A Call to PRAY this 5th Sunday of Lent 2020 in a virus filled world

Sovereign-LordHere are some verses to uplift, encourage and challenge you this 5th Sunday of Lent as our world struggles with the pandemic of Covid-19:

God is Sovereign: Psalm 103:19 “The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,   and his kingdom rules over all.”   2 Chronicles 20:6 ““O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you.”    John 10:29 “ My Father, who has given (my sheep- believers) to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”  Acts 17:26 “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,”    Each of these verses shows God’s Sovereign power.  He is Creator God and there is none greater.  Once we belong to Him, nothing and no one can take us away from Him.  God is the determiner of mankind and those things He allows to come into our lives.   Like the plagues of the Old Testament, pray, pray, pray for God’s mercy in these days of Covid-19.  Humble yourselves and turn back to Him and seek Him and His forgivenessWe are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. 23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” Romans 3:22-23   God promises sovereignrestoration and forgiveness if:    if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”   2 Chronicles 7:14 

Please pray.

Here are the truths we found in God’s Word from Ephesians 4:17-5:20 this last week.  They are rich and bring joy and challenge to the believer as we endeavor to walk with Him each day.  Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead:

I can be a new creation in Jesus!  Ephesians 4:17-24

We are made for righteous actions and thoughts towards ourselves and others which bring joy to God.   Ephesians 4:25-32

We can be imitators of Jesus and have lives filled with love.  Ephesians 5:1-2

I can choose light and life with HimEphesians 5:3-8

His light can be seen in me.  Ephesians 5:9-14

How I live my life for Him matters.  Ephesians 5:15-20

May you have a Sunday filled with His love and be able to spend time praying and mediating on His Sovereignty and His wonderful truths from Ephesians.

Linda

A weakness of mine- Children’s Literature

I love to read and being a teacher, I love to read Children’s Literature.  I love the themes of good versus evil, where good always triumphs.  Friendships, survival and hope all Green Emberabound in kids books.  I just finished the Green Ember Series by S.D.Smith.   He is a christian author who has constructed a wonderful series in the rabbit kingdom of Natalia where the evil war bird, Morbin, is currently threatening everyone’s existence and freedom.  The rabbit characters are brave, funny and fearless as they are developed though this series.  The bad guys are really bad and the good guys are really good- not a chance to confuse them.  The series begins with The Green Ember, Ember Falls, Ember Rising and concludes with Ember’s End.  I loved it and do hope it will endure as a Children’s classic like Wind in the Willows.

I hope you can get a copy to enjoy, I know it is available on Amazon.  I would say that the story read aloud could go from ages 6-teen, with an independent reading level at say grade 4-6.  I enjoyed this story as an adult, but I consider myself a child at heart.

Happy Reading.

Linda

Back to the light, shine for Jesus

Do you ever wake up some days and feel like you missed a day?  Somehow I wrote on Ephesians 5:15-20 before writing on Ephesians 5:9-14.   So today I’m going back to our discussion of light and dark and Paul’s admonition to us to be ‘Children of the Light’.     In verses 9-14 Paul gives us more information about what living in the Light of Christ means and what we can expect in our lives because of the light He gives us.

For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.

10 Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. 11 Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. 12 It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. 13 But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, 14 for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said,

“Awake, O sleeper,
    rise up from the dead,
    and Christ will give you light.”

ephesians 5 14Paul instructs us that right living pleases God and that we should expose,  avoid  and to try not to take part in anything ungodly.  The light of truth in Christ will expose the things of darkness and make everything visible.  He concludes with a common hymn of the day to illustrate his point.  The Ephesians (us too) were dead without Christ but coming to faith in Jesus brought them (us) into His light.  Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, His light can be seen in me.

Strive to do what is good, right and true in the name of Jesus knowing that those behaviors, deeds and actions are pleasing to God and will shine His light into the world around you.  Be that light today!

Linda

Our Lives Matter to God

In today’s passage Paul exhorts believers to be wise, make the most of every opportunity to witness for Christ, be thoughtful, temperate with our drinking, filled with the Holy Spirit and always have an attitude of thankfulness.  Does that describe you? 

ephesians 5 15So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. 17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. 18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, 19 singing psalms and Ephesians 5 20hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. 20 And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”   Ephesians 5:15-20

Do you look for opportunities to tell others about Jesus?  Are you prone to overindulgence or letting addictions control your actions? Or do you rejoice with other Christians in singing, worship and studying together to bring praise and honor to God.  Are you thankful in all circumstances?  The pressures of life pile upon us each day, and it is how we handle those pressures that counts.  Do you turn to God for help, assurance or courage?   Or do you try to go it alone with an ‘I can do it attitude’?  Dependence upon God is not weakness but an opportunity for His grace to abound even 2Corinthians 12 -more.  Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 “But he (Jesus) said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  Our weaknesses allow Him to show His strength through us.  His grace, his undeserved favor, is enough to cover all situations.

Paul is serious about how we live our lives and the impact we  have upon those around us for both believers and non- believers.  It matters to God how we live and work in the lifemattersworld.  It matters to Him as He desires the best for us which is only available through Christ.  Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, how I live my life for Him matters.

Let His grace abound in your life today as you strive to glorify Him in all you say and do.

Linda

It is your Choice, light or dark?

Paul gives us a list of what characterizes a non-believer in contrast to true believers.  The Ephesians were new converts, still learning and growing in faith.  They had recently come out of idolatry and had many old habits to rid themselves of as they endeavored to grow more and more like their Savior, Jesus.  Paul was very forthright with them letting them know what behaviors were OUT and would not be tolerated or found in God’s Kingdom.

Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. 7 Don’t participate in the things these people do. 

ephesians 5 8For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!

In the midst of this list of things to avoid you find verse 4b let there be thankfulness and 8 be people of the light!    Paul wants them, and us, to know that belonging to Christ, being a believer involves a life filled with thankfulness and light!  Praise God!  God does not want us to cling to old sinful behaviors and attitudes but to shed them and walk in His light.  Jesus said in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  He is the light that dispels all darkness and evil.  I love 1 John 1:5 and 7 “This is the message we have heard from him and 1 john 1 5proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”   There is hope, forgiveness and life in the light of Jesus.  Choose to walk in it and be ready to be clean, whole and made right with God.

Paul wanted them and us to see the contrast between their former lives and their new life in Jesus.  Light and dark, hope and despair, freedom and condemnation, forgiveness and being held by sin, Christ makes all the difference in the focus and direction of our lives.  Listed side by side light overwhelms darkness.  Light is open, pure, holy and welcoming and the darkness of sin brings shame, hiding and imprisonment.   Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead I can choose light and life with Him.   Choose the light of  Jesus today.

Linda

Being real imitators = Life filled with Love

Paul begins Ephesian Chapter 5:1-2 having arrived at a conclusion as to how believers ephesians 5 1-2in Jesus should act.  “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us  and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.”   He exhorts us to imitate GodWhat does that mean to you?   Think of God’s attributes and consider the ones that He desires we have – like being forgiving, loving, kind, gentle, compassionate, thankful, pure, holy, ….  God desires that we follow Christ’s example and imitate Him because He dearly loves us and we are His children.  Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross pleased God as it redeemed all mankind from death and enabled us to come before Him.   Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, we can be imitators of Jesus and have lives filled with love.

Where do you need to imitate Christ in your life?  With your family, at work or school, on committees or groups you belong to??   Living a life of authentic Christianity is a call to sacrifice, humility and openness before God.  I love Philippians 1:6 because it assures me that I am not in this struggle to live for Christ alone,  “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”  Philippians 4:19  assures me that He has what I need to live for Him, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”   We can have hope that God Jesus-likewill finish what He started in us when we became believers.  He always completes what He starts!  We can do this because God has the resources for all our needs.  We just need to ask and be willing to serve Him.  Be imitators of Christ today and experience His love in your life.

Linda

Straight talk by Paul (points us to Christ like behavior)

In this last section of Ephesians 4 Paul gets down to serious talk about sins that he has seen or heard of among the believers.  He mentions lying or speaking untruthfully with each other.  Anger that is not righteous but rooted in resentment, hostility or jealousy.  Also some had been thieves prior to becoming believers, and Paul tells them they must work and be useful so they will have things to share with those in need.  He mentions gossip or unwholesome talk, saying things that bring others down instead of building  them up.  He straight out tells them to get rid of bitterness, rage, anger fighting, backbiting, slander, and any and all kinds of malice.   All of these things are undesirable and incompatible with a life given to Christ.

Several verses jumped out at me in this section, Ephesians 4:26, 30 and 32.  26 “Be angry ephesians 4 26and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,”  This verse is frequently said, “don’t go to bed angry”.   Anger that is rooted in sin is filled with resentment, jealousy, bitterness and even hatred.  Paul is saying, anger is a valid emotion but do not let it be for the wrong reasons.  Jesus was angry with the money changers buying and selling in the temple and threw them out (Matthew 21:12).  He was angry with the Pharisees for wanting to trap him and keep a man from being healed on the Sabbath (Mark 3:5).  Both of these were cases of righteous anger.  They were not rooted in self but in wrongs done towards God.  When we harbor or coddle our anger, it will fester and grow.  Paul is telling us to not let that happen as the results will be harmful to us and to those around us.

30 “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”   What does it mean to grieve the Holy Spirit?   As a believer, Jesus’ Holy Spirit lives within us.  When we deliberately sin- steal, lie, cheat, act with wrong motives in anger, harbor bitterness, etc, it grieves the Holy Spirit that is within us.  God hates sin and doing sinful acts gives His Spirit grief, or makes His Spirit sad over our sin.  Paul reminds us that when we received Christ,  we were sealed by God’s Holy Spirit forever.  That is a wonderful privilege and honor,  and we should love Jesus enough to desire to not deliberately sin against Him.

32 “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”  I love this verse as Paul lays it out directly for us as to what kinds of actions should characterize a believer.  These will bring delight to our Savior.  They should be our response to His marvelous forgiveness and grace.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead,  we are made for righteous actions and thoughts towards ourselves and others which bring joy to God. 

ephesians 4 32Focus today on right living, good thoughts and actions towards others, putting away all bitterness, jealousy, anger …..  Don’t let  yourself fall into anger over your current circumstances,  but look for the good and seek to see how you can ‘be Jesus’ to each one you speak with today.

Linda

 

Full text in the New Living Translation:

25″ So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. 26 And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil.

28 If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. 29 Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

30 And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own,  guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.

31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”

Do you reflect Christ? If so, do others see a difference in you??

ephesians 4 17-24In Ephesians 4:17-24 Paul describes to the Ephesians what man is like in mind, body and action without Christ and then contrasts it to their present state of mind, body and actions with Christ in their lives.

Without Christ- verses 17-19Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.”    Before they came to know Jesus, their minds were confused about God, they were ignorant of what a life with God could be like, they had hardened their hearts to the things of God and they practiced all kinds of immorality in their lives.”  

With Christverse 20-24  “But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self,  which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true ephesians 4 20righteousness and holiness.”     Knowing Christ has changed them and will change us from the inside out!  The truth of who Jesus is and what He did on the cross transforms our thinking, our hearts and motivates us to speak and act as unto God.  Paul calls it putting off the old nature, the way we did things before faith and putting on a new self.  This new self is rooted and grounded in Jesus and His righteousness and holiness.

Paul challenged the Ephesians to put off the old and put on the new, make being a believer a conscious choice that involves a change of mind, body and actions.  Giving yourself to God wholeheartedly allows the Holy Spirit to transform you from the inside out and makes you new in Christ. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can be a new creation in Jesus!  2 Corinthians 5:17 puts it this way,  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”  Christ in our lives, hearts and minds brings transformation for our good and His glory.

2 Corinthians 5 17Be that transformed believer today! Reach out to others in love.  Call, text, email, have a Zoom gathering, Face Time or use Google Chat or Duo with someone in these troubled days showing them you care about them and stand with them in the name of Christ.

Linda

4th Sunday of Lent, 2020 Facing the world through Christ not the virus

We had some amazing truths this week in Ephesians 3 and 4 that affirmed who we are in Christ and the purpose God has for believers’ lives.

  • we have the privilege and obligation to intercede on behalf of other believers.  Ephesians 3:14-19   PRAY, PRAY, PRAY for one another!
  • we have His indwelling Holy Spirit to empower us with His love for His glory and our good. Ephesians 3:20-21   Empowered to give and show LOVE!
  • we are indwelt, empowered and enabled to act and be more and more like Jesus as we grow in Him.  Ephesians 4:1-3    Sanctification-growing more like Jesus!
  • we are one in Christ, specially gifted through His grace.   Ephesians 4:7  Show His grace to the world around us.
  • we can trust God’s Word to grow and mature us so we can be fully and completely equipped to live for Him. Ephesians 4:11-13   God will bring growth in our lives so we can serve those around us in Him.
  • so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.   Ephesians 4:14-16   We can be contributors to the body of Christ as we work together in unity of love and Spirit.

God teaches us we need to pray for others, be indwelt and empowered by His Holy Spirit, are gifted by His grace, can be fully equipped through His Word to serve others, and grow ourselves more and more like Christ.  What powerful messages for our times!   Our togetherworld is in need of Christ and His redeeming love, our love as believers and the Truth of His Word.   Endeavor to reach out to others this week in love, pray for those hurting around you, look for His truth in the Word of God as you open it this coming week. Read the Book (the Bible) to grow in wisdom, truth, love and knowledge of God.

Linda

Don’t be a victim of the winds, going to and fro!

In Ephesians 4:14-16 Paul expands on the truth from yesterday, we can trust God’s Word to grow and mature us so we can be fully and completely equipped to live for Him.   But what do we do if new ideas come along that seem to contradict what we know about God?   We are reminded in James to look out for doctrines that would sway us away from the truth of the gospel and lead us astray.  James compares our vacillating on truth to the effect of the wind, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”  James 1:6   Likewise, Paul concludes in Ephesians 4:14-16 that being grounded and rooted in God’s Word will keep us stable and lead us to lives that contribute to the body of believers. 

ephesians 4 14Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”

If we desire to move towards maturity in Christ, we need to be grounded in the truth of the gospel, knowledgeable about what scripture teaches  for righteous living and willing to stand firm on God’s Word of truth.  Paul says that this grounding in truth will lead to fuller, richer lives that ephesians 4 16will build up the body of believers and help the whole body of Christ (the church) be stronger.   Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, we can mature into Christians that support and love one another.

What are you doing to grow in maturity?  Do you attend church regularly and mediate on what your pastor is preaching on?  Are you in a Bible Study group at your church or elsewhere?  Growing and maturing in Christ does not happen by chance but requires attention to the Word and study.  Be growing in Christ and open to the Holy Spirit’s leading when He presents you with an opportunity for growth.

Linda

Here are two International Bible Study organizations that have classes throughout the world.  Check them out and see if they are near you.  Right now all classes are on-line due to the virus, but they are still going strong as our God is unstoppable.

Bible Study Fellowshiphttp://www.bsf.org

Community Bible Studyhttp://www.cbs.org