will feel warmer soon. I know it will, because eventually it has to because spring will come. I can take off at least one sweater at that point.

The best way to handle my dilemma is to focus on God's grace as our scripture talks about. Before we dive into this verse, let's backtrack just a little. Right before this, the Apostle Paul says that "he predestined us to be adopted as his sons {and daughters} through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-"{Ephesians 1:5}

Paul  said that none of what God has done for us was ever put together in a weak hap-hazard way. It was an intentional work of God to make you, and call you out of sin and destruction, and it gave him great pleasure! I think if Paul were here today he would shake us physically and say,"DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT I AM SAYING, THIS IS HUGE!"I could see him jumping up and down, trying to get our attention.

We haven't touched on grace yet, but whole books are written about this phenomenon. How do I explain spiritual truths with mere words? People have been grappling with this for centuries. We can get a taste of what is heavenly through words, but just a smattering.

Grace is not earned or deserved. It is unmerited favor, that God gives to those who are of the household of faith.Mercy is not getting what you deserve, in terms of punishment for sin, and grace is getting what you don't deserve in terms of blessings.Grace is only found on those who have been washed from their sin, and have dedicated their life to live for Christ.

As I said, we could write for hours and not even touch on all the amazing things God has done because of grace, or favor that he has bestowed on the faithful.We can talk about that tomorrow. I will try my best. Blessings to all.

Friday, January 5, 2018

"According to the good pleasure of His will,"   {Ephesians 1:5b}NJKV

"In accordance with the purpose of His will- because it pleased Him and was His kind intent." {Ephesians 1:5b} Amplified Bible

God is kind. This may sound simple and basic, but many people do not know this. There is this enemy of ours who wants all people to believe that Our God is mean, self absorbed, and condescending. Christians have played into this idea by portraying God in this way. I'm not saying that anyone would misrepresent Our Wonderful Savior like this on purpose.   

Some Christians have a hard exterior when it comes to who God is.

God's intent has always been to make us like Him. That is a basic goal of our Father in heaven toward us. His goodness runs deeply through everything that He does, but His primary goal and purpose for putting us on earth is to shine forth His nature.

 Yesterday we talked about His adoption of believers, and that this is actually a drawing closer than even being sons and daughters. It is His kind intent to draw us closer, so that we can hear His voice. Hearing the sound of His voice is not an audible sound, it is a prompting in our spirits that feels different than anything else in our lives.

We sing a worship chorus that goes like this: You are good, good oh you are good good oh. As we sing this truth of His goodness, it grabs hold of my soul, and I feel complete peace. The confidence of His goodness encompasses me, to the point of rapture. It captures all of my being, in complete bliss.

As I write this now, I feel the warmth of His presence, and I pray for you, when you read, to feel His presence too. It's not about feelings alone of course, but knowing His closeness makes us courageous, like the lioness as she confidently cares for her own. She has no fear as she roams through the fields, because she knows her place, and who she is.

God's goodness is what He wants us to bring to the lost. This world is filled with those who feel that trust in God is foolish. The truth that "He is a strong tower, and the righteous run into Him, and they are safe"[Proverbs 18:10] is not known to many. Can you share the love of God with someone today? You will be doing His good pleasure. Kindness is always a winner.

Please let me know if God uses this in your life today.Blessings and love, Ann

Thursday, January 4, 2018

"Having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,       {Ephesians 1:5}

This verse is crammed with good truths, and I can't even begin to touch on all of this, so I will prayerfully attempt a brief overview. Predestination simply put means that God planned for us to be His children before the creation of the world. Before He put down any soil, tree or plant, our lives were called in Him. What a wonderful Savior.

The Amplified Bible says it this way: "For He foreordained us {destined us, planned in love for us} to be adopted{revealed}.  I like the word revealed here. It is as if we made our debut, at the right time, to fulfill His purposes. The curtain opened when we had the proper Fruit of the Spirit to display God's goodness.

Adoption in verse five is not as we think of adoption. It refers to our position rather than relationship according to Unger's Bible Dictionary. We are placed in the family as sons, in order to showcase our heritage as those who will inherit eternal life, as well as all the spiritual blessings spoken about in verse one.

 The most important thing is that every blessing, gift and privilege comes through Jesus Christ. With out the redemptive blood of Christ, shed for us we could have no access to the Father. Our security clearance would be null and void. We would not have a ticket to ride, or a seat in the car. If God honors Christ's work on the cross with such reverence, so should we. Thank Jesus today for His incredible love, that purchased us to the Father!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

I hope you like my snowflake border. Those of us in New York today are waiting for the snow to drop tonight. This does not convey any like or dislike of said weather. I like to be optimistic. I am not looking forward to being in the house all day tomorrow, but who knows what God will do.

"that we should be holy and blameless before Him in love," {Ephesians 1:4}

I know we talked yesterday about this verse, but today I would like to share about those two words at the end. In love, but not falling in love as the world would say, but being in God and in His love. Being in "God's love" is far beyond what we know as love. Here is what "Vine's Expository Dictionary"says:

Agape- love in greek, a] to describe the attitude of God toward His Son, the human race, and to such as believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. b] To express the essential nature of God.

This love that God has toward us is not based on anything we have done, because it is based completely on his unmerited favor. It certainly does not make any sense to the logical mind. God is not like us, but He desires for us to be like Him. God deliberately chose to love us just from His divine nature, not for any other reason.

Stop and think about this for a minute. Nothing that you are causes God to love you. He totally gets you even when you were living in your sinful nature. It is "God's kindness that leads us to repentance." {Romans 2:4}

 We see how His love is ever-lasting, consistent, and never wavering. It is indescribable, incomprehensible, and beyond our wildest dreams. Can you tell Him today that you love Him, just for loving you so much? Yes, you can, and so can I. Wonderful!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

"For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight." {Ephesians 1:4}

Here it is, a new year! I hope you have a happy and healthy one, as you walk with God. I will be resuming our study of Ephesians chapter one. If you didn't read December 26, you may want to do that before we move on. The reason I chose this chapter is that the Apostle Paul gives a excellent description of who we are "In Christ."

Knowing who we are is precisely what we need to stand as a christian. If we don't see God as a loving, benevolent father, we won't understand his hand, or life situations that come our way. I don't know how many times I have thought,"This is a strange way to get my attention" when circumstances come along that I don't like. 

God, in His ever present love knows how to get each of our eyes on him, where we can receive the life giving care that we crave for. 

    Hope is what we crave.

What kind of hope do we grab hold of when in need? Hope that has been given before "the creation of the world. It is rock solid, and firm beyond the definition of the word. How do I describe someone who is never wavering, all sufficient, immovable, steady on steroids. 

Since God himself has chosen us, we ought not to question his judgement. Our all knowing all powerful God has made the declaration "You are mine." What could possibly be more solid? I do not know one thing.

In God's declaration of our belonging to him, he has also cleansed us to be able to see him clearly. Sin throws mud in our face, and dirties our vision so we don't see God as he truly is. His beauty and purity is hidden from our sight. Only he can remove the stains of sin with his precious, healing blood. 

 I have asked the Lord to give me a clean start today, for the New Year. Why don't you ask him  to do the same for you. 2018 can be the best year yet. I believe God wants it to be for you and I. He is a good Father!